OLW Reflection for February

Mr. Think #6At the beginning of the year, there was some talk about what was going to your word for the year …. I even wrote a blog post about it! In the comments to that blog post …. I shared that I thought my One Little Word would be thinking for this year.

In January, I wrote a blog post describing my thinking about actions to take.

This past month, my thoughts have been everywhere with so many things going on, so I think I want to reflect on thinking this month . . . 

  • What does it mean to think
  • Is thinking just the random ideas that pop into my mind?
  • Or is it the connections I make with specific ideas that promote further action and ideas?
  • Does it need to be quiet for thinking to take place?
  • Does hearing other sounds and ideas promote even more thinking
  • Does thinking have to happen in your head?
  • Can thinking happen on paper?
  • Does thinking happen in color?
  • Does thinking happen in black and white?
  • Does thinking happen in words?
  • Does thinking happen in the formation of images?
  • How does discussion with others fit in to thinking?
  • I know that I like to talk through my thoughts to be able to effectively express the ideas forming in my head, so for me talking helps my thinking …. I think ….

I guess all the above questions look at thinking as a verb …

But there are also ways thinking can be considered a noun …

What do you think?

What have you been thinking about this month?


What are we going to read?

My five year old came home from school talking about Dr. Seuss. I suggested that we read a Dr. Seuss book for our bedtime story tonight. Madalyn pulled every Dr. Seuss book off the shelf (I realized that we have a lot and double copies of some of them …. I think I have even more in my “school books” in the basement). The book she finally chose was a collection of Seuss Stories that includes versions of several of the books and some commentary/history.

New bookshelfThe “teacher in me” wanted to select one of the not-so-well-known stories, but the “parent in me” let my daughter choose the one she wanted … Green Eggs and Ham.

As I began to read the story to her, I noticed that many of the words in the story were some of the same “word wall words” we have been practicing for her homework. So I started reading most of the sentence and then pointing to the word for her to say. The more words she said, the more confident she became. She even pointed to some of the words ahead and asked if I would let her read those words.

At first, I thought Madalyn might be saying the words from memory (she has an extremely good memory) but I realized she was really looking at the words when she pointed out that box and fox both have -ox at the end. When house was at the end of one line and mouse was at the end of the next line, she also pointed out that they both has -se at the end and then noticed they also had -ou, so they both ended in -ouse.

When we got to the end of the story, Madalyn looked up at me saying, “This is a cute story.” She was involved in the story and interested in the words. Her interest in words makes me smile … as a former reading and writing teacher, I want to encourage and support that interest in words.

So here are some Dr. Seuss resources that can be used with students of all ages:

  • Reading Everywhere with Dr. Seuss from ReadWriteThinkYoung readers celebrate all the places they can read by creating a classroom book modeled after Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham. (k-2)
  • Teaching Short-Vowel Discrimination Using Dr. Seuss Rhymes from ReadWriteThinkThe integration of Dr. Seuss rhymes creates an engaging study of onsets and rimes. Students will discover patterns in words, sort words based on their vowel patterns, and apply their knowledge in reading and writing activities. (k-2)  
  • Exploring the History Behind the Satire from ReadWriteThink :  Begin your class study of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels by reading Dr. Seuss’s The Butter Battle Book to illustrate the use of satire in a very accessible way. After reading the picture book, students discuss the historical allusions as a class.(9-12)
  • Who was Theodore Geisel? from Wonderopolis   If you live on Mulberry Street with a cat that wears a hat, chances are you probably already know Mr. Theodor Geisel. Join us in Wonderopolis today as we celebrate Read Across America Day with a closer look at a beloved author who could really rhyme!

Are you ready for Leap Day?

29 il 23As we approach the end of February, I started thinking about finding resources to share next month. I went to the calendar pages of Thinkfinity, and something caught my eye: classroom activities, websites, and resources for Leap Day!

