Self Portraits Made Easy

I love how children draw themselves.  Each is as unique as they are.  I like to have my students draw self portraits several times during the year.  It is amazing to see their growth and development.

Recently, I shared my students' self portraits on Instagram.  Several teachers wanted to know more about them.

I have a little secret that helps keep these self portraits large rather than small.  I give them a starting point by drawing a u-like shape on their paper. This makes a huge different in getting a good sized portrait.

We complete all our drawings in pencil first; no erasing.  Depending on the time of year,  I may model and coach them on how to draw different features.  For the one displayed above, I gave them the paper and they completed them independently.

Students trace with marker before coloring. I try to emphasize that they should press hard as they color to get a bold look.

Here is what our self portraits looked like at the beginning of the year.

I think these are the perfect anytime of the year.  

Happy Teaching!


Books that #CelebrateDiversity

I am honored to be able to spotlight Maria Dismondy's latest book, Chocolate Milk, Por Favor!

Maria is well known for writing books which #CelebrateDiversity.  As a former classroom teacher turned award-wining author, Maria creates books that make a difference by empowering children with courage and confidence.

Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! is no different.  In fact, it may be my favorite!  In this book, Gabe is a newcomer and learns to navigate through school despite his lack of English skills. Johnny, his classmate, doesn't understand why Gabe is getting all the attention. Learn how chocolate milk plays a role in Johnny's discovery that actions speak louder than words.

One unique feature of the this book are the Teacher Tips.  Personally, Your Name is Important reminded me of an experience that happened in our family. As a child, my sister had her name changed by the school. Yes, the school! When my parents enrolled us, they told them that her name was to hard to pronounce so that they could call her this instead.  Unbeknownst to them, my parents agreed.  It stuck and to this day, it is the name my sister uses.  Today, we would think of this as unacceptable but it does happen, in subtle ways; usually in our attempts to use the English version of one's name.

As a minority teacher and a teacher of minority students, I feel it is important to read books which have characters that not only look like us but share the message of acceptance and understanding.  I must admit that finding these types of books can be a challenge. Thankfully, there are authors like Maria Dismondy who strive to celebrate inclusion.

I am delighted to add Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! to my collection of Books that #CelebrateDiversity.  I hope that you, too, will add this book to your collection.  Maria Dismondy has graciously offered a signed copy of her book, Chocolate Milk, Por Favor!, to readers of this blog.  All you have to do is leave a comment. Perhaps, share how you celebrate diversity in the classroom or make a book recommendation.  I will select a person to receive this book on Friday, April 17th.

In the meantime, enjoy listening to Maria read, Chocolate Milk, Por Favor!.

Happy Teaching!

UPDATE: Comment number 1 was selected as the winner of Maria's book.


Document Student Learning with #SeesawEdu

As a teacher, I like to collect samples of student learning.  A portfolio, in my opinion, is the best way to document student learning. Using portfolios allows me to keep samples of student learning at a moment in time but also over time.  I use them to help with grading, share with parents at conferences and to help me revise my instruction.

But, what if you could do this digitally?

Recently, I discovered an app that allows you to gather and collect student learning digitally.

Seesaw is a FREE app that can be used via your smartphone or iPad.  After watching this quick video, I was ready to create my class, add names and get started.

It is very user friendly. In fact, I began using it immediately in my classroom.  I taught my kindergarten students how to take a photo of their work using the iPad and record themselves.

Here is a sample of a child's work.  (Please excuse all the background noise.  We are busy learning.) 

Students and teachers are not limited to only taking photos and recording.  I think that Seesaw has combined some of my favorite apps features into one. You can take a video, draw and add notes. You are also able to use videos and images from any other app which has generated a photo or video onto your camera roll.


One of the features of this app is that you can communicate directly with parents.  Parents are give a unique link to their child's work via the Parent Access app.  I am currently testing this with one parent to see how it works for our classroom and school dynamics.

I also like that you can assess this app from any mobile device.  This means that I can view my students' work from anywhere and anytime.  This is very convenient.

I am so happy that I stumbled upon this app during my Twitter chat with my #TeacherFriends.  It  really is worth trying and experimenting with in your classroom.

Happy Teaching!

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