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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

7 Habits + + = Teamwork activity

Today, my students focused on the habit:  SYNERGIZE.  We talked about the importance of teamwork, and then they were divided into small groups and given a quote about teamwork.  They then had to work together to create a Voki that recited their teamwork quote.  I did a short introduction to before we got on the computers.

After the Voki were created, I posted them on a website that I created at  It was a great way to get the vokis out where they could be seen!  I then linked that webpage to our classroom webpage so that students don't have to remember the wix URL. 

I do nearly everything in SMART Notebook, but it doesn't take HTML, and I needed somewhere to post 8 voki.  I decided I didn't want them right on our class website, and I didn't want to mess with posting them to my blog.  Both of those options would have been a little cumbersome.  Through some exploring, I found, and I am going to use it now to post our HTML creations.

The kids picked up on the voki creation quickly, and in general, they really did synergize to create them.  I thought this would be a good way to introduce this site in case they decide to use it at a later date for a project.  They will already have a basic understanding of how it works.

If you would like to see my students' vokis about teamwork, click here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Words their Way: Beginning Stages

So, I have started my Words their Way journey.

Early in the week, I gave the Elementary Spelling Inventory.  The scoring did not take too long, and I think I figured out groups well.  I ended up with 4 groups:  A middle Within-Words group, a late Within-Words group, a Syllables-Affixes group, and a Derivational Relations group.  I was pleased with that, and I am hoping I can manage it okay.

The toughest part will be launching the Words part of Daily 5 with 3 different groups.  I am thinking that the first working with words activities will be pretty much the same for everyone--just using their words.  Sorts are pretty easy to start with for 3rd graders, so that is where I plan on starting.

I like the information I get from the inventory.  After listening to kids read and watching some simple writing assignments, I had a pretty good idea where students would fall, but I like the more specific details I was able to get from the inventory.  I think it will really help me to pinpoint instruction and practice for my students.

I will have students work with their words in class and at home for about two weeks on average before giving them an assessment.  My assessment will be 5 dictation sentences which the students will copy.  Each sentence will contain 2-3 of the words from their list.  This assessment will receive two scores:  a score for the correct spelling of their listed words, and a score for using capital letters and correct end punctuation in their sentences.  Each group will get a different set of sentences.

The main goal for me of this word work is for students to have carryover of correct spelling into their writing and daily work.  Let's hope it is a step in the right direction!

If you would like to learn more about Words Their Way, click on the picture below.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Fun IPhone App

Okay, so I listened to Kleinspiration, and I am now getting caught up inTwitter. I don't tweet very often (because I am not very confident about it yet), but I do follow a lot of great educators who share a lot of interesting articles and resources. One of them I have begun following is Lyn Hilt. (@L_Hilt on Twitter)
Yesterday she tweeted about a new IPhone app-- Flat Stanley! Students download the app, and then they can customize him. After that, they can take pictures of him with their own phone, or send him away to other friends and let them take pictures to send back! How fun is that?

I hope you find it to be a lot of fun!  Follow me on Twitter, too!  @jkgibson6

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday: Advice for new teachers

My advice is simple: Do ALL that you can to make parents feel comfortable in your classroom. It is key to have their support. There are many ways you can do this.

1) Keep communication lines open. Use a website, a facebook page, a google groups, a newsletter...any or all of these will help get the ball rolling!

2) Have volunteers or events that get parents into your room. There is no better PR than having them in your room.

3) Get back to parents quickly when they contact you. Even if the call is a hard one to make, get back to them and stay as positive as possible.

4) Finally, remember, they love this child! Be sure to keep your words positive and to do all that you think you can to help their child succeed. Don't get upset with them when they seem difficult about something. It is their job to be their child's advocate. Tell them how lucky their child is to have them on his side.

Stay positive and try to look at things from their point of view. I know sometimes things get frustrating when dealing with parents, but I have to tell you that I have found as a parent that it is pretty frustrating dealing with some teachers, too!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Favorite Teachers Linky

This time of year is always exciting for me!  I love the newness and the great anticipation of what could be in the new school year.  I always tell my students how much I love school by reminding them that I have been going to it since I was 5 years old!  Who would keep doing that if they didn't like it?

