My Treat for the Day – Patrick Crispen’s Useless Session!

Sitting in Patrick Crispen’s session! Woohoo! – Patrick’s site – each day they ask one trivial question which tests your search skills to find the answer; includes a clock that tracks how long you’ve been trying to find out the answer! Includs a Hint? button that provides a search hint by Google. – tons of articles about what is going on at all the Disney parks; Disney trivia; photos of people at the part, what the rest. are serving that day, etc. – Turns your android phone into a TV remote while you’re at your hotel! –  mind-mapping, collaboration tool (my problem is that they wouldn’t give me more than 5 popples!)  Go to snowflake icon – labs – show timewarp – shows you how to create a more difficult password to hack. Shows you how long it would take a hacker to guess it. – FUNNY! – Site full of tips and sites to make life better. – tracks the prices of every item on Amazon and what is on sale; also shows trends of prices and recent price drops. – tests your internet speed; can run on iPhone, iPad too. – type in company and it will give you the number to talk to an actual HUMAN! – video game review site done by professional reviewers in depth. Reviews include video clips of game. – searches for flights by price and AGONY – features all airplanes’ layout and what the seats are like.

Just plain fun!




Permission to Pin

I admit I am a newby when it comes to Pinterest, but it is quickly becoming a wonderful addiction and huge tool in organizing sites and ideas I can use in my classroom.

Not that I post anything “pin-able” on this blog, but you certainly have permission at any time to do so! I have placed a badge on my sidebar alerting anyone who visits my blog of this permission. Please also read this blog post by Laura Candler to better understand why this badge is important.

Happy pinning!

Day 1 With Discovery Education Techbook!

I am very lucky to have supportive administration. After returning from this year’s NC Science Education conference, I raved about Discovery Education’s Science Techbook. My Superintendent of Curriculum, Dr Bryan, set up a demo meeting with their sales reps who made a great presentation. I was given permission to pilot the Techbook with my 1:1 5th graders for the remainder of the school year.

Well, today was our first day with our new “Science Book” (a huge understatement of what this product offers). We are currently involved in a unit on weather, so I chose a DE Techbook lesson (already set up with leveled reading materials, including an ebook, several short video clips, and links to glossary weather terms). The directions (already created) told my students to research the answers to three essential questions pertaining to weather systems using the materials list I have mentioned above. The list of materials of course included live links to everything (approx.10 items) they could choose to use.

Engaging list of materials from which to choose!

They went to work! They were watching video clips, reading short factual passages, and taking notes/drawing pictures in their science notebooks. The more I told them how impressed I was at their independent researching skills (while taking pictures, of course), the more engaged they became.

First day with the Discovery Ed Techbook.

When the period came to an end, I asked them what they thought of the activity today. Overwhelmingly, comments were positive. Some mentioned enjoying having different materials to explore along with the choice of which ones to look at. Some mentioned how watching the video clips helped them picture what they later read in a short passage or one of the ebooks. They all asked when they’d be able to share what they learned because they were so excited about it! Now that is what gaining background knowledge should look like!

Into the Science Notebook!

Yes, we will go on to have several discussions, and yes, we will be working on some inquiry-based labs to support our learning, but what an exciting way to front-load the content!  Thank you Discovery Education Techbook and Dr. Bryan!!

Check out this slideshow of the kids experiencing their new “Science Book”

Sites From Today’s Surfing! (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sites From Today’s Surfing! (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

I Think They Liked This Homework!

Last Friday my kids took their test on Solving Equations and Inequalities. I was sooo proud of them, most only missed two inequality questions (graphing the solutions on a number line, they forgot to solve the inequality prior to graphing the solution). So today we went over those two problems together, and did a few more just for extra practice.

We then moved on to a topic that is not covered in our math book, but is a skill that will be measured on our end of grade assessments – Triple Venn Diagrams. After becoming familiar with the vocabulary associated with them by using this site, we practiced working with a few sets of data and the Triple Venn.

Since I don’t have many materials to go along with these two topics, and we are a 1:1 netbook classroom, their math homework tonight was to see if they could locate any fun sites that would help us practice a bit more with Inequalities and Triple Venns. They were asked to send me any good links through Edmodo (we LOVE Edmodo!).

Here is one of the responses I received tonight from Cherokee:

Here are some good links!! And the Tic Tac Toe link is a good idea for a whole class thing!! The Venn Diagram Link has a print out so we could do that for practice !! I don’t know if it’s helpful. And there is another link for other venn diagrams. There’s a link to where we can make our own venn diagrams!!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t usually get that kind of excitement when a worksheet is the homework (did you see all the exclamation points?).  I have been reading a lot of blog posts recently about the types of homework students should or shouldn’t be given. It has made me really rethink what I am going to assign from now on. I particularly like the assignment they had tonight because in order for them to comment on whether it was a good site or not, they had to interact or play with it! So, in a sneaky way, they have probably done more math problems tonight than even my old teacher self would have ever assigned! Plus I have added all their sites to our math resource page HERE for future use!

Here are some of the ones they dug up tonight:

Wow! And just came across this great site full of hands-on triple Venn ideas, while looking for a Triple Venn photo!

Photo via Fuel the Brain

Sites From Today’s Surfing! (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Teaching is Like Grocery Shopping

I don’t know about you but I tend to go to the grocery store on auto-pilot. I take my cart up and down the same aisles, grabbing the same products I ALWAYS buy, and go home and make the same 10 or 12 meals I ALWAYS make! I also automatically add the prices as I go, tuning everything and everyone out so I don’t lose count and have that awkward moment at the register when it totals more than I have to spend!

Well yesterday my husband and I went grocery shopping. The thing that made it fun was that we had recently gotten our tax refund and decided to really “stock up”! (to the tune of $350!) We went down EVERY isle, looking at and choosing things we never usually treat ourselves to. I bought a new kind of shampoo and other fun hair products, snacks we never buy, deli meats that aren’t on the SALE poster, and new blades for my razor (you know what I’m talking about ladies)!

So how did this remind me of teaching? Today was a rainy Sunday and tomorrow is a teacher workday, so I decided to treat myself to a day of Twitter, finding and subscribing to new and exciting blogs, and, thanks to my BFF, Danita Russell, I am also Pinterest’s newest addict! I have learned so many new things and have great, refreshing ideas to incorporate into my upcoming lessons! I feel the February blahs fading!

Often I think, just like when we go grocery shopping, we get into teaching ruts. We teach the same ideas, in the same way, using the same tools. It is vital that we treat ourselves to new ideas, new organizational systems, and new educators to follow! So thank you to all you creative individuals who willingly share the cool things you are doing with your kids! Just like the refreshing smell of my new “grape seed and Shea butter” shampoo, you have refreshed my teaching, and I am grateful!

Excited About BISKits!

Earlier this year we were extremely lucky to receive a Bright Ideas grant from our local electric cooperative! The BISKits (Buddies In Science Kits) project will allow my kids to buddy with second graders, who also study weather concepts in science.

My kids will be recording themselves reading a weather picture book. The recording will be uploaded to our cool new hot pink iPod Shuffles so their buddies can listen to the book as they read along. They will also be designing several hands on activities to include in their kits. They will need to gather the materials and eventually will carryout the activities with their buddies. The culminating event will be when the BISKit buddies write their own weather books together using Tikatok! The grant will allow us to then purchase hard copies of the student-created books to add to the wonderful kits!

Today my kids got to explore the 20 new science picture books, and what a fun time they had! There were ideas “flying” across the room as they planned the coolest things for their little buddies! Things I would NEVER have dreamed of! 

My kids inspire me every day with their creativity, thoughtfulness, and dedication to cool learning! Put the tools in their hands and prepare to be amazed! Stay tuned……BISKits are coming!

Common Core for 5th Grade in Lee County, NC

Here is what is being presented to our county’s 5th grade teachers.

  • Common Core assessments all new next year – new End of Grade Test based on CC and Essential Standards for next two years.  “Smarter Balance” designed by many states to assess Common Core in the 3rd year.
  • Measures of Student Learning – assessments that will be used at all non-EOG or EOC grades/classes. Think they’ll have it ready by end of next year.
  • This year for 5th grade proposal from DPI to State Board – to be voted upon in March – affects 5th grade on up. EVAAS data will be used to determine whether or not a teacher has met expected growth with students. Look at students scores from 3rd and 4th grade reading and math EOG and the software makes a prediction for what they should do on the 5th grade test. This is the score that will affect the Standard 6 component on the new teacher evaluation. They will be using a 3 year average. Everyone else other than 5th grade teachers will have a school wide score that will come from your school’s fifth grade scores for 3 years.
  • EVAAS reading and math scores are put together into one score for Standard 6. ??? Not sure if science is included or not.
  • Accountability Changes:  Have applied for a waiver in NC for NCLB restrictions, haven’t heard back yet.
  • Shared draft Math pacing guide; want us to talk to our teachers back at school to see if pacing guides seem do-able.
  • Here is the Daily Schedule we “are to use”:

30 minutes – Guided Reading

30 minutes – Independent Reading Practice

30 minutes – Writing/Grammar

*30 minutes – Spelling/Rosetta Stone

*30 minutes- Novels/Reading Plus/First in Math/Burst/Sight Words/Phonics

60 minutes – Math

40 minutes – Science/Social Studies

30 minutes – PE

30 minutes – Lunch

40 minutes – Specials

*20 minutes – 10 minutes in morning/10 minutes at end of day

*20 minutes – Breaks, Transitions, Changing Classes, Preparing for lunch

* There is flexibility with these items.

  • 30% of new reading test is grammar
  • Gave a draft pacing guide based on Reading Street basal
  • Writing across grade levels: 1st Quarter – Narrative; 2nd Quarter – Expository; 3rd Quarter – Expository Research; 4th Quarter- Opinion
  • Plan is to direct teachers to read specific novels at specific times; much less choice for teachers!
  • Worked on dividing up Essential Standards in Science by quarter.
  • We are being asked to develop lessons and materials to go along with a quarter focus in science and math by mid-March. Each school will be responsible for one part.

Oh my……………. I have a headache!