Wednesday, March 18, 2015

SLG: Computer Time

Digital Native?  Digital Immigrant?  Digital Dinosaur?
Which one describes you?
Which one describes your students?

'Screen Time' is a much debated topic in the world of technology these days, especially concerning young children.  I personally feel that screen time should be limited, but children should have tech time that encourages creativity, challenges their ability levels and provides educational opportunity (whether it be review, maintenance or acceleration).

My students have computer time several times a week, for both reading and math.  During our small reading groups, students use LEXIA, Accelerated Reader and a MENU of online games chosen by me for their content (which ties to our Houghton-Mifflin reading curriculum). I am fortunate to have 5 Mac desktops for use in the classroom.

This is our anchor chart:

Another thing I sometimes have students do is explore a science or social studies topic through watching an online video (that I have pre-watched and bookmarked on the toolbar).  BrainPopJr is a fantastic website for this!  A few weeks ago I had my students watch 3 BrainPopJr videos to get them ready for doing a class Science Fair experiment.  I created and maintain my class website using iWeb and often create a new page on my website that hosts something I want students to see or play.  Here's a recent example from our Chinese New Year learning and celebration:

And that's how we do Computer Time

Up next...sometime's all about Reading Games!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  
Leprechauns, shamrocks, pots of gold and green....have all become symbols of an Irish holiday that really became more popular in the United States.  Here's a quick, interesting summary video from the History Channel.

Real or myth, this is a fun little holiday to celebrate with your students.  Here are two projects we'll be doing tomorrow and for the rest of this week.
Students will work on this project W, Th & F during our small reading groups.

This is Clooney O'Shea and he's friends with my son and daughter's Christmas Elves.  Their elves (Koof and Gok) have so much fun at our house during the month of December, they told Clooney to come visit us for the month of March, starting on St. Patrick's Day of course.  Last year we were on vacation in Mexico and Clooney went south of the border to find us.  

And this little guy is going to invade my classroom for the rest of the month, kind of like a certain pigeon I know...

However you celebrate the 17th of March, I wish you a wonderful day and leave you with a very famous Irish saying (that my dad said to us at our wedding):

Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

SLG: Word Work

Independent written work has its place and benefits.  Each week, as part of my reading groups, students complete a packet of 3-6 worksheets that all focus on our word family of the week in a different fashion and the packets are differentiated for students (according to ability, difficulty, effort).  Their familiarity helps students work independently at their level.  Working independently is a life skill - end of story.  (Appropriate and beneficial) worksheets help students become good independent workers and the earlier you can help students learn to do this the better - end of story.

Click above to get a FREE word family packet.
Click above to get another FREE word family packet.
A private office and headphones to help students focus and concentrate.

I found these hooks at Target in the $ bins.
Shhhhh, I chopped the cords off of these headphones that I don't use anymore.
Students work their way through their packet each day (W, Th, F) and try to finish on Friday.  If they finish early, then they do not have to do Word Work on Friday and can instead do another group they haven't done or do one of the groups twice.  If students do not finish by Friday, the assignment goes on the Finished Work Chart and they continue working on it Monday morning.  They keep their packet in their Unfinished Work Folder.

And that's how we do Word Work

Tomorrow is all about Reading Games!

Friday, March 13, 2015

SLG: Listen to Reading

Why do I love 'Listen to Reading'?  
Let me count the ways. . .

1) Kids are QUIET, which helps me do my Guided Reading groups.
2) My students are hearing fantastic examples of fluent readers, which hopefully   will rub off on them.
3) Kids, at this age, tend to prefer listening to a book versus reading one on 
their own.
4) I love to record myself reading books for which I do not have a commercial 
CD...I secretly want to do voice-over work :-)

This group is the second one that I teach, model and practice with students.  Here is our anchor chart:

Initially, the only way my students can listen to books is at the group Listening Center.  I choose 1 student to be in charge (press play/stop, tidy up) and there is almost always a comprehension worksheet that they must complete when they're finished listening to the story.


These are 2 of the comprehension strategies that I include on my Listening Center worksheets. Click here or on the images above to download them.

I recently discovered that the wireless headphones I have can also be used with a computer!!  There was a USB blue tooth connection cable included with the headphones and the possibility just popped into my head the other day...after having had a small group use my laptop to watch a Dr. Seuss video with plug-in headphones that died on me during our groups :-(
Click on the picture to go to the website that offers this AMAZING headphones!

A few weeks later I introduce individual Listen to Reading.  I used to have CD players but thanks to a generous PTA, I now have 6 iPods that kids use and they love them!
Individual books are labeled with numbers 1-199.  Listen with Someone books are labeled 200-299.  Small group books are labeled 300-399.  Readers Theater scripts and other things I record are labeled in the 900's.  I do all of this through Garage Band and iTunes.
I teach kids how to neatly store their headphones and iPods when finished with them.
I got these drawers at Walmart and they are perfect for housing each iPod.  Kids take the entire drawer with them.  There are two drawers on top for batteries and splitters.
Most things are under the 'Music' category but recently I discovered 'Audio Books'.
I only make 9 books-on-iPod available at a time so interest is always high.  I put the books in this bookcase and label each book's spot with an EXPO marker so books go back where they're supposed to...books often get put back into our classroom library and then I have to search for them.

Eventually I introduce Listen with Someone and students can pair up with a friend and a splitter and listen with someone.

I'm so fortunate to have had Scholastic points to purchase so many books-on-CD and to a generous PTA that provided the iPods and wireless headphones.  This group is truly awesome in so many ways!

And that's how we do Listen to Reading

Tomorrow is all about Word Work!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Five for Friday

Yay, haven't linked up in a long time and so glad I get to this week!

Me time!
 This week was Spring Break and my kids were at daycare and gymnastics all week, so I had some rare "by myself, do what I want, pee when I want" time.  Hanging out at my favorite Starbucks to chill and finally do some TPT stuff was a daily was shopping.  I LOVE to write and was able to crank out a few things.  They are all freebies so feel free to check them out.

Essential Oils
I've recently gotten into the oil craze and have had a lot of fun mixing up potions and benefitting from all the great oils I have.  I use a diffuser in my classroom and it's wonderful!  Peppermint and lavender on mornings when I do small reading groups has been great!

Spring Training: swim/bike/run
I got into a triathlon and half marathon this coming spring and early summer and it was time to get my butt going this week.  I swam for the first time in a few years and now my shoulders are KILLING me, but I enjoyed it.  I also made a sweet bike set-up so I can multi task while I workout.

Unbelievable weather here in Anchorage!
There is HARDLY any snow here and it's only the beginning of March in Anchorage....this is UNHEARD of and I love it!!  Bring on spring!

Pinterest: Gardening
I am SOOOOO excited for spring and summer so I can get back outside in my yard to garden, decorate and have fun!  I'm going to buy me some wood and some power tools and build something this husband doesn't know it yet :-)
This set-up would be fantastic on our back patio!
Hello, this will help prolong the planting/growing/harvesting on both ends!

Wahoo, 49 days left of this school most difficult in all my 16 years of teaching.  But what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?