Thursday, June 15, 2017

Stand up for the rights of all children!

Today, June 15th, marks the 35th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Plyler v. Doe. Plyler is an important ruling because it affirms the constitutional right that all children -- regardless of immigration status -- have to a public K-12 education.

Why is the Plyler Decision Important?
For 35 years, the Supreme Court decision, Plyler v. Doe, has guaranteed all students the right to enroll in and attend public K-12 schools. We must celebrate this landmark decision by both protecting this important right and ensuring that all immigrant families understand their rights.
Access to public education is a core civil right, as underscored by the Supreme Court’s guarantee that all children, regardless of status, have the right to:
  • Enroll in and attend a public K-12 school
  • Keep their immigration status private from the school
  • Feel safe and welcome in the classroom, including being free from bullying and harassment
Please share this graphics widely on social media so that all people know students’ rights to an education, including immigrant children.  
You can also send out this tweet on Twitter: 
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Here's what you should know about educational rights of immigrant students. #Plyler35 #HereToStay

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Paint without the mess? Yes please!!

I love letting my little ones create in the library, but there are just some things we don't do, because of the mess.  One of them is paint.  But then I attended the Spring Teacher Blogger Meetup last March and I found out that tempera paint can exist in a stick! You heard me right, sticks of paint.  Picture a glue stick filled with a solid paint that dries in 90 seconds. Whaaa?? I KNOW!! Truly life changing in the world of paint.
Kwik Stix really are like painting with a brush, but without the drip and clean up.  They are made with a fast drying formula that dries completely in 90 seconds.  Whatever you painted may still look wet after a minute and a half, but it is not! Checkout my painting skills below.
It looks wet, but it's not!
You may be thinking, "Hey, those paint sticks look like they've been on a diet..."  Well, the good people at Kwik Stix just came out with THIN STIX!  That's what I used to paint this cute heart from Melonheadz! They are similar to the size of a marker, but still as awesome as the original.  They are better for painting smaller spaces.  I could have never stayed inside the polka dots with an original Kwik Stix!  
Paint is dry after 90 seconds!
Kwik Stix and Thin Stix come in so many colors, including neon and metalix, and can be used on posterboard, cardboard, wood, canvas, and regular paper.  They are non-toxic and safe for young children.  The best part is....they are affordable!!  Check out the full selection on Amazon!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Do you know Joy Cowley? Meet her books & enter to win a set!

We have a winner!! Charla Wilson, you have 15 new books coming your way!

Two years ago, I introduced my students to a new (to them) book character. Her name was Mrs. Wishy-Washy, written by Joy Cowley.  Since then, we have read many Joy Cowley books and my students cannot get enough of her characters and style of writing.  I feel sure that you all are familiar with Mrs. Wishy-Washy, but did you know Mrs. Cowley has another series, 
written at guided reading levels??  
Joy Cowley Collection Blue Set features Joy's "learning with laughter" writing style, made famous by the Mrs. Wishy-Washy books, in fifteen leveled readers with cute recurring characters: Mr. Tang, Miniboy, and more! Written at guided reading levels G–I, these books are perfect for students reading at a first-grade level.

Want to hear some more exciting news?? You could win her "Blue Set",  just by 
clicking the image of Mrs. Wishy-Washy!  
Someone is going to win the 15 book Blue Set, courtesy of Hameray Publishing!
Come back next Friday night to see if it was you! Make sure you go by their website and show them some love

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer Book Study: Mindset Chapter 2

Mindset, The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.
My friends, Greg {Kindergarten Smorgasboard} and Abigail {Kindergarten Chaos}, are hosting a book study on Carol S. Dweck's book Mindset, The New Psychology of Success
I am so excited to share my thoughts on chapter 2 of Mindset by Carol S. Dweck, along with Lisa from All Y'all Need!
If you haven't read Greg and Abigail's takeaways from chapter 1, be sure to head over to their blogs and do that, then read mine and Lisa's thought on chapter 2.
First of all, you need to know that this book is not like most professional books you've probably read. In the introduction, Mrs. Dweck gives a disclaimer concerning the grammar..."I know it and I love it, but I haven't always followed it in this book. I start sentences with ands and buts. I end sentences with prepositions...I've done this for informality and immediacy..."  I LOVE this. Because it's exactly how we speak. It feels like Mrs. Dweck is having a conversation with you.  She shares examples that have been taken straight from the headlines.  She talks about people I "know", like Michael Jordan! This book is a quick and easy read, but filled with so much insight about the mind and how it works!

