Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Technology Treasures!

Wow what a day it has been! Today was our FOURTH day of professional development, meetings, AND "Pop-In" to Meet the Teacher (with popsicles of course!)I was so excited to see all of my new little friends! They were all smiles and ready to go! I even passed out this too cute poem and bag of "ready confetti and jitter glitter" I found on Pinterest (DUH!) and followed the link back to Heather's Heart where she was an awesome freebie! It tells about placing the jitter glitter and ready confetti under their pillow the night before school starts so that they are ready to go and excited to learn when they wake up! She has a great blog so go check her out when you're finished reading!  I can't wait for Thursday to start on a new learning journey!
Isn't is precious?! Thanks for sharing this great idea, Heather!

 Whewwww! NOW.I am so excited to share with you a few of my fav. "Tech. Treasures"
1 My iPod Touch and it's many color hats  Apps :)    When we first got the "touches" at school, I was caught in just having it and actually using  it. (after all, I always used my personal "touch" as a music player, to track my runs, words with friends, etc.) Then I played on iTunes and read some blogs! I have since discovered Class Dojo - an interactive behavior management tool that you can control on your iPod AND share on your SMART board. There are so many options to best suit the needs of your class, ie. instead of using names, you can assign individual avatars, assign points to both positive and negative behaviors. Then, are you ready? You can generate reports of the behaviors for an individual and/or class AND email them to parents! CHECK IT OUT! :) The kids LOVE it!

2.RAZ-kids   A reading site that incorporates the ever popular Reading A-Z books. Each student has their own log in (which can be their name, and icon, both..) and can be password protected if you wish. The site allows for reading practice on a child's individual reading level. Each 'main' level has about twelve different books of varying genres. (You can even print most of them for additional practice!) The books are interactive, animated and have three options to complete. The ear: the books is read TO the child with the text lighting up as it is read aloud. The mouth icon: the CHILD reads the book (with the option to record it to use as an assessment for fluency and accuracy). Then the quiz: checks for comprehension. The teacher can generate individual or class reports that show key skills missed! :)  How 'bout them apples ? AND there is more! There is an incentive program called RAZ Rockets when students earn stars for completing each book. They can use these stars to purchase items in the interactive space shop! I use this site in my reading  center and send home the link so that students are able to access it from home, a public library, anywhere with internet connection. This program is OUT OF THIS WORLD!

3. Last (for tonight... I'm tired he he he) is one of the really neat ones. Tagxedo. Ever heard of word clouds? Well, the website for Tagxedo calls them "word clouds with style". Pretty cool, huh? Here's what it is. You take a story, a poem, a child's writing, or THIS BLOG,for example, the copy/paste the text into the site. Tagxedo then arranges the words in really cool ways making words that are used more often LARGER and more prominent than words that aren't used as much in the 'pasted text'. This would be especially cool with candidate speeches. You would just copy/paste the speeches, and then you would be able to identify which words the candidate uses often, thus able to see the candidates 'focus' or 'platform.' You can even have your text placed in a shape. For example, here is a cloud that I used with our faculty's last names and various words that are often used in our school. Our mascot is a lab, so....
the words were used once each, thus they are about the same size :)

 I like to use it with familiar stories and nursery rhymes then have students try to identify and highlight high frequency words. Here is a  tagxedo using the text from this blog post:
Which words do you notice are used more often? used fewer times? :)
Alright, friends. I am going to try and rest (HA!) I hope that you have enjoyed learning about a 'few of my favorite [tech] things'. I would love to hear about what your favorite sites, apps, technology tools are! Until tomorrow...enjoy the Journey! :)

I'm linkin' up with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week! Come along and join us!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Must Have Monday!

I'm linking up with my friends at Blog Hoppin' to share my all time FAVORITE teacher things! 

