Sunday, August 23, 2015

QR Code Activity

As most of you know I am working on getting things together for our technology day during teacher in-service week. I have almost completed my presentation on how to make and use QR codes in the classroom. As promised I will share everything with you all from how to make the QR codes to now that I can make them how do I use them in the classroom.

I wanted to make something to use as a get to know you/opener (of course using QR codes) for the class, so I created a Dynamic Duo QR Code Activity. This can be used with all grade levels as well as adults. I also included blank numbered cards that you can add your own pictures, QR codes, etc.

Dynamic Duos QR Code Activity

You can find it here on TpT!

I also placed all the red and black number sets you have seen in my previous classroom reveals into a FREE bundle set on TpT...finally!

Polka Dot Number Sets Bundle


Thursday, August 13, 2015

Classroom Blogging - Test Phase

Today was the last day of summer school. I must say it was nice to step back into the classroom and teacher role. One thing I realized I missed was the connections you make as a classroom teacher. When walking into the building one morning a student yelled from the distance..."Morning Mrs. Falkenhagen...GUESS WHAT?!?! I got my stitches out yesterday!" He was so happy and excited to share his news. As instructional coach I get to know some students but not the same way as classroom teachers. I'm excited to have this (short but great) time with the rising 6th graders that are new to our building, I think I've made some connections with them that will carry over into the new school year.

Summer school is a great time to test a few things out that you may want to use during the next school year. I did just that, and had my students blog!

I was a little nervous but I thought why not give it a shot, and seeing I'm teaching a tech class about it I should have actual classroom experience. 

I researched a few different sites and settled on Kidblog. I chose it because of my students being in 6th grade and it seemed like a good platform for this age group. I think this is a good site for most middle school students. If I was teaching high school I would probably use Blogger...mostly because ALL of our students in the district have email accounts through Google/Gmail. Blogger would allow them to connect the account without having to use multiple platforms. Now the logistics of how to use Blogger would be slightly more difficult (do I give each student their OWN blog, do we have a class blog that they can post to, etc.)

Needless to say blogging was a HIT! The students were very engaged and begged to log on and write.

If you choose to use Kidblog I would highly suggest paying or getting your district to pay for the membership. With the membership you can add more than 40 students, access their clipart (which helps with the headache of students searching the internet for pictures), and much more.

With Kidblog you create a class blog that the students write and post to. It allows them to post just to the teacher, the class, or you can set it to post publicly. The teacher approves comments prior to them posting, a great feature. As a teacher I could read the student drafts as they were writing them allowing me to make suggestions.

The first day we discussed the definition of a blog, I showed them my blog. What types of blogs are out there: teacher blogs, recipe blogs, fashion blogs, diary blogs, family blogs, etc. We looked a a few different ones, and talked about their posts. Always a great time to review internet safety. I talked with them about posting, that this is a quick write/read, and why people like the forum of blogs. We discussed that we still write with capital letters, punctuation, and correct grammar....this is NOT TEXTING!!!

The hardest part was the actual logging in...the first day. If we had access to iPads I would have made a QR code for them to scan that would take them directly to our page. After that...the students were on self pilot, changing their avatars, header pictures, and writing. Everyone picked it up so quickly and it was the quietest they had been all week.

Sorry no link to our class blog...due to it being such a short amount of time I didn't have permission from parents to make it a public blog. I think as a classroom teacher I would keep it as a classroom only blog for the first part of the year and then open it up to the public later. Speaking of parents...there is a way for them to connect to the class blog as well, what a great way for them to see their student's work, and also communicate with them and the class.

If you are interested in your class blogging...I highly suggest you look into Kidblog, very user friendly and great for Elementary and Middle School.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Get To Know Me

As some of you are starting back to school next week I thought I'd share a GREAT packet I purchased from TpT (click picture to go to the product).

I have used some of these with my summer school students and they LOVE them.

One of the favorites was Would You Rather...

They each got to choose a card from the middle, one at a time. The person who chose the card read it to the group, would answer it, then explain why they chose what they did. Some of the cards were: Would you rather live in space or under the sea? Would you rather learn to talk all over again or learn to walk all over again? Some were silly and some were very thought provoking. They really enjoyed it!

I would suggest with the Would You Rather activity giving the students some time to maybe write some of them in their journal and let them answer them, they really had to work hard not to blurt out what they would rather do!

Well it's August here and the smoke has rolled in from CA fires.

Our little valley is the perfect pocket for the smoke, no fun!

(there is usually a great view of our fields out there)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Summer School Part 1

There is no Day 1 post due to the chaotic first day of anythingness...yep new word! The first day consisted of a shorter schedule due to an assembly, and OMGoodness we have WAY more students here than we anticipated what are we going to do!?!?

The idea was that two of our certified teachers would teach rising 7th, 8th, and 9th graders ELA, Math, and PE. While I would teach the 6th grade (ELA, Math, welcome to middle school and team building) self contained. I guess the idea of "welcome to middle school" took off, we had 50+ students show up and are continuing to show up! Fortunately the superintendent showed up today and immediately went to the Cabinet and they approved us for an additional teacher. I guess it's a great problem to have!

