Still Teaching!: Resources for the End of the Year

So excited to link up to the Still Teaching! Linky Party and share some resources for the end of the year! I've been feeling A LOT lately that my Instagram feed is a constant stream of last day shots and cleaned classrooms. Meanwhile I'm over here, #twentydays, #seventeendays #fourteendays... I'm at #ninedays so the end is in sight! But this linky is definitely going to be providing me with some great ideas for these last days!

I have two resources I want to share: one paid and one free.

The first resource is my Student Surveys with Google Forms, a paid product where students create their own surveys This Google Form product can be used for pretty much ANYTHING....You could assign a theme such as "Create a survey about favorite memories this year" or "Create a survey about yourself to see how well your classmates got to know you this year". 

You could also give it a more academic twist: "Create a quiz about the different parts of writing an opinion piece" or "Create a quiz testing your classmates about their favorite books this year". When I implemented it, I was just introducing Google Forms, so I had students create a survey about a topic of their choice.

The fun part comes in after planning and creating their surveys, students take each others surveys and analyze their data. You could also have students share their surveys with their families and other classes in the school.

Included in this product are detailed lesson plans, survey planner, and the first steps for students to create their Google Form. I use one generic Google account to have all students create their forms inside a specific folder on Google Drive.

My second resource is an extension for using the coding app Daisy the Dinosaur. Students love the coding apps, but I've found Daisy the Dinosaur is the least engaging app, but its also the best app to introduce the basics of coding. This would be a perfect activity for the end of the year and one I plan on revisiting before the end of the year.  It includes additional challenges as well as space for students to write their own challenges and then ask their classmates to complete the challenges.

Check out the rest of the resources shared in this link up (or to link up yourself!) here.


Have you seen the Erin Condren Journals?

Erin Condren, Notebook, Journal
Well, have you?

When I accidentally stumbled upon the journal during my nightly Erin Condren browsing, I was so excited! 
My favorite part is that you can create a personalized cover! If you want a favorite quote, but EC doesn't have it as an option - here you go! Or if you want a personalized inspiring photo? This is for you! I went for a more streamlined look that I designed on the WordSwag app (I was nervous about how it would look on the cover after creating it in the app but it looks amazing!).  It literally breaks down what I'll use the journal for: Teach. Write. Reflect. I use my notebooks each year to write notes on my classes (I'll be teaching 23 next year) and take notes in behavior team, then reflect on what I can do for the next class.  

{So happy!}

Unlike with the notebook, the colors on the top of each page are all grouped together creating six colored sections (the variating colors in the notebook actually kind of drove me nuts #truthcomesout #ilikeorder), and there is space on the top of each page to give it a heading.

 This makes it easy to give each page a purpose and provides a nice visual break up. I plan to use the last section for behavior team notes and the front five for classroom notes. I also love that on the right side of each page there is a space to create  a list. This the perfect spot for me to write down my take aways for each day to implement the next class. Then the next class, instead of rereading the whole page, I just glance there. This is something I do now anyway at the end of each reflection so it's made easier by giving it a designated space. 
In the back are a page of colored stickers that you could use for labeling or for tagging certain pages. 

There are definitely some key differences that I've noticed between the journal and the notebook:

First off, the size. 
The journal is smaller than the notebook I had purchased (8 1/2 by 11 vs. 7 x 9) and because it doesn't have a coil, it is A LOT thinner.
One of the reasons its so thin is because it doesn't include a monthly calendar spread (which makes me happy - I loved the calendar in the notebook but it was a bit redundant since I already have a planner and I prefer a week to week layout). It also doesn't have the dividers. Less inspiring quotes, but also less bulk!
And unlike the notebook, the pages are perforated so you can tear them out as needed. I was a little worried that the pages would be hard to turn compared to the notebook but perforation actually makes it easier to bend the pages so it is easy to write in.

The journal was only $20 (yes, WITH the personalized cover!) which is a little more than my typical college ruled 1 subject notebooks I used to use, but a lot less then the EC notebooks. 
The worst part about the journal is waiting until NEXT year to use it! So tempted to make up an excuse to break this baby in this year! I also bought a clearance cover that matches the color scheme on my journal *perfectly*. I cannot wait to buy my Life Planner and have a matching journal and planner! #organizednerd.

