Saturday, June 27, 2015

3-2-1 Teacher Bio

I am linking up with the Weekend Warriors for their 3-2-1 Teacher Bio. 

Here's a bit of information about the teacher me:

I love containers, bins, and labels! Everything in my classroom has it's own place. People who come into my classroom tend to laugh at how organized it is. But you bet I can find exactly what you need in a heartbeat.

Since I teach a first through six grade Special Day Class for Deaf/Hard of Hearing students, I often have my students for six years. That means I cannot repeat the same activities each year. I have to label things I use by date so I know when I used it last! I don't want the students to get bored and I certainly don't want to hear "I've done this before!" I love reading blogs and getting new ideas from Instagram and Pinterest.

I spend at least eight hours a day in my classroom. It's basically my home away from home. My black and white polka dot themed classroom makes me happy and is calm and a great environment for my students to learn. Yup, even my screen savers match my classroom!

Now the regular me:
When I am not at school, I am happy being a mommy to two beautiful little girls. My crazy girls are 7 and 5 and a bundle of laughs. They keep me busy and entertained! We are starting soccer in the fall for both of them. Saturdays are going to be consumed by the soccer field!

I started scrapbooking back in 1998 after I got married and haven't looked back! I love preserving our memories and writing about our experiences. I do both the traditional paper/picture pages and I also do Project Life. I love taking a photo a day and documenting the little things in our lives... not just the major holidays. Two times a year you'll find me at the "Lake House" with my scrapbooking group. Three full days of preserving memories. I look forward to those trips!

And now what's on my bucket list?
I would love, love, love to take my girls to Disneyland. We only live a few hours away, but until my oldest can get over her fear of characters I am afraid it would be a wasted (and expensive trip) to Disneyland. She seriously panics and hyperventilate cries when she sees anyone is a mascot style costume. We're going to give LEGOLAND a try in the fall for their birthday's as a trial run.

Thanks to the Weekend Warrior gals for the fun linky. Join them below!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Computer Center Ideas

Each afternoon during summer school my students do semi-independent centers. We have two center blocks that are 25 minutes each. In order to keep the students engaged and excited about coming to summer school, I have included our computer center into the rotation.

So what are my students doing on the computers?

Twice a week during our morning math groups in summer school they get to use Front Row on the computers. Front Row is FREE differentiated math instruction for the web and on the iPad. As a teacher, you sign up for an account and you set up your class roster. You can select the math domain you want the students to work in. There are even diagnostic tests and printable worksheets for the domains. It is working well for my Deaf/Hard of Hearing students. Since they cannot hear the audio for the questions, I do have to read some of the questions for my lower readers. But overall, the program is a great addition to supplement our math instruction.

Typing is a huge focus for us. My students need to be 21st century learners, which means being able to feel comfortable on the computers and being able to type. That new SBAC assessment has really increased the need for digital literacy and the ability to actually type.  I like  It's a FREE online typing program that we can use both in our classroom and/or in the computer lab. We try to get in at least 30 minutes of typing practice each week during the regular school year.

I have the student's login information hanging near the computers for the students to use during centers. Then I also have cards with other educational websites the students can visit if it is a free choice day for the computer center. 

Here are some web based sites/games that my students really like:

Language Arts
Educational sites/games
What are some of your favorite educational web based games your students enjoy?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Super Summer School

 It has been yeeeeears since I have taught summer school. For six summers I have been content to be a stay at home momma to my two girls. For six years before that I worked at Camp Hapitok, giving back to a program that helped guide me to becoming a teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing. So really, I can't even remember the last time I taught summer school. But it is what it is and the extra paycheck will be nice in the end.

I figured I needed to create a fun and engaging environment for all of us so we don't dread coming to summer school everyday... and so far it's working! We are on week two and the days are literally flying by! I look up at the clock and it's already time to pack up and go home. So it really isn't a bad gig.

We are doing a summer hero theme this summer, and we're having a blast with it. The boys are all over it. The girls in my class are actually enjoying themselves as well.

I really wanted to focus on language arts skills this summer. We spend a mere 30 minutes on math and the rest of the 3 hours is dedicated to reading, writing, and overall language arts skills. This is where my deaf/hard of hearing students need the most practice.

I've been working on a big superhero unit to use this summer. It seems like I am adding to it daily when new ideas or needs come up. I am hoping to have it TpT ready soon. It has some great centers and activities. Having all of these materials ready to go for each week has made working summer school so much easier! I walk out at the end of the day and get to go home to my girls and go play and enjoy our summer afternoons together!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Why MinecraftEdu in the Classroom?

This school year I was invited to attend the Connected and Learning: Teaching 21st Century Learners workshops. This was a three day workshop spread out throughout the school year. Educators from my area came together to learn about new technology tools to engage learners in the classroom. Several teachers were talking about how they use MinecraftEdu in the classroom. I was curious about what it was and how it worked.

Last week I went to a training on how to use MinecraftEdu in the classroom. To be honest, I had no idea how to play Minecraft at all. I just know that kids love it. Now there is an education version that teachers can use in the classroom, and thought I'd try it out.

