Archive for June, 2010

What did you learn today?

As I chatted with my brother on the phone last night he asked me a simple, but pointed question. I was telling him about the Master’s class I’m taking online, and he asked, “But you can’t really get a lot out of an online class can you?” I very defensively described the positive aspects of my online master’s program, and also explained the most important change that working on my Master’s has provided: It has turned me into an active learner. My classes have exposed me to a vast number of resources and technologies that I never would have discovered on my own. But even more than that, it is teaching me how to actively read, reflect and seek out new information and ideas. I now subscribe to over 20 blogs on a variety of subjects, and while I certainly don’t read every post, I look forward to going through my Google Reader every day. Before I started my Master’s program, I considered myself pretty Tech saavy…and yes, I was probably above average when it came to overall nerdyness, but now I am constantly reading about new technologies and finding new ways I can change, update, and improve my pedagogy. So, here is my question, “What did you learn today?”

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Are you a Potter fan?

I know some people have problems with Harry Potter, but I am such a huge fan! First of all, JK Rowlings got 10 year olds to read 784 pages-a huge feat in itself! And the writing, characters and plot are absolutely brilliant! (A fitting British adjective!) Confession: I have read the entire series not once but TWICE, and I will probably read it again before the movie comes out. Confession #2: I love to re-read books. In fact, I think my mom was a little concerned about me when I was in elementary school and would read Island of the Blue Dolphins from cover to cover and then immediately flip back to the beginning and start again. Anyway, this post was supposed to be about Harry Potter, not about my strange reading habits. So this whole thing was inspired by the fact that the new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows trailer came out today. Of course I had to watch it several times and analyze each part against what I know happens in the book. I was terribly disappointed with the ending of the last movie, so I’m crossing my fingers that they get it right with this one!

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New Subscription Options

My mom just inspired me to conquer another technology hurdle: How to add a Subscribe link through FeedBurner.  I finally shared my blog with my family, and my mom wanted to know how she could keep up on my blog without having to check it all the time. I didn’t want to try to explain subscribing and Google Reader over the phone so my solution: Email Feed.  Edublogs makes you have a paid account to include a “Subscribe by Email” button, but I already pay for TWO blogs for school, and I’m just not ready to pay for another one.  Anyway, by burning my feed to FeedBurner (Another great Google tool, I’m such a Google Girl) I can include a Subscribe button and an Email Subscribe box. Mom will have no problem typing in her email address to subscribe! So go ahead and subscribe using whatever option works best for you!

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Quotes of the Week

I’m an avid collector of good quotes–funny, poignant, inspirational–I love them all.

  • Here’s one that I came across today while reading for my master’s class:
    • “Integrating ICT [Information and communication Technology] into the school without pedagogical change is like harnessing a jet engine to a horse-drawn carriage.”
  • Will Richardson’s reaction to a teacher who said that his students didn’t have access to Internet and handheld devices:
    • “…lack of access was offered not as a problem to solve but as a reason for inaction, an excuse to maintain the status quo…We say we want our kids to be problem solvers, but all too often, when faced with the challenges of a changing educational landscape, we don’t offer solutions. Instead, we offer excuses as to why we shouldn’t solve the problem, why it’s better to just keep on keepin’ on.” (Weblog-ed)
  • Another interesting quote from my Master’s class reading:
    • “In many ways school are like supertankers: A change of direction requires a considerable amount of forward planning before it takes effect.”

  • Here is the transcript of a conversation I had with a first grader at lunch last week that shows how racial issues even effect what we eat in the cafeteria 🙂
    • Me: Bing, you need to eat your Spanish rice.
    • Bing: Miss, I’m not Spanish!
    • Me: You don’t have to be Spanish to eat the Spanish rice!
    • Bing: Do you know why I drink chocolate milk?
    • Me: Why?
    • Bing: Because I’m brown!
    • Me: Well I drink chocolate milk and I’m not brown, is that ok?
    • Bing: Whatever your head tells you!

 

References:

Will Richardson, Weblog-ed

Madduz, Johnson, Type II Uses of Technology in Education:Projects, Case Studies, and Software Applications

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Summer Silliness and Book Shelf Transformations

You can tell it’s the last week of summer school because silliness abounds! I looked up during the 5th grade lab time today and this is what I saw:

They thought this was SOOO funny, and they were right! Here is my favorite:

Bahahah, how cute is that?! I love working with kids, they crack me up all day long.

Quick post today, I feel like I didn’t get much done today after school. But I did transform a cupboard into a bookshelf

This is what it looked like “Before”, right smack in the middle of my classroom library.

I think at one point all these shelves might have been cupboards, all they need is a screwdriver and a little elbow grease.

