Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tried it Tuesday and Techie Tuesday {thinglink}

Wow! It has been forever since I posted!  Starting a new grade level has been so exciting and exhausting that I just haven't been able to get into a blogging groove. I have been writing posts in my head since the year started.  

In case you haven't been psychically following my internal monologuing, here's a bit of what we've been up to!

In the spirit of getting my blogging groove back, I am linking up with two weekly link ups that I look forward to every week!  

A few weeks ago we began our study of Colorado with state symbols.  A nice easy, peasy way to jump into social studies, but let's be honest, potentially boring!

Our cure to the doldrums?

I learned about thinglink from Richard Byrne last spring on his amazing blog Free Technology for Teachers.  He has a great video tutorial in his post, so I won't repeat a tutorial here.

Basically, thinglink is an interactive presentation tool which you upload an image and then add tags.  Tags can contain descriptive information, audio or video, or website links.  We focused on adding descriptive information and facts to our tags, but one of my techies got ambitious and added a link to a website in one of the tags.

Using our social studies text and several websites, students worked in groups to research their assigned symbol.  To help guide their research, classmates posted questions that they had about each symbol on our classroom discussion boards.  

After they completed their research, they set out to find an image of their symbol and saved it to their drive space.  We had lots of opportunities to practice and refine our budding tech skills.

I created accounts for each of them using their school email and passwords, we created a quick one together to learn how to navigate thinglink and they were ready to begin creating their first thinglink.  This was a perfect presentation tool for symbols!

I am embedding a few samples below.  If you hover over the tags (target symbols) the information appears.

The kids loved creating thinglinks, and they did a great job presenting their symbols using our smart projector and pen.  It was a truly interactive project, and the possibilities are endless!  I am thinking about trying it out as an alternative to webquests.  I hope you'll check out thinglink, and if you're already familiar with it, I'd love to hear how you use it in your classroom!

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Five For Friday {June 21}

Happy Friday and Happy Summer!  It's Friday and time to link up for Five for Friday at Doodle Bugs Teaching! This one's gonna be a short and sweet round up of week  2 at the Space Foundation!



No, this is not a Medieval torture device, or is it?  Actually, it's a Barany chair, used in flight training to simulate the disorientation caused by the vestibular system.  Week 2 of Space Across the Curriculum focused on biology and the impact of space travel on the human body systems.  Several brave souls took a spin, however, those proned to motion sickness were strongly encouraged to "observe."


Rovers Rock! And the marine rovers were no exception!


During our afternoon at a local high school pool, we also navigated through an underwater maze to simulate microgravity!  The first time through we used regular goggles, and the second time we used blackout goggles!


We designed and tested thermal protection systems.  It was awesome!  I totally want to do this with my class this year! I wonder what my principal will think about a blowtorch in the classroom?


We took a road trip up Pikes Peak, stopping numerous times along the way to take measurements and conduct experiments, before arriving at the summit for some Pikes Peak donuts.  

This was such an amazing 2 weeks with an awesome group of teachers from across the state and the amazing instructors at the Space Foundation!  My head is still spinning, and I can't wait to start incorporating it into my classroom in the fall.  And the best part... I get to do it again next summer, focusing on astronomy and geology!

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Differentiating for my bloglovin' readers :)

In the interest of differentiating meeting the needs of all of my readers, you can also follow my blog on bloglovin' too! Just click below or on the handy little button on the side.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin'

I would love to hear what you're using to read/stalk/follow your favorite blogs!

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Friday, June 14, 2013

My First Ever Five for Friday!


I'm so excited to be linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!  I love reading everyone's Five for Friday posts.  It's my Friday evening thing when I get home!

Space Suits

I started my Space Across the Curriculum classes at the Space Foundation this week.  What an amazing week, but I am totally exhausted, like first week of school beat!  These space suits are just one of the amazing artifact displays I get to walk by every morning on my way to class.