Here are some of the suggested websites:

  • Leap Central
    This site explains things about Leap Year that are not common knowledge to most, has resources for party planning, and also includes a list of Leap Day books.
  • The Year of Confusion
    This online story from Highlights Kids is an engaging account of the time leading up to the revision of the calendar to include Leap Day.
  • Star Child: A Learning Center for Young Astronomers
    Intended for grade-school-level students, this NASA website recommended by SchoolZone has information about astronomy as well as projects, lesson ideas, and resources for the classroom.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day: Julius Caesar and Leap Days
    This site from NASA, focusing on an image of a coin minted with Julius Caesar’s likeness, provides a brief explanation of the origins of Leap Day. The site also references Sosigenes, the astronomer who consulted with Caesar on the calendar and invention of Leap Day.

I really like the lists of books available from these sites. The science focus could also be a great connection to make with some of the STEM resources now available.

Wonderopolis for Science Inspiration?

Serving as both the 5th/6th grade Gifted Education teacher and the Grades 3-5 Science Specialist at an elementary school, Jayne Grubbs has a hectic schedule but loves every minute of it! She uses the information and questions from Wonderopolis in some pretty interesting ways. (I wrote about Jayne in an earlier post: Persistence Pays Off)

In class, Jayne distributes “Curiosity Questions” to her students. Students can earn “bugs” for thinking about and exploring possible answers to those questions … most of which come from Wonderopolis. The “bugs” students are trying to earn is part of a motivational technique used in her class.

Jayne finds ways to connect what may seem a simple question to a pretty detailed exploration of a science topic. She loves the way she is able to use good nonfiction text from Wonderopolis to integrate reading with science and to even bring in some social studies every once in a while.

Here are a few of the past Wonders she has used to serve as inspiration:

#191 Where do diamonds come from? She used the information about diamonds lead into a discussion of fossils. Students were involved in comparing and contrasting diamonds and fossils. They even had to write diamante poems comparing the two. I think that was one of her favorite lessons she has done.

#262 Can Plants Grow Without Soil?  She used this one as an introduction to hydroponics and created a very strong science lesson to go along with it. The more recent Wonder #487 Do All Plants Have Roots? would also be a great tie in.

#228 Do Elephants Ever Forget? The exploration of this one prompted the students to explore what makes a person’s memory work and not work. Students were so engaged that one student woke up in the middle of the night afraid of what would happen if he lost his memory and did not remember to breathe.

#422 Is the Sky falling? This wonder was used to explore meteors and comments in a 3rd grade class to go along with a state objective about how gravity affects things in space.

#432 Can Woolly Worms Predict the Weather? This wonder inspired a month long curiosity question and unit about how animals prepare for winter and how can we tell they are preparing for winter.

#355 Do Plants Need Hair Cuts? To go along with this wonder, her students did an experiment involving placing plant clippings in colored water to enable them to watch how the water moved through the veins in the plant.

Jayne loves how excited the kids are and also mentions that she has so much fun looking at all Wonderopolis has to offer that she could do it all day long! To hear her talk about all the things her students are doing, it is evident how much of an impact these activities are having on both the students and her as the teacher. I really need to get a video the next time we talk.

According to Jayne, she wants students to learn how to ask questions and to think.

Asking questions and exploring topics is what Wonderopolis is all about!!!

Talk about a great connection!

Branching Out …

So this might be a bit of an unusual blog post for me, but I am a little bit proud of myself  (in a somewhat unusual way) …

This may come as a surprise to some, but I really enjoy college basketball … especially ACC College Basketball (I could blame that on my father ~ Wake Forest Alum and my husband ~ NC State Alum, but I don’t). This past weekend, my husband attended the NCSU vs. Florida State game. Although it was a pretty sorry game for NCSU, something quite interesting happened towards the end of the game …. but not out on the court.

