Pages

Monday, April 6, 2015

Spring into Poetry

Many of you who know me or my work know that early in my career as an educator, I began writing sight word poems so that my first graders could get more practice with those all important 220. My first two published books were completely sight word poems.  My mother still has my first-ever book of poems which I made when I was eight out of construction paper, yarn, and notebook paper. Yes, I said notebook paper. I have always loved poetry and I have always tried to instill that love in my students.

One May, I remember getting ready to start writing poetry with my second graders. I was sure to spend a week or so reading a wide variety of poetry to them so that they were exposed to many styles before they attempted their first poems. . As I started to read poems to my kids, a child named Hillary said out loud: Hey Mrs. Reynolds, where did you find those books anyway? Now all year I'd had a book bucket marked "POETRY" in the classroom library, full of great poetry collections, but never drew attention to it. Once I showed them, it was never full again!

It's April, and that's means it's also National Poetry Month. So here is your chance to start getting your students to love poetry. Richard Byrne's blog Free Technology for Teachers had a great post last week about a wide variety of poetry resources. I've linked it here so you can check it out.

Read tons of poetry to them and honor their every attempt at writing. Remember, and remind your students too, that poems do not have to rhyme, they don't need full sentences, fewer words are often better than more, and that sometimes, when we write poetry, we bend the rules a bit. Have fun!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Appy New Year - A Little Late

I just finished up two really enjoyable days with SDE and Ohio Kindergarten teachers. I am already looking forward to going back to Columbus and Toledo to do my Writing Mini-Lessons seminar next month (2/18 and 2/19).  Check out the brochure for that here! One nice tid-bit that came out of that conference was a bit of knowledge sharing after an iPad session I did. Finding apps that work for students can be so overwhelming so I thought I'd share the names of apps that a few of the teachers so nicely shared with me. Check them  out, maybe they'll work for your kiddos.
Touch & Write
Write My Name
Bugs and Buttons (1 and 2)
Letter School
Bugs and Bubbles
Little Bit Studio


Friday, November 21, 2014

6 Seconds to Be Thankful

Growing up we had a Thanksgiving tradition fostered by my mother. During the course of the day each person would take a slip of paper and write down what they were thankful for. The slips got folded and placed in a basket but the writer remained anonymous. Anyone attending dinner participated. At the end of the day we would each pick a slip, read it out loud to the group and then try and guess who wrote it. It was a wonderful way to gather and reflect.

Many of us ask our students to name things they are thankful for at this time of the year. I have always felt it was important to bring students back to the basics in this sometimes superficial world we live in...to remember the traditions and reasons for holidays. This year, consider helping students  create Vine videos (6 seconds each!) about what they are thankful for. I've linked the site here. Then, share them with families via email or any other means you have available to you.

I hope you so have so many things to be thankful for this year that you could never name them all.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Thanksgiving is Almost Here

I have been busy speaking to wonderful groups of teachers all over the country these past few weeks and lost sight that Thanksgiving is indeed, almost here. One of the ideas I share with teachers in a SMART board session I do for SDE is the idea of taking students on virtual field trips. Plimoth Plantation has one that I've linked for you here.

I also have a great book to share. It's about 2 years old and takes an entirely different and slightly more contemporary look at Thanksgiving. The good news is that besides being a great story, it's informational text, a biography in fact, about the man behind the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. The title is Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet. It is a terrific story and this is the time to share it.

I hope you enjoy both with your students!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Books Are My Guilty Pleasure

In just under two weeks I'll be heading over to Nashua, NH to participate in SDE's Conference for PK/K teachers (check out the line-up here). I love speaking locally as it allows me to bring as much stuff as I can pack in my car. Usually, the "stuff" I choose is books. I'll be bringing great children's books with me to show how to grow students' academic vocabulary through read-alouds and I'm doing an entire session on non-fiction favorites. Then there are some books that I bring just because I love them and want to make sure every teacher I see knows about them.

For me, books are what I choose to buy over many other things. It's my mani-pedi, my new handbag, my had-to-have pair of shoes. I have been lucky enough to have access to books my entire life and I had adults in my life who loved books.

This afternoon, an email popped into my inbox and reminded me of a website/organization that is helping get books into the hands of little ones who wouldn't normally have access to them - as early as possible - to begin to grow that love for words and books. We Give Books is the operation and they do two great things: they have a free digital library that anyone can read from and they work with charities to get print books into the hands of under-privileged children. On October 21, they are having a Read for the Record event. Consider getting your class involved. All they have to do is read terrific children's literature like the Max and Ruby books from the site. It's free so hop to it!

If we teach kids to love books they can learn almost anything through that love.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Let's Connect

I am busy preparing for the fall season of conferences with SDE. First up for me is the Tennessee Conference for First Grade Teachers. (You can check out the line up of sessions here.) One of the sessions I am doing is Teaching with iPads where I show teachers a few of my favorite creation and skill-building apps to help them connect technology to the standards they are responsible for. Then I realized it was October 1st which means it's the first day of CEM. So...Happy Connected Educators Month! Whether you are hyper-connected or barely plugged in you can sign up here (it's free!) for great ideas, articles, websites, and more to make technology a part of your everyday instruction. It's a good way to start working through the jungle of information that's out there.

So if you're a TN educator, I'd love to see you. If you're not, I'll be in lots of other places too. Cruise the calendar to see when I'll be in your area and we can connect!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's All About Them

As we all get settled into this new school year and into our routines and responsibilities I think it is important to remember that the more engaging we can make our instruction, the more invested our students will be.  True involvement brings less behavior issues and more avid learners at the very least so we need to make a concerted effort to keep them in mind for if they are happy, we are happy. I know it might seem like I am preaching to the choir but we often do things in a way that works for us which isn't necessarily the same as planning things with our students in mind. So I put forth this challenge to you: plan with students engagement and opinions in mind. My friends at Edutopia have a great little read directly from students on the engagement part. I've linked it here. As far as the opinion part in concerned, well, that's easy: ask them. While they might not have too much say on the learning goals, we can certainly ask them how they'd like to learn, what kinds of topics interest them, what types of projects they would be excited to do, how we can make our classrooms more student-friendly places, and so on. Ask on a regular basis, teach them to answer respectfully, and implement any suggestion you possibly can. Here's to an engaging school year!