Ok, so let's get to chapter 2.
What is a mindset? Believing that your qualities are set, or fixed, creates in you the need to prove yourself constantly.  A person with this mindset believes that they only have a certain amount of intelligence and they must constantly live up to that amount or they will be viewed as a failure.  The growth mindset is based on the belief that you can stretch your abilities through application and experience. This person faces a challenge head on and doesn't back down. The challenge is viewed as an opportunity to learn and while failure may occur, it does not discourage or intimidate this person.
To further understand the two mindsets and to help you determine which one you possess, maybe this example will help you like it did me.  Mrs. Dweck and her research team asked young adults to describe their ideal mates.  People with the fixed mindset said their ideal mate would worship them, put them on a pedestal, and make them feel perfect.  Those with a growth mindset said their ideal mate would see their faults and help them work on them, challenge them to be a better person, and encourage them to learn new things.  TOTALLY different! 

Another question also interested me.  The research team asked children all the way to young adults when they felt smart.  The people with a fixed mindset said, "When I don't make any mistakes.  When I finish something fast and it's perfect.  When something is easy for me, but others can't do it."  So think back on the children you've taught that would give you an answer like one of these.  Now you know they have a fixed mindset.  They thrive when things are safely within their grasp.  If they are not performing well at a task, they lose interest.  They only like an activity if they perform well right away.
When students with a growth mindset were asked when they felt smart, their answers, as you probably have already guessed, were quite different. They felt smart when "I work on something for a long time and start to figure it out.  When it's really heard, and I try really hard, and I can do something I couldn't do before." For them it's not about immediate perfection, it's about working through a challenge.  

Mindsets also change the meaning of failure.  A person with a fixed mindset transforms it from an action to an identity.  I am a failure.  This mindset obviously causes self-esteem issues.  Failure can still be a painful experience for those with a growth mindset, but it doesn't define that person. It's a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from.  

Mindsets also change the meaning of effort.  Mrs. Dweck uses the old story of the tortoise and the hare to illustrate this point.  The moral of the story is supposed to be that slow and steady wins the race, but she asks the question, " did any of us ever really want to be the tortoise?"  No, she says, "we just wanted to be a less foolish hare."  YES! This is spot on!  The story really teaches us that effort is for the slow turtles,  but occasionally the slow turtles can finish first if the talented people drop the ball!  

Through her research, Mrs. Dweck found that the mindset you choose for yourself affects the way you lead your life.  The key word there is choose. Because you choose it, you can change it! 
We can all grow our mindset! Now that we know how to identify mindset, we can work to unlock the fixed mindsets in our selves, or students, and begin to look at the world with a new set of lenses!

I am living proof that you can change your mindset.  Growing up, I was a quiet child who liked to make my parents proud.  I didn't stretch myself or place myself in situations where I might fail.  I married while I was in college and still had this fixed mindset, along with a spouse who did not encourage me to dream big or reach for the stars.  I spent many years envious of my friends who had a growth mindset, until the day I realized I deserved to live as the person I knew I was deep down.  So I made about a million changes and can happily tell you I have a new perspective on live and a new mindset to go with it!  I only surround myself with likeminded people who challenge me to be better than I was yesterday, help me see my faults and encourage me to work on them, and support me in my wild and crazy dreams!

What is your mindset?? Link up your post below!

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

STEM in the Classroom: with Animation Studio by HUE

Last year I decided I wanted to start STEM Maker Stations in my library.  I started small and easy with puzzles, educational board games, and maker activities like creating bookmarks and small books.  Then I realized that I was neglecting the T!  Thankfully, the folks at HUE have a heart for librarians and they sent me a HUE HD Pro Camera and Animation Studio, which is a stop motion animation kit.  While HUE provided me with these products to test in my library, all opinions are mine!
The HUE HD Pro Camera is PERFECT for small spaces! I connected it to the laptop that runs my Smartboard, because sometimes the illustrations in books are so tiny that we need to see them on the big screen!  I have a small student desk that holds all of my technology for the board, so the size of this camera is perfect for me. 
Image this desk with a laptop as well. Now do you see
why the camera's design is perfect??
While it is small, it can do so much! Not only does it project your image/object, it can take still pictures, has a built-in microphone, and can record videos! The camera comes with a base, but you can also plug it straight in to your USB port.  How cool is that?! My favorite use for the camera so far, other than just projecting illustrations in books, was when I used it to help me teach the students how to play a new game that I’d recently purchased.  The camera was perfect for showing the gameboard and cards with tiny fonts.

