Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The End is Near

I came across a couple blog posts this week that I just had to share. As the year comes to an end, we are busy wrapping up projects, packing up classrooms, and maybe even thinking about next year. Hopefully the advice I found will help you as you close the book of another school year!

Scholastic had an article entitled "Ten Things to Think About as You Pack Up Your Classroom". Here are some of the highlights:

1. Summer Homework: Try to only take home ONE basket of work to do over the summer, such as professional development books you'd like to read.
2. Start Early: Maybe you already have! Is there anything you can pack away now that you know you won't use again this school year?
3. Take Pictures: So that you can refer back to them as you arrange furniture, bulletin boards, etc.
4. Where Did You Put the Essentials?: Pack a box of items that you know you will need right away: Scissors, glue, tape, a stapler, and anything else you'll need to start setting up your classroom. Make sure it then goes in a safe place!
5. Classroom Inventory: As you pack, make a list of things you know you will need to get for next year. Then you can start the new year ready to go, without having to make several trips to Target or the teacher store.
6. Clean as You Go: As you pack away items, give them a wipe down to have them clean and ready to go for next year.
7. Level Your Books: Before packing away your classroom library, take a little bit of time to organize them. You'll be happy you did in August!
8. Use Giant Ziploc Bags: It makes things easy to see and store.
9. Organize the Cabinets: Organize and label your cabinets and storage shelves to make it easier when it comes to setting up your classroom. 
10. Purge: My favorite thing to do! Get rid of things you haven't used. The more you get rid of, the less you have to pack!

All packed up? Good, now you can do a little bit of reflecting :) In a post on Edutopia called Year-End Tech Reflections, Nick Provenzano encourages you to reflect on things you did this year and evaluate how they went. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1) What tools did you use?
2) How did you use these tools?
3) Was the tool effective in what you wanted to accomplish?
4) What tools could be removed or replaced?
5) What are your goals for next year?

Check out his post for more!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Student Selectors & Random Word Generators

Do you have a cup full of popsicle sticks with your students names on them? Do you use them to call on students randomly? Well... with the end of the year approaching, you might be looking for something new to jazz up your lessons. Try one of these random name generators on the SmartBoard and make your students want to be called on!

The Random Name Selector allows you to randomly pick names from a list you've created. Once you have entered your students' names and clicked the Go button, a name is selected (and said aloud), you are given several choices. You can start a two minute timer or a seven minute timer. You also have the option of removing the name from your list. It has fun animation, sound effects, and a large fun font so it's perfect for displaying on your SmartBoard.

To use it, just click on Change Names and type in your names, numbers, words, etc. Then click Go!

The Dartboard Student Selector chooses a student from a dartboard.

There are options to save your class, remove names once selected, clear darts after each throw, and reset names. You can also increase the rate of your dart throw. How fun is that!

The Random Name/Word Picker from is another fun way to choose a student or even a vocabulary word. Just type in your students' names (or copy/paste from another document), choose either the typewriter option or fruit machine, and your random name/word is displayed!

These tools don't have to be limited to just names- you can enter numbers, vocab words, spelling words, writing ideas, characters in a story, geography terms.. basically anything you can create a list of! The possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Foreign Language Activities

Our students are lucky to be exposed to a foreign language everyday, but with summer approaching, maybe parents and students are looking for something new and fun to practice with! Here are some learning games and activities... and not all of them are for Spanish! ;-)

Who knows, maybe you'll be inspired to learn a language yourself!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Math Treasure Chest & Sumdog

A couple of fun math resources this week to add to your resource collection!

First up is a website that would be great for the SmartBoard. It has "treasure chests" of different math manipulatives that you can use and adapt within your lesson on the spot. For example, clicking on the Money treasure chest allows you to stamp a certain amount of coins. Then you can have students count them, and it has an answer box that will show how much money you have drawn. There are also pattern & attribute blocks, a spinner, place value, fractions, and more.

I came across Sumdog in a blog post by Run Teacher Run. Here's what she has to say about the site and how she's using it with students:

"The website is called Sumdog, and the games are all FREE!!  There are 20 different games for the kids to pick from and there are 10 levels of skills.  As the teacher, you can pick specific skills or levels or just have them pick what they want. 

The kids have taken off and are playing at home, and beg to play at school!  Did I mention the games are FREE!?!?!  There is a teacher fee only if you want reports based on your students' progress and responses to questions. 

Motivation for the students is that it is game oriented, they get points for each game, and they also earn coins to upgrade their profile and add clothes to their avatar. As they earn points they are also able to earn "animal" status that depends on their point balance.  There are so many ways to keep them motivated!  

Motivation for the teachers is that they kids LOVE it!!  Also, they are able to do it at home and continue practicing their math skills beyond their classroom.  I also love that I can change the skills based on my students.  It is extremely easy to differentiate their skills on the program and add/subtract skills as needed.  The reports are also AMAZING for creating math groups.  I know many people are going toward the math workshop model, and this helps identify student strengths and weaknesses as you go through the classroom.  That data is great to see what they are capable of on the independent level!  I love it!"

Okay, I know that was a lot of reading, but hopefully her testimony will inspire you to check it out!