Monday, March 20, 2017

Set the Stage to Engage... with a Louisiana Flair - Part 2

Last time, I shared with you pics of my room for my first room transformation for Mardi Gras.  Be sure to check out that original post, and don't forget to follow Hope King on Instagram and at Elementary Shenanigans to see the inspiration for these lessons in my room.

Now that you have seen the decoration side of the flip, let's look at the Rigorous Content Tasks.  All of these decorations and immersion into the Mardi Gras culture are sure to grab your students' attention for the long haul - BUT they will NOT teach the content.  That part is still on me!  In order to capitalize on my students' interest in the room, I chose to set up our lessons as a series of group tasks, beat the clock style, instead of the "I do, we do, you do" lesson format intended by the curriculum we are currently using.

Our district is currently using the LearnZillion Guidebook 2.0 unit The Louisiana Purchase (which just happens to be written by yours truly! - within certain perameters outside of my control).  My kiddos are currently starting Lesson 9.  Lessons 9 and 10 use the same texts, but build with each additional close read.

Task 1 - Vocabulary.  The original lesson 9 has students select one of three vocabulary words and complete a graphic organizer that examines the definition of the word, sentence context, context clues, synonyms, antonyms, linguistic structure, and similar words - words that look or sound like the vocabulary word.  Students must also apply their learning of the word with an illustration and new sentence using the word.  To create the group task, I instead printed one vocabualry poster for each group, by enlarging the organizer to 11x17 paper and setting up this problem:

Here are some of the groups at work:

And then we presented some of the posters to the class:

Task 2a - Text Annotation.  Next, the students were given the texts from this lesson, a copy of our "Mark Up the Text" mini-poster, and a graphic organizer.  Students were given these instructions:

And immediately, the groups got to work!

Task 2b - Compare and Contrast Napoleon and Jefferson.  Once groups finished their text annotations, they had to show their work to me.  Everyone needed to have complete, correct (and neat) graphic organizers with LOTS of text annotations.  Most groups were sent back to their tables to correct, revise, or add to their annotations or their organizers.  Once their work was satisfactory to meet the goals of the lesson, students were given Task 2b.  Inside, I gave them a poster of Napoleon and Jefferson, and facts about each leader, and both of them.  I also provided the students with blank cards.  Students were to sort the facts onto the charts in preparation for comosing a compare and contrast essay in future lessons.

Even some of my most reluctant students were all in this day!
Come back again tomorrow to see Part 3!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Set the Stage to Engage... with a Louisiana Flair - Part 1

I've been following Hope King over at Elementary Shenanigans for quite sometime.  If you aren't following her on Instagram and her blog, you have got to catch up!  She is BEYOND AMAZING!! Her room transformations are the stuff legends are made of!  She was even recently featured on Bored Teachers.

I have wanted to do a room transformation for some time, but never could decide what to do, when to do it, or how I would actually implement the flip.  The flip is so much more than just a bunch of fancy decorations.  There is a tremendous amount of rigorous content woven into the flip that really activates learning across the content areas and creates meaningful experiences for Hope's students.  I wanted to replicate that in my classroom, but with having a new reading curriculum EVERY SINGLE YEAR for the last 4 (or is it 5?) years... I haven't figured out the flow.

Then it hit me, like a TON of bricks... every year one thing is ALWAYS the same here in Louisiana - we teach our kiddos about MARDI GRAS!  It is only the absolute coolest, wildest, most historically and culturually interesting thing about our state, and in third grade we focus on state social studies in third grade.  Our school uses the departmentalization model for grades 3-5 so I teach 3rd grade readinga and language arts - so technically not social studies.  But there is such a strong social studies component in many of the texts we are using this year, and with Mardi Gras, the whole unit screams social studies integration!

How did I do it?  (Well, to get a true tutorial, go check out Hope King!  I even have the TPT guide she is selling to answer LOTS of questions as you get ready to plan the flip!)

First - set the stage!

I decided to make each "table" (3 tables are really just a group of 6 desks together) it's own krewe.  Krewe is a Mardi Gras term to describe a group of people who work together to make the floats for a parade.  Most krewes have some Greek mythology component, and historically the members of the krewes were secret - hence the wearing of masks.  So we have Krewe 1, Krewe 2, Krewe 3, and Krewe 4.  I didn't spend a lot of time naming the krewes before the flip, because the students are going to build some community and name themseleves, among other activities in our Mardi Gras tasks.

A look across all the tables from the front door of my classroom.

In addition to the tables being decorated, I put bead necklaces on the tables.  Crowns signified team captains, green saxophones signified noise patrol, and several other jobs were decided on by the students.  All team materials were housed inside the bins on the tables - crayons, glue, markers, pens, pencils, highlighters, scissors, erasers, glue sticks, post-it notes...  And the outside of my room was decorated to look like a kid-friendly version of Bourbon Street - basically it was a New Orleans building, a sign for Bourbon Street, and silhouette's of jazz musicians.  I'll post a pic of that once I remember to take it!  (It was dark when I finished building this flip and left the school, so I forgot the pic.)