Space on the Sphere

Science on the Sphere is absolutely the most amazing thing I have seen in a really long time!  The picture doesn't do it justice.  It is a giant sphere suspended in the center of the room.  Three projectors simultaneously project data from NOAA onto the sphere as it rotates.  Over the course of the week we ran data sets on numerous weather and climate patterns and examined the Sun and Sun spots.
You can find out more about Science on a Sphere here.

Preparing to view Sun Spots
We used telescopes, with Sun filters of course, to view the Sun. 

Field Trip to NOAA
We loaded up in 15 passenger vans and traveled to NOAA for field trip.

NOAA Meteorologist preparing severe weather alert for Black Forest Fire

While we were in Boulder, the Black Forest Fire was raging back at home.  On our tour we saw a NOAA meteorologist preparing a severe weather alert for high fire danger areas.
Please keep our community in your thoughts and prayers!  Last summer the northwest area was ravaged by the Waldo Canyon Fire, and one year later firefighters from all over the country are here again battling the Black Forest Fire, which has consumed 2 lives, 15,500 acres and 419 homes.  We had some rain today, which lowered the temperature and allowed the firefighters to reach 30% containment!

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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Google Reader

When I first read about Google Reader going away (July 1st) I was a little miffed.  I have been using Reader since I first discovered blogs several years ago.  Never tried anything else, never felt the need to.  I loved the tags and being able to read all my blogs in one neat and tidy place.

It just hit me out of the blue...I don't really NEED reader.  In fact, I found that I wasn't even using the tags anymore. I hadn't used the tags since I my obsession with Pinterest began.  I am visual.  After re-reading a post on Free Technology for Teachers, I made the move to Feedly.  It was a bit of a rash act, motivated by my realization that my attachment to Reader, and my response to it's demise, was a flicker of resistance to change, even when there is something better out there.  I had visions of my mother who refuses to learn anything new related to tech. (Love you Mom, but you're so stubborn when it comes to technology!)

In a matter of moments I was up and running with Feedly, and it was fab.u.lous.  Remember, I am visual, and Feedly is so much more visually appealing.  No more utilitarian look and feel - although that look is an option with Feedly.  There are a variety of ways you can customize Feedly to give it a look and feel that makes you happy :)  

The Android app is also so much better than the Reader app.  I love to catch up on my blog reading while I'm waiting on the kids or whenever I have a few extra minutes!  I feel so much more efficient on Feedly, and I love that I can share on a variety of social media from within Feedly.

I love Feedly and I haven't looked back.  If you're still using Reader, make the switch!  You won't regret it!


You can follow me on Feedly too!  Notice the little Follow Me On Feedly Button on the sidebar?  
Click it to quickly and easily follow me on Feedly!

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Summer Reading Love

Ahhh…summer reading.  It feels so decadent to just laze about reading any book of my choosing! I was so excited to find that We Read, We Blog, We Teach is doing a book study on The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  Head over and follow their blog so you don't miss anything!

This book has been on my “To Read” list since it first came out, but I have just haven't gotten to it yet.  I had already picked it up and began devouring it before I found the book study, so now I will slow down and pace myself so I can share and collaborate with all of the other fabulous teachers out there!

Other Professional Books on My List

Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner

I am so excited to read this book!  I was actually at the school interviewing for our third teammate last week and I snagged it from a table in my principal’s office.

Drive by Daniel Pink

This one has been on my reading list for my role as Personalized Learning Lead Educator.  It looks great, and I heard great things about it from some amazing teachers at a training last week.

Visible Learning for Teachers by John Hattie

Snagged this one from my principal too.  My teammate read it and has recommended it several times over the past few years, so I’m excited to dig into it as I begin thinking about the coming year.

Poetry Mentor Texts by Lynne Dorfman and Rose Cappelli

Our fabulous literacy resource teacher/instructional coach has a passion for writer’s workshop and she’s awesome about building our professional libraries with resources for literacy.  This is just one of the many writer’s workshop books that she purchased for our grade level.

