Wednesday, March 28, 2018

About this #OklaEd funding crisis...

I’m going to be honest friends, I’m torn, confused, and discouraged.  
I want to be excited about HB1010xx.  I know hours of work went into preparing the bill.  I appreciate the fact that Republicans and Democrats came together to pass legislation to fund public education. Maybe if I was just looking for was a pay raise I could be happy…BUT folks what I really want is a solution to the teacher shortage, and I don’t believe $5,000 is going to cut it. Some say it’s a start, and I could get on board with that kind of thinking, but I’m not so sure it’s being viewed as a start…it seems like it’s supposed to be the fix.
Last year I had 29 first graders in my class.  It wasn’t because the district wouldn’t hire another teacher, it was because there were no qualified applicants.  This scenario is common across our state…TEACHERS ARE LEAVING!  If they’re not leaving the state they’re leaving the profession.  Our Education grads are being recruited by other states, and they’re gladly going.  Many 1st year teachers in Texas make more than I do after 8 years.  Fewer and fewer young people are choosing to become teachers and who can blame them? 
I don’t claim to be the best teacher out there, but I get the job done.  I love my students and am committed to working to meet their individual needs…however that was hard to do with 29 first graders.  I went home most days feeling defeated because I didn’t feel like I had done enough.  Studies show that small group instruction is most effective…but imagine trying to see 29 students in small groups for math and reading, providing hands on learning opportunities, centers/stations and still making time for science, and social studies. It’s no easy task. Not to mention the space issue…most classrooms are not designed to hold 29 students. Our kids deserve better!!!
I don’t know what needs to happen for our communities and government to value children.  We can say we value them, but if we won’t fund education making sure they have highly qualified teachers, small class sizes, and quality learning environments…where is the evidence that they’re valued.
Please understand education today isn’t what it was 20 or even 10 years ago.  I’ve seen posts saying things like “Teachers need to stop complaining, they knew what they were getting into”. My response to that is yes, I did, I knew what I was getting into 20 years ago…but it was nothing like teaching today.  Yes, teacher pay was low but I assumed there would be more pay increase over the years. As far as academics go, my first teaching job was teaching kindergarten a little over 20 years ago.  My students learned to tie their shoes, say their address, phone number, write their name, recognize letters and sounds, recognize numbers, count, etc.  Fast forward to 2018 and I’m teaching kindergarteners to write their name, numbers, add, subtracts, read, read 61+ sight words, write sentences etc. And kindergarten is not the exception…if you haven’t been in a classroom for a while you might be surprised by the amount of material being taught.   Top all of that off with the pressures of standardized testing…Nope I Didn’t Know What I Was Getting Into.  College students today have the option to study Education. I know there are many who have a heart for service and some may even want to become teachers, but they see what they would be getting into, they see the lack of respect, the pressure, the pay…and they’re choosing another path.
I have such respect for the young teachers who have chosen to teach despite it all.  Thank you for choosing to teach…and thank you for choosing to stay!!!
I don’t have the answers…I don’t know how we pull ourselves out of this ditch…it may take time…but we have to find a way.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

#notatISTE…But It’s Not So Bad

I was a little bummed thinking of all the techie goodness that would be at ISTE…while I sit at home! But then I found the #notatISTE community, and I was immediately challenged to do new things and grow my PLN.  I could have been packing my bags, printing by boarding pass, and finalizing travel arrangements; but instead I was getting my feet wet in the Google Community, learning to use Google Draw to make my badge, add ribbons, create my own ribbons, and use Voxer for the first time.

Thanks to an awesome team who organized the #notatISTE17Google Community and compiled the #notatISTE17 Live Binder I’ve been able to connect with what’s going on at ISTE.  Highlights for me so far have been the Badge Summit, “Give Every Pre-KStudents an iPad?” (shared presentation), and “Using Your iPad as a CreationDevice” (shared presentation).

One advantage of  not being at ISTE, I can multi task! I’ve cleaned the garage, worked in the flower bed, caught up on laundry, done some reading, and listened to books on Audible…my kiddos are at camp so I’ve been extra productive around the house and had added time for reading! Sure it would it be great to be at ISTE, but #notatISTE has it’s perks!!

#ISTE17 and #notatISTE reaffirms the fact that technology is a tool that can connects learners, and give all students the opportunity to participate and collaborate regardless of their location.

If you haven't joined the #notatISTE17 Google Community, or been following #ISTE17, #notatISTE#notatISTE17 Twitter feeds it's not too late. Join the conversation connect with like minded educators and grow your PLN.

Thank you, Peggy George, Barb Cotter, Jennifer Wagner, Vicky Sedgwick (and anyone else that I missed) for making the #notasISTE Community and resources available!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Season for Scarecrows!

