Monday, November 25, 2013

My Students are Blogging!

Check out some of these posts.

They would love some feedback!
Keep in mind, that this is unpolished writing. They are simply recording their thoughts.

These kids make me happy. They really like sharing their thoughts. 

What do you think? Do you have your students blog?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Storytelling with Feltboard & Educreations

This is our first foray into Feltboard

I directed each student to create a scene with at least 2 characters. They saved their scene, imported it into Educreations, added text if they desired, and then recorded themselves telling the story.

I think it was a successful first endeavor.  :)

Here are a few of the stories.

Amber's story - Lost Dog!

Kimberly's story - The Amazing Wedding

Veta's story - Adventure Day

What do you think?

Friday, November 22, 2013

Our Frogs

Our class has 4 frog habitats that we are observing. They will be in our room for a few weeks before we have to give them back. The students have enjoyed watching them swim and many like to pick them up. I just like to watch. I don't like to touch slimy things!

Today the kids worked in groups to change out the water in the tanks. It was really starting to smell bad. One person said it smelled like a cat box. Ewwww! When the tanks were fresh, each group helped one another to take pictures. That was a lot of fun!

Students were instructed to write on their blogs about the frogs and what they have observed. Here are some of my observations.

I have observed:
1. I know that our frogs breathe air.
2. Some of my students really like to handle the frogs, and some of them are like me.
3. The longer the water stays in the tanks, the worse it smells.
4. The frogs like to hide under the plants for protection.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Anti-Bullying Week

My class wrote on hearts to share their thoughts about bullying. Here are a few…

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mixed Numbers & Improper Fractions videos

Good evening! I just wanted to pop in and share my student's videos from today.

Assignment: The students were directed to go to our Edmodo page, save the 4 photographs to their camera roll, import them onto different pages in Educreations, solve the problems, and record their reasoning.

It was a major success! Only 3 kids didn't get a 100. Love it!

Click on the links to watch a few. Let us know what you think.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Autobiography Project

My students recently completed an at home project! I was scoping out TPT last year and ran across a cute autobiography project.

Click on the picture to view on TPT.

I created a rubric that I also sent home with the instruction sheet. I supplied students with construction paper from school and they were off!

I was astonished with some of the things they shared with this project. Some of my kids have big dreams and I LOVE that!!!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Life in a 1:1 iPad Classroom - Morning Routine

Every morning my kids do the same thing.

Students start arriving in the classroom at 7:45 and aren't late until 7:55.

They unpack their backpacks, turn in homework, and turn on their iPads.

Their first job is to authenticate on our district's internet server. The district has different levels of filters depending on grade levels, so my kids sign-in every day to access the internet. Their sign-in is good for 24 hours.

Then they navigate to XtraMath. I have blogged about this amazing resource before, but in case it is new to you I will explain a little. XtraMath is a FREE website that helps kids with their math fact fluency. It is set up for easy classroom use. It is also compatible with iPads! Yay!

After they login, they see their progress on a chart.

They press start and move on.

I love that the keypad is so easy for them to access. It automatically pops up when you use an iPad. The kids are given 3 seconds to answer to get a smiley face and ten seconds before it prompts them with the correct answer. Go check it out if you haven't already. You won't be disappointed!

XtraMath only takes about 5 minutes, so when my kids finish, they go to Spelling City. I love this app and I am hoping that my principal will buy me a teacher membership so we can do more on it.

I have two levels of spelling every week: the basic list and the advanced list. We take a pre-test every Monday. Students who miss three or less use the "Star" list and students who miss more than three use the "Regular" list.

They choose their list and then choose their game.

This is a great way to start our day. It has plenty of brain exercise, provides time for practice of essential skills, and is a calm entry to our morning.

Announcements usually come on about 8:05 and I sharpen pencils afterward. Kids have until about 8:15 to finish their XtraMath and spend some time on Spelling City.

What do you think of our morning routine? Do you do something similar?

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Life in a 1:1 iPad Classroom - Procedures

So I want to start blogging to share how I am structuring my class around our iPads. We aren't using them to their full potential, yet, but I have high hopes!

