Tuesday, December 31, 2013

13 of 13

I have a few hours left to reflect on 2013!
It has been an unbelievable year full of transformations, fun, surprises, anxiety, honors, humbling moments, and connections!

Take a bit of . . . PVC pipe, duct tape and some cloth to transform desks into Conestoga Wagons for our quest for Westward Expansion! Will we make it or not?!

In no particular order . . . and filled with exclamation points because how else do you show excitement for a fabulous year?

And 13 in 13!

ISTE, loved every moment!
 Change from 22 years as a classroom teacher to Instructional Technology Specialist.
My office! (Not that I'm ever in it!)

Little "Happys" to start the year off for the teachers at my school!
(The "I" pads - cuz you can never have too much technology!)

My vision coming to life . . . outdoor learning enviroment!
Thank you PTO, HEB and Scottie Tissues!
Students helping build a pond . . . ownership!
Learning huts being built so authors can write!
Apparently, the anniversary gift I wanted, I just didn't know it!
Has brought balance to our life! (And FUN!)
 Several honors this year! 
I'm learning to embrace them!
District Teacher of the Year, Trinity Prize of Excellence, 
HEB Excellence in Education Award for Leadership, Region 20 Teacher of the Year and 
Faye Langly Cowden Chair Award!
 Blogger meet ups!
Making connections!

Having fun with augmented reality! 
Even more fun, working with classes and augmented reality!
 Sharing ways to use QR Codes in the classroom and around school!
 Professional Development in the form of . . . Speed Sharing!

Coding with kinders!

Extremely proud of my child!
First student council president at our school!
How cool is that?!!!

I look forward to 2014!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Winter Mentor Texts and Antarctic Crittercam

There is nothing I love more than reading to my students. It is so exciting to share books with students, talking about the way the way an author puts words on a page and sharing connections.
Not a lot of snow down her in south Texas, so sharing as many mentor texts, videos and sites to create experiences for students is always fun.

I am in love with this book! Our second grade just finished up a unit on the water cycle. Here is a blog post about our fun lesson that has students experiencing the water cycle as a rain drop.
In this book, the journey of the snowflake starts in in the month of January and moves through the months, with the ever changing seasons. Beautiful pictures, lyrical text and a surprising plot unlike most water cycle stories. The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story, is a perfect book to revisit the water cycle.

"Waldman traces the journey of a single drop of water throughout the year, with each month receiving its own spread. The water begins as a snowflake that melts into a droplet, flows into the ground, bubbles up in a spring, flows into a farm's irrigation system, evaporates into the morning fog, becomes part of a cloud, rains down, enters a plumbing system, washes a little girl's face, flows out to the ocean, gets swept onto the shore and evaporates into the sky to become a snowflake once more." -Amazon

Next up . . . 

In, A Snowflake Fell, there are numerous poems written by some great authors that share winter experiences. 

Ice skating, building snow forts, sledding down big hills, nights by the fire . . . 

It's a beautiful book that lends itself to having students create original winter themed poems.

One of my favorite go-to sites is Read, Write, Think. Diamante poems are a fun type of poem to share with students. Read, Write, Think has a great interactive poem generator for students, plus it gives a few examples. 


Last one . . .
This book introduces the geography and animal inhabitants of Antarctica.

Mentor texts can come in many different forms, such as a really fun crittercam! You should venture over to Crittercam Chronicles to explore Antarctica through the eyes of a leopard seal. A fun adventure! 

In keeping with the winter theme, why not transform your reading center into an igloo made out of milk jugs? How great would it be to create this with your students? Click on the picture for the directions on creating this milk jug igloo.

Head over to Collaboration Cuties for some other great winter mentor texts. 

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Gave it a Go . . . Tweetin' in 2013

I started Tweeting this year. I have followed some amazing people and tweeted very little.
I'm been getting the lay of the land . . . scoping out the scene . . .

At first, Twitter land was extremely intimidating! Ok, it still is at times. It's like learning a secret language. Gotta learn the lingo. I started searching for some educational chats to follow and jumped into the land of Twitter.

I love participating (or sometimes just lurking) in these chats. Sometimes the tweets fly by so fast my head spins! By the time I have answered Q2 with A2, they are starting Q4! How did I miss Q3?!!! Sometimes, I just sit back and watch the conversation unfold.

I'm a sticky note girl, real and virtual! When I'm following a conversation, I have the Twitter feed open and a sticky note ready to go to add notes, resources, links and others to follow.
Yes, I could use some other online notetaking system, but I love a sticky note!
I'll be the first to admit, I'm still not sure I know what I'm doing.
Half the time, I forget to add the hashtag when I'm adding my 2 cents during a chat.
Do I really have anything meaningful to say?
When do you actually use the @ sign? Am I tagging someone?

Most often, I tweet when I'm at a conference. How do you think I got my Teach Like a Pirate
T-shirt and autographed book?!!!

Social media at its finest! For me, it's about just-in-time professional development that is best practices, innovative thinking, authentic that is differentiated just for me. It's a place to collaborate, connect, share ideas, and learn from others.

We ask our students to take risks. We want them to collaborate. Therefore, we really need to model this behavior. So, here is my video of 2013 Start of Tweeting! No, my numbers aren't like many of the others out there, but that's ok because, I gave it a go!

I look forward to my 2014 Tweeting!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Committed, Bacon, & a GoPro

Days of leisure! Love them! Ok, really it has just been the past 2 days. 
It has been very nice just hanging out around the house, visiting with family and friends, and getting caught on reading blog posts and Twitter feeds from some of my favorite bloggers/tweeters. 

