April 29, 2015

Baseball Week is in Full Swing!

Baseball week is in full swing, and boy, has it been fun!  

I grew up watching the Cincinnati Reds.  Actually, it was a tradition for my dad and me to go to Opening Day... And yes, I got to skip school to go. :)

When my team and I were planning themes for this school year, I mentioned the idea of doing a baseball week.  This group of students LOVES baseball...  So it was just natural to include it in our list of themes for this year.

The most popular part of the week has been, hands down, math baseball!  

I visited my local Dollar Tree this weekend to buy a set of bases and some white paper plates.  Using a red Sharpie, I turned those white plates into baseballs with addition and subtraction facts written on them.  

We set out the bases in our classroom, broke into teams, and voila!  Math baseball was invented.

We are also doing this same game with sight words!

I also found this giant beach ball shown in this picture at Michael's.  

I really didn't know what we would do with it when I bought it, but it didn't take long to figure out that no matter what we did, the kids would LOVE IT!

We've been using it to practice spelling words this week...  Simply toss it to a friend, and I give them a word to spell!  

Isn't it funny how the simplest objects can make ANYTHING fun?!?! :)

We have also used some fantastic digital resources, including a video on Louisville Slugger bats from the Yankees

and baseball books on MyOn.

On Monday, we taste tested Cracker Jacks!  About half the class loved them.  About half the class loved the prize only. :)

We spent a lot of time on fact and opinion.

and made these adorable baseball kiddos from A Cupcake for the Teacher.

This product includes an adorable writing prompt, but I wanted my students to incorporate technology into this activity.  We used KidBlog to write blog posts about our favorite baseball teams (keeping with the fact and opinion theme).

We still have a few baseball activities to do this week, but we are moving full-force into DERBY STUFF tomorrow!  Check back to hear about all the fun!

April 23, 2015

Our Earth Day PSA

We have been fully immersed in all things Earth Day this week!  We have learned so many ways to help our planet, and I wanted to have my students apply what they had learned into one, final project.  

Last year, my class created a PSA for Earth Day.  They did such a great job that I knew I wanted to do this with my class again this year.  

Since we are 1:1 now, I organized the project a little differently.  I knew that in the time allotment we had today, there was no way I could have each small group create their own videos.  With Career Day taking up the bulk of our day tomorrow, our deadline to finish our video was today.  While my students would have been fully capable of making videos in their groups, I decided we could get the same impact with just one.  

First, I broke the kids into five groups.  We brainstormed ways we could help the Earth, and each group chose one to showcase.  In their groups, the kids created their scenes and found their props.  Then, they wrote their scripts!

Each group recorded their part, then submitted the video to me through eBackpack.  Then, I imported each video into iMovie, had the kids create and edit the captions, and voila!  The video is complete!

Enjoy our Earth Day message!

April 22, 2015

Kentucky Derby Fun!

In my neck of the woods, the Kentucky Derby is a HUGE deal.  

Things got started around here last Saturday, when Thunder Over Louisville (one of the biggest fireworks shows in the country) lit up the skies of the Louisville area.  Of course, I was in Nashville with my blogging buddies doing all the Pop-See-Ko all over town, but we typically enjoy the fireworks... From our television in our living room.  Folks, I am not one for huge crowds of people.  Forgive me, please.

After the Derby Festivities kick off, we love celebrating in our classrooms as well.  

At my school, it has been a long standing tradition to do a stick horse race on Derby Eve.  After making these horses with yard sticks (donated by Home Depot) and a paper pattern that is probably older than the school itself, we compete in the Run for the Reeses. 

Last year's crown was a wee bit heavy... :)

We also create BIG hats for the kiddos to wear for our Derby-Eve celebration.

I use a lot of stuff from Abby’s unit.

I also use these awesome stations I created a couple of years ago.

It will be 20% off through the weekend!

April 21, 2015

Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites Book Study: All About Technology!

I've been absent from the book study for the past few chapters, but that doesn't mean I'm not loving this book!  When I saw that this chapter was about my passion, I knew I had to jump in!

I'm linking up with my friend Sarah from A Rocky Top Teacher to talk all about TECHNOLOGY!

A Rocky Top Teacher

Before I get started, let me say that as much as I love technology, there is still more to the story than just the device.  My students still play dress up, build with Legos, practice handwriting with pencil and paper (okay, and smelly markers...), and build letters with Play Doh regularly.  

However, kids LOVE technology.  

I have been abundantly blessed to work in a 1:1 (meaning that each of my students have an iPad mini) environment this year.  Although I haven't seen a remarkable difference in student achievement (after all, the teacher is the #1 asset to a classroom!), I have seen increased levels of student engagement AND retention of academic material.

When reading this chapter, I kept wanting to say "AMEN!!!" really loud... I loved that Tate made certain that readers know that TEACHERS are irreplaceable.  Technology should never be used to exclusively teach a concept or skill... Humans always win there. :)  However, using apps and programs to enhance learning is a glorious thing.

Here are some of my favorite ways to integrate technology into my classroom:

Look No Further Than Your Camera!
I can't reiterate this enough.  Sure, you can spend a mint on fantastic apps for your kids to practice skills.  However, I have found that the camera is the most powerful tool on your device.  We take pictures every single day.  For example, right now we are immersed in our measurement unit.  For our lesson on comparing objects by length, we used art box supplies (a pencil, a pair of scissors, a glue stick, and a crayon) and put them in order from shortest to longest.  Then, the kids took a picture and added it to their math notebook in Book Creator.  Now tell me... Isn't that much more fun than a worksheet??? :)

Book Creator
Speaking of Book Creator...

