Monday, October 9, 2017

#IMMOCC My How Things Can Change!

This week, as I reread part two of The Innovator's Mindset, the quote above really spoke to me because it is what I am up against right now in my school.  Before we can give students the opportunities to learn and grow and be innovative, we have to be able to do that for ourselves.  If teachers only want to do what they did last year because it is easier for them to just copy from their old plan book, they should no longer be teaching!  I also loved how George said in the book that teachers need to consider their job a passion instead of a "job."  

My energy and passion for innovation and technology in kindergarten makes people very uncomfortable if they do not have that same passion.  It can sometimes be a struggle!  As I said last week, I am so fortunate that I have an administration that values my passion and energy and are willing to let me take risks.  Sometimes I fail.  The lesson doesn't go exactly how I envisioned or the technology doesn't work exactly how I wanted it to.  That's ok!  I think on my feet and adjust the lesson in the moment to fit what is best for my students.  After the kids leave, I will rethink what went wrong and develop a plan for the lesson to go a little bit better the next time.  

One of the tools I use to help me with new lesson ideas is Twitter!  While I have not started tweeting my ideas out, I am probably the biggest Twitter stalker out there!  When I open my Twitter app and see that George Couros or Alice Keeler has shared an idea or question stem, I get so excited to see what others are saying.  Because I teach kindergarten, I also follow Christine Pinto who is a kindergarten teacher in California who believes 5 and 6 year olds can use any Google App you give them!  Her website is called GAFE for Littles (GAFE = Google Apps for Education) and she has a tab where teachers can share their Google creations.  

I now believe that even kindergarten students can use something like Google Classroom for workflow with assignments in Google Slides, Google Sheets and Google Docs.  Last year, my students worked together on a Google Slide presentation.  Each student got their own page on the slide.  We used PebbleGo to research animals and then created a page in the class book about that animal.  Does this take longer than a paper pencil activity?  YES!  But is it what is best for the students?  YES!  The time invested in teaching my kindergarten students how to use Google Apps was well worth it when the final product looks like this: 

We also used PebbleGo to research jobs in our community and created this book: 

My students, who were 5 and 6 years old last year, were able to create this document because I gave them the opportunity to do so.  I didn't tell them what to write on their slide.  I didn't tell them what pictures to use.  They researched the animal or job and then shared their learning by typing their sentence.  The Explore tool in Google Slides allowed them to find pictures to go with their writing.  I was so impressed with their willingness to write - they were so excited to share what they had learned!  We shared their work with parents on Seesaw!!! have you changed over the years or what kind of roadblocks do you have when trying to be innovative in your classroom?  If you have no roadblocks, what kind of lessons or ideas do you have to share with us?  Leave a comment below!  I love to hear what other teachers are doing in their classrooms!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

STEAM Ideas in Kindergarten #IMMOCC

My school is creating a new STEAM lab this year!  I am excited to help create the space layout and brainstorm ideas of STEM tools to purchase, craft items needed and other reusable materials to add.  Here is a list of some of the tools that I'd like to have at my fingertips!
1.  Ozobot - These are wonderful robots that students of any age can use.  They do not require any additional technology.  Students program the robots using a color coding system along the black line.  It works kind of like a train where they follow a black line and then change course based on the code that you color along the line.
2. Spheros - These are similar to the Ozobot except some type of i-device is needed to control it.  We have iPads at my school what we will use to program the Sphero to move around the room.  Students will practice basic coding skills when trying to make the Sphero move.
3.  Dash and Dot - These robots are made by Wonder Workshop who also has create 5 or 6 iPad apps to help code the robots.  There are also other add ons that the robots can interact with like an xylophone and a wagon to pull.  This is a great robot to start with if you have not had experience with other robots.  It is very basic and easy to understand for any type of user!
4.  DoInk - This is an app that can be purchased for the iPad or iPhone.  At our school, we are going to purchase the bundle of Green Screening and Animation for our students to use.
5.  Craft Supplies - These are different craft materials that students can use when designing their project.  Some examples are paper bags, sequins, toothpicks, playdough, popsicle sticks, plastic cups, dixie cups, etc.
I hope you find this list helpful if you are planning a STEM lab or if you are adding to a lab you already have!  Let me know in the comments if there is something that you have in your lab that I haven't listed!  I'd love to hear your ideas too!!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

I am Resilient! #IMMOOC

Let me hear you shout it - I AM RESILIENT!  After reading chapter 3, I knew one of the biggest characteristics of the innovator's mindset that I believed in was being resilient!  I believe that I am here to do what is best for my students.  If I don't believe in myself and my ideas, who will?  

At times, this confidence and resilience can seem like too much for someone who has not yet developed an innovator's mindset.  It can come off to be cocky or annoying.  I get those looks ALL THE TIME when I am talking to other teachers.  It makes me feel sad for those students who are not being given the same opportunities as the students in my class.

Is doing the same ole thing easy?  Absolutely!  But the number one question is:

As educators, we have to think about our students and what is going to be the best for them.  Not what is the easiest for us!  I am so proud to be resilient and am my biggest supporter when it comes to trying new things and thinking new ideas.

I'd love to hear your thoughts....which characteristic best describes you and your teaching?  Leave me a note in the comments!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Writer's Workshop in Kindergarten

In my classroom, writer's workshop is such a fun time of day for my students to express their thoughts.  Here's why they love it: 
- they get to choose their own topic to write about
- they get to decide when they are finished and when to move on to a new book
- they get to choose what writing tools to use (pencils, crayons, markers)

When my students are writing, I am walking around and talking to them about their topics, handwriting, and sentence structure (making sure they have a capital letter, spaces, and a period).  I am also making note of skills that are being misused so that I can develop my next mini lessons for the class.  

