Monday, October 31, 2011

STOLEN idea.... you should steal it, too!!

I HAVE to share! I just came across this blog post on Classroom Freebies and I think it's AWESOME! I wish I wish I wish that I had my own inclusive classroom with which to implement this YESTERDAY, but alas... it will have to wait. I just think it's the smartest thing to use facebook as a writing motivator.

It's amazing, it's... well, just click and see! Trust me, you

Classroom Freebies: Facebook Fun In Your Classroom!: You know how Facebook can be so addictive? It's just as addictive for your students, too! That's why it makes such a great writing motivat...


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Scholastic Dollar Deals

In case you haven't heard, Scholastic Dollar Deals is going on this week. I generally find at least three or four ebooks that I can use... and for $1 a piece, you can't beat it! This is a book of reproducible stories that work with Greek and Latin roots... fun practice for standardized tests. I'm thinking morning work or centers.
There are tons more (850 or so!) so be sure to go on over and check it out!


Friday, October 21, 2011

SUPER SIMPLE organizational tip

Have you ever had someone share a very simple tip with you that turned your teaching on end? I have. I was student teaching in Warsaw, Indiana when a teacher took 20 seconds to explain a priceless tip to me! I don't know, maybe you all know this already, and I was just ignorant, but in case you don't know... I can't in good conscience NOT share it with you.

Take a yellow highlighter (yes, any old yellow highlighter will do)
On each of your "Originals"--the papers in your file that you use to make copies-- make a notation. I write "O" for "Original", but you could write anything, really! 
It's a bit hard to see, but can you tell that I have a faint yellow "O" at the bottom of this paper? 
When I make copies, the yellow doesn't show up, so it becomes a clear copy for my little friends. 
This way, I'm never confused about which is the original. It helps to prevent me from having three "originals" that make their way into my file.

Do you have any SUPER SIMPLE tips that have changed your teaching life? 


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Favorite Read Alouds

Swimming into Second is having a Favorite Read Alouds Linky Party
There are so many good read-alouds that I almost don't know which one to pick! I think my favorite thus far is reading Stone Fox aloud to my 5th graders last year.

 It has some beautiful imagery in it, and it definitely keeps the kids "hooked" without being a mystery. To me, this is always a sign of really good writing. The kids were BEGGING me to read it aloud each day. It's a short read, but there are so many mini-lessons for Reader's Workshop that work well with this book! AND, it's a perfect book/movie to use for comparing and contrasting the book with the movie once you've finished reading it!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Mixing Art and Technology

I'm really still struggling with K-2 computer class... there's no curriculum and it's so hard to figure out what to teach them during our 45 minute class. I've googled the heck out of it, too, and there aren't really specific objectives for computer class, other than the vague national technology objectives... sigh.

The other day I decided we needed to focus on the "Fill Bucket" tool in Kid Pix. These kiddos are really struggling with fine motor skills, so I thought drawing lines and filling boxes with color would exercise their fine motor skills. (**Seriously, have you ever seen a kinder kid use a mouse? They can't figure out how to pick it up and move it when they run out of space on the desk!**)

Have you ever seen artwork by Piet Mondrian?
It's classic and easy for kids to reproduce. So, I had the kids log into Kid Pix and use the drawing tool to create some lines on their screen. Using our projector, I displayed some of Mondrian's art pieces for them to see, and then they used the fill bucket tool to create their own masterpiece. 
Some kids did better than others creating straight lines. It's hard for them!

 Some kids made lots and lots of lines...
 Others had fewer lines, therefore bigger squares.
Overall, this was an extremely successful project. I felt like it was valuable to be able to integrate art and technology. Art doesn't always have to include paint or glue and scissors. I think it's important to teach kids about famous artists and types of art. I definitely didn't learn enough about it as a kid, and I wish I knew more! 

Most importantly, the kids were super successful and they had a great time! 


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Kindergarten Computer Chaos

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought I would do a Google image search to show you my current state of mind:
Yep. That's about it. This is about what Kindergarten Computer class does to me. Normally it's not quite THIS bad, but today... oh, today I earned my paycheck.

I'll start by introducing you to a typical kinder computer lab time. They smile and say hello and hug me when they come in (this is my favorite part of teaching--the hugs and high fives from the little ones!). It doesn't matter what has happened on previous days, they are just excited as can be to come to class.

