Saturday, August 1, 2015

Learn the Alphabet with Letter Factory

Image Source

Teaching the alphabet is not as easy as singing the "ABC Song."  Some of the students I teach come to kindergarten with little or no alphabetic knowledge.  Our team tries not to see this as a setback but rather a starting point.  In years past, it may have taken a student an entire school year to master the alphabet and letter sounds. How silly is that?!

Then, a teammate shared the Letter Factory DVD with us.  It has completely changed how we teach the alphabet.  Students are now mastering the alphabet and letters sounds in weeks rather than months. 

As we all know, kinders have a short attention span especially during the beginning of the year.  But, their ability to watch a DVD can be much longer.  We use this to our advantage. Each day, we watch a short snippet of the Letter Factory DVD.  We, then, review the letters and sounds.  As we do, we teach our students the hand motions which go with the letter.  

This video shows you what it sounds like. Imagine your students singing along. 




I always have an extra copy or two of the Letter Factory DVD to share with families when a new student arrives.  Parents are always commenting how their child comes home singing the song.  And, oddly enough, students never tire of it.  

This is not the only tool we use to teach the alphabet but it is one of the most effective.  

Thanks, Abby from Inspired Apple for hosting this Alphabet Boom Link.
 
I am excited to see what other fun things I can do to make learning the alphabet engaging for my students.

Happy Teaching!


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Creating With ThingLink for Education



Have you heard about ThingLink? Thinglink allows you to turn your images into stories; Common Core writing at its best. This web based platform can be used via the computer or on a mobile device.  To get started, you will need to register.  Be sure to register as a teacher. Educators can use the site for free and have their students use the site as well.  You are ready to start.  Upload an image or video and begin creating! This interactive platform is easy to use.

Here is the Thinklink that I created about myself. (If viewing on a mobile device, you might need to tap on the picture to view.) I plan on adding this to my classroom website as a way to introduce myself to families this upcoming school year.  I also hope to have my students create one about themselves. Since I teach kindergarten, I may ask our upper grade buddies to assist us or do this later in the year.



The possibilities are endless! 

This is the ThingLink my son created about our recent vacation trip.  Isn't this a great way to write a paragraph without feeling that your are writing a paragraph?!

  

I hope you'll explore this resource.  This is a great technology tool that allows our students to create, think and collaborate.

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

My #EduStory

Recently, I came across the hashtag - #EduStory on Twitter which challenges participants to reflect on a variety of topics.  

I've decided to share my #EduStory.  

This blog is my way to record my reflections as a teacher.  Teaching is a difficult job.  There are ups and downs.  But along the way, there are many awe inspiring moments.  It is in those moments that I understand why I became a teacher.  

As a child, school was my safe haven. It was a place where I escaped my difficult childhood. It was the connections that I made with my teachers that made me yearn to be like them.  

I am a firm believer that education is a gift that lasts a lifetime; it's the tagline of my blog.  I have been blessed with an education through school but also the lifelong lessons that I have encountered over the years as a child, student, wife, teacher and now, mother.  

I have always taught at schools with a diverse student population with limited or low income including many second language learners.  I do not see this as a challenge but as a blessing.  

Source

My hope is that I touch the life of one child or perhaps, many, who will believe in themselves and to know that hard work does matter.  It may not be easy but it is worth it.  In the meantime, I will keep on teaching, reflecting, and refining my teaching practices.  Along the way, I hope to record my journey for myself but also with you.  

What's your #EduStory? Share your story.




Friday, July 17, 2015

Google Classroom Tips for Young Learners

In a previous post, I shared about using Google Classroom in my kindergarteners. Today, I am going to share a few classroom tips for using Google classroom with our youngest learners.

Tip #1
I can't say how important it is to model.  In the beginning, I would model and my students would do the same step right after me.  As they became more proficient, I could show several steps.

For example, I would show them how to find the Google Classroom tab to open up the app. Then, they would do the exact same step and wait.  

As students became more comfortable, I was able to give a mini lesson and then, let them get to work.  The first few minutes of them getting started was always filled with high energy.  Once, they settled in, they became much more settled in their work. 

As with all good teaching, modeling is important.  

Tip #2
I would suggest that you begin Google Classroom after you have taught routines and procedures.  I always tell my students, "Slow and steady wins the race." I think it is true in this case.  Google Classroom is a tool that can enhance learning.  

I did not launch Google Classroom until the second half of the year.  This was well after my students had some basic computer skills such as the ability to log onto their Chromebook, click and were very familiar with using other sites for learning. More importantly, young learners need to have at least some alphabetic knowledge and writing skills.    

This year, I hope to launch Google Classroom earlier in the school year.  This is only because I feel more comfortable with using it. It took me some time to get familiar with the platform and to be willing to try it out.


Tip #3 
In order for this to be successful, you will have to make time.  I purposely planned at least an hour at week when first starting. The time actually increased as we began to create larger projects and work collaboratively.  

We did all our work in class rather than asynchronously.  This meant that I had to embed technology into my teaching and into my students learning. I had to think "outside the box" and somewhat outside of my comfort zone.  For example, when learning about 2 dimensional shapes instead of make an art collage with paper, we used Google Drawing to create our art.  This was all new.  

I hope that these tips encourage you to give Google Classroom a try with your students.  If you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you.


Happy Teaching!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Google Classroom in Kindergarten

Have you tried Google Classroom? Google Classroom is a blended learning platform for schools. It is part of the Google Apps for Education (#GAFE) tools.  

I never in a million years imagined using it with kindergarteners. But, guess what?! I did!

I was amazed with my students ability to navigate the system and its overall ease of use.  


Via Google Classroom I am able to give my students assignments, links to websites and send announcements.  We primarily used Google Classroom to learn about various Google tools such as Google Docs, Google Drawings and Google Slides.  Yes, you could use Google Drive to get to these tools but Google Classroom is much less work and easier to navigate.  Trust me. I tried both ways.  

What I loved about this platform was that it gave my students the opportunity to create, collaborate, learn and explore. Students discovered that they were capable of creating digitally.  


Rarely did students finish assignments in one sitting.  That was okay. I made sure to provide time throughout the week as well as to make sure that the assignment did not have an immediate due date.  For early finishers, I was able to differentiate by adding a writing component, having them help other students or giving them a different assignment.

Our culminating assignment was to create a Google Slide presentation about an ocean animal.  This assignment allowed my students to show their mastery of many of the skills that we had learned over the course of the school year. 

Want to learn more about how to get started with Google Classroom?  Sailing into Second Grade has a great blog post about Google Classroom basics.

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Educational Books That Transform Teaching and Learning


Summer is here! Like many of you, I have a long list of educational books that have piqued my interests. Here is what I am currently reading.  



These educational books can be sorted into three categories of learning.







I am interested to learn how mindset can affect how and what we think about ourselves and our capabilities. We see this all the time as teachers and parents. Children believe that making mistakes is bad or wrong.  Where in reality, making mistakes is part of the process; learning.  Perhaps, this Frost quote, which I have loved since high school, sums up best Growth Mindset.









Last school year, I began the journey with my students of using technology in our everyday learning.  It's amazing to see what five and six year olds are capable of doing if you give them the tools and time to explore.  This upcoming school year, I would like to further develop these skills.







Ever since I began my teaching career, I have loved to read about other teachers who not only are great teachers but are mentors.  Teaching is demanding. But reading stories like these, always uplift and give me hope that what I do has purpose and meaning.


My hope is that these reads will inspire and transform my teaching and learning as I head back into the classroom this upcoming fall.   Now, a question for you.  What are you currently reading?