Sunday, May 27, 2012

Music in the Classroom Link Up

I ran across a post from Jack of All TradesBeg, Borrow, & Teach! and Special Teaching in Middle about using music and video to help students remember concepts better, so I thought I'd link up because I LOVE using music in the classroom. They each posted some really neat video and music ideas, so go read their blogs when you are finished with mine! ;)

First of all, I love using music simply as background music. There are research-based studies that state music with certain beats per minute actually stimulates thinking and focus. With this in mind, I like to use sites like Pandora or Grooveshark to simply play what I call "thinking music" while students are working. You can search for classical music or (my favorite) Celtic music and create stations on each of these sites.

Now, if you're looking for music/video to actually reinforce instruction,  I love School House Rock. Yeah, I know, it's "old school," but the oldies never die, my friends! Another class-favorite is Teacher & the Rockbots. I've linked up a few videos we've used in class. Enjoy!

We break out the air guitars and rock out to the 50 States song.

This is another fun one the kids enjoy!

An oldie, but a goodie!

Now, it's your turn! Link up and share your favorite learnin' tunes and vids! :) 


Friday, May 25, 2012

Friday Freebie, BookSource, & My New Classroom!

Happy Friday! I hope you have wonderful plans for the long weekend. As for my wife and I, I think we are "stay-cationing" for the weekend!

I wanted to let you know that I've posted a freebie in my TpT store! You can click the little button over there on the right or follow this link to download my IPICK Bookmarks. I tried to post a nice little picture of them on here, but for whatever reason, they were coming out really blurry. So, just click the link to get your freebie!

Next up... I've been waffling back and forth on how to organize my classroom library because it seems every year I start a system I think will be good only to have it fall apart half way through the school year. I went out in search of blog posts on the subject and one in particular led me to...

The only problem is... I can't remember which blog it was! If you pointed me to the Classroom Organizer, please comment below so I can give you the accolades you deserve! Update: I figured out who pointed me in the direction of Booksource -- Tiffani from Time4Organization! Check out her blog - lots of great organizational ideas there!

Anyhoot... I just spent the last day or so cataloging 393 books by scanning the bar codes with an iPhone (free app also available for Android) and now I have a spreadsheet with titles & guided reading levels. How cool is that?! What is more, you can create a class roster and have your students check out your books using the online tools! It's definitely worth a look!!

Finally... I got to visit my new classroom the other day! I thought I'd post a few "before" pictures for you guys.

Maybe where my classroom library will be?

Student workstations
Student workstations

I'm thinking is will be my "meeting" area for Morning Meeting and minilessons.
I have a sink! Woot!

Teacher workstation
Cubbies with additional storage up top! Score!

This will be the CAFE menu for Daily 5. 
Presently, my challenge is where I will put my bean bags and other reading furniture I had in my other classroom. I'd love to have a designated reading area, but we may have to get creative with how we do that.

So, I guess that's it for today! Have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! Be sure to show your appreciation for our military this weekend! :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Good morning to all you Beach Bums and Surfers out there! :) You can pick which one you are. Today I am a total beach bum. I have a serious case of bed head and totally am totally content vegging out on the couch with my coffee and laptop. :)

Today I thought I'd share another fun Web 2.0 tool with you called VoiceThread. VoiceThread allows you to create a collaborative presentation using visual and audio media. You can upload scanned pictures, documents (like Powerpoints), or video. Other VoiceThread users can comment on your work as well. In general, VT is free, but there is a paid membership option which gives you more bells & whistles to work with. I've embedded my research project for my Master's degree as an example for you guys. I apologize in advance if I stutter or flub up my words. ;)

So you know what time it is now! It's comment time! How do you see yourself using VoiceThread in instruction? For me, I think this would be great as a way for students to collaborate in a digital storytelling project. Each student can illustrate a page of their story and tell it on the VoiceThread. 

It's your turn! And.... GO! 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I Have an iPad.... Now What?!

I'm so excited! The new school I am going to issued me an iPad to experiment with over the summer so I can use it with my new 4th graders in the fall. So... I am wondering if my bloggy friends can help me out by suggesting some "must have" apps to use in the classroom with the kiddos. Here are a few I already have...
  • Dropbox
  • Pinterest
  • GoodReads - I don't know much about this app, so I will be playing around with it to see what it will be able to do for the classroom.
  • iBooks - No books yet, but I plan on purchasing some!
  • BrainPop - This app is just for their movie of the day. Good for enrichment, maybe?
I'd love your suggestions for great math, literacy, or even productivity apps. It's my hope as I become more familiar with the iPad I can begin to write some posts geared towards using it in the classroom for instruction. I look forward to reading your comments, suggestions, or ideas! Have a great night!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


After reading a few past posts, I've felt convicted because there wasn't a lot of educational "substance" behind them, so I'm breaking the "one post a day" rule. Tonight I thought I'd also write about WallWisher - a fantastic collaborative tool with endless possibilities! WallWisher allows users to post virtual sticky notes to a fancy wall that can be embedded into a blog or website. Students can even upload audio or video into their stickies! Best of all, it's completely FREE!

