Sunday, August 31, 2014

TASTE OF MY LOW COUNTRY

The “low country” is a geographic and cultural term for where I live along the coast of South Carolina. I think it’s the best place in the world to live, but I also think we have some great cuisine. Forget about being a teacher today and do something that you enjoy like cooking or eating! 

Frogmore Stew
(aka Low Country Boil)
This is a great dish for company because you can have everything prepared ahead of time and then just throw it in the pot. Spread it out on a platter, put it in the middle of the table, and let your guests help themselves. The locals like to put newspaper in the middle of a picnic table and serve it that way.
¼ cup Old Bay seasoning
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 pounds small red potatoes
2 pounds kielbasa sausage cut into 2” slices
6 ears of fresh corn, halved
4 pounds unpeeled, large fresh shrimp
cocktail sauce

Fill a large cooker ½ full with water. Add Old Bay seasoning, onion, and pepper and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and boil for 5 minutes; add sausage and cook another 5 minutes; add corn and boil 10 more minutes.
Add shrimp and cook 3 to 5 minutes or until shrimp turns pink.
Remove with a slotted spoon or drain in a colander. Serve with cocktail sauce. 


                            
*You can vary the amount of any of the ingredients. If you’re vegetarian just omit the sausage. It’s ALL good!

Low Country Pimento Cheese
It’s funny that you either LOVE pimento cheese or you don’t care for it. I happen to be in the LOVE category!

2 cups shredded extra sharp Cheddar cheese
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup mayonnaise
¼ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 small jar diced pimento, drained

You can put everything in a bowl and use an electric mixer, or just mix it by hand like I
do. 

                            
South's Best Chocolate Chip Cookie
2 sticks butter, softened
½ cup oil
1 ½ cups white sugar
1 ¾ cups brown sugar
1 TB. vanilla
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
4 cups flour
12 oz. chocolate chips
(I added an extra 6 oz.)

Bake at 350 for about 12 minutes. Watch - undercooked is better because they are gooey and chewy!

Bon Appetite!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

ARE YOU READY FOR SOME FOOTBALL?

You deserve a break this weekend because something exciting is happening!  It's the beginning of college football season!!!  Whether you like the game or not, it's the perfect springboard for engaging children in some of these learning activities.  This is a repeat from last year (Remember how important repetition is!), but as I read over these ideas it was clear how they connected with brain research and standards.  So, choose your favorite high school, college, or NFL team and get ready to kick off a great fall!

College Goals – It’s never too early to plant seeds of attending college in your students.  Give them a dream and a goal!  One school I visited displayed pennants of the schools where the teachers graduated from in the front hall.  Have the children brainstorm all the colleges and universities in your area.  Talk about why it is important to go to college.  Encourage your students to think about where they would like to go to college.  Give them paper shaped like pennants to decorate with their college dream.
 
Math – Let children do surveys of favorite college teams.
Graph favorite teams.
Predict who will win the game.  Who was right?  Who was wrong?
Predict what the score will be.  Who was closest?
Let children choose a favorite player and write their number on a jersey.  How many math facts can they think of to equal that number?

Social Studies – Use a map of the United States and locate where games will be played.

Internet Search – Look up team mascots and colors.  Listen to college fight songs.  Do exercises to fight songs.

Art – Cut pictures of players out of the newspaper or sports magazines.  Challenge children to write creative stories about favorite players.  They could also write letters to favorite players.

Guest Readers – Invite a local high school football team and cheerleading squad to visit your school to read books.  There’s nothing more motivating to a young child than to see someone in a uniform model how “cool” it is to read!

Cheers
Teacher says:  How do you feel?
Students bend over like they are hiking a ball and in a gruff voice say: We feel good.  Huh! 
Awesome
You're A - W - E       S - O - M - E  (Clap on letters.)
Awesome!  Awesome!
Totally!!!  (Hands on hips with an attitude.)
video

Team Mascots
This game can be adapted to any school mascot, action hero, or seasonal character.  Since I graduated from the University of Georgia, UGA was my first choice.  This is a quick, simple game that can be played with any age level or any skill that needs to be reinforced.  It’s the perfect game if you’ve got a few minutes before lunch or a few minutes at the end of the day.
WHY?         shapes, colors, letters, words, numerals, math facts, etc.
WHAT?       flash cards, picture of a favorite school mascot
HOW?         Have children sit in a circle and encourage them to identify the
information on the flash cards as you place them on the floor.  Tell the children to turn around and hide their eyes.  Take “UGA” and slip it under one of the flash cards.  The children turn back around and raise their hand if they think they know where UGA is hiding.  One at a time, have children call out a word, letter, shape, etc., and then look under that card.  The game continues until a child finds UGA.  That child may then be “it” and hide the mascot.
*Use a pocket chart to play this game.  Arrange the flash cards in the pocket chart and then hide the mascot under one of the cards as the children hide their eyes.
 
