September 28, 2014

Peek at Our Week: PBL and Fire Safety

Happy Sunday!  I'm linking up with my favorite, Deedee, to fill you in on what we will be doing in the land of Room 100 this week.

I'm so excited about this week in our kindergarten classrooms.  We are starting our first "real" PBL project!  If you've followed my blog for a while, you know I love using PBL in my classroom.  I dipped my toes in the waters last year, and I am excited to expand on it this year.  In true PBL nature, my students have no idea about our project yet.  We will begin our project on Tuesday, when our resident firefighter (first grade parent and former kindergarten parent) visits our classroom to tell us that our school needs an updated fire escape map.  Our firefighter friend visited our classroom during community helper week, so we already have some background knowledge of fire safety.  Having this information in our schema will help us in organizing our project.

After Mr. Firefighter leaves, we will go right into the organization of our project.  All three classes are working together on this project, so we will be meeting in our large group each day this week.  We will fill out our knows/need to knows/next steps chart, then break into our committees:  Photography (to take pictures of each staff member to place on the map), labeling, and digital production.  While students will get a choice on the committee they will join, their teachers already have an idea of who will go where.  

This is my first time to attempt this project, so I will blog about it post-project.  I'm excited to share it with you!

In addition to our PBL unit, we will also be using a lot of resources from my colleague, Lindsey!  She has created a couple of great resources for this week.  Check them out!

Seriously, adorable.

I'm also excited to be getting all prepped for our pumpkin unit!  Be watching for lots of activities coming your way in the next week or two.

Here are my detailed plans for the week.  Enjoy!

What are you up to this week?  Link up with Deedee to tell us all about it!

September 21, 2014

Peek at My Week {All About Apples!}

Apple week is finally here!  This is the first week in the school year where we really dive into a topic and investigate it full-force, and integrate it into everything that we do.  

I love fall and everything about it, so naturally, apple week is one of my FAVORITES, only behind pumpkins and our three Christmas (The Gingerbread Man, Polar Express, and Rockin' Around the Christmas tree) themes. :)  

I'm linking up with Deedee to share the fun we have planned for the week ahead.  

We will begin the week by investigating what we already know about apples.  Enter my anchor chart for that...

I love using this format as the introduction anchor chart for our units.  It's a little different than a KWL chart, and it lends itself to PBL.  Having kids reflect on their schema leads to deeper learning!

Throughout the week, we will make graphs, crafts, and anchor charts all about apples.  Here are some of the resources I will be using:

This pack is full of FUN stuff!  My favorite is the apple glyph in this pack.  We will be doing this and displaying it for all the world to see!

We have been practicing initial sounds like it's our job, and it's showing.  The kids are getting GREAT at pulling the sound off of the beginning of words.  I will use this game in small groups this week.  

People, if there is an apple themed resource you want to use for literacy stations, look no further.  The activities are no only useful for beginning of the year kindergarten, but they are also adorable.  We will be using quite a few of these stations, as well as an adorable apple craft included in this product.   We will display this on our bulletin board!  It also includes an adorable poem, which will be the first poem we include in our poetry notebooks.

The week wouldn't be complete if we didn't talk about Johnny Appleseed!  We will use lots of books and videos on Learn360 to learn about the original horticulturist.  The kids will make the Johnny Appleseed craft shown above, as well as Johnny Appleseed hats for our celebration on Friday!

In addition to all of the great apple products I have accumulated over the years, I created some apple fun of my own using QR codes.  This product is available in my little shop for just $1.  It covers three concepts:  Sight words, letter/sound recognition, and counting 1-10.

We will end our celebration Friday with a little APPLE CELEBRATION!  We have ALWAYS done an apple tasting party/center day on the last day of apple week.  This year, we will be using Cara's Apple Investigation journal as our activity.  It's full of great apple science and critical thinking.  We have lots of parents coming in for the celebration, so it will be simple to divide and manage what the kids are doing.  