I spent the rest of the afternoon sorting picture books and non fiction books, I am  afraid that I’m still going to be short on shelf space, but we’ll see! I ran out of book baskets AGAIN! So back to Dollar Tree I went, then a quick stop at WalMart for a few more Name Tag Holders. My credit card record looks like this: Dollar Tree, WalMart, DollarTree, WalMart, DollarTree WalMart… I think I’m done now, but I’ve said that before. That’s all folks. I have to finish putting all my stuff away by Friday because (a) I’m leaving for Minnesota on Saturday, (b) Our amazing custodians are cleaning and detailing my room next week. So there’s my incentive to get ‘er done.

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Every book needs a basket

Here is Part 2 of my classroom library organization, just like yesterday, it is way easier to show you rather than tell you:

This was how I originally had my library...way back in my first year of teaching :) See how all the books are just lined up? Kids have a really hard time finding books this way, let me show you a better way!

This was how I originally had my library…way back in my first year of teaching 🙂 See how all the books are just lined up? Kids have a really hard time finding books this way, let me show you a “better” way!

See how the cover of the books are visible? So much easier to browse and find what your looking for. But there is more to it than just throwing all the books in a basket.

First I went through ALL my 1000+ classroom books and labeled and categorized them! (that process will be another post!). Here are the book labels I created

First I went through ALL my 1000+ classroom books and labeled and categorized them! (that process will be another post!). Here are the book labels I created to fit the name tag holders I bought at WalMart. These sturdy, plastic holders will keep my tags nice and neat, and also allow for quick switches. Here is a link to my page with all my Library Resources

Here is my first round of book baskets, see my labels in the middle? I had 42 different categories, but only 30 baskets–but I got started anyway, I made a trip back to Dollar Tree to get some more baskets yesterday. Almost every basket in my library is from Dollar Tree and I’ve got a LOT of baskets, but at only $1 a pop it is much more reasonable than some of the baskets at WalMart or Target that can run $3-5+ each.

Big tub of books #1–I have 6 tubs like this, plus a few cardboard boxes full of books!! Luckily I sorted them all this spring and categorized them so all I had to do is put them in the corresponding basket.

See how I already have all the books labeled with the Library Section (Fiction, Non Fiction, Series etc…)

There is a colored dot sticker that indicates the Reading Level and the specific reading level and AR points is written on the inside cover. Yes, this took a LONG time, but I know it will make my Reading Workshop run so much more smoothly.

Whew! Here I have all my fiction books baskets on the shelves. I have a few more baskets to fill so I’m sure things will be shifted some, but this is how it will be in general! Monday I’m going to organize my Non Fiction books.

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Classroom Arrangement

As you know, I’ve been working on arranging my classroom for a few hours after summer school each day (I figure why make extra trips in August?). I wish I would have taken a “before” picture so I could show you the “after”.  Last week Kate and I moved all my classroom furniture around–Confession: We moved filing cabinets, teacher’s desk, computers…all things we are technically not supposed to move by ourselves. But the big stuff is all where I need it to be, and now I get to unpack and place all the little stuff.

So, when rearranging do you plan where you are going to put everything and then move it? Or do you move stuff around and “test” it out? I’m sort of a combination girl…I try to plan it out, but I am NOT a spacial person and sometimes stuff doesn’t fit where I thought it would! So I found these websites where I can virtually set up my classroom: Scholastic Classroom Set Up Tool and Classroom Architect

Classroom set up

Screen shot from Scholastic Classroom Set Up Tool

Pros of Scholastic Class Set Up Tool:

  • You can make actual seating charts by entering student names and arranging your desks
  • Resizing options
  • Simple interface

Cons of Scholastic Class Set Up Tool:

  • No actual dimensions
  • Items don’t snap to any grid so it’s tricky to line things up (See desks!), this is annoying for a perfectionist like me!
  • Labels are difficult to work with
This is a screen shot of the floor plan I made on Classroom Architect

This is a screen shot of the floor plan I made on Classroom Architect

Pros of Classroom Architect:

  • You can enter the exact dimensions of your classroom.
  • There are lots of furniture options, and then there is a drawing tool for any items they don’t include (Red Door and Cabinets along the back)
  • This DOES have a grid snapping tool, LOVE IT, look at my tidy rows of desks!

Cons of Classroom Architect:

  • You cannot resize the premade objects, you can only rotate them! This irritated me because my shelves are different sizes and my computer desk is way smaller than the one given. (I guess I could use the draw tool to make my own.)
  • There are some classroom things they don’t include (Like doors, whiteboards, windows, etc…) You can make your own, of course.

Overall, I think these tools are very helpful, but my vote is for the Classroom Architect, simply because I can actually make it to scale.

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