Monday, January 31, 2011

What I miss most...Reading Aloud

What I miss most about teaching my own class is reading aloud.  I remember the excitement on my students faces as I opened the read aloud book.  I remember my students staring intently in space as they visualized the world I read aloud to them in their minds.  I remember the laughing, crying, and shouting out in dismay as the story evolved.  I remember students asking for "...just one more chapter, one more page, please."  I remember the sadness expressed when the journey was complete and we were no longer in the magical new world we discovered together.  I remember the cycle starting anew as we began another read aloud.  My two favorite read alouds were The Watsons go to Birmingham - 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis and The Lightning Thief (first in the Percy Jackson series) by Rick Riordan.

This post was inspired by Carol's Corner: A Few Random Thoughts on Read Aloud and A Year of Reading:  Why Read Aloud.  Both are great blogs and today's post were inspirational!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Media, Media, and more Media

Embedded media

The options are endless when it comes to media that can embedded.  In my wiki, I have mostly embedded videos from YouTube and TeacherTube.  Because my school blocks YouTube, I try to use TeacherTube as much as possible.  Through the Kick Start Your Blogging Activity 6, I found so many more ways to embed media:  ToonDoo, Answer Garden, and Google Forms are the ones that I am going to investigate first.

I started my post with my first creation from ToonDoo.  It was very easy to create.  I did wish all the tools were easily visible without scrolling up and down to find everything.  I didn't know that I could shrink the images inside cartoon until I scrolled down.  How to embed the cartoon was not made easily apparent, but with the help of a post from Mrs. W, I was able to do it.

I created an Answer Garden question and put it on my 111 Books in 2011 page.  Go there and let me know what your favorite book is.  Answer Garden had to be the easiest thing I have completed on this blogging challenge so far.  Type in a question and copy the embed the code.  Easy!!

I haven't tried Google Forms yet because I am trying to decide what to do with it.  A post on Forms will be forthcoming.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


2500 Creative Commons Licensesphoto © 2008 QThomas Bower | more info (via: Wylio)

I knew very little about Creative Commons before this week's Teacher Challenge.  It is going to take me a while to try each of the resources for images listed, but I did list them on wiki for future reference.

To get the image for this post, I used Wylio.  It was so easy to use.  Type in search term and then all these wonderful images appear.  Wylio even adds the attribution for you, so no worries.  The hardest part was choosing the right image to convey the message of the post.  Q. Thomas Bower created a fabulous image to represent Creative Commons.  He explains in his Flickr account.

Uses in the classroom

Week Five's post was full of potential mini-lessons for students:  copyright, Creative Commons, where to search, and the power of the right image.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


The advanced week 4 challenge asked bloggers to look at their current avatar, create a new one with a different tool, and then discuss avatars and how each bloggers' avatar relates to them.

Since I am a beginner, I just created my first avatar using Reasonable Clever's Mini Mixer.  Playing with Legos as a kid was fun...even as an adult I like to create a new something out of all the blocks.  Now I am a Lego.

This avatar is not a bad representation of me.  Reading is my passion, so I had to have a book in my hand.  My husband convinced me that I "needed" an ipad and I fell in love with that, so I had to put that in my other hand.  My favorite aspect of the ipad is that I can use ibooks, kindle, and the nook app all on one device.  I have books in each and it was a relief to get them all in one place (like Google Reader does for my blog posts).  If it weren't for my contacts, I would be blind as bat (but without the great echo location). 

Then as I read through the advanced challenge comments, I had to try the Wimpy Kid avatar maker shared by jeeyoung at Teach to Inspire.  The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series books are constantly check out of the school library and individual teachers' libraries.  And here I am wimpified:
I can't wait to share this with my literacy teachers and their students.  They will all want to try it out.

Avatars are a fun way to represent yourself!  I am usually the one taking pictures so I don't have to have my picture taken.  As much as I love books, I hate having my picture taken in equal measure.

Friday, January 21, 2011

RSS and Google Reader

Google Reader icon

The activity for week 4 of the Kick Start Your Blogging involves learning about RSS feeds, readers, and avatars.  As a beginner, I feel a little more comfortable with RSS feeds and readers.  I have been using Google Reader for quite some time now.  I love that all the blogs I wish to stay updated on are gathered for me in one place.  Instead of having to go from site to site to check for new posts, I can open Google Reader and 'presto' everything is there.  I even have most of the blogs I follow arranged in folders:
The list goes on and on.  I did add one today for Teacher Challenge to keep the feeds from the blog and comments together in one place.

I just can't say enough how much I HEART Google Reader.  If it weren't for all the wonderful blogs out there, I wouldn't have been inspired to start my own and revitalize it with this Teacher Challenge.  Teachers are the most wonderful group of people because they share their ideas with everyone.

Image:  From Flickr Creative Commons- Filiph

Thursday, January 20, 2011

World Read Aloud Day - March 9th

World Read Aloud Day is March 9 this year. I want to host an event at my elementary school to celebrate the day. I am thinking about inviting members of the community in to read community members per classroom. We did something like this last year and the kids loved it. It would be great if I could get businesses in the community to donate picture books (one per classroom) that the volunteers would read and then gift to that classroom's teacher. I could set up a drink/snack station in my office for the volunteers to come before/after their reading times. It would also be great to get donations so we could gift books throughout the day to students, so they could have a book to take home and read with their family. Another thought is to arrange library times for classes that don't have designated library time. During the library time, our wonderful librarian could read aloud to the students. Definitely something that needs to be brought to our school leadership team for discussion.

