Friday, October 25, 2013

These Boots Are NOT Made For Walking

I teach in a school in a Northern state, but usually we do not get snow until at least November.  We'll get a dusting around Thanksgiving, for example, but our first serious snowfalls don't start until December or January.

Well, this past Wednesday we actually got a dusting of snow in the middle of October.  As I drove to work, I watched the little bits of snow turn to water when they hit the ground.  It didn't last more than an hour at the most and there wasn't any significant accumulation.

However, you would have thought the world had come to a screeching halt as far as the kids were concerned!

"Mrs. Gumby...snow!", announced a young student as he walked into the school.

"That's the first snow I've ever seen!", said a new student from Bangladesh. Etc., etc., etc.

As I stood just inside the entrance to the school fulfilling my weekly hall duty requirement, I started noticing the footwear on children's feet.  Yes, I started seeing pair after pair of snow boots!  (Hello, people!  It was just a dusting of snow!  There is no reason to send your students to school with snow boots on their feet in October!)

All day long I passed children clomping down the halls.  Clomp. Clomp. Clomp.  I saw pink boots, sparkly boots, Ugg boots, heavy duty boots with snaps, etc.

Sigh.  These boots were NOT made for walking!!  Please leave them at home.

Clomp. Clomp. Clomp.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Assessment: Body Parts

One of things I assess with my Kindergarten and emergent English Language Learners is the names of our body parts.  (How can we expect our students to let us know that something "hurts", if they don't have the necessary vocabulary?)

After assessment, we sing songs like "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" and "Tooty Ta", play a body parts Memory matching game, read an easy-to-read booklet on body parts and play Body Parts Bingo.

My students like all of the activities, but Body Parts Bingo seems to be the favorite!  And...they especially LOVE picking up the bingo chips with my "magic magnet wand"!!  (If you don't have a set of magnetic bingo chips and wand, I highly suggest that you invest in them.  Children love using them and it makes for easier game clean up!)

My magnetic bingo chips and wand are some leftover ones of my Mom's.  She bought them at a garage sale in Florida.  I think she used them occasionally when she and my Dad wintered near Sarasota in February and March.  I found the box in my parents' basement after she had passed away and my Dad and I were cleaning.  Every time we use the magnetic chips and wand I think of my Mom.  I know she would have gotten as much of a laugh out of watching my students' fascination with the "magic" wand and chips as I do.

I had some body parts assessments with line drawings and clip art, but I just wasn't satisfied with them.  So, I spent some time on Google images and created an assessment using photographs.  It wasn't hard to create a table in Word and insert the photos.  I like the assessment so much more with photos rather than drawings! 
After I finished making my assessment, I took the same images and created eight different Body Parts Bingo boards.  Again, I used tables in Word.  It took a little time, but the result was worth it.  My students love the bingo game and we've played it several times.  I also printed out copies of the assessment and the bingo boards for my colleague, Mrs. Sunshine and her paraprofessional, Mrs. Foil.  I laminated the boards and assessment and sent them over last week.  Mrs. Sunshine is great about sharing things with me, so I returned the favor!

Here's a sample of what my body part bingo boards looked like after I finished them.  It wasn't terribly hard to make them and well worth my time.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Time Timers

This school year, I've been trying to manage my instructional time efficiently and effectively.  I think I've always been decent at staying on task/on track with my instruction, but I became aware of needing to be better at staying on time throughout a lesson in order to maximize the effectiveness of my instruction.

Can you tell I just finished working on my K-12 Reading endorsement to add to my teaching certificate/license?  In guided reading lessons, we were required to break our instruction into small, timed parts such as work work for 5 minutes, introduction to the reading selection for 1-2 minutes, etc.   I tend to get deeply involved in my teaching and don't always keep track of time, so having to time everything was a big change for me.

I learned to use a timing app on my iPad called Alarmed.  It was helpful because I could preset some alarms to sound at 1, 2, 5, 10, etc. minutes.  It worked for what I needed for my two sessions of summer reading tutoring at the university.

I still use it for myself, but I found I really LOVED the Time Timer for my students.  I bought a small Time Timer and I set it for class ending time as soon as I start a lesson.  My English Language Learners are so excited about the Time Timer.  They love being able to "see" how much time is left for a project or for the class.  If I forget to set the timer, one of the students will ALWAYS remind me to do so.

"Hey, Mrs. Gumby!  You forgot the timer!"

"Mrs. Gumby, we NEED the timer!"

"I love the timer.  Watch the red get smaller!"

I know that the Time Timer company offers an app now for iPads, iPhones and Android phones. But...sometimes the original physical product is the best, in my opinion.  My little three inch tall Time Timer takes up a very small space on my table, but it works SO WELL!  I don't have to worry about forgetting my iPad.  I just reach over, set the time I need and away we go!  I love the gentle "beep" at the end of the elapsed time.  My students love watching the red area "go away" or get smaller.  ( I was afraid some of them might be distracted by watching the red disappear, but surprisingly, I haven't had a single student show any distracted behaviors.  In fact, it seems to motivate them to do their best work and stay on task.)

Yay, Time Timer!!  You make a great product!!