Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blog #1: Welcome to 2nd grade! I am looking forward to getting to know each of you this year.

Listen to the lyrics of this Phineas and Ferb song, to find out some fun things to do during summer vacation.

I am looking forward to meeting you soon.  I hope that you are enjoying your summer vacation.  Please tell me about something you did this summer.  I would like you to write at least three sentences.  Also, please tell me one thing you are nervous about in 2nd grade.

Make sure that you write your first name only in your comment.  Please choose anonymous when you post.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blogs 101

What are some of the best ways to use blogs?  Please post your answer.

  • Please explore the different blogs listed along the right hand column. 

  • I encourage you to search this creative young teacher's blog list.  She gives several great blogs Pre-K-5 by grade level: Chalk Talk a Kindergarten Blog

  • I would also like you to check out some of the blogs that were created by your peers during the June in-service.

Learning Support:


2nd Grade:

5th Grade:

8th Grade English (his existed prior to the inservice):

Mr. Griffith


  • You can also search on your own for blogs by subject in Google Blogs

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Crash Course in Classroom Photography

What parent doesn't LOVE to see pictures of their kid in the classroom?!!  The problem as teachers is making the time to take pictures (or just remembering!), getting good shots, uploading them onto the computer, editing, and finally sending them out to parents.

Here are some ways that you can get those pictures the parents want.  On the first day of school have your camera ready as the students walk in the door (have it around your neck).  Smile and greet them, and snap a close up of just the student's face.  Or as they are doing seat work, walk around and get a picture of each student.  The first day is a day you'll want to remember.  I take candids at the end of the first day too.  I always print out black and white pictures of each student on 8 1/2 x 11 and staple around the room or in the hall.  You'd be surprised how many students stop and stare at them in the hallway. 

Close-up beginning of the First Day

Candid #1

Candid #2

I also insert those first day pictures into Powerpoint (where it says "photo album" you pick "file/disk" and highlight all the pictures you want to put into the album) and print it as "handouts" with 6 slides per page.  I write the student name under each picture and put it in my guest teacher binder.  It's a ready reference for names/faces, I call it my "Picture Directory"!

"Picture Directory" for the Guest Teacher Binder

An essential piece to classroom photography is media release forms!!  Make sure that before you take student pictures that parents have signed and given permission for their child's picture to be taken.  Many parents do not sign the form initially because they are afraid of the weirdos out there and rightfully so! 

Here is how you can make sure that the weirdos stay away from your kiddos! 
1. Password protect your sites that use student pictures in combination with student names.
2. Do not give passwords to anyone outside of the classroom period.
3. Change your password.

You don't have to take ALL the pictures yourself!  I know you're thinking, "well, those kiddos are not using my camera!"  The parents can help with pictures at class parties and just during workstations/centers.  Sometimes I find that I have extra parents who want to help, but I do not have a job for them because I am underprepared.  You can give them your camera, or you could ask for a specific parent to bring their camera along.  Parents that take pictures can upload their pictures onto a Picasa Web Album.  You just need a g-mail account.  It doesn't need to be your personal g-mail account.  You can create a new one just for your class that you can give the username and password to all parents.  Then they can go to the site and look at the pictures.  Just remind parents to make the pictures public for all to see, or send the link to everyone.

Another way that the kids CAN help is by using a Flip Cam.  These are so simple.  The student just presses the on/off button, press the red record button to record, record themself, press the red button again, and turn it off.  To upload they plug it in.  And it's done.  It's the easiest piece of technology!  You can turn the video into still pictures. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

New Pinterest for Me!

They've already got me addicted!  It's so easy to spend hours past midnight looking at dream houses, delicious dishes, sweet ideas, and more.  I'm Pinterested alright!  What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a way around listing links to websites!  Pinterest users create boards of ideas that they've found all over the web to help them plan weddings, fashion, classroom themes, parties, vacations etc.

Here are two things that I have pinned on my classroom ideas board:
I love these seats at the reading table... but pricing them the best I've come up with is $20 each at Target in their college section and also I found a similar item at Ross.
Yesterday on Pinterest I saw this... milk crates with covers.  I'm not sure how the teacher made covers for the milk crates either, if anyone has an idea I would love to know!  They are so cute, and also act as storage! 
For more of my Pinterests click here.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Classroom Organization... Still in Progress

The summer after my first year of teaching I took my entire classroom home to organize.  I bought container after container.  The Walmart ladies would always ask me, are you moving?   Sometimes I thought I was!  I put everything I owned into containers.  I labeled everything.  Then teaching's road took a turn and I landed a new grade level.  The grade level change happened last year, and my 2nd grade team members are wonderful.  They have helped me and provided me with so many resources.  I could not have made the change without them!