In addition to these fun, exploratory stations, we will be doing a lot of apple eating!  Each child is invited to bring in one apple snack to share with his or her classmates.  Since my own kiddo is in kindergarten this year, we (I) got to pick something yummy to send in...  

I can't wait to try this!  I am addicted to the Pepperidge Farm pumpkin bread, so I'm sure this will be just as good.

Here are my plans for the week.  Click on the images to go to the Google Doc!

We also start RTI for reading and math this week.  There might be a little freebie within the link!  

What are you doing this week?  Go link up with Deedee!

September 14, 2014

Peek at My Week...Superhero Style!

It's Sunday!  That means tomorrow starts a new week full of fun!  I'm linking up with Deedee to tell you all about it! :)

A few weeks ago, my friend, Holly from Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Connections, blogged about her fun superhero week in her classroom.  She created a fantastic resource full of engaging activities that any student would love.  I snatched it up, and here we are at superhero week!

I also created a fun pack of math and literacy station activities that we will be using this week to go with our theme.  It's 50% off until tomorrow (Monday) night! :)

This week we will focus on the letter Tt, a new list of star words, and position words.  We will do all kinds of fun activities from Holly's unit, and stations will be from my unit!

Check out what we are doing this week:

Have a great week!

September 6, 2014

Five for Friday... Tech Style!

Hi, Friends!  I have been sharing my passion for teaching on social media for a while now, and by far and away, the most asked questions I get revolve around technology integration. 

 I'm going to take a few minutes of your weekend to share some of my favorite tech-related tidbits that I utilized in my classroom this week.

1.  Camera/DoodleBuddy/Educreations
That's right... My favorite app to use with my students is actually the camera.  You can do so much with the camera.  For one of our very first lessons on using the iPads, we used the camera to take selfies to use for our home screen images.  You can imagine the results.  We have some future photographers, some silly posers, and some pictures of just eyeballs.  They may not be perfect, but they are their own.

We also used the camera to go on a color scavenger hunt during our color unit.  Each group was assigned a color, and they had to find 4 things around the room in that color to take pictures of.  The kids went wild for this activity!  We are still learning, but the results were fabulous.

We also use DoodleBuddy and Educreations a lot in our classroom.  This week, we used DoodleBuddy to illustrate our vocabulary words for the week.  Each table group was given a vocab word, and they had to show and present their work at the end of the activity.

Funny kindergarten side note... One of our words was brave (to which my boys would always yell out, "It means to face your fears!!!").  One of my little guys drew a great picture of The Undertaker (yes, from WWE fame), and said, "I am brave to draw this picture of The Undertaker, because he scares me!"  Out of the mouths of babes. :)

Educreations works the same way, but it doesn't include all of the fun stamps and stencils.  There is a place for both in the primary classroom.  We use both equally.

2.  PicCollage
After taking the pictures of our assigned colors, I reflected one student's iPad onto our big screen.  We use the Reflector app to do this in our classroom, but it could also be done with an Apple TV.  We downloaded PicCollage from the App Portal, and then went to town creating a collage of our colors.  The kids chose backgrounds, played with the pictures, and some even added text.  The kids GOT IT in no time.  How much more engaging is this over a worksheet?  I need no answer there. :)

Here are some examples of this activity.  Aren't they precious?!?!

This guy had the color blue... I love that he took a picture of his BLUE shoe. :)

Can you find the text on this collage?  How creative?!?!

This little girl had blue also, and she proceeded to take a picture of my maxi skirt.  LOL...

3.  KidBlog
Quite possibly my favorite app to use with my students is KidBlog.  I've been using KidBlog in my classroom for a long time.  We have always done it on the laptops, and boy...let me tell you... It's Simple Simon on the iPads!  What would have taken a full hour on the laptops took what felt like a second.

Again, I reflected a student's iPad onto the big screen, and I was able to walk the class through the process a step at a time.