These are some of the activities we did this week as part of our Scarecrow Unit (Many of the ideas were found on Pinterest and links have been provided.). In our Wonders Reading Curriculum this week's focus was on movement, which went perfectly with scarecrows! Our theme/unit of study is incorporated across curriculum as much as possible.

The Following is a list of some of the ways that this unit could be integrated across curriculum:
Reading/ELA: Genre (fantacy), Character, Setting, Nouns, and Verbs
Math: Shapes, Graphing, addition, Subtraction
Science: Farm Animals, Autumn
Social Studies: Life on the Farm
Technology: Shadow puppet Student Story Retelling
There are many more ways to ingrate this theme to fit your students, standards, and academic creative and make it fit your needs!

Books and Activities---

Barn Dance

Introduce the concept of Nouns and Verbs. Have children identify the characters (nouns) and their actions (verbs).

Story Retelling Using Shadow Puppet:

Design a Hat
STEAM doesn't have to be difficult, designing this hat incorporates, engineering, art, and math (nonstandard measurement).
For this activity students were given the template of a hat to trace, they were then directed to decorate it any way they would like. It was fun to see how each student chose to design their hat!

(This activity could also incorporate addition or subtraction..."The Scarecrows hat had 6 patches but the crow pecked 3 patches off. How many patches are left?")

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
(link to song version)

Story retelling using Shadow Puppet:

Other Activities:
Scarecrow Sensory Bin (kids can build the scarecrow)(Opportunity to incorporate STEAM Art/Math)
Shape Scarecrow and Craft (and other activities) (Opportunity to incorporate STEAM Art/Math)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Dot Day

On September 15 my first graders and I celebrated “Dot Day”,  a day inspired by the book The Dot.  The Dot is a story about believing in yourself, having the courage to create, and inspiring others to discover their own creativity.  While the official “Dot Day” has come and gone there has never been a wrong time to celebrate the courage to create!

I planned to keep our celebration to one day, but we wound up celebrating for two. Next year I’ll probably take a full week to celebrate “Dot Day” incorporating other books and activities that inspire a growth-mindset.  Here I am sharing some of the activities that we completed along with links to other ideas and resources.

Coffee Filter Dots

Symmetry Art With Coffee Filters                                                        

Science for Kids: Chromatography                                                         

Coffee Filter Art the Tie Dye Effect

These are our finished Dots…

Design A Dot

3D Dot Designs
My firsties were hesitant about getting started on this activity, but once they got going they loved it!  Next time I may incorporate measurement into the activity, asking students to measure the strips used on the art pieces.

Dot Day Sentence Starter
You see a dot, but I see a ___________________.

Every Celebration needs a why not wind things up by decorating and eating sugar cookies!

Pinterest-Dot Day

Please share your “Dot Day” ideas!!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

PTA Reflections and STEAM Can Go Hand and Hand

It’s time to start thinking about Reflections!

“PTA Reflections is a nationally acclaimed student recognition program to encourage artistic creativity in the classroom and at home. Students of all grades and abilities may participate and explore the arts based on the 2016-2017 theme: What Is Your Story?” (For more details about the reflections program visit the PTA Website)

It can be hard to make time for why not make Reflections part of the lesson!!  This year's theme can be easily integrated into your STEAM classroom.  Here are a few ideas:

What Is Your Story

Visual Arts:
Discuss the ways art can tell a story!

“Narrative Art tells a story. It uses the power of the visual image to ignite imaginations, evoke emotions and capture universal cultural truths and aspirations. What distinguishes Narrative Art from other genres is its ability to narrate a story across diverse cultures, preserving it for future generations.”  Lucas Museum of Narrative Art

Links to Narrative Art:

Smithsonian: Unbound: Narrative Art of the Plains

Some of the information on this site could be helpful in the discussion of creating narrative art:

Digital Arts: 18 Tips for telling a story through artwork

(Narrative art can be viewed as art in motions as it progresses through the story, this thought can lead to science discussion)

Science Connection   Discuss narrative art as art in motion and connect to motion in the physical world. These Pinterest boards have some great ideas for exploring force of motion.

Narrative Writing
Use wordless picture books along with narrative picture books to talk about planning and preparing to write a personal narrative that tells your story.

The following blog post shares ideas for using wordless picture books to teach narrative writing using one of my favorite books.

Books that can be used to teach personal narrative:
A Chair For My Mother
(The following 3 books could also be integrated into life science)
Memories of a Goldfish
Our Tree Named Steve

These are just a few ideas to get you thinking, I know you’ll be able to come up with many more!!