More?              Make a concentration game using various college mascots.
Make a matching game where children match mascots to college names.
What characteristics do you need to dress up and be a school mascot?
Have children write which mascot they would like to be and why.

Friday, August 29, 2014

LEARNING IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT!

Get rid of wiggles and learn at the same time with these kinesthetic activities. 

Sports Spelling
Act out different sports as you spell words.

Football – Pretend to hike the ball as you say letters. Throw a touchdown pass as you say the word.

Basketball – Bounce the pretend ball on letters and throw a basket as you say the word.

Soccer – Kick slightly on the letters and then score a goal as you say the word.

Baseball – Swing on the letters and hit a homerun and turn around on the word.

Hint! Let children suggest different sports and movements.

Cheering Words
Children stand and step from side as they clap and cheer words:
Give me a B. B! I’ve got a B, you’ve got a B.
Give me an E. E! I’ve got an E, you’ve got an E.
Give me a D. D! I’ve got a D, you’ve got a D.
What’s it spell? BED! Say it again. BED!
One more time. BED!
                                      
Exercise
Spell out words or count as you do toe touches, jumping jacks, march, box, and make other motions.

Karate Writing - For letters that start at the top dotted line, punch up high. For letters that start at the middle dotted line, punch out in front. For letters with a tail that go below the line, give a little kick. When finished, fold hands together, bow, and say, “the alphabet.”
            A – punch from waist
            B – punch up in the air
            C – punch from waist
            D – punch up in the air
            E – punch from the waist
            F – punch up in the air
            G – give a little kick…etc.

*Use karate writing for spelling names, word wall words, vocabulary, etc.
*Do “ballerina spelling” by placing hands over the head for tall letters, in front, or down low. Turn in a circle as you say the completed word.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

BRAIN BREAK FOR BRAIN RESEARCH


Do you think I’m making all this stuff up?  The truth is you know what works for children.  They tell you if they are making the connections in their brains by their behavior – eyes light up, faces are animated, bodies are attentive.  I had taught for decades before I was introduced to “brain research” about 15 years ago.  I remember reading everything I could get my hands on and thinking, “I know that!  Yep!  I know that!”  If you are a teacher you intuitively know what works!

I thought it might be interesting to do a brain break on two of my favorite “brainy” books for you today.  It validates and reaffirms the necessity of games, singing, movement, and best practices.

Eric Jensen TEACHING WITH THE BRAIN IN MIND (ASCD, 2005)
Here are some of Jensen’s rules for strengthening memory:
            Foster attention
            Ask questions
            Use novelty
            Use movement
            Group and regroup
            Use rhyme and songs
            Use repetition
            Rehearse, review
            Use error correction with feedback

John Medina BRAIN RULES (Pear Press, 2008)
Take a look at some of Medina’s principles:
            Exercise – Exercise boosts brain power
            Wiring – Every brain is wired differently
            Attention – We don’t pay attention to boring things
            Short-term memory –Repeat to remember.
            Long-term memory – Remember to repeat.
            Sensory integration – Stimulate more of the senses

See, you already knew those things, didn’t you.  We’re on the same page when it comes to things that work in the classroom.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

STUDY BUDDIES


I was doing some web research and I came across this tip for learning a new skill:
            1st   Repeat it out loud.
            2nd  Repeat it as you visualize using the skill.
            3rd  Repeat it with a partner.

It’s a simple formula that could be adapted to many things that our students are expected to master.  Having students say things out loud or visualizing them in their brain is something I know you all do.  Isn’t peer teaching (repeating with a partner) something that you might do a little more often?
Each week pair children up to be “study buddies” for the week.  (This will eliminate the confusion of finding a partner.)  If they need help with an assignment, they can go to their study buddy.  They can also do the activities below.