That's pretty accurate. Imagine 16 of those at one time. Then, bless their hearts!, they attempt to log in. A few get it right away, but the majority of them take a loooong time to get it right. They know the username and password from weeks of practice. The problem is the typing. They are SO focused and SO intent upon getting it right that they press each key just a little too long. Thus, instead of, say, "dog," they end up with something more like, "dddddoooooogggggg." And then they wonder why they can't log in! If only the computer could sense their sincerity and effort! Sigh.

So what does a frustrated kindergartener do?  
"Miss Craig? Miss Craig? Miss CRAIG????" 
 It really wouldn't be that bad, except that it's usually 12 of the 16 yelling this all at the SAME TIME.
Thus, the picture at the top of the post.

If only that were the end of it today. Oh, no. No. Today, one of my precious kinder friends grabs herself and proclaims, "I have to go to the bathroom!!" It was clearly urgent. So, I opened the door to the computer lab, and sent this girl and her partner two doors down to the bathroom. After about five minutes they still hadn't returned, so I signaled across the hall to one of the middle school teachers to watch my class please, and went down to the girls' bathroom door.

Lo and behold... it really had been an emergency. I'm now facing a kindergarten girl with her panties around her ankles and a worried look on her face.

Thankfully, her mom's the school secretary. One little phone call and mom was here to help.

That, my dear teaching friends, is why I feel a bit frazzled right now as I head off to teach middle school history. They tend to act like kindergarteners too, sometimes!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Homophone Song

Homophones are tricky things, no? Today as I was googling some things to use for tutoring after school, I found this GREAT clip from Veggie Tales Sumo of the Opera about homophones. It's witty and clever, and would make a great opening for teaching kids about some of the common homophones.

Isn't that great?

What are some of your favorite video clips to use in the classroom?


Monday, October 10, 2011

Spanish Meltdown and Great Bilingual Resources

I have GOT to be better about taking pictures while I teach. I just get so involved in the process of teaching and learning that I plain ol' forget! And then I feel like I can't post things well on this blog because, well... a picture is worth a thousand words. And who wants to read thousands of words? :) I know I'd always rather look at pictures!

I'm surviving. Last week I had a minor (well, somewhere between minor and major) meltdown as I looked at the coming weeks and the Spanish resources and melted into a puddle of inadequacy. I don't know if you've ever been in this position before, but it's such a new experience to have the teaching skills, but not the content skills! Ugh! I feel like such a failure because I KNOW what good teaching is, but I can't always do it because I don't know enough! Talk about incentive to brush up on my Spanish skills!

For example... the first couple of weeks we focused on Classroom Object Vocabulary. We sang some silly songs, but now I'm stuck. Do I just move on? I can plow through the vocabulary rather quickly, but.... but c'mon! We all know that's not GOOD TEACHING. I'm all about REALLY GOOD TEACHING. Really good teaching says that for vocabulary to stick or be meaningful, you have to teach it in a real context and allow the students to practice it in a real context. Great. I don't know enough Spanish to provide real context that comes from them!

Anyway... I've been gathering some amazing stuff from

For REAL. This gal is AWESOME. She's single-handedly saved my week. I've found some great games and printables on her site, and they're not just for Spanish! Good vocabulary techniques are good vocabulary techniques, no matter the language!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Currently: My First Linky Party

I've got to shoot straight with you, I just don't know how to jump into this world of educational blogging. I love stalking blogs and stealing ideas, but I have no idea how to get involved in the blogging community. I guess jumping into a linky party might help. :)

Oh' Boy 4th Grade is hosting a "Currently" linky party, so I thought I'd try my hand at linking up. We'll see if I even know how. ;)

I am currently....

listening to Save Me, San Francisco (Train)

loving the start of changing leaves, the crisp cool weather that indicates that FALL IS HERE!

thinking that I need to figure out what to do with my first graders in computer class today....
wanting to take a quick trip home to Indiana to see my doggy, Teddy. (I'm in Virginia subbing for a friend who's out for surgery for a few months--Teddy is with my parents. I miss him.)

needing to trim my bangs...they're getting long and in my eyes!

stalking these lovelies:


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