Friday, March 21, 2014

My Top 5 List

So my colleagues and I were asked to read a  blog post by Justin Tarte, Do your actions align with your beliefs? We were challenged to reflect upon our top 5 beliefs about education and how we follow those in our classroom. This task was like having to chose from a list of great actors all competing for the elusive Oscar trophy. After much contemplation I finally narrowed it down.

And the winners are.....(in no particular order)

1. Encourage Independent Thinking

Too often students want to be spoon fed. That is, even when the directions are right in front of them they would rather you tell them exactly what to do. Everyday I try to encourage students to think independently and only seek help once they have exhausted all resources.

2. Staying Positive

Staying positive in the midst of life is often times a difficult thing to do. Teachers give off a certain kind of vibe that students feed off of. If I'm constantly giving off a positive vibe how great would people around me feel? Maybe not all the time, but most of the time. Okay, I'll admit it, I'm not always a positive person. Surprised? Most of us aren't positive 100% of the time and that is one belief I can easily improve.

3. Encourage Critical Thinking

Problem-solving skills!!! Come out, come out, wherever you are!!!
These skills are most definitely on the decline. Why is that? I can't seem to pinpoint it. Could it be the age of technology? Why should I solve my own problems when my iPhone can do it? Or could it be the parents? Why should I solve my own problems when mamma will do it for me? Ouch! Right? No matter the cause, there's definitely a chasm. Everyday I encourage students to figure things out on their own. If they ask me where a book is I answer with a question. "How could you find that book on your own?" If they know, I expect them to at least try and then we'll go from there.

4. Be Compassionate

Students come from different homes. As teachers, we sometimes forget that some students have more advantages than other. I try to be compassionate in the aspect and see each student as having individual needs.

5. Encourage Student Collaboration

Can't we all just get along? As adults we see how necessary collaboration is in our world. The earlier students begin practicing this skill the better. I try to encourage student collaboration as much as possible in the library.

My beliefs may change with time but one thing remains has many different components. It is a machine that runs the course of our life. This machine drives our world. I am just a part of that machine but aren't we all?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Love, love, love teaching with these books!!!

As educators, we all know how difficult it can be to find great resources that help infuse language arts with science and social studies. That's why I LOVE the True Book series by Scholastic. This book series has sets of books that focus on Social Studies and Science topics. The example below are the books included in the ecosystems set.

The best thing about this book series is that they all come in e-book format and are available on the True Flix site. Yes, it does require a subscription, but DEFINITELY worth the money. Take a look below at the home screen of True Flix.

Each topic includes several books! The books will do read aloud and each book comes with a short video on the topic and extra activities and links! 

These books are a no-brainer when it comes to teaching science and social studies! The students love the layout of the books and the teachers love how easy they are to incorporate across various subjects!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Fun in the Library with Centers!

How was I going to survive this year with 25+ kindergartners in a class? That's what I was asking myself the first week of school. I learned quickly that whole group activities were not an option. Believe me, I tried and failed miserably! Then the clouds surrounding me cleared and I had it - CENTERS!!!! I know, I know, centers are a lot of work, but that's just leg work. Once they get use to the management it's pretty smooth and I figured it had to be better than trying to instruct 25 kindergartners at once.

To implement the centers I decided to go with what I already had set up in the library:
Center 1: Smart Board (e-book/ fiction or nonfiction)
Center 2: Book Check-out
Center 3: iPad activities
Center 4: Listening (book on cd)

Once I decided on my centers I began to implement them immediately. I even tried it with first grade too! I was AMAZED! The group size was manageable (about 5-6 per group) and the students LOVED it! Don't get me wrong, it took several weeks for the students to learn the rotation and we still work on that. At this point, I'm still mainly staying in the book check-out center until each transition time; however, after the holidays I plan to lead the ipad center.

So, centers saved me from insanity this year! The cool thing is they can be customized to specific lessons or needs as long as the format stays the same.

By the way, I made paths and waiting areas for transition time by using colorful book tape and attaching it to the carpet!

This is my listening center....