Part of the reason that I like it so much is the the teachers that I was blessed with during my schooling.  In 2nd grade, I had a teacher named Mrs. Wiggins.  Everything was fun with Mrs. Wiggins.  She made learning fun and different than other classrooms.  Another great teacher was my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Heagy.  She was so creative and so positive in all of her dealings with us.  I do not remember her ever raising her voice at us.  Mrs. Warnock was a great junior high math teacher.  In her class, I was forced to be organized, follow directions, and meet deadlines.  My high school math teacher, Mr. Frerkes, challenged me to be the best student I could be.  I have never thought so hard or so differently as I did in his classes.

All of these teachers make me who I am as a person, but they also play a large part in my classroom.  We laugh and play games every day because of Mrs. Wiggins.  My students are asked to be organized because of Mrs. Warnock, but are allowed to be creative because of Mrs. Heagy.  Finally, I work hard to challenge my students to think differently, defend their answers, and be all they can be because of my experiences with Mr. Frerkes.  They not only impacted my life growing up, but indirectly are having an impact on my students today!

What teachers impacted you and play a part in your classroom today? Link up to tell us more about all of the great teachers who came before us!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Do you Symbaloo?

I was introduced to Symbaloo this summer at a technology conference.  I have begun to use it as a place to store important resources that I want to use in my classroom.  It is a great site for me to use for myself, but even better for me to use to share resources with others!

Because I am still a beginner, I am sure to say that there is a lot more that it is capable of doing than I use it for right now.  I hope to be able to take the time to figure more out about it as the year goes.

I hope you get a chance to check it out, too.  I think you'll like it!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Reading Scavenger Hunt

A fun activity that my class will do each trimester is a reading scavenger hunt.  It is a great opportunity for collaboration because the whole class is working as one unit to identify all of the items on the list.

The scavenger hunt list below will be posted and discussed at the beginning of the term.  Students will decide what the prize for the class will be if they find all of the items.  After we have reviewed the list, I will post it in the classroom.  It is a great way for students to show their understanding of literary elements. 

Students will be allowed to fill in items on the scavenger hunt as they find it in their reading.  The item will only be counted if all of the columns following it are completed.  I do allow students to complete more than one item, but I encourage everyone to play a part in the process.

I will trim the pages and attach them together so that they look like one large table.  I usually hang the table in an easy spot for kids to get to in the room, but this year I may place it on a clipboard because I don't have very much wall space.

Periodically, I will review with the students what they are still looking for to complete the hunt. At the end of the trimester, I will post a new hunt for the next trimester and the process will begin again.  Sometimes, I carry over previous items that have not been located yet.

Hope you can use this with your students!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Seven Habits of Happy Kids

At my school, we are working to teach our students the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Many of us have read The Leader in Me by Stephen R. Covey, and we will be holding a book study this year over its concepts.

Part of the use of these ideas is to make kids familiar with the terminology. It did not take my students long to pick up on the terminology last year. This year, I made a pamphlet that I am going to give to parents at our Curriculum Night. The idea behind the pamphlet is for them to be familiar with the language of the habits so that they can work to use it more at home.

The document is made using Publisher. I am having trouble generating a preview in Google Docs, but when I downloaded it opened fine. I hope it works for those of you who are interested. Of course, you must have Publisher on your computer to open it. I left the bulk of the text, and I marked the parts that you would need to change with red font or X's.  Let me know if you have a better idea for a way for me to share. 

Click on the images below to link to the doc.  Because I don't think you will be able to get a preview, you will have to download it and then see what you think.

Me and My Gang

I am so excited to say that I am going to be part of the Me and My Gang family.  I will be posting in the 3rd grade lounge on Me and My Gang--yet another great place to hook up with blogging teachers from your grade level!  Check out the other grade level blogs while you are there, too! Click on the button below to see what it is all about!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

KineticCity website

So, I am the first to tell you that science is not my favorite thing to teach.  For that reason, I am always looking for new things that engage and teach ME!  If a website or activity can do that, then I am usually willing to try it with my students.

As I was looking through Richard Byrne's ebook 77 Web Resources for Teachers, I found this site called Kinetic City. Mr. Byrne really highlights the game Shape it Up, and that is where I started, but I found a number of good interactive lessons and ideas in other categories of the website.  This site covers a myriad of science topics through online games, creatable games, writing activities, and short clips.  I think it will be a great tool to use in my room this year.