Instead of reading all about it, let's take this chance to "play" with Wall Wisher! I've embedded a wall down below and have posed a question in the description. Add your ideas and thoughts to the wall by clicking the pink "Post a sticky" button below. Take some time to read what others have posted, too! 

Don't be shy! Add your sticky with your great ideas! I can't wait to read them all. :)

Summer Bucket List

There are a lot of things I want to accomplish over the summer and I noticed a Summer Bucket List linky going on, so I thought I'd jump in and participate!

Click the pic to go to Miss Kindergarten's Blog!

1. Revamp my class website - Since I am moving to a new district, I need to update some things and I want to make my classroom site a little more beachy to reflect the Beach Brains theme. 

2. Work on organizing my new classroom space - I won't be able to do this until July, but I have a feeling I will be reading a lot of the Clutter Free Classroom's blog for ideas!

3. Turn our office into a nursery - My wife and I are very excited about this! While we're waiting for our future son & daughter, we're going to have fun making preparations. I wanted to put a picture up of the office now, but I would be threatened within inches of my life if I did that. It's a little a real big a disaster area right now.

4. Some "light" reading - I am going to make time to read some books that I've wanting to read or re-read. There are several books I'd like to read, but here are a few I know I will get to this summer.

5. Add to my TpT Store - I am going to use TpT to raise money for our adoption! I am brainstorming some products and have one product in the store already. Click the badge below to visit!


What are some of your summer bucket list items? Leave a comment down below! I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

School's OUT! & Currently

<breaks out air guitar & sings>

SCHOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER!! Doesn't feel good to breathe that sigh of relief as you are walking out of the building and heading home? Rest & relaxation is finally here! Today was a bittersweet today, though - saying goodbye to kids & co-workers, yet looking forward to the challenges and opportunities coming in the fall. Our district holds a year end BBQ where they give out service awards and I was presented with my 5 year plaque today. It's always nice to get a pat on the back and an atta-boy!

Do you have any big plans for your summer? I have a few things going on - I will be working at my church for June & July helping them with our 4th & 5th grade kids camp. Even though it's a summer job, it is relaxing and fun to hang out with the kids from church. I'm hoping to get a couple weekend trips and back yard BBQ's in there somewhere. We shall see what happens!

Now that I'm done with school, I took this opportunity to get my May Currently done for Farley's linky party!

Click the Currently pic to go to Farley's  blog! :)

This summer will also consist of my wife & I working through the adoption process. We haven't been paired with anyone yet, but we're still only beginning the process and will be journaling about it in our adoption blog called Bringing Baby Bennett Home. Check it out if you have a moment!

Ok, it's time for me to get ready for church! I'll be blogging more often so check back for updates soon!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

End of the Year Gift & My First TpT Product!

The end of the year is always the craziest part of the school year, but today, I received the BEST and CRAZIEST present I have ever received from a student. Behold...

Yes, it's a toilet coffee mug!! There is a back story to this gift, but I will have to save that for another post, but I started my day with a hugamongous LOL! Have you ever gotten a crazy gift at the end of the year? If so, I want to hear about it! :)

The second thing I wanted to mention in my second post for the week (yes, I'm in shock, too!) is that I have placed my first Teachers Pay Teachers product in my online store. I am selling a Daily 5 Anchor Chart Pack which includes a mini anchor chart students can put in their reading notebooks or teachers can place in a classroom binder for reference. The profits I make off the products I sell are all going toward the adoption of my future son or daughter. You can read more about my family's adoption adventure by cruisin' over to Bringing Baby Bennett Home

If you do purchase or preview the anchor chart pack, I would appreciate your constructive feedback on how I can make my products more useful and effective for teachers. 

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful night!! :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Geometry Fun & Math-a-Thon

Have no fear, I'm baaaaaack! Go ahead, admit it! You missed me! You know you did. ;) 

We are down to the final 2 and a half days of school where I teach. It's amazing how quickly the school year goes by. Normally, I would be ecstatic that the year is over; however, this is going to be a bittersweet year-end for me. I will not be returning to the district where I currently teach because I am taking a position somewhere else. I am very excited at the new possibilities and opportunities, but I am going to miss the friends and co-workers I've been with over the last 5 years. 

Alas, I digress... the title, after all, is about geometry and our Math-a-Thon! So let's get this road on the show!

If you're looking for a highly-engaging geometry lessons, then grab yourselves some toothpicks and marshmallows to make geometric solids! The marshmallows served as our vertices and the toothpicks were used to make our edges. We, then, talked about how we need edges & vertices to make our faces for geometric solids. I turned them loose to create their solids and then we did a quick compare & contrasting activity. It was a lot of fun and so easy!

The next thing I wanted to share with you tonight is a cause that is very near & dear to our district - St. Jude's Math-a-Thon! St. Jude's yearly Math-a-Thon raises money to help families pay for cancer treatments and also raises awareness for cancer research. Students collect pledges and work through fun, yet challenging math activities. I coordinated this year's event and to get the kids energized about participating, I offered a little contest - the classes with the highest participation got to put a pie in my face! Here are a couple pics of the kids' victory pies!

 It was a lot of fun and I hope my next district will participate as well! Have you done Math-a-Thon, or do you have any other geometry activities you've done with your students? I'd love to hear your comments! Have a great night!