Let's start with a few procedures…

Where do the kids keep their iPads during the day?
     The kids keep their iPads on their desks facedown when I need their attention or when we are working without using them. When I need the kids to have a clear desk, I have them place their iPads in their book boxes which are located on a small table between their groupings of desks. (see below) I do not ever let them put their iPads in their desks.

What about sound?
     Each student was given a pair of earbuds or they could bring headphones from home. They use these when they are on a program or app. I do not allow them to have the sound on during class for others to hear.

What is the procedure for charging?
     When the iPad is at less than 20% at the end of the day, the student places their iPad in the charging cart for the night. If their iPad goes into the red during the day, they simply charge it on the cart. This can usually take place during a special or lunch when we are out of the room.

What if someone misbehaves?
     I have only had to take away this privilege once to make my point. The students know that I expect their attention and good behavior throughout the day if they want to use the iPad. I can very easily have them do the same work on paper.
     We were very specific about our expectations for using and handling the iPads from the very beginning. I haven't had any trouble with the kids abusing the privilege yet.

How do the kids know when they can use their iPads and when their focus needs to be on the teacher?
     When students finish their work, they get on their iPads. They have several options, that I will discuss in another post, to use during this time. When I need everyone's attention, I say, "Dark and down, please." This means to stop whatever you are doing on the iPad, press the sleep button, and place your iPad face down on your desk. Not difficult at all! It works for when they are at their desks and when they are around the room.

What other procedures do you want more information about? Let me know if you have any questions. I know that when I was doing research over the summer, there weren't many blogs that detailed exactly how a 1:1 iPad class was run, so that is what I would like to share.

Tell me what you want to know!!!  :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The World is Turning Upside Down

This is how I am feeling right now.

All this testing is getting to me. Every three weeks is too much.

Let me show you what is on my plate (and almost every teacher in my district) for the next several days.

Thursday Nov. 6
Grades are due
Make sure all parents have conference reminders
iPad Teacher camp 4:00-6:15

Monday - Friday Nov. 11-15

regular teaching day

Reading Campus Checkpoint
Parent Conferences until 6:45
PTA program at 7:00

Math Campus Checkpoint
Science Campus Checkpoint
Early Release at 11:55
Staff Development until 3:40
Parent Conferences until 6:00

On top of that… I have iPads this year in my room. I feel so much pressure to do spectacular things. Not really happening. I want to do more with them, but I feel so contained because of these tests we are taking every three weeks. It's like I don't have room to be creative.

Can you say stressed? 
I can!
Oh wait…

Thanks for reading my rant.

Monday, November 4, 2013


I am a little late posting…

Sorry! I am a horrible blogger during the school year.

I made 2 snacks for my kids to celebrate Halloween.

Cuties dressed up as jack-o-lanterns! These were setting out when they walked in. Some of the kids ate them at lunch, but most took them home. They were a hit!

Spider web cupcakes! I handed these out as the kids left for the day.

It was a Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Regions of Texas

One of our units recently in Social Studies was the Regions of Texas. It is an interesting thing to teach.

We started with this:

I was really surprised that my kids struggled with vocabulary terms like border, body of water, and states. It was eye opening to say the least. We had just begun talking about all this, so I guess they forgot quite a bit over the summer.

With the help of our textbook, a few videos I found on YouTube, and our journals, we recorded lots of facts about each of the 4 major regions of Texas. The last activity is pictured below. I traced, outlined, and cut our the regions of Texas for groups to label. They aren't perfect, but they worked hard.

Another group was in charge of labeling a full map with the bordering states, country, and body of water. I also wanted them to label the major rivers and cities.

Below is my back wall right now. Before we talked about the regions of Texas, we learned a little bit about the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.

Here are some resources that I found:
Bill of Rights for journals
Comparison of the Texas and US Declarations partner research work with iPads
(Next year I will change the websites, the reading levels of these websites were too high)

Fun times! Do you know of any good resources I can use next year?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Science videos

My kids created short videos with Educreations a week or two ago. We are loving our iPads!

