Sunday, March 5, 2017

Leadership Skills that can be applied to REAL LIFE!

Leadership skills can be taught in the classroom but really need to be practiced is real life situations! That is exactly what I have done for two years in a row.  At my school we teach leadership skills like shaking an adults hand and introducing your self, like being proactive, like putting first things first and getting your work done before playing, but for two years now, I have attended NCTIES (a statewide technology conference) with my kindergarten teaching bestie.  NCTIES is the perfect place for kids to put their leadership to the test.

Back in October, my team Kindergarten Teacher Miss Carter and I, sat down with our technology facilitator, Miss Adams, and we brainstormed a project that would include our entire class, that would embody what we believe as educators and that would get the kids excited about learning!  We know what is best for kids and we ALWAYS remembered that if we are doing WHAT IS RIGHT FOR KIDS, it is ALWAYS RIGHT!

This year we came up with a project that attached to our standard of re telling a story, that engaged our students in learning and STEAM challenges, and allowed our kinder kids to be creative and think outside the box!

We retold the story of The Three Little Pigs, but there was a twist and we created alternate endings to the story with recycled materials. Miss Carters class retold the story of Goldilocks & the 3 Bears. (Miss Carter's class completed this project in the same steps but with a different story) The kids got to be creative, and collaborate on their designs!

Step 1: Complete the drawings to retell the actual story of The Three Little Pigs.

Step 2: get brainstorming on the alternate endings and get to work! My students decided to create a gate to surround the first pigs house that had an alarm system, lock, camera and laser and water shooters to ward off the big bad wolf!  We also made an alligator & poisonous carrot garden that would protect the stick house from being blown down! The last part of our recreating the ending of the three little pigs was the ice cream & cupcakes that the first and second little pigs made to bring to the third little pigs house as a dessert to eat after eating wolf soup! Seriously SO MUCH creativity.  I am so proud of how my kids collaborated and respectfully communicated their ideas.

Step 3: Record ourselves retelling the story of The Three Little Pigs and express our ideas of alternate endings!

Step 4: Record ourselves playing musical instruments to put in the background of our final product to enhance our video.

And BAM! We have a collaborative project that we working through using our imaginations, attached our teaching standards, and allowed everyone to be a part of our final product! This experience will be a memory my kids will have for their entire life. 

This project was fun, and engaging for ALL students.  This project reminded students they have something to share, they can be successful and they can be a part of something GREAT!

Take a look at our Final Project! 

So after we finished our project, we brought it to NCTIES (a statewide technology conference) and got to bring all of our daily Leadership Skills that we practice to the conference and SHINE! And SHINE they DID! The support from previous administrators, from our tech facilitator and media coordinators past and present was so appreciated. 

Just a reminder: when you want to do a project and are feeling like its a huge undertaking....ask yourself one question: IS IT RIGHT FOR KIDS? and if your answer is yes, MAKE IT HAPPEN!

The experience of this project will be a memory forever! 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Classroom Management in the Early Years of School

Kindergarten is truly my passion and I love to help children grow and learn, but recently I was able to tap into my second passion of helping teachers teach their kids using high expectations, urgency, intention and engaging methods.  I went to Rupert Idaho with Jen Jones and Kami Butterfield, and was able to help teachers in the Minidoka School District!  We had a blast, the teachers learned alot and many teachers were begging for more, so now they are following us all on social media and are excited to continue learning.  I shared my management strategies in Rupert, so I figured I would share them here also!

I wanted to share how I manage my classroom with success. I will be the first to tell you, IT ISN'T EASY! and it takes a lot of time, energy and patience, but students in kindergarten CAN complete independent activities, they CAN complete project based learning on the iPads, they CAN reach high expectations and they CAN leave my classroom reaching benchmarks, knowing their success and being proud of their growth! 

I use three different call and response strategies in my classroom.  We practice them starting on the first day of school.  I always start with the Mac and Cheese, Stop and Freeze next I say "where should your eyes be?" and my kids say "on you."  This is my favorite strategy because honestly.... mac and cheese is my favorite food! haha. 

I just started using "zip it, lock it" "put it in your pocket" this year as a strategy to use if the classroom is getting a little noisy in the classroom.  

