Unpacking Interest

This week for the make challenge I made a badge for those teachers that are incorporating play into their classrooms. I have talked about the importance of play in the classroom and how I feel it is diminishing from classrooms. It is important for children of all ages to be able to get up and move around. We can’t expect the children to sit and listen for long periods of time. Yes, the curriculum and standards are changing. That is just one more challenge for us educators to overcome. There are ways to incorporate play into the classroom and still teach the curriculum. My badge is for those teachers that are able to successfully incorporate play into their classroom to teach the curriculum. There are many great social media websites that blogs to share your own experiences.

It is important that we use our own interests, as well as the students’ interest involved and part of the classroom. Students are more engaged in the lessons when they are having fun, and don’t have that feeling of being in school. They are active members of the classroom, and they feel valued.

Just as I have experienced in this class, it is important to give our students choices. We have had many assignments throughout this course and have been able to pick and choose how we want to demonstrate our learning. Far too often we have experienced, or even assigned students work that they must complete a certain way. I think about reading and how throughout my educational career I received a list of books to choose from and given an assignment. I did not have any choice, or say in what I was going to do. As a reader, I struggled in my early years. It wasn’t because I couldn’t read but because I didn’t have the passion for it. Children need to feel passionate about the lesson and school so they are willing to take chances. When I was a student I was told I couldn’t read. I was sent to the reading room and even tested. Long story short, I could read. I just hated it!! I was a boy, and all I wanted to do was play in the mud, or play sports. It wasn’t until I was in the third grade that I had a passionate teacher, a teacher that took interest in each individual student and learned what we were passionate about. She took our interests and brought it into the classroom. This teacher knew I was all about sports. She took my passion and adapted all of her lessons for me. Instead of reading a book from a list, she allowed me to pick a book of my own. I was able to pick a sports book! I couldn’t believe it. I was reading just like all of the other kids, and completing assignments just like everyone else, except my book was different. Instead of trying to make me conform, she worked with me.

This is the type of passion that is needed in classroom to get our students involved, interested, and having fun. Another way to bring fun into the classroom is badges and gamification. I like how Matthew Farber is taking gamification and bringing it into his classroom to get the students engaged. I also like the idea of badges. I have seen similar reward systems in other classrooms. In my buddy class, the children earn different colored belts when they have mastered multiplication facts. In the music class at our other elementary school the children earn belts when they master a particular song.

To me, it all begins with the teacher and getting to know their students in a person way. Far too often we are pushing test scores, and reading levels, that the students turn into an ID number or a statistic. Just being able to take time to talk to the children about what they did on the weekend or what they like to do can go a long way. We can find out what their interests are and use that in our teaching.

Unpacking Interest

This week for the make challenge I made a badge for those teachers that are incorporating play into their classrooms. I have talked about the importance of play in the classroom and how I feel it is diminishing from classrooms. It is important for children of all ages to be able to get up and move around. We can’t expect the children to sit and listen for long periods of time. Yes, the curriculum and standards are changing. That is just one more challenge for us educators to overcome. There are ways to incorporate play into the classroom and still teach the curriculum. My badge is for those teachers that are able to successfully incorporate play into their classroom to teach the curriculum. There are many great social media websites that blogs to share your own experiences.

It is important that we use our own interests, as well as the students’ interest involved and part of the classroom. Students are more engaged in the lessons when they are having fun, and don’t have that feeling of being in school. They are active members of the classroom, and they feel valued.

Just as I have experienced in this class, it is important to give our students choices. We have had many assignments throughout this course and have been able to pick and choose how we want to demonstrate our learning. Far too often we have experienced, or even assigned students work that they must complete a certain way. I think about reading and how throughout my educational career I received a list of books to choose from and given an assignment. I did not have any choice, or say in what I was going to do. As a reader, I struggled in my early years. It wasn’t because I couldn’t read but because I didn’t have the passion for it. Children need to feel passionate about the lesson and school so they are willing to take chances. When I was a student I was told I couldn’t read. I was sent to the reading room and even tested. Long story short, I could read. I just hated it!! I was a boy, and all I wanted to do was play in the mud, or play sports. It wasn’t until I was in the third grade that I had a passionate teacher, a teacher that took interest in each individual student and learned what we were passionate about. She took our interests and brought it into the classroom. This teacher knew I was all about sports. She took my passion and adapted all of her lessons for me. Instead of reading a book from a list, she allowed me to pick a book of my own. I was able to pick a sports book! I couldn’t believe it. I was reading just like all of the other kids, and completing assignments just like everyone else, except my book was different. Instead of trying to make me conform, she worked with me.

