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?


Saturday, March 14, 2015

What's New?

Hey there! I know it's been WAY too long! Life has been a bit crazy for me since school started. Trying to balance teaching, being a mom to two busy little girls, creating and blogging.... wow! But I thought I'd try to get over here more often and share what we are up to in the classroom. I have so much to share!

Today I am excited to share that I FINALLY finished up all of the Dolch Word File Folder Activities! This was a major project that took me a lot longer than I anticipated! But they are done and up on TpT.

Not only that, but they are finally assembled, laminated and being used in my classroom! They are the perfect task for my students. We are using the Dolch words for spelling each week, so these are a great resource to practice each of their words.

As many of you know, I teach a multi-grade classroom. Well, six grades to be exact. It's crazy and I don't even know how I do it on most days. But some how we make it work. These File Folder Activities are working out well since I can just pull the words that each student is working on. But as I was using the full set last week I realized I needed a way to quickly find the words I was looking for. So I have added some dividers to separate the grade levels. Check out that little freebie up on TpT for your Dolch Sight Word activities.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Classroom Tour

Now that school has started I was able to get a few pictures of my classroom for the 2014-2015 school year. I honestly didn't change very much from the previous year. When you find something that works, why change it, right?

This year teach Deaf/Hard of Hearing students in grades 2-6 in a Special Day Class.  Students come and go throughout the day depending on their needs. I try and mainstream my Deaf/Hard of Hearing students into the general education classrooms with a sign language interpreter when possible. Most of my students are with me for Language Arts. My students are pulled out for speech/language services a few times a week. I have 7 students this year. 

Welcome to my classroom!

The view as you walk into the classroom.

Our new science area including science tools posters.
Our scientific method posters and science lab coats.
Junior Scientist lab coats I made for the kids to wear during science experiments. I bought them at the Goodwill, cut off the long sleeves and then used my sewing machine to sew "Junior Scientist" on each shirt.
My "command central" area near my teacher desk. Paperwork is much easier to find now that I have this AWESOME black file holder from Scholastic. On top I have my student progress binders where I keep data and work samples for each student.

Student computers for Typing and Fairview activities.
Laptop storage and check out chart for our Tech Friday activities.
Our classroom library area.
New birthday box and sign for student birthdays. They get to pick a prize and keep the sign on their desk all day.
Each month will feature a new author on the library table.
Comfy futon and pillows for silent reading time.
iPad storage and library boxes. All of my books are leveled by reading level and then subject for the non-fiction books.
The view from the library to the front of the classroom. Including my clean (for now) desk.
The back wall has a word wall. (I realized I didn't get a picture of it.) New this year is our little Writing Center.  Yes, that's another black mini pocket chart from Scholastic. I am in love!
Leveled Guided Reading books.
Front teaching area. This includes our Fairview materials and centers under the tv.
Fairview Learning binders and book boxes on the top shelf. Student reading vocabulary boxes on the left, bottom. White baskets contain our centers for our Fairview Learning rotations.
Our calendar area. Schedules for speech and PE. Behavior clip chart and student job chart.
Classroom Economy system. Students earn money and can visit the class store each Friday.

View from the front of the classroom looking towards the door.

I hope you enjoyed a little view into my classroom as we start the 2014-2015 school year.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Five For Friday- August 30th

Okay, it's Saturday but I didn't want to miss out on Five for Friday. I've been MIA for too long and it's time to hop back into blogging. It's been a whirlwind this week. It was our first full week back. AND we had Back to School Night on Thursday! We've never had it this early and I was already exhausted from the full week back! But I survived... and here I am! Here's a quick look at a few things from my week:

We started our Fairview Learning rotations on Monday. The students rotate through Guided Reading, Guided Writing, Adapted Dolch words, Bridging, Phonics (for some) and Language (for others), and centers. We have three new kinders this year that are learning how to read their schedules and rotate during this time. I am very excited about using our new Adapted Dolch Word Interactive Notebooks this year.

 I finally took pictures of my classroom for a little class tour. I'll post those tomorrow.

Friday's are our fun Science and Tech days. We broke out the Junior Scientist lab coats I made for the kids and learned about our first Science tool.  The kids LOVED IT! Some how wearing a lab coat makes you think more like a scientist.

We set up the laptops for the first time Friday afternoon and reviewed opening a Word Doc and saving. They did a little typing practice by typing our dog vocabulary words. We're reading a few Henry and Mudge books for our first Literature unit but I didn't get any pictures of those activities.  These guys take our tech time seriously, which is nice.

YES!! I am so looking forward to the long three day weekend! Getting back into the work routine has kicked my bum! So the extra day off is much appreciated!

Have a good weekend everyone! Come back tomorrow for a little classroom tour!