Saturday, June 13, 2015

EdCamp Leon 2015

Today, Leon County hosted its third annual EdCamp, and I'm so glad I was able to attend again this year.  Like my other EdCamp posts, I'm simply going to share what I participated in throughout the day.
Registration lasted an hour, from 9:00-10:00 a.m.  When I arrived, I noticed a few coworkers, but I also recognized the friendly face of a teacher I know in a local public school.  We have sort of a history together (I taught his child and have also worked with his wife).  He soon approached me and asked if I'd like to present with him today about student engagement.  At first, I said, "Don't teachers already know about student engagement?"  To which he responded, "Do they??"  I said, "I think everything I would have to share, most teachers already know."  He reminded me of the Whole Brain Teaching techniques I use, plus my chants/singing/dancing, Mystery Skype, classroom transformations, etc.  He's observed my teaching.  Finally, I decided I would present with him.  I wasn't really prepared, but he assured me it would be more conversation-style than true presentation-style.  Within 15 minutes, we were standing in front of our audience.
There were four sessions of presentations throughout the day, and we were in the first group:
Just ignore the misspelled words.  I didn't type the schedule, but I assure you, we were sharing about "Student Engagement," not "Student Engagment."

I was kind of surprised when we went to our room--every seat was full and we needed to pull in more chairs.  Apparently, more teachers than I thought are interested in student engagement!  Bryan mainly led the conversation, but I jumped in and shared when I felt like it.  There was a great flow to the presentation, I thought, and many of the teachers shared their own ideas and strategies.  We discussed Bill McBride's Six C's of Engagement, various attention getters, Whole Brain Teaching, Ron Clark Academy techniques, and a variety of resources.  We recommended all of Ron Clark's books, Inside the Trenches by Adam Dovico, and Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire by Rafe Esquith. 

The second session I chose to go to was called Roadtrip Nation.  It was a good resource, but really geared more toward upper middle and high school students.  Roadtrip Nation is about career exploration, and we looked at several links from www.roadtripnation.org.

After the second session, it was lunch time.  Salad, pizza, and drinks were provided, and we were all able to talk and share with each other at lunch.  I'm so glad we had this networking/sharing time because we didn't last year.  Instead, we had to sit through a webcast that wasn't relevant, in my opinion.  Today's sharing time was much more valuable. 

My third session was titled, "Connecting with Florida Educators."  I learned about Google Hangouts, EdCamp Global, and #FLedChat on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. on Twitter.  #cantwait.  This session revolved around participating in a Hangout with EdCamp Volusia, the cofounder of EdCamp Tampa Bay, and Jerry Blumengarten. 
I was a little star-struck when I saw Jerry on screen.  I know him as @cybraryman1 on Twitter, so it was fun to get to chat with him for a bit.  His online resources have been so beneficial to me, and I encourage you to check out his pages: www.cybraryman.com.  He has a plethora of information. 

Finally, my last session was "iPad Everything" and we were able to share apps/resources and discuss how we use iPads in our classrooms.

We ended the day with prizes, and I actually won an Interactive Whiteboard System:
There were some great prizes offered including a document camera, the IWB Systems, webcams, free registrations to FETC (Florida Educational Technology Conference), Plickers, t-shirts, etc.  I believe everyone walked away with something.

One final cool thing happened that left me in tears (of gratitude).  Once the conference ended, I spoke with a lady who organizes the FETC event.  Unbeknownst to me, she had come to the presentation I shared in earlier that morning.  During our conversation, she referred to my blog and I mentioned that I help with technology workshops at my school.  She said, "You need to come to FETC."  I told her that I've always wanted to go, but I teach at a private school and we just don't have the funds to send our teachers to a huge conference like that.  She invited me to the next conference and gave me a free registration!  Tears immediately started welling up in my eyes.  As she was pulling out her card and writing the information down, I asked, "Are you really doing this for me?!"  I was so excited, overcome with gratitude, and just tried to pick my jaw off the floor!  Without going into detail, this past year has been incredibly difficult for me personally.  I've had to deal with great disappointment, so when this moment happened, I had a hard time processing it--Is something good really happening to me?!  This isn't typical.  What's going on?!