Thought I would share some pics of my week . . .
My daughter's girl scout troop is working on their Bronze Award. On Monday, several of the girls came over to get started. They choose to make fleece dog and cat toys for the local animal shelter. The plan was to work for an hour, have some lunch and play Just Dance Wii tournament. After an hour and a 1/2, I had to convince the girls to take a break! These girls also want to loom knit preemie baby hats! Committed to their causes!

A wonderful friend always invites us over for Christmas Eve dinner. We love hanging out with her and her family. Fabulous food, plenty of beverages and a gift exchange. 
This year, the theme . . . Useless, but Fun! It was hysterical! 
Some fun, but useless gifts . . Flip flop foot massager, electric nose hair clippers, Magic 8 Ball, chocolate Santa and . . . bacon lip balm and toothpaste! Let's just say, I did not try to steal it.

Christmas morning! My brother sent some really fun games! Spot it! Too fun!
DiXit . . . a storytelling game. Players get 6 random cards with beautiful pictures. The storyteller tells makes up a word, phrase or sentence. Each player hands a card to the storyteller that they think best represents the storyteller's phrase. Everyone votes on the on the secret story. Points are awarded to the winner. This would be a great game for the classroom. A picture is worth a thousand words!

Pass the Pig, showed up in my daughter's stocking! It was perfect for after dinner!
Roll the pink piggies, gain or lose points depending on how the little piggies land!

My fabulous new beverage dispenser! Filled with cucumbers and mint! Tomorrow, oranges and berries!
My quest to drink more water . . .

GoPro3+ camera . . . I have some grant money to spend for my campus. This is such a cool camera that I'm considering. It is a video camera that can be attached to a helmet, chest harness, a pvc pipe . . .
A day in the life of . . . record a field trip, class celebration, school assembly . . . hum, can't decide!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Encouraging Girls in Math & Science

Yesterday, I ventured off to a particular chain toy store!
Crazy, I know!
There was one particular item I was looking for . . .
Little did I know that I would find the deal of the century for some really great girls.

I'll get to the picture in a minute!

Eight years ago I moved from 3rd grade to 5th grade. In third grade there were a handful of girls that would say . . .
"I hate math and science."

"I'm not good at the math."
"I don't like science."

In fifth grade there were even more girls expressing their dislike and lack of ability for the subjects math and science.

When my own daughter, in second grade, started saying the same phrases, I knew there needed to be a shift in thinking! I needed girls to get excited about math and science. What was creating this surge in thinking? What could I do to create a shift in this mindset? I started searching online.

I was looking for that something that would have a bigger impact than just in my own class.
I found it!
GEMS - Girls Excelling in Math and Science! I started to brainstorm with another teacher on the implementation of our after school club.
  • 1st - 5th grade
  • Twice a month
  • Problem based challenges
  • Connect with a career
  • Use household items so girls can replicate at home
200+ girls and a waiting list later, we had our first GEMS meeting. It was literally one of those moments where time stands still. I stood back and looked at all the eager faces staring back at me, all excited to be part of GEMS. Goose-bump moment!

In GEMS we teach the girls to take risks, that failure really does lead to success and things aren't hard. They might be challenging, but not hard. You see, by definition, a challenge can be overcome. A challenge is a demanding task that calls for a special effort or dedication to the one engaged in it! (In my class, my students weren't allowed to say something was hard. Challenging, yes. I loved when I would catch a student say, "This is soooo har . . .  I mean, challenging.")

In GEMS, we celebrate failure because girls know they can always go back and redesign. Failure really isn't failure. It's a learning experience that helps us grow.
If girls have questions about the challenge, we answer with a question.
We laugh and have fun because math and science are fun!

At the end of each hour, we reflect. What worked? What didn't work? This is the most powerful part of the hour.

Thanks to some really wonderful teacher sponsors and a fantastic school foundation (that helped fund our start up), we are now on our second year and still going strong!

There have been so many projects, but the one that sticks out the most was our Hour of Code day! Another goose-bump moment! Where can you get that many girls excited about coding? Amazing!

What was the deal of the century?  K'Nex kits - Buy 1 Get 1 Free! Kits that teach math, science, engineering and technology concepts! I can't wait to share these with the girls!

Of course, my daughter and I are making sure all the parts are in each kit. (Wink! Wink!)

We are on our second one!         It is . . .  challenging!

I highly recommend starting a GEMS club at your school!

Never found that one item . . . this was even better!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Social Studies Mentor Text and an App

I love a good mentor text, especially for social studies, but add in a bit of technology . . .  even better!

Today, I share with you, Somewhere in the World Right Now by Stacey Schuett. This is a lovely book with beautiful illustrations. It is very lyrical and explores the world of time zones and cultures.
Click on the picture below to take you to a Youtube video of the book being read.

There is a great app that goes well with the book. Whole Wide World is a fun game where students take a journey around the world. They can rotate the globe to select a country to visit. Students play games and collect postcards to add to their scrapbook while learning about fun facts about each country. 
Then, students can use the interactive postcard creator from Read, Write, Think to write about their travels or research another location.
I love that when you hover over the various parts of the postcard, it will give the student the name of that part of the letter and a short description. 

It walks students through the various parts of the letter as they write.

Print when finished! Then, students can design the front of their postcard with an original drawing.

Head over to Collaboration Cuties to see other mentor texts for social studies lessons.

Happy Sunday!