Saturday, April 12, 2014

2 IPads...20 Students? No Problem!

Welcome to the 3rd monthly Bright Idea's blog hop hosted by the Fabulous, Shelley Gray.  The best place in the blog-o-sphere to hop through and snag 150 Bright ideas for your classroom (& sometimes your sanity).

Let me just start off by saying that this is NOT the cutest bright idea on the planet.  But ya know- we can't be fabulously cute ALL the time! It's just so exhausting. ;)  Sometimes, we just need practical, and we need it now.

I recently got 2 IPads funded through Donors Choose for my classroom (Insert a big Wahoo- so fun!)  I could not wait to get my 2nd graders hands on these.  I loaded them with tons of apps, got them all charged up, got to school the day after intersession and thought.. "Uhhh, how in the world am I going to rotate these 2 IPads around to my 20 kids?"  In comes my 30 seconds number list with a magnet, numbers on IPads, and voila- my IPad rotation chart.

Cute, right? ;)

Each IPad is designated to 10 students.  If the magnet is next to their name, it's their turn on the IPad.  They set the timer for 15 minutes if they are not reading on RAZ kids - and after that 15 minutes is up, they simply close out, move the magnet to the next student, and pass it on.  I have a list of apps that students can use when they don't have something specific I've asked them to do on them : RAZ kids, Kidblog, DreamBox Math, and a few others.  So far, this plan has allowed me zero IPad headache! Yay! I Love Technology- it makes my life & classroom complete (unless it's not working- then I want to karate chop it in it's processor ;) )

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For more Bright Ideas from 150 absolutely fabulous, creative, amazing teachers & bloggers, take a look-sie at the link up below and choose a topic that interests you!

Happy Saturday!  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Science Note-booking

I feel like I should start this post saying that I did little research on Science note-booking- something I would normally do when I'm starting something new - therefore I have no idea if this is what most teachers do, but I have found this to work for me and my 2nd graders...  SO of course I thought it was worthy of a share.  (Ok-I think that was one HUGE run-on sentence.  Teach grammar much?? ;))  

About halfway through the school year, I started using a science note-booking concept with my 2nd graders.  Earlier on in the year, my team and I would actually make reflection sheets and put them together in a notebook form for the entire unit- and that worked well- but I wanted something different, where the kids could take more charge- so in came Science Notebooks.  Our science notebooks are actually the science section in their binder.  Next year- they will have an actual notebook.

Right now, we are learning all about sound.  To begin each investigation - students open their notebooks, put the title of the investigation, any definitions, and answer some "Pre-investigation" questions.  I project these questions on the smartboard.  At this point, they can do all of this in about 3 minutes, depending on the amount of writing that needs to be done.

Then, I introduce them to their investigation.  I usually give them as little direction as possible so that they can discover things on their own.  I give them about 10-15 minutes to investigate- sometimes more, depending on how long I think it will take them.  During this time they are recording any data they get, and writing down their own thoughts about their experiment.

Sometimes, I give them a recording paper for any data I want them to record.

After their experiment, I project a set of reflection questions on the smart board for them to answer.  This is one thing that we will change next year.  I began by asking them to just answer the question, but I definitely want them to restate the question and write in a complete sentence so that they can see what they've learned without needing to remember the question.

Last, we talk together about what we learned.  I think we will also add a "What we've learned" section to our notebook and we will put some statements that we all come to together.  Ex) The loudness or softness of a sound is called the volume.  The highness or lowness of a sound is called its pitch.  Sound is vibrations that travel.  We can change the pitch of a string by holding it tighter or more loosely.  We can change the volume of a string by plucking it harder or softer. OK I think you get the idea.

I really like the way our note-booking has turned out so far.  It's lead to more discovery, rather than explicit teaching- and has taught them the important things that scientists look for when conducting an experiment.

Do you use science notebooks in your classroom?  What have you found that works?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Encouraging their BEST Handwriting

I am so excited to join over 180 bloggers (Yes, 180!) for the 2nd edition of the Bright Ideas Blog Hop where we bring you nothing but great ideas for your classroom! I know that's a whole lotta readin' to do- so I'll make this as short and sweet as possible!

I'm going to share a quick, easy way to get your students to always write using their very best handwriting - cause let's face it.. they all get a little lazy times!

 First- On an index card, we write in our very best most neatest handwriting, "My name is ______.  This is my best handwriting." I cannot remember where I got this idea but it was brilliant!  These are taped to their desk so they can see it and I can just point and say, "Is that your best handwriting?"

Now- to encourage them to actually use their best handwriting, all.the.time. - I found a spot in my room and hung up 1 sandwich baggie for each student.  These are really not "cute" but they do the trick! I got this idea from one of my {oh-so-fabulous} teammates!

Every time we are doing anything that has a writing component (uhm - basically everything!) they can earn a cube in their bag.  I simple check to see if they used their neatest handwriting and say, "Great Handwriting" or "You can write neater than that!"  I have an over abundance of unfix cubes, so we use them but you could use beans, little plastic toys, or anything you can get your hands on.  When the student gets a certain number of cubes in their bag, they get a homework pass!