This is the type of passion that is needed in classroom to get our students involved, interested, and having fun. Another way to bring fun into the classroom is badges and gamification. I like how Matthew Farber is taking gamification and bringing it into his classroom to get the students engaged. I also like the idea of badges. I have seen similar reward systems in other classrooms. In my buddy class, the children earn different colored belts when they have mastered multiplication facts. In the music class at our other elementary school the children earn belts when they master a particular song.

To me, it all begins with the teacher and getting to know their students in a person way. Far too often we are pushing test scores, and reading levels, that the students turn into an ID number or a statistic. Just being able to take time to talk to the children about what they did on the weekend or what they like to do can go a long way. We can find out what their interests are and use that in our teaching.

F5F

1) One thing that I noticed in the Bud Hunt article is that transparency was used. Hunt mentions posting, and blogging to keep up with what is going on the classroom. One thing that we do in our school, and I’m sure in most schools, we update our classroom websites. Each teacher has a website to communicate with parents. Having an updated website helps create that transparency and communication that Hunt is talking about. I do my best to update my website each week. The parents are able to know what we are doing in the classroom, and what can be done at home to keep up with the skills we are learning. I do not have children of my own but through my years of teaching I have learned that children do not talk about what they learned in school. Often they talk about recess or lunch. I have post videos to share student work to help spark a conversation at home. I think having an updated website is an easy way to communicate with parents.

https://sites.google.com/a/sdst.org/mr-berger/

2) To continue with the theme of communication and transparency, I think that Twitter or Instagram would be a great way to build communication. I have not been able to use Twitter in my classroom but just this week I reached out to a tech coach on Twitter because I noticed he was constantly sharing student work. An issue with sharing student work and having students on Twitter is having the students faces. There was an easy solution and all I had to do was reach out to this coach for the solution. I am hoping to discuss using Twitter in my classroom after spring break. There is an app called Photo Blur that can be used to blur out the students faces or names. I can still share photos of what we are doing in class each day with my parents and still protect my students. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/touch-blur/id545958271?mt=8

3) Hunt also mentions that open networking does not require technology or the Internet. We can make connections with other classrooms in our buildings, districts, or other schools without technology. I remember someone mentioning pen pals. That would be a great way to network without technology. It reminds me of a unit we did when I taught fifth grade. Many of us have probably heard of Flat Stanley. A popular story of a young boy that is flattened when he goes to bed. Each student in my class received two Flat Stanleys. One Flat Stanley they decorated to represent themselves and sent a letter to a friend or family member. The other Flat Stanley was for the friend or family member to decorate and represent them and where they live. The Flat Stanleys were mailed back to us, and we used a large map to show where Flat Stanley had traveled and hung up any pictures we received. We received pictures from all over the country and learned about the weather, food, and culture of where Stanley traveled. 

4) I was reading an article in the Washington Post about play in school which lead me to the LiiNK Project. The LiiNK project is “Lets Inspire Innovation “N Kids.” The mission for the LiiNK project is to “develop the whole child through the increased recess and character development.”

http://liinkproject.tcu.edu/

5) The LiiNK Project led me to another article on Romper.com about play and it’s importance. This article led me to a video about play in the US vs. European countries. What was shocking to me was according to a Michigan study is that children spend about 7 minutes a day outside. Also, 40% of schools have eliminated or reduced recess times. I shared the video on Twitter. I attached a copy of the link for the Romper article. 

https://www.romper.com/p/do-kids-in-the-us-need-more-recess-yes-they-desperately-do-6934

