Friday, October 24, 2014

The Book With No Pictures

This is short and to the point…I love this book so much! It immediately became one of my favorites after the first read!

Have you read this book yet? You HAVE to! It is so powerful and funny and amazing and silly and meaningful!!!

Can you tell I like it a little? :)

BJ Novak is brilliant!

My kids were laughing so hard it was hysterical!
Go buy it NOW!!!

Have a wonderful day!

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Time Flies

It can't be the seventh week of school. I am having a hard time with how fast this is going. I have the most amazing class. Learning-wise they are so diverse. From not being able to identify letters to reading at a third grade level. Well, that's first grade for ya! I love it!
 I have finally started my Guided Reading groups this week. I have 22 firsties in my class. This is the most I have ever had. I have five Guided Reading groups going. One of them I will see three times a week. The others I will see every day. It's going to be interesting.
How do you schedule your Guided Reading groups?
What is your routine?

I just bought these great TpT products from some amazing teachers.

I am so excited to use these activities, posters, and recording sheets. It is really going to help me be more productive and organized. 

I am going to start using them this week. I can't wait! I will let you know how it goes. :)

Have a wonderful day!

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Project Based Learning in a first grade classroom

Hello all! You know that I am a HUGE fan of PBL! HUGE!
I have tried it in my classroom two times. I guess three times is a charm. I have finally gotten it! We are going to be studying the lake in our town. At the end of this, the culminating project will be a field guide of the lake that will be published.
We have watched videos of lakes and ponds, read books about lakes and ponds, looked at websites about lakes and ponds. We will be having a few guest speakers in to talk to us about our town and the lake.
The most exciting thing that has happened so far is our peer critique.
We started out with discussing the different fish in our lake. Then we looked at photos of four of the fish. I gave them a choice of one of the four to illustrate.

This is one of our first drawings.

The next day, I modeled peer critique and showed them the video of Austin's Butterfly with Ron Berger.

The class took a look at this work and told him two things that he could work on. We focused on the shape of the fish.

This was the second draft. Pretty good right?
Well, we took another look at it. I sent them back to their tables and they worked in small groups. They told him two more things he could work on for the shape. 

This is the third draft and the bottom photo is what we were looking at for guidance.

We are not done. We have to add in the patterns and do a little more tweaking, but I am so amazed at what they have accomplished in three tries already.

The students were so thoughtful in their comments and critique. I am so AMAZED!!!

I am so excited about this project!
Do you do PBL in your classroom? What kinds of things are you working on? What works for you?

Have a wonderful day!

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Monday, September 8, 2014

A Full Week…I don't know if I can do it! Interactive Modeling and Guided Discovery

I am ready for my second week of school…well, I think I am. I was exhausted after the first two days! I can't imagine what I will be like this week.
The good thing about this year is that I am reenergized, refocused, and rejuvenated.
I'll talk about that in another post. Right now I want to talk to you about Guided Discovery and Interactive Modeling.
Holy Moly! This has been so much better than last year.
AHA moment.
I was getting so upset with my kiddos last year when they couldn't log in on the computers. Even at the end of the year I had some. I started to think about it this summer during Responsive Classroom.
I had not taught them how to log in, put their headphones on, or log out. I was getting frustrated for something that I had not taught them.
This year I am teaching them EVERYTHING!!! My sister's mantra is "set them up for success". That is what I plan on doing this year.

Interactive Modeling is a straightforward, quickly paced, seven-step process that's effective for teaching children any academic or social skill, routine, or procedure that you want them to do in a specific way (whether for safety, efficiency, or other reasons). One of the essential practices of the Responsive Classroomapproach to teaching elementary school children, Interactive Modeling can be used by any adult anywhere in school at any time of year.
This is straight from the Responsive Classroom website.

So far we have completed Interactive Modeling/Guided Discovery with:
lining up
eating at lunch
attention grabbers
Unifix Cubes/Connecting Cubes
Power Polygons

So far, so good.

I am so excited about this year!!!

Have a wonderful day!

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Thursday, September 4, 2014

First Day of School

I am ready! I spent all week in my classroom! I will post photos later today.
I am excited about this year. I am reenergized about PBL and Responsive Classroom. I had just enough summer trips to get me relaxed. I am set.
I don't even feel nervous….YET! Wait until I see those cutie patooties!
My new flock of firsties. I can't wait!

What is something special you do on the first day of school?
Family or students?

We have ice-cream for breakfast at home.
I take everyone's photo at school. I use them for a slide show on Curriculum night and do a project at the end of the year.

I can't wait! Have I told you, I can't wait!

Have a wonderful day!

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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Currently September

Holy Moly!!! It's September and I haven't blogged in almost a month. Wow!
I have had a whirlwind of a summer. We started back yesterday sans kiddos. They are coming back on Thursday. I am getting my mind and my classroom ready. I have a very interesting class this year. I have 22 in the class. 11 boys and 11 girls. That NEVER happens. :) I have some very high-needs firsties this year. There are three sets of twins in the first grade. I have one set and 1/2 of the other two sets. So cool!!! There are going to be five adults in my room for at least an hour and a half each day. With 22 firsts and five adults…that doesn't leave a lot of room for moving around. UGH! I am going to have to get creative.

