Saturday, September 27, 2014

Staying Active with GoNoodle

We all know that we live in a world of less active children.  This shift from playing outside to playing video games inside has not only messed with the health of our nation, but it has drastically taken a toll on the education of American Youth.  I am linking up with GoNoodle to share how I have been trying to fix this never-ending battle.

Getting students up and moving is not new information.  Teachers have always known that students perform better when they are DOING the learning.  As educations we have taken class upon class on how to engage our students and have them be active participants, but where were the classes on activity and brain development?  Thinking back, I had one class during my Master's Program on "How the Special Needs Brain Works," and I attended a BrainGym workshop, but that was it.  It wasn't until my friend Britney, from Tailor Made Teaching, mentioned GoNoodle that I discovered the tool that would change my classroom forever.  Not just my classroom, but my students' well beings.
GoNoodle is the active tool that students need to give their brain a break and to get their blood flowing. It is the device that makes transitions smooth, while never wasting a minute.  It allows students to stretch their minds and their muscles.

But, it also allows students to move and experience the joy that movement brings to our bodies and minds.

The icing on the cake is that your students can use GoNoodle at home, too.  It is music to my ears when students walk in the classroom and say, "I GoNoodled at home yesterday!"  Not only are they excited, but I am thrilled to know that this healthy choice has been an impact on them as well.

How do you promote activity in your classroom?  Do you use GoNoodle?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

A Recipe And A Read Aloud

The new school year is underway and I am already anticipating Fall.  I need to slow down!  I LOVE fall, but in Oregon that means rain and more rain.  I know we need it right now, but I appreciate the fact that my raincoat isn't on me at all times.  However, Fall does mean pumpkins, gourds, spices, and warm colors.
In anticipate of the season change, I decided to whip up some of my favorite pumpkin muffins, but with a twist, they are now gluten free.  Some of you may have noticed a change in my recipes (especially those I pinned on Pinterest).  Back in March I went through some medical chaos and was told that one way to help my body was to go GF.  This Italian thought the doc was crazy!  I have NEVER had a reaction to gluten, but I learned that doesn't matter.  I decided to follow the doctor's recommendation and have been 100% GF since March.  Let me tell you, as someone that had never had an issue with gluten in the past, I feel 900x better without it in my system.  Weird?!?!  So...these muffins are now GF.

The Recipe - 2 (3) Ingredient Pumpkin Muffins
You will need...

Next, just mix the two until smooth.

Then, just pour into a greased muffin pan. 
I like to add a dash of Pumpkin Pie Spice on top before baking.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
These are GF, dairy free, egg free, but full of happiness!

The Read Aloud - The Adventure of Beekle The Unimaginary Friend

I picked up this book last spring, but I have held on to it because I feel that it is the perfect back to school, friendship book.  Beekle is an adorable imaginary friend who seeks the child that needs him in life.  His adventures lead him this way and that, but ultimately in a loving home.
The illustrations are absolutely breathtaking!  I highly recommend this book for your classroom library!

What is your favorite fall treat and read aloud right now?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

You Oughta Know

The act of being a mentor teacher is a true honor.  I know that when I was first asked to have a student teacher I was ecstatic that I had reached that point in my career.  However, it was not all unicorns and rainbows.  There is a ton I wish I would have known before agreeing to my first student teacher, many moons ago.  I am so excited to share my mentor teacher essentials in this month's You Oughta Know!
I don't know about you, but I had the greatest mentor teacher!  She knew how to balance her real life and school, while being a fabulous teacher.  Ten years later, I still strive to be like her.  The most important thing that she taught me about mentors and student teachers is they need to communicate.  We had a great forum between us and I figured that would be easy to recreate with a student teacher (ST) of my own.  WOW, who was I kidding?!?!  I struggled ridiculously with my first two student teachers and I feel horrible about that.  Thankfully, I have learned and have made the following changes.
The easiest way to keep communication lines open is to set up a notebook system and REALLY reflect with your ST.  It is imperative that you set up a time to discuss what gets written, or there was no use in spending the time prepping it. 
I allow my STs to observe and take notes the first few days and record their observations, thoughts, and questions in the notebook.  Then, throughout their time with me I post questions, interview questions to be exact, for them to respond to, and for us to discuss.  The questions are from my own interview experiences throughout my career, teaching in 3 states gives you some ideas. ;)

I also use the journal to observe and reflect on lessons that my STs teach.  I love being able to give them additional thoughts to ponder.

