Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Trying Something New: Seesaw

No comment on the fact that I have not posted for two years.  (Seriously, what can I say?  I was busy?  I had nothing to say?  I kept forgetting?  Nothing sounds too good, so let's let it go and move on!)

I like to begin each school year by writing goals for myself.  Some goals I meet and others I don't. (Sounds just like New Year's goals, right?)

Well one of my goals is always to try something new.  Not the something new that is a new district requirement.  (Actually, there seem to be more and more of those, right?)  No, this something new is something that I pick out myself.  Something that makes me curious and excited.

For this year, my something new is Seesaw.  No, not the Scholastic Book order form.  (That was very confusing for me at first, too.)  Nope, this Seesaw is a "Student-Driven Digital Portfolio".  It is a website and an app. But what does it do?  OMG!  It allows students to create online portfolios.  For FREE!!!  Students can easily add to their portfolios and parents are given a notification for each addition.  Of course, all of the additions must be teacher approved (which seems easy to do).  But there's more!  Students can add comments to each item either in written form or (BE STILL MY HEART!) via a recording.  That's right folks .. my kindergarteners will be able to add items to their portfolios and then record their voices talking about the item.  OMG!  So, so, so excited!  I have been watching videos on the Seesaw site and got so excited that I couldn't wait to try it out.  So I created a fake class with fake students who completed fake assignments that fake parents looked at.  So far, so good! But I, of course, have to hold judgement until I have real students completing real assignments that their real parents look at.  Once that happens, I will let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about Seesaw, here is a video to watch.
Seesaw: The Learning Journal

So what new things are you trying this year?

Love to all,

Sunday, July 21, 2013

iTalk Doodle Buddy

Today I am linking up with The Brown-Bag Teacher to discuss iPads.

I will begin by telling a story.

I was sitting on a panel in front of a group of teachers.  We were asked to name one "go to" app.  I decided to name Doodle Buddy since I used it with my kinders all the time.  But before I could answer, I heard a fifth grade teacher answer, "Doodle Buddy".  What?!?  I thought of Doddle Buddy as an app for primary students.  Fifth grade?!?

Doodle Buddy - Paint, Draw, Scribble, Sketch - It's Addictive!
Doodle Buddy

Yep.  Doodle Buddy is a versatile app that can be used with any grade level.  Doodle Buddy allows students to paint, draw or even stamp pictures.  

Unfortunately, I can only share how I use this app with kindergartners.  But I am hopeful, my ideas will spur you brilliant upper grade teachers to come up with even better ideas of your own.  

Here are some ways I use Doodle Buddy with kindergartners:

1)  Patterning
  • Students use two (or three) colors to create a pattern.  Another student has to tell what comes next.
  • I make a pattern with our manipulative bears (example: blue, red, red ... abb) and students have to make that same pattern using two different colors on their iPads.
  • Students use two (or three) shape stamps to make a pattern. 
  • I make a pattern using attribute shapes (example: circle, square, triangle ... abc).  Students have to stamp that same pattern on their iPads, using different shapes.
  • I make a pattern (example: aab) and students make that same pattern on their iPads, but they get to decide if they will make that pattern with shapes or colors or size.
What I am loving about all of this is that my students can quickly make multiple patterns this way.  They can take a screen shot of their patterns and then add it to the photo roll on their iPad.  Pretty cool! Sounds like the beginning of a portfolio to me!

2) Addition / Subtraction
  • Students create a drawing to match an addition or subtraction problem I give them.  They can draw circles / triangles / squares or they can use the stamps.
  • A student creates a drawing and a partner writes an equation to match the drawing.  (Both the drawing and the equation can be created using Doodle Buddy.)
3) Decomposing
  • I gave students a number (example: 5) and students decompose the number.  I had them begin by drawing two squares and then drawing dots in each square.  Then students shared the various ways they had decomposed.  For example, one student drew 3 dots in one square and 2 dots in another.  A different student drew 5 dots in one square and 0 dots in the other square.  Then students erase their responses and come up with a second way to decompose the number.

4) Geometry
  • Students draw and label various shapes.  They can even take photos of a variety of items in the room, open the photos in Doodle Buddy and then label the shapes.

Yep, I L.O.V.E. Doodle Buddy!!!!  What app do you love?  Please link to The Brown-Bag Teacher and let us know.

