Friday, October 16, 2015

Two Days of Pirates, Books and Hogwarts and I Never Left Ohio

I need to blog and share the first teacher conference I ever went to this week.  I have had my teaching license for 19 years and have never gone to a teacher conference.  Lots of workshops but never a two day conference!  Wow talk about packed with information!  I went with two other awesome teachers and the principal from my school to AMLE 2015 (Annual Conference for Middle Level Educators).

Here are some of my favorite sessions...

I went and saw Dave Burgress from Teach Like a Pirate.  You know I had to go see the Pirate.  I already read his book which was very motivational and inspiring.  This session was fast pace, extremely fast pace  and had hilarious anecdotes about gaining student buy in, hooking students with a teaser (think burning bra and many Victoria Secret bags) and BBQ-ing steaks (creating and presenting lessons).

Here is a picture of what was up when I walked in.

I have to admit I sent the picture to my hubby just to see what his reaction was!  LOL

"Read Together ~ Succeed Together:  Creating a Culture of Literacy though an Invention / Enrichment Period.  This session by Hudson Middle School (Hudson, Ohio) teachers and principal was my favorite and really had me thinking. If you love the Book Whisper (I love this book) this group really implemented a lot of Donalyn Miller's ideas in their Intervention / Enrichment period. They set aside 30 minutes, four days a week devoted to reading;  independent reading, genre studies, and other literacy activities. Every teacher in the building participates no matter what they teach.

Another favorite was  from Dominion Middle School in Columbus, Ohio.  The teachers and principle presented how they divide their 6th - 8th grade school into four houses similar to Harry Potter's Hogwarts or Ron Clark's Academy.  I just love this idea!!  I am in a K- 8th grade building and would love to have mixed age group houses work as a team collecting points for good deeds and grades. They meet once a week.  The kids participate in a once a month Fantastic Friday where they play Minute It To Win It games such as Hungry Hippos (just think kids belly down on a scooters with a laundry basket out front collecting balloons in the middle of the gym floor).  These teachers had all of us out of our seats popping balloons, they passed out tickets for prizes, we were shaking our booties to get the ping pong balls flying and doing the Nae, Nae! This session was full of energy!  LOVE!!!

Those were my favorites and there was a few duds ( I do not like being sold anything I seek out that product.) but if I can walk away with a least one thing I can use in my classroom this conference was a success.  A success that truly has inspired me.

Do you go to conferences?  What are some of your favorite sessions?

Happy Friday !!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Spaghetti, Marshmallows and PIE

The rhythm of the school has at last gotten in a groove at last in October.  Gosh the beginning of the year can be so tough.  I know you all can agree with that.  So I wanted to share what I was doing in my reading and science classes.  We have been so busy but we are having fun.

In science this year I have vowed to do one STEM activity a month and we did our first one at the end of September.  I was cruising around the internet and stumbled across a website, Projects by Jen, that I have done online activities (Charlotte's Web & the Oreo Challenge) on but had forgotten about it.  I saw Jen had posted a STEM challenge, The Spaghetti and Marshmallow Tower Challenge. We had to make towers with spaghetti with a marshmallow on top and then post pictures on her site.  It was perfect timing, I had just finished teaching them about the Engineering Design Process and what better to experience that lesson.  Our tallest structure was 50 cm!

 Now in reading we have started our historical fiction book clubs.  We are reading: Number the Stars, Bud Not Buddy, I Survived Pompeii, I Survived the Great Chicago Fire and I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake.  Some day I would like to do a historical fiction book club with only the I Survived Series. Slowly but surely I will add a few books at a time and get there.  The kids love that series!

Then we started our PIE Time (Prevention, Intervention and Enrichment). During this 45 minute block 4 times a week I get to work with my fourth graders in the area of reading and vocabulary.  Our technology intergrationist turned me  on to Scholastic's Storia.  I think I am going to love this site...I can assigned different ebooks to students based on their abilities, they can take a quiz and the site keeps track of their progress.  Oh and the books can be read to them and all the studies I have read say that can increase comprehension by 50% and helps improve oral fluency?!  Love, Love, LOVE!

Soooo I have a rotating schedule of four activities, one for each day we meet.  Partner read Scholastic News (we always need practice with informational text), vocabulary / spelling work with a student choice board, teacher time (I would like to work on oral fluency but first I have to get them working on the Storia site) and then online on the Storia site. I hope to have them work on independent reading as well every other week.

 They would fill out my Quick and Easy Independent Reading Response Sheets which are available on TpT.

Well that is my month in a quick blog post.  What have you been up to in your classroom?  I would love to hear.