Sunday, December 7, 2014

Lesson Topics

Wow!  Long time, no blog.  Don't have a ton of time, so here's a run-down of the topics for the lessons that I've taught so far this year.  Being part of a fixed schedule with back-to-back 40 minute lessons is not ideal, but has forced me to make lots of lessons that I'm sure I can use next year too!


  • How to be a Good Listener
  • Story Elements (Pete:  Rocking My School Shoes)
  • A technology extension of story elements - Students used Paint to practice fine-motor skill of using a mouse to draw shoes and type their name into their work.
  • Story Elements and Paint (Elmer) - Students used Paint to practice colors.
  • Animal Alphabet and uppercase letters
  • Children's Alphabet, uppercase and lowercase letters
  • Nouns A Mink, a fink, a skating rink 
  • Categorizing Nouns Hello, Harvest Moon
  • Story Elements The Little Scarecrow
  • How to access our school's eBooks
  • Internet Safety
  • Rhyming Words and Verbs
  • Words that tell Where (Prepositions)
  • Sensory Detail Writing

First Grade:

  • How to be a Good Listener
  • Georgia career lessons
  • More Georgia career lessons
  • Mystery books
  • Fiction paired with nonfiction (text features) Rainbow Fish/Caring for Your Fish
  • Fiction paired with nonfiction (text features) Splish, Splash, Splat/Caring for Your Cat
  • Verb Tenses
  • Possessive Nouns and using PicCollage
  • Adjectives  I Need My Monster and Paint software
  • How to access our school's eBooks and practice logging-in
  • Internet Safety
  • Preposition Pilgrims and PicCollage
  • Personality Pronouns and PicCollage
  • Transition Words and Story Writing
  • Nonfiction Text Features review

Second Grade:

  • How to be a Good Listener
  • Georgia career lessons
  • More Georgia career lessons
  • Application of Georgia career lessons - making a logo using Paint software
  • Types of sentences Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
  • Writing a Summary Tuesday and Flotsam by David Wiesner
  • Adjectives If You Were an Adjective and PicCollage
  • Adverbs Slowly, Slowly, Slowly said the Sloth 
  • Plot Diagram of a story
  • How to access our school's eBooks 
  • Online Safety
  • Commas in a Letter and letter writing Dear Peter Rabbit by Alma Flor Ada
  • Digging through the Dictionary
  • Shades of Verb Meanings and the Thesaurus

Third Grade:

  • How to be a Good Listener
  • Georgia career lessons
  • More Georgia career lessons
  • Energy careers
  • Complex Sentences:  starting with an adjective Max's Words
  • Complex Sentences:  starting with an adverb Miss Alaineus
  • Parts of Speech
  • Plural Nouns
  • Fables and PicCollage
  • How to access our school's eBooks
  • Online Safety
  • Prefixes
  • Comparative and Superlative Adjectives
  • Dictionary Detectives

Fourth Grade:

  • How to be a Good Listener
  • Georgia career lessons
  • More Georgia career lessons
  • Career application games and keyboarding skills
  • Weather research in collaboration with our gifted teachers for 4 weeks
  • Main Idea & Details
  • How to access our school's eBooks
  • Online Safety
  • Text Structure (Chronological Order and Compare & Contrast)
  • Text Structure (Cause & Effect and Problem & Solution)
  • Writing a Book Review

Fifth Grade:

  • How to be a Good Listener
  • Digital Citizenship and Georgia career lesson
  • More Georgia career lessons
  • Note-taking and begin research of career choice
  • Continue taking notes and researching for several weeks
  • Structure of a 5-paragraph essay 
  • How to access our school's eBooks
  • Keyboarding skills
  • Bibliography
  • Students continue to try to finish and type up their 5-paragraph essay on career research

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Watch the video for The Wonderment and you will likely fall in love with it as quickly as I did!  I hope we can use it at school this year.  Very cool!  It is a social platform for kids, but of course, warns that you need a parent or teacher to help you sign-up, if you are under the age of 13.  It's all about doing good, learning about others, and contributing to and connecting with the world in positive ways.

I was excited to learn more about Listen Edition, which uses public radio broadcasts to teach.  (I've always thought about using an excerpt from "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me!" to help students learn to write with greater detail, as they have a segment in which they read three different stories, where two are completely false and one is true.  The guest has to guess which is the truthful story.  The false stories are so filled with details, statistics, and quotes, that they seem as plausible as the true story.  I've yet to find three stories that are all appropriate for elementary school though.)

However, it looks like price per year per teacher is $49, and for a school is $1,800.  Pretty steep, for only 80 Common Core linked lessons to their 300 public radio stories.  I have not tried, personally, to download stories off of NPR to use in the classroom.  I do have several of their Podcasts on my phone, so maybe this is an endeavour to try this year...

P.S.  Upon further review, The Wonderment is by invitation only.  I'm still waiting for my invite.  ;)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Mystery Skype

I'm only 9 months behind the times.  While sifting through my newest e-mails on my second day of summer vacation, I clicked on one from The Daily GOOD titled, 'The History and Future of Everything', because it caught my eye.

(I found and purchased a subscription to GOOD waaaay back when it first started.  First place I saw infographics, and man, they've produced some great ones!  My subscription fee went to Room to Read.  Check out GOOD, if you don't currently subscribe!)

Anyway, through that e-mail I found an article "Skype in the Classroom and the Extraordinary Lesson" by Shana Pearlman.  That link led me to "Classrooms in US and Mexico Bond Over Books" by Andrew Schmidt, which in turn led me to "Introducing Mystery Skype:  A Global Game That Makes Learning Fun!" also by Andrew Schmidt.  Lots of good reads.  I did find it interesting that the teacher in the Mystery Skype article works at The School at Columbia University, and their class size is only 14!!!  So, I will have to keep in mind how to manage 30 students on Skype...I've pinned these ideas to my 'Media Center - Teacher Librarian' board so that I don't forget them once school starts back.  :)

p.s.  Yes.  I know that I already broke my resolution to post every other week.  ;)

Saturday, May 10, 2014

End of "Year" Resolution + A New Position

I don't typically make a New Year's resolution, but seeing as I have yet again lapsed in posting, when so many other teachers I follow are so good about keeping their blog posts current, I am making an end-of-the-school-year resolution to update my blog at least once every two weeks.  This should help me to read professional articles I've bookmarked in a more timely fashion.

On a completely different note, I am shifting teaching gears a bit next year, as I will serve as part of a team in the media center!  I am SUPER excited about this new position.  Some are now calling a media specialist a teacher librarian, but whatever the name, I am SO happy that it is me!  Our school is very fortunate in having an Instructional Technology Specialist and a Paraprofessional in the media center too.  We will work together as a team to teach and support students next year, obviously integrating technology into our lessons. My position is a specials, or a fixed schedule of 7, 40-minute lesson blocks a day, and our ITS and Paraprofessional will have a part fixed, part flexible schedule.  I'm very excited about having a chance to learn from and plan with both guru ITS, Susan Brandon, and sage Para, Wendy Kunich!  We've got a recipe for a great year! 

If you're a school librarian and/or ITS and have any cool ideas for a new school librarian, please comment and let me know.  I already follow lots of great SLMs on Twitter, but I'm always looking for other ideas!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Citizenship: Teaching AND Living it

I am the PAGE representative for my elementary school.  PAGE is The Professional Association of Georgia Educators.  For those in other states, it is not a union.  It is access to legislative news, legal representation, should the need arise, and professional development.

I receive their legislative updates as soon as our General Assembly legislation session starts.  Bill 717, written by Representative Holt from District 112 of Social Circle, GA, proposed that parental involvement be tracked and given a grade, A to F.  It also proposed that each child's parental involvement grade be used as a factor in our newest teacher evaluation system.  The new system is less than equitable, as it makes it next to impossible to earn "exemplary".  We have been told to expect "proficient" or "needs development".  It puts undue pressure on students to move in lock-step with their peers as opposed to just making progress on an individual basis.  Additionally, it creates an inordinate amount of work for principals and vice principals to observe, document, and conference that many times each year.  Long story, shorter;  I wrote all of the representatives in the house and received a handful of replies.  While it looks like this exciting new bill might already be dead, :( it led me to start taking a larger interest in actively tracking proposed bills.

I stumbled upon an app and website, Open States:  Discover Politics in Your State.  I downloaded the app.  It is very user-friendly, but I did discover that you need to use the left toolbar instead of swiping the screens to go back to the main page.  I can see who my house and state representatives are, and I can look up and track proposed bills.  A tracker that tells the legislative status of a bill is in beta.  Open States is a product of Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan group that uses the Internet to "catalyze greater openness and transparency" of our government.

Just as we teachers read great literature to encourage our students to read, so could we also take a greater interest in the workings of our government to teach greater citizenship by our students.  Our passions often become their passions, so look into this app as a tool to share a real-world experience in the classroom.  Great for 3rd and 4th grade Georgia government standards!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Encouraging Words

First, let me say that now that it is February, I have stumbled upon my new year's resolution.  Better late than never, as they say!  I am resolving to improve my blog and also write in it weekly instead of every other month, or every 9 months!

Found a link via #TLChat on Twitter tonight to "Seven Features of Highly Successful Picture Books" by Abby Connors.  Her bio states that she is a music and arts teacher of over 20 years.  I loved that even though the article is geared toward librarians or teachers, that I can use it to help my students write fiction stories that are not too complex.  Often, students try to write fiction that is as complex as the stories on their 4th, 5th, or 6th grade reading levels.  They get overwhelmed and bogged down in overly complicated dialogue and too many subplots.  Plus, they simply don't have the timeframe to flesh out and publish a full-length novel.

At the bottom of the article was a link to another of Abby Connors' articles, "The Pinocchio Effect:  12 Ways to Make Read-Aloud Stories Come Alive".  Even though I have read stories aloud for 12 years of teaching, I learned some new tips and tricks!  Again, I can also use this article to help my students prepare for a performance based assessment for their fluency scores.  :)

Thanks Teachers.Net Gazette!