14 January 2017

My Dream (A Martin Luther King Inspired Bulletin Board)

We our blessed to enjoy a 3-day weekend in honor of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Some people end up commemorating this day as day to complete acts of community service.  Many cities throw parades.  I am grateful for the people who worked so diligently to open the future to a better society for us through the Civil Rights Movement!

This year, I taught my class about Martin Luther King, Jr. with the following videos:
*Kid President
To teach the concepts of current global injustices the students may not be aware of, I discussed & showed this video on 62 Million Girls aimed at making sure girls without access to education are given the ability to get an education.  Michelle Obama has a program called "Let Girls Learn" and Malala's efforts are called "Girl Rising."
"The time is always right to do what is right." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
After building enough background on this important leader, I used this great & FREE template by Jodi at Fun-in-First for my bulletin board.
I teach at a Leader in Me school so I assigned the students a homework assignment in which they were required to teach a parent/guardian about Habit 8 (Find Your Voice and Inspire Others to Find Theirs).  Then, they were to dig deeper and discover a time when their parent/guardian took a stand or stood up for an injustice by using Habit 8.  Finally, the student wrote their own "Dream" to solve an injustice in the world.  I collected the papers and revised/edited before they published onto the free cloud template from Fun-in-First.
After writing their final copies neatly on the reduced size clouds (75% of the original size), they cut it out and glued down on the top left corner of their turquoise signed name background papers.  If you'd like to use this template, click the image above.  Also, make sure you have the font: KG Eyes Wide Open installed.  Lastly, the students cut & glue a picture of themselves to the bottom right corner.
  If you need something to post beside your bulletin board, you may use the photo above if  you are a Habits or Leader in Me school!

Wayne Ford has created an infographic focusing on Martin Luther King Jr and some of his famous quotes.  This is another great visual to share with your students as you help to build background!

12 January 2017

How to Make Grading Easier! (Google Classroom Tutorial)

Luckily my school district has gone GOOGLE.  This means every child from Kindergarten through 8th grade has their own unique GOOGLE account and unique login information with a district-provided email.  No matter if they are at home or at school, as long as the child has Internet access they may sign into their Google Drive accounts and work on any of their files.

Google Classroom is for you if you are a teacher who:
1. Dreads grading (the process, having to look at unsightly conventions & handwriting errors)
2. Constantly Takes Paperwork for a Ride in Your Car (to/from school without being touched)
3. Is familiar with and already uses Google on a daily basis (for personal and/or work use)

This past summer I was introduced to Google Classroom, and might I say, it is as simple as it looks! Check out the quick tutorial video!  YES!!! It is really easy to get started, especially if all of your students are in a database because your school district technology department has already setup student accounts.
As shown in the Google Classroom 101 video, if you select "Make a copy for each student" when delivering an assignment to your class - it keeps your teacher DRIVE organized without all of the notifications and student files cluttering your "Shared With Me" section.  Google Classroom will give you sharing rights to view each individual student's work but its not taking up memory space in your DRIVE storage.  This is a sanity saver for me!! 

The dashboard allows you to see who has and has not submitted the assignment.  Regardless, you have access to view every student's file.  Another great thing about grading with Google Classroom is you are in control of how little or how much you want to grade!!  And, just as Google Docs/Slides/Sheets (you know Google everything) auto saves as you are working on a document, so does Google Classroom as you are grading!  I can't believe how many times I wish my online gradebook had this feature.  After providing students with their grade and comments, you can "return" the assignment to them so they may view your feedback!

After you have completed your class grading, sort by last name, print and/or toggle back and forth between your online gradebook system for easy inputting of grading.  Typing comments gives that specific and immediate feedback we know is greatly beneficial for students, but it also saves your pretty FLAIR ink pens from dying out after a major writing project or assignment.

If you second guess yourself and really can't figure out whether or not you graded a student assignment or returned it, you can quickly view points received and a message that says "not returned" letting you know your student hasn't been sent your feedback or total points yet.  If you have a bunch of students who should receive the same feedback, simply group them together and before you are prompted if you are ready to return to each individual, you can enter comments that will be delivered to all in that group.  I love how this cuts down on grading time so quickly!

