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!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Dot Day Approaches

It's almost here- Dot Day! The Dot, by Peter Reynolds, is one of my favorite books so I just wanted to send a reminder that Dot Day, a celebration of creativity, will be here in a few weeks. Check out this link to sign up (it's free) and to see what kinds of activities you and your students can do to celebrate this international extravaganza.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Current Events by the Hour

Thanks to my favorite blog, Free Technology for Teachers, I've learned about another cool resource. Thanks Richard!

Here's what they say on their site:

Every hour, 10x10 scans the RSS feeds of several leading international news sources, and performs an elaborate process of weighted linguistic analysis on the text contained in their top news stories. After this process, conclusions are automatically drawn about the hour's most important words. The top 100 words are chosen, along with 100 corresponding images, culled from the source news stories. At the end of each day, month, and year, 10x10 looks back through its archives to conclude the top 100 words for the given time period. In this way, a constantly evolving record of our world is formed, based on prominent world events, without any human input.

When you open 10x10, you will see a grid of the top 100 world images that hour, ranked in order of importance, reading left to right, top to bottom. Along the right edge of the screen are listed the corresponding top 100 words, one for each image.

Move your mouse around the images and you'll see which words match which images. Move your mouse up and down the word list, and the corresponding images will light up. Click any word or image to zoom in and see the news headlines behind the word. Click the headline links to read the original news stories. Click the zoomed image a second time to see the image full screen.

I love this as a vehicle for exploring current events together on your interactive white board or screen or for older students to use for research/information. Every class period might look a little different because the folks at Ten by Ten update it each hour. Check it out!