F5F

1) One thing that I noticed in the Bud Hunt article is that transparency was used. Hunt mentions posting, and blogging to keep up with what is going on the classroom. One thing that we do in our school, and I’m sure in most schools, we update our classroom websites. Each teacher has a website to communicate with parents. Having an updated website helps create that transparency and communication that Hunt is talking about. I do my best to update my website each week. The parents are able to know what we are doing in the classroom, and what can be done at home to keep up with the skills we are learning. I do not have children of my own but through my years of teaching I have learned that children do not talk about what they learned in school. Often they talk about recess or lunch. I have post videos to share student work to help spark a conversation at home. I think having an updated website is an easy way to communicate with parents.

https://sites.google.com/a/sdst.org/mr-berger/

2) To continue with the theme of communication and transparency, I think that Twitter or Instagram would be a great way to build communication. I have not been able to use Twitter in my classroom but just this week I reached out to a tech coach on Twitter because I noticed he was constantly sharing student work. An issue with sharing student work and having students on Twitter is having the students faces. There was an easy solution and all I had to do was reach out to this coach for the solution. I am hoping to discuss using Twitter in my classroom after spring break. There is an app called Photo Blur that can be used to blur out the students faces or names. I can still share photos of what we are doing in class each day with my parents and still protect my students. 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/touch-blur/id545958271?mt=8

3) Hunt also mentions that open networking does not require technology or the Internet. We can make connections with other classrooms in our buildings, districts, or other schools without technology. I remember someone mentioning pen pals. That would be a great way to network without technology. It reminds me of a unit we did when I taught fifth grade. Many of us have probably heard of Flat Stanley. A popular story of a young boy that is flattened when he goes to bed. Each student in my class received two Flat Stanleys. One Flat Stanley they decorated to represent themselves and sent a letter to a friend or family member. The other Flat Stanley was for the friend or family member to decorate and represent them and where they live. The Flat Stanleys were mailed back to us, and we used a large map to show where Flat Stanley had traveled and hung up any pictures we received. We received pictures from all over the country and learned about the weather, food, and culture of where Stanley traveled. 

4) I was reading an article in the Washington Post about play in school which lead me to the LiiNK Project. The LiiNK project is “Lets Inspire Innovation “N Kids.” The mission for the LiiNK project is to “develop the whole child through the increased recess and character development.”

http://liinkproject.tcu.edu/

5) The LiiNK Project led me to another article on Romper.com about play and it’s importance. This article led me to a video about play in the US vs. European countries. What was shocking to me was according to a Michigan study is that children spend about 7 minutes a day outside. Also, 40% of schools have eliminated or reduced recess times. I shared the video on Twitter. I attached a copy of the link for the Romper article. 

https://www.romper.com/p/do-kids-in-the-us-need-more-recess-yes-they-desperately-do-6934

Open Network

One small move that I would like to make this year, or maybe next year is to connect with teachers across the country, and maybe even outside of the country. 

Every year our kindergarten students go on a “trip around the world” to learn about different countries, and even states in the US. We use Google Maps, and Earth, images from online, and books from the library to learn about these “faraway” places. I like to use Google Earth to show them where these places are in relationship to us, and they really like going down to the street level to see these places. 

I am not a world geography expert by any means but I do my very best to educate my students about these places. I have recently used Google Hangout in my classroom to connect with classrooms in the building. We have used Hangout to share a readers theater, and have a spelling bee. I want to use Hangout or some other form of communication to connect with teachers across the country or even outside of the country. 

I attended a workshop last year about using social media to connect with other educators and using it in our classrooms. During this workshop we received a list of teachers that Skype. 

I was recently talking to the technology coach in the building and she informed me that there is a whole list of teachers to communicate with. So no super powers are needed. All I need to do is “just do it!” 

Open Network

One small move that I would like to make this year, or maybe next year is to connect with teachers across the country, and maybe even outside of the country. 

Every year our kindergarten students go on a “trip around the world” to learn about different countries, and even states in the US. We use Google Maps, and Earth, images from online, and books from the library to learn about these “faraway” places. I like to use Google Earth to show them where these places are in relationship to us, and they really like going down to the street level to see these places. 

I am not a world geography expert by any means but I do my very best to educate my students about these places. I have recently used Google Hangout in my classroom to connect with classrooms in the building. We have used Hangout to share a readers theater, and have a spelling bee. I want to use Hangout or some other form of communication to connect with teachers across the country or even outside of the country. 

I attended a workshop last year about using social media to connect with other educators and using it in our classrooms. During this workshop we received a list of teachers that Skype. 

I was recently talking to the technology coach in the building and she informed me that there is a whole list of teachers to communicate with. So no super powers are needed. All I need to do is “just do it!” 

Find5Friday

Find 5 Friday

1. I had mentioned many times that I teach kindergarten and one thing that I have noticed in just the few years that I have been teaching is the drastic shift towards literacy. In my school children are constantly assessed, reassessed, and pulled from classrooms to receive further instruction. During our center times the children are not playing like I did when I was in kindergarten. The time for blocks and playdough is gone. I found this article from the Childhood Alliance about the importance of play in kindergarten. It is a very long article but I found it interesting, and shared it with my colleagues. Play is being removed from the classrooms because there is “not enough time” and often seen as useless. Play is very important at this level to help build social skills, make friends, and improve fine motor skills.

http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/kindergarten_report.pdf

2. I found another article on Scholastic about play in kindergarten. What I found interesting in this article is that this push is coming from No Child Left Behind. Even at the kindergarten level the children are effected. We are pushed to get the students reading at such an early age because in third grade they will be taking the all-important, PSSA’s and Keystones. We have all of these assessments that measure the students’ progress in reading and math, but what about the social skills, problem solving skills, and creativity? What is happening to these skills?

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/what-happened-kindergarten

3. We are all aware of the new Common Core Standards and the pressures it puts on educators. As I had mentioned before, the Common Core Standards have greatly influenced, and increased the pressure on students. The Common Core has heavily influenced the content standards, but these standards don’t necessarily help the other developmental skills needed at this age. What I enjoyed in this article was when it they stated that it is up to administration and how they interpret the standards, will influence the school environment.

http://www.edcentral.org/kinder-commoncore/

4. Part of the challenge as a teacher now, especially in kindergarten, is combining learning with play. The standards are the standards and it doesn’t look like they are changing any time soon (hopefully). We need to make sure we are teaching the material, so our challenge is teaching but making it fun. Allowing for movement and other ways to improve the children’s fine motor skills. I found this blog with interesting ways to help with letter identification, letter writing, letter sounds, syllables, and so on.

http://larremoreteachertips.blogspot.com/

5. Great kindergarten blog I found about incorporating play into the classroom. I love the pictures that are provided as well. The teacher is taking the curriculum and doing a great job incorporating play. Awesome stuff!

http://mairtownkindy.blogspot.com/

Find5Friday

Find 5 Friday

1. I had mentioned many times that I teach kindergarten and one thing that I have noticed in just the few years that I have been teaching is the drastic shift towards literacy. In my school children are constantly assessed, reassessed, and pulled from classrooms to receive further instruction. During our center times the children are not playing like I did when I was in kindergarten. The time for blocks and playdough is gone. I found this article from the Childhood Alliance about the importance of play in kindergarten. It is a very long article but I found it interesting, and shared it with my colleagues. Play is being removed from the classrooms because there is “not enough time” and often seen as useless. Play is very important at this level to help build social skills, make friends, and improve fine motor skills.

http://www.allianceforchildhood.org/sites/allianceforchildhood.org/files/file/kindergarten_report.pdf

2. I found another article on Scholastic about play in kindergarten. What I found interesting in this article is that this push is coming from No Child Left Behind. Even at the kindergarten level the children are effected. We are pushed to get the students reading at such an early age because in third grade they will be taking the all-important, PSSA’s and Keystones. We have all of these assessments that measure the students’ progress in reading and math, but what about the social skills, problem solving skills, and creativity? What is happening to these skills?