What would you do for World Read Aloud Day? Comments and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Skippyjon Jones is one my favorite read aloud books. The whole series is great and even my middle school kids love this book.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Map of the Blog

Reading Challenge for the New Year

I have decided to meet the challenge from Life is Short.  Read Fast.  111 books read in 2011.  It's toward the end of January but I believe that I can do it.  So far this year I have read one new book:  Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey.  I have reread the whole Hunger Games trilogy and am in the process of rereading the Dresden Files.  I only want count new books to make it more of a challenge, so I must get a move on.  Maybe I should use my new knowledge of Pages to create a section on my blog to keep track of the books I am reading...definitely something to think about.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Exciting...For a New(ish) Blogger

As a participant in the Kick Start Your Blogging Challenge, I was listed under the Posts of the Week for Week 1 for my Learn About Me post.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

7 Things You Don't Need to Know About Me...

I am hoping to stay committed to the 30 Day Blogging Teacher Challenge, I am working through activity two, which asks us to write about seven things you don't need to know about me.

1.  I am owned by an old (23 year old) lazy cat who greets me in the morning with a very loud meow letting me know that my first duty is to feed her.  She believes that I should feed her whether she has food or not.  If she can see the bottom of her bowl (even if it a tiny spot), then she doesn't have enough food.  I have tried to just shake the bowl in an effort to cover the spot.  However, she just looks at me with a "I'm smarter than that" look and I put more food in her bowl.  Then to show me she is definitely the boss, she takes two bites and leaves the kitchen.

2.  I love to watch the Razorbacks play football.  I didn't start off a fan, but my husband convinced me to buy season tickets three years ago and I haven't looked back.  This was a hard year for me because we decided not to buy season tickets.  It was really hard to watch most of the games on TV.  I wanted to be there cheering them on through the good, the bad, and the ugly.  If the Sugar Bowl wasn't right after the end Christmas vacation, I believe I would have found a way to buy tickets.  We will be purchasing tickets for the upcoming season.

3.  I can't live without drinking at least one Dr. Pepper each day.  I know, I's a bad habit.  I have been working on cutting back though.

4.  Christmas is my favorite holiday.  I love all the decorations, putting up a Christmas tree, and giving presents to others.  I even have a stocking for my cat.

5.  Going to Walt Disney World was my favorite vacation of ALL time.  It really is the happiest place on Earth.  I even got a picture with my favorite character, Tigger.  My husband hates crowds but loves me, so he took me for my first ever visit when I turned 27.  Animal Kingdom Lodge had the best safari and dinner package...worth every penny.  The animals for within inches of the safari truck.

6.   I am married to wonderful man who indulges my vice of buying books.  I have no children, but love to read and buy picture books.  They are great to use in the middle school classroom as short mentor texts and they are fun to read.  Mo Willems is my favorite author/illustrator.  Since I work with middle school students, I own a ton of young adult chapter books.  I have many favorite authors:  Rick Riordan, J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, and the list goes on and on.

7.  I can't cook very well, but I love, love to watch the Food Network.  Iron Chef America is one of my favorite shows.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wordle: Blogging
As part of 30 Day blogging challenge, I thought I would check out the Advanced options to see if there was anything that I felt comfortable in my limited skills completing.  One of the extension activities was to create a Wordle of a blog post.  I have played with Wordles before, so I created the one here from my previous post.  I think Wordles are a great activity for students to use when summarizing.  It is one that I encourage my teachers to use.

30 Days to Kick Starting Your Blogging

I am joining the 30 Days to Kick Starting Your Blogging supported by Edublogs.  The first activity was to set up a blog, which I already had one but didn't use it much.  Then there was an extension activity that asked the bloggers to post answers to the following questions:
  • Why did you join the Teacher Challenge’s 30 Days to Kick Starting your Blogging?
  • Why do you want to learn more about blogging?
  • What aspects of blogging have you struggled with?
I joined the blogging challenge to help increase my reflection practice as a teacher.  I originally started my blog to share resources I found with the teachers I work with.  However, I don't post very often.  I don't know much about blogging.  I do read a few blogs through RSS feeds to my Google Reader from teachers and administrators that I find helpful, thoughtful and funny.  I want to follow their example.  It is nice to know that teachers face similar challenges throughout the world.  I struggle with blogging on a consistent basis.  I don't believe I have that much to contribute to the blog world.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Science Notebooks

I have been thinking about ways to integrate science and literacy as well as promote organization.  One idea that I keep seeing is science notebooks.  To help me keep track of the resources I find, I am going to post them here.

Middle School Science is a resource for grades 5-8.  One great feature is the interactive notebooks with all the pages posted online in pdf or word documents along with powerpoint slides.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Multiplication Game

This great math idea was submitted by Maribeth, a 4th and 5th Grade Teacher, in Baltimore, MD.  To drill my students on multiplication facts, we play Toss it Tuesday!

To play this game, I divide students into two teams and have them line up facing each other with two plastic hoops placed on the floor between them. A student from each team tosses a die into the hoop in front of him or her. I ask the students to multiply the numbers on the die. The first student to say the correct answer gets to play again. Game can be made more challenging by using three students or three dice. The game can be simplified by asking students to add the numbers on two die, or to subtract the lowest number from the highest. When played sans hoops, this game works as a tabletop game.


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