Friday, July 3, 2015

July Pinterest Pick 3

I may have a large slight pinning problem.  There are just way too many irresistible ideas to love and pin on Pinterest!  I get even more pinning ideas every month with the Pick 3 linky hosted by Pawsitively Teaching and the Inspired Owl! So, without further ado, here are my three pin picks for the month of July.

My first July pin is an absolutely yummy idea for your 4th of July festivities (or the rest of the summer as well).  I have made a similar version with strawberries, marshmallows, and blueberries in the past, but my blood sugar has been a bit high, so I like this healthier version from Paleo Girl's Kitchen.

My next pick is a mix of educational and fun along with some Patriotic flair. I am loving this Star Spangled Slime from I Can Teach My Child. My boys love playing with slime, and it is a great way to teach about polymers!

My last pick of the month comes from abccreative learning.  I don't know if I like this pin so much because it has been super hot lately or if I just love the idea of sneaking in learning with the fun - but I love it!  You could use this with your own children, or for summer school, summer programs, or even for the beginning of the school year if you go back to school early enough.  - Just be sure to do it at the end of the day and let parents know ahead of time.
If you are looking for more summer ideas (as well as a ton of teaching related pins) - be sure to follow me on Pinterest!

  Follow along with  these other bloggers for some more July "pinspiration" and link up to share your own as well!





Thursday, July 2, 2015

Learn Like A Pirate - Responsibility


Classroom Responsibility - Putting Students in Charge

At the beginning of the school year, Solarz holds a classroom meeting where he explains his philosophy to his students.  He says that this discussion "empowers students to take initiative and do what they think needs to be done to make the classroom run smoothly."

Classroom Jobs

Paul creates a list of important jobs based on the number of students he has.  He says that creating these jobs and assigning them to specific students makes sure that everything gets done.

Collaborative Responsibility

Solarz displays his daily schedule for his students to refer to.  Students learn how much time it takes to transition between activities, and call out, "Give me Five!" when it's time to transition.

I also display my daily schedule, but I have never had the students responsible for keeping track of it before.

Using Rituals to Encourage Responsibility

Paul advocates using rituals and procedures for reoccurring activities.  He says that students can be responsible if they know what to do.

Literature Circles

Paul has students work in literature circles for an hour three times a week.  The students read aloud in small groups and use rituals to increase their comprehension and have meaningful discussions of the material.  They share responsibilities and take turns writing summaries for each section.


I have also used literature circles in my classroom, but I love several of the suggestions Paul gives for using them.  I definitely think this will be something I will implement in the upcoming school year.

If you would like to see my thoughts from other chapters, check them out below:

Chapter 1 - What is a Student-Led Classroom?

Make sure to check out what other bloggers are saying about this chapter over at The Primary Gal's blog!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Currently - July 2015

I am so excited that tomorrow is July because that means it is almost time for the SDE and TpT Conferences!  I can't wait!  It is also time to link up with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade for this month's Currently!

You're probably seeing a reoccurring theme of Vegas there aren't you?

If you are going to Vegas, I hope to meet you!  If you can't go to Vegas, stay tuned to the blog, because I will be sharing my notes just like I did last year!  Also, a group of my TpT/blogging friends and I have also joined together to share even more on our Facebook group.

Kelli Alaina Wise's photo.
Simply join the group and follow along for our posts throughout the 9th and 10th!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge - Week 2- Dare to Dream

I have been participating in the TpT Seller Challenge, and this week's theme is Dare to Dream.  The directions are:

I definitely have big dreams, but I don't always share them with other people.  I think sharing them might give me an extra dose of accountability in reaching them, so without further ado, here are my dreams:

1. My husband has worked our whole marriage, allowing me to stay home with our boys for most of it.  I would love to return the favor!

2. We would love to move into a newer home.

3. My son, Powell has special needs - he was diagnosed with fragile x syndrome, cerebral palsy, selective mutism, and epilepsy when he was very young. I worry about what the future holds for him, especially when we pass away.  I would love to have a plan for him to be taken care of.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Reading Strategies Book Study

 I am so excited to announce a blogging book study for The Reading Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo!  I am joining forces with 12 fabulous bloggers to discuss reading strategies from this amazing professional text, in hopes to help you get your school year off to a wonderful start.  The book study will begin on Monday, August 3rd.

There are 13 goals in Serravallo's book.  Twice per week until all of the goals have been covered, bloggers will be discussing highlights, sharing freebies and offering challenges to complete, based on the book's strategies.  We hope you will purchase a copy and follow along with us!  

Stay tuned for more details! :)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate - Improvement Focus Vs. Grade Focus

"Will this effect my grade?"
" Can I (he/she) have extra credit?"
"How many points is this worth?"

We hear questions like this all the time from both students and parents! Students are focused on the extrinsic motivation of grades, while well meaning parents often perpetuate this focus based on their own school experiences.

 In chapter 4, Solarz discusses how this focus on grades is actually detrimental to students.  He explains that when students focus on only grades, they often find ways to work the system, missing the educational value of the lesson.

This spoke to me as a parent.  One of my boys realized that when he moved schools (for a grade level change), they didn't have a record of his previous AR tests.  He didn't read AT all the first semester, but managed to get an A in reading because he simply took tests he had already taken on books he had read in prior years.  Did this help him become a better reader at all??

Another one of my sons is exceptionally smart and often scores in the top 95% on standardized tests, but he failed English last year because he doesn't care about grades and refused to do any work.  Solarz also mentions those other smart kids who never go above and beyond because they have already earned an A.  Don't we want ALL of our students to improve?

In this chapter, Solarz tells us how to shift the focus from grades to improvement.

In Paul's class, students don't take many tests or quizzes, and they don't receive grades on any of their work or projects.  Instead, they receive regular feedback.  He says they take the time they used to spend studying, taking tests, and going over tests, and instead devote that time to working and learning more.  He is speaking my language!  I do wonder though, how this translates to grades, because at my school, we still have to give them.


One of the methods Paul uses in his classroom to provide feedback to his students is through e Portfolios.  Students collect their work in ePortfolios.  He says that everything is done on-line and published immediately.  Using these ePortfolios, students can look at other students' work.  He calls this student collaboration as opposed to cheating.  He wants his students to be able to learn from each other.

He says that students can go back and revise pieces as they learn more with the hidden bonus that he doesn't have to provide worksheets for practicing basic skills, like capitalization and ending punctuation, when students can go back and correct their own work.

I just received an old class set of laptops from another teacher, but I am not sure how well they work, or what sites are blocked from school that I might want to use for ePortfolios, so that is something I will have to investigate before school starts again.  I am also thinking of ways to do this without technology in case they don't work as well as I am hoping.  You always need a plan B right?  I am thinking about possibly binder portfolios that are accessible to everyone.

In Paul's class, students reflect on their own work.  He describes this process using both assignment specific questions as well as a more generic reflection process.  I think it is a great way to get a student to think more deeply when they reflect on what they have done.  I will definitely be incorporating more of this next year.

I also love how the reflection process he provides has multiple steps, because this is something my students really struggled with during common assessments last year.  They wanted to skip steps.  This will provide training and experience for them.

Things I Want To Consider

1. How can I encourage students to keep improving their assignments, even after a unit has been completed?

2. How will grades work in my classroom?

Make sure to check out what other bloggers have to say about this chapter over at The Primary Gal's blog!

If you would like to see my thoughts from other chapters, check them out below:

Chapter 1 - What is a Student-Led Classroom?

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