Currently with Farley. LOVE LOVE LOVE
Head on over to link up. :)

Here goes…

My rooster begins crowing as soon as the light in my kitchen is turned on. I think he actually looks for me. 

I am so close to being ready for my little firsties to come. I need a few more things. I have not been able to find a rug. I can deal with the ones I had last year, but I'd really like to start the year with some new ones. 

My birthday is coming up. What to do…What to do??? I think I am going to have some giveaways via FB. I just love my birthday month. :)

I had so much fun this summer. It was AMAZING. Paris, Cape Cod, Canada, Rochester, NY., Phish Concerts. I would go back and do it all again in a heart beat. 

Phish with my very good friends. 

Notre Dame

Paris on Bastille Day!!!

Haran Hoedown
My sister's band "The Strings"

Cape Cod with the family

To blog more. Enough said.

I would love to go to Ireland. Family history and amazing sights.
I have always wanted to go to Africa. 
We never did that cross-country trip when I was young or with my kids. I would love to do this before my kids get too old. At this rate, we may be going with their families. :)

Have a wonderful day!!!

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Friday, August 8, 2014

PBLNY Final Day

Our third and final day ended with another amazing Keynote Speaker,
Yong Zhao.

Wow! I know I keep saying this, but these speakers have blown me away. I have learned so much from every single one of them.

Mr. Zhao was entertaining, so funny, and informative.
He said we have to get our kids to be "Out of the Basement Ready".
"We don't want them coming back and living with us."

"They need to be:
Psychologically Ready
Emotionally Ready and
Financially Ready."

"When technology transforms ~ education has to catch up."

He talked to us about what jobs are going to look like in the future and what we as teachers have to do about it. If these middle-tech jobs are going to go away, what do we have to do? We have to cultivate children to be creative. What are we doing now? Are we teaching/leading/helping them be the creative people we are going to need in the years to come?

I can't wait to read his book.

If you ever get a chance to see him I highly recommend it!


My break-out session was with Katie Regan.
She knows her technology!!!
I would love to sit and chat with Katie. :)

This session was about Social Media and Project Based Learning.

I would consider myself to be pretty tech-savvy, but I learned a lot more about what I can do with the kiddos and parents in my classroom during this session.

This post is interesting. When Katie asked us how many of our students were on FB hardly anyone raised their hands. (Of course I didn't, mine are 5, 6, and 7, but you never know) I was thinking of my own children. I haven't seen them post much lately. In fact, not at all. When us "old folks" took over Facebook it wasn't cool for them to be on anymore and they found other apps.
Now, you don't have to be worried about all of them. Some of them can be very useful, but we do all have to be aware of these apps they are using that we may not necessarily know about. I sure didn't.

We discussed several apps to use in the classroom and for connection to home and school.
We explored Twitter, Google +, and FB in way different ways I had before.

I am excited to have a FB page (private of course) for my parents. I can snap a photo of the kiddos and upload it immediately for my parents to see what their children were doing that day.

My Twitter is going to stay educational (for the most part). I will still throw in some photos from time to time. I can't resist. :)

This is my new thing this summer. I really haven't used it in any real way. I have found some amazing people to follow. There is so much information out there.

There were many more things that Katie shared. I will continue them in another post coming up.
 Too much information!!!

I am so excited PBL!

Have a wonderful day!

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Thursday, August 7, 2014


Our Keynote Speaker was Ron Berger.
I was so lucky. I was able to listen to him twice. Once as the Keynote Speaker and then in a breakout session called "Looking at Student Work".

I kept looking at him and listening…wondering where I have seen him before. It took me until he showed a video I have seen several times.

Austin's Butterfly

If you have not watched this, I highly recommend you do at some point. It shows how to get students to critique their own and other's work to get high quality work.

Mr. Berger says when critiquing you have to:
Be Kind
Be Specific
Be Helpful

Here are some quotes from Mr. Berger that I found to be very meaningful and essential in assessing student's work.

"The final project should not be the only assessment. There should be many assessments. It's an ongoing process throughout ~ multifaceted."

"Build a class culture with a growth mindset."

Check out the schools Ron Berger is working in all over the country.

He was amazing!


The next person I was able to listen to was Chris Sperry.

He talked to us about Integrating Media Literacy and Critical Thinking.
Wow! I would LOVE to be in his high school Social Studies class.

I never thought about all the different ways you could use media literacy in your classroom.
He had us compare two paintings to show cultural perspectives.

They have lessons right on their website for you to use. There are MANY middle-high school to college lessons. I have found a few elementary ones. I am excited to try one out this year.

Head on over to check out all the amazing things Project Look Sharp has done.

Well, I am off to another day of PBLNY!!!
It's the last day. Although I will be happy to sit in the sun tomorrow to digest all of this, I am sad it will be over. I have learned so much!

Have a wonderful day!

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