Data stinks….until it becomes relevant

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Mrs. Marino’s 4th grade class

Yep, I said THAT word. The word that almost everyone in education dreads. But, it truly can be an extremely powerful tool if understood and implemented the correct way. This is a new concept to me, so my students and I will learn together as we go through this process. I have read quite a bit of research this summer on the power of students tracking their own data. Will it work for my class? I sure hope so. First of all, everything I have read about this concept has been extremely interesting . Secondly, when this is executed correctly it can be quite powerful for students. I went back and forth on how I would implement this in my 4th grade classroom this year, and this is what I came up with. I made this chart for my students to keep in their binder behind their data tab. It is a simple chart where they will fill in each assignment that we have. When grades are returned they will color in the correct box. Here are a few key points my students and I covered when I introduced this concept yesterday:

1. This is for YOU, not your parents. We send home grade sheets for your parents.

2. This is a way to quickly glance and assess how you are progressing throughout the 6 weeks.

3. Which row of boxes would we prefer to be in?

4. What happens if we make a mistake and end up in a row that doesn’t make us happy?

5. What is a goal, and how can we reach it?

I am nervous about this but very excited. If I can keep this organized, make sure they are tracking their data, and have student conferences where we discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly then I know that this process will be very effective for my students and myself. Wish us luck as we shake things up and try something new. I will absolutely assess things after the first six weeks and let y’all know how it is going.

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Mrs. Moses will not give up on us!

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By: Angela Moses

It is Friday!  We have survived week one of school!  I hope everyone has had a great start to school!  I love the beginning of each year.  It is a time to reflect on last year and what you need to change or enhance!  Each group of students will be different.  The behaviors are different, how they learn is different, and your class atmosphere is different.  The one thing that will not change is the fact the we love them all and we will never give up on them.  Today we started something new in Room 115.  We have a “Warrior Words” wall for sharing kind words about others. I told the students to share one nice thing about another student in our class.  All of my students were finished in about 5 minutes except for one.  I quietly sat and watched his facial expressions while he was writing.  He carefully thought about what he was writing. We started sharing the kind words as a group and put them on the wall.  He patiently waited until everyone finished.  He came up and said this is for you Mrs. Moses.  As I started reading I felt a tear down my face.  This is what is said, “Mrs. Moses I love you, your are very nice, and you will never give up on us!” He then gave me the biggest bear hug!

He is why I do what I do everyday!  He and all my other students, past and present, are important to me!  It does not matter that we have had a tough week or a crazy schedule. What does matter is that we show our kids kindness, love, and a caring heart.  We need them as much as they need us!

As we continue this year, I hope we all continue to model being a leader and have an open mind when we are with our students.  We need to put a smile on our face even when the times are tough!  We all know it gets tough!  That is why we have each other.  I am talking about our co-educators!  Lean on them!  We will become stronger leaders and role models for our students. We as teachers can let go of so much control, let the walls down, and stand back and watch the learning unfold!  It is powerful to watch students collaborating, using teamwork, and being kind to one another.  We need to be there to guide them along the way.  If we give our students a voice in their learning, then we are opening the door to their future!

Have a wonderful school year!

4th grade fun – Popplet, Screen Shots, & Nouns.

16313_697345633675892_3925330455665538526_nMrs. Marino’s 4th graders

The first two days of school were wonderful, but the third day….the third day is when I got to get in my zone. The third day I was able to bring the iPad cart into the class for the first time of the year. It’s a big deal. It’s a big deal to the kids and to me as their teacher. I thought because I did this last year it would not be quite as “magical” for lack of a better word, but boy was I wrong. Their excitement was contagious. I was able to introduce the students to one of my favorite apps named Popplet. It is so simple to use but very impactful. You can use it for any content and any subject. Today we used Popplet to review nouns. Here is how the day went:

1. Introduced students to our iPad rules. There are only three because I like to keep it simple. That way the kids can remember them and learn to be responsible while using them. I also don’t like to put the iPads on a pedestal. To me this is just a tool that helps my students learn. The same as a pencil, dictionary, or ruler.

2. Reviewed what a noun is – a person, place, or thing. Told the students to take a picture of a person and a thing in the classroom.

3. We then went outside to take a picture of a place all while following our new learned iPad rules. And let me tell you…the students did an amazing job following our rules.

4. When we got back to the classroom I walked them through Popplet step by step while using an Apple TV to airplay my iPad screen for all the students to see.