While the entry should not be graded by the classroom teacher activities leading up to the final work could be graded (and sometimes kids learn the most from the things that aren’t done for a grade).

Saturday, September 3, 2016

STEAM Bears and Berries Unit

The following is an outline of activities that could be part of a STEAM Bears and Berries Unit, many of the activities were inspired by ideas found on Pinterest (links are included). Some, but not all, of the Okla state standards addressed through these activities have been added. I teach 1st grade so the standards are for first grade, but could be adapted for other grades.

Literature Selections:
Blueberries for Sal
The Little Mouse, The Big Hungry Bear, and the Red Ripe Strawberry
Brown Bear, Brown Bear
We’re Going On a Bear Hunt

Brown Bear, Brown Bear:
Retell story with sentence strips 1.2.R.3 Students will sequence the events/plot (i.e., beginning, middle, and end) of a story or text. 1.5.R.3 Students will recognize color and number adjectives.
Students will extend the story by creating and writing about their own animals, using descriptive color words. 1.5.R.3 Students will recognize color and number adjectives. 1.5.W.1 Students will capitalize: ● the first letter of a sentence
Blueberries for Sal: Making Predictions
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Cause and Effect chart (similar to this)
Sequencing: Map Making and Sequencing Cards 1.2.R.3 Students will sequence the events/plot (i.e., beginning, middle, and end) of a story or text.
1.2R1 Students will retell or reenact major events in a text, focusing on important details to recognize the main idea
Identity initial, medial, final sounds, and syllables discuss how this creates rhythm.
Identify rhyming words & record on chart paper
intro # words
Red Ripe Strawberry: Sequence (worksheet), Retell (oral retell with picture clues) 1.2R1 Students will retell or reenact major events in a text, focusing on important details to recognize the main idea
I would disguise my strawberry as_______
1.5.W.1 Students will capitalize: ● the first letter of a sentence

Subitizing Blueberries 1.N.1.1 Recognize numbers to 20 without counting (subitize) the quantity of structured arrangements.
Count and Tally Berries Students will be given different types of "berries" (pompoms or beads) to sort and count. The total of each type of berry will be represented with tally marks. 1N1.3 and 1N1.1,Model & Write Numbers to 40
Blue Berry/Berry Addition Share addition and subtraction stories, using manipulatives to solve. Related assignment will be given for independent work in centers.
Blueberry, Strawberry Graph Students will taste both types of berries, make their own representation of their favorite and add it to the graph. 1.D.1.1 Collect, sort, and organize data in up to three categories using representations (e.g., tally marks, tables, Venn diagrams). 1.D.1.2 Use data to create picture and bar-type graphs to demonstrate one-to-one correspondence. 1.D.1.3 Draw conclusions from picture and bar-type graphs.
Counting and Weighing “Berries” Students will count colored pompoms (or beads) and compare their weight on a scale. 1.GM.2.5 Use standard and nonstandard tools to identify volume/capacity. Compare and sort containers that hold more, less, or the same amount,  1.N.1.2 Use concrete representations to describe whole numbers between 10 and 100 in terms of tens and ones.
Social Studies:
We’re Going on a Bear Hunt: Map Making--We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
From Farm to Store: Students will be lead to discuss where our fruit comes from (Pebble Go Consumers and Producers)
Content Standard 2: The student will describe the characteristics of the American economic system

Bears and Their Habitats: PebbleGo
Blueberries for Sal: Compare and contrast the mother bear, human mother, and how they care for their children.
1-LS1-2 Students who demonstrate understanding can: Read text and use media to determine patterns in behavior of parents and offspring that help offspring survive. 1-LS3-1 Students who demonstrate understanding can: Make observations to construct an evidence-based account that young plants and animals are like, but not exactly like, their parents.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear and/or We’re Going on A Bear Hunt: Retell and Share stories via Shadow Puppet 1.7.W.1 Students will select and use appropriate technology or media to communicate with others with guidance and support. Students will use visual displays to support verbal communication and clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

The Little Mouse, The Big Hungry Bear, and the Red Ripe Strawberry: Make a house for Little Mouse and use the house in retelling. Math:While not meeting this standard exactly it is an opportunity to explore and create using nonstandard measurement in an authentic way: 1.GM.2 Select and use nonstandard and standard units to describe length and volume/capacity ELA1.2R1 Students will retell or reenact major events in a text, focusing on important details to recognize the main idea

Make and Disguise a Red Ripe Strawberry (could be take home) This will be in conjunction with the “I would disguise my strawberry as____” assignment.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear (Eric Carle): Painted Paper and Collage...

There are so many ways to build on this unit.  What would you add?