Sunday, March 30, 2014

Google and Fireworks a Great Thing

Digital writing has skyrocketed in my classroom since I introduced Google. To be able to connect with my students 24/7 is really exciting. I thought I would be overwhelmed, but I am still in control of my own timeframe. It’s been exciting to give feedback on stories that my two girls are coauthoring. To see them using the writing process digitally is powerful, and they started with a web of ideas and quickly figured out each of them should use a separate color font to differentiate their ideas. In addition, my students are willing to try all different (types of tools) within CREATE:  (see I'm so new I don't even know what you call these).

Google exploded into math class last week because I gave the option for our students to write about their cooking homework using Google. It was exciting because one girl learned how to insert photos and add captions sharing how she was making pumpkin bread. Another photo was of a student in the grocery store in front of the dairy counter comparing quarts and pints. Smiling proudly holding milk, who knew digital learning could include grocery shopping?

Where do I start with Spring Break conversations? Fireworks are exploding. I tossed out an idea to consider your life as a writer during Spring Break. Think about this question: How do your five senses influence your vacation?  I suggested taking photos or writing down ideas in Google.  I just finished checking my Google account, and I am super impressed with the writers of 228.  I also just posted my attempt to share with them. Tomorrow we will start our writing workshop conversations looking at authentic student work. I’m excited to see where this conversation leads us. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

South Carolina Nudges

I love when the obvious hits me and knocks me over. Perhaps it is not a hit but a gentle nudge that reminds me what I already know. Spring break has been a time for gentle nudges. I have had time to work out in the morning although all bundled up in several layers walking the beach. I spent time reading/writing early in the morning before our kids woke up. All of these activities are important in my life however once school starts again unfortunately I don't always find the time for those three activities.  As time moves quickly and our family was reminded how precious life is this past January, we realize chronologically that our children are grown adults, but as parents we will never let go of capturing family moments. Singing to music during the 12 hour car ride, laughing while we all stuffed ourselves on all you can eat crab night, shopping excursions, and our conversations on the beach. We're blessed that Anna and Marcus continue to choose to spend holidays with us.  We are extremely thankful for the memories that we created, and I was able to get my family photo that I wanted on the beach.  Life gets busy again when I return to school, and my South Carolina nudges will stay with me as the month of April turns the corner. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Slice of Life: Happy with my Choices (OLW)

I will be completing my first three full weeks  this Friday.  It has been really exciting to back full time in Room 228. We're learning together about Google, and I have to tell you I was hesitant and now I am all in.  I can't begin to tell you how exciting it is to to "talk" to your students during the evenings.  There have been several times when I know my students would have been stuck if they couldn't have asked a question. But the best part, I didn't always have to solve the problem. Most of time to be honest another student already had helped through the comments.  I was not expecting this type of collaboration. I started small which has always been my technology mantra.  Within two weeks, we started with a weekend conversation, built toward a homework conversation, introduced my first rubric (for Thinglink) and finally today we will do collaborative writing during Wonder Wednesday at Wonderopolis.  

Our Spring break starts this Friday.  After being back for three weeks, I have to admit that I am exhausted.  I was a little surprised how working full time and wanting to continue to be a full time mom is tiring. But it is the BEST tired in the world.  I am excited that we are headed to visit Anna in Charleston, SC this Friday.  We plan on staying for a week and creating more family memories.  The best part will be taking our family picture on beach with all four of us standing there with the sunshine on our faces. Time to make my choice (OLW) for family time. 

Can't wait to get back to the beach.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Changing Up Nonfiction Part 2

I posted here about how I was going to introduce our research projects differently this year along connecting to our Wonder Wednesday at WonderopolisResearch is reaching new heights and really exploding with fun this year. 

1) Students created their visual in their writer's notebook and started to think about how their new research fits into their their notebook. In the picture above, the green spiral is an example on the left is their BK (background knowledge) and on the right is their new research.  I am really pushing them to focus on new knowledge about their topic. Often in the past, I believe students used their own knowledge as "research."

2) The students each placed 4 sticky notes around their writer's notebook and wonder book. The students rotated around the room reading their friends notes and leaving questions that they had about their topic.  We discussed the three level of questions: literal, inferential and explanatory. 

3)  When the students got back to their desk, they glued in their four sticky notes in order from most difficult to answer to easiest.  Their homework was to research their one of their friend's question.

4) Finally the students shared their research by answering their friend's question.  The power is seeing your question on the Smartboard with the new research was really important. They seemed more invested in each others topics.  Ian shared his thinking above about his topic: atoms along with how he organized his notes: new facts, vocabulary and WOW moments.  Love gathering authentic mentor text from my students.