I'm sure for the average person, my excitement may seem overboard and way too dramatic.  However, I love conferences...I love learning...and FETC is something I've wanted to attend for at least three years.  It's one of the nation's largest educational technology conferences.  I am thrilled!  The conference is in January, and I can't wait to share with you what I learn and experience.  It's going to be great!

As you can see, EdCamp Leon was another success, and I had a wonderful time!  

Friday, May 29, 2015

End of Year Gifts

This year, I decided to give my students something that would get them in the mood for summer (as if they weren't already in the mood!).  Inspired by Pinterest, I gave each child an inflatable beach ball and we took time in class to sign each other's.  This gift was so easy and a huge hit:
Static electricity discovery took place while we were waiting for everyone to inflate their ball:
In addition to student gifts, I also gave my parent volunteers a gift of appreciation for their help this year:
A pitcher and various Crystal Light drink mixes

If you'd like to print the "Thanks for Pitching In" tags seen above, click HERE to go to the What the Teacher Wants blog post.

Finally, I had a high school student helper this year.  She loves dark chocolate, so I bought her an assortment of Lindt dark chocolate and some lip balm with the following tag from U-Create Crafts:
So cute, right?!  I just love Pinterest-inspired gifts. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Celebrating the end of the school year...

The last two weeks of school have been a little tough.  Many of my students have already "checked out."  We are tired and ready for summer.  Listening skills are lacking and I'm trying my best to keep the students focused until the last day.  It's very difficult.

To try to get them more engaged, we decided to do one fun activity each day until the last day of school.  At this point, we are only two days away from summer!  Here's our list of activities that we started last Monday:

1.  Name Change Day (my students were able to pick out a new name for themselves and I called them by this new name all day.  I had them wear name tags so I could recall their names.  The class said that I needed a new name too.  Yes!  Now I don't have to hear "Mrs. Bowman" a million times a day!  They decided my new name was Mrs. Namwob (Mrs. Bowman spelled backwards).

2.  15 minutes Extra Recess

3.  Gum Day (students brought their own gum, but I also supplied each student with a handful of Dubble Bubble)

4.  Sit Where You Want Day

5.  Soda Day (students brought their own soda)

6.  iPad Play (I gave the students about 20 minutes of free iPad time)

7.  Donuts for Everyone (This was easy because we won a donut party for bringing in the highest number of Box Tops for the school)

8.  A visit from Miko (My little 10 pound, Yorkie mix paid a visit to the class.  I felt this meeting was appropriate because my students have had to listen to stories about him all year.)

9.  Last Day of School party at Fun Station! 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Safety Patrol Luncheon

Each year, the 5th graders have the opportunity to participate in Safety Patrol.  This is a pretty big deal that requires interested students to submit an application as well as letters of reference and then take part in a scheduled interview with the principal.  Once accepted, students can sign up for either morning or afternoon patrol.  During morning patrol, members help make sure that younger students get to their building/classroom safely; during afternoon duty, members help keep everyone quiet during pick-up and answer any questions the younger students may have.  5th graders who participate must keep up their academic and conduct grades or else they will be put on probation.  Students typically take their jobs seriously. 

At the end of the school year, we thank them for their service by providing a Safety Patrol Luncheon in their honor.  We usually treat them to either pizza or subs, a dessert, and then we play games/trivia for prizes, followed by selected students reading aloud their Safety Patrol essay.  A few days before the luncheon, I require the students to write a brief essay about their Safety Patrol (SP) experience.  In it, they include their assigned duty/post, what they enjoyed most about SP, what being a SP member taught them, and their most memorable moment while on patrol. 

Here are a few photos from this year's luncheon, as well as two sample essays:
 Playing a timed "Unscramble the Words" game
Finally, I'd like to share two essays.  FYI, the students completed these on their own without any assistance from me.  I was especially pleased with the first essay because of the word choice.  The second essay knocked my socks off because it was written by a student who made huge progress throughout the year.  At the beginning of the year, I would never have guessed that this child would be able to write so eloquently.  I am so proud!

