Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Tech Tuesday- I'm loving Code.org!

I love Code.org and so do my students! Have you tried it? This week they are sponsoring the event An Hour of Code, hoping to get more students involved in learning to code. When I started my blog I took an online course that included some basics of coding- how to center text, change color, things like that. When I started hearing about code.org I thought "really? even for little kids? hmmmm..." I'll admit I was skeptical that it was something my 2nd graders or k-1 kids could do. Boy was I wrong!

Code.org has courses kids can work their way through. Mine class started with course 1 designed for kids who can't read yet. It seemed like a good place to start to get the basics. It's really simple at first, but it gets more complicated and they can work through it at their own pace. Some of my kiddos do it at home too.

I'm hoping it will make a big difference in my students problem solving and critical thinking abilities. So far it's made a difference in a few students willingness to try to solve a problem by themselves. Code.org is also super easy to use. You can sign up your class to allow students to keep track of what they've done, or just have them go to code.org and give it a try. 

Here are a few videos about coding in case you're thinking of giving it a try. Happy watching! 

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

New Write, Read, Draw & a Christmas Freebie

How was your Thanksgiving? Ours was wonderful. Time with family and lots of delicious food! We got back home late yesterday and I've been working on some school things today. I've got a couple new creations to share.

First, a companion to my best selling product Read, Write, Draw with Long Vowels words. I created a very similar pack that covers words with initial consonant R, L, and S blends. It's available in both my TPT and TN stores.
What's included looks like this

What I like about using these worksheets with my students is that they HAVE TO read the words in order to draw the pictures. They also enjoy drawing the pictures instead of just writing the letters. Sometimes, however, I can't quite tell what if the picture matches the word so I have asked many times "How does that (your picture) show that word?" Almost every time the student can explain the picture so that I know they could actually read the word. I'm looking forward to using these as a review this week with my 2nd graders.

Also, here's a Christmas freebie you can grab in my TPT store
There are 1 syllable long vowel word cards that students sort like this (the pic shows the short vowel set, but this works the same way). There are also 20 2-syllable words for higher firsties or 2nd graders.
 Students choose 2 words from each vowel to write and draw a picture of. I've kind of got that "drawing a picture" theme going today, don't I?
 This activity follows another freebie, my Short Vowel Word Sort Activity. It's free too and now with an updated cover. Wow, I looked at the old cover the other day and thought, "I did that?" It seriously needed updating.

As I'm writing this post I can't wait to do some cyber shopping tomorrow! My teacher wish list is long and I'm ready to shop! My TPT and TN stores will be discounted for the next 2 days. Have fun with your shopping! Remember the promo code tptcyber to save 28%.

Thank you to Michelle for that cute sale button!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Tech Tuesday- Music

Aaaahhhh... it's Thanksgiving week- yippee! In my district we have the whole week off and it couldn't have come at a better time. I've been so busy with all of our usual busy-ness and so many meetings that I could hardly wait for some time off. So what did I do? Well go to school of course. I spent a few hours Sunday and yesterday cleaning up, reorganizing so areas of my room that were in desperate need (especially my desk!), and changing bulletin boards. Today my husband and I are taking advantage of my time off and heading to Los Angeles for the day. We're headed to a favorite spot for lunch then the LA Car Show. It surprises me that I think that's so much fun, but my husband's enthusiasm was contagious. So off we go!
But before that I wanted to be sure to get in another Tech Tuesday. Today's post is about a favorite music website of mine.
I love this website!
There is so much available for kids to play with on this site! In my school any music education is up to me and let me tell you, friends, I'm no musician. So I feel bad for my students. My elementary school had a music teacher who would come into the classroom and a chorus and band teacher who taught those things after school. This website gives my students exposure to classical music and instruments and they enjoy it.
Students can listen to classical music
Kids can play music
They can play with different instruments to find out what they look like and how they sound.
They can learn about conducting a symphony too.
I've used this website with a few different classes and they always enjoy it so much.