The first time they had to get 7 cubes, then 8, then 9, 10, 11.  After 15, we just keep repeating.  For every 15 cubes, they receive 1 homework pass.  And trust me, they hate when I tell them, "I'm sorry but this is not your best handwriting.  I'm sure next time you'll .... (Space out your words, take your time and form your letters, write on one line, etc.)" This little incentive has worked pretty well with my 2nd graders!

Ready for some more bright ideas? Check out the link up below or head on over to First Grade Smiles where she's sharing some ideas on Math Relay Races!  Thanks for stopping by!  Stay bright!

First Grade Smiles

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The number 13

You ever get in one of those funks that you just can't seem to get out of no matter what you do?  Yea- well this is me right now.  Luckily it's only been 2 weeks but I sure hope it doesn't take me the rest of the quarter to get out of it.  

You might be wondering what that has to do with the number 13. I think writing this down might help me get out of this funk, so here goes...

For as long as I can remember, 13 is a symbolic number in my family.  So many things happen on the 13th.  I was born on the 13th, my youngest sister was born on the 13th, my grandparents moved to Florida on the 13th, to lot number 13, the Luke Bryan concert I was going to attend was on the 13th (duh this is totally significant! :)) among many other things.  My grandfather also passed away on the 13th - and the 13 year anniversary of his death will be March 13 this year.  Exactly 1 month before the 13 year anniversary of my grandfathers entry to heaven - my family and I buried my Uncle/Godfather , my grandfathers son, and sent him to eternal rest. 

 For the past 2 weeks, I keep asking myself, why? Why do good people get taken from us too soon.  Why does this have to happen to my family - a good loving family who tries to do as much good as we can? Why?

 But then, I remember the number 13 - and oddly - I find comfort in that.  Because, for us, 13 isn't a bad number, and it isn't unlucky.  It's a symbol of happiness, new adventures, and love.   And even though my grandfather and uncle passed into eternal rest on the 13th - I know it was because they were no longer needed here on this Earth, but needed by the hands of God to help pour out the rain- and they left us on the 13th so that we could find comfort in their new journey.  Today I am thankful for the number 13.

Thanks for reading! I have so many teaching ideas to share with you and hopefully getting this off my chest will help me get my behind moving!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I'm a guest blogger!

Yup, you read that right... I'm a guest blogger!! Hooray!

Thank you so much to Rachel Lynette for this fantastic opportunity!! Head on over to her blog to read about using The Workshop Model in the Classroom :).

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Bright Ideas: Using Kidblog to Engage Student Writing

Whether this is your first stop or you've be hoppin' for a while- Welcome to the Bright Ideas Blog Hop hosted by the oh so fabulous, Shelley Gray!  I'm here today to share a great technology tool with you!

How many of you have those kids who hate, I mean really hate writing?  They are the ones who will sit there for a 30 minutes writing block and get 2 words on the paper.  Their go to responses are usually "I don't know what to write" or "I'm thinking".  I have a fun way to get them writing and engaging with other writers in their class using.. drum roll..

Kidblog is a great, free tool for teachers to use in their classroom.  Signing up is really simple.  You sign up for an account, put in your students names, give them a password, and viola.  The blog is totally protected.  Nobody but you and your students can read and interact.  And teaching my 2nd graders was a lot easier than I thought!  

It's pretty simple.  They can use the profile button to name their blog and add a picture of themselves. ( I had my kids add pictures at home if their parents allowed them to.)

And everything they need to access is right on the home screen (If they've navigated away from the page, they just have to click the Class Blog Button up on the top)

 You can ask kids to create their own post or reply to a question/prompt posted by you!

My favorite part of all this is that it has gotten my most reluctant writers to begin to enjoy writing!  They get to read other students writing, respond to them, and get responses on their own writing and it's always so rewarding to get some comments (something to look forward to).  We use it for reading, writing, science, social studies and even homework.  My kiddos LOVE to get on at home and leave comments for friends.  

It has truly made a wonderful difference for all of my kids in my room.  So why not go give it a try? What do you have to lose? :)

If you are looking for more great ideas, please visit the next blog on this blog hop. written by Lydia Furtado over at Owl be in Kindergarten.  She's sharing some great ideas on moving to learn! Alternatively, you may visit the link-up below and choose a topic that interests you.  Thanks for visiting!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Sweet Second Grade Savings!

Happy weekend everyone!  Your favorite second grade bloggers are back, this time with sweet savings for you.  We have gotten together to form a dollar sale linky party!  Each blogger will be adding 2-4 products to the link up below that will be on sale for ONE DOLLAR now through Sunday night.  Come Monday morning, all of the products will go back to their regular price, so make sure to grab them while you can!

Here's what you will find for one dollar in my store, this weekend only:

Bee my Valentine - CC Aligned Math Centers for Grades 1-3

Vocabulary Building MegaPack!

At the end of this post, you will find previews and links for all of the items on sale for one dollar.  Click on the links below and you will be taken directly to the TpT store where the products can be found to add to your cart.  We hope you can find everything you need for the upcoming month(s).  Happy shopping!