There are some cases where I prefer to give feedback within the actual document itself.  To do this, you can open the actual document and add specific comments on the particular page, paragraph, etc. that you'd like to provide feedback on.  

Here's to hoping your school district will GO google too!

If you'd like to try the free Text Features assignment shown in the preview images above, click here!  Sorry I'm only providing VIEW ONLY access so you will have to make a copy to edit as mentioned with the yellow text box on the title page.

06 January 2017

Writing ONE WORD Visions to INSPIRE in the New Year!

Keep a simple resolution by choosing a one-word focus for the year!  It's a pretty simple concept really, just pick a word that helps you to achieve a certain goal (i.e. relax, family-time, fitness, unplugged, etc.)  For personal use, just write it out on a square sticky note and place it on your laptop or somewhere you'll see in your office.  Make it look nice by adding some artistic detail and relevant illustrations and/or doodles.
If you're a techie, type it up in a handwritten font and add images of your choice.  Why not set it as your desktop wallpaper?  Throughout the year, just silently visualizing or saying the word to yourself will help put it at the forefront of your mind, and I'm positive you'll be more motivated to achieve your goal!  Scroll down to see how my students were able to write one word visions for their New Year Resolutions!

 Here's a look at how a student vision square turned out:

To introduce this activity, we talked about how the beginning of each year is a time a lot of people think about what they want to do during the upcoming year.  Perhaps, they have goals they want to achieve.

Maybe, there's a certain action or hobby they want to improve at during the new year.
Or, like vision boards, maybe there's a desired travel destination to go during the new year!

After brainstorming a list of ideas together as a class and giving examples of how to narrow down a typical kid resolution.  For example, we determined that, "being nicer to my brother or sister" turned into a one word vision would be, "kindness."

In my class, I use an Instagram-themed bulletin board called Leadergram because I tie it in with the Habits for our Leadership classroom.  All the students received a square piece of computer paper.  My headline reads: "2017 vision words to help us 'Begin with the End in Mind!'" because it gives us a purpose on our year-long journey.

Then, I had my students use the sentence starter, "________'s word for 2017 is ________"

The one word vision was supposed to be larger than the rest of the words, bolded (so it would stand out) and then, I suggested they add pictures and/or color to decorate their square papers.

So what's my one word vision this year?  I chose organization!  I feel like I'm always saving binders but never have sat down to take the time to setup and organize all my binders. I can't wait to reduce all the clutter of papers I have through organization this year!  Here's to a more inspired and organized year!

01 January 2017

Have You Heard About Zearn? (You ZEARNED It! freebie)

If you follow or use parts of the Eureka Math / Engage New York / Expeditionary Learning math curriculum in your instruction, you and your students will 💓LOVE💓 zearn.org!

I love how it allows you to use the Zearn interface to teach the lesson/concepts in the same aesthetically-appealing digital format they will experience it when completing their online lessons and challenge (Tower of Power) activities.  Another great thing about using ZEARN is that it builds reports for you so you can track student progress, check-in with students experiencing difficulty, and group your kiddoz based on need.  But, the best thing about it, is it's absolutely FREE!!! 😎 (Check out the video below to see all of the benefits of using Zearn math in your classroom.)

What is Zearn Math? from Zearn on Vimeo.

Recently, I challenged my students to complete 25 Zearn lessons by December 25th!  As a result, the students who made the use of their time in computer lab, in the classroom, and at home, were able to rise to the occasion! 😍

To reward them, I prepped lil' holiday gift bags to put on their desks when we return from winter break.  I didn't spend more than $5 on each kid, as I love to bargain shop and scored great finds during the after-Christmas clearance sales!  Have you been to Target lately?  Lots of items were marked at 70% off, especially their holiday dollar spot items - so we're talking 30 cents, people --- A-MA-ZING!!

This morning, I put together lil' "You Zearned It" reward certificates to attach to their goodie bags.  You can access this free editable file from my store, if it's something you'd like to use as you implement Zearn in your classroom!  All you need to do is change the name in the PowerPoint file to the student you are rewarding and print on the cardstock or paper of your choice!  (I used lime green - also green is the big color of 2017, or so I've heard)
I'm thinking for my Valentine's challenge, I will punch a couple holes in the red/pink certificates and attach a Pixi Stix candy straw - YUM! 😉