This morning I found the website for the Music Teachers National Association that has a list of many different music websites if you're interested in finding more places for kids to explore and learn about music. Just click below.

Have a great day everyone!

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Technology Tuesday- typing activities

Thanks for popping back by for the second Technology Tuesday! This week my students started doing some practice typing. I've found 2 websites that have activities that are fun and simple to give K-2 kiddos practice finding letters on the keyboard.

The first site is one you might already be familiar with. It's abcya.com. Your students can get to the typing activities with this URL: http://www.abcya.com/kids_typing_games.htm or by searching "typing" on the home page of abcya.com.
Here's what they'll see
My favorite, and one my students feel very successful with is Type Rocket Jr. Students try to type the letter that appears on each rocket. As they type the letters, the rocket explodes. They're really loving it!

The 2nd site is Learning Games for Kids. There are typing courses that start out having kids type one letter at a time and increase to typing complete words.
Here is the URL for these games: http://www.learninggamesforkids.com/keyboarding_games/typing-course.html

Hopefully you can find some of this worthwhile for your classroom. I'm going to cut things short tonight. I'm a little tired. I had half of another teacher's class in my room today since there was no substitute for her so I had 32 kiddos instead of my usual 23. So much for my lesson plans! It's hard to find room for that many to sit when you're not set up for it, you know? I feel for those of you that have that many students on a regular basis. I really appreciate my smaller class! But we did a little math and a Thanksgiving art project I quickly prepped at recess and it all worked out. Her kids were really sweet. Do you ever have days when there aren't enough subs to go around?

I'm off to get a few things ready for the rest of the week. Have a good one!

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Technology Tuesday- Digital Writing

Welcome to Technology Tuesday! Every Tuesday I'll post something technology related that I've discovered or tried in my classroom. 

A little background: This year my classroom is one of several in my district piloting having 1:1  devices in the classroom. We have a class set of Lenovo Thinkpad laptop/tablets we share with a sixth grade classroom at my school. The devices are stored on a rolling cart her sixth graders roll back and forth for us. It's working out well. Luckily the teacher I share them with is a really nice person and it was easy to work out a schedule for using the Thinkpads.

I've spent a lot of time searching for websites my 2nd graders (and K-1) kiddos could use for digital writing. The K-2 Common Core standard reads "With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers." So far we've explored Padlet.com and Storyboardthat.com and I like both of them very much and my students do too! 

Padlet.com is a fun, easy to use, and very versatile website where students can share and collaborate with each other. As a teacher it is very easy to set up an account- and it's free! As a student it's easy to log on to the padlet wall the teacher sets up. We use Padlet.com on Thursday and Friday mornings to answer a quick "question of the day' that I make up. 
The first wall I set up asked my 2nd graders to tell what their favorite food is. Students typed their name then the answer to the question. In real time they see their responses and those of the other students pop up on the screen. After some of them got their responses up I showed them how they could add a photo of themselves. As these started to pop up they started shouting WoW! It was really fun to see their reactions! I wish I could show you our wall, but with names and photos I probably shouldn't. So I'll leave you with this short video tutorial that go me started. If you try Padlet.com or you already have, I'd love to hear how you use it!

Storyboardthat.com gives the students a chance to create a 3-frame or 6-frame storyboard, like a comic strip. They add a background to each square in the storyboard as well as characters and dialog bubbles the website calls "textables." I love that term! There is no end to how creative kids can be with this tool. I would recommend it for 2nd grade and above, maybe 1st grade in late spring. Students can get on Storyboardthat.com and create for free, but a teacher account your students can save their work to go back to later and you can easily see what students are working on. I used the free 14-day account and will probably pay small fee to keep my account. The website looks complicated so the first time we used it I had the whole class make the same storyboard step by step with me. After that they have used it on their own. It amazes me how quickly they figured out what to do! If you're looking for a digital writing tool for your class, you might want to explore
Storyboardthat.com. Here is the video tutorial that helped me figure it out.