What does a classroom with fifty or so students you ask?!

The first day consisted of taking our pretests, of course. I also had them make their own name plate, because as I informed them it was going to be difficult to memorize ALL their names in such a short amount of time. I also like having them make name plates because we added other information on them as well. In the middle they wrote their first name, top left: favorite color, top right: favorite movie, bottom left: person that has inspired them, bottom right: birth month. I use the name plates to help form groups (same birth month, same favorite color) as well as a few "get to know you" conversations.

One activity the students completed was Get to Know You BINGO. This is not a new activity, but this time I chose to use a BINGO card with a few more "difficult" boxes. You can find the lessons here. Prior to giving them the cards I let them know that some of the boxes had a few more challenging questions. We talked about being respectful and understanding. This of course got them even more interested.

My rules were: you could only sign one box per card (I wouldn't be allowed to sign 4 boxes on my friend Sally's card), you could not sign your own card, we played blackout!

When we finished the activity (time was up before BINGO was called) we returned to the classroom, and had great discussions about things they found out as they were talking to each other. Some of the responses were simple and some very deep. I was very proud of how respectful they were of each other's feelings and thoughts.

Another activity we completed was a simple Snowball.
   Each student took out a clean piece of notebook paper
   On the paper they wrote one thing they were scared/nervous about as they started middle school
   Once they wrote their response they wadded the paper up
   We stood in a circle and then threw the papers to the middle
   I called a group at a time to pick up one of the papers and read it quietly to themselves
   We returned to our seats and then shared with the whole group what was on the paper
I wrote their concerns on the board, when we were done I did my best to discuss and address their fears/concerns.

We were able to get another teacher for day 3 and the remainder of the program! We split this large group into two, but will continue to follow the same lesson plans. I'm pretty excited as to what the next few weeks bring!

Now if they could just get the air fixed I will be one happy camper...105 outside makes it pretty stuffy in the classrooms!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Instagram Help...please

Well I finally opened an Instagram account for Dandelions and Dragonflies. It wasn't because I'm against it or dislike it...I just have SO many social media accounts!

I'm not kidding....
Dandelions and Dragonflies: Facebook, Gmail, Blogger, Pinterest, and now Instagram
Quite a Pear: Facebook, Pinterest, and Yahoo
Work: Gmail, and I help manage the Facebook account
Personal: Gmail, Instagram, and Pinterest

So here is something I have ran into, on my phone I can log out of my personal Instagram account and in to Dandelions and Dragonflies account...not too difficult. The problem occurs when I want to post my D and D Instagram picture to my D and D Facebook page (are you following this?). It won't let me because I'm logged into my personal account through the FB app.

I tried to edit my D and D Instagram profile on my computer and simply add my D and D FB page to the app, but it won't let me. It says I have not selected any, but when I'm in the app and try to select it....well it goes to my personal FB page.

Am I making this more complicated then it has to be??? Should I just not link them??

Friday, July 17, 2015

A New Book

Pretty excited...just released...

This is now the third book in the series. I blogged before about the first book Because of Mr. Terupt you can catch up about the lessons and book here.

I can not stress enough about how great these book are. If you are about the start school next month I would highly recommend reading Because of Mr. Terupt to your class (5th grade is the perfect grade level).

My former students still rave about this book and I'm sure will be as excited as I am that there is a third book.

I think this poster for the book sums up the main idea of all three books...

In  all three books the chapters are broken into months, giving a little background some times during the summer, and then continue through the school year. Within each chapter you get to "hear" the story from all seven different perspectives with the seven characters telling the story in their own words and voice.

What do you think?

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

My Agenda

Thank you all for the great advice and comments about blogging in the classroom and QR codes!

I will absolutely share all the "goodies" that I plan on using for the PD.

To answer a few questions:
-Our district is rolling out a 1:1 iPad initiative. This is district wide, now I do teach in a small rural district with four elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school.
-All grade levels K-12 will be 1:1. Now not all students will be able to take the iPads home.
-I was on the 1:1 committee, but there were still a lot of things that were being decided when it came to the roll out of I guess we will see when school starts :)

I am really working on trying to get back into the swing of blogging, crafting, and of course work. I figure if I am going to teach PD on blogging I should...well, actually blog!

This week I'm focusing on the crafting...filling a few orders for label/ribbon sets, and starting to craft some things for the model classroom I will be setting up for professional development...I think I FINALLY settled on a theme!! Wouldn't you like to know!

Next on the agenda is to gear up for AVID training in Denver, CO.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. It is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap by preparing all students for college and other post secondary opportunities.

Two people in our district wrote the grant and so now we get to head to Denver for some training with NIKE: "AVID trains educators to use proven practices in order to prepare students for success in high school, college, and a career, especially students traditionally underrepresented in higher education."

I'm pretty excited to see what this program holds for our district. Due to the rural area we have a large population of students that do not move on to college or those other post secondary opportunities.

I will keep you all posted.

Finally as soon as I get back from Denver I will be teaching summer school for rising 6th graders.

Whew! I guess I can't say I won't have anything to blog about.