5. Students created their own Popplets over nouns importing the pictures that they took.

Now that I have taught the students to use Popplet they will be able to create with the app without my help. We will use it at least once a week. Students will then submit their Popplets to me via e-mail where I will assess their progress and give them a grade. You just can’t go wrong with this app. I am absolutely looking forward to introducing my students to even more ways to enhance their learning with iPads. Having devices in your classroom does not have to be scary as long as you use the same classroom management skills that you use for anything else.

 

First day of school EVE! By Angela Moses

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WE ARE BETTER TOGETHER!

The first day of school is upon us!  It is an opportunity to share our hearts with our students, to make a difference, and to show them to believe in themselves.  As teachers, it is our responsibility to be a positive role model for our students.  We have all been working to get our rooms ready for the first day.  Do you think about the other aspect of your classroom?  The mindset of your classroom is very important.  Each child comes from a different background.  Some of the students depend on you for answers that develop outside the classroom.  We are not just teachers!  We are givers of hugs, smiles, and a caring heart for our students.  Each year when the door opens, my heart grows by 20-22 times.  I am blessed to have this opportunity to be a teacher.  I feel it truly is a calling!  My students become a part of my family!  I grow each year with my students.  They make a difference in my life.  We laugh, cry, dance, and respect each other in our class!  All students need to know they matter! We also need to be mindful with our co-workers.  Our day to day in the classroom can sometimes be demanding.  We all need to collaborate together for the betterment of the students.  Together being the key word! Our students are thought of first….ALWAYS! Positive team build is great modeling for our students.  If we want our kids to be positive, it must be modeled by teachers! The day before school is like Christmas Eve.  I look forward to the gifts of my classroom, MY STUDENTS! I hope everyone has a great school year. Enjoy your students, take pride in yourself and your students, and always SMILE! 

Class Dojo = Creative Classroom Management

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Y’all already know what I do if I have a question or problem when it comes to education….I immediately hit up my Twitter feed for immediate feedback. Hashtag powerful. So, one of my absolute favorite teacher friends called me earlier for some advice on classroom management with technology. Last year Class Dojo reached out to me through Twitter and asked if I would like to Skype with them about their product. Of course I said yes and Kaylee, who was my student teacher at the time, had the opportunity to sit and listen to the whole thing. As a student teacher she was very impressed by the options that Class Dojo gave for classroom management. As a first year teacher she wants to use a system that’s fresh, fun, and effective. She had a few questions about setting up her classroom through Dojo so of course I headed to Twitter to get her some quick answers. Let me tell you, Class Dojo did not let me down. They responded to me in two minutes with an email and within 10 minutes I was Skyping with Jenna in California about this great tool. Everyone knows how busy teachers are in August so to have such a quick response was priceless. One of our questions was about “shared managers”. What this means is that teachers within the same grade level can share student accounts. The reading teacher, math teacher, and science teacher can all give and take away points throughout the day. This is a great collaboration tool for team teachers and the fact that you can share students’ behavior with their parents throughout the day is amazing. I am going to give you the steps to share student accounts below. I also urge you to check out this video on Erin Klein’s website for more information on Class Dojo’s new features. Follow Class Dojo on Facebook and Twitter. You will not be disappointed!

http://www.kleinspiration.com/2014/08/instantly-message-with-parents-via-new.html

Steps for co-teachers to share classes:

1. All teachers must have a Class Dojo account set up 

2. One teacher enters the students into a classroom

3. Locate the class tile (or icon)

4. There is a small triangle in the top right corner of the class tile

5. Click on the triangle

6. A drop down menu will appear

7. Click on share

8. Type in the email of the teachers that you want to share the class with

8. The teachers will receive the email and all they have to do is accept

Social Media: How are you using it?

Sometimes, most of the time, social media has such a bad image associated with it. But is it the social media, or is it the user? Something to think about. Is Social Media bad, or is it the way people use it? Last year I started using Twitter as a source to network with peers throughout the educational community. What I found was a group of positive, intelligent individuals that are extremely passionate about their careers and about children. This has been the absolute best thing that has ever happened to my career. At any given moment I am able to connect, learn, ask, share and grow as a teacher. Through social media I met one of my closest, dearest friends. Her name is Summer Diamond, and she is FABULOUS. She loves her job. She loves her family. She loves children. Last year when I started using Twitter as a platform to learn I would have never imagined the relationships that I would form through the “internet” because that’s just weird. Right? I strongly believe that because I made the choice to be positive, to use these Social Media platforms in positive ways that God placed people in my life on purpose. And it’s powerful. I am in grