Thursday, April 30, 2015

My First Mystery Skype Experience

Today I had my first Mystery Skype experience.  My students had so much fun and it was a great opportunity for us to apply our new learning to a real life situation.  When I say Mystery "Skype", I actually mean we did a Google Hangout.  Myself and the other teacher have gmail accounts through our district so this format was a better fit.  I have known this teacher since high school and it was so fun to work together.

The goal of Mystery Skype was to determine the location of the other class using landmarks, positional words, and our district map.

PREPARATION
- I created a Google Doc to collaborate and share ideas with the other teacher.  In the document we listed which standards to address in the unit and picture books to use throughout the unit.
-Once it got closer to the date, each class created 5 questions to ask the other class and 5 clues to help determine their location.
-We printed a map of our district in poster size to display in our classrooms.
-I made cards for my class to use when the other class asked us a question.  A green card means yes and a red card means no.
THE DAY OF
-Make sure all devices are ready.  I did a test run to make sure there weren't any last minute technology glitches.  
-Remind students what the experience will look like and any goals for your learning.
-Have fun!  A student in my class said "this is the best day ever!"  I asked her why and she said, "because we haven't done this before".  Students crave new experiences and connections.  

FUTURE CHANGES
Although I created the questions and clues with my classes, it would have been more beneficial for students to see them posted on the board instead of me reading off a paper.  There is always something to improve on, but I am thrilled my students enjoyed the experience.

Happy (almost) Friday!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Taking Charge of Your Professional Development

After reading Ashleigh's post, I knew professional development would be the perfect topic for my #CompelledTribe blog post.  I am a beginning teacher and love to try new things in the classroom.

The key to making professional development meaningful is personalization.  Professional development should not be boring or redundant.  The best professional development motivates, encourages, and inspires you.  Immediately after, you will want to implement your new learning.  Here are a few ways I take charge of my professional development:

Last year was my first year of teaching and teaching blogs were a huge source of inspiration for me.  I loved the community of teachers and unlimited ideas for primary teachers.  Many of the ideas I implemented in the classroom came from teaching blogs.
I always wanted to start a teaching blog, but with last year being my first year  I thought it would be too much to take on.  I waited until July and The Positive Teacher was born!  Blogging has been a strong reflection tool for me.  I also joined the #CompelltedTribe and I really enjoy collaborating and the feedback I receive.  Of course "meeting" new teachers has been a positive too!

 I noticed the district I was working in created Twitter accounts for each school and began to use it as a tool.  I am a curious person (especially when it comes to technology), so I decided to check it out.  I created my account last summer, @ABond013 and haven't looked back.  Here are a few benefits:
-Building your Professional Learning Network (PLN).  
-Tailoring your Professional Development to your own needs and desires
-Participating in Twitter chats.  I love Twitter chats because there is always someone that stretches my thinking and makes me consider a different perspective.  At first the chats overwhelmed me so I sat back and observed for a few weeks.  Once I got the hang of it, I participated every week.  After 8 months of participating, I moderated my first chat. I based the chat off a book study and it seemed that the chat went well.

Many teachers have an Instagram account to showcase what is going on in their classroom.  The best part- it is SO simple.  I love to scroll through my feed to see what my teacher friends are up to.  In an instant I have an "a ha" moment. 
After one of my teacher friends told me how cool Voxer is, I knew I had to try it out.  Basically it is a walkie talkie app.  You can participate in individual or group conversations.  I prefer to hear someone's voice so I enjoy using this app for quick questions or conversations.  I talk to one teacher friend almost everyday.  

Just for fun...
I found another {beginning} teacher in my district that is eager to try new things like me.  Since both of us are doing our mapping unit soon, we plan on doing a #MysterySkype with both our classes.  It will be a new experience and I can't wait!  I am all about extending learning beyond the four walls of the classroom.  Right now I teach Kindergarten so let me know if you have any suggestions or tips!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites Chapter 8

I am linking up with Cara from The First Grade Parade for our best practice book study.
Today I am talking about metaphors, analogies, and similes.  Marcia Tate says this is the MOST EFFECTIVE strategy.  The reason it is most effective is because of connections.  This chapter really made me reflect on my teaching.
As I was working on my reflection, I noticed I have many examples in literacy.  My goal is to work on finding ways to incorporate this across all subject areas.

Like Cara mentioned, I love the main idea example Marcia uses to introduce the concept.  The top of the table is the main idea while the legs are the supporting details.  I found this anchor chart on Pinterest that is a great representation of her example.

Other examples I have used in the past:
FREE Vowel Glue Bottles HERE
Vowels "glue" the word together.
Picture Source (author's purpose PIE)  I use this with 2nd grade.
Students learned this song for our comparing numbers unit.  I introduced Allie the Alligator and she always wants to eat the bigger number.
I use Alpha Tales as a resource for teaching students letters and sounds. For each letter students create an alphabet page that will eventually be made into a book they take home. On their letter page they write a word that starts with that letter and draw a picture. For example, A is for Alligator.  We also learn a phonics dance for each letter.  
Picture Source (spaces)
Especially in Kindergarten, putting spaces between words is a big focus.  This helps students visualize how much space to put between letters and words.

If you celebrate Easter, enjoy the day with your family.  It is a beautiful day in Ohio!



