Sunday, August 27, 2017

Trying New Tech

It seems every year, or every month, I am trying some new app or web program.  Some are great for a a week or two and then the fad passes, but every once in a while I come across one that is a jewel that makes life in the classroom all the more engaging.  Seesaw is one of the latter.  One of the perks I loved about my previous school was the use of 1:1 technology.  My current school is using class sets of iPads, so the students are sharing on more of a 1:3 ratio.  One thing I didn't want to sacrifice was the ability for students to keep digital copies of their work and progress throughout the year.  The solution was the web-based digital portfolio called Seesaw.  We are implementing the use of this app for the first time this year and it has been wonderful. The students love using the iPads for pictures, drawing, recordings, videos, and more.  They love the social media look of it and the ability to "like" and leave comments (with emojis of course) for their classmates.  The parents are loving it as well, since it gives them more of a peek into the daily life of their students.  On the teacher end it has been wonderful.  It is very user friendly.  It allows us to track student skills.  It is a wonderful platform for providing effective feedback that both students and parents can see without having to sort through piles of graded papers.  Speaking of grading papers...I can grade kids photos inside the program as well, so I'm not dragging piles of papers and journals back and forth from school.  I have also been using it to reform "homework" by getting rid of worksheets and assigning kids everyday fun and having them notice how those experiences are also learning opportunities.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Math Makeover

This summer I read Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler, a great read for inspiring quality math instruction in our classrooms.  As school started this past week, I implemented my new mindset about teaching math right away.  The kids have been having mathematical discussions and debates.  They have been more than willing to share answers that they know might not be right, and I have been amazed to watch their faces light up with discoveries as they share different strategies for solving problems.  My favorite moment of the week was listening to my fourth graders work in groups to solve The Four 4s. They solved 8, 12, 16, and 20 pretty quickly, but then the room got very quiet as the obvious answers were gone.  Over the next 15-20 minutes the noise level steadily increased in proportion to their excitement as they made one discovery after another.  They used creativity, noticed patterns, used one solution to help them solve for three more, and they surprised themselves with their ability to keep going when the math seemed hard and finally come out with solutions for all 20 numbers!  They are also enjoying learning a new math game every day as playing with math is an expectation in our room.  If you are implementing mathematical mindsets in your room, check out the cute posters below:

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Starting the Path

Today marks the last day of summer vacation.  Tomorrow, the amazing group of teachers that I work with will report for the beginning of the year.  These couple of weeks before school starts are always some of my favorite of the year.  They represent all the hopes and dreams we have for the coming year.  All our ambitious plans for the year are still in tact.  The student list comes out and, for two weeks, they are all model students.  The energy between teachers comes alive as we share ideas and create plans for the year to come.  We are all still rested from the lazy days of summer.  Friendships are rekindled and stories are told.  The break room is still fully stocked with coffee and creamer.  And then the UPS man delivers boxes full of school supplies, and it is truly Christmas in July! I think these are my favorite weeks because we are looking forward and creating new paths.  Of course we don't know where the road will take us this year, but we start the path anyway because we are adventurers at heart...we are teachers!
Download this FREE poster.  

Friday, July 21, 2017

The Adventure Begins!

We are always encouraging our students to grow by trying something new, so here is my NEW for this year.  I am entering the world of blogging!  Like any new adventure, there are some elements that I am excited to embrace and some unknown variables that I know will pop up along the way.  The first adventure was, "What on earth will I name it?".  I found the answer, the same place I find many teacher solutions...Hobby Lobby!
When I saw this I knew my classroom would not be complete this year without it...thankfully Hobby Lobby had it for 50% off.

Other than my affinity for Hobby Lobby, what should you know about me?  Here are the highlights:

  • I am a wife of an amazing man, the mother of 3 teenagers, the daughter of the 2 best parents ever, and a beloved child of God! 
  • I have been teaching since 1995 and have been in classrooms from PreK-4 through 8th grade.
  • I have spent most of those years in Christian education.
  • Last year, my adventure was to leave the comfort of the Lutheran School I had been serving for 10 years to jump into the world of an IB school as an MYP Language and Literature teacher, where I learned a great deal about inquiry and criteria based assessment, but above all I learned that I LOVE teaching in Christian schools, so...
  • This year I am returning to my FAVORITE school, Crown of Life Lutheran School in Colleyville, Texas, where the new adventure will be teaching Math and Science in a departmentalized 3rd and 4th grade.

I am looking forward to sharing the adventures of my classroom with you!