Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It - Binders and Buttons

Monday Made It - Binders and Buttons

Made It #1 - Reading Strategy Binders

        Have you been on  Have you had time to look around and see what is all out there.  It has become an all time favorite website of mine in the last 2 years.  It has so much, how am I suppose to remember what is there, what is available, that is without getting lost and side tracked with everything else.  I don't know about you, but I am very much a weekend planner for lessons, and then I might need something (books to go with lessons) and not have it ahead of time.  So I created Reading Strategy Binders.


I started this project last year, but didn't get very far.  So this year, I had to revamp and make things cute.  I started off by creating Binder Covers.  You can see 3 of the covers (on the floor).  Here is a close up of one. There is a total of 2o Skills/Strategies I have done this with. *I also made spine labels for 1" binders.


The next step in the process was to type up what each strategy has in terms of lessons and how they connect to the Texas State Standards (Sorry, Common Core Folk, Texas hasn't gotten there yet, but you can look up the Common Core Standards that match each lesson).  You will see based on the picture I did it for all Grades K -6.  Why you ask, well since I have taught Pre-K, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th, it made sense to have the information for remediation or extension available with out a huge search.

After this, I have started the long process of printing off all the lessons, with there plans and worksheets that go with them.  I also printed off the reading passages for 2nd-6th grade that go with the strategy.  Yes, they have reading passages to match.  For instance if I need a 3rd Grade Character Passage I can find it with 5 questions, 3 of which address character questions.  I put those in the binders by grade and all the lessons in grade order on top.

So if this is something that you would like, and don't want to do all the work, shoot me an e-mail and I will e-mail you the drop box link to the binder  covers, spines, and the lesson breakdowns.

If you haven't checked out  -  Your missing out, go do it now.  

Monday Made It #2 - Buttons, Buttons, and more Buttons.

This weekend I went to another stitch weekend sponsored by The Silver Needle out of Tulsa, Oklahoma.  This year they had the ladies from Just Another Button Company and I got to learn how to make buttons.  Let me tell you, clay buttons are a time consuming task and I now fully understand why they cost about $3-4 a piece.  We had to take 3 colors of blue blend to make 6 colors, then form a cane (tube) with some other colors and after about 2 hours and 3 other people we got this.  Blue Flower Canes, can you see it.

After this, each cane was baked for 15 minutes to form flat buttons, sliced, and baked again for another 15 minutes.  Once they were done baking and cooling, one of the ladies drilled two holes in them to create the button.   With over 150 ladies there, we were able to make a ton of buttons with some variety, as each cane you see there made about 20-25 buttons.  Here are some of the buttons after they were done, along with the variety of the other ones that were made.  This was a fun projects.

 In case you can't tell, those are pink, yellow, and blue flowers, leaves, 2 acorns, and a pumpkin.  Those were just the ones that I got that were baked.  I have about 4 times that many that only got through one baking cycle.

If you would like to learn more about The Silver Needle or Just Another Button Company, just click on their name and it will take you to their web site.

Tell next week, have fun.  Don't forget to link up with Tara and 4th Grade Frolics to see more Monday Made Its.  Just click 4th Grade Frolic above.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Are you the oddball of Classes? - Teach Like a Pirate - Chapter 5

Are you the Oddball of Classes or is your class like everyone around you?  Yes, we all try to decorate our classrooms and make them unique in their own way, but come on - we all know that decorations only hold a kids attention for a certain period of time, and then what does?  What makes your class stand out?  What makes kids want to come to your room to learn?  What makes your class the one all parents want their child in?  Are you the Oddball of classes?

These are questions that Dave asks and want us to consider.  Do we really want to be the same boring class that most kids are going to?  Why are kids not excited about school anymore?  I was when I was a kid.  Maybe it is because we have more to compete with.  Video Games, Computers, Ipads, Etc.  So what creative things are we going to do to bring their attention and engagement in?

