Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Got to Catch 'Em All!

Are you engulfed in Pokémon Go? I am! I am addicted to catching those little pocket monsters. Naturally, I began to think about how I can use it in school. While we were going around town playing, we kept finding the coolest historical markers. We learned so much about the history of our students.  I had the perfect idea! Why don’t I encourage families to play the game with their children?

I want families to be able to go out and learn more about the city they live in! Many of them come to class and not even know their city! If I can get the families out scavenger hunting for historical markers (and the Pokémon!) they can build up their background knowledge of many of our Social Studies standards. So, I just have to pair it with reading and writing! The pictures you see are from some of the historical Pokéstops around Nashville! These are located in Centennial Park, but there are so many more around the city, even in the neighborhood in which I teach!

Here’s the deal!

1.    Families that Pokémon together, learn together.

2.  Students write a paragraph about the landmark they visited, what they learned from it, their impression, and (yes!) what creature they caught!

3.  They bring the paragraph to me for a reward! (Maybe a piece of candy, a pencil, Pokémon stickers!)

I made several sheets to use in class. Some are full page sheets, and another one is a ink-saver. It allows 5 entries per page, and it is in black and white. Get your copy here!  

How are you using Pokémon Go in your classroom?

Monday, July 4, 2016

Takeaways from Orlando

I just came back from a great trip to Orlando. My school sent me to the SDE conference there for 4 days. During this trip I had several firsts.

1.    It was my FIRST plane ride.

2.   It was the FIRST time traveling without my husband.

3.   It was my FIRST conference.

4.  It was my FIRST time in Orlando.

If you have been following me on Instagram, you probably saw all the neat photos I took. The airplane ride was amazing, as we drove through the clouds I could really tell the different types of clouds I had taught my third graders several years ago. I took some photos of each cloud type I could identify for third grade teachers at my school to use.

While the conference was going on, I was learning and networking with teachers from all over the world. It was fantastic to get revved up for the next school year. I want to share with you some of the takeaways I had from the different sessions.

Takeaway Numero Uno! There is no need for children to be making straight A’s all the time.

Students should be challenged. That’s goes without saying. If students are flying through work and getting it done accurately, then students need to go deeper. The experiences they have in the classroom shouldn’t be so hard they get frustrated, however, they should be expected to aim high. Besides, if students are being pushed, that means they aren’t going to get off task or distract others.

This also allows for students to learn perseverance. Students in today’s world get information automatically. They open a device and the information is literally at their fingertips. They have the instant gratification factor, and sometimes it is good to allow them to fail or struggle so that they can become better citizens.

Takeaway Number Two: Get your centers working for you!

Centers are very hot in education right now. You can have kids working on several skills in an hour, while you are working on guided reading with a small group. It’s amazing how teachers are using that time as just a time for keeping kids occupied and quiet. This should be a time for getting kids practicing something that has been taught. The work from the centers should not be thrown away or necessarily taken for a grade, instead, use them as informal assessments. Sort them into stacks of “Advanced,” “Proficient,” “Basic,” and “Below Basic.” This gives you an idea of where students are on a task. If you track them with a recording sheet, you can see if students are being consistent with their work.

Takeaway Number Three: Check your questioning methods.

Are you asking questions like this??

Teach your children how to know what you are expecting when asking a question. This will help with your blurters! There are four ways you are going to ask questions in your room. You are going to ask them to shout out the answers, you might want them to raise hands, you might want to choose a students to speak, or you might want to see what everyone knows. Dedra Strafford had this great idea! Announce the type of question first.

Example, “Class. What is the capital of Tennessee?” Students know because you stated class that you are expecting everyone to just shout out the answer.

“Hands.” Would mean that you want to see raised hands.

“Think.” This means that you want children to think about their answer, and you will be choosing someone. You can choose off the top of your head, by using equity sticks, or using the Pick Me! App.

“Show.” This will mean that you want kids to write on their personal whiteboard or paper, and you will be going around to check where the kids are.

The most important thing is to give kids wait time. Not all kids are going to be able to think as quickly as others. Here is another tip Dedra had, in your head, “1, 2, 3, 4 now I’ve waited, I should wait some more!” That should give kids enough time to process the question and be ready!
Want some posters for your classroom to help keep this on the mind? Click the image below to download!


Takeaway Number Four: Think about the daily structure of your lesson.

Students learn best at the beginning of the lesson. If you are asking a lot of background questions first to determine where the kids are, then students are going to remember the background information rather than the lesson itself. Also, if you had down time, and then you get their attention, why waste that valuable time on taking attendance? Instead, get them started in a lesson, and then do attendance during a lull.

Many teachers teach the lesson first, then at the end allow for partner discussion and work. Instead, break that up into the earlier parts of the lesson. This allows for the social interaction to engage children and to embed the information inside their brains more. Plus chunking the lesson allows for students to break down the information and process the information. They need a break from that for a minute for per year, and journaling, partner work, or brain breaks work for that. Then they can get back to work without fidgeting and fuss!