1. Mr. Sketch Markers (the ones that SMELL!) These markers are one of my first memories of third grade with one of my favorite teachers, Ms. Poston. The smells make drawing fun and take me back to a very happy place!
2. Keurig Coffee Maker and Green Mountain Apple Cider: OH SO YUMMO!  The perfect alternative to my regular cup of coffee. It's so warm and doesn't get me hyped up and allows me to have a Coke mid-day without feeling guilty!

3. Post it notes- I mean really? Who can do WITHOUT them? I make notes on them, graph with them, and this year... I am giving each child a mini one to draw their self portrait, write their name and border a blank piece of paper to make class stationary! Cute huh?! Thanks Pinterest!

4. The Magic Treehouse series: These books are excellent for read alouds in my first grade classroom. You can teach so many skills (and learn about the coolest places!) *See my previous post on how I use the Magic Treehouse series in my class.

5. My clipboard and "Tally Chart" : I know it sounds silly, but my clipboard goes EVERYWHERE with me! Its cute too--decorated with doggie themed ribbon and school colors . I use a different "Tally Chart" each day. On the chart, each child has a square where I record their lunch choice, positive behaviors (and the other kind :)  ), transportation changes, academic successes and challenges for that day, etc I date the form and file them in a 3 ring binder. It is  the perfect form of documentation when planning for Parent Conferences and such.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Trips Around the World... with the Magic Treehouse

I've been debating all weekend whether I should go ahead and blog about my favorite read aloud series or wait until Monday so I could post pictures...well, I've never been good at waiting, so TA-DA! (I will just have to update with photos later!)
For as long as I can remember, I have LOVED books. I mean really loved books. I know it sounds cliche, but they are magical! In third grade, I had a librarian  (that was PC then) named Mrs. Glenn. She was sweet as sugah :) and had a way with story telling. oooohhhh weeee, I HATED to leave the library! Mrs. Glenn had stuffed story book characters everywhere, it was a wonderland for a child!
Two of my favorites that Mrs. Glenn gave to me when she retired! True treasures!

 I would read at school, on the bus, at the table, in the bathtub (shhh! Don't tell Mrs. Glenn!) I could travel the world, go on adventures, meet new friends, and never leave my lovely, rural hometown. When I began teaching, I wanted my students to feel that same love for book! Thus, my addiction to The Magic Treehouse series. Yes, I teach first grade. Yes, they are chapter books. and YES they are the best thing ever!
Here is a snip it of how I use the Magic Treehouse series in my first grade classroom.
This year, I  Jack and Annie are mailing cute postcards to each of my new babies (snail mail is ExCiTiNg!!)  telling them about the neat adventures we are going to take together!
labels for snail-mail note cards

Now, follow me here. I read the series starting with book one, usually a chapter or two a day, as a read aloud. As I read, I have a marbled composition book under my document camera. I model various reading strategies out loud. For example, questioning an unknown word's meaning. I usually say something like "hmmmmm, Pteranadon. Wonder what that is? I'm going to write that word  in my notebook so that I can look it up later. Let me read a little more to see if I can figure it out with context clues. Ahhh, in the picture, Jack is riding on a flying dinosaur. I bet that is a Pteranadon!" I read further and jot notes in my notebook. We sound out words, write down "wonderings" , new facts, and draw pictures!

The kids love it! They often give me suggestions for my notebook, point out important facts, make connections, etc. After completing a book, we pin the book's setting on a map so we can track our travels, and I link a themed game or virtual field trip that relates to the books destination! (*this year I plan to mark our travels using Google Maps and make notes about the various destination--thanks to a lot of Google professional development this past summer!)
So many skills can be covered with the MTH series....character studies, research skills, map skills, facts/opinions, story elements.....the possibilities are ENDLESS! By the end of the year, my kiddos are stocking up on the series and their parents are amazed at what all they learn (like about a mummies nose and.....never mind!) Just typing this makes me excited! Stay tuned as I plan to update this post with pictures of our travel map, "research" notebook, links for virtual field trips, and shoe box treehouses to fit the various story settings! In the meantime, thank a librarian and ENJOY the Journey!
our  Magic Treehouse in the reading center :)