Two fans, who happened to be alumni and former players, were ejected from the stands. I watching the game on TV while working on some graduate school work. I saw the ejection happen, but was not sure what was going on. I quickly sent my husband a text message (knowing he probably wouldn’t respond) to see what they had done to deserve that.
Since I still had questions, I decided to get online to see what I could find. The normal places to look would be sports websites, but since the event had just occurred, I thought I might be able to find more information on twitter.
I use twitter daily but with a focus … education and instructional technology. I have self-imposed limits on who and what I follow on twitter, so I don’t follow stars and athletes which could make finding sports information on twitter difficult.  But I do know how to search (I have learned a few things about how to use twitter to find what I am looking for) …
So I started my twitter search looking for a keyword … ncsu … which led to various people tweeting from the game (and asking many of the same questions I had). I saw where someone asked RnR_ncsu a question about what had happened, so after looking at their profile (it was a good things they had an informative description there), I went to their twitter account page to see if they had anything to share on the situation. Evidently they host a podcast on Monday nights, so their response was that you would have to wait until their show. 
As I looked at the tweets they had sent earlier , I saw tweets sent by Julius Hodge (@Follow24Hodge) another former Wolfpack player. So I went to look at his account, Hodge’s tweets made me laugh, especially the one about not sitting very far from David Thompson and wanting his autograph (David Thompson is another former Wolfpack player …. I know some NCSU history, and his jersey/autograph are hanging in my house as well as a book about him).  
I enjoy watching college basketball games, but I think that day social media made it a little more fun.
I also enjoy exploring and finding information …. I think I like the search process and finding different ways to get information.
I feel like I used some of things I have learned about ways to search on twitter for instructional resources to help me use twitter in a way that I do not normally use it.
I have gone back to my focused use of twitter, but it is nice to see to branch out every once in awhile ….
(NCSU does play UNC tomorrow night …. so we’ll see what happens ….)

I’ll blame it on the pocketbook …

Now I know this does not sound very “teachery” … but I showed up for a meeting at a school yesterday without any paper …

I am a notetaker … and quite proud of it. I enjoy my beautiful, colorful, and/or interesting notebooks and fun pens (you should see my desk …. I have one of the Pampered Chef Tool Turn-About full of pens …different colors, styles, tips, widths and when at conferences I like to collect pens). You never know what you are going to need …

I take notes, and even if I never look back at them again, the process of writing things down helps me remember things better. That is something that I has worked for me throughout high school, college, and in work (we are not counting the meeting I missed this week). I don’t know what it is, but typing notes just does not have the same effect.

So Friday morning, I went to an elementary school to sit on a planning meeting to offer instructional technology resources. I like to take notes on what they are planning to do in the future so I can look for resources to send later. I also like to jot down ideas I have while they are talking so I will remember what to share (my memory is not very good at times).

I was in the parking lot when I realized that I did not have my bag with my laptop (no wireless yet at that school so I don’t normally bring the machine but my notebooks are in the bag). At this point I was not concerned because I normally carry a large stylish purse (Steven W. Anderson picks on that fact almost daily), so I was sure I would have my small notebook in my bag.

Then I remembered that I changed to a smaller black purse that morning …

What's In My Bag? [Work]No notebook or paper of any size in my black purse that day.

I even searched my trunk since at times I have some donated school supplies in there to take to schools. No supplies …. husband made me clean out the trunk.

I was going into an elementary school, so surely I could find a piece of paper to use.

I went in the building and to the meeting room. All of the legal pads that are normally on the table seemed to have grown legs and walked away.

That was when I took a deep breath and reminded myself that I work in technology. I pulled out my tablet and (somewhat reluctantly) opened colornote so I could hopefully jot down ideas. I used what I had and it worked for me … kinda.

I know I need a better alternative. I have seen and heard all these good things about evernote. I bookmarked a livebinder on it the other day and know that Steven has great resources. I even talked to another coworker, Marty about it other day, so I am taking the plunge ….

I am going to try to start learning and using evernote

If you have any resources or suggestions, please send them my way. If there is something that has worked for you other than evernote that I should try, please send that my way too ….

Here we go ….

(Now it is written on my blog so I need to do it …. if you see me, ask me how it is going … you can even send me a message on twitter to hold me accountable …. I am not sure why it seems like such a big hurdle for me to overcome … since I search all the time for new things to try to use in the classroom. Maybe that is the difference …. I am willing to try stuff for the classroom that could be beneficial for students and teachers but a little weary of trying things out that would mean I have to do something different personally … hmmmmm)

image source (not my purse)