Here is a couple of questions Dave asks us to ponder:

1) If your students didn't have to be there, would you be teaching an empty room?
      - Yep, would they be there if they didn't have too?

2) Do you have any lessons you could sell tickets for?
       - Do you have lessons that are so cool everyone wants to come and now you have limited space?

So how do we do this?  How do we create these classrooms?
According to Dave - mix lessons with entertainment - yep, you heard that right.

Positioning - Why should students listen to us?  Believe me, because their parents made them. or because the principal says to, or because they  have low grades means diddly squat to a student at my school (at least most of them).  What is in it for them?  That is what we have to figure out.  Again, it could be different for each group or each student, and yes we have to serve and meet all their needs.

Reframing - So not only do we have to position ourselves as a person who should be listened to, but we have to reframe our content to have purpose in a students life.  I know as a teacher when I have had students hit the point where they are transitioning from picture books to chapter books, the desire to read takes a tremendous drop.  Why, my guess, they have to now visualize what is going on by themselves instead of having a picture to do it for them.  So Why read chapter books?  How do we go about reframing the students mind to help them understand what reading chapter books can do for them.

So Dave gives a great example in his book on page 63 of his son using quarters to get something out of a "bubble - gum" machine.  The child's friends had gotten a dinosaur and dragon tattoo, and he son pulled out a bracelet with hearts on it.  Devastating for a little boy who's friends got all this cool stuff, but the minute his dad (Dave) called it Pirates Treasure, all was good.  He reframed the bracelet from being a silly girly thing to being cool pirates treasure.

How can you reframe some of your lessons to be more like pirates treasure and less like a girly braclet?

Link up with Lisa @ Growing with Firsties for her comments on Chapter 5, and then click on the button below to go to the masters of this book study to link up with lots of others who are reading and blogging as we go through each chapter.   


Monday, June 24, 2013

Are you tuned in to creativity - Think like a Pirate - Chapter 4

We all like creative lessons, but coming up with them can be  hard when it is sunday evening and you have to get lessons done for the next day.  

Dave asks "are you asking the right questions" or "are you waiting for the idea to drop into your lap?"


We are taught in training to become a teacher to ask open ended questions so we get good answers, but are we asking ourselves questions about our lesson plans in a positive open ended way or a negative - only one answer way?

Examples (I came up with these myself off of Dave's Examples)
                   Positive                                                                    Negative
How can I add manipulatives to this lesson?           Is there a way to add manipulatives to this lesson? 
How can I word this to make it intresting?              Can I change this to make it intresting?

Have you ever had to attend a workshop about something that you are going to be "required" to implement in your classroom?  If you are like me, panic sets in.  How am I going to do this on top of everything else?  Why should I change what I'm doing if it is already working?   Then you get to the workshop, listen and participate in activities, and go "I'm already doing this" it is like _____________.  (Fill in the blank)  Why - because all the sudden what we had been doing becomes more important and we are tuned into it.  Just like if you start working on more creative ideas in your classroom, you will see more creative ideas around you.

Hello - You mean as we practice it, it will become easier?  YEP - same thing we teach our students.

6 Words  - So 6 Words is a story Dave tells.  It is about a lady who says "It is easy for you.  You're creative."  Dave goes onto explain that 1 - he doesn't feel it was easy, he spent 16 years brainstorming and coming up with ideas and 2 - the lady essentiallly just said she wasn't creative.
   How many times do we think the same way?  How many times do we hear from a student "I can't" or "but ____________ is so smart, it is easy for them?"  Are we taking the easy way out?  Are we letting our students have an excuse?  Maybe it is time for us (okay me) to stop making excuses and to start putting that little effort in and ask the right questions.  I need to tune into my creativity radio station.  

The Real Law of Attraction - In order to get what you want, you must decide what that is an WORK for it.  Yep, you must try to get it.   "Ideas are great, but implementation is the key." (pg 44)  
As I read this section, all I could think of was all the times I came up with or liked an idea, and then didn't follow through or said "but my class couldn't do that ".  Maybe it is time I implemented more, and tried.  

