Friday, March 20, 2015

Feeling Refreshed

This week is my spring break.  For those of you that have been following my journey, you know that I love to travel.  I went to South Florida Monday-Thursday for a short vacation.  The weather was perfect- 80s and sunny all week.

View from our resort. 
Nothing better- family, sunset, palm trees, and the beach.
Panoramic view of a beach sunrise.  I know not everyone is a morning person, but I love the beauty in a sunrise.  Sunrises are a peaceful way to start each day; reminds me to slow down and appreciate the little things.
I love the beach!  

This school year one goal of mine was to work on the school/life balance.  While I was on vacation, I was present.  I enjoyed every minute and came home feeling refreshed.  As spring break is coming to an end, I will enjoy my weekend and be prepared for school next week.
Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites Chapters 4 and 5

I forgot to link up last time so today's blog post is about chapters 4 and 5.

CHAPTER 4
Just like when we begin a lesson with our students, an author needs to hook their reader.  At the beginning of chapter 4, I love the quote in the first paragraph "you don't stop playing because you get old.  You get old because you stop playing."  As a primary teacher, games are very useful in my classroom.  I want to make learning meaningful and fun for my students.

Why should students play games?
"When student's are engrossed in game playing, the stress is lessened and memory for content is increased!"  (Tate, p. 31)

"Using game formats encourages students to cooperate with one another, helps them focus and pay attention, and is motivating and loads of fun." (Algozzine, Campbell & Wang, 2009a)
Games I have used in the classroom:
Math
-Subtraction Bowling
-Loose Tooth Subtraction
-Shamrock Sums
-Race to 100

Literacy
-SCOOT
-CVC Cupcakes
-Compound Word Football

CHAPTER 5 
Why should teachers use graphic organizers?
"They address both the left and the right hemisphere of students, so they are beneficial to all.  The students strong in the left hemisphere can supply the verbiage, and the right-hemipshere students have the option of showing what they know pictorially. " (Tate, p. 39)

"Graphic organizers are powerful tools for instruction since they enable students to organize data into segments or chunks that they comprehend and manage." (Gregory & Parry, 2006, p. 138)

Sadly I don't have many pictures of graphic organizers I use in the classroom.  A few examples from the past:
-Theme: picture of each Kevin Henkes book that I read then the theme of each book
-Editing/Revising: CUPS and MUGS
-4 square: each operation with commonly used words
-Venn Diagram: comparing 2 books

I am officially on spring break.  Can't wait for the beach.  Have a great week!

Monday, March 2, 2015

March Currently

I am linking up with Farley for her March Currently link up.  Since it is March does that mean spring will be here soon?  I am so over the snow, cold, and ice.  I need some sunshine!  I have really missed working out outside.

Listening: I feel like I say the same thing every month for this part, but yes I am watching F*R*I*E*N*D*S.  
Loving: My birthday was February 24 and I am celebrating my birthday with my college roommates this weekend.  All 5 of us haven't been together in the same room since we graduated 2 years ago.
Thinking: I truly feel like this school year is flying by.  It has definitely felt the busiest.
Wanting: Basically every store I go into is transitioning into spring clothes.  Time to go shopping!
Needing: I am so close to finishing my math assessments.  Only a few more students then I need to record the grades.
Spring Break Plans: I am going to Florida with my family.  I am so excited to get out of Ohio and head to the beach.

What do you love about March?

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites Chapters 1 and 2

I'm linking up with Elizabeth from Kickin' It in Kindergarten for our best practice book study. 
I really enjoyed Deanna Jump's post for this link up because she thoroughly explains the difference between a worksheet and a recording sheet.  Worksheets are at the lowest level of Bloom's Taxonomy and just keep student's busy.  A recording sheet allows room for student's creativity and to show their thinking.  I use a recording sheet when student's are playing games in the classroom.
Also, Deanna Jump's schema charts. I definitely want to try that in my classroom.
Can I get an AMEN?  I want my students making a mark on their world, not a worksheet. 

STRATEGY ONE
The first strategy was all about brainstorming and discussion.  I agree that classrooms shouldn't be quiet all the time.  I love when my students work in small groups.  Students need opportunities to share their thinking.  As an elementary school teacher, I also am a firm believer in educating the whole child.  Students working with their peers is beneficial to their social/emotional growth.

When I read this chapter I immediately thought of Number Talks.  I learned about Number Talks last school year and they are now part of my daily math routine and typically take 5-15 minutes.  
As you can see here, this teacher set the stage for number talks with sentence starters.  The sentence starters can be very helpful to guide student's thinking.  

If you haven't heard of Number Talks or if you are interested in learning more, purchase the book HERE

STRATEGY TWO
Strategy two was all about art work and allowing students to express their creativity.  One misconception I often overhear is that art work is only for Kindergarten and First Grade students.   It can be integrated into your curriculum, but it needs to be well thought out with a clear purpose.  I am very intentional about making sure any art work I include in my lessons is not "fluff" or cookie cutter.
Marcia Tate does a great job of discussing the positive research of how beneficial art work and drawing is for the brain.  Some classroom examples include:
  •  creating a personal dictionary for new content vocabulary words 
  • designing a book cover that represents the main idea or theme
  • for a word problem have students illustrate each step to represent what is happening
Sorry for the poor quality picture!
This was completed by a Kindergarten student last spring.  As I read the book Rosie Walked students were responsible for identifying phrases that contain a position word.  We stopped throughout the book to chart these phrases.  At the end of the read aloud we reviewed then students were given an 11 x 17 piece of paper divided into 4 squares.  On the top left students wrote Rosie Walked… (title of book) and selected 3 phrases from the book to illustrate.  Students also had to write the phrase below their illustration.  I challenged students to underline the position word.

Another example I used in the past goes along with character traits.  Students selected any character to illustrate.  If you guessed Elsa was the most popular, you would be correct.  They labeled their selected character with traits that describe their character.

What do you think of the book so far?  After reading chapters 1 and 2, what do you want to improve in your classroom?