We had stream tables set up in the room for science observations. I had them take a picture of the best one and add it to their video. Then we went to Google Earth and looked up the Mississippi River delta. We compared them and added a screen shot to the Educreations video.

I gave them a question to answer for each page. I was pretty happy with their videos, given that it was our 2nd one!

They posted their videos on our Edmodo page so we could all enjoy them.

Here are a few examples!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Retelling with Puppet Pals 2

We are reading Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix as a class. It is a suspenseful book and we are loving it. After we read 2 chapters yesterday, I had them go on Puppet Pals 2 and retell part or all of the story so far. 

Keep in mind that these are the first things we have created on Puppet Pals and they didn't write a script. This was more of an impromptu assignment. We had taken 2 district tests earlier in the day and we had 30 minutes of school left. I wanted to let them do something fun and interesting, so this was an experiment!

I love them! They aren't great masterpieces, but they enjoyed making them.

I can't wait to do more polished ones down the road.

Have you used this with your students? What do you think?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Educreations in Science

We are studying rivers and streams in our science curriculum. Last week we did a science experiment/observation. We made stream tables. Here are a few examples:

After the experiment, I posted this question on Edmodo and the students responded.

I was really happy with their responses!!!

Then a few days later, we continued our study by going to Google Earth on our iPads and looking at the Mississippi River. The students made a video with Educreations. Here are a few of those videos.

What do you think?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Drama, Drama, Drama!

We just finished up a week of drama, as in plays, at school. I love having the kids do reader's theater. They have so much fun working together! Here is one group from last week performing a pirate drama from Super Teacher Worksheets.

Click HERE to view.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Quotation Lesson

Writing WG focus lesson
 We will recognize & use quotation marks.
 I will create a comic strip that includes dialogue.

Focus: Show an example, view Brain Pop video on quotation marks
Guided: We will write one together by choosing 2 characters & creating dialogue between them; pg. 28 WS for practice
Indep: TSW write a comic using properly punctuated dialogue throughout

 How does the use of dialogue enhance your writing?

Enjoy our comic strips. I love the humor.

Have you done this with your kids?

Any suggestions?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Summary lesson

This past week we also used our Pixar short films to write summaries. I use:
Somebody Wanted But So Then as a summary strategy.

I also add Beginning, Middle, and End to the saying. 

My kids hear this a lot during the year: "Summary is Somebody Wanted But So Then, Beginning, Middle, End."

Here are some examples. We did the first together, but the second is original to the student. The first summary is for Pigeon Impossible and the second is from Partly Cloudy.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Writing About Inferencing

We did one of my favorite activities today and it was such a success!

Lesson Frame:
We will use inferencing to draw conclusions.
I will write a question about the video for my partner to answer.

I had the students get out their Reading & Writing Notebooks and gather around the Promethean board. I explained that an inference is something we do all the time. We look or read something, add our thoughts and experiences to it, and draw conclusions.

Then we began to watch this Pixar short film:

I stopped the film about every 30 seconds and posed a question.

What are the birds doing?
What do you think the clouds will do?
What makes this cloud different?
How does the cloud feel about his creations?
How does the bird feel about the cloud's creations? Why does he feel that way?
What can you tell about the bird?
How would you describe the bird?

And so on...

Guys, my kids were writing machines! I would stop the video, ask the questions, and away they went. ALL of them! YES! This is exactly what happened last year, too!

They were using words like devastated, jealous, revenge, feeling betrayed, good buddy, and gear. Their sentence structure is really starting to improve.

Most of them ended up writing more than a page! Mission accomplished!

Here are some examples of what my students wrote.

Have a great evening.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Water Cycle

I just can't say enough how much I love my class this year! I love being able to joke with them. This is by far the nicest, most well behaved class I have had in my 6 years of teaching.

Anyway...  :)

I wanted to share our quick water cycle video with you guys. 

Assignment: work with your group to explain the water cycle. They could act it out, draw, or give some sort of presentation.

I am so sad that I messed up the last group's video! They chose to draw the parts of the water cycle and one of the girls narrated it. I am hoping we can rerecord this week. I accidentally just took a picture instead of a video. Ugh!