Designing a System to Capture Ideas - Do you have a way to record your ideas as they come?  Do you have a way to write down that amazing idea?  Dave says we must, because I'll do it later, means it won't happen.  I don't know about you, but I keep my phone with me at all times.  I pretty sure we all have a way of taking a note or two on that.

Make It Easy -  Keep things simple, make it easy to record ideas and write them down

Failure vs Feedback - So all this is great, but what happens when things don't go right? Have I failed?  According to Dave we can look at it that way or we can look at it as feedback.  What were the students telling me about the lesson that wasn't engaging?  I don't know about you, but who says every class has to be taught the same?  Sometimes each class finds different things engaging.  No biggie, it is the same objectives, right?  When those students are chatty instead of engaged, maybe the feedback is "Hello, we are bored".  Look for the feedback, not the success or failure.

Creative Alchemy - Use your outside interests to find creative ways to do things in your classroom.  Bring your loves in.  It may not come immediately, but keep trying.

Link up with Kate and see her summary on Teach Like a Pirate - Ask and Analyze.  The head over to the main blog and see what others said.  Click on Kate's name to access her thoughts, and the button below to find others.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Behavior Management or Engagement Management - Teach Like a Pirate Chapter 3

Okay - I know, its late.  I just got my book in the mail Tuesday, and I am just now getting to Chapter 3. Forgive me, but there will be at least 4 posts today on Teach Like a Pirate. 

I'm in the Ship and ready to go.  I must get caught up.

Here we go!!!

Engagement - Why is it one year a lesson works great, the students are engaged, and grasping the concept and the next year, they aren't?  My lesson didn't change?  My way of implementing the lesson didn't change? The concept to be taught didn't change? What changed, THE STUDENTS!!!! What works for one group, might not work for another group.  So how do we make it so the next years group stays engaged?  HELLO - FIND OUT WHAT THEY LIKE!!!  Sorry, all caps has to do with I just hit myself in the forehead and went DUH!!!  That is where Rapport comes in.  What isn't that helps this group of students to be engaged?

You mean that I must learn what each student likes, and get to know them?  YEP!!  So as I'm reading, I'm thinking about all those interest surveys I have seen.  Maybe I should use those, but that would be more paperwork.  That isn't much fun.  I don't have time to talk and have a here is what my life is about conversation with each individual student.  So how do we do it?  How do we build rapport?

        -  How did what we read in class connect to your life?  Remind you of something?
        -  Did you hear what happened on the news?  Maybe that can lead you to learning something.
        -  Hello, Writing - I have learned so much from my students through their writing.
        -  Everything we do on a daily basis, leads us to learn more about each student.

But then aren't we becoming more like friends and not teachers?  Doesn't this allow for them to take advantage of us? Not if we model appropriate behavior according do Dave Burgess.

We have all been taught to get procedures taught at the beginning to have a successful classroom.  Yea, so - Ive done that and six weeks down the road, I feel like it has been a wasted effort.  Why do it?  Dave puts it in a great way.  "Nothing is more important to me than creating the proper atmosphere right from the start. No content standard matters to me until I have established the safe, supportive, and positive classroom environment I need to successfully teach my students." (Teach Like a Pirate, pg 22)

Light bulb went off - Hello, Procedures are what create the right atmosphere.  Now it makes sense, it isn't about the actual procedure, it is about the atmosphere in the classroom it creates where a student can feel safe, supported, and encouraged.

Dave's first few days:

Day One -
      - Intro as into a movie theater
      -  Class is being hosted, not taught
      - One rule - NO MEANNESS (it is in all caps in the book too)
      - Playdoh activity (yes, he teaches High School and does this, so why can't we)
                - Create something that represents you
                       - Must be school appropriate
                - As host, I will ask you a couple questions about the item and your name
                - This allows me to go around and have conversations with students.
     - Part of building rapport is getting the students to know each others names and who each other is

Day Two -
     -  Collaborative Group Activity
     - 10 Stranded people, and can only save 5
     - Sorry fellow readers, but this is one you almost have to read to get.  I can't explain it with out rewriting they whole thing.

