Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's National Library Week!

Are you celebrating National Library Week??
We are! 
I got the speech bubble idea form the American Library Association's website. Click {HERE} to visit it.  I have a thing about recreating things I find online with my own fonts, so you can get the speech bubble from above by clicking the picture below.

With my little ones, we are reading Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk and discovering we can all be authors.  If you've never read the Library Mouse books, you really should.  They are great!  Daniel Kirk's website is also great!  He has activities and ideas to accompany his books as well as free songs to download.
After we read and discuss the book, we are each writing and illustrating our own stories in tiny books, just like Sam the mouse!
Leave me a comment and let me know how you celebrate National Library Week!
Share your pictures on your favorite social media site with #NLW14 and #LivesChange.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Using Donor's Choose to Fund Classroom Projects!

Have you ever used Donor's Choose? It is an amazing resource for teachers
and it is so easy to use!  Maybe you've seen post about it, but never taken the time to check into it.  That was me last summer.  I saw several blog posts about it and finally looked into creating a project of my own.  
I can tell you in 4 easy steps how to do it-
Last summer, I posted my first project.  I wanted full access to the website Speakaboos for my entire school.  It was fully funded by the beginning of the year.  Just yesterday, I posted my second project to purchase 2 iPad Minis for my library. The great thing about Donor's Choose is that the first 7 days, donors can enter the code INSPIRE and their donation will be matched! How awesome is that?!
It really doesn't take long to create a project.  Depending on what your needs are, you can sometimes have certain types of projects funded, in part, by specific companies.  For example, AJ Books funded 50% of my first project!
Check it out, you won't regret it!
If you already have a DC project posted, leave the link in the comments below, I'd love to see your ideas!
*Graphics in this post are by Graphics From the Pond *

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Farfaria iPad App Giveaway

Do you have Farfaria on your iPad?  This app gives students, teachers, and families access to over 600 illustrated books.  There is a free version of the app, but you are limited to what you can do.  Farfaria has offered to give 2 of my readers FREE 3 month subscriptions!  Keep reading to find out how to enter!
Here are some of the features that I like about Farfaria:
When you choose a story, your options are auto play, read to me, or read myself.  I like that the student has these choices.  Throughout the story, buttons to exit, read again, and add to favorites are visible.  While reading, the words are highlighted. At the end of each story, similar stories are recommended.
I also like how an entire world is the homepage and students can choose different genres by tapping different "islands".
I think this app makes a great addition to my folder of readers on my iPad.  I encourage you to check it out and to enter the giveaway below!  The giveaway will run through Saturday!  Feel free to share it with your friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Booksy School Edition App by Tipitap

I was recently contacted by Tipitap Inc and asked to provided them with some feedback on their apps. I chose to review Booksy School Edition
There are 27 books at 3 different reading levels available in this app.  I can go into the teacher desktop and see my class reading log, progress reports, and can set things up to receive a daily email of progress.  I like the range of topics for the stories and if you flick one finger up to reveal the menu bar you can:
1) listen to the whole page
2) go back to the bookshelf
And two finger swipe left to right to return to the bookshelf!
Students have a wide range of topics to read about.  Mars, dinosaurs, the four seasons, and The Ojibwe are just some of the nonfiction texts to choose from.
When the app detects a child reading the story, it will autorecord the child's voice and email you the recording (if you have enabled this feature).  
After reading the stories, students can take a quiz over the information presented in the book.  At anytime, students can tap a word and it will be read aloud.  While this app is advertised for K-2, older children can use it.  I found the reading level of most of these books to be fairly high.  For example, the book on Thomas Jefferson (reading level 2) would probably be a good fit for a 3rd grader-as far as comprehension.
If you are in need of some readers for your iPad, I would recommend Booksy!
Click {HERE} to check out the selection of apps by Tipitap Inc.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Happy Anniversary Educents!

Have you heard of It's the first group deal website for Educators where you can save up to 90% on curriculum, educational toys, and other learning products. They are turning 1 year old on April 2, 2014 and to celebrate, they are giving an additional 20% off, site wide until April 7, 2014! Just use code "Anniversary20." In addition, they are SO EXCITED to kick off an AMAZING month of fun activities to celebrate. They will have 30 giveaways (one per day) in the month of April! And, their grand prize winner will receive a family vacation in Florida (thanks to Wyndham Vacation Rentals) & with a runner-up prize of a $1,000 Educents Gift Card!
Just a few of the companies that will be giving products away in April:
Math Mammoth, SayPlease, Systematic Mathematics, DNA Educational Games, Red Apple Reading, Critical Thinking Co., Times Tales, Seat Sack, The Latin Road, Intelli-Tunes, Simply Fun, Institute for Excellence in Writing, Luv Chicken, Center for Hands-On Learning, Classical Academic Press, Your Story Hour, Wordsmiths, American High School, Middlebury Interactive Languages, My Year Look, The Latin Road, Intelli-Tunes, The learning Journey International & MORE!
The mission of Educents is to provide affordable education to all. In just 1 year, Educents has saved educators over $5 million dollars and over 150,000 products have made it into homes and classrooms all around the world.
So, what are you waiting for? Go save an additional 20% and enter to win tons of giveaways.  For every giveaway you enter, you get an entry for the two grand prizes! -- The Best Place for Educational Products at a discount!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring Teacher Blogger Meet Up Blog Hop & Giveaway!