It is designed as a possible after school science club site, too.  If you are interested in the educators' page that accompanies the site, you can go to it by clicking here.

The picture below will take you to a fun game that reviews the internal organs.

I would be interested to know if any of you have used this site or what you think of it when you explore it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Do you use the CAFE Interactive Menu?

This will be my 3rd year using the CAFE in my classroom. I continue to change and tweak little things about it, but in most ways, I stay true to the format discussed in the book.

I do not belong to the website, although I think that this year I am going to go ahead and spend the money. However, I do reference the site regularly for ideas. I also receive the weekly tip from the site.

However, without a doubt, my favorite thing to use on the site is The Interactive CAFE Menu.  It is such a help!  I go there if I am looking for a new book to use which supports a strategy.  Sometimes there are other resources that I find inside each strategy that are available to nonmembers.  When you follow the link, all you have to do is click on the strategy you are interested in, and it will give you a list of resources which might help support that skill.

Even if you are not using the CAFE in your classroom, you should check out this menu.  It is a wonderful resource for all teachers.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Speakaboos in the classroom

Today I came upon a new site to use with my students in the classroom. It is Speakaboos. This site has free books and videos that you can use in the classroom. There is an upgraded version that costs, but I did find a number of things in the free category that I thought I would be able to use with my 3rd graders.

Maybe this site has been around for a while and I am the only one who didn't know about it. I just thought I would share. I hope you find something you can use.

Monday, August 8, 2011

My classroom pics

My room is not completely ready, but it is getting there. I will not have a list of student names until Friday, so there are a number of things that I can't do until I have that...

Here is what is done.

Click to play this Smilebox scrapbook
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This scrapbooking design customized with Smilebox

Quiet in the Hallways!

I have walked many a class of students down the hallway. The expectations are always clear and reviewed just before we leave the room. However, with some groups, it is still quite a challenge for them to be quiet in the halls. So here is something I have tried that seems to help...

Before we leave the room, I review ONE math fact. 2 + 3 = 5, 9 x 7 = 63, 8 - 2 = 6...I say it, they repeat me, I call on random students to recite it to me...After about 30 seconds of this, they are told to concentrate on that fact until we get where we are going.

When we get to our destination, I go through the line one by one (often as they are entering the classroom) and ask students the fact OR an extension of the fact--depending on the student. So some students are asked 9 x 7, some 90 x 700, some 63 / 7, others 63,000 / 90...If the student gets their fact correct, they are good to go into the classroom, if they don't they get another chance.

It is a pretty silly thing, but I do find that if they have a fact to concentrate on, they are quiet in the hall. I even tell them to repeat the fact to themselves as we move through the hall. :)

Give it a go! I hope that it works for you as well.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

TBA--What a great resource!

I began blogging this summer because of the Teaching Blog Addict site. I started as a follower on Facebook, and before I knew it, I was in Blogger and wanting to connect with as many people as possible! You should be a member if you are not already. They are having a Linky party right now to spread the word!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Book Trailers

One of my many goals this year is to expose students to more books.  We already do this through student sharing, classmate recommendations, and teacher sharing, but I am wanting to take time each week to show one book trailer which advertises a new or existing children's book.  While searching, I found this one:

Third grade is a great year for Mr. Popper's Penguins, and I liked that this was short but to the point. I also liked it for its use of vocabulary. I am thinking I can have this lead directly into a lesson on context clues.

Do you use book trailers in your classroom? Do you have a special place that you find them or that you recommend? I would love to get ideas on using book trailers in my classroom.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Beginning of the Year

So, I have been basically back to work for the last week and a half.  I have been providing technology training for teachers in my district in the mornings and then trying to get my mind wrapped around the new year in the afternoon.

I have prepared for the beginning of a new year for over 20 years, but it still excites and scares me!  I have so many ideas, and I enter my room, and just feel overwhelmed.   And, while blogging has provided me with great ideas and resources, I feel like I just can't get my head around them all.

Next week will be my final week of summer.  I will not be teaching classes, but I am sure I will be spending much of my time in my classroom.  There is  a lot to be done, but I won't find out my students name until the end of next week, and those kiddos will be in my room less than a week after I get their names!  So, I have a lot of planning and waiting, and then hurrying to get things done!

How are you feeling as you prepare for the new year?