small plant I love learning and growing-that may sound sappy but it is the truth. I feel that learning is very similar to gardening. As a person that struggles with growing anything other than grass in my yard, it will sound even stranger! When I found myself getting frustrated, I had to remember that every plant grows at its own pace. I can learn at my own pace too but can I write? Sometimes I tend to forget my own learning and that is why I wanted to start a blog. I wanted to share what I was learning by writing it down. (In my head, I had planted the seed!)

I am not an experienced blogger by any means. When I started, I wanted my blog to be in full bloom to keep with the plant analogy! I wanted it to be one that visitors remembered and to follow. (What was I thinking???) I discovered that it is much harder than I expected it to be. med plantI had every self doubt imaginable! I had missed some crucial steps. I have 12 half-finished blog entries now because I lost focus or got sidetracked or just thought they were not good enough. Much like a transplanted seedling in the wrong soil, I wasn’t growing nor was my blog-we were wilting on the vine.  The more I tried, the more I was flooded with words that never got to my blog.  It sat there for several months without anything added to it. My blog was dying! What could I do?

I asked my friends in my Personalized Learning Network for help and direction. I had incredible support from three of my friends: Susan Oxnevad, Rafranz Davis, and Walter O. Duncan. You should include them in your PLN too!  This is what they told me to keep my blog from withering away!

They told me to first to relax (My thoughts are in parenthesis)(Never have but there is always a first time!)and then:

  1. Write from your own experiences-(Don’t try to be someone you are not! Really? I want to be
    like you-Ya’ll are such a Wordsmiths.)
  2. Write it for you- (I don’t write in a reflective journal except in a required classroom
    environment! You want me to do it on my own?
    )
  3. Write like you talk (Oh great! That means sarcasm will show up for sure!
    No one will want to read that!)
  4. Include images that pertain to your topic!(Don’t use them just to use them- make them
    relevant
    )
  5. Write entries consistently not once every year but weekly! (Are you serious? Do you know how long it takes to write one?)
  6. Write down things that you want to learn about or sites you have been to (Do they know I have a folder with links to go back and explore more?)
  7. Be a good digital Citizen. Give credit for things you use from quotes to images! (Yes, I do that)

I started to read /explore blogs every chance I got. I found blogs on every curriculum area and topic that was relative to my position as a Technology Integration Specialist.  I also noticed that I saw those same people on Twitter.  Was there a connection? Yes, there was because once you write 140 characters and can be comfortable with that a paragraph comes easier and your thought progresses. Wahoo! I think I get the idea. I continued to read, I noticed that amazingly, my three friends were right!  (Not that I doubted their expertise just my ability) It was as if everybody knew the formula but me. How was it that they all had the same formula? I believe it was because they knew to start small and grow. I even checked out a webinar or 2 from SimpleK12’s Building Your Own Website or Blog with Word Press by Jerry Swiatek.  He too suggested the same things that my friends had already told me. (I know amazing, right?) Take your time and follow the steps above and you can will write a blog too. Your blog will grow and you will look forward to writing it and sharing what you are learning!

largeplant

So, I leave you today with a list of my favorite blogs for inspiration and remember you can write also but remember to write it for you and watch it grow!

Blog

Author

Twitter

Cool Tools for 21st Learners

Susan Oxnevad

@soxnevad

Confessions of a Tech Specialist

Rafranz Davis

@rafranzdavis

The Quick Key Blog

Walter O. Duncan

@4_teachers

Free Technology for Teachers

Richard Bryne

@ rmbryne

The Innovative Educator

Lisa Nielsen

@InnovativeEdu

friEDTechnology

Amy Mayer

@friEDTechnology

21st CenturyCollaborative

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

@PLPNetwork

Teacher Rebootcamp

Shelley Terrell

@ shellterrell

 Today’s Blog challenge is to write about a favorite book. So….What could be better than making and eating Chocolate Chip Cookies?

After all, the smell of the cookies is wonderful, so I selected the book, The Doorbell Rang to go along with our family unit. This unit is one of my favorites. Maybe it is because my daughter is a Pastry Chef or maybe it is from the fun I have had making cookies as young child to now.

The Doorbell Rang, by Pat Hutchins, is the story of children sharing a plate of cookies. Mom is doing chores and each time the doorbell rings more of the children’s friends have come to visit. Mom states after each group arrives, “You can share the cookies.” The story tells of the problems and solutions as the group grows ever larger.

The lesson begins just like any other usual day. Ok, maybe not usual because you have a package of cookies in your hands.  Ask the children how we could share a package of cookies with the whole class? Can we get more than one? Ask the children how we could share three cookies with the whole class. Would we get a whole one? Give them time to problem solve here. The important part is to let them figure out about sharing without telling them that is the process.