A few weeks ago, I attended the Indiana Blogger Meet Up in French Lick, Indiana.  I met so many bloggers and blog followers, won some terrific prizes, and learned a lot about blogging too!  Click {HERE} to read my previous post on all the fun we had!  
After lunch on Saturday, we had sort of a round table discussion on blogging shortcuts, classroom tips, and Pinterest tricks.  It was so informative that we thought we'd share what we learned with our audiences through a blog hop!
Frame by The 3am Teacher
Blog Touch is the best app I've found for blogging from my iPhone.  I like it because you can create links in your text and change the font.  If you like to blog from your phone, I'd recommend this app.  One thing to note- when you connect the app to your blog, the only posts that show up are the ones created on your phone, so don't freak out and think they are gone!
PicMonkey is a great FREE site to edit photos for your blog.  While you can upgrade and use every feature on the site, there are plenty that are free!  It's $33 a year or $4.95 a month if you're interested in signing up, but I just use the free features and I can do pretty much everything I want to with my pictures.  You can do all the basics like crop, add text, sharpen, brighten, straighten, and add your own image (blog button).  You can also whiten teeth, add lip & cheek color, give yourself a tan, and make yourself THINNER!  Yes, I said it.  You can make everyone thinner!  That's not even a paid feature!  
If you've never been on PicMonkey, go on and try it out.  Just click the image above!

My last blogging tip is how to leave your blog name as a link in the 
comment section of someone else's blog- like I did below.
Just follow the directions in the picture below:
Why don't you practice leaving your blog link in my comment section below!

Holly, our fearless leader of the weekend, had a great idea for a teacher tool swap.  We wrapped up one of our favorite teachery tools and after a cute story Amanda Pauley wrote, we all had a different gift.  Mine was Expo Neon Markers for dry erase boards and windows from Brenda Frady.

Holly lined up tons of great door prizes and mine was a Boogie Board!  I'd never seen these before, but now I want more so I can use them in small groups at school!
Click the picture above to see the company's website.

Now it's your turn to get in on the action...
 Someone will win all of the prizes pictured here {and more}! It could totally be you!  
Enter through the Rafflecopter on the very last post in the hop!
Thanks for stoppin' by!  Now it's on to Whitney's blog.
Click Whitney's blog button below for the next stop on this blog hop! Then, keep going until you find the pot of gold {a.k.a. Rafflecopter} at the end of the rainbow blog hop! :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

April Currently

It's finally April! Maybe spring is here for good.  Lately it's been nice, then snow, nice, then tornadoes.  I. AM. OVER. IT.
I'm linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade to share what's currently going on with me.  
You can to by clicking the image!
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

TBT with Primary Possibilities & Whole Brain Teaching

This is my first time linking up with TBT with Primary Possibilities
-click the image above and you can too!
I am reposting a post from July 27, 2012 on Whole Brain Teaching.  When I was in the classroom, I used WBT and absolutely loved it!  If you are not familiar with WBT, I encourage you to read more about it.  You can find all my WBT posts {HERE}.

Original post- The Whole Brain Teaching Big 7
I attended a Whole Brain Teaching Conference last week in Union, Missouri.  I live nowhere near Union, Missouri, but after seeing some of the videos on YouTube, reading blog posts, and perusing the WBT website, I knew I had to go.  I was one of over 600 educators who attended the two day conference.  The first day was focused on classroom management.  I feel like I have a good handle on classroom management.  I pull cards in my room, use positive reinforcement constantly, and address problems as they arise and before they get out of hand.  After the first day of the training, I knew I was going to completely revamp the way I manage my classroom.  Whole Brain Teaching {from here on out referred to as WBT} is a way to actually teach while you are managing. 

Let me TRY to explain what that means.  WBT has what they call the Big 7.  Seven key elements to effective teaching that uses every part of the brain.  If you are unfamiliar with the Big 7, they are Class-Yes, Five Classroom Rules, Teach-ok, The Scoreboard, Hands and Eyes, Switch, & Mirror.  My goal with this post is to show you how the brain is engaged in each of the 7.  I promise I will not bore you to death with scientific words.  I am going to attempt lay it out there so that it makes sense to me, and if it makes sense to me, then it will make sense to you!  I mean, I am an educated girl, but I need some things explained in plain old English sometimes!