Other things we are loving:

Edmodo & blogging!

I am looking forward to getting our iPads. I know we will really take off with both of those when we have technology more readily available.

Have a great week!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Daily 4 - Read to Someone

Ok guys, if you haven't read The Daily 5 by Gail Boushey & Joan Moser, you need to ASAP!

I am loving the Daily 5, well, Daily 4 in my classroom.

I am astonished at how energized my kids are to read! I have presented the stamina part of reading as a challenge and they are eating it up. We are up to 18 minutes of FOCUSED reading! I mean, everyone is actually reading for those minutes. 

Here is an excerpt from the book:

Our accomplishments so far:
Read to Self - 18 minutes
Work on Writing - 12 minutes
Read to Someone - 10 minutes

My kids want to challenge themselves. They moan when the buzzer goes off signaling the end of reading or writing time! I could literally do cartwheels down the hall.

(Ok, I won't be doing that because I would hurt myself, but I am that excited!)

Take a look at our Read to Someone that we started today.

We went over our i-Chart and I explained EEKK!

Then I showed them how to check for understanding by retelling their partner what they heard them read at the end of the paragraph/page.

I also added something else. It was the listeners job to watch the words and point at any word their partner misread. They just pointed to the word and let their partner try to get it. I told the listener to count to 3 in their heads and then ask if their partner needed help.

Guys, they did great! My heart was bursting as I watched them patiently point out words and then help their partner sound it out! It was amazing.

This peer tutoring time is going to really help my students, I just know it!

We have taken our Checkpoints & screeners, so I will start pulling small groups next week. I am fairly confident that this group will be able to focus on their reading and writing even when I am busy with a group.

Awesome. Class.
Best. Students. Ever.

Coming up...

Setting up student's blogs!
Our first Educreations videos!

Have a great Friday!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tellagami Project

I am happy to share with you the Tellagami Project!

Paul Hamilton put this together and I think it turned out great.


Here is another video from Paul Hamilton that is insightful.

About Paul:
Creator of the Science AR App, the critically acclaimed educational app Formative Feedback for Learning and the revolutionary iBook series My Prep Year, Paul is changing the way digital content is being delivered in schools.
Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2013. Paul is a leader in the implementation of Augmented Reality in schools to improve learning outcomes, Professional Development of staff with integration of ICTs, and has expertise in the implementation of mobile devices into pedagogical frameworks.
You can learn more about him on his website:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Prepping Anchor Charts

Here are most of my anchor charts for this week. I like to prep them early.

I love this one!

We have started our weekly book check out. Here is our schedule:

Students get to change out their books in my classroom library once a week.

Here are the anchor charts from the first week of school:

Do you use anchor charts?
Am I the only one who does Google image searches and Pinterest searches for anchor charts?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Planning for a personal narrative

And so our writing journey begins...

I began by modeling how to "picture" plan for a personal narrative. The day before I gave them the prompt: Write about your favorite outdoor activity. I gave them 30 minutes to write. I wanted to see what they could do in terms of beginning, middle, end and grammar.

Let's just say we have some work to do.

That is pretty normal, though.

I really want our writing time this year to be engaging and useful. Every time they get to draw something, it is a treat, so I decided to take advantage of that.

**Disclaimer: This is not a great, original idea. I haven't seen it verbatim this way, but it isn't anything special.

I modeled how to set up the paper, where to put the prompt/main idea, and talked my way through my story as I added my pictures.

The kids immediately started to make connections/suggestions when I paused. I purposefully stopped and "struggled" with what to write/draw. I want my kids to see me cross things out and make mistakes this year. I feel like they get an unrealistic view of writing when I don't show them the starts and stops of the real writing process.

They really got into this activity. We are going to expound on their plan this coming week.

Tuesday: starting a personal narrative with a POW!
Wednesday: writing the beginning of the story
Thursday: writing the middle of the story
Friday: writing the end of the story

I will model with my own story, they will share their part with a partner by talking it out, and then they will put it on paper.

I will share some of their stories when they are finished!