Saturday, September 24, 2016

Tech Tuesday in First Grade

Seriously, No Joke, 100% IN LOVE with Kahoot! and Google Drive.

Okay lets back up a little bit... last year our county announced they were taking away our macbook’s and giving us Lenovo ThinkPads. Along with our brand new {not so amazing} teacher laptops, we were told we would be getting new desktops in our classrooms, and a few laptops for our classrooms. Additionally, each grade would be getting a laptop cart or 2 to share. We all thought, great, we’ll pick a morning/afternoon each week and have the kids play on some of the technology that comes along with our curriculum.

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FAST FORWARD to pre-planning week ... a group of teenage volunteers come strolling down the first grade hallway with not 1, or 2 laptop carts but 6!! SIX laptop carts for 10 of us to share (each cart contains 20 computers)!!! This changed EVERYTHING!

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One of these 6 carts lives in my classroom 2.5 days a week. The 2nd week of school I decided we would have Tech Tuesdays in our classroom. This started with learning how to log-in, and how to navigate a few computer programs. Week 3 it evolved a little bit, but still a lot of “playing” on the computer. While this was amazing... it was not productive, and I actually felt like it took away from our learning time each week.

So I set out to do some RESEARCH. I knew I was not the only person using laptops in a first grade classroom, and I knew that this was such a great idea that someone HAD to have blogged about it!! I stumbled across great blog that had lots of ideas on how to use Chromebooks in a primary classroom. Our laptops were slightly different but some of the ideas were the same.

Week 4 became slightly more evolved. We learned some techie pharses, and learn that there are things OTHER THAN THE INTERENT on a computer!! Again, still some “playing.”

Week 5’s Tech Tuesday started a whole new adventure for us!! It all began on Monday... a few kids asked if they could use their laptop do to this or that during specific centers. I agreed. I carefully watched them log themselves in, and navigate to where they wanted to go with out assistance. All while I worked with writing groups to edit, and revise a story. I even had one student use her “work on writing” time to do some research and take notes about Johnny Appleseed (WHAT?!?!?)

Tuesday we used the laptops to learn how to type final drafts of their stories in Microsoft word. We use some digital leveled readers to read during reading groups. We played a few rounds of Kahoot! And we used virtual manipulatives to further our understanding of math concepts.

I was very proud of these kiddos. These kids who can not listen to 1 step directions 90% of the time were able to log themselves onto their laptop, able to navigate to desired websties, and navigate to directed websties.

We finished our 2.5 days with our laptops by most of us publishing our 1st story; changing font size, and type, and hitting the print button.


best part of all this... our brand new principal walked into the classroom, facetiming someone, to show them how my classroom library is set up and got to witness first hand our remarkable my group of firsties are!

You can find my Kahoot!s here and my friend’s here.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Using STEM

Wow that went fast!
Our first week back was crazy busy but crazy fun too.

Over the summer I decided to try something new with my class. I didn't want to just play silly get to know you games, I wanted to give them a more meaningful activities to help them get to know their new classmates.

So I set out to search pinterest to find inspiration. And there I found some great STEM activities that were simple enough I wouldn't need a lot of extra supplies, and simple enough that my new firsties would be successful.

I then designed this nifty little PDF to either be printed, (or displayed on a white board) to explain each challenge. My firsties and I were only able to get to 2 during our first week. But MAN OH MAN was I blown away!!!

The first day of school we did the Stacking Cup Challenge. I couldn't have imagined the outcome of this challenge. First of all they were taking turns, and sharing ideas. Secondly, when that first red solo cup fell I heard this magical sound... 

LAUGHTER!! It was hilarious, the cups made the best sound ever, but laughter was not the reaction I was expecting from the kiddos.

<< << But what I witnessed next blew me away  >> >>

The kids were learning from their mistakes and looked to each other for motivation!!! ALL ON THEIR OWN! (Insert a bit of sarcasm the, I'm the total opposite of a helicopter mom or teacher)

I didn't have to give any hints, and I didn't have to encourage any groups to try again. When their cups fell they quickly picked them up, had a conversation, and went back to work. Almost like it was second nature. (again with the sarcasm) We did a quick talk - and were actually late for dismissal because of it - about the importance of carrying that same exact attitude the REST of first grade.