Day Three -
     -  Convincing the students  they can be successful no matter what their past school experience has been.

Wow, that was a long chapter.  All in all, build relationships, they are important.

Now for a brief break, and then for chapter 4. 

Hope you are having an amazing weekend.

Link up with Jana from Thinking Out Loud to see what her thoughts are on Chapter 3.  Don't forget to click on other peoples links to see their views of chapter 3.  Just click the button below to get started.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Shhhhh!!!! - It's time for the Book Whisperer

Yes, I know.  I'm doing three book studies at once.  Hope I can keep up with it all.

Chapter 1 is where we begin.  First of all, I love reading book written by teachers who are still in the classroom.  They seem so real.

A comment in her introduction, really hit home with me. Donalyn Miller on page 2 says "They (the children) don't read well enough; they don't read often enough; and if you talk to children, they will tell you that they don't see reading as meaningful in their life."   What do you mean they don't see it as meaningful, why not?  Could it be because it makes them think a little and sitting in front of the TV or computer is easier to do?  So how do we change it?  I can't wait to find out.

"A trail of worksheets from a teacher to their students does not build a connection with readers, only books do."  Powerful can we expect students to learn to love reading only from practice passages and worksheets?

Okay, so all that above came just from the introduction.  Now in to the real chapter one.

I have to admit as I read chapter one, there wasn't really anything that totally struck me as new.  As a teacher with 11 years experience teaching a variety of grade levels, every situation seemed familiar to me.  The one thing I have noticed and agree with, is as students get older their interest in reading tends to lessen.  I haven't figured this one out.  Is it because you don't have picture clue and visualizing is harder to do? Is it because you have to infer a little more? Is it because it seems like fewer students have books at home, or are encouraged to read at home?  

I am ready for chapter 2 and I hope I can get. Few ahha's out of it.  Happy Reading.


Link up with "We Blog, We Read, We Teach" to see what others are saying.  Just click on the button below.

Friday, June 14, 2013

NERDS - Word Nerds that is!!!!

I know, I'm late, but I just got my book in late yesterday (Thursday 6/13/13), and haven't gotten a chance to start reading till today.  Here goes nothing.

So of course, like most books - Chapter 1 starts off with why is vocabulary instruction important. We all know the obvious - so we understand what we are reading, but there is more.  One thing that is said in the beginning of the book that really stuck with me was the authors quote from research done by Keith Stanovich (1986) where he hypothesized that "the rich get richer and the poor get poorer" because the vocabulary gap often actually widens as students advance through school.  Well doesn't this make sense.  As our student age, the ones who have the ability to "see the World" do, and get to add that rich vocabulary, while our ones who can't go out and do things, miss that vocabulary and fall further behind.  But how are we suppose to fill all those gaps?  Why doesn't the definition, picture, use your own word, and put it in a sentence for us work?  Why can't they take the word we give them and use them in their writing and conversations? Maybe the same reason spelling words don't work (or at least didn't for me), they memorize them while they have to, but 3 months down the line, can't remember to save their lives.  So what now?  Where do we go?  How do we incorporate?

