Wednesday, March 28, 2012

iTalk iPads

Thank you to all who suggested iPad apps.  I am busy researching them all!!!!

So here we go ...  Camille's adventures with iPads .... Part One

After school on Monday I attended a four hour training on using iPads in the classroom.  I will be receiving 26 iPads to use with my class thanks to a district grant so this training was to get me going.  Since I had never, ever used an iPad I tried to soak up as much as I could at the training.  

Day One:  Tuesday
I took the one iPad I received at the training into class.  (The other 25 iPads are being prepped.)  During stations my students took turns using the one iPad. I quickly discovered that even those students who had never used an iPad before, quickly left me in the dust.  I just had them use Doodle Buddy (a free drawing app) to introduce them to a touchscreen.

Day Two:  Wednesday
I introduced my students to a new app by placing my iPad on the document camera.  Students were easily able to see it and thought it was super cool to see the iPad so very, very big!  The app we used today was ShowMe.  It turns the iPad into a whiteboard that records what you write AND what you say.  I am in love with this app and plan to use it all the time.  (... and can you believe it is free????)  I made a few recording myself and showed one to the class.  They were hooked!  I asked for three volunteers to come in at lunch and try out the app.  (That way my maiden voyage with my class and this app could be done without a huge audience.)  The videos turned out great!  They actually made me cry.  I admit to being a sap, but really, hearing my firsties voices explaining how to solve a math problem is so endearing.  Here is one example.  If you could see the huge smile on this little girl's face when we played back her recording, you would cry too!!!  Just so precious!!!

In addition to math, ShowMe could be used to record student writing (as long as it is only a sentence or two because that is all that will fit on the screen).  Or to give directions or teach a lesson to the class.

Although I am excited about getting an iPad for every student, it is nice to have just one to start with.  This way I can ease into this new learning situation.  It is exciting, but also scary.  I am so glad that I have my bloggy friends to hold my hand in my new adventure!

Lots and lots of love to all,

Sunday, March 25, 2012

iTalk iPads

Have you ever received some news that is so wonderful and amazing and incredible that you go into stun mode?  You know, that mode where you just can't believe it so you don't think about it too much because if you do, you might find out it's not true.  Deep sigh.  Well, I am definitely in stun mode!

Here is my wonderful, amazing, incredible and actually quite a bit scary news:
I was chosen as a pilot teacher for iPads.  Can you hear me screaming?  But wait, it gets better ... the pilot program is for a 1:1 iPads.  (More screaming!)  That means 1 iPad for each child.  (Hopefully you are covering your ears!!!)  That means 25 iPads for my class.  (I know, it is so amazing that I may never stop screaming and may never come out of stun mode!)  That means .... I don't know what all it means.  This is such new territory.  I am fairly techy, but I have never used an iPad (though I have always coveted one).  I wrote up a super long application with lots of ideas for apps and projects, but now I am quaking in my boots (and this California girl knows all about quaking!!!).  I keep telling myself to breath.

So (deep breath) ... I thought I could devote my blog once a week to talking about lessons I have learned about using iPads in my classroom.  Although I hope recording my journey will help others, I will definitely derive the most benefit.

Monday I go for the preliminary training.  It is for four hours after school.  I will be joined by four other teachers.  One I know and she is marvelous.  I just hope the others are nice since we are going to be breaking new ground together.  (How pathetic do I sound?  Somewhat like the little girl going away to camp with a group of strangers?  "I hope they are nice!"Been there, done that!!)

If you are using iPads in your classroom, whether it's one iPad or more, please let me know.  I have found lots of resources, but you are the folks in the trenches and you are the ones I trust the most.

In case you are wondering, my grant is from my district.  Here is a link for my iPad grant application. The formatting may be crazy because I simply cut and pasted it from Word into Google Docs.  If this can help anyone, great!

Love to all,

Saturday, March 17, 2012

I'm Late to the Party!

Kindergarten Lifestyle is having a linky party to link up all K-2 blogs.  Yes, I am a little late to the party since there are already 171 blogs linked.  That's a lot of primary blogs!!!!!  IRL if I were to arrive at a party with 171 teachers already there, I would turn around and go home.  That's too many people for me!  But since this is Bloggyland, I decided to join the party.  

Love to all,

P.S.  Remember how I was rejoicing in our beautiful weather out here in California?  Well, times have changed ... it has been cold and rainy and dreary for the last few days.  We do need the rain, but I sure miss the sunshine!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cute, Cute, Cute Leprechauns!

My class just made the most adorable leprechauns today.  These are from a unit by the wonderful Reagan called Looking for a Leprechaun.  Each day my class has to complete a page from Reagan's booklet before they can read the daily letter from Lucky, our class leprechaun.  Today we had extra time together as a class, so we made Reagan's leprechauns.  How cute are these guys?!?

...and here is a whole army of leprechauns!  There are even more ... I didn't have a bulletin board that could contain them so they are also around the windows smiling.  This is the good news about having larger class size ... you get LOTS of art to decorate the classroom.  My students LOVED making these; especially curling the paper for those amazing beards.  (Notice the handprints in the background ... We made those handprints in August and I usually find a way to work them into each display ... it just didn't work this time and I just didn't have the heart to take them down.  Oh well ...)


Tomorrow's letter from Lucky mentions these leprechauns.  Lucky LOVES them!  (Yes, I peeked at his letter on my way out the door!  Hopefully, Lucky didn't see me peeking!)

Love to all,

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My QUIET Class!!!