That night I went home and made them a very special Brag Tag for being such awesome people.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Math Journals

I spent a good part of my night last night adjusting one of my favorite TPT Resources so that it would be ready for my Math Journaling center.

I bought this product, several years ago. And have been in love with it ever since!!! But yes I said I had to adjust it…

We have a copy limitation at our school, and while I love the story problems on these pages, there is NO WAY I can print this full page, or even half page, and still have enough copies for things like HOMEWORK!! So I cut, paste, and move around the great story problems, to make it so there are 5 on one page… then print these bad boys on COLORED paper. Throw them in some magazine boxes and BAM! Math Journals are set for a month!!

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How I use these story problems with my Gifted High Achieving kiddos?!?! That is my favorite part! We spend the 1st month doing these as a whole group activity. Learning what it is Mrs. Campbell expects. After that we do a story problem a week as a group to keep these expectations going.

What is it I expect? Well most of my Gifted kids have the goal, “Student will use a variety of strategies to solve complex grade appropriate mathematical problems.” The best way to make sure they meet this goal… is well… by making them use a VARIETY of STRATEGIES to SOLVE MATHMATICAL PROBLEMS.

We learn the strategies in class. We talk about examples, and non-examples of how to each strategy. Then we put them to work. Each week my kiddos are required to do 1 story problem independently during centers. When I print them, I print each story problem on a different color paper so they can easily keep track of what they have done. Even if they can solve it mentally, they are not allowed!!! They must write the number sentence that the story problem is asking, then the number sentence they are actually going to solve (only if its different, example missing numbers etc). They must show the problem solving strategy they used, this can be a picture, a model, or another number sentence. Finally, the must explain how they solved the problem, using math vocabulary!

I love watching my firsties grow from basic answers to really understanding the strategies and using them to solve their problems.

(obviously not ever day is a great day for these activities!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer Lovin'

I love summer!! I’ve loved summer all of my life! I grew up in Vermont, were summer was am welcomed relief from the other 9 bitter cold months! I fondly remember every summer as a child. Camping, our high school pool, a few trips to the beach, cook-outs, and of course talking into the fan to sound like a robot!

The Vermont summers of my childhood were a huge difference from the blazing, and often-uncomfortable summers of South Florida. But regardless I still love summer! I promise I didn’t get into teaching because of summers off.

Being a teacher, and a mom I live my life from school year to school year, not calendar year to calendar year. For me summer represents a new beginning; more so than the January 1st does.

Currently, summer is a time to pre-plan for the upcoming year. Last summer I was given the opportunity to teach our schools first grade gifted class. While I was beyond excited for this opportunity, I really didn’t know what it would entail. In the past, my schools first grade gifted class has really been a high achieving class at best. So I didn’t know what to plan for, what aspect of my regular teaching would need to be stepped up. I had no clue what this past year held in store for me.

My first year as the gifted teacher was defiantly a trial by fire… but this isn’t a post about how crazy this past school was.

My biggest new beginning this summer is this. The creation of a “social media presence.” Now don’t get me wrong, I love social media! I was on Facebook back when you still had to have a school email. I was on Pinterest when you still had to be invited. And every picture I take goes through a million Instagram filters before it hits the web. But up to this point, for me social media has been just me staying in contact with my family, and a few close friends I’ve met along this journey.

A little more than a year ago I started posting things I made for my own classroom on TPT. Then last summer, I started doing projects for my friends. I would create it for my friend, and then post it to my TPT store. Over the last year, I have enjoyed ever success I have had on TPT. Flattered it the best word to describe it. Every time I sell a product I say “wow, someone actually enjoyed what I made.” And listening to my class sing “money, money, mon-ey” every time the cash register chime would go off was just a fun bonus.

Thank you for reading (and hopefully following) my blog. The adventure of the 2016-17 year is about to start.

But first… we still have 6 weeks of summer left!

I've also been busy creating these Read to Friend non-fiction centers.