Love to all,

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Just Claimin' My Poor, Neglected Blog

Sure hope this works!

<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/5402197/?claim=pt6bwk9yfcw">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Inauguration Fun

Hi all!

My class had lots of fun with the inauguration so I thought I would share some ideas for you.  Although there won't be another inauguration for 4 years, President's Day is only a few weeks away.

Since the inauguration was on a holiday, we celebrated on Tuesday.  I invited my students to wear red, white and blue that day.  (However, I had so many ideas that some of these ideas were used on Wednesday.)

Meet President Barack Obama (Scholastic News Nonfiction Readers: Let's Visit the White House)
Biography of President Obama

I began by reading a biography of Barack Obama.

Then we created pictures of President Obama.  This art project is from TLC.  It was a bit complex, but my kiddos did a great job!  If you haven't created TLC projects with your children, I highly recommend you check them out.  Kaye Espinosa is the brains behind TLC.  These lessons were created to teach children the kindergarten curriculum using art.  All of the TLC projects begin with rectangles.  Students then cut and paste to create amazing artwork and along the way, they learn a lot about math.  The Barack Obama lesson is in the America book, but it is currently available as a free download at the TLC website.

Then students had to pick which color in the American flag was their favorite.  We made a tally chart and then graphed our results on a simple worksheet I created.  Later, I kicked myself for not doing an art project about the flag.  Hmmm ... please remind me about that four years from now.  Pretty please!  

                                              Then it was time for another read aloud:
If I Were President

After reading this book, we brainstormed what we would do if we were president.  Then the children wrote about it.  I gave my kinders paper that already said, "If I were president".  My firsties used regular lined paper.  I LOVE what my kiddos wrote!!

Here is a kinder sample:
If I were president, I would take a nap and eat whatever I want.

This is a first grade sample:

I love this one because it is so balanced.  Maybe this is how I should lead my life: play with kids, work real hard, take care of the whole world, play with my DSI, and take care of the family.  Love, love, love!

Then we did another art project.  I created a guided drawing lesson about the White House.  My sample is first and then student samples follow.  I LOVE doing guided drawing with my students!  Each piece of art turns out unique and wonderful. I tell them step by step what to draw.  Example: "Draw a large rectangle in the middle of your paper."  (More math incorporated into art.  LOVE IT!)

Whew!  The children had so much fun and hopefully learned a lot!

Love to all,


Monday, January 21, 2013

The LONG Weekend

Hi all!  How are you spending this amazing three day weekend?  The first two days of my weekend really were AMAZING!

Up here in Northern California the annual Kindergarten Conference takes places during this weekend.  This is my second year to attend.  It is about 30 minutes from my home so very convenient.  It is one of those conferences that has you sign up for sessions months ahead and then you completely forget what you signed up for and hope, hope, hope that you chose wisely.  Well, for the most part I chose very wisely.

My sessions consisted of guided drawing, insects, motor skills, curriculum mapping, singing, and buddy classrooms. I will talk more about some of these sessions in later posts. 

But the best part of the conference was being surrounded by so many wonderful teachers.  The teachers that attend are true learners.  They want to improve their skills.  They want to meet the needs of their students.  They are passionate about teaching.  Just being in their midst was inspiring.  One of the amazing teachers I met up with was our very own Fran.  Just in case you are new to the blogging world, Fran has a wonderful blog called Kindergarten Crayons.  If you only have time to read one kindergarten blog, this is the one.  Trust me on this!!!!  I love spending time with Fran because she is so wise.  One of my favorite qualities!!!  I always learn a lot from her.  Sadly, I have no picture to post of the two of us together because we forgot to take a picture.  Next year!  Right, Fran?  (Or maybe in Las Vegas?  I am considering going.)

Anyway,  now I am off to the classroom to get caught up AND to incorporate a few of the new ideas I gleaned at the conference.  (I want to start using EVERY new idea, but my head is spinning so I will limit myself to just a few.)

Love to all,

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Favorite Snowflakes!

Hi all!  Just wanted to share one of the projects I have prepped for next week.  I shared it last year, but love it so much that I am sharing it yet again.  I love, love, love these snowflakes!  (Maybe I love them so much because these are the only snowflakes we will see in my neck of the woods!)

Pattern Block Snowflakes

Here is a closeup from a year I used light blue construction paper for the background.  (I like the dark blue even more!)