Here is a look at my 3rd grade classroom and organization system in my old classroom:
3rd Grade Classroom Library

Many of the chapter books are now in my brother's 5th grade classroom.

These workstations are now gone.  I put them in the faculty room and a 1st grade teacher claimed them.  They were always falling when the kids went to pick them up.  It really bothered me.  This year I tried using Walmart dish tubes, but they were really BIG and bulky.  I think I'm going to invest in what Deanna Jump uses for her work stations.  I found them from Really Good Stuff - Book and Binder Holder, its what's pictured on the shelf in Deanna's classroom

Art Cart -  Our Classroom Supplies
Pink Lids = Teacher Only (or with teacher permission)
Green Font = Math, Blue Font = Reading, & Red Font = General Supplies
Each unit I taught in 3rd grade had a container.  Math, reading, and science (no social studies)!  Please notice the blue and white walls in the background.  Those are what is known as MagnaMagic.  Two of the walls are dry erase and two are chalkboard.  Both are magnetic, but only with a special kind of magnet.  I was thrilled that my principal let me test these out for our school district!  These were very expensive.  I LOVED how my room looked after the MagnaMagic, and I loved that I could use the walls to display what the students were learning.  I adore the concept of keeping your room as a blank slate at the beginning of the year, and filling it as the year progresses.  At the end of the year the students can look at the room and see all they have learned. 
3rd Grade Science and Social Studies Note: In 3rd grade we did something really awesome, we team taught.  There were four of us, so we each specialized in an area of science or social studies.  For instance I taught the Human Body and Ecology, Teacher B - Simple Machines and Plants, Teacher C - Native Americans, and Teacher D - Carlisle History and Map Skills.  We rotated classes every marking period.  That way we didn't have to be responsible for mastering all that content knowledge.  The benefit to team-teaching is you can become an expert in your field because you teach it four times a year.  Your team members can give you materials they find on your content and you can give them material you find on their content.  It really can be a great benefit! 
Classroom Stage - in its beginning "stages"

Puppet Stage - now in the 1st grade room...
Where I displayed my vocabulary "word of the day."  Our 3rd-5th grade decided to have a PSSA focus word every Wednesday.  The teachers would all have the word written on a die-cut with examples of the vocabulary word (either math or reading).  For example: Simile would be in the middle of the card.  It would have five different similes on it.  All teachers grades 3-5 would wear the simile necklaces all day.  Teachers would read them to their classes.  A lot of times 3rd graders wanted to wear them. 

It's time to Set Sail with Second Grade!  The summer before I started second grade, I decided I wanted to do a fun theme.  At the time, I thought that second grade studied world cultures.  I found out otherwise.  We only study Mexico and Canada.  Students will still set sail on an adventure of learning in second grade.  They also learn the continents and oceans when we work on map skills.  Here's my attempt at a classroom theme:
Part 1 -
The Continents and Oceans (big enough for the whole class to sit on)
(My dad thinks it's hilarious that this took me weeks to sketch, paint, and cover with varnish.)

Part 2 -
Mom makes the sails!

You do real nice work Mom!
Kiddos testing it out...

What does Pie Throwing have to do with Classroom Motivation!?!

Pie throwing as a motivator to raise test scores really does work!! I borrowed the idea from a friend and tried it during my second year of teaching. ALL my students' scores went up from past scores on the 4Sight test (3rd grade). One student raised his score by 25%!!

The 4 kids who increased their 4Sight scores the most got to throw....

vanilla and chocolate pudding pies at me! 

When I announced the opportunity, the kids went nuts!  As you can imagine.

Starting Out!

This seems a little strange to me to make a post on a "teacher blog" for the first time.  So far I've taught four staff in-services this summer on "Blogs."  It was very intimidating for me to go into the classroom and give instruction to teachers who have been teaching students for 20+ years than myself!  They were very gracious.      

Last year (2010-2011) I had my second grade students write on our classroom blog.  They wrote about twice a week, beginning even prior to the start of the year.  Students used the blogging experience to write to their 4th grade "blogging buddies (this was like an electronic pen pal)," I used the blog for lesson activators and summarizers, it was a way to engage the students in many discussions like our classroom play and talent show.  At one point students even brainstormed ways to help tsunami victims.  This led to our class jump starting a school wide penny drive.  A student in our classroom had family in the tsunami struck area.  The local news station came to show support for our penny drive.  It was very evident that school-wide, students were willing to help those in need as together the school community raised over $5,000 in about two weeks.  It all started with a blog post.

Class Fox 43 News Clip