Partner Teach – One student pretends they are the teacher and demonstrates or explains something to a friend.  Then they switch places.

Partner Coach – One student demonstrates a skill while the other student “coaches” (corrects, makes suggestions).  Switch places.

Partner Retell – After listening to a story children get a partner and retell the story.  After a lesson they can explain two new things they learned.

Partner Recall – Before children go home at the end of the day have them recall something they learned and something they did that made them feel proud.

Back Writing – Study buddies take turns making letters, shapes, numerals, spelling words, etc. on their partner’s back.  After the partner guesses correctly they can change places.
*Hint!  Pass out pictures of ears and mouths.  The student holding the ear listens while the student with the mouth speaks.  Switch cards.
Buddy Sticks - You can also put like stickers or matching letters or numerals on the ends of craft sticks.  Child match sticks to find their partner.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

MULTI MULTI-SENSORY IDEAS


Children have different learning strengths, so these ideas might be especially beneficial to your kinesthetic learners.

Rainbow Writing
Write letters, numbers, shapes, words on a sheet of paper.  Children trace over the figure many different times using different colors of crayons or markers.  Encourage them to repeat what the figure is as they trace over it.
Body Writing
Let children make shapes, letters, words, etc. in the air with different body parts.  They could use their invisible finger, elbow, foot, or write on a friend’s back.  Tummy writing where they lay on the floor and then extend an index finger and write is another powerful technique.

Palm Pilot
Children hold up one palm and then use the index finger from the other hand to write on it.  Model for the children as you explain:
            Show me your palm pilot.  Let’s write letter, number, shape, word on it.
            Take it to your brain.  (Pretend to run fingers up your arm to your head.)
            Let’s write it again.  (Write on palm.)
            Take it to your brain.  (Run fingers to brain.)
            Better write it one more time just to make sure we remember it!
            (Write and then take it to the brain once again.)

Sign Language
What could be more sensory and engaging than sign language!  Use sign language to introduce letters or teach signs for words. 
aslpro.com is an excellent free website with manual signs for the letters as well as videos that demonstrate words and phrases.

Good Teaching Is Good Teaching
I will close today with something I learned over 40 years ago in a book called “Teacher” by Sylvia Ashton Warner.  One of her successful strategies was to write a word with a crayon.  She then asked the child to trace over the word as they said it.  That way the child could “see” the word and “feel” the word. 
Talk about multi-sensory!  How many of you have taken the ice bucket challenge?
My husband took the bucket and I wrote the check!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION!


Whatever the age or activity, repetition is key to learning a new skill. You have to practice until you learn what works and what doesn’t work. Most research suggests you must repeat something 7 times and possibly as many as 12-15 or more times. With children you often have to use encouragement to motivate them to want to practice. 

Purposeful Practice for Automaticity

Now, that’s a phrase that will impress others! Basically, it means when teaching children a new skill they have to practice it until it becomes automatic. Some students with good visual memory skills can remember a sight word after one time. Some students with good auditory skills can remember the tune to a song after singing it one time. Some students with strong motor skills can remember dance steps after doing them one time. Students learn in three main ways: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. This highlights the importance of providing different learning experiences to meet the needs of the different learners in your classroom.

That’s Boring!
Worksheets and repetitive drill can be boring to children, so take a look at these ideas. They can be adapted from preschool to primary grades by changing the content from colors and shapes to letters and words and math facts.

*The more senses you activate, the more likely the message will get to the brain, and that’s why you’ll find at least two senses (eyes, ears, or motor) in each one. These ideas are simple, quick, and FREE!

Hands Up
Each week cut out 2 hands and write skills you want your students to practice on the hands. Every time they go in and out the door they “high five” the hands and repeat the information. For older students use five hands. The teacher stands at the door and calls out a word or math fact and the students touch the appropriate hand. 

                                       
Visor
Write a letter, word, shape, math fact, etc. on an index card each day and tape it to a visor. One student is the “super” visor of the day. The supervisor stands at the door and does not let friends go out until they say the information on the visor.

Name Badge
Again, write letters, words, numbers, etc. on paper cut to fit in a name badge. Children wear the name badges and walk around the room and greet friends referring to them as the information on the badge. For example: “Hello T.” “Hello M.”

Bracelet
Cut construction paper 1 ½” x 7”. Write skills on the paper and then tape to children’s wrists like a bracelet. During the day frequently call attention to the bracelet by saying, “Show me___.” “Shout out what’s on your bracelet?” “Tell your parents 3 times tonight what is on your bracelet.”


Sunday, August 24, 2014

INTENTIONAL LEARNING


Thank you for giving me something to do! If I didn’t write this blog and you didn’t read it, I might have to take up golf or bridge! This is a whole lot more fun, so I am grateful to you for keeping me an intentional learner!!! I thought I’d do a few posts on intentional teaching, but I’ve been sitting in front of the computer for two weeks really putting my brain cells to the test. (It just might be my next book, but it’s yours for FREE!)

Have you ever watched the Food Network show “Chopped”? They give the chefs the ingredients and they have to figure out what to do with them to make something that tastes delicious. Isn’t your job as an educator similar? They give you the ingredients and you have to figure out what to do with them so they “taste” good to children.

INTENTIONAL LEARNING is one of the current buzz words in education. There is actually a website dedicated to intentional learning (intentionallearning.org). Intentional learning means you act purposefully with a goal in mind. Intentional teachers set up activities and the environment so the students can accomplish those goals. This is nothing new – we’ve always made games, songs, and centers to help children master skills.

In early childhood we have traditionally encouraged more incidental learning where children can explore and discover on their own. Intentional learning just seems to be a little more focused. It’s not an either–or, but a both–and. There’s a place for intentional learning (teacher-directed) as well as incidental learning (child-directed) in the classroom and in life.

Here’s a summary of what I’ve learned on my web research. (It’s basically what I learned in Curriculum 101 forty-five years ago.)
Set your goals.
Choose content and activities to accomplish those goals.
Motivate and engage with your students.
Evaluate student performance and then set new goals and the cycle starts all over again.

Explicit instruction is a key component of intentional teaching. Explicit instruction is structured, systematic, and direct.
1st Provide students with the reason to learn the new skill.
2nd Introduce skills in small steps using examples and modeling.
3rd Use a variety of teaching strategies.
4th Give students guided practice with feedback.


I was visiting with some teachers recently and we were discussing the fact that in some districts focus goals must be displayed in learning centers. One teacher remarked, “If you ask a child who is playing in blocks what they are doing they will say, ‘I’m playing in blocks.’” They might be sorting blocks, measuring with blocks, building a house for the Three Bears, cooperating with a small group - but to them it’s playing in blocks.

Intentional instruction is important, but the “hidden curriculum” (social, emotional, and physical) is also critical! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:


                              Balance, balance, balance!

Over the next few weeks I will attempt to put theory into practice with games and activities to make intentional learning more meaningful and FUN. Let’s see what I can find in my box of ingredients!!  I hope you're hungry!

Here are a few websites if you want to learn more:
intentionallearning.org
naeyc.org
readtennessee.org

Saturday, August 23, 2014

SUB TO THE RESCUE!

Oh, no! You’re sick but you HAVE to go to school because you don’t have plans for a substitute teacher! It happens to every teacher sooner or later, so be prepared with this idea.

Sub Tub – Have a special tub where you can place materials for a substitute teacher. Include the class roll, daily schedule, emergency procedures, special medical information, etc. Keep extra (fun) worksheets, as well as some games and favorite books in the tub.

Sheriff – Put a badge in the tub so the substitute teacher can choose one child to be the sheriff for the day. Whenever there is a dispute or question about what to do, the sheriff can come to the rescue!
                                   
Sub CD - Burn a CD for the substitute teacher with a good morning song, calendar song, clean-up song, favorite wiggle songs, and a good-bye song.
The sub can punch “play” and sing through the day!

Friday, August 22, 2014

MISSION ORGANIZATION!


If organizing your classroom is like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE, maybe you’ll find a tip or trick that will work for you today.

Planning Tubs
Label 5 tubs Monday, Tuesday…. Put lesson plans, books you will read, worksheets, games, and props you will use each day in the tubs.
Hint! Rolling carts with shelves work well for daily planning tubs.

If it’s something you have not used in a year…

           THROW IT OUT!
           SHARE IT WITH ANOTHER TEACHER! 
           HAVE A DRAWING AND LET STUDENTS “WIN” IT!