Want to buy one? Check out Erin Condren's site


Second Grade Technology Research Project

Second Grade, Research, Inquiry, Movie, iMovie
Every spring, my students complete a nine week research project. Multiply nine weeks by eight classes and I need to be SUPER organized during this project! The goal of the project is that students choose a real world problem and synthesize their learning to find a possible solution in the form of an iMovie.

They begin by choosing a topic. I read the book The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind when we begin and brainstorm the real world problems in William's story. We talk about the difference between Small, but Everyday Problems and BIG Problems. Students then brainstorm an idea and write it both on their paper and a class Padlet. By cross-referencing the two, I come up with a list of topics for each student. I create a color coded table for students to view. 

The second day, students choose a partner from list (someone who has the same or a similar topic as them). They also write their wonders about their topics.

On the third lesson, students begin their research. I create a list of possible websites to use in the bookmarks bar and students have to decide which websites they think will have information answering their questions, and navigate the websites to find information. Example websites include PebbleGo, Brain Pop, World Book Kids, and Wonderopolis.

In lesson four, students complete their book research, searching in the library catalog, writing down the call number, then finding the book in the library. Students then take notes from their books.

After students find a book and write down a fact, they reflect on their learning so far answering two questions: 
Did they find answers to their wonders? Yes/No. If no, why not:
Do they have any new wonders? Yes/No. If yes, what?
This offers them a chance to reflect of their topic and wonders and to revisit their research if they need to.

Once they are satisfied with their research,  they begin their storyboard. This is lesson five. I introduce the storyboard by asking about the students favorite movies and explain how all great movies must be planned first. Then I show using Educreations how to complete their storyboard (you could also use Explain Everything). The students have to introduce their topic, write down 3-4 facts, then wrap it up. At the end they lost their sources and at the top, draw a quick sketch for an image they'd like to use.

Once students finish the storyboard, they then search for their images (in lesson six) using the QR codes I post. Read more about using QR codes and student appropriate safe search engines here. 

Students then create their iMovies (in lesson 7) with their partners - for a "movie" project, there is a lot of prep work! Students follow the 11 step process, which breaks down the process to bite sized chunks. 

After finishing their movie - adding images, recording audio, adding background music and sounds - I evaluate their iMovie and provide feedback. Students make adjustments as needed and then score themselves.

Throughout this unit, students are at different parts of the project - some students whiz through the research, other students are great at saying images, and some are great at creating the video. Because of this, I let students self pace their learning. I manage this by using a color coded sticky note system - each colored sticky note means they are on a different part of the project. For example, yellow means storyboard, green means finding images and blue means creating their iMovie. This system helps me - as I prep for the lesson, it lets me see more clearly where the class is as a whole; and it helps the students know what area of the project they are working on that day, as well as reminds them what step they are working towards next. Because of this Lesson 7 is where I introduce the iMovie, but I give the students two days to wrap everything up. Students who finish early can become iMovie experts, brainstorm a solution to their real world problem, or ask another question they have as a result of their completed project.

The last lesson of this unit is where students share their movies, classmates provide positive and constructive feedback, then students reflect on the whole project taking a Google Survey. The survey asks them to rate how they did on each section of the project and then reflect on what they would change or what they might do differently. 

As a specials teacher, this unit takes about 9 days. For me that means 9 weeks. For a classroom teacher, it would easily be put into a two week, 40 minutes a day project.  It's a great way to have students learn a wide variety of skills and apply these skills in a hands on way. 

If you are interested in any of the resources I mentioned in my post, you can grab my Movie Making Kit on TpT


Five for Friday 5-20-16

Happy Friday!! Linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday! 

 Today was Fun Day! As a specialist, I get to help plan and implement the's AWESOME! I created a Guess the Word card station and  ran the chalk station. I LOVE this's relaxing, we get to be outside, and the students have SO MUCH FUN! And this year I knew EXACTLY how much chalk I needed so no mid day runs to Rite Aid!

I was out on Tuesday for curriculum work (hello sub plans and anxiety! - I mean am I the only one who worries all day how their students are doing when they're not there? And so relieved when you find out everything went fine? Phew!) but I got back a little bit early and I had a chance to explore the STEAM Museum that had visited my school! I was just as excited and engaged as the students! 

