I recently had the best time of my teaching career. I was able to arrange visits to our library by an eggcelebrity, a group of rescued mutts and two skunks! This may not seem strange to you but as a Technology Instructional Specialist, it is most unusual! Usually our Librarian, Dominque Corpus does it. We had been talking about ways to use technology in a more innovative way than the normal  let me show you the book via document camera or Website! The author visits were setup. It has been a great learning opportunity for all of us.  Each one has been as different as the crayons in a color box!

 I first met Woody Kuon online in an Author chat online. I knew he was funny and very animated. He appeared to be a quick thinker and quite witty!  I was so excited to have him be the first author to visit at PH Greene Elementary.  Woody Kuon  came in with even more energy and excitement than he had in the chat.  He is the author of Humpty Dumpty After the Fall and Elmer the Dog and many more books. He was very engaging with his  excitement and energy from his drawing or during his  dramatic book-reading, and his heart warming story about a Cambodian refugee who comes to America to overcome insurmountable odds. Kuon’s enthusiastic performance and ability to keep kids spellbound inpsired all to believe that there is nothing they cannot do! The students and teachers loved him. The highlight of his visit was when he drew eggcredible drawings of our teachers.  The students will be helping Mr. Kuon with his next project, “The Humpty Writing Project”  to create the world’s longest nursery rhyme and have it published online.

    2014-02-05 10.22.11 HDR                  2014-02-05 14.41.42   2014-02-05 11.12.35

 

2014-02-05 13.44.26Mr. Kuon and  I had a great visit as he was setting up for the autograph session. He shared more stories of his travels and gave me some pointers on how to start a writing/illustrating career of my own!  It has been fun to get to know such a talented man!  We can’t wait for his next visit to our school.

Our next author would be the CritterKins via Google Hangout! The connection to CritterKins was my idea because of how it tied in with our Character School lessons and  the “No Place for Hate” Lessons.   I am not sure who was more nervous about the Google Hangout-the teachers,Mr. Corpus or me!!! Isn’t it funny, how you want to try something new but yet you sometimes just dont have enough faith to convince everyone it will work. Well, I was determined that there wouldnt be any problems! So, a couple of practice runs with the CritterKins folks and we were ready!!  Oh…I forgot to explain something to the students. See….they had seen videos, even gone on a virtual trip to an egg farm but they  really did not get the concept of seeing someone on the screen that would be able to talk with them. It proved to be as enjoyable as Mr. Kuon’s visit. Ms Jena was wonderful! After a few waves and silly faces, we were ready to begin our CritterKin adventure.

We were able to connect via a Google Hangout with Ms. Jena and the CritterKins!2014-05-21 08.40.35
How  fun this was for the Kindergarteners and the First Graders!! After all, children  love critters and especially Dogs!!

 Ms Jena greeted them with a big wave! They were astounded that she was on the screen and talking with them. She chuckled when asked” if she lived in the computer?” She explained that she was at her home in North Carolina but could talk with them like she was on the phone. What a great experience to witness the first Google Hangout!! Ms Jena read the Kindergarteners her story about Ernest along with their help of making noises of the animals that he met along his adventure. She talked about being following directions and doing what you are told. She  taught them the Wiggle Waggle Dance! There were so many laughs and smiles as they were wigglewaggling!    2014-05-24 20.55.332014-05-24 21.07.562014-05-24 21.12.56

She talked to the First Graders about Ricky Bobby and being Kind to animals. Ricky Bobby is a rescue dog who uses a cart to be able to run/walk due to being mistreated as he was growing up. The First Graders were so attentive during the story and video. Afterwards, they asked incredible questions that showed they were indeed paying attention to his story.The compassion for Ricky Bobby and his cart was amazing. You could have heard a pin drop during the story.  They too learned to Wiggle Waggle! It was so much fun to watch the students WiggleWaggle out the door, in the hallway, down to their classes and  to lunch!

                                              2014-05-24 21.26.36         2014-05-24 21.18.23                                                      Ms Jena and the CritterKins will be coming every month next year as part of our Character Building actitivity for every grade.The students are so excited that they will get to learn to draw the Critterkins, hear more of the adventures  and do the Wiggle Waggle dance. Each gradelevel will be writing stories, learning what it means to be kind to all of the critters in the world and the Charqacter council will choose a service project for the school to do. Mr. Corpus and Mrs. Murray, our Counselor  are looking forward to working with Ms Jena and the Critterkins next year!

Our next author was quite unusual,  Stoosh & Skittles are therapy Skunks in Vancouver.banner_1537 I met them also on Twitter and was fascinated with them. After all, the only skunk I knew of was Pepe LePew! I discovered that the skunks were able to go and help children that were very sick or had been in very sad situations. Pau,l their helper was very interesting to talk with too. He wants to let people know that skunks are not stinky, creepy animals but sweet animals just like a dog or cat.  Our Third Graders were in the middle of the their big animal research project. I thought ” what a perfect opportunity” to  tie in how important research is in the world and in business not only in a class. The Third Graders wrote questions to Stoosh & Skittles based on what they knew and what they had discovered as they were learning about their animals. Mrs Sanders and Mrs Benavides were happy that their students used such great questioning skills. Now, they know more than most about skunks and they loved getting skunkified by Stoosh & Skittles.

Next year, we will have a Google Hangout with Ernest, RickyBobby and Stoosh & Skittles. It will be a fun time for sure!!

Upon reflecting on the visits, I want to make sure that we:

  •  let the students know what a GHO will look like-the author doesn’t live in the computer!
  • let them wave, make silly faces before the GHO begins!
  • let the teachers play a more activie role in the visits!
  • promote the visits so that community people can visit too!
  • invovle the principals more-the authors love to meet them too!
  • let the parents know how well behaved the students are during the visit-Everyone was glued to the screen and very engaged!
  • set up more GHO experiences because it is amazing!

I am for sure going to spend my summer connecting with other educators/authors and community people to share with the students at PH Greene Elementary!! So, if you are interested, please let me know either by bcapwell@ccisd.net or on twitter @bobbic07. We can’t wait to see you on the screen in our library!!

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!