I hope you enjoyed seeing our classroom flip for Mardi Gras!  Remember to come back for Set the Stage to Engage part 2 - Rigorous Content Tasks!

Monday, February 20, 2017

7 months and 2 days later...

Happy Presidents' Day!  This year has been C-RRRRR-AAA-ZY (as evident by the fact that I haven't posted anything in 7 months)!!!   I hope that I am back on top of things and will be seeing you around the blog a couple times a week for the rest of the year!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Countdown to the first day... 20!

I have only 20 days until school starts for students!  I can't believe my summer is almost over and I will have 20+ new faces staring at me in just 20 days... That's two-zero folks!

On Facebook, I saw where the Unshakeable Book Community is beginning another round of book club for Angela Watson's book, Unshakeable: 20 ways to enjoy teacher every day... no matter what.

I thought to myself, what better way to count down Back to School, than with a review of her book, one chapter per day.  For each chapter, I have included some resonating thoughts from Angela.  These quotes are nuggets of truth that I want to remember, and add to my positive thinking arsenal.  Yes, I call it an arsenal because some days "toolbox" just isn't enough to combat all of the negativity thrown at us as teachers.  I also have a section for My Classroom Application.  This is where I've chewed on the words from the book for a while and I am connecting her thoughts to my actual classroom, my life, and my kids.  I sometimes even link other authors, bloggers, or strategies and resources that I find useful that go with Angela's thoughts.

So today has our first installment - Chapter 1: Share your authentic self to bring passion and energy to your teaching.


Chapter 1: Share your authentic self to bring passion and energy to your teaching

Balance the “acting” with an integration of your authentic self

  • Resonating thoughts from Angela
  • My classroom application
    • I can let my personality shine through in my decorations and classroom organization.
      1. I like bright colors, especially blue hues.
      2. I LOVE labels and want to label ALL THE THINGS!
      3. I am an advocate for student choice in the layout of a classroom, and do not feel tied to traditional seating options.
      4. I can bring an element of magic by adding some Disney touches to my classroom.
    • I can let my personality shine through in my teaching style, even though my curriculum is chosen for me.
      1. I have my own set of best practices and “go-to” techniques in my teaching repertoire.
      2. I choose the best routes for my students to help them get from Point A (where they start) to Point B (where the standards dictate they should be.  Although our destination is assigned and mandated, the journey and sights along the way aren’t.
    • I can let my personality shine through in the way I interact with students.
      1. I choose every day whether to be positive or negative for and with my students.
      2. I like to laugh and tell jokes with my silly boys.
      3. I like to gab with my girls about the newest fashion.
      4. I like to talk about movies and games with my entertainment-loving crowd.

The real you is memorable

  • Resonating thoughts from Angela
  • My classroom application
    • I am a:
      1. Mother
      2. Christian
      3. Wife
      4. Daughter
      5. Sister
      6. Runner
      7. Reader
      8. Crafter

Build rapport by sharing who you are on a personal level

  • Resonating thoughts from Angela
  • My classroom application
    • Share with kids all about who I really am - my likes and dislikes; my goals, wishes, and dreams;  my favorite things.
    • Cue The Sound of Music. As I read this section, I just kept, singing in Julie Andrews' pitch of course, "when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad. I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feeeeeeeeel, sooooo baaaad...." When I bring my favorite things into my classroom - my Roll Tide pumpkin carved by my mother-in-love, a beloved wooden hippopotamus figurine, my Minnie Mouse teacher
      statue designed by Jim Shore, a Bible verse plaque, a vase of pink tulips, a treasured letter K carved from a book that was a gift from a student - my classroom feels more personal to me and allows my students to see who I am as a person, besides Mrs. Kelley the enforcer of rules and dictator of reading skills. Our favorite things really can help to cheer up a bad day, or bad moment in the day.
    • On her blog, Angela shares an idea for Daily Connections to connect with each student individually.  What a great way to build rapport!! Check it out!

Be a storyteller: draw inspiration for teaching curriculum from real-life events

  • Resonating thoughts from Angela
  • My classroom application
    • I draw inspiration from my hobbies, interests and daily life experiences to make meaningful curriculum connections.
      1. Running
      2. Playing with Harper
      3. Mr. Kelley (Jake)’s grad school days
      4. My dog Ollie
      5. Bible journaling / scrapbooking
      6. Cooking
      7. TV and movies
      8. Books I read
      9. Shopping with Ms. Lee (Misty)

What does passionate, authentic teaching look like for ME?

  • Resonating thoughts from Angela
  • My classroom application
    • When I am passionate about a topic, I tend to be LOUD!
    • I enjoy classroom activities that involve my students discussing with each other and creating artistic representations of their learning.
    • I enjoy reading aloud to my students as they sit at the carpet.

Beyond passionate teaching: be a passionate person

  • Resonating thoughts from Angela
  • My classroom application
    • As much as I feel like I am generally authentic with my kids, I have a hard time with not letting setbacks steal my joy.  This year I am going to focus on creating a Growth Mindset in my classroom for both my students and myself.  I need to model a growth mentality for my students so that they can grow into wonderful people who embrace growth rather than arbitrary achievements.