First essay:
"During my 5th grade year at CCS, I was a part of the Safety Patrol team.  I was assigned afternoon duty.  The best thing about being a Safety Patrol student was being able to help younger children learn how to behave at car pick-up and teaching them that bad behavior has consequences.  My favorite Safety Patrol memory was when (insert another student's name) loudly announced that I was her favorite Safety Patrol.  One thing I learned during my time as a Safety Patrol was that sometimes being strict is better than giving a lot of grace.  I learned this because very few children changed their behavior if I constantly gave them warnings and never gave strikes.  In all, I enjoyed being a Safety Patrol student and wish I could have an opportunity to do it every school year."

Second essay:
"During my fifth grade year, I decided to commit to being a Safety Patrol member.  As a Safety Patrol, you have two jobs available--morning and afternoon, or you can do both.  At the first quarter of school, I did both, and at the second, I did afternoon.  The best thing about being morning patrol is getting to see the school when it's vacant.  The best part of being afternoon patrol is not needing to sit on the wall and do nothing.  My favorite memory was when I had morning patrol and I got hot chocolate.  Out of the whole year of being Safety Patrol, I learned how to be a better leader."


Thank you, 5th graders, for your service this year!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Kahoot!

Kahoot! is a game-based classroom response system that allows teachers to create quizzes, surveys, etc. and deliver them online to students.  I've used it in my classroom this year as a fun and engaging way to review for tests; however, teachers can use it in many different ways.  This free system has a variety of features, including the ability to search for premade quizzes by other educators.  Users can preview any quiz to see if it will meet their needs.  Click HERE to see a quick video (of a geography review I created) that shows you how excited my students have been using Kahoot!

As you can see, they love participating.

To create a Kahoot! for your class, go to www.getkahoot.com.

In order for your students to join a Kahoot! you've created, have them use www.kahoot.it

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Space Camp 2015

A few days ago, my 5th grade students and I embarked on our annual adventure to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.  You can read about last year's experience HERE and the year before that HERE.  This year marked my 7th field trip to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, and, as usual, I had the time of my life.  I never tire of this trip!  It does require a tremendous amount of planning, but the fun we have makes it all worthwhile. 
We all met Wednesday morning at 5:45 EST and left on our chartered bus by 6:00 a.m.  We arrived at Space Camp around 1:15 p.m. CST and began the check in process.  After being assigned to our dorms, we had orientation. 
While at orientation, all the school groups at Space Camp gathered in one large room and, to my surprise, I noticed a familiar face from another school group.  My best friend from high school was standing a few feet away from me!  I ran up to her--we both squealed in excitement and hugged since we hadn't seen each other in over 10 years!  We now live states apart; she just happened to be at Space Camp as a chaperone for her son's field trip.  What a small world!
After Orientation, we were sorted into groups.  My team's name was Team Carpenter (after Mercury astronaut, Scott Carpenter), and our camp counselor was Ms. Victoria:
We created a team chant, which I later learned was essentially from Bob the Builder.  I've never watched Bob the Builder, so I had no clue about the connection.  I just thought that the chaperone who suggested the chant was quick-witted and creative!  Whenever Victoria said, "Team Carpenter," we yelled, "CAN WE BUILD IT?"  Followed by, "YES, WE CAN!"  This was fun to say, especially when it came time to build our rockets.  ;) 

We did so much on Day 1 and were exhausted by bed time.  Seriously, the kids were begging for bed time!  To sum up, my team explored the Rocket Park, rode the G-Force simulator, competed in a Museum Hunt, created a mission patch, ate dinner, constructed rockets, and learned about the Mercury, Gemini, and Shuttle programs.
Moon rock from the Apollo 12 mission.
We also ran in to Karl with a K!  To understand the significance of this encounter, read last year's post.
Day 2 started with breakfast at 8:30 a.m., but most of my students were up by 7:00 a.m. (some even earlier!?).  I was a little surprised because students in the past have been dragging on the second morning due to the exhaustion from Day 1.  These kids were energized and ready to hit the ground running!