Having everything is one place has proven to be the best idea!  My last three STs have rocked this process!  Each of them was able to use their notebook as a great study tool before their interviews.

There is a second piece that I wish I would have known about with my first STs...Rachelle Smith's Student Teacher Resource Binder.
This product is full of amazing organizational tools to help you and your ST stay on track.  I love how easy it is to set up and differentiate depending on the needs of each ST.  We all know that EVERY ONE of them is different!!!
I hope you find these two tools helpful; I know that they have changed my role as a mentor for the better.  
What tips do you have for working with student teachers?

Be sure to hop over and check out these amazing bloggers!

Monday, September 8, 2014

I Wish I Would Have Known

I seriously wish that someone would have taught me the following two tricks 10 years ago...

1. Helping Hands

Forget the hassle of job charts; just the idea of their upkeep gives me anxiety.  Helping Hands is a quick and efficient way to have helpers in your classroom.  All you have to do is flip to the next two students each day.  This way students get to help more often through a variety of jobs.  My kiddos help with passing out papers and supplies, being line leader, pulling the lunch wagon, vacuuming the classroom, and taking out the recycling bin.  If only I would have known 10 years ago that managing classroom jobs could be streamlined and effective.

2. Clip Chart Add Ons
I have always used some sort of moving behavior chart, but a clip chart has been my go-to the last few years.  I love that as student behaviors move up and down so can their clips.  Three years ago, when I went back into the classroom, I made sure to send an email or Golden Note home, or make a positive phone call for students that made it to Outstanding.  I upped the ante this year with the "Clip Chart Hall of Fame."  When students make it to Outstanding they not only get a positive communication sent home, but they get to add a gem to their clip.  Once they have earned 5 gems their clip retires to the "Clip Chart Hall of Fame" and they receive a new clip.  This little change to our chart has created more excitement than I knew was possible.  Okay, maybe I knew that sparkly gems would bring excitement; just not when related to behavior.  Be sure to check back for updates on this new addition.

What do you wish you would have known when you first started teaching?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Back To School 2014

We are officially back to school!  It was an awesome first week with my new firsties.  They are too cute and so excited for a new year of learning.
We jumped right into discussions of using kind words, how to make new friends, and appropriate school behavior.  It is thanks to the books Chrysanthemum, Ribbit!, and Don't Squeal Unless It's a Big Deal that these concepts were practiced and taught.  We even reread Chrysanthemum by using our QR codes and listening to the story.  As we "re-listened" students took turns crumbling and smoothing out Chrysanthemum's heart to show that even if we apologize hurtful words make a mark on our heart.
You can check out my in depth post from last year for more details.

We then made a promise to not use hurtful words and signed our promise with bandaids.

Yes, our week was full of rules, routines, and community building, but I made sure to allow time for introducing GoNoodle.  It has been a hit since their first bout of Wiggle It!  
I am so grateful for the excitement and encouragement that GoNoodle brings to my students.  Are your students GoNoodling?  If not get on it!!!  You will be the happiest teacher!!

How has your first week (or month) been?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Currently - September

Well my summer vacation is officially over!  I am not sure where it went, but I am super excited to meet my new class tomorrow.  In the spirit of ending and beinginning, I am linking up with the amazing Farley for this month's Currently.

The 3 Trips are 3 places I have never been, but would like to visit one day.  
I am off to tackle my To Do list.  Be sure to check out what everyone else is Currently up to.