And this year I also added a magical word.  For some reason this year, I would be in the middle of giving directions and half of my class would be walking off the carpet ready to get started..... on what, I have no idea, because I hadn't finished giving directions! haha. So I created the word SHABAM, and when I say it, the kids can leave the carpet and begin working.  

If you're looking for a video on how this works in my classroom?  I recorded for the iteachtvnetwork, click the link and you can enjoy the video! 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

2 Hands On Earth Day Experiences

This year I really encouraged my students to get excited about Earth Day. We watched so many different videos and did different activities in the short week that we had this week. We came back to school on Wednesday from a three week track out because we are a year-round school and the kids were so excited to come back and have activity-based learning during literacy.


1.  The first thing I want to be able to share with everyone is get yourselves soil, grass seeds, small Pots and small watering cans from your local store maybe target or something!  It cost me only $14 to get all of the supplies I needed! After talking about a plant life cycle and watching different recycling videos the students got to plant their own seeds in recycled pots and are now responsible for making them grow. The best thing about grass seed is that it only takes about seven days to actually start growing so it's a lot faster than many of the flowers that you'll see.  My students had a blast planting the grass seed and are now going to have the responsibility to keep the grass alive so that we can make Mother's Day gifts. We are going to make cute pots with the students picture on it and the grass is going to be their hair! (pictures to come!)



2.  The second activity really taps into having students create and show you proficiency through each student creating a product. After teaching the mini lesson of all the parts of a plant and what to plant needs to grow, the students got to make mini anchor charts themselves. They were given crayons, half of a sheet of paper and labels to cut and glue onto their poster! The product of their learning has lasting effects compared to giving them a worksheet and just labeling it!



Allowing students to really take control of their learning is what it's all about!!! 

What did you do to celebrate Earth Day? 

Monday, April 11, 2016

3 Take Aways from the North Eastern TpT Meet Up

This past weekend I met up with some amazing TPT sellers and phenomenal key speakers and excellent business women in their niche market.  The northeastern TPT meet up had absolutely amazing professional development that was provided along with a great opportunity to network with other TPT sellers was an experience I will never forget.

1. First impressions are crucial and often permanent.  This was explained in one of the professional development sessions where they talked about different images and ways to create covers on products and resources. But it also has to do with when you're first introducing yourself to someone or meeting someone for the first time. First impressions will change how someone sees you and what opportunities are provided to you in the future.  I had the opportunity to speak with Jillian from the TPT New York offices and it was an absolute blast. Jen Jones was the one to introduce me to her and now she is coming down to my kindergarten classroom to visit.  My first impression of her was that she is a down-to-earth girl that just wants to provide an amazing experience for teacher sellers and entrepreneurs.  I can't wait to meet up with her again!

My second take away from this conference is that even being a seller you need to help your customers and colleagues solve a problem.  Working to solve a problem for others, you really need to remember to treat them with kindness and see things from their perspective.   Always listen and begin to understand their point of view.  Repeat customers will come when you are consistently solving a problem for them and making them feel heard.  I'm going to  leave off number two with a quote that my mom told me every day before I left for school "be a good friend, and a good listener".

3. Everyone has an expertise and everyone has their journey. Just because your journey is different from another's does not mean you're not on the right track for you. Do what's best for you and your family, continue your journey and become successful in your own time.  Allow others to help you and teacherpreneurs are the most helpful kind and willing to help people. It's all about your journey; be you, and true to yourself!

The northeastern TPT meet up was an absolutely amazing weekend. I thank all of the organizers and presenters. I learned so much and had a blast meeting new people. I can't wait for next year!!!! 

Maybe I will have to create a meet up in North Carolina for next year... That would be a blast!!!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Parent Communication Log

Parent Communication is crucial in the success off students in your classroom! When parents and teachers are on the same page it creates an environment for success for the child. 

Teachers should document conversations with parents in order to stay professional, hold themselves accountable, and remind themselves of past conversations.  

This log will help you stay organized.  Print one for each child, and start documenting! 