Store materials in…
            Plastic tubs, crates
            Cardboard boxes, baskets
            Zip bags, file folders
            Hanging garment bags, shoe bags, skirt hangers
            Suitcases
Hint! Cover messy shelves with curtains.
Spray paint cardboard boxes for uniformity and label boxes and tubs with contents.

Arrange centers in a logical area…
            Art materials on washable flooring near a sink
            Loud centers (blocks & housekeeping) together
            Quiet centers (library, computer, writing) in another area
            Put materials on low shelves so children can reach them
            Label centers with words and pictures
            *Use hula hoops, carpet squares, or lunchroom trays to define work areas.


At the end of the day...
Make a clean sweep of everything on your desk and put it all in the trash can.  Just kidding!  However, do try to touch a piece of paper only one time.  Read emails, answer them, and then delete.

I've got a lot of nerve telling you to get organized and clean up your room when I have a closet like this!  So, I'm going to take some of my personal advice and head down to the basement to throw out and get organized!!!  Or, maybe I'll just wait until tomorrow!!!!
Yesterday I wrote a blog about assessment.  Liz Blek (NKA) sent out this article that reflects most of our feelings about assessment and promoting PLAY as the natural vehicle for helping young children learn.  It's a MUST read for teachers, administrators, and parents!
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/06/a-really-scary-headline-about-kindergarteners/

Thursday, August 21, 2014

DID YOU SAY ASSESSMENT?


"The primary purpose of being four is to enjoy being four—
of secondary importance is to prepare for being five.” 
Jim Trelease (Author of THE READ ALOUD HANDBOOK)

Doesn't that quote make you pause and think, WHY AM I DOING THIS?  Many of you are so busy assessing and collecting data that you don't have time to TEACH!  If I were in charge of the world I’d just give all children “A” for effort and say that they were performing at “99%” of their ability. But, I’m not in charge of the world, so here are some suggestions for gathering data that might help you this year.  

Magic Number – Assign each child in your classroom a number. Explain that it is their “magic number.” They will need to put their number on all of their work, as well as their school supplies. It’s easy to determine whose assignment you are missing, as well as to record data.

Weekly Folders
– Have a file box with a folder for each child. As they complete their work, they can file it behind their name. Send folders home on Friday for parents to check.

Thumb Drive – Ask each parent to send in a thumb drive where children can save their work.

Digital Cameral - Have a digital camera available so they can take photos of projects and hands-on activities.


Color Coded - This isn't as high tech as a thumb drive or computer assessment, but it's very visual and can be very meaningful.  Find an assessment with basic skills you will be focusing on during the year such as upper and lowercase letters, numerals, shapes, sight words, sounds, math facts, etc.  Each month assess children and color in the squares they have mastered with a different color of crayon.  For example, color what they know in September in red, October - orange, November - brown, etc.  It will give a "colorful" picture of the child's learning journey.

Portfolio – Individualize children’s growth by collecting samples of their work each month and saving them in a portfolio. You can use clasp envelopes or gallon zip bags and date each month. Collect a writing sample, self portrait, small motor activity, math page, etc.

                               
Four Square Assessment – At the beginning of each month, have children fold a piece of paper into fourths. Ask them to write/draw the same thing in each square every month. You might have them draw a picture of themselves, write their name, write letters of the alphabet, numbers, shapes, write a story, etc. Adapt to your age level and standards. Date and save for a “reliable” picture of the child’s progress throughout the year.

                                                    
Interest Inventory - In addition to saving writing samples and self-portraits in a “portfolio” each month, have children complete an “interest inventory” by filling in sentences similar to the ones below:
              I am good at______.
              I like to _____.
              I want to work on _____.
              My favorite book is _____.
              I wish _____.
Hint! Younger children could just dictate their responses to an adult.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

OH, NO - NO MORE HOMEWORK!

Homework is kind of a love/hate thing. Kids “love” to “hate” homework. Homework can be valuable if it reinforces skills and provides meaningful practice. Homework can also help children develop responsibility and keep parents informed about what their children are learning at school. However, homework should NOT take over 30 minutes and should not cause conflict or frustration between a parent and her child. 