The Dream-Keepers by Gloria Ladson-Billings

This is actually the 2nd edition. I read the 1st edition years ago, and in this one she revisits the teachers from the 1st edition and has included some new ones as well.  This one was a gift from the hubster.  I started during the school year, but just couldn’t get back to it once school was in full swing.

I'm sure that I will also have lots of reading for my STEM classes this summer, but I will have to wait until next week to find out all the details!

Children’s Lit.

The Sister’s Grimm (books 8 and 9) by Michael Buckley

My kids and I have become obsessed with the show Once Upon a Time.  We’re not big TV watchers, but it has become a Sunday night ritual.  It has also lead to an obsession with all things fairy tale, especially fractured, for all of us.  I started this series this spring because I was so brain-dead at the end of the day but I really wanted a fun, light read before bed.  I read the 7th book in one afternoon/evening the day after school let out.  So I must finish books 8 and 9 because I need to know how it ends!

Who Done It? by Jon Scieszka

This one I plan on reading with my middle school son and 9 year old twins. We are huge Scieszka fans, and they are all little bibliophiles, convinced that they will be the first to solve the mystery based on their superior knowledge of children’s/YA literature and authors.  Game on kiddies!

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I have read so many fabulous reviews of this book, and it was also one of the new titles for Battle of the Books for this year. I will definitely be doing something with it for the Battle of the Books team, but I also want to use it in my classroom too!

Walls Within Walls by Maureen Sherry

I originally picked this up for my middle schooler, who promptly turned his nose up at it and deemed it "elementary," so it's been collecting dust.  It looks like a fun read, so I'm adding it to my summer list before adding it to my classroom library in the fall.

Other books begging to be read:

States of Mind by Brad Herzog

The hubster got this book for me years ago.  I love that it is comprised of vignettes from across America and his reflections, a mosaic of sorts.  I’m geared up for a vicarious summer road trip!

The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester

My inner nerdy English major, who secretly wants to be a history junkie, wants/needs to read this book.  I hope it is all that my mind has built it up to be.  Even if it doesn’t quite rise to that level, I’m sure it will be a good read!

One Big Table: A Portrait of American Cooking by Molly O’Neill

And it's one big book!  It totally outweighs The Complete Works of William Shakespeare - seriously - it weighs a ton! This was a gift from my children.  What can I say, they know my love for reading and food, but I think their real motivation lies in being the recipients of all the yumminess within.  Each chapter opens with a history of food in America. Each recipe that follows tells who the recipe is from, where they live, and a backstory on either the cook or the recipe.  Love it!

All this talk of books is making me want to grab a cup of tea and curl up with one of my many books, but first I’m off to see what's on everyone else’s summer reading list.  Follow me on over to All Things Elementary and check out the Professional Reading Linky Party! 

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Friday, June 7, 2013

In Love With My New Look!

Is it wrong to be in love with your blog design?  No way! Not when it looks as fabulous as my new blog!  I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my new design by Kimberlee from iTeach 5th (formerly Teacher Takers).  She has a new design site, Digital Doodle Designs.

When she read about my move to 4th and my need for a makeover, she offered to do a custom design for me!  Now, if you know Kimberlee, you know that she is an amazing teacher and blogger, and she shares so many fabulous resources for free on her blog!  I was so excited to be supporting an amazing teacher, blogger and designer! I knew whatever Kimberlee designed would be fabulous, but she hit it out of the park!  

I was giddy over an actual real blog design where everything coordinated (as opposed to my former hodgepodge) and had the look and feel of the new direction I am heading in.  

I had a hard time articulating exactly what I was looking for, but Kimberlee read my mind and worked her magic!  She’s like my blog fairy godmother!  I couldn’t be happier!  Thank you so much Kimberlee!

If you need a new design, please go see Kimberlee at Digital Doodle Designs.  Heck, even if you don’t “need” a new design, why not treat yourself to a little makeover? Kimberlee is amazing to work with!  You won’t be disappointed!

Here's to summer blogging!

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