Monday, June 30, 2014

ISTE 2014....WOW Part 1

So I have officially finished 2 full days at ISTE and all I can say is WOW!  For all my love of tech I was impressed, inspired, and overwhelmed. I have about a million new ideas and thoughts running through my head so for my sanity I am going to pick 4 things to focus on and share those.

IEP - individual exploration plan.  
   As teachers, with the meetings and testing that go along with IEP's we forget about the positive experience these plans can help our students achieve.  They are plans with specific steps, goals, and timelines.  They give a roadmap to where the student should end but who knows what will happen in the very important middle part.  

  Of course when the presenter (Jennifer Magiera) at the ignite session said teachers should have their own IEP we all giggled a little...ok a lot.  She told us that we need to take charge of our own learning.  We need to figure out what we need as teachers to move forward and find a way to learn it.  Just like our students, when we take control of our learning why wouldn't we be more engaged and excited about the journey.  Who knows what else we will find on the way? 

  So let's look st IEP'S in a different light. Why cant we as educators take a tool that we have been usung with our students for years and make it work for us?

Pear Deck - interactive presentation web tool

  I have seen more presentation's than I care to think about. We have all been to lectures where we listen to slide after slide and think when is this going to end.  During the interactive lecture for Untangle the Web we had quite a few tools thrown at us (in a very fun, energetic, way).   One of my favorites was Peardeck. Its still in Beta mode and its not a free program be but it was so fun to be in the audience and interact with the presentors through this tool. Each slide was a quiz and answer, or respond, or share. It was great! I might have to look into it more and give it a try.

Robotics -
   All I can say about this is I have to try it!  My favorite robot was the one created by the Tufts grad students. It was simple and look like a wooden block toy.  It was so unassuming and not scary!  These teachers (not engineering students) planned, designed,and built this robot.

AR- Augmented Reality
  This by far has the most posibilities to do with a very limited budget.  AR allows for location tags or image recognition.  With location tags (and image recognition), spots are "pinned" via GPS.  At each of these "pins" information is linked up for the user to watch, listen, learn, and/or do.  It could be as simple as a video telling you about a location or an activity to complete.  The possiblities are endless!  I already have so many ideas on how to incorperate this into my Kinder classroom (and some ideas for my friends in other grade levels).

So with my brain on overload that is all I have for today.  Once the rest of the new knowledge/ideas sort themselves out I will post my ISTE 2014 Part 2.

Were any of you at ISTE 2014?  What were some of your take-aways?  Anything spark your "I have to do this when I get back" feeling?  


Sunday, November 3, 2013

My Blog's New Life and A Storytelling Sample

It has been a long time since I have posted.  Keeping up with my new baby, school, and work proved to be a huge challenge.  As I embark on my PDP journey I would like to share my triumphs and challenges as I endeavor to bring new technology and practices into my classroom.  This blog will become a place to share tools, tips, and tricks that I learn along the way.

I am hoping that this page will someday be a resource to look back on not only for myself but for others.  The plan will be to not only look inside what I am doing in my classroom but to have tutorials on how to use some of these tools and make them work in classrooms all over.  

Here's to new challenges, new friends, and finding my place in an ever-changing world of teaching.

In my classroom we are doing a 6 week study on telling a story.  The main focus is on Fairy Tales, as they are familiar and have great sequencing possibilities.  It is simple for Kinders to see the beginning, middle, and end of a story and tell their own version.  One of their choices for retelling is using two great apps on the iPad's we have in our classroom.    

So on to my first tool that I have been using with my students.  I introduced my students to Felt Board this past week and they absolutely love it!  It does cost $2.99 but it has been so worth it!  We started with retelling The 3 Little Pigs together as a class.  When it was time for centers, they jumped right in to make their own stories!

After they created their picture they saved it to the camera roll and moved on to the next App, Educreations. The App is completely free (you do have to create an account) and is simple enough for even my Kinders to use.  I had introduced Educreations a few weeks ago so they were all familiar with how to use it.  They chose their picture from the camera roll and were able to record their story. 

Here is a sample of how it turned out!

Have fun trying it out with your students!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Return to Past Adventures

So I will be moving back to kindergarten this year.  First Grade really felt like it fit but I loved Kinders once upon a time.  I think I will again too.  There is just something about the looks they give you with those huge smiles and big hugs.  I can't help it.  They are just to sweet to not love.

So to get ready for my new adventure into the past I am creating a theme for my room this year.  We will be "Wild About Kindergarten" and jungle pictures and decorations will adorn the walls and tables.  I have never done the whole theme thing so I have had fun trying to coordinate everything.  Thank heavens for a friend from last year who handed down all her jungle decor or I would have gone overboard in the spending department.

I am even going as far to make those adorable milk-crate seats from Pinterest that I have been eyeing up all summer. The directions can be found here! I found zebra print in black and purple!  I am a little excited about that.  I will take pictures this weekend and share.  I really hope they turn out the way I want them too.