This idea came from my teaching partner Marlene.  (THANKS Marlene!!!) To prep,  I use a pattern block template and copy all of the different pattern blocks onto white copy paper.  Then I get a helper (usually a middle school or high school student) to cut out the various pattern blocks.  For each child,  I cut a blue (either dark or light) 12" X 12" square (or circle which I LOVE) and glue a white hexagon in the middle. Each student is to create a symmetrical snowflake using the white pattern blocks.  The hexagon in the middle gives them a base to build from.  These snowflakes always turn out beautiful (although a few are always .. well, interesting) and they make a great bulletin board display.  Plus this is really a math project!  I expect students to use the correct names of the shapes as they work.  Plus we have lots of discussions about symmetry.  Here is a link to the templates for the pattern blocks.

One project prepped ... many to go!!!

Love to all,


Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Goals

After a million years of trying to keep New Year's Resolutions, I know better than to write resolutions that I won't keep.  So instead, I am writing goals for myself.  Long range goals that will help me stay focused on what is most important.

1) Put my students at the forefront of my teaching.  Not the mandates or even the curriculum, but the students should come first.  Enough said.

2) Read two entire books that will help me grow as a professional.  The key word here is "entire".  I have a HUGE library of professional books.  I have read a few chapters (or sometimes just a few pages - sigh) of each of these books.  But I get sidetracked and put the book to the side.  I have this mistaken notion that professional books are magical and all I have to do is open the book and I will become a better teacher.  But then I start to read the books and realize there is no magic, double sigh.  So my goal is to completely read COVER TO COVER two professional books in the near future.  I already know which two and have started reading them.

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's
Look Me in the Eye
Book Number One:  Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison

This is not your typical PD book.  It is the autobiography of a man diagnosed with Aspergers at age 40.  It is the story of his struggles growing up and finding his way.  I am reading it because more and more Aspergian children are in our classrooms.  I want to become better at loving and nurturing them.  This book will help me do that.  In some ways it is a tough book to read because parts are heartbreaking.  But it is also humorous and sweet. I have read quite a few chapters already and know that I will want to finish this book!

Teach Like a PIRATE: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator
Book Number Two: Teach Like a Pirate: Increase Student Engagement, Boost Your Creativity, and Transform Your Life as an Educator by Dave Burgess

Check out that sub-title; how could I not want to read this book?!?  Plus I put it on my Kindle so double love!  I have actually already read the first two chapters and am loving it.  Highly creative, engaging just like the title says!  Maybe, just maybe, even transforming.  Time will tell.  I am actually thinking of doing a series of blog posts on this book both to inform AND to hold me accountable.

1)  Keep my little family (my dad and sisters) at the center of my personal life, especially my dad as he deals with so many health issues.  I know our time on Earth is limited and I want to sit at my dad's feet and learn from his wisdom as much as possible.

2) Pray.  Not just quick one sentence prayers, but spend time in conversation with God.

3) Exercise.  I so hate it.  I mean really, really, really H.A.T.E. it!  My favorite physical activity is turning the pages of a book (or pressing the page turning button on my Kindle).  So my hope is to find a class that I can at least not hate and then commit to it.  (Oh, commitment is also hard for me.  Remember my issue with not finishing professional books?  It is true in many other places as well.  Once I make the commitment, I am very loyal, but actually making the commitment is soooooo hard.)

4) Eat healthy.  When I get stressed (which is a lot), I turn to food.  Chocolate especially.  Yum, yum, and yum.  The stress is still there, but chocolate makes me forget about it.  Hmmm ... I guess chocolate is like a mind altering drug for me... scary!!!!  My goal is to turn to fruits and vegetables instead.  (I think I am in trouble because I couldn't even type that with a straight face ... I started laughing hysterically.  But I will try!!)

5) Have some fun.  I tend to be very serious and gravitate toward work related activities.  I want to have a fun activity at least once a month this year.  (Which would be a HUGE change from last year!!! Oh, don't worry too much about me ... I do have fun in my classroom.  Teaching is my outlet for my humor and creativity and everything else!)

6) Blog at least once a week.  In some ways this is a professional goal, but it is also a personal goal because you all are my friends.

Whew!  Too many goals I think, but they are all doable (except the fruit and vegetable one).

Love to all,