Here what Research has told them:
    1.  Some words are more important to teach than others!
           -  No I'm not talking cuss words (what teacher would want to teach those)
           -  I'm talking those high frequency words that will be used across all subjects
    2. Students have to learn words at more than one level (They need to know them deeply)
    3.  Students learn words when they experience them multiple times
          - Hello!!! Ding Dong!!!  The light went on, the door opened.  We don't expect our kids to learn
            their multiplication facts in one sitting, what is the difference with new words.
    4.  Asking student to look up words and write definitions from the dictionary DOESN'T HELP!
          - WHAT???? WAIT A MINUTE!!!! That is what we have always done, why not.
          -  Disclaimer - if it is a student friendly dictionary using everyday language, it cold help
                  -  OKAY - I get it now. (Sorry for the commentary, but this is fun)
    5.  Word Schemas - Can we say Context Clues
         - Patterns to connect meanings of words
         - Infering word meaning from context clues in a story
    6.  Students can learn some words through use of wide reading.
         - What make them read more......SHHHHH - don't tell my students, but I may have to increase
              their homework to include more reading.
        - Reading a wide range of books (Vocarious Reading )
    7. Students can learn through rich conversations with adults and peers
        - Oh No.....You mean I should let the talk more.....If I must.   Maybe I should join in on the 
          conversation to facilitate that rich conversations.  "Get in the Pool"
    8.  Students can learn some words through play
       -  Play - We don't do that in 6th Grade - maybe playing with words through song and art will be
   9.  Students can learn SOME words by direct instruction
       -  Okay everyone, that says SOME, not all.
 10.  Most students need word - learning strategies to become successful readers.

Now all we have to do is start a Systematic way of Teaching Vocabulary, and I know at least for me, figuring out how to incorporate it in with all the other things I must teach.  However, if it will really allow my students to improve their learning, then maybe something else needs to be lessened to focus on Vocabulary instruction.  More to come with Chapter 2 and how that Systematic Way of Teaching Vocabulary works - The meat and potatoes.

Till next week, I hope you understood my notes.  Also, don't forget to link up with Sabra at Teaching with a Touch of Twang to see what she and others have to say about Chapter 1.  Just click on the Word Nerds Button Below.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Are you in the pool or on the side? - Teach Like a Pirate Chapter 2

I have to start this post with a disclaimer.  I had to read off the preview as I am still waiting for my book.  With this said I am not sure I got to read all of chapter 2.

Are you on the side of the pool?
     I really enjoy Burgess' connection to a swim coach standing by the pool.  This probably has something to do with the fact I was a competitive swimmer in the past.  I guess the question I really need to ask, is am I the teacher who just tells the kids what to do and sit back and just wait for them to do it.  Sometime this can seem like what needs to be done.  I don't know about you, but sometimes I wish it was that simple so I could get all my paper work and grading done.  However, is this really benefiting the students?  Isn't this the time when you feel like they get what you are teaching the least.  This also seems to be what causes the kids to say "she goes to fast," or "she doesn't help me."  Sometimes I feel like I have to be the coach on the outside because I'm looking for that kid that is trying to pull another kid under, those behavior friends we have?

Are you in the pool?
    Are you the teacher who is in the pool?  Are you doing one on one conferences? Are you doing small groups? Are you going to those students and showing them the small things that make them just a little bit more successful?  I believe we all start off wanting to be this teacher.  The one who is in the middle of it all.  The one who has a class of complete engagement with the students totally focused on what is going on.  How many students need us to be totally immersed in what we are doing because it may be the only time during the day that someone shows them they are cared about?  

Is it fair for us to grade a child based on the sidelines (papers only) or should we grade them based on their growth, thinking, and effort (discussion, responses). I know last year I was bad about grading from the sidelines.  I felt like I had to have that paper.  How was that fair to my ELL Learners and my students with learning disabilities?  Just because they read the question and interpreted it differently or could truly explain there thoughts in written words, doesn't mean they don't have all the material.  Maybe if I would immerse myself in my teaching, I would find a few thing to be true:
     1.  I would have more engagement
     2.  I would know who was truly struggling and who wasn't and needed to be challenged
     3.  I would have more fun, and so would my students
    4. My students would feel like their teacher cared.

Till Sunday with Chapter 3.  May your week be blessed with fun and immersion in what ever you may be doing.

Want to see what others are saying?  Link up with Marie from "The Hands-On Teacher" and see her summary of Chapter 2 that she has. Just Click on the button below.