So I went to the Teacher Gaming Tour workshop. The training allowed teachers to learn how to play the game and how to use it in the classroom. The nicest part, is that we were given the ability to download the game and let our students try it out until July.

Friday afternoon I used the easy to follow directions to set up our classroom server and the kids all tried out the tutorial world together. Within minutes, the kids had figured out the controls and the basics of the game.

But the best part, and the goal of the game in the classroom, is to get the kids communicating and problem solving together. Kids were out of their seats trying to show each other how to get somewhere or how to do something. My kiddo with complete flat affect who never shows emotion of any kind was smiling and laughing! I was sold right then and there.  We didn't even get to the community building activity yet!  I can't wait to see what happens when they build a house together.

At the end of the day after we had cleaned up and were lined up to go home all the kids could talk about was MinecraftEdu. "Do you remember when we broke the glass to open the door?" "I couldn't figure that out and you helped me!"  They were actually chatting about what they had done and how much fun they had.

What I really like about this "game" is the way they work together in the same world to problem solve and figure things out. It's not an individual game that they get absorbed into and forget about where they are and who is sitting next to them.  They work together. They turn to one another and ask how they figured it out and ask for help.

If you have the chance to attend a Teacher Gaming Tour, go! It's free and it allows you the chance to try out MinecraftEdu in your own classroom. I am already planning on purchasing the one-time licenses for our classroom for next school year. You only need to buy licenses for as many computers as you have, not for each student. It's super reasonable. There are tons of resources teachers have already created for you to use. Check it out here!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Center Storage

Do you get motivated to clean and organize in the spring? Well it's time to get your centers organized! Today I am sharing how I organize my seasonal and skill center materials.

Each day my students rotate during our Fairview rotation time. If the students are not working one to one with an adult, they are doing centers. I need to have a wide range of language arts centers from kindergarten to about the third grade level.  Each week I am putting out six centers for four different levels. Here's how I keep them all organized.

Seasonal Centers
Over the years I have accumulated a variety of seasonal centers. They range in skills from sight word write the room activities, ABC order to sentence building. Quite a few of them I have purchased from Amy Lemons. I just love her materials! I have these sorted by months in large Ikea tubs. I simply printed each month on a piece of cardstock to use as a divider. I also store the seasonal center materials at the front of the tub.

At the end of the month I pull down the tub, put away last month's centers and pull out what I can use for this month. I pull out the centers I will use and put them in the cabinet for easy access throughout the month.

These big tubs are stored on top of my storage cabinet.  I have a tub for August-December and then January-June. I organize my seasonal books the same way in these tubs. 


Skill Centers
Besides my seasonal centers, I have various language arts skill centers that are sorted in baskets. Years ago I made labels on little dividers to keep them organized. They sit on storage drawers right behind my Guided Reading table.

Due to the fact that I have my students for sometimes six years, I really have to keep adding to these centers all the time. I have started to keep track of when I use the center and with who simply by putting a post-it note on the front of the center envelope or folder with their name and date used.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Non-Fiction Text

Before Spring Break we finished up our Non-Fiction text unit. We had quite a bit of fun with this unit of learning and I think the kids really enjoyed learning about non-fiction books and text features. I used a variety of resources during the unit.

We started off comparing a fiction and non-fiction book on our anchor chart. We picked the Rainbow Fish and a Non-Fiction Fish book.

Then we started our Non-Fiction Text Notebooks. The unit I found on TpT came with definition posters to go along with the learning notebook. We explored all of the non-fiction books in my classroom library. Most of the features the students found I would scan for them to add to their notebooks. Some of them they drew and colored.

We used our Scholastic book order to sort fiction and non-fiction books.

After going through all of the notebook, I gave each of the students a non-fiction book and they did a Scavenger Hunt looking for all of the non-fiction text features they had learned about.

As a wrap up and assessment, they each made their non-fiction text posters. It was a a good way for me to see which students understood the features and which did not.

During our minimum days (for parent teacher conferences) the students did research for an animal report and completed their animal reports and clay models. I am really pleased with the way they turned out. This is a simple animal report template from Amy Lemons. The students selected a non-fiction animal book at the library and then wrote about those animals.

I am always amazed at how difficult it is for some of my kiddos to visualize and create a clay model. It's really tough for some of them. We need to practice this skill more often!

But this is one of my favorites. This little guy is an artist and loves to draw.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Liebster Award

My sweet IRL friend, fellow scrapbooker, SLP and blogger recently nominated me for the Liebster Award. Christy, over at The Modern SLP, has an adorable blog with lots of great language activities for students. Head over and check out her blog. Thank you for the nomination Christy!

The Liebster Award was created to recognize and/or discover new bloggers and welcome them to the blogosphere. It is meant for new bloggers who have less than 200 bloggers. Today I have 65 followers.

When you accept the Liebster Award, you get to answer 11 questions about yourself.  Here's a little about me:

1. Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging in February 2013. I started my blog in hopes of finding other Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing out there that were also blogging. Many days I feel really isolated in my job. I know there are plenty of people out there doing the same job as me.... I just haven't found their blogs yet!