This Dropbox Link will bring you right to my parent communication log.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Trying to stay sane until the holidays?! *Freebie*

Hey ya'll, I know all of our classrooms get a little wild around this time of year.  We have crafts, projects, lessons to teach, assessments to give etc.  With all of the chaos, and never enough time, the kids behavior gets a little lax.  With this management system, you can keep your kids on track until holiday break! The best part----its FREE!  This freebie can be adapted to any classroom, and any elementary grade, because you choose the goals and rewards!

Puzzle Piece Classroom Management


Sunday, October 18, 2015

The New Age of Professional Development: Social Media Inspired

I work at a title one, year round Elementary School in Knightdale, NC.  It is a place of passionate teachers and students who love to come to school.  We, like many schools are trying to search for the "why".  Why are students not performing on assessments? Why students struggle with concepts that are essential for addition, multiplication, reading comprehension, and writing at a higher level? We are spending time in collaborative planning making lessons each week with our IRT's (Instructional Resource Teachers) that have been written for us by our county, like many other schools across the US.  These lessons are very similar to the lessons that have been provided for years.  Some of them have changed because of the rigor of the common core, but almost all of the math lessons include a worksheet, and all of the comprehension lessons include books that I grew up reading. (Which don't get me wrong, they are great--but there has got to be a more creative way to reach students.)  We spend hours each week trying to provide a fun and engaging learning experience for our students while still using the parameters of these lessons and main topics that MUST be covered.  

We have to make some changes, to make the current curriculum interesting to our kids. 

Like I said, I work at a year round school--meaning I get 2.5 weeks off 4 times a year.  Well...I am just finishing up my fall break and I want to share what I have learned over my "trackout" (vacation).....because you all know that teachers don't actually take breaks! 

I decided with all of my 'spare time' that I would do a little research about how I can reach my students in a new and creative way and help discover the "why".  What I found was an amazing group of creative and collaborative educators on Twitter, Blab, Periscope, You tube, and Ted Talks.  Teachers all over the world provided me with professional development this track out.  It was absolutely amazing, mindset changing and my curiosity was sparked.  

I started my track out watching some of the best teachers I "know" on with their #chalktalkedu.  These three ladies are providing professional development on different topics each month. Jen Jones, Erin Klein and Kayla Delzer provided me with great places to start with who to follow in the social media professional development world.  They gave me ideas like: #edbeat @smgaillard, @sheilajteaching  and it has totally changed how I am looking at professional development and deciphering the "why" in my classroom.

I have now participated in my first #edbeat chat.  #edbeat is an amazing twitter chat all about inspiring others, positive interactions and helping educators reach their students! The first #edbeat that I participated in was with Erin Klein and she talked about non-traditional seating options and learning spaces.  I have always been interested in redesigning my classroom -- so this was the perfect place to start for me.  I learned that students need choice, comfy furntiure, and cozy learning spaces in order to get the most out of what they are learning.  Think about your own choice when you have to get some work done.  Do you choose to sit in a hard chair, at a cold table? Or do you choose a comfortable seat, in a cozy quiet space.  It is the same for our kids.  They NEED choice.  

This #edbeat conversation led me to begin my first grant project with donors choose.  An amazing organization that allows teachers to write grants for much needed materials for their classroom.  After rethinking my kindergarten classroom design, I decided that I must provide the best for my students.  I must provide them a non traditional learning space.  My project for Kindergarten Classroom Redesign will include a bunch of new seating options in my classroom.  As long as I get funded, my new classroom will have wobble seats, bean bags, sofas, comfy chairs, exercise ball chairs, and balance discs. I have until February to get my project fully funded, and I am working hard to make it happen :)  

My students currently have the option to work on the floor or at their tables, they need more choices.  This image will bring you right to my donors choose page--take a look, you will be inspired, i'm sure! 

This track out has been the most beneficial to how I look at my students, to how I will engage them in their learning and how I will think about learning spaces within my classroom and school.  I was always a little nervous to join into a twitter chat--because honestly--I had NO CLUE what I was doing, but "the opportunity outweighs the fear".  Just do it, jump in and start, because I promise, you will not regret it! And if you have already jumped in to this fast paced PD, feel free to add comments of who you follow and your current inspiration :)