My most-used app is by far Book Creator.  You can read all about it here.

We use this app for our interactive notebooks on a daily basis.  The wonderful thing about this app is that it can be totally customized based on the skill level of the child (HELLO, DIFFERENTIATION!!!).  At this point in the year, I fully expect my above and on-level kiddos to be writing sentences for their reading responses.  However, we know there are some kiddos who need more support to get their thoughts across.  Enter the ADD SOUND option!!!  Kiddos can record their responses!  GENIUS!!!

Aside from our interactive notebooks, we also use Book Creator for our station work response notebooks.  I have created a template that I use each week for students to record their pictures or videos of their station work responses.  I also add sound to each page so my students can listen to the instructions for their station as many times as needed.

There is so much more to this app that I can't even go into in just one blog post.  Please, please, please... Check out the blog post from my BFF on our collaborative blog.  You will not be sorry!


This app is really too cute for words.  We have used this many, many times in our Reading Notebooks, but we have also integrated this into our science and social studies curriculum!

Sneezy the Snowman Response

Jamie O'Rourke Response

If you want to learn more about ChatterPix, head to 2 Techie Teachers to learn more!  I promise to blog more about this fun app SOON! :)

PicCollage is wonderful as well!  We use it in a variety of ways, but it is highly effective when needing to sort pictures.  Here are two examples of how we have used it this school year.

States of Matter Sort
We went on a hunt for solids, liquids, and gases!  The kids had to find one example of each and label the pictures.

We also went on a noun hunt.  The kids had to find a person, place, thing, and animal.  Owls count as things and animals. :)

Movie Making
We also love to make movies in our classroom!  We use iMovie often for this.  While iMovie may sound intimidating, it is so, so, so very easy for the kids to use.

This video is from last year, but we are right in the middle of making our video for this Earth Day!

My class is obsessed with coding!  We have used the website Tynker on the MacBooks, but we recently downloaded Toca Builders to our iPads.  Oh, heavens... My kids are obsessed.  With a little classroom management (meaning they would be on this app ALL. THE. TIME. if I let them), my kiddos are rocking some coding.  This weeks objective:  To build your spelling words in Toca Builder!

Check back soon for more tech fun!

Also, be sure to check out 2 Techie Teachers, my co-blog with my BFF!

April 13, 2015

Grow, Baby, Grow... Station Activities and All About The Frogs!!! (Day 1)

This week is all about animal life cycles!  

To kick off life cycles week, we used our FAVORITE RESOURCE EVER from TPT...

And read this wonderful book...

To introduce the wonderful world of oviparous animals!

After reading our book, we kicked off the day with literacy stations.  Here is some of the FUN, FUN, FUN we had while learning...

Write the Room (from my pack)

Five in a Row (Working on blends! From Deanna's Frog Frenzy pack)

Spelling City (because it's GREAT practice!)

Sight Word Search (from Growing Kinders Going Buggy pack)

Literacy stations for this week came from these resources...

Math stations this week also focus on the oviparous animal theme...

Flip a Frog game...  Kids get 10 frogs and flip them into the bowls.  Then, they will subtract the ones that do not make it into the bowls from 10.  The kids L-O-V-E-D it.

I got this idea from The First Grade Parade.  The kids spin a number from the middle of the flower and throw the butterfly flier onto a petal.  Then, they add the numbers together.

Leap Frog!  This game focuses on quantity discrimination.  It's from Deanna's Frog Frenzy pack.

Build a picture pattern block game (from Katie Mense's Pattern Block pack)

Count the room (from my pack)

Here are links to these resources:

To learn more about frogs, we watched used BrainPop Jr. and read some fantastic non-fiction books about frogs. 

Then, we dove right into a froggy fact and opinion lesson!

This came from Deanna's Frog Frenzy unit!

The kids had so much fun deciding what was a fact and what was an opinion.  They were so funny when going through the statements.  

From there, we created cute little froggy opinion writings.  The kids wrote how they felt about frogs, then supported their opinion with a fact about frogs.  

This is hard to read, but it says, "I think frogs are cute.  They can be small."

"I think frogs are disgusting.  They are slimy."

We also have some special visitors to our classroom...

Yes, those are tadpoles!

Check back tomorrow to see what we do with some of our favorite fluttering friends!

April 12, 2015

Peek At Our Week: Grow, Baby, Grow!

Happy Sunday night!  Anyone else have a crazy-busy weekend?  I need a weekend from this weekend, if you know what I'm saying...

Anyway, we have been immersed in our life cycles unit!  Last week was all about those plants... We were elbow-deep (quite literally) in dirt as we planted a variety of items and learned all about the life cycles of various plants.  

This week, we will be learning all about animal life cycles.  Our classroom will, quite literally, turn into a zoo when we welcome chicks, tadpoles, ladybugs, and butterflies into our classroom.  I am a little nervous about the chicks, because I've never ever had good luck with hatching the eggs.  Thank goodness I can run to our local farm supply store for a few baby chicks during my lunch hour if the chicks don't hatch... 

We will also participate in a PBL project involving the childhood classic, Make Way for Ducklings.  I have used this lesson example many times while presenting on Project-Based Learning.  To begin, I read the story to the students.  Then, I pose the question, "What would be a safe environment for the duckling family?"  After we have brainstormed, I break the kids into groups, give them some random art supplies, and let them go to town creating a model of a safe environment for the ducklings.  

Here are some wonderful examples from some of my presentations I have done.  Aren't they ADORABLE?!?!

Click my plans to get more details...

Now head on over to Deedee's blog to link up yourself or read all about what other teachers are doing this week!