I went to my first retirement party yesterday. Yes #newbieteacher. It honestly was so much fun! I know that might not be a normal reaction but it was so nice to be able to get together with everyone and celebrate the end of the year someone's career. 

I loved my Kindergarten lesson this week. I've had on my lesson calendar all year that I needed to teach about Caldecott winning books. But I just couldn't think of an engaging way of doing it. I was talking to the librarian last week and decided to spread out books around the edge of my carpet and have students sit behind the books. 
We began by examining the front of the book ... What did they notice? They gave lots of creative answers but the main answer was that there was a medal on the front. Then we took a picture walk through the book and shared ideas for why the different books won medals.    
Can I just say my kiddos were awesome?! Almost all knew that it had something to do with the pictures. We talked about how the pictures were vivid, colorful, detailed and almost three dimensional at times. 
Then the students rotated books and analyzed the new books pictures. When we were done, we watched a short video of Chris Van Allsburgh creating illustrations for his books. 
Then the students went onto the Sketchpad website and created their own Caldecott Award winning pictures, including details, vivid colors and creating pictures that tell a story. 
I almost always sit on my stool when teaching so it felt so nice to sit on the carpet with them and to be able to have a round carpet discussion - something I miss from not being a classroom teacher (hello morning meeting!). Now I'm excited to think of more ways to incorporate this style of teaching into my lessons! 

Do you have that TpT product that you are s-l-o-w-l-y working on over time? Me too! My most recent product is a lesson I LOVE to use in my classroom. It's called "Oh No! The Headings Are Missing!" and it's essentially a text feature mystery where students have to use context clues, images, and keywords to figure out the missing heading. Although I love teaching this lesson in my classroom, taking this product from "Classroom Acceptable" to "TpT Ready" tajes a bit of time! So I'm super excited to have that added to my store! [And yep, this lesson is probably more appropriate for mid-year but I gotta get things done when I have time and inspiration!]. 

Have an awesome Friday! And if this week was your last week, I am officially JEALOUS! :)


Five for Friday 5-13-16

My first graders are DONE with their end of the year assessments! Those poor babies are tested out between my assessments, classroom assessments, and even assessments in P.E.! So excited to be able to spend the next 4 weeks doing some more fun, hands on learning.
In kindergarten we read the book "12 Ways to get to 11" then watched the BrainPop Jr. video about Counting On. They finished by creating their own funny stories for different number sentences on Brain Pop Jr. 
In second grade we moved from learning about copyright to learning about reliable sources. I feel so bad for teaching these kind of dry topics (in my opinion) but my students are actually eating it up! I think we have a false belief that at the end of a school year, students are worn out and need light lessons - I think it's actually the opposite! They have made so much progress throughout the year and are looking for challenges! And if you don't challenge them academically, I think they end up challenging YOU (*cough* behavior *cough*). You can still have fun - but it needs to engage them and make them think! If you don't it's almost like throwing away all the effort you put in all year! 

After spring vacation, I was grouchy and READY for my second graders to move onto third grade But this week, I started to get really sentimental! I will miss these kiddos and I'll miss the dynamics  of the individual classes! Only FOUR weeks! 19 days! And look at that picture! They never stop making me laugh.
There was a Budget Referendum this past week and while the Town Budget passed, the School Budget did not. Budget season is always so hard! 

 I ran a 5.5 mile trail race last Saturday (yea! It wasn't canceled!). My goal was an 8 minute pace and I ran it in 42:59, a 7:57 pace! I ended up placing 1st in my age group which is crazy! I didn't even stay for the race results to be posted or the award ceremony because then my sister and I continued to run, stopping at 31 miles (!!!), my sisters age and a 50K distance (which is the shortest ultra marathon distance). I'm actually a lot prouder of the 31 miles because that took more grit and perseverance while the age group win was more random.

Next week is super busy! I have my end of the year meeting next week, plus a night event, plus a retirement party, plus our Fun Day, plus a Curriculum Day (which means sub plans...). So I will be busy this weekend getting everything ready for the week! Once next week is over, there will just be 3 weeks left and very few stressful things left in the year!

Happy Friday! 


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