Yesterday we had a district Tech Expo in place of a regular professional development day. It was set up like a conference where teachers could choose the sessions they wanted to attend. It was so much better than the traditional way we've done PD days before. I presented (my first time presenting to a group of teachers! I very nervous!) about these websites and teachers seemed to like them so I thought I'd share them with you.
I hope you'll join me on every Tuesday on my journey to learn how to implement technology in my classroom!

And for any of you who might be a veteran, be married to one, be the mother or father of one, thank you for your service and the sacrifices you made so that we could enjoy our freedom!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Frankenstein Directed Draw

I haven't been a very good blogger lately. Where does the time go??? I'm back tonight to share a quick post with you about a directed draw my class did today. It was so fun! If you're looking for a simple Halloween project in the next 2 days, this could be it.
Last night I drew this Frankenstein. He was so much fun to color! (As a little girl coloring was one of my favorite things to do! I still remember when my cousin taught me to trace the lines first, then color the inside of the shape. Thanks, Jan!)
I'm sorry I don't have directions to share. I drew the line for his head first, then did the bolts and face. Next we did the shirt, and the pants were last. Feel free to pin this cute guy! 
Here are some of the ones my students drew. I love how they turned out!
 Have a fun Halloween with your class! I'll be back soon with some technology related posts. Stay tuned!

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Red Ribbon Week Book Review & Givewaway

I've been a bad blogger and haven't even posted photos of my classroom yet this year. Yikes! Part of the reason has to do with our kitty Stevie. (I'm going to take a minute for something personal here then get to the book review.) You may remember me mentioning him before. He was blind and somewhat deaf and had several other medical issues. Sadly his kidney disease got the better of him recently and we lost him last Tuesday. Our lives had been centered around him since June when we thought for sure he wouldn't make it much longer. We gave him subcutaneous fluids every day , them every other day, then 3 times a week. For a while he improved and was running, purring, and playing like the happiest kitty on Earth. Then things changed and he had a few seizures and just couldn't recover. We tried so hard to help him and he tried so hard to get better. He was only 4 1/2 years old. We miss him very much! Here's one of my favorite pictures of Stevie.

Now for some happier news... I'm having a giveaway! Woot! Woot! You have a chance to win one of 3 autographed copies of this adorable book that can help you celebrate Red Ribbon Week. It's called

Sarah's Sick Day is about a little girl named Sarah who wakes up one morning with a sore throat and fever. Her mom tells her she needs to stay home from school that day. The problem is that it's Share Day and Sarah really wants to share her birthday doll plus she'd miss snack time with her best friend, storytime, and it's her day to sit on the class beanbag. So Sarah remembers about the purple medicine in the cabinet and thinks that she'll just take a sip to help make herself feel better. Luckily she can't get the cap off and mom comes in just in time. She explains about the danger of taking medicine by yourself. Sarah promises never to do that again and mom lovingly tucks Sarah back in bed with her birthday doll.

I received an email from the author of Sarah's Sick Day, Erainna Winnett, asking if I would like a signed copy of her book in exchange for blogging about it. I looked at her website and watched the trailer for the book (which you can see HERE) and quickly replied YES!

This is a very sweet story and I'm looking forward to reading it to my class during Red Ribbon Week. I like that it addresses the issue of taking medicine rather than illegal drugs or alcohol. For a few years in my first grade room I would bring up friend trying to make friends take drugs and the dangers of alcohol then the hands would come up and I'd hear stories of "my neighbor who smokes marijuana" "my dad gets drunk sometimes". And I feel bad that some kiddos don't know about drugs and drinking too much and I don't want to be the one to tell them about. Right or wrong, I want the innocent ones to stay innocent a while longer. But I feel this book touches on something very pertinent for little kids and it seems very likely that K-2 kids could try to take medicine from the medicine cabinet on their own.

Erainna has graciously offered 3 autographed copies of Sarah's Sick Day for a giveaway.  The giveaway only goes for a couple of days so that your books can be mailed out to you very soon. 

If you're a pre-K to 2nd grade teacher, you definitely want this book! It's also for sale on Amazon and you can access her website HERE.

Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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