Think outside the box about homework. Instead of paper/pencil tasks, give interactive activities, such as reading together, playing a game, taking a walk, and so forth.
Here are a few suggestions for simplifying homework and making it a successful routine.

                                
Homework Folders - You will need a pocket folder, crayons, and markers to make a homework folder. First, let children decorate the outside of their folders. Trace around their “left” hand on the left pocket. At the end of each day children put completed work in that pocket and it is “left” at home. Trace around their “right” hand on the right pocket. Use a homework sheet similar to the one below. Fill out assignments for the
whole week and place it in the “right” hand side of the child’s folder on Monday. On Friday, put homework sheets in each child’s folder and review at conferences.

            Sample Weekly Homework Sheet

Monday ________________              Tuesday ______________
            _______________________   ______________________
            _______________________   ______________________
            Parent Signature/Comments Parent Signature/Comments
            _______________________ ______________________


Wednesday______________            Thursday_______________  
            _______________________ _____________________
            _______________________ ______________________

            Parent Signature/Comments Parent Signature/Comments
            _______________________ ______________________

Tic Tac Toe Homework
Write 9 assignments in the grid. Children must complete at least three during the week and color them in. If children enjoy homework or parents want their child to do more at home they have that option.
*Nightly Five – If you do the Daily Five you might want to use the tic-tac-toe frame to do a “Nightly Five.”

Clipboard - Each child will need a clipboard that she can decorate with her name, stickers, etc. Each day clip the homework assignment to the children’s clipboards. Make sure parents know that their job is to look at the clipboard each night, help their child with the assignment, and send it back to school the next day.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

WRITER'S WALL OF FAME

Here’s a simple idea that will save you time and encourage all those little “authors” and “illustrators” in your classroom. All you need is a file folder to make a display pocket for each child. Cut a 1 ¼” border around the top half of the file folder. Let children decorate it with their name and pictures. Open and laminate. Fold in half and staple to a bulletin board or tape to a wall. Children can display their own work by slipping drawings, stories, etc. in the pocket.
  

Here’s the “Writer’s Chant” to get them started. Children repeat each line to this chant as you open your arms wide and clap while stepping from side to side.
            Chorus:
            Who knows the writing process?
            I know the writing process.
            

            First step. (Hold up one finger.)
            Brainstorm. (Hands on the side of your head and shake down.)
            Chorus
            
            Second step…(Hold up 2 fingers.)
            Write it down…(Pretend to write with index finger on palm.)
            Chorus
            
            Third step…(Hold up 3 fingers.)
            Edit your work…(Shake finger.)
            Chorus
            
            Fourth step…(Hold up 4 fingers.)
            Publish your work…(Brush hands together.)
            Oh, yeah! (Hands on hips with an attitude.)


Monday, August 18, 2014

MINI OFFICE



It’s classroom management week, so each day you’ll find some tips and tricks for organizing your classroom.

Tape two file folders together for each child. Let them decorate the outside with markers, magazine pictures, trading cards, etc. Staple a copy of the word wall to the inside. When children write in their journals or do independent work, they can stand their “offices” up on their desks. Words they frequently spell will be right there for them if needed. Search “mini office” to download free printables for your grade level.
(Two great ones are busyteacherscafe.com and jmeacham.com.)
                                       
*Make a reading office on one side and a math office with a hundreds chart, math mat, shapes, months, etc. on the other side.

*Use 2 pocket folders to make a mini-office. Children can insert papers they are working on in the left and work they have finished on the right.

*Did you see this math office that a teacher shared in Dallas last week. The counting beads at the top are brilliant!
                                      
Last week I was invited to speak in Oxford, MS, at Bramlett Elementary where "magic moments" happen. Oxford is the most beautiful town and is the home of the Ole Miss Rebels. It's also the home of these awesome teachers!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

AT THE END OF THE DAY

Our son’s dog went to dog heaven today, so I feel a little kinder and gentler. I feel like telling you some stories that touched my heart.

Don’t Hurt Maggie
A teacher invited her children to adopt a tree on the playground. They chose a magnolia tree that they named “Maggie.” They would read stories under Maggie, sing songs, and draw pictures of her. Sometimes they’d hug her or when it was warm they would sponge her trunk with water. One day a child broke a branch off another tree. A classmate started to cry because, “They are hurting Maggie’s friend.”