  • Introduce the story. Hold up the book and give them time to look at all of the details. Encourage them to think about what is going to happen.
  • Encourage a class discussion as they look at cover. Ask the students to note the details and discuss why there might be a difference in what the mom and the children are doing.
  • Then allow the kids to explain what they see. (Examples: The lady made lots of cookies. They have lots of people coming to their house. I bet those cookies taste good. I don’t like to give my cookies to my brother. My mom makes really yucky cookies.)
  • Read the book to the class and point to key pictures.
  • After reading, talk about what happened in the story and how they shared the cookies. Remind them about times when the class has shared snacks.
  • Explain that everyone will chime in “You can share the cookies”. It will not be long before the students start to chime in with the repetitive phrases.
  • Explain that this week; they will be bakers just like the Mom in the story in all of the Centers.
  • At the end of the lesson, offer the students a chance to tell their most favorite cookie. Graph the results.
  • The students will enjoy the culmination activity of actually mixing and baking cookies to share with others.
  • In this part, ask the students to tell what they believe will be in the cookies. (After the station time, this should be easier due to the empty boxes in the center.)
  • Have the students to take turns putting in the ingredients and stirring the mix. Make sure that you use the vocabulary from the book and get the students to use all of their senses.
  • Make sure that every student makes at least 4 cookies to ensure that they will have cookies to share.
  • After baking them, pass napkins and allow the students to share their cookies with someone in the class, in the hall or office. (Great chance to make a Class book: The Doorbell Rang! Ding Dong! I can share the cookies with _____. Take pictures of the students sharing their cookies.)
  • This would be one of the most favorite lessons.

  Class Connections at Centers or Stations:

  • Math Center: They will pretend to share the cookies. In order to show how they can play with the felt cookie manipulatives, pass them out in the circle. Pass the cookies out to a select number of students so that they can divide them equally. Repeat and change the number of students, but use the same number of cookie manipulatives. The center will also have an apron, bell, plastic plates, napkins, pan and the cookie manipulatives.
  • Art Center: Have cookie cutters to stamp with, Paint with milk, paint on foil like a sheet pan.
  • Home Center: Have measuring cups, empty container of chocolate chips, sugar, butter, vanilla, flour, vanilla, spoon, measuring spoons, mixing bowl, baking sheet, spatula. Explain that they can pretend to make the cookies.
  • Writing Center: Have word cards with the names of the ingredients and tools. This would be a way to learn some new words and actions. They will write sentences about the cookies or just copy the words.
  • Large Play Center:  In the Blocks, have the cars and trucks and blocks to make bakeries and to deliver the cookies.
  • Small Play Center:  Have Baker puzzles, cookie puzzles and Cookie Bingo game.
  • Technology: Watch the video The Doorbell Rang , Using the software KidPix or any drawing program; they can draw a new cookie to share. I will share the cookie with _____.
  • Play dough Center:  Have cookie cutters to make cookies and share.
    Chocolate Chip – Mix cocoa powder into the play dough. Vanilla wafers-mix vanilla into the play dough.
  • Library Center: Books to listen to and read.

books

Extra Ideas to help with the lesson:

  • Tour of the kitchen-talk with the Manager to get her to talk about how she makes her cookies and then you can compare it to how the class made their cookies.
  • Compare the sizes of the sizes of ingredients-tallest to shortest, food-nonfood, dry-wet.
  • Brainstorm things that could be made out of a cookie.
  • Higher level of thinking activity: It used to be a cookie but now it is a ______.

 

Hope you can see that creativity and diverse learning are alive and well in our classroom. I love to watch the students as they are making their play dough cookies and all of the language that takes place. No one can take that realistic learning away from them. I also love how the students come back to school after we have made the cookies and talk about the cookies they made at home too.

Love when learning comes full circle!

Enjoy your baking and learning and don’t forget to share your cookies!

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Things I do now that I have a PLN

It is funny how your perception changes once you start really communicating with the people you follow on any Social Media. These folks I am talking about are some of the most incredibly brilliant and creative people in the world. My PLN reminds me of the Nursery Rhyme with the Butcher, Baker and Candlestick maker- I have Educational Consultants, Educators of all subjects and ages, Preachers, Musicians, Chefs, Programmers, and Authors. What a support system it has become! I thought this would be a great way to express what I have learned from them. Sometimes, it might be a quick status, tweet or a direct message that means something to me or that makes me think “I want to learn more about that” or “How Cool! I could share that with my teachers!”

These are the top 5 of my PLN!

