Sunday, August 14, 2011

Prezi for Daily 5

"Caution: Prezi has a learning curve" -Brad Wilson (@dreambition)

At the end of this past school year (2010-2011) I had my students make a video skit to show the next year's class how to do the Daily 5.  I told them they were the "professionals" and they had to show someone completely new to Daily 5 how it would work.  I divided them into groups and gave each group a Daily 5 Choice.  Then, I taped them!

I reminded myself a few weeks ago that I had done this and thought, I need to make this a worthwhile tool!  What came to mind?  Prezi. Now, I have only used Prezi 3 times and am STILL learning. It can be frustrating, but the finished product is AWESOME!

I think it is wonderful as a classroom tool when you want to gather your thoughts, prepare for a future lesson and do something way better than powerpoint :)  Here are two Prezis I have created and use in my classroom:

How to Create a Simile and Metaphor Poem Prezi

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Goodbye Flip Chart and Hellooo Clip Chart!

Discipline is teaching, not punishment.
—T. Berry Brazelton

How many of you use the Flip Chart Behavior System?  Me too! Until, I came across this genius idea!  Here is what my version looks like :

Each student will have a clothespin and they will all start on green each day.  The big difference is that they can move down OR up throughout the day.  This not only disciplines with consequences, it also rewards for good behavior.  The classroom vibe should NOT be focused primarily on those who made bad choices.  It should also give kudos to those students who are always on task and are easily forgotten.  

Now, I have not started the school year yet with this, so that will have to be a later blog post.  But, I have to say that after reading the Ebook on this system I have a positive outlook on the whole adventure.  Read on to find out about this genius idea:

Clip Chart Behavior System (Click on the link to download the Ebook and get the full explanation of how it works and how to successfully implement into your classroom)

As always I love to hear who uses this or who is excited to use this for the first time as well?

Student Work Display

Bulletin boards/Work Displays should not be a TEACHER'S work of art, but should instead be the STUDENT'S work of art.

I have to first recognize The Clutter Free Classroom Blog for this AWESOME idea that I put together this past week.  I am SO excited about this change and hope that it really is all I think it will be :)

Instead of me trying to design a board to display student work every month, this will be an interactive bulletin board in which the STUDENTS will add work to as they please.  It will be their job to add pieces to the board whether it is a writing piece, class activity, or a drawing they did in their free time.  All I will have to do is perhaps offer suggestions to some students of what they should add to their "square."  Here is my Student Work display:

Students will get to choose which square is theirs at the beginning of the school year.  It is  theirs for the rest of the school year :)  I have pushpins in each square for them to attach their Proud Work to!

Does anyone else do a version of this?  I would like to hear your tips/advice!

Daily 5 Book Bins

"There is a quiet and calm hum to the room.  Some children are lying on the floor with Book Boxes full of 'Good Fit" Books sitting next to them.  As they read to themselves, a child nearby reads the pictures in a book, giggling at a funny part...Some children are curled up in a corner on pillows with partners, reading a particularly animated section from a Junie B. Jones book..."
-Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, The Daily 5

I am entering my 3rd year using the Daily Five and I think I FINALLY have the book bin situation perfected...I have tried Ziploc Baggies and cheap cardboard magazine files.  Each of these had to be replaced during the school year or barely lasted til the end of the school year.  So, I decided to opt for something a bit more durable and something that will last more than a school year.  I purchased bins from the local Dollar Tree which are pictured below:

A few things I want to note:

  • I labeled the bins with numbers so that they can be used another school year and I don't have to worry about taking off/replacing the labels.  
  • I inserted library pockets in each bin.  These are great pockets for bookmarks, sticky notes, etc.  Basically small items that they will need during Daily 5 but that we don't want to get lost amongst the books!
  • Lastly, in each library pocket I have placed a clothespin with their classroom number on it.  These are used to sign up at the Listening Centers.  I used to have students write names on clipbpards to use the netbooks/tape player/etc. and then realized how much easier it would be to have them use a clothespin.  I could not be happier with this addition to our Daily 5 management :)
As the school year gets going I will delve into each Daily 5 separately and explain how I use each in my classroom :) 

How do you manage your classroom book bins if using the Daily 5?  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dance Parties and Music in the Classroom

"Lose your blues, everybody cut footloose."

Dance Parties in the classroom?!  Absolutely!  Who doesn't love to "cut loose" every now and again to celebrate a good day or even make a bad day, better?  I myself, have been known to have DP's by myself, in my home, after a long day of work.  Why not share this "Brain Break" idea with your students?  Some of you may think that this will make it close to impossible to get the class back on track afterwards...It actually is not, as long as you lay down the "guidelines" beforehand.  I may use a DP as a reward or just to get out that extra energy on inside recess days.  Whatever the reason may be, students know that if they do get out of hand during or after, this will make me question whether we can handle another one or not.  My simple guidelines:

  • Stay in your bubble (they bend their elbows to their waistline and form an invisible circle around them)
  • Stay at your desk space
  • The only "talking" is singing along to the music
  • When music is done, get back to where we left off, and sillies turn off
Some "no fail" songs for the classroom:
  • Cha Cha Slide (This is great because they have to listen to the directions)
  • Sandstorm (the beat changes throughout the song which makes it quite interesting)
  • ABC, Jackson 5
  • Hokey Pokey (corny I know, but the kids still have fun with it)
  • Hand Jive (from Grease)
  • Footloose
Towards the middle of the school year, I start allowing students to make "song requests."  They write down the requests and place them in my mailbox.  I keep them in a spot near my computer and will pick from them when I choose.  I tell students that I will not play songs that I feel are inappropriate for the classroom.  This way, they understand why I don't play their song request.  Also, there are some songs that I need to check the lyrics of before I play them.  YouTube is a great resource for reviewing lyrics.

There are a few ways to have some songs prepared for when you do decide to have a DP:

Pandora : Some good kid-friendly stations are Kidz Bop Kids and Radio for Kids

Grooveshark:  This is great to make your own playlists and for instant access to specific songs.  (For Valentine's Day this past school year, I put together a V-Day list that played during our party)

There are two ways you can go about having a DP:

1. Follow the Leader (Pass a beach ball or some other object around the room and whoever has the ball is the dance leader, and we follow them!  This helps with really shy students that do better copying someone else)

2. Freestyle (Dance how you want!  Some students may just stand there and that's ok.  Don't single them out and just know they are enjoying it in their own way.)

I realized during my student teaching 4 years ago that I am not a Singing teacher, so instead I am a Dancing teacher.  It's fun for me and for the kids.  I think it really bonds us as a classroom and it certainly makes for some fun memories.  Remember to dance WITH your students and this will help some of them come out of their shells if shy!  

I would love to hear how some of you use DP's as a Brain Break in the classroom and any other song ideas for the classroom :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Organizing Your Classroom Books

"A room without books is like a body without a soul." -Cicero

The books in your classroom really are the SOUL of the room.  By making your classroom library feel comfortable and inviting, this will show your students that reading can be fun, relaxing, and even adventurous at times.  But, in order for this to happen, your books need to be organized in a way that truly invites your students in.  When I first started teaching, I began with a HUGE selection of books that I did not know what to do with.  Over the years I have organized my books into 3 parts and this is what I hope to help some of you with if you are struggling.  

First: Picture Books 
I like to rotate my picture books every month to correlate with seasons, curriculum, holidays, etc. So, I have these all organized by "category" which is then alphabetized.  My categories vary from topic (ex. feelings) to author (Eric Carle) to many other random topics.  I try not to be too constructed so that there is some flexibility as new books come in.  I am constantly creating new categories so that every book has a home.  Even so, there are still books that do not "fit in" so for those I just alphabetize by title.  Boring, I know, but it keeps my organized brain sane :) My goal this year is to keep track of the books I have already put out because last year I realized my memory isn't so great with this task.  I am thinking I will put sticky notes on that folder if it has already been put out that school year.  We will see how that goes.  Eventually I would like to compile a monthly list of what books go out, but right now I just kinda go by how I feel!  Here are some pictures of my Picture Book library that is for me only.  As I pull books out for students, those will go on bookshelf in our Reading Corner.  Again, nothing fancy, but it is easy to keep up with and that is the important part right!?

Second: Leveled Library
I track my students' reading level at least 4 times a year if not more, so it is beneficial for me to let them know exactly what a "Just Right" book should feel like.  As part of their book choices each week, they are able to choose books from the Leveled Book Bins that meet their level.  This is somewhat "secret" information that I pass along to them on a sticky note which they can "hide" in their book bin if they choose to.  

To level students I use the resource: Qualitative Reading Inventory 4 By Joanne Caldwell
To level books I use:
My reading groups are based upon these levels and are very flexible as the year goes on of course.  Here is a picture of my Leveled Book Bins:
Another really helpful resource with converting book levels (since there are about 6 out there that I know of...) is:

Third: Book Bins by Category 
My last way of organizing my books is by category.  This includes animals, Junie B, Magic Tree House, Jeff Brown, etc.  These do not have levels and gives students a chance to find those "just right" books that we do practice.  Here is what these look like:
 I teach my students how to keep these organized and neat throughout the year so they actually do a great job taking care of our Classroom Library.  I just read somewhere that a teacher assigns students to each bin, and it is that students' job to make sure that bin stays organized.  I love that idea and thanks to whoever shared that!  I may just try that out...

So, this is how I organize my books and I hope that I have helped someone along the way!  I am always looking for better ways to organize things so please share if you have a better solution!  Good Luck organizing :) 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Symbaloo, I Think I Love You!

First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality." -Napoleon Hill

If you haven't heard of, or checked out Symbaloo yet, you should! This site is a fun, ORGANIZED way of online bookmarking.  You could use this for personal use or for your classroom which is what I have done.  I spent the first few weeks of summer transferring all of my student links over from Sqworl and could not be happier.  I did love Sqworl at first, but then quickly realized that Symbaloo is much more organized and therefore will be easier for my students to navigate as well.  I love how you can add icons, organize by color and organize by location on each "webmix."  The great thing is being able to add a link whenever to my page and instantly updating on my classroom website. 

Here is a link to my Symbaloo page for my students to use:

Here is an introduction video to Symbaloo!

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Entrance to the Blogging World

The above quote is my purpose for the blog I am about to create.  While driving across the state of Michigan from my hometown to home, I began to think about the upcoming school year.  I do my BEST thinking while driving this route and I believe that it helps to center my thoughts while giving me motivation to take on new challenges.  Mostly it is classroom/school related ideas, but from time to time I do come up with plans just for me.  So, I was thinking about my new found love of Twitter and all the wonderful ideas I have been getting from it for the past few weeks.  There are SO MANY amazing teachers out there with awesome tweets and blogs that have just overflowed my brain with ideas for my classroom.  I realized though, that I too have wonderful ideas to share with that amazing group of teachers out there that I follow or follow me.  It is only right to give back and share my story as well.  And I thought, maybe, just maybe I can be one of those teachers that their blog or tweet is read and someone thinks that I have some sweet ideas too :)  

So join me on this journey of my own Learning in Progress....