Invisible Socks
A teacher was having the children go around the room and describe each other’s socks. One poor little fellow didn’t have any socks even though it was the middle of winter. The teacher said she could see the child getting anxious and so the teacher exclaimed, “Aren’t those the most beautiful invisible socks you ever saw?”

Wash and Blow Dry

One year I taught a little girl who had cancer and she didn’t have any hair. Each day she wore a hat and kept it tightly on her head. I put my ugly shoes in a big grocery bag (like the children do) for show and tell and told the story about how my feet hurt all the time. “I have these ugly shoes, but when I wear them my feet are so happy. I’d like to put them on, but I’m afraid you might laugh and make fun of me.” Of course, the children said, “No. We won’t make fun of you.” (I smile remembering how they would say, “I love your shoes. They are so pretty.”) The next day Lauren came to school without her hat. And she never wore it again. In fact, when we went on a field trip to the cosmetology school (we could do that in the old days) they asked Lauren what she would like to have done. She smiled and said, “I’ll have a wash and a blow dry.”

That’s why we do what we do! Some people might think we do what we do to improve test scores. The truth is that we tolerate assessments, standards, and observations because we really do love children.  We know that we touch young hearts in a special way…we give hope…we plant seeds of goodness…we give them a smile and a song. 


Childhood is fragile!
Where you are is where you are suppose to be.  At the end of the day you just might be the best thing that happens in a child’s life this year!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

SIGNS FOR THE TIMES

I’m sooo excited that ACTIVE LEARNING is coming back through the revolving door! You can help parents and administrators value play and hands-on learning by posting these descriptions by your learning centers. 

Hint! Take photographs of children engaged in these centers or download center signs from the internet. (http://www.prekinders.com/center-signs/ has some great signs.)
  Dramatic Play
social skills; emotional skills; independence; oral language; imagination;
responsibility; collaboration; life skills; the executive function

Blocks
motor skills; math concepts (number, size, shape, space); oral language; social skills; eye-hand coordination; self control; imagination

Art
creativity; small motor skills; problem solving; sharing; cooperation;
independence; responsibility

Math
oral language; social skills; small motor skills; concepts about quantity, shape, size, pattern; interest in math tools

Library
alphabet knowledge; oral language; print knowledge; listening skills; eye-hand coordination; concepts about the word; motivation to read

Science
curiosity about the world; sensory skills; problem solving; decision making; language skills; scientific process (observing, predicting, experimenting, recording, reporting)

Table Toys

small muscles; eye-hand coordination; attention span; social skills; concepts about size, shape, color pattern

Sensory Table
social skills; motor skills; oral language; math concepts; responsibility;
self control

Writing
eye-hand coordination; small motor skills; alphabet knowledge; self confidence; vocabulary; interest in print
PLAY IS A CHILD’S WORK!

Friday, August 15, 2014

SHARE WITH ME!

I was visiting with a teacher this week and she mentioned that she had not done show and tell for several years but that she was going to do it again this year. I loved show and tell when I was little, my students loved it when I taught, and my grandchildren love it. It’s a tradition in early childhood that can nurture important speaking and listening skills. However, it can also become “bring, brag, and boring”! Here are some tips that might make this a more meaningful experience in your classroom this year. 
                                  
Skills and Standards - Focus show and tell on a specific theme you are studying. Have students bring in something of a particular color, letter, shape, science concept (sign of fall), etc.

All, Several, or One? Limit sharing time to one day a week, or assign several children to each day. You could also have a special “show and share” bag that goes home with one child each day.

Three Statements - The person sharing can make three statements about what they have brought. The class then gets to ask them three questions about it.
*You could also ask children to come up with three clues about what they have brought from home. (Parents could write these for younger students.) After giving the clues, friends try and guess what it is.

20 Questions - Let the class ask 20 questions about show and tell items. Tally their answers on the board.

Show What You Know - Try “show what you know” where children can demonstrate what they have learned about a theme. They could do an art project, make up a song, do a skit, make a video, etc.

Listening Share - Have children close their eyes as friends take turns sharing. Can everyone remember one thing at the end of sharing time?

Podium - Provide a child-size podium (old music stand) for children to stand behind when they speak.

Sharing Shelf – Instead of passing objects around the class, designate a special shelf or table in your classroom where students can place their show and tell objects for friends to look at later in the day.

