Saturday, December 28, 2013

I want to recommend a great video to use as a tool during a lesson on making inferences.  The video is Pigeon Impossible.  You can easily find it on YouTube (if your school allows youtube or a clean search of it).  Link to the video on YouTube here. It is a super cute video about a spy agent and the battle over his breakfast with a pigeon.

The video is right at 6 minutes long and has NO dialogue.  Students LOVE this video, it is so well made, and they must make good inferences to fully understand the video.  Hope you enjoy!

Friday, December 27, 2013

I love Atticus Finch.  

I think he is one of the greatest fathers of all time, apart from mine, naturally.   My students are starting To Kill A Mockingbird, and I hope they adore the novel as I do.  I've been brainstorming what the students will do as a project to finish off the unit.  Actually, I had a plan. Possibly, a boring plan (read definitely).

A student in my 3rd Block has created her own Wix (wix=free, customizable websites).  My precious student has created her own website (with Wix) to sell pecans from her tree (maybe a modern day Scout or Dill?) She is selling them by the dozen to her classmates.  She's inspired others.  Someone at the next table over is selling her own duct tape creations: hair bows, pencil cases, etc., and another is advertising babysitting services.  Little entrepreneurs aren't they???  

I got to thinking about it, and realized they are on to something.  The site is easy to use, and comes with creative, adaptable templates.  The picture below is a screen shot of the Wix I have been working on.  Our Wix creation will satisfy the informational writing requirement, too.  I can't wait to see what the kids come up with!!  

How could you use Wix in your classroom? 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Class DoJo

I love technology.  Well, I love the idea of technology. I think using it should make my life easier, and I'm sure if I really understood how to use most of it, it would.  Since it seems I am often in the category of user-error sometimes it ends up being more of a headache than a help.  It can be especially frustrating in the classroom. What do you do when your great tech idea fails and you have 30 quiet faces staring up at you waiting patiently (or possibly a few daydreamers). When that happens to me, I frequently have a 12 year old that points out it was user-error and "here's how you do it, Mrs. Wall." Great, thanks (for making me look like a fool), now go back to your seat.   Seriously though, my students are great, and they do help me.... a lot.  They have had 6 years of experience with excellent techno-literate teachers, so why not learn from them? Besides, I can tell how much they love it when they can teach me new tricks.  I learned about Class DoJo from a fellow teacher in my county, and would you believe, I haven't messed it up yet?

This site is an extremely user-friendly tool for classroom management.  Each child gets an avatar, and you keep track of the student's behavior.  The teacher gets to choose the criteria, but they do have a few built in common ideas.  You can also give the students login information (if you want to), and their parents can track their behavior too.   I am using this to determine my report card conduct grade, and for classroom data.  The site also lets you generate a report, so you can save their past conduct.  Oh, and the best part, it's FREE!!

If your school allows Smartphones or Ipads in the classroom, then you can download the classdojo app, and easily keep track of behavior as you are monitoring the students.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

a heavy heart

There are so many emotions that I think about after hearing about the tragedy in Newtown.  I feel fear, sadness, confusion, and guilt. I can't imagine how these parents feel; I can't imagine how they will make it through this holiday season. What do they do with presents that are already under the tree, right now a reminder of  what will not come? Those perfectly wrapped gifts, a symbol of that parents love for their child, that parents desire to see the Christmas morning excitement, full of hope and wonder, that can only be found in the eyes of a child.  My heart goes out to them all.

As a teacher I am afraid.  I am afraid this will happen to me. I know statistically speaking it won't, so is my fear irrational? I'm afraid that there are students in my school that are in unbelievable pain and do not know how to cope, and can only resort to violence. I want our schools to be stricter to keep our students and teachers safe, but how is this achieved without implementing prison-like control?  I wish the outside doors to my school were locked. The students in my school have to move between buildings, so I understand why they remain open, but after an event like yesterday I don't feel safe.

I also feel guilty as a woman who hopes to be a mother, not now, but one day. My husband is Australian, I American. After living in Australia for a few years we have returned to live in the U.S. He is amazingly supportive, and brave to move with me, to America in a time of economic uncertainty.  In the past 6 months that we have been here, I feel constantly reminded that the crime in America is alarming, and then an event tragic and heartbreaking happens, like in Newtown, that I feel is screaming out to me that it is not just alarming it is out of control.  This sort of stuff didn't happen when we were in Australia, why have I brought my family and future children back here? I love America, I truly do, but if I am honest I would rather raise our children in Australia.  Apart of me despises this idea, I hate that I don't feel as safe in my own country, that I love so dearly, as I do in another. Maybe I should be lucky that I have options?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Classroom Decoration

Now that I have been in my room a few months (this is my 2nd year teaching at this school and ever, but I taught there a few years ago, so I feel like it is my first year) I am ready to redecorate.  As my diligent students were busy taking a test today, I sat watching them and began to daydream of what I would do differently next year.  I am excited for next year, but here are a few ideas I tried this year that I can recommend.   

This isn't my desk, but I have also wrapped my desk in wrapping paper, and it is super cute!  I bought what I felt like was expensive wrapping paper, for $5, (that's how cheap I am) for the durability, and it has held up perfect.  Buy the good stuff and tape the heck out of it, and you will have the cutest desk in school, I promise! 

When I moved into my classroom I had four ugly gray filing cabinets along one wall. So when I found out a few teachers nearby didn't have any cabinets, I practically loaded the hand truck myself so I could try this cute arrangement I found on Pinterest.  I don't have too much in my filing cabinets, (being a 'baby' and computer dependent teacher limits print outs) but I will happily hang on to them to keep this useful Magnet board.  

Click on the pictures to find more good ideas! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

This is a great tool from Blogger, Ian Byrd of Byrdseed

Ian's blog has amazing lessons, tips, and ideas for gifted education.  He also shows how he tweaks many common activities for gifted education (for multiple content areas). Reading how he increases the complexity of assignments has taught me how to do this too, which I really appreciate!! Thanks Ian for so graciously sharing all of these amazing ideas, and so far everything I've seen he puts up for free!  

The Differentiator is an online resource that lets you (or your students) choose how they will complete an assignment. The picture below is a screen shot, all words in color can be changed. I love it! I'm thinking about using this as a learning menu tool. The students could have full access to choice, or you could assign one skill and let them choose one, etc.   I think many of the students will gravitate to tasks that are on their level.  Just to be sure of this, I am thinking about having my students write an exit sticky note of how they will use this that way I make sure everyone is picking skills/tasks on their level.   

Let me know how you plan to use this in your classroom! I know it's a bit hard to see, but this is an example of how we might use this in class: