Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fun in K/1 turned 2!

My little blog, Fun in K/1, turned 2 already!  It happened on March 19th and I was so busy, I totally forgot.  I was hoping to do something big, and it just seemed to sneak up on me.  I will have to figure out another reason to celebrate soon.

I am lucky enough to be enjoying Spring Break this week.  The weather is a little cooler than I like; it is going to be in the 40's in the morning and not get above 70!  (Now I realize my friends up North will have no sympathy for me.)  We are also expecting rain.  I guess that is Mother Nature telling me to get things done around the house!  I did manage to get in one good beach day so far.  I will have to say my Spring Break has been full of Scandal!  I may have been the only person on the planet who hasn't watched it.  Now thanks to Netflix, I am enjoying binge watching it!  It is amazing and lives up to all of the hype I have heard.

When we return to school, we will  only have 9 weeks left.  I am sure some days it will seem like the longest weeks ever and other days it won't be enough time to finish everything.  Either way, 9 weeks and so much to do!

We also have those stressful standardized test.  I try everything I can to avoid stressing the students out.  I want them to know they are ready for the test.  I like to give them encouragement notes each day.  I also make these notes for my daughters classes.

I thought I would share these sweet notes with everyone in hopes of reducing stress for even more kiddos.  Click here to download them from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

One of Those Days!

Today was one of those days!  One of those amazing days!!!!!  My day was jam packed all day, but I accomplished so much and the children learned so much.  It was one of those "this is why I teach" days.

My day started off with a before school meeting of my Brick Builders (Lego Club).  We had about 60 kids in attendance and we started learning about robotics!  I quickly introduced them to the Lego robotics and simple machine kits.  They broke up into small 4 people groups and learned through exploration.  This was the first time we have done a project with the club that involved them following building directions.  It was something totally new, and they had no problem figuring it out.  In fact, the biggest problem we faced was learning to work together in cooperative groups.  This is such an important skill, and so hard for kids today to learn. 

We also had a crew filming the students during the learning process and interviewing the students.  I loved hearing what the students had to say about their experiences this year at Brick Builders.  Then I got to tell the students we were going on a field trip to Legoland!!!!  The cheers and smiles on their faces made it all worth every early morning.

My amazing day continued with my class.  The students enjoyed their Super 6 learning centers today.  They were "teched out" and we had a group from Apple and neighboring counties visit to see what the students were doing.  (I really wish I would have taken pics!)  Students were exploring the sky with the "Sky Walker" app.  We were programming our classes new ROMO robot.  On the iPads students were practicing at their differentiated levels with the awesome Front Row FREE math app.  Just a great day.  Every student was fully engaged and challenged. 

On March 1st I challenged my students to earn 100 reading counts points together as a class by March 21st.  I told them if they did we would have a "Frozen" Pizza party.  Well they reached this goal last week, so I added dessert if they could earn 50 more points.  This afternoon we exceeded this goal too!  I just love seeing Firsties turn in to avid readers right before my eyes.

At the end of the day I worked with my enrichment discovery learning group and we finished our life cycle claymation projects.  Just a great day all in all! 

I know tomorrow is going to be even better!  It is the day before Spring Break!!!  WooHoo!!!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Our Lego Houses on Parade!

This year I started a Brick Builders school at our school.  If is open to all students K-6 and meets before school twice a month.  We currently have 70+ members. I was fortunate enough to receive a local grant to purchase massive amounts of Lego bricks.  The club is free of charge to the students, teachers volunteer to supervise.  Each meeting we give the students a challenge and they would together to complete the projects.  This year we have built holiday scenes, vehicles, animals, Seuss creations and houses.

We teamed up with our local Home Builders Association.  Our students worked hard planning, designing and building unique and creative models with Lego bricks.  The Flagler County Home Builders Association was excited to volunteer and team up with the BTES Brick Builders Club.  Local contractors met with the students to discuss the process of planning and building a house.  Students then formed construction companies and started planning.  Before construction could start, plans and a building permit had to be completed and approved.  Over a period of 6 weeks, very original and creative model homes were completed.  Area contractors even joined in the fun snapping bricks together.  In addition to the model homes built at the BTES Brick Builder meetings, students also had the opportunity to enter models they built at home.  The models were judged by members of the HBA and winners selected in a multitude of categories.  All of the student homes are also on display in the Showcase Home of our Flagler County Parade of Homes.

Check out the amazing house our students built!

S.T.E.M. is a huge push in education. Many times we tend to focus on the Science, Technology and Mathematics; leaving out the engineering.  The Brick Builders Club is helping students engineer a better tomorrow one brick at a time! 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My 1~2 Table

I am not a huge fan of standardized and formal testing (shocking, I know)!  I do love to use quick, informal assessment to see how the class is doing.  I always ask a quick question on the way out or in the class to check for understanding.  I am also working with my students to self-assess their understanding.  I have these Student Self Assessment Posters posted in my room.  (Click here to download your set free.)  During and after a lesson I will ask students to show me a 1-2-3-4 based on their understanding.   We also use the 1-2-3-4 as our grade marks on the report cards instead of A,B,C,D,F.

When I first introduced the 1-2-3-4 self assessment in my class everyone was always assessing themselves as a "4".  You know how kids are, they always want to be just like everyone else.  They are constantly looking around to see what their friends are holding up.  To help avoid this a little, I have students get "ready" to show me their response.  We rub our hands together while I say "ready, ready, ready".  Then when I say "show me!" everyone has to quickly put up their answer.  

I explain "Novice" and "Developing" to students as "I still need help."  I use the learning to ride a two-wheel bike analogy with them.  This works great since many firsties can relate very well to this.  I say a 1/Novice is like "I can ride a bike, but I still need my training wheels."  So then the 2/Developing student is someone who just got their training wheels taking off.  "You are starting to get it, but you still want Mom or Dad to hold on to your seat and not let go."  3/Proficient is "I can do it but might need help getting started, but it it OK if Mom or Dad lets go.  I may still be a little shaky, but I am good most of time."  4/Exceeds are those expert riders who really understand.  They can start, go, turn and stop all by themselves.  I then tell them every skill and student is different but has the same learning process.  Some of us learned to ride a two-wheel bike in a day, others may have taken weeks.  Some of us learned at 4 others are still working on it. 

I also tell them we all start at "1" with any new skill.  I tell them about me trying to learn to surf.  I am very good at riding a bike and swimming.  I exceed at it and was able to teach my daughters how to do both and now they exceed at it.  Well my daughters and I tried to learn to surf together.  We all started together as a novice.  My girls quickly progressed to developing and proficient, meanwhile I am still a novice.  (Just getting on the board is much harder than it looks.)  As my girls now exceed at surfing, I am still developing and they help me.  This story really helps them understand that we all exceed at different things and learn different skills at different rates and it is OK.  It is OK to admit you are not a 3 or 4 at a skill.  This doesn't mean you are not a 3 or 4 at anything!

OK now to my 1~2 table….So what exactly is my 1-2 table??  That is where the students in my class who assess themselves as a novice or developing an understanding of a particular skill will joint me for additional help sometimes.  Basically my small group table.  One of my students came up with the name and we all loved it!  So if you are a 1-2, come on over and let's see what we can do!
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