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/what-happened-kindergarten

3. We are all aware of the new Common Core Standards and the pressures it puts on educators. As I had mentioned before, the Common Core Standards have greatly influenced, and increased the pressure on students. The Common Core has heavily influenced the content standards, but these standards don’t necessarily help the other developmental skills needed at this age. What I enjoyed in this article was when it they stated that it is up to administration and how they interpret the standards, will influence the school environment.

http://www.edcentral.org/kinder-commoncore/

4. Part of the challenge as a teacher now, especially in kindergarten, is combining learning with play. The standards are the standards and it doesn’t look like they are changing any time soon (hopefully). We need to make sure we are teaching the material, so our challenge is teaching but making it fun. Allowing for movement and other ways to improve the children’s fine motor skills. I found this blog with interesting ways to help with letter identification, letter writing, letter sounds, syllables, and so on.

http://larremoreteachertips.blogspot.com/

5. Great kindergarten blog I found about incorporating play into the classroom. I love the pictures that are provided as well. The teacher is taking the curriculum and doing a great job incorporating play. Awesome stuff!

http://mairtownkindy.blogspot.com/

F5Fweek7

Week 7
F5F

1) One place that I like to go I mentioned last week is Teachers Pay Teachers. It is a great website with a lot of activities, crafts, and worksheets that other teachers have created. Every once in a while you can find a free file, but most of them you do have to pay for. I like to save money any way I can and a lot of these activities and worksheets you can create your own. It does take a little more time than clicking download, but in many cases you can create a template and then make changes to create many files. I like to go to the site to find inspiration for crafts or worksheets to use in my classroom. I often use Microsoft Word or Publisher to make my own version of what I find on the site. This week I created some CVC (consonant vowel consonant) worksheets since we have been working on segmenting and blending sounds.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/

2) Another website I like to use is Smart Exchange. It is a great website for activities involving the smartboard. In the winter I found a Gingerbread Man activity to go along with the book we were reading in class. I was able to take this activity and make different variations for all of the different gingerbread stories. Each of the activities helped review setting, characters, problem, and solution. At the end of the unit we were able to review all of the stories using the smartboard and do a huge compare contrast with all of the different gingerbread stories.
http://exchange.smarttech.com/#tab=0

3) One place I get my inspiration is when I am at school. There are so many incredible teachers in the school with all of their different ideas and activities. I can think of a time, about 4 years ago, I was speaking with a teacher about the Olympics. We were throwing around the idea of having our own Olympic games in our classrooms. Another teacher overheard us and thought it was a great idea and joined in. This small conversation ended up being a full school activity in which each classroom represented a country, and we held our own opening ceremonies and games. The children learned about the countries they represented, their cultures, food, etc. There are so many possibilities when we talk to our peers and be observant when we walk the halls. There can be something hanging on the wall, or maybe a teacher giving a lesson that gives you an idea. I think we can be overwhelmed or on a “mission” when we walk the halls and don’t take a moment to observe or talk to those we pass. We say “hi, how are you” and there’s no conversation.

4) I do not personally have a Pinterest account but I know that all of my peers do and I can get inspiration from them! Last year I had an aid in my classroom with a Pinterest account and she would help me out by using her account. We would have a brief discussion of what we were doing each week, and could find endless activities/crafts that related to our topics. Each year we do our trip around the world and Pinterest was a huge help with this. We were able to find easy crafts for the kids to complete for each country. They also have great ideas for each holiday. I still use many of the ideas from last year that I received, with the help of my aid, from Pinterest.
https://www.pinterest.com/