I am super excited about the Animation Studio! The animation kit comes with a camera, software, and an easy-for-kids-to-understand instruction book. 
Animation Studio by HUE
The software is preloaded with sample stop motion videos that are amazing and really show your students what can be achieved.  What I love about the instruction book is that it teaches the reader how each one of those videos were made!
The software is easy to use and very student friendly. I didn’t read any directions, just played around with the software and in just a few minutes I made a movie!!  The movie making process was really quite simple.  First I downloaded the software, using the enclosed DVD. 
After I installed the software, I plugged in the document camera and was ready to begin creating!  Something else I like about this camera is that you can use the provided base or you can plug the camera directly into your laptop, as shown below.
I built a simple Lego scene, took a picture, changed the position of the Lego man, then took another picture. 
After about 5 photos, I decided that was enough and clicked the play button in the animation software. You have the option to speed up or slow down the pictures, and even to add text to each one! There are plenty of options to further customize your movie scenes, like preloaded backgrounds, adding music or recording voice narration.  My students are going to LOVE this!

So without any further ado, here’s my Lego movie, titled Tiiiimmmmberrrrr!
I can’t wait to see the videos my students create!
Just think of all the ways you can use this software in your classroom...your students could make videos about a math task, science experiment, a timeline in social studies, write a story to accompany a video using Legos, and SO MUCH MORE!!
Do you have any HUE products in your classroom? Tell us what you have and how you use them in the comments below!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Cooking up Metacognition with a Reading Salad!

If you missed yesterday's post, I am sharing a chapter at a time of Tanny McGregor's book, Comprehension Connections.
Chapter two is on a word I love- Metacognition.  I love it because it means “thinking about thinking”.  It’s a pretty cool concept, no matter what you’re thinking about.  Our students need to know that this is a thing.  They need to be aware and have a name for it.  Don’t shy away from using this term either, students love using multisyllabic words correctly.  I taught my first graders schema and stamina and they used them at every opportunity!

Each chapter/reading skill lesson starts with a Launch.  The launch here is defining the term metacognition and talking about what it could mean as a reader.

The second step is introducing a Concrete experience.  The concrete in this chapter is The Reading Salad.  McGregor begins with a narrative of how she did this activity with a group of students.  She demonstrated how she can sound like a good reader, but admitted that she was fake reading, because she was not thinking about the text as she read.  After a discussion on real verses fake reading, she introduces bowls labeled text, thinking, and real reading salad.  The discussion continues with a conversation on how a tossed salad is a mixture of lettuce and tomatoes, real reading is a mixture of text and thinking.  The text bowl holds red cards labeled text and the thinking bowl hold green cards labeled thinking.  McGregor then conducts a think aloud using a different passage.  Students drop in red and green cards as she alternates reading and thinking aloud.  These students will always be able to connect a salad with thinking about their reading!  I LOVE THIS!

I created a set of text and thinking cards, but I swapped the colors.  While I was researching metacognition (on Pinterest, of course), I found an anchor chart created by First Year Teaching Tales where she linked thinking to the tomatoes, because we have juicy thoughts.  This stuck with me and I couldn’t think of a reason why they couldn’t be swapped, so I did.
This is my friend Tonia and I at a state training where we shared this idea.
You can download the resource, which includes a brief explanation, by clicking the picture below.
The Sensory activity is a graphic organizer of metacognition, specifically thinking about reading.  A 2’ wide thought bubble with a hole in the middle for your student’s head is also an idea presented in the book.  I love that idea too!