Your motivation at work is directly related t how you spend your personal time

  • Resonating thoughts from Angela
  • My classroom application
    • I should make a calendar with to-do’s for re-energizing and track my progress with a sticker incentive chart!
    • Re-energizing activities I enjoy:
      1. Running
      2. Scrapbook / journaling / crafting
      3. Shopping (but not if I spend too much money)
      4. Going to the movies with my family
      5. Playing with Harper, especially outside
      6. Taking Harper to swim, music, art or gym
    • I read a post by Jennifer Gonzalez over at Cult of Pedagogy last year about finding your marigold. (You can check it out here.) IT was so moving to me both in looking for
      teacher companions and in BEING a good teacher companion. I am always given some new teacher in my building to mentor, and last year I actually bought myself a marigold as a reminder to be encouraging and uplifting. (By the way it died, which pretty much summed up the year I had in my own classroom, which is why my blog has been complete radio silence for almost a year... but alas, I will try again this year!)

Learn to manage your most important resource: energy

  • Resonating thoughts from Angela
  • My classroom application
    • I need to include time estimates on my to-do’s, and also mental energy estimates.  That way I can choose tasks more efficiently.

When you increase your energy level, you get more done

  • Resonating thoughts from Angela
  • My classroom application
    • Ways to replenish my physical energy:
      1. Sleeping
      2. Healthy foods
      3. Running
      4. Getting a manicure or pedicure
    • Ways to replenish my mental energy:
      1. Spend a few minutes connecting on social media
      2. Crafting
      3. Sleeping
      4. Running

The secret to how some teachers “do it all”

  • Resonating thoughts from Angela

  • My classroom application
    • Create a Vision Board to keep inside my teacher planner. Just last week I read this blog on Scholastic's website about creating a Teacher Vision Board. I've been brainstorming exactly what I want to put it on it, but I haven't actually started gluing just yet. Let's face it, I'm having trouble just deciding which magazines I'm actually going to destroy to create this board. But now I'm thinking that I will create it and laminate it with the really really good lamination and make a planner cover out of it for my teacher planner.
    • Put a copy of my Mission Statement in my teacher planner.
    • Write a copy of my Daily Affirmations in my teacher planner.

Those are my thoughts about Chapter 1. I know this post was super long. The others probably will be too... There is so much to learn when you read one of Angela's books! If you stuck it out to the end, THANKS! I'm impressed with your perseverance! Leave a comment telling us what YOUR authentic, passionate teaching looks like!

See you tomorrow for Chapter 2: Allocate your time and energy wisely through productive routines

Thursday, April 14, 2016


I'm finally caught up with the times and you can now follow me on Bloglovin!  Just follow the link.  :)

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Oh. Sweet. Mama!!!

Wow wow wow!!! Coach B was in town this morning delivering the PD for ALL PreK-5 teachers in my district.  And can I just say... it was AHHHHH-MAAAAY-ZING!

I'm going to share my favorite parts and Big Take-Aways, but lucky lucky you - the WHOLE lesson was recorded via Periscope.  Click here to watch!

First of all, Coach introduced the coolest new feature to really amp up those gestures and mirrors - Power Cards with Power Plus for extra uummph!  Each child is given a 3X5 index card.  One side is the Normal Power card.  This is what you typically expect from your students.  But the other side is Power Plus.  When students are feeling sleepy and slow after lunch and you want them to remember a big point, have them flip their card over to Power Plus and really get into those gestures and use their big teacher voices.

Who is excited to try Power Cards????  This girl!!!!

Of course, because I am awesome and I love you so very much, you can download your very own Power Cards here!  Just print them on card stock, laminate, and velcro to your desks.  (That's my plan anyway!)

Secondly, Coach introduced a new review technique which I can already see working seamlessly with the lesson sketch.  The Big Questions of the day (or lesson, or unit, or chapter, or whatever unit of measure in your room...) are listed on the board in a PowerPoint presentation.  At the beginning, students read the questions to each other using brainies, similar to a Crazy Professor reading.

Then once you have taught a lesson and answered a question, you flash the slide again, but the question is in blue.  The students simply Review the Blue!  Then, as the chapter, or unit, or whatever progresses, more questions are flipped to blue and students are continually reviewing all the lessons or skills you wanted them to know.  Can I get an OH YEAH? I mean... c'mon.  OH STINKING YEAH!  Kids constantly reviewing EVERY skill they need in a unit.  YEEESSSSSS!!!! THAT is teaching heaven!

Finally, Coach gave us some Mirror Words varieties and Teach-Okay varieties.

In true Coach B style, he used his chair props to navigate through the sequence of the lesson.  Which I personally love!

And of course, had lots of colleagues get up and practice.

To end the presentation, we all had to evacuate due to a fire alarm in the building.  I just figured Coach's gestures were so fast he started smokin' up the place.  Turns out a day care kid on the other side of the building pulled the alarm... but I'm just going to continue to imagine Coach setting off the alarms with sparks of funtricity!!!