And that’s my show and tell for the day!!!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

FALL ROAD TRIPS

I know many of you are making your "wish list" for staff development this year. These are my fall dates where I'll be presenting "Rock, Rhyme, Write, and Read." Contact Staff Development for Educators (sde.com) for more details.

October 27 - Omaha, NE

October 28 - Kansas City, MO

November 12 - Columbus, OH

November 13 - Toledo, OH

November 14 - Grand Rapids, MI

November 20 - Oklahoma City, OK

November 21 - Tulsa, OK

December 1 - Springfield, MA

December 2 - Albany, NY

December 3 - Binghamton, NY


If those cities aren't convenient, here are a few conferences where I'll be this fall.

September 12 - North Carolina AEYC, Raleigh, NC

October 4 - Kindergarten Teachers of Texas, Corpus Christi, TX

October 9 - Mississippi Early Childhood Conference, Meridian, MS

November 15 - McHenry College Early Childhood Conference, Crystal Lake, IL

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

SHARING IS CARING!


Eunica Turner wrote that “sharing is caring” and she shows how much she cares with these ideas!

Good Listening Chant
(Eunica Turner)
(Tune: “Where Is Thumbkin?”)
Eyes are watching. (Point to eyes.)
Ears are listening. (Point to ears.)
Lips are closed. (Point to lips.)
Hands are still. (Clasp hands together.)
Feet are very quiet. (Wiggle toes and point to feet.)
That’s the way we like it. (Nod our head.)
Listening well. Listening well. (Smile)

Hallway Chant (Eunica Turner)
(Tune: “La Cucaracha”)
We keep our eyes straight ahead.
We keep our hands to ourselves.
We keep our feet oh so quiet.
We do not push or shove
Or turn around for a hug.
Walk nicely and remember to be quiet!

Quiet Spray (Eunica Turner)
Fill a spray bottle with lavender oil and water. Aroma therapy for quiet time!

Kings and Queens (Amanda Green)
Place three chairs where the girls (queens) sit. Three boys stand behind the chairs. You can review any topic, and the girl or boy who answers first gets the chair. If the girl answers correctly make a “magic scepter” sound. If the boy answers correctly first let them “swish their swords.”

Math Office (Amanda Green)
Use a pipe cleaner to make an abacus at the top of a pocket folder. Put a hundreds chart, shapes, or whatever you are studying in the office.
*You could even do five beads of each color like rekenrek.
Hint! Let them put papers they are working on in the left pocket and papers they have 

finished in the right pocket.
Name on My Paper (Veronica Guerrero)
(Tune: “Where Is Thumbkin?”)
Teacher: Are you ready?
Students: Yes I am.
Teacher: Let’s write my first name.
Students: Let’s write my first name.
Teacher: Let’s write my last name.
Students: Let’s write my last name.
Teacher: Let’s write the date.
Students: Let’s write the date.
Teacher: Now I’m done.
Students: Now I’m done.

Trash Words (Trisha Loftin)
When a student curses have them say the “trash word” into a scrap sheet of paper. Then they crumple up the paper and put the “trash word” into a small table top trash can (from Dollar Tree). Once it is in the trash it’s gone for good!

Vowel Chant (Emily Lieb)
Teacher: Give me a long A.
(Students stretch it out as they say it with their hands.)
All: You’ve got your /a/, you’ve got your /a/, you’ve got your /a/ /a/ /a/.
Teacher: Give me a short A.
(Students signal short with hands as they make the sound.)
All: You’ve got your /a/, you’ve got your /a/, you’ve got your /a/ /a/ /a/.
Continue with all vowels.

Line Up Song (Julie Golden)
(Tune: “Farmer in the Dell”)
My hands are by my side.
I’m standing straight and tall.
My eyes are on teacher’s name
And I’m ready for the hall.

Brain Juice (Dyan Kelly)
Get a fine mist spray bottle and fill it with smart water. When the kids start to lag ask if they want brain juice. Of course they do!

Glitter Glue
(Dyan Kelly)
Get glitter glue at the dollar store and use it instead of stickers.
Brain Break (Nicole Todd)
After lunch play an advertisement and let the children dance along.
Wednesday – Hump Day – camel commercial
Thursday – Kia hamsters
Friday – Happy from Despicable Me 2