Friday, September 14, 2018

More Than Just The Fonz

"Aaaaayyyy!" If you grew up in the '70's (I know, I'm older than most of you. . .), you grew up watching Happy Days and know Henry Winkler as the Fonz. (I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but my favorite exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of American History was seeing Fonzie's leather jacket. . . )  But did you know he is also an author and has written over 30 books?! We had the joy of meeting Henry Winkler as he spoke to our students about perseverance, despite having dyslexia. He began with, "You are all powerful people. Every one of you has greatness inside you. Your job is to figure out what that greatness is."
Winkler was so real and honest, as he shared about his own struggles in school. He was called "dumb dog" in German by his own parents and his teachers did not expect much from him . . . until Mr. Rock. This was the teacher (below) that discovered Winkler's dyslexia, yet believed in him. This was THE teacher that made the difference.
Winkler shared about his dream of becoming an actor, despite his family and friends laughing at him and discouraging him. He told our students, "Nobody can tell you, you can't meet your dream. If you put one foot in front of the other, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish."
Winkler wrote the series: Hank Zipzer, the World's Greatest Underachiever. He advised our students to "write what you know. Write 10 minutes a day." My kids love this series because Hank Zipzer is such a relatable character.
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Winkler encouraged our students, "No matter how difficult school is for you, it has nothing to do with how brilliant you are." Talk about having a growth mindset!  Having an author visit always motivates students to write, especially when they see and hear that authors are real people. Which authors have spoken to your school?

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Info, Info, Read All About It!

We've been without a social studies textbook for YEARS so I've always had to supplement my history curriculum. (Although I had to roll my eyes laugh because last week a huge box was just delivered to my room with over 80 social studies workbooks published in 2006!)
Before teaching anything about California, I always do a quick pre-assessment, often with INTERESTING results! You can read more about that HERE.  Since I did not know those old workbooks would be arriving, I used our state standards, several old textbooks by various publishers (all out of print now. . .) and photos to write and create California Regions information cards. Included are specific facts that I wanted my students to understand about each region, particularly about natural features and industries (these were hard for students to find when researching on their own).
Students were divided into 4 groups (the 4 regions). They took notes on graphic organizers while reading the information cards (printed double sided and laminated for durability). To assist my students who needed more reading support, they used dry erase markers to circle or underline key facts.
After introducing the regions, we began to delve deeper. Students were divided into regions groups to do more research. Along with the info cards, some of the picture books we used were: Mojave (desert) and Sierra (mountains) by Diane Siebert, A Day's Work by Eve Bunting (Central Valley), Redwoods by Jason Chin (mountains) and Celebrating California by Marion Dane Bauer.
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I have not found any appropriately leveled books for the coast yet. There are many gorgeous books with pictures of the coast, but there's not enough meaty information about the LAND. If you know of any titles, please let me know!! After groups gather information, they present their facts to the class while students take notes on a graphic organizer. You can download a copy of the organizer HERE. After gathering enough information, students used Chromebooks in Google Classroom to work on a Google Slides trifold travel brochure. 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

3 Tried & True Picture Books to Begin the Year

You're never too old to be read to and who doesn't love a good picture book? I always begin the school year reading picture books to my class, rather than jumping right into a novel. (And I continue to read them throughout the year!) There are so many great themes in pictures books, as well as starting points for meaningful discussion.
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First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg is such a fun first day book! Sarah Jane Hartwell doesn't want to go to her new school because she won't know anybody. All my kids can relate to the anticipation and anxiety of the first day and it quickly eases my students who are new to our school. The best part of the book is the twist at the end (SPOILER ALERT!) when readers discover that Sarah Jane Hartwell is the new teacher! The perspective of the illustrations keep the readers believing she is a kid until the last page. I always love hearing the gasp from my kids when they realize Sarah Jane Hartwell is the teacher; then I tell them about my "beginning of school" butterflies and "can't sleep" moments.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

3 Tried & True Quick Breakfasts to Go

I don't know about you, but the worst part about being back in school for me is having to worry about breakfasts and lunches again. I'm a big fan of meal prepping so I don't have to think in the mornings; just grab and go! 
Sunday evenings are my prep nights; I make enough breakfasts for 4 days.
1. Overnight Oats
When I first heard of overnight oats, I was pretty skeptical. The thought of cold oatmeal did not sound appealing, but I kept hearing about overnight oats as a timesaver. It actually IS delicious and keeps me full until recess! (And you can heat it for a few seconds in the microwave if you want it warm)
You need: 
  • 16 oz. mason jars
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (not instant)
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup almond milk  or coconut milk
  • 1 TBSP maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 TBSP chia seeds
Stir with a whisk or put on the lid and shake.
  • Add a handful of berries (strawberries, blueberries)
  • Banana slices optional
  • Nuts (walnuts & almonds)

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Tea Can Organization

Okay, I may have a slight tea problem. . . yes, these are actually all empty Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf cans that I've stored in my classroom cupboard because I couldn't bear to throw them away. They're such a great size, they're sturdy, and they stack well. But what to do with them?
I've discovered these are the perfect size for storing Sharpies:
They are a great size to hold greetings for our Morning Meetings:
I've also used the cans for math games; they store game cards perfectly! If you want a copy of the template to personalize for your own needs, click HERE. Happy organizing!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

We Teach So Hard: What Happens When Your Team Isn't a Dream?

What happens when your (teaching) team isn't a dream? It has probably happened to all of us at some point in our careers. So what do you do?
Listen...'cuz you teach so hard. Click HERE to listen via Apple Podcast.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Becoming the Math Teacher Book Study, Part 4

With school beginning next week, I'm super excited to implement so many of these awesome math strategies and questioning techniques with my new class! Welcome to part 4 of Becoming the math Teacher You Wish You'd Had book study! If you miss the first three parts, you can catch up here:
Connecting Math and the World
How many times have you had students ask, "Why do we need to learn this? What does this have to do with the real world?" (I'm embarrassed to admit that I always silently ponder this whenever I teach about probability; will I need this other than going to Las Vegas? LOL) Chapter 8 is all about how mathematicians connect ideas. An idea I LOVE and will definitely implement is to ask families and community members to share how they use math in their daily lives. In the past I have a friend in marketing research who has come in to my class to share how her company actually graphs and uses survey and focus group results to analyze the data make business predictions! Having adult speakers share how they use math in "real life" gives validity to the math learned in school.

Fourth grade teacher, Jennifer Clerkin Muhammad, expects her students to make (visual) representations of their work to build understanding. After giving students a few minutes to solve a problem and represent it visually, she tells her kids to walk around the classroom (with representations drawn on a whiteboard) and to compare representations. Students must find a representation that was different from their own, but that they agree with.  What a great way to encourage solving problems in multiple ways and not feel there is a rush to get to THE right answer! As students circulate, Muhammad observes and "eavesdrops" in on conversations, choosing a few representations to discuss with the whole class. According to Jo Boaler, the purpose of being able to represent our work is to help make sense for ourselves, as well as how to communicate and justify our ideas to others.