5. Walter O. Duncan IV (@4_teachers): Walter is an amazing app developer. He saw a need of teachers being able to take scantron results and quickly use the data from them.  The teachers can see who is or is not learning immediately with the results that are sent to them. They do not have to wait to get class reports from their AP or district. Quick Key is an app that is available on the iPhone or iPad. The kids are as excited as the teachers that use it in their classes. It is pretty easy to use which is a big plus! Walter is easy to talk with. He responded very quickly to questions and was so sweet. His response made it so easy to share the Quick Key  with my teachers! Now, my 3rd-5th Grade Teachers are using it daily for quick results of the learning and of their teaching. It gave the teachers another tool to put in their toolbox. Thank you Walter!

4. Peter Reynolds (@peterhreynolds)If you have read the book, The Dot then you know the brilliance of Peter. He too is very kind. Peter is a very talented man plus a big proponent of Education. Our school participated in The Dot Day last year. I first discovered him them. He not only has great activities on his website but really cares about the kids. Peter likes to talk about creativity but also about the entire education process. He also loves to communicate with the students. They love that. I love just reading his tweets which are very insightful and fun. He has even inspired me to go back and get my creativity going again! I didn’t make a Dot but did draw 4 chefs for my daughter’s apartment!Thanks Peter!

3. Shelly S Terrell (@ShellTerrell) I first met Shelly via a webinar at SimpleK12. She was a ball of energy with  the cutest pug as her sidekick. She was one of the first presenters that I connected online with. Shelly is eager to answer questions, compare notes or even explain how to do something she has written or talked about. She too is very creative and has more knowledge than I will ever obtain. I love the way she is so upbeat and sweet as she does her webinars or just chats with me. She is the type of teacher I would have loved to have had when I was in school. Shelly makes learning enjoyable and memorable and you can’t wait to share it with others. Thanks so much Shelly!

2.Susan Oxnevad (@soxnevad) Susan is another one that I met via SimpleK12. I saw her webinars listed and wasn’t exactly sure how to create multimedia graphics so I checked it out. Wow! I was invigorated and so excited to start creating my graphics. I thought about the best way to showcase this for the teachers to see how easy it was to do. I am always sending out links to them for projects, holidays and specific curriculum tie in. The multimedia graphic was perfect for that. I did strike up a conversation with Susan to make sure I completely got the interactive aspect. She was so kind to take a peek at my example and even gave me some ways to improve it. We have a wonderful Gingerbread Man interactive graphic that the classes can use in the lab, on an Interactive Whiteboard or at a station. The best part is that the teachers have begun creating their own. We have them for all subjects and in several grades. That is why Susan is in my top 5. She was able to show me something that I could take and make my own and share. Thanks Susan!

1. Rafranz Davis (@RafranzDavis) I actually started as a follower of hers around ISTE. Rafranz is also who I learned about Educamps from. She was so excited about the one she was going to that I just had to check it out. She is an incredible encourager, educator and a major influence in my life. Rafranz was first to say, You need to blog! I hemmed and hawed and told myself that I was not good at it and no one would read it. She kept encouraging me with her own experiences at blogging. I was still doubtful. So, I have been silently blogging. That means I have been blogging only for myself. Kind of like a selfie, so I call it self-bogging; with one big difference only I see them. Look at me now, a real blog that will be posted soon. The other way that Rafranz has helped me is posting the route she runs. Wow, now that sounds like I am  stalker! I figured if she was out and enjoying nature there has to be something good in it! She has given me the push to get out and walk with my dog and think about things that matter to me. That has inspired me to write them down and share them with the world! Thank you Rafranz for helping me not to be afraid!

So friends, it is at the end of the first week of 2014 and I am still  learning, sharing, writing, drawing, walking my dog and loving every minute of it.

Check out their sites and you can see wht they are my Top 5 !

This month brings lots of things to the front of our focus. Teacher Appreciation Week is one that I think should be recognized all year not just for one week during the most hectic time of the year. Teachers work very hard without many pats on the back, praise, or happy notes.

Who else could wrangle a group of 5 year olds to the carpet and show them a schema that will last for the rest of their life?  teacher

Who else could take a non interested reader and change them into a ravenous reader?

Who else can read a letter written in what looks like another language but is really invented spelling?

Who else can take all of the criticism from outside of education and  keep a big smile on their face and an even bigger desire to work with their students even more?

The answer is TEACHER!!

Teaching is a great profession. I have been an educator for 32 years and still love it as much as I did at the beginning.

I believe people have taken teachers for granted. That taking for granted just breaks my heart because we are the builders of tomorrow. Without teachers , there would be not one doctor, lawyer, president, CEO or CTO, cowboy, iron worker, truck driver or general!

I am proud to be in a profession that has weathered adversity yet stayed positive!

So, remember to thank a teacher for what they do not just during this week but every week in the year!