Saturday, April 4, 2015

Together We Are Better {Daily Schedule}

I am linking up with Ashley from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Angie from Lucky Little Learners.  For April we are talking about our daily schedule.  I was so excited when I saw this posted on Instagram; I love seeing other teacher's schedules.
Right now I am teaching Kindergarten.  My district does half day Kindergarten so I have an AM and PM class.  Time is my biggest challenge because each session is about 2.5 hours.  It can be tough to fit everything in.  
I post my schedule each day at the front of the room.  I believe in having structure and a routine.  With half day Kindergarten it isn't perfect, but I like to have something in place for myself and my students.  
Graphic from Missing Tooth Grins
This week I changed my daily schedule.  I am sure some of you are thinking I am crazy for changing my schedule in the middle of the school year.  However, the current schedule was not working for me or my students.  I am pleased to say that the students responded positively to this new change.  It took a lot of modeling and reflection, but it was SO worth it.
9:00-9:20 Arrival
As students are arriving, they do math workstations.  My resources vary from Teachers Pay Teachers to Debbie Diller K-2 Math Stations.  I align all of my resources to past content or our current unit.  This is not a time for me to introduce something new.

9:20-9:30 Morning Meeting
Students clean up their workstation and meet me at the carpet.  I announce the Lucky Duck for the day, review calendar items, and do Chit Chat (morning message).

I love this resource because it is common core aligned, the scope and sequence developmentally makes sense for Kindergarten students, and I can project it on the SmartBoard instead of using soooo much chart paper.  Each week has a phonics focus; this week was digraphs.  Most importantly, this is a consistent routine:
-We read the message and discuss what we need to complete.
-I pass the marker to a student. (shared writing)
-We read the completed message.
Purchase Chit Chat by Deanna Jump HERE

9:30-10:20 Reading Workshop
All students are at the carpet for a read aloud.  Each mini lesson connects to the read aloud.
Example: 2 weeks ago I did an Eric Carle author study.  For each book we focused on character and setting.

When I am meeting with reading groups, students are doing literacy centers.

We end centers with our reflection.  I believe reflection is an essential part of the learning process for any grade.
Source: Leach Teach
Since I recently implemented literacy centers, this chart was incredibly beneficial.  I either had the students turn and talk about a certain number or we discussed all 4 components.

10:20-10:50 Writing
My district uses Lucy Calkins.  Her books contain a lot of information to take in, but I love the language she uses.  It is really helpful for me as the hook for my mini lesson.
 I follow the writing workshop model:
-Mini Lesson
-Independent Writing (I conference with students during this time)
This is what I use to record my anecdotal notes from conferring with students.  Each conference I tell the student a compliment and teaching point.
-Sharing
Some writing visuals that I post on the board.  
LEFT: Visual reminder for students to make sure their writing has all necessary components.  I have them draw the complete smiley face on their paper.
RIGHT: We all had a student tell us they have nothing to write about.  This provides students with possible small moments.

10:50-11:05 Word Study
I use Alpha Tales books as a resource for teaching students letters, sounds, and objects associated with each letter.  Example: A is for alligator.  Students also create a letter page and all of their pages are made into a book when we have finished the ABC's.  Each student takes home their completed book and they love it!  With each letter I teach the students a phonics dance.

During this time we also do word work: plurals, compound words, synonyms, antonyms, segmenting words, etc.

11:05-11:40 Math
My district has enVisions, but we are allowed to supplement as needed.  I use the curriculum as a guide so I can stay on track and have a clear vision for the year.

Math looks like...
-Whole Group Mini Lesson (at the carpet)
-Guided Practice
-Send Off… I meet with individual students/small groups as needed while the remainder of the class is playing math games around the room.

11:40-11:50 Pack Up
I dismiss students by table.
AM class: Clean up their area and flip workmat over for the PM class.
PM class: Clean up their area and put workmat away.

When students are done packing up they come to the carpet for a read aloud.  Just like any other grade level, students vary on how long it takes them to pack up so this helps keep everyone focused.

What about content??  Science and social studies are typically integrated throughout the day.  There are some units that work best to have a separate time.  In that case I do it after math.

Recess and brain breaks are integrated into the schedule as well.  Typically after writing.

We have library every Wednesday.  This means my schedule looks different on Wednesdays.

For PM times, just add 4 hours.  If students arrive for AM 9:00-9:20, PM is 1:00-1:20.

Time flies by with half day Kindergarten!  Thanks for reading this long post!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Five for Friday- April 3

I have not linked up for Five for Friday in a few weeks.  It has been busy!
I wore this outfit earlier in the week.  So excited to wear more colors since spring is here.
Top: Tommy Hilfiger
Pants: Old Navy Pixie Pants (red)
A literacy center this week: "egg"cellent rhymes.  Students matched the eggs with rhyming words.
One of our math workstations this week: "egg"cellent comparisons.  Students rolled the 2 dice then determined which number is greater or less.
This week was our rabbit unit.  I read Duck!  Rabbit!
LEFT: Color the template based on their opinion (duck or rabbit).
RIGHT: Support their opinion with reasoning.
Visit this blog for both free resources  HERE
I also integrated this with our current math unit: comparing numbers 0-10.  We voted as a class whether we thought it was a duck or rabbit.
I purchased DeeDee Wills' April Writing Station.  I love the clear learning objectives and the checklist is student friendly.

Enjoy your weekend!