Did you go to the SDE Conference? Do you have any ideas on how to make your day smoother? Leave a comment below!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Are you coming to Nashville soon?

It’s amazing how time flies. The classroom packed up. I had a great time in French Lick. I packed up and sold my home. Now it’s summer. I decided that this summer was going to be the summer I relaxed a bit and focused on what was important to me. So, what have I been doing? Glad you asked!

I am exploring the city around me! I cannot believe how much Nashville has changed in the last 6 months, let alone in the last 3 or 4 years. As we look for our new home, I am looking at neighborhoods that I never had gone to before.

While we are doing that, we have to eat! If you come to Nashville, please don’t bother with a bunch of chain restaurants. There are so many great places to eat instead. Here are some of my favorites:

Some great people at Monell's for breakfast!
1.   Monell’s: There are two in Nashville. One in Germantown by the baseball stadium (hard to find parking), and there is one near the airport. The one by the airport is my personal favorite. It’s in an old manor house that’s been there since the late 1800s. Before it was Monell’s it was a seafood place, and I always dreamed about going there just to see the inside. The décor is great, as it pays homage to a time that’s long gone.
My work buds celebrating the end of the year at the Pharmacy.

2.  The Pharmacy: This is a German biergarten right in the middle of East Nashville (just a few blocks from my school!).  I totally recommend the Stroganoff Burger and sweet potato fried. You will not be disappointed. Just know that there is always a wait.

3.  Riverside Grill Shack: If you want an amazing burger, but not wanting to wait… you can opt for Riverside Grill Shack. Order at the walk up window. Sit on a picnic bench, and chow down. It’s some good eating!

4.  The Grilled Cheeserie: This is a food truck, so you have to find where they are (although they are opening a hard location in Hillsboro Village). This place doesn’t just have your normal grilled cheese sandwiches; they really thought outside of the box. I believe everything is fairly local too.

5.  The Smiling Elephant: This is a Thai restaurant right off of Wedgewood and I-65. You have to try their different drinks, Thom Ka (coconut soup), and try their dessert! You will not be disappointed.

I can probably think of some more, however, this is really making me hungry. I’ve got a place to go try now!

Nothing beats eating at my house though. The hubster is a chef for crying out loud. He can even make left overs taste great. When we go out, it is very hard to eat sometimes. He picks a part the food to see what's in it, or tells me how he would have made the food. However, I never have to figure out what to order, he can order for me no matter where we go! It's how I know to order more than Pad Thai at the Smiling Elephant!

Have you found some great eats in Nashville? Let me know below!

Monday, January 18, 2016

It's been a long time.

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. Things have been crazy in our house. The hubster’s dad had a stroke and a heart attack, in ICU two times in a month. Then once life started to get back to “normal” the hubster had a surgery. There were several complications from the surgery, and it took my whole month of December.

Of course the holidays, were amazing. Like super amazing! We got to spend it with the family, and we got to bring back three awesome kiddos to spend a week with us. We went to several different places here in Nashville. Did you know there are still arcades? Yep, we spent a whopping hour there. ;) We traveled to the museum, the main library (that place is amazing-a play place in the kids’ room!), and then roller skating! What made my life happy was when I asked what their favorite activity was for the week, their reply was a shocking “the LIBRARY!!” Be still my heart!

Anyways, we had fun, but (oh too) soon it was time to go back to the REAL world. EEEK. Anyways, I got ahead. I never got my spark, my excitement for returning to work. Do you ever get that dread in the pit of your stomach? I totally had it. It was depressing, until I got to school. I got into my room, and felt energized. I felt relaxed. I felt ready to spice up my room. I cleaned and organized my corner. (Remember that I took the plunge and got rid of my desk?) It was amazing what my room did to boost my mood. Is that odd?? I think not.

How does your classroom help you get in a better mood? Here is my list

1.    The smell. I can’t handle a lot of smells. It’s amazing what a good smell will change your mood. Hawaiian Breeze is my smell. I call it the “Thinking Spray” that I spray during tests and when someone doesn’t let out a good smell. ;)

2.   The arrangement. I walk around the room, and I’m not a small person. This year, I got rid of desks for tables. Well, it seemed amazing at first. Then I started bumping into one another. We were so close that it wasn’t a great idea anymore. Then I put the tables together! Duh!

3.   The organization. If everything has its place, then the room just comes together. The stress lessens. When people come in they compliment rather than turn up their nose. This is the hardest thing for me. I have stacks and stacks and stacks of papers. They are just all over the place. I am getting better. I have a copy machine room box. Everything I need to copy goes in the box. Also, I have a stapler, whole punch, pencils, pens, or whatever else I might need while I’m in there copying.

I hope everyone has a great long weekend! J