There are not behavior problems, because students are so engaged in what they want to write about.  They love having that choice and voice in their work!  

After about 15-20 minutes to independent writing time, we gather back on the rug for a few students to share some of their writing.  Usually, these are students that I see applying the skills I have taught during mini lessons.  I like being able to show examples of how students in our class have applied those skills.  

What do you do for writer's workshop in your classroom?  Do your students have voice and choice over their topics?  I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Why Innovate? #IMMOOC

So I started this blog in 2013 so that I could share my ideas about teaching and what I was doing in my classroom.  I also wanted to connect with other teachers around the globe.  Little did I know how much change would happen in just 4 years!  We have added another child to our family, a son who just turned one, and I have totally changed as a teacher.
I'm going to use this blog to share my thoughts about innovation in teaching during a study of George Couros's book Innovator's Mindset!  I hope you will enjoy this ride with me! 

My teaching has evolved over the years due to my amazing principal who has encouraged me (and all of us) to step outside of our comfort zone and do everything for the kids in our classroom.  She has asked us to fail forward - take risks, see if they work and make adjustments where needed.  My principal has "allowed me" to explain my thoughts and why I think these are the best ideas, lessons and teaching practices for my students.  For all of that, I am so thankful!  I also had a new team member join me last year who has a huge passion for technology, innovation and relevance.  We would discuss our plans together to brainstorm ideas of how we can make everything we do about our students and how they will gain knowledge and apply it in their adult life.  I am so thankful that this teacher joined my team and we continue to work together for the good of the kids!

For me, #innovation is important in my classroom because I have seen students learn to take a test and answer questions but have no idea what the content really means or how to be a critical thinker or how to even solve a problem without asking for help from a friend or adult.  I want to see my students grow to be the next (or even better) Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.  In kindergarten, it is easier to encourage students to just create - not even thinking about rules or others' ideas.  #Innovation is about creating or developing something new or different, something that has never been done before.  

If you have read this far, thank you!  I am excited to go on this journey with all of the other educators out there to discover how and why innovation is important!  You can follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #IMMOCC!  I'd love to hear how or why you innovate in your classroom!  Leave your ideas in the comments or questions below!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New Products...{GIVEAWAY}

I just wanted to let you know that I have posted my Spring Stations Pack.  I know it's a little late...I'm working on wrapping up the Summer Pack too!  I have also included it in the bundle so you can get the Fall, Winter and Spring Packs now and then Summer when it is added in the next week.  

The Spring Pack is half off for the next 24 hours!!!  What a great deal!  $2.50 for 43 pages!   

Spring Stations - Math and Literacy

The bundle is also discounted from $17.00 to $12.50 for all 4 packs!!

{BUNDLE} Stations Pack - Literacy and Math

I am also going to give away one copy of the Spring Pack and one copy of the Completed BUNDLE!!!  The first one to comment will get the bundle!  The fifth to comment will get the Spring Pack! Please be sure to leave your email address!

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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Kindergartener Diagnosed with Brain Cancer - Hear her Story!!

Hello!  I'd like to share a story with you about one of my sweet, sweet kindergarten students (from the Richmond, VA area).  Follow her story in Facebook HERE


This is Sawyer.  She is a five year old little girl who was enjoying her time in kindergarten when her family and teachers noticed her eyes were bothering her.  She started seeing double and complained that her eyes hurt.  For a 2 week period at the end of April, Sawyer got sick at school (throwing up) and was sent home.  It wasn't until the weekend of April 22nd that Sawyer would not stop throwing up which made her mom rush to the emergency room.  


After doing some scans, doctors at the ER in Richmond found a tumor on her brain.  Sawyer was then sent to the University of Virginia hospital in Charlottesville, VA for surgery to remove the tumor, additional testing and a diagnosis. The doctors there diagnosed her with Anaplastic Ependymoma, which is a stage three (very aggressive) brain cancer.  


Sawyer stayed in the hospital there for several weeks for the team of doctors to develop the best treatment plan for her.  That plan was to get her a spot at St. Jude's Children's Hospital in Memphis, TN.

Sawyer Perkins and her father

Sawyer is now at St. Jude's where they have agreed with the diagnosis from UVA but have even added that she has one specific strand that makes this disease even more aggressive.  Because of this diagnosis and the aggressiveness of the cancer, the doctors at St. Jude have said they are not able to treat the cancer.

Jaime and Sawyer Perkins

Sawyer's parents have been given the choice to treat her with radiation which will deteriorate Sawyer's little body or they do nothing and the cancer would take continue to take over.  Sawyer's mom posted about this choice on Facebook and how hard it will be for her to choose what is best for her little girl.

I wanted to share her story for several reasons.  I am so sad for her and her family but so hopeful we can get a miracle!  But also, because her Mom and Dad are no longer earning an income in order to stay home with Sawyer.  Her mom, Jamie, is a teacher in Henrico County here in Richmond.  She has used all of her sick leave and is now on leave without pay.  Her dad, Nathan, is self employed and does not make money unless he is working.


Some of their friends have created a Go Fund Me page to help support their financial needs.  The local community here is also taking meals by their house every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

There have been many fundraising efforts here in Hanover County!
VA State Police Brian Butchyk helps raise money for iPad for girl with brain cancer. (Source: Kimberly Butchyk)

Here is just one of them

And here is another

Please take a moment to visit the Prayers for Sawyer page on Facebook to keep up with her story.  You will be able to see posts from her mom about her progress as well as posts like the one from Friday where our class FaceTimed with Sawyer on her ipad!  It was so fun!

Best of luck to all of those teachers ending this school year and here's to a very relaxing summer!

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