Last week I was pulling my hair out ... my class was so talkative ALL the time.  They are sweet, wonderful kiddos, but so N.O.I.S.Y!!!!  Part of the problem is that I have a combination class, so I need my students to work quietly while I am working with the other grade level.  But all of my normal tricks were NOT working.

So ... I solicited the help of Lucky, my new favorite leprechaun.  Good old Lucky has become a great helper!  Lucky began by writing a letter to my class introducing himself.  It seems that Lucky lives in our classroom, but he only comes out in March.  Lucky explained to the students that loud noises scare him so when the children get noisy, he hides far away.  When the children are working quietly, Lucky likes to peek out at them.  My children were enchanted by Lucky's letter and worked quietly so that Lucky would come out of hiding.  They were so quiet, that several students swore they got glimpses of Lucky.

Every day Lucky leaves a new letter for the children.  In each letter, he sweetly mentions a time of day that is a little too noisy.  For example, on Thursday Lucky's letter explained that he had never watched the children at stations because the noise scared him.  So guess whose class was super quiet at stations?  Oh yeah!  I LOVE Lucky!

So if you are looking for a way to calm your kiddos down, you might have one of Lucky's friends come live in your room.

Of course, there are some issues with this.  I got in a little trouble with our yard duty personal.  It seems that my sweet students were so excited about our having a leprechaun in the classroom that they began conducting tours outside our classroom during lunch.  The highpoint of the tour was peeking in our window in the hopes of glimpsing a real leprechaun.  Because of the tours children were running back and forth from the playground AND getting overly excited.  (My students are always overly excited - not sure if it is me or them.  Actually,  I do know since it happens every year.)  So ... Lucky's letter the next day mentioned how scared he got at lunch when he heard so many children looking for him.  He said he hid extra deep and didn't come out until it was dark and he knew we were all gone.  Please, please, please could we make sure all those children didn't come looking for him again?!  So no more noontime tours, thank goodness!

Also, I think I may be loosing my grip on reality versus fantasy.   But that is somewhat normal for a primary teacher, right?

Love to all,

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

... and the Seuss goes on!

Last week was such a blast with all things Seuss, that I just can't stop!  I feel like a small snowball that is roling down the hill and getting bigger and bigger and bigger.  Each day I just have to do more Seuss activities.  I just can't stop!!!!

Since I have pretty much exhausted all of YOUR ideas (thank you very much!!!), I had to think of my own idea for today.  So ... here is what I came up with:  TRUFFULA TREES!!!!  Very simple truffula trees.  We started with yellow construction paper.  My kiddos drew a trunk with a black crayon and then added a wild tree top.  Next they drew zig zag lines on the trunk.  Then it was time to paint.  They had three choices: red, orange or purple.  I added lots of white to the paint so it looked more "Seussy".  My firsties had been learning about shades and tints so we talked about adding white to make a tint.  Later came the hard part:  cutting the trees out - all those crazy treetops!!  But my wonderful kiddos did it!

This bulletin board is located in the "Board Room" in my school district.  Each of the five schools in my district has a bulletin board that is supposed to be decorated with student work and changed once a month.  It was first grade's turn, but I told my team that if they didn't want to do it, I had enough Seuss stuff to fill the entire board.  My teammates were thrilled so today I went to decorate the board.  It turned out that I had WWAAAAYYYYYYY too much stuff - I probably could have filled all five boards.  If I had known about the yellow paper in back, I would have brought new paper and changed it!  Oh well!  Here is the finished board ... you may recognize a few ideas I got from other bloggers.

The work on the large red papers is based on If I Ran the Zoo.  My first graders drew imaginary animals and then wrote a description of their animal.  This was based on a wonderful idea I got from Crystal at Kreative in Kinder.

The Lorax craftivity is from Chanty at The Teaching Bug.  The One Fish, Two Fish math ideas are from Jen's (The Teacher's Cauldron) unit at TPT. (It is only $1!!!!)  My Cat in the Hat guided drawings are from Sally at Fairy Dust Teaching.  (But my students used crayons instead of watercolors.)  Whew!  I sure do love my blogging pals!  Thank you everyone!

Love to all,

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I've Been FLAMINGOED!!!!

Seriously, I have been flamingoed.  (This has nothing to do with teaching, by the way!)

When I let my cats out at 8 am this morning, this is what I saw:

Here is a close up:

PLEASE ignore the weeds!!!

...and here is the view from the street.  (Isn't my house totally adorable?!?  I LOVE it so much!!!  It looks much cuter in the spring when all of those brown, dead looking plants are blooming - they all have gorgeous purple blooms - which would totally clash with these flamingos.)

So, what does this mean?  Well, if I were K Mo and had a blog called Flamingo Fabulous in Second Grade it would all make sense.  But I am not K Mo and I have no interest in flamingos. (Sorry K Mo!!!) But I found a note explaining that a Girl Scout troop (with several of my former students) was raising money to go to Alaska.  There was an envelope for donations, plus I could add a letter to the binder.  Hmmm ... so this was a way to raise money?!?   I think the idea is that you will give the troop money to remove the flamingos.  Maybe we should do fundraisers like this for our schools, or maybe not.  It feels a little like extortion, doesn't it?

So, has anyone else ever heard of being flamingoed?  Or is this a local thing?

Well, as you can see, it is a beautiful day here and I am off to spend some time with my dad rejoicing in our lovely weather today!  (I don't think I will tell my dad about the flamingos ... he will think I am delirious!)

Love to all!

P.S.  My next post will be completely about teaching, I promise!  (... unless I get storked or mongoosed or whaled.)