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

TPACK and Apptivities: It's all about integration!

Finding new technology is like unwrapping a Christmas gift! However, finding a way to use that technology in a meaningful way is not always so easy. TPACK, which stands for Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge, is a way of thinking which incorporates all essential aspects of 21st century learning. Today, I was able to unpack this a bit and develop some lessons using this model. We first focused on the content, then the pedagogy, and then incorporating technology into the lesson- not building the lesson around technology. TPACK is essential in helping teachers use a higher level of technology in their classrooms.
One way to effectively use technology in the classroom is through apptivities. No, I didn't create a new word. Apptivities are lessons designed for students to be guided through the use of apps. I am truly excited to implement this with my lessons. Not only does it utilize technology but it encourages collaboration and teamwork!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Battle of the Books

Tomorrow is Gaston County's Battle of the Books Competition!
 I just wanted to take this short blog to say how very proud I am of my team ! Fifth graders were able to sign up for Battle of the Books the first week of school. There were specific criteria they had to meet, including reading 18 books. I have six students who have persevered since we began training on September 4th. They have read and reread their books and have practiced every school day! I know they will do their best and have fun! I will update tomorrow with the results!

We won 2nd place! It was a fierce competition. All of the schools were so good and knew their books so well! My team definitely earned their place!! Congratulations!  

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wow! Where did February Go?

The month of February was very exciting in the North Belmont Library! All month long we celebrated Black History Month.

Research, Research, Research

My 3-5 grades worked with a partner to choose one event leading to the end of segregation to research. I introduced this unit using a video from Discovery Education, Standing Up for Freedom: The Story of Rosa Parks This gave the students some background knowledge of segregation. Next, the students choose one event to research from the following list:

  • Voting Rights Act of 1965 
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (De-Segregation in Education)
  • Montgomery Bus Boycotts 
  • Greensboro, NC Lunch Counter Sit-Ins 
  • Bailey v. Patterson (De-Segregation in Transportation) 
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.: "I Have a Dream" 

With a partner and a graphic organizer, the students began their research either on a desktop, laptop, or iPad. The students had a total of 45 minutes stretched between a few weeks to complete their research. I found that most students expected to find the information without having to read. That was very frustrating for me! This week students will begin using their research to create a voicethread about their event. I will be posting that link when it's complete.

Now for the younger ones....

I had a lot of good conversation with my kindergarten through second grades. I focused on books with segregation as the main theme and how the characters overcame inequality. We read the following books:

The Story of Ruby Bridges by Toni Ann Johnson
Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds
Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rapaport
Ruth and the Green Book by Calvin Alexander Ramsey and Gwen Strauss

It amazed me at how involved the students were in the books. They had several questions which led to some awesome conversation! After our conversations we didn't have time for anything additional which proves that you don't always need technology or projects to make a lesson great!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Here we go! Perseverance through the 2nd semester

Well as Christmas break approached I likened my Ipad experience up until that point to Clark Griswold trying to make his lights illuminate the neighborhood. I felt that sometimes I was trying to make the technical side of Ipad use too difficult when all the while it may have been one small click to solve the problem. 
Now that we are back into the school groove and second semester is approaching I have determined to NOT STRESS! How you may ask will I accomplish this? Well, below you will find my "I will" statements that are intended to keep me sane, and my Ipads safe, for the remainder of the year.

  • I will calmly approach every situation and remedy the problem.... I wouldn't want to frighten the Ipads.
  • I will use logic in problem solving.... The Ipads deserve my very best.
  • I will not destroy any property when I can't fix the problem.... People may call DSS if I abuse the Ipads.
  • I will seek help when needed.... If I love the Ipads enough I will help them no matter what.
  • I will always have a back up plan... It isn't the Ipads fault if it isn't functioning properly.
  • Most importantly, I will have a positive attitude...... as to never offend the Ipads in any way.

On a more serious note, I am excited to utilize the Ipads in the library even more during the second semester. I am more comfortable with them now, students too. I know what too expect and not expect. Although I'm always eager to learn, try, explore, etc. new things and ways to implement them!