Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Family Fun: Painting Pottery

Thanks to donors on DonorsChoose, our students and families had the opportunity to meet us at a local paint your own pottery studio, Hot Pots.  The staff is always awesome with the kids, and the kids always have a great time.  It also gives families a time to chat and build relationships.  This year, the Hot Pots staff chose penguin figurines for students to paint.  They then fire them, and they are ready for pick up in 6 days.

After the kids finished their painting, the staff spoiled them with fresh cotton candy.

A great time was had by all!  If you've never used DonorsChoose, it is great for classroom materials and supplies, but also for trips and special visitors.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Have You Tried ChatterPix?

I've seen ChatterPix mentioned on a few different blogs.  I saw that it was free so of course I downloaded it.  It was always in the back of mind and last week I pulled it up and gave it a shot.

Each week, we go to the computer lab where the majority of the class works on iReady, an online diagnostic and instructional website.  We are piloting it in K this year, so not all of my students have accounts.  For those who don't, they typically use Raz-Kids, but this was difficult to engage them for 40 minutes or more.

Two weeks ago I came up with the idea to use our PebbleGo account to have students not on iReady research our current classroom theme: space.  I looked at the information available on PebbleGo and wrote out 5 questions for students to answer from the material given.  When we went back to class, the "researchers" had to share their findings with the rest of the class who used iReady.  The first thing students researched was stars and this past week they learned about the moon.

This week I had 2 students who learned about the moon come over, choose a Google image of the moon and record a couple facts that they had learned using ChatterPix.  After uploading the image and recording your information, you can use "stickers" in the app to decorate your picture.

Please excuse the background nose in the videos; we did our recording in the hallway while students in my class were at centers and another class came to the restroom which is right next to our room.

The app is great for quick projects.  You are limited to 30 seconds of recording time, so it was perfect for just a couple facts.

Each project took less than 10 minutes to create from finding the image, to recording and decorating.  My students LOVED it and were so proud of their little videos.  This is a free app I will definitely use again in the future.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

A Little Entertainment for Your Day

After 3 snow days, we finally went back to school yesterday.  Here's a little something to make you smile for today.

One of our goals this nine weeks (which ends tomorrow) is to learn our address.  I pulled a little guy over to ask him his address; here was our conversation:

Me: A, what is your address.

A: {puzzled face}

Me: Your address is where you live.  What is your address.

A: With my mom

Me: You are right, you do live with your mom.  Let me tell you your address and you say it back to me. (says address)

A: {Looks at me like he's confused}

Me: Your mom lives there too.  Please repeat your address after me.

A: Smiles and repeats. 

A parent and I were e-mailing back and forth about a child's backpack.  I mentioned that I appreciated the parent sending her homework back even with the backpack mixup.  The parent asked me to please tell her child that it is not necessary for mommy to say "ready read" when reading a story for homework.

{Our curriculum provides books for shared reading. There is a 'teacher' part of the story and a 'student' part.  After I read the teacher part, I say "ready read" and the kids read their part}

Me: Do you make mommy say 'ready read' when you do your homework?

A: Yes

Me: You know, mommy doesn't need to do that when you do homework.

A: But YOU do

Me: Yes, I do it because there is a group of kids reading at the same time, and you wouldn't be able to start together without me telling you when to start.  When it is just you and mommy reading, you don't need that because it is just you reading your part.

A: I'm still telling her she has to say it.

Sorry mom, I tried!

These things made me smile today.  Hope they made you smile too!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Positive Thoughts For Today

I had a long (longer than usual) drive into work today due to our buddy "Mother Nature" and her snowy morning.  I was feeling a bit tired by the time I arrived an hour and 35 minutes later.  Throughout the day, I wanted to find the positives today.

While reading "Duke" (do you DRA?), one of my kiddos was cracking me up.  She reads the first couple lines, looks at the picture and says "He does not look black and white.  I know that is what it says, but he does not look like that".  I told her I wasn't the author or the illustrator and if that is what the story says, then we'll have to go with it.  She continues reading and starts to giggle.  Then she says "Duke is a weird name for a dog because it sounds like "Doofus".  At this point I am laughing out loud; DRA is usually not LOL material.  We did make it through the book and she rocked it, even with her silly commentary.

I sent home a special reading log over winter break.  Those that completed their reading log (half the class) got to have lunch in the room with me today.  We had chocolate cupcakes for dessert too.  They were on cloud 9 over just having lunch in the room.  I'm a huge fan of free rewards that make them happy.  Those who didn't come were super bummed.  I guess we'll be using that reward again!  When they finished eating, they were allowed to play at centers until it was time to pick their friends up.  It was so nice to be able to enjoy them in a setting where I didn't have an agenda of things I needed to accomplish.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself with this class.  I've had lots of great kiddos in the past, and many of them I remember fondly, but this class is different.  My first principal, who is now retired, told me (many times) that you get "that class" about once every 7 years.  This is my 11th year of teaching, and I learned what "that class" is like.  Do we have our moments?  Absolutely!  I am so blessed to spend each day with them and love seeing their excitement everyday.  Many times I can see their wheels turning and can only image what will come out of their mouths next.  At times, I hesitate to share my excitement about what we are accomplishing because I know what it is like to have a class that "keeps you on your toes".  If you haven't had "that class" yet, it is well worth the wait!  I'm definitely looking forward to the second half of the year with them!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Back from Break

Today was our first day back from break.  It went really well!  Our nine weeks ends next week, so I got started with our "end of the nine weeks" assessments. Most of it is stuff I've been assessing throughout the nine weeks, just need to do some final checks and DRA.

I'm always on the lookout for ways to engage my kiddos while I work with guided reading groups.  I don't do Daily 5, but I do my own version of reading centers.  I'd like to try more components of Daily 5, so I decided to try some "read to someone" (partner reading).  We get National Geographic Young Explorer thanks to DonorsChoose.org.  I was getting organized this morning and realized I never used the November/December issue.

I decided this was perfect for them to try partner reading with.  They love their magazines, and their reading levels are a point that I think they will be able to get through most of it.  My hope is that they will get through 1 article in one-two days.  I made a little recording sheet to keep them accountable and help me see what words/items we need to go over as a class.  I'd love for you to have a copy too!  It is a freebie on TpT.

We are going to give this a try for the first time tomorrow, but I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.  How do you keep your kiddos learning and engaged during small groups?