Side note--I cannot stress how important it is to baby step all of this.  Don't throw a ton at your students, whether they are in kindergarten or fifth grade, the first time they are using devices.  Although you will likely find they are digital natives, meaning this is just what they know, it will make the management and your sanity a lot better if you baby step it.  They will take off, just don't throw it all at them at once.

Anyway...  The objective of this assignment was to create a self-portrait in DoodleBuddy.  Then, we went into KidBlog to upload the image.  If you think about it, we are just starting to write in our journals at this point in the year.  We are focusing on matching a picture to a prompt.  While this student blog post is just an image (which they can upload from their device using the KidBlog app), it is so very developmentally appropriate for this time of year in kindergarten.

The kids were so proud to be published authors!

This week, we will be KidBlogging at two times, and maybe more.  We will begin to focus on community helpers this week, so our blog posts will focus on how people can help their communities.  

As the year goes on, we will baby step into the kids writing independently and with choice on their KidBlogs.  I envision it being part of their morning work options as the year goes on.

If you haven't, check out KidBlog for your classroom.  Whether you are a kindergarten teacher or a high school teacher, it can work for you.  

4.  eBackpack
Our district has adopted eBackpack as our assignment submission app this school year.  This week, the students learned how to upload an assignment to eBackpack.  To set it all up, I created an assignment.  The assignment was pushed out to my students, and then they uploaded it to eBackpack.  While I am not giving them assignments to be graded at this point, it has been very helpful to use to get projects they are doing on their devices.  It's extremely simple to use, for both the kids and me.

If you don't have eBackpack, look into Showbie.  Showbie does the same thing, and it's free.  

Yesterday, I was featured on Sheila Jane Teaching's BlogTalk Radio show.  I went into much more detail on my beliefs on using technology with even the youngest students, PBL, and lots of stuff in between.  Go to her blog to read all about the interview

You can listen to the actual interview here!

Check Out Education Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Sheila Jane Teaching on BlogTalkRadio

September 1, 2014


September?  Really???

I'm linking up with the Queen of Currently for yet another wonderful edition of CURRENTLY!

Listening:  On days when it's just the kids and me (hubby is mowing, which is an all day adventure when you live in the country), we have a tradition of picking a "surprise" movie.  Basically, I get to pick a movie I want to watch (kid-friendly, of course), and for two hours, we are Peppa Pig and Super Hero Squad free.  Today's choice:  The Princess Bride.  For the next week, I will be saying "My name is Diego Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die."  I love introducing my kids to movies from my childhood!  My favorite is The Sandlot, but I can't find it anywhere!  This one will do. :)

Loving:  I think I am in the majority when I say that this Monday off thing is pretty sweet.

Thinking:  My intention today was to make a batch of spaghetti sauce, homemade pizza dough, and get some things together so that dinner would be easy this week.  Dance starts tomorrow, so it will be vital that we get right to dinner so that we actually eat.  I'll get on that right after I hit publish. 

Wanting:  I have had bronchitis going on a week now.  I am over it.  Cant. Stop. Coughing.  

Needing:  Those who know me well know that I love anything pumpkin. Pumpkin decor, pumpkin food, pumpkin flavors, pumpkin scents.  It's all good to me.  When Starbucks announced they would be releasing their PSL early this year, my heart fluttered.  Unfortunately, I live 30 minutes from a Starbucks, so I'm out of luck for today.  Sad face.

3 Trips:  I confess:  I've never been to Disney.  That will all change over Fall Break!  I think I'm more excited than the kids.  We went to Tybee Island (right outside of Savannah) before my daughter was born, and it was magical.  Besides being plagued with morning (all day) sickness the entire trip, it was the perfect vacation spot.  I want to go back!  Finally, I didn't get to go to Vegas this summer.  It's all good.  I am making it a personal goal to go to at least some of it this year!  

I guess it's time to get to cookin'!  Have a great September!