First up- The Five Class Rules:
I wrote a post where I explained the five class rules in great detail.  To read that post click {HERE}.  The five rules are meant to be rehearsed in class over and over again and have gestures to go with them.  When they are, 7 areas of the brain is engaged.  These areas are the prefrontal cortex (reasoning), Broca’s area (speaking), Wernicke’s area (listening), limbic system (emotions), hippocampus (moves information from short to long term), visual cortex (processes visual information), and motor cortex (duh, movement).  WHOLE BRAIN TEACHING.  Using the WHOLE BRAIN! Brilliant.

Second- Class-Yes:
Class-Yes is the attention getter.  The teacher says Class and the students respond with Yes, matching the teacher’s tone of voice.  It gets the brain ready to receive info.  This gets the prefrontal cortex (reasoning part) going.  It can be used for crowd control, start a lesson, to interrupt an activity, etc.

Third- Hands and Eyes:
This is the focuser.  It causes the students to focus ALL mental activity on what the teacher is saying.  Here’s how to do it- teacher: “class,” students: “yes”, teacher: “hands & eyes”, students: “hands & eyes.” On hands and eyes, students are to snap to attention, sit up, and fold their little hands together.  You’ve got them! The next step is to teach your big point.  But the trick is, and what I will have to retrain my brain to do, SPEAK BRIEFLY!  The Whole Brain Powers That Be say 15-45 seconds!  I feel sure none of us teach our big points that fast.  But relax; you’re chunking your information into small parts so the students can teach their neighbor.  Leading us into…..

After you give this little blurb of info, clap twice and say “teach!”  Students mimic your movement and say “OK” just like you did.  They then turn to their partner, neighbor, however you set it up (because the students already know who they are supposed to be with because you have rehearsed and practiced until it is like clockwork!).  While students are teaching one another (repeating the info you shared in that 15-45 second blurb) you walk around and listen (assessment!).  If your low to mid students are repeating the information correctly, go on.  If not, review it right then and there. Just use the same pattern as before.  This is basically the “format” of your lesson.

Switch allows each student in the pair to have an opportunity to speak and listen (Broca’s and Wernicke’s area).  While students are teaching their partner, you yell out, “SWITCH” (side note- WBT is not quiet) Students say, “Uh Oh, Switch” while pulling an imaginary cord from ceiling.  We should use switch to give the chatterboxes a chance to practice listening, shy ones the chance to be heard, and English language learners have an opportunity to listen and speak.  While the students are teaching one another they are using the gestures and words the teacher used. 

Mirror is used when you want the student to mimic exactly what you say or do in that 15-45 second blurb.  It looks like this- Class! Yes! Mirror! Mirror! Speak briefly using gestures while students copy you.  Clap twice, Teach! Ok! And you walk around assessing comprehension.  Mirror is great to use when you are describing a process or giving several steps, telling a story, for crowd control, or to wake them up right after lunch!  Mirror activates the visual and motor cortex of the brain.

Last, the scoreboard:
The scoreboard is how we involve the limbic system (emotions) into learning.  A simple t is drawn on the board.  A smiley on one side and frownie face on the other.  Here you will award the class for jobs well done and subtract for off task, to slow of a response, etc.  It is recommended that you keep the game within 3 at all times.  Too many smileys will cause the class to get lax, too many frownies can discourage.  Keep the score close to keep them on their toes.  When a tally mark for a smiley is given students clap their hands once and shout “Oh yeah!”  When frownie points are given, students lift their shoulders up and drop quickly and give a might groan.  Students are playing toward something.  Start small.  One extra minute of recess if smiley side wins, one less if frownies win.  They told us last week to put them in the whole early, but give them marks back quickly.  For the first few weeks, play for 1 extra/less minute of something.  Throughout year, go up, but pace it.  May is a long way from August!  It sounds like this clapping and cheering is going to be a mad house.  It won’t if you practice.  The goal is for the class to do it in unison and the mighty oh yeah and might groan only take about 2 seconds.
I can’t say it enough, the key is to PRACTICE.  Practice starting the first day of school.  Go over the rules.  Explain the scoreboard.  Show how to mirror.  Tell the students who their partner will be during Teach-ok.  It will not work like it should if you do not put in the practice time.  Another point that was stressed at the conference- make this work for you.  There is no WBT police that will come and make sure you are doing it “right”.  “Right” looks different everywhere. The Whole Brain Teaching Website has tons of information.  Click {HERE} to get there.
I hope this was informative.  I know it was long!  Bless you if you are even still reading this! I created posters with the 5 rules, and signs with the other Big 6, intended to be displayed while teaching the students how to do each one.  This is the same download as in my previous post, but I wanted to link it again in case you missed it the first time. 
To sum it up in my own words, WBT is teaching concepts with gestures, talking about it, seeing it, listening to it, and involving emotions.  
I'd LOVE to hear your comments, thought, and/or concerns on WBT.  Do you use it? What does it look like in your classroom? Do you want to use it now after hearing all about it?
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