2. What is your work experience?

Right after graduating from college I moved back "home" to California and got hired right away as a Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing in a full-inclusion preschool class. It was a challenging position since my D/HH kiddos needed more than what was being presented in the regular preschool classroom. The following year we moved to a tiny corner in another classroom. Then a position opened up teaching 4th-6th grade and I jumped at having my own SDC classroom. I've been in that same classroom for 15 years now. I wish it was only 4th-6th grade, but now I actually teach in a one room school house for grades 1st-6th. I'm pretty sure I will retire in this classroom. That's how much I love my job.

3. What is your favorite social media outlet?

Sadly, I have neglected this blog this school year. A slow computer and super slow internet kills the little spare time I have. For the same reason, my personal blog has also been neglected. Now I find I am an Instagram girl. I have a personal account that I post on but I should probably add a teacher profile as well.

4. What is your favorite pastime other than blogging?

Free time? What is that?! When I do get some free time I really enjoy scrapbooking. I am a traditional scrapbooker as well as a Project Lifer. I have done the "photo a day" method for the last four years. This year I am doing Project 52 through Project Life. I have a group of friends that I scrapbook with. We get together once a month and try and go for a little retreat twice a year.

5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to TpT? To your blog?

Not enough! I have been avoiding blogging because I feel like I am too far behind and where do I start to catch up? I am just jumping right back in starting now. As for TpT, I spend at least an hour or two each week creating materials. Right now I am working on my summer school super hero unit! So fun!

6. What grade is your favorite to work with? 

I have taught everything from preschool to 6th grade. I really enjoy 1st grade the most. The kids are adorable at that age. They are eager to learn and love school. Learning to read (without phonics) is a challenge at this age. But all those fun craftivities!?! First grade for sure.

7. Who are your favorite bloggers you follow?

On Bloglovin' I follow 95 different blogs. I have found some great Special Education blogs but also follow lots of general education bloggers. There are so many fun blogs out there! Here are a few favorites:

Regular Ed.
Clutter-Free Classroom - Her and I share a love of classroom organization and planning!
Step into 2nd Grade with Mrs. Lemons - Her activities are so fresh and fun!

Special Ed.
Tales of a Carolina Girl - Her post today really hit home to me!
Creating & Teaching - She has great activities and ideas!

8. What post have you written that you are most proud of?
This post on Student Progress Notebooks is constantly being repinned on Pinterest. Paperwork, IEP data tracking and keeping work samples is not easy in Special Education. It makes me happy to know that people find my data tracking forms helpful. 

9. Is there any post that you have been planning to do but keep postponing? 

All of them! ha. I am so far behind and have a million ideas swirling around in my head. I have taken pictures of how I organize my center materials for grades K-6 and have started that post several times! Some day it will get done!

10. What is your favorite aspect of blogging?

I love the way blogging brings people together! What did we do before education blogs and Pinterest? I get so many ideas from my fellow educators on blogs. I have "met" lots of other educators from around the US via blogs and even one in real life! Last summer I had the opportunity to meet sweet Alison from Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin' while she was out here in California. She motivated me to get more into creating materials for TpT.

11. What are 11 facts about me? 

1. I am the mom to two little girls, age 7 and 5. They would be the reason I have no spare time! 

 2.  I crave organization and my classroom reflects that.

   3. I also have a thing for black & white and polka-dots.

  4. I got into Deaf Education after volunteering at Camp Hapitok when I was in High School. After 45 years they are close to canceling this summer due to lack of funding. I am really hoping that their crowd funding campaign is successful so they can continue to improve the lives of children with speech/language issues.

  5.  In my next life I would love to be a party planner. I love planning parties for my daughters and our Classified Staff Appreciation week at school!

 6. In my spare time I enjoy traditional scrapbooking. It's one of my only creative outlets and I consider it therapy.

7. My dad, my half sister, half brother and myself all share the same birth date.

8. I've never traveled out of the United States. In fact, when I went to college in IL, that was the first time I had been out of California! Sheltered, huh?

9.  I'm not busy enough at school or at home, so I volunteer as the Website Administrator for the California Educators of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing organization.

10. I pretend to sew. But only Halloween costumes.

11. I'm completely addicted to Diet Pepsi. I'm not a coffee drinker. Give me an iced cold Diet Pepsi and I am a happy camper!

Whew! You made it to the end! Now I would like to nominate Jamie over at Tales of a Carolina Girl for the Liebster Award. She is a fellow Special Education teacher and has a super cute blog with lots of great ideas! Congratulations Jamie!

Here are your 11 questions:
1. Why did you start blogging?
2. What is your work experience?
3. What is your favorite social media outlet?
4. What is your favorite pastime other than blogging?
5. How many hours per week do you dedicate to TpT? To your blog?
6. What grade is your favorite to work with?
7. Who are your favorite bloggers you follow?
8. What post have you written that you are most proud of?
9. Is there any post that you have been planning to do but keep postponing?
10. What is your favorite aspect of blogging?
11. What are 11 facts about me?