5) Another site that I have used is actually Youtube for creating. I learned about Aurasma, which I have talked about before, through a class in Arcadia. We had to find a new tool in technology and find a way to use it in the classroom. I downloaded the Aurasma app but I didn’t know what to do. I went to Youtube and found videos about how create “Auras” and ideas for using it in the classroom. This year I have used Aurasma to create scavenger hunts. I was able to find pictures of Minions and then linked those images to sight words that the students have to learn. I hung the images around the school and the children used iPads to scan the images. When they scanned the image of a Minion a sight word would appear. I have also used Aurasma this week for our mammal project. Each student selected a mammal to research and wrote three facts about their mammal. We then used Chatter Pix to create a video. Chatter Pix allows you to take an image, and make it appear like it is talking. The students draw a line on the mammal of where the mouth is, then they record their voice. Each student recorded three facts about their mammal, and then using Chatter Pix it appeared like the animal was talking. I hung up there images in the hallway and using Aurasma we brought the images to life. The children can scan the image of animal they want to learn about, and the animal tells them three facts.
https://www.youtube.com

F5Fweek7

Week 7
F5F

1) One place that I like to go I mentioned last week is Teachers Pay Teachers. It is a great website with a lot of activities, crafts, and worksheets that other teachers have created. Every once in a while you can find a free file, but most of them you do have to pay for. I like to save money any way I can and a lot of these activities and worksheets you can create your own. It does take a little more time than clicking download, but in many cases you can create a template and then make changes to create many files. I like to go to the site to find inspiration for crafts or worksheets to use in my classroom. I often use Microsoft Word or Publisher to make my own version of what I find on the site. This week I created some CVC (consonant vowel consonant) worksheets since we have been working on segmenting and blending sounds.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/

2) Another website I like to use is Smart Exchange. It is a great website for activities involving the smartboard. In the winter I found a Gingerbread Man activity to go along with the book we were reading in class. I was able to take this activity and make different variations for all of the different gingerbread stories. Each of the activities helped review setting, characters, problem, and solution. At the end of the unit we were able to review all of the stories using the smartboard and do a huge compare contrast with all of the different gingerbread stories.
http://exchange.smarttech.com/#tab=0

3) One place I get my inspiration is when I am at school. There are so many incredible teachers in the school with all of their different ideas and activities. I can think of a time, about 4 years ago, I was speaking with a teacher about the Olympics. We were throwing around the idea of having our own Olympic games in our classrooms. Another teacher overheard us and thought it was a great idea and joined in. This small conversation ended up being a full school activity in which each classroom represented a country, and we held our own opening ceremonies and games. The children learned about the countries they represented, their cultures, food, etc. There are so many possibilities when we talk to our peers and be observant when we walk the halls. There can be something hanging on the wall, or maybe a teacher giving a lesson that gives you an idea. I think we can be overwhelmed or on a “mission” when we walk the halls and don’t take a moment to observe or talk to those we pass. We say “hi, how are you” and there’s no conversation.

4) I do not personally have a Pinterest account but I know that all of my peers do and I can get inspiration from them! Last year I had an aid in my classroom with a Pinterest account and she would help me out by using her account. We would have a brief discussion of what we were doing each week, and could find endless activities/crafts that related to our topics. Each year we do our trip around the world and Pinterest was a huge help with this. We were able to find easy crafts for the kids to complete for each country. They also have great ideas for each holiday. I still use many of the ideas from last year that I received, with the help of my aid, from Pinterest.
https://www.pinterest.com/

5) Another site that I have used is actually Youtube for creating. I learned about Aurasma, which I have talked about before, through a class in Arcadia. We had to find a new tool in technology and find a way to use it in the classroom. I downloaded the Aurasma app but I didn’t know what to do. I went to Youtube and found videos about how create “Auras” and ideas for using it in the classroom. This year I have used Aurasma to create scavenger hunts. I was able to find pictures of Minions and then linked those images to sight words that the students have to learn. I hung the images around the school and the children used iPads to scan the images. When they scanned the image of a Minion a sight word would appear. I have also used Aurasma this week for our mammal project. Each student selected a mammal to research and wrote three facts about their mammal. We then used Chatter Pix to create a video. Chatter Pix allows you to take an image, and make it appear like it is talking. The students draw a line on the mammal of where the mouth is, then they record their voice. Each student recorded three facts about their mammal, and then using Chatter Pix it appeared like the animal was talking. I hung up there images in the hallway and using Aurasma we brought the images to life. The children can scan the image of animal they want to learn about, and the animal tells them three facts.
https://www.youtube.com