So now that I have all the fun stuff taken care of I can begin all the paperwork for the beginning of the year... there always seems to be more.  Enjoy your last few weeks of summer!  I know I will.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Words Their Way Update

I have seriously been lacking in my blogging skills this year. I think I took on to much for awhile there and needed to better organize my life. Way back I had posted about our journey into the Words their Way Program (WTW). Here is the update on my thoughts of the program.. Goal 1: Spelling/Phonics program. WTW fits into this category. Every week we work on the students list of words and how those words are put together. The timing works well with Daily 5 and allows time to work with each small group on their individualized lists. I spend a few minutes each day working with smaller groups and then release them into their specified activities. Goal 2: Students will incorporate their spelling into their reading and writing. Although it doesn't look like a traditional phonics program the students learn what they need to become better readers and incorporate those skills into their writing. It is a little tougher to see the progress in some as they still struggle with the weekly lists. Most students are beginning to see the correlation and it is February. I am hoping next year it doesn't take as long as it won't be their first year of the program. It builds each year and last year's kindergarten didn't have WTW. I have decided that I will absolutely try this program for at least one more year. Hopefully next years students will have more to build from as the kindergarten curriculum has been rebuilt some and the students will be better prepared for 1st grade on a variety of levels. I would love to hear some more on what some of you like/dislike about WTW. We are still in the evaluation process and feel it will take at least 2 years to make a fully informed decision.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Hodgepodge of Info

Sorry I  have once again been missing.  My own class has been keeping me so busy.  We have had spirit week, grandparents day, and conferences.  I feel like I finally have time to breathe.  I haven’t even had a chance to check in at all my favorite blogs that I follow!

So here is what has been going on in my Fabulous Class…

We are finishing up our Daily 5 introduction period.  Which means I now get to start working with those small groups of readers.  I have so many different levels that I  have yet to figure out how I am meeting all their needs.  My co-grade level teacher and I are creating a book club packet for our higher level readers.  We are so excited to start this!  We have a few students that already read at a 2nd – 3rd grade level.

Words their Way is going well.  Most of my class is doing short vowels but I have a group of 5 that are working on diagraphs.  Those spelling lists for diagraphs are really hard but the parents are studying at home and most of the students are doing really well.  Each week they get to do speller’s choice activities for their homework.  They choose 3 of the activities and turn in the paper on Friday.  It shows me who is studying at home and gives me insight if they don’t do well on their test.

Last week we started our first Author Study project, Kevin Henkes.  The students will learn about the author and his books for the rest of the month as well as do a take-home project with their families.  The plan is to do an author a month during our Daily 5 reading block.  I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

My fabulous parents bought me a Flip Camera off my teacher wish list!  I have been busy recording my students and posting their videos to our classroom blog.  The parents and students love going to the site and checking it out.

Sorry for the long post with no pictures!  I hope you are all doing well in your own classrooms and remembering to not sweat the small stuff.  ( I have to remind myself of that everyday!)


Saturday, September 17, 2011

After our First Week of Words Their Way

Well my fabulous students just finished their first week of our Words Their Way program.  Most of my students did a fantastic job.  Their test was comprised of the following:  Studied pattern words, New pattern words, and high frequency words.  Even on the words they spelled wrong they got the pattern right.  That gives me hope that this program might be beneficial and worth the effort.  As I start creating word work activities for Daily 5 to go along with WTW I will post them on here so everyone can see.

On another note this week has made me feel like a fabulous, well-appreciated teacher.  Our Home and School asked us to fill out wish lists on  This is great since as a parochial school teacher I cannot utilize Donor’s Choose.  My parents have gotten me almost everything on it!  I had some great items such as; beanbag chairs, Flip video camera, printer, clipboards, and twistable crayons.  I have never had a class spoil me as much as this group.  One of the dads is even building me a custom shelf to house my Daily 5 bins.  I can’t wait to see it.

Last but not least… a little pep for tomorrow.  My 9 month old finally gets to wear her cheerleader outfit and cheer….



Sunday, September 11, 2011

Words Their Way

This week First Grade is starting Words Their Way.


Our lower grades have adopted this program to replace the traditional spelling program.  The idea is that students are given a spelling inventory and given list specific to where there are in the spelling and writing scheme.  Most of my students tested in the short vowel or diagraphs range.  To keep it simple this year we are only starting with two groups.  The trick is that students will not move on until they pass their list (2 or less wrong).  So in theory we could have as many lists as we do students within a few weeks (I am praying that doesn’t happen.)

This along with Daily 5 has been a lot of work to set up this year.  We are using a model by Beth Newingham for guidance as we move forward.  Students will have various stations throughout the week that they will have to complete based on their spelling list.  It involved doing word sorts and word games to not only memorize those words but understand how they are built so that students learn spelling skills which will be great when coming up with unfamiliar words. 

Each student has their own word study folder that they use throughout the week to keep their word sorts in as well as any response sheets or worksheets they have completed throughout the week.  They will also be given a copy of the word sort to take home as well as a traditional spelling list. 

Here are some photo's of our Word Study Folder:

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The front of the folder that envelope will hold their word sort words they miss on their test so they can be tested later

As for High Frequency Words.  We took an inventory of that using Fry’s List as well.  Students will go in order on the list and add 5 words they missed on the test each week to add to their spelling test. 

We are really trying to make learning effective for each student but I am already getting a little scared of how this could all turn out.  I could end up with way more work than I ever imagined but if my students gain fabulous spelling skills I think it would be worth it!

If any of you use Words Their Way and having any advice please comment!