We are now ready to move to the Wordless Picture Book portion of the lesson.  Wordless books DEMAND thinking about thinking, because there are no words to get in the way!  The Red Book by Barbara Lehman (2004) is suggested, but I am unfamiliar with this book.  Do you know it? It’s on my to-order-list.
Sentence stems are great to use at this point.  You can download a ton for free on Teacher’s Pay Teachers, just look for some you like!

The last step in the sequence is Time for Text and McGregor refers to several professional resources for lesson ideas.

Some of my favorite quotes from this chapter are:
A library is thought in cold storage. –Herbert Samuel, politician
A moment’s thinking is an hour in words.  –Thomas Hood, poet

Here is a look at some of the other pages in my free download above.

I would love to hear your thoughts on metacognition and teaching real vs. fake reading! 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Comprehension Connections: Building a Bridge to Strategic Reading

I recently found a great teacher resource titled Comprehension Connections: Bridges to Strategic Reading by Tanny McGregor.  I say great because it is 8 easy to read chapters on different comprehension strategies.  Each chapter includes reading research, photographs and easy to incorporate activities.  My plan is to share a chapter a day with you!
Bridge Building 101 is the first chapter and talks about how Tanny discovered, through trial and error, the way to connect kids to reading and, most importantly, thinking about reading!
She developed a Launching Sequence (a progression for planning lessons that include a gradual release of responsibility) that consists of several lessons that span just a few days. 
The Launching Sequence is as follows:
Concrete Experiences- A lesson with a concrete focus.  Connections are made between background knowledge and new information.
Sensory Exercise- A lesson that might include art, music or food and links the concrete experience with the way kids learn.  It also provides time for practice.
Wordless Picture Books- Books with little to no text to allow an opportunity to practice the thinking strategy without the responsibility of decoding.
Time for Text- Independence increases as students practice the skills they've learned.
The Concrete Experience involves an actual object.  A speckled rock.  An old shoe.  A seashell.  Something that you can refer back to and say, "Remember when my old house shoe to school...?"  These concrete objects are the base of the "launching lesson".  This object creatively links background knowledge to the content you are about to present.  An old house-shoe is definitely going to be thought about long after the day is through and won't be easily forgotten.  We've also got to remember that reading is a social activity! Students need to talk about what they've read.  That's why I am not one of those librarians who are constantly shushing and giving the death stare to students who are engaged in purposeful talk!!
Turn and Talk is a great way to get students to engage with one another.  McGregor also says she provides thinking stems during each lesson.  Eventually, these thinking stems will sound less like parrot-talk and more authentic.  
I'd like to leave you with McGregor's cautionary note (found on page 7):
"It's tempting to start believing that the stuff of concrete lessons is what's important.  There's nothing magical about the concrete objects alone.  When it comes to meaningful instruction, it is never really about the stuff; it's about thinking and talking and learning.  These concrete ideas simply give us a way in to the hearts and minds of our students."
That is seriously some good stuff!
Come back tomorrow to read all about metacognition and leave with a freebie!

Friday, August 7, 2015

Using Static in a Good Way!

I hate static.  It's so annoying.  Especially when you get to work and realize you have a skirt-full of static and have to suffer with it all day long!  I have always thought static was sent straight from the devil, but I've just recently realized that its' powers can be used for good!
Shoplet asked me to review a product for them that uses static to our advantage!
EcoStatic SlickyBoard is a 25x30 sheet of dry erase "film" that clings to the wall!  You can use Post-it notes, dry erase markers, and even tape things to it.  I've had mine on the wall for about 2 weeks and it hasn't moved an inch.  I like the large size of the sheet and how well it stays on the wall.  The sheet does have some wrinkles in it, but you can get them mostly smoothed out.
I also wrote on it with a dry erase marker and I wasn't pleased with how it erased.  
The directions say to erase within a day, but this was after only a few hours.

Shoplet also sells SlickyNotes Notpads and the slips cling to the SlickyBoard.  I really like using them for orders for my small t-shirt business.
Once you write on them with a sharpie, it is permanent and don't count on reusing them.

Overall, I like the concept, but I wish dry erase markers erased cleanly.  It could have been just the brand I used though, and you may have better luck. 

The SlickyNotes slide around the Slickyboard easily, so you can quickly move information from one side to the other. 
Overall, I like this product and will continue to use it for keeping up with my t-shirt orders!

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