On Day 2, we had beautiful weather, which was a huge blessing because there had been a 70% chance of rain forecasted.  The day's activities included training for our mission, riding the MAT (Multi-Axis Trainer) Simulator, visiting Miss Baker's grave, going to the gift shop, exploring the Davidson Museum...and stumbling upon a special surprise while in the museum...
When we entered the museum, I noticed several gentlemen in white coats walking around and talking to various guests.  While my group was looking at a display near the moon rock, one of the men came up to us and began talking about some of the items on display.  We found out that the men in white coats were retired NASA workers who now serve as docents for the Davidson Museum.  We were standing in the presence of Craig Sumner, who had worked on the Lunar Roving Vehicle as a NASA test subject and trained the Apollo astronauts to drive said Moon Buggy! 
His photo from the 1970's:
We really enjoyed listening to his stories:
video
We also met Ron Brock.  He had worked with Wernher von Braun and told us fun stories as well.  I loved hearing his impressions of von Braun!  He mimicked the German accent perfectly and told us about his interactions with the famous rocket scientist.  I was thrilled to have this experience; I felt like I'd met celebrities....of course, I'm a big space nerd! 
After the high of this encounter, we went to the area where we would complete our mission.  Some students were assigned to the International Space Station where they worked on science experiments.  Other students were assigned to the space shuttle orbiter where they were "launched into space."  The adults were assigned to Mission Control.  We all had different roles, and the simulated mission felt very real.  Once it was over, I felt we had done incredibly well.  We had very few mistakes, and the kids took their roles seriously and acted professionally.  I felt confident that we could win "Best Mission."  At one point during the mission, however, as we were landing the shuttle, I noticed that our payload bay doors had been left open.  I was sooo disappointed!  Thankfully, there was just a glitch in the computer/visual, and this "mistake" did not count against us.  Whew!  I jokingly told one chaperone, "If we don't win Best Mission, I'm gonna demand a recount and request to see the score sheet!"  Yes, they grade each group's mission, and we competed against 10 other groups at Space Camp.
 We were able to see the crew in the ISS and the orbiter:
I was the Flight Director.  The crew could blame me if our mission wasn't successful!  I told them, "Failure is NOT an option!"  ;)
In addition to our mission, my group also rode Space Shot, launched our rockets, rode the 5DF chair simulator, watched a few videos and listened to presentations about what NASA is currently doing, and played Space Bowl on Day 2. 
After saying our team chant over and over on Day 2, these silly girls made up an extended version:
video
The last comment is cut off at the end: "Oh, why bother?  We don't even need it!"  ;)
 
Day 3 started with a group devotion.  I led it, and our scripture focus was Joshua 4:1-8.  Just like in previous years, I gave each person a "Space Camp Memorial Stone," and they shared how God blessed them on this trip.  We had spent months praying about this field trip in the classroom, so all of the students were able to see how God answered specific prayers that had been lifted up.  After our devotion and prayer time, we ate breakfast, rode the Mars Mission simulator, climbed the Mars Rock Wall, graduated, and enjoyed Space Dots (ice cream) before boarding the bus and heading home. 
At graduation, awards were handed out.  Guess what?!  Team Carpenter won "Best Mission!"  That's three years in a row that my team has won this award!  I was so proud!  My principal came on this trip as well, and her team (the other half of my class--Team Cernan) won the highest score in Space Bowl!  This was her second year to win Space Bowl!  We were thrilled!
As you can tell, I love this trip.  Space Camp allows us to experience new things, learn more about space history/travel, see space memorabilia, and bond with each other.  This field trip has given me wonderful memories over the years that I will treasure forever.

I'll leave you with one last video: Karl with a K, my team's counselor from last year, met up with us right before we left, and treated us to a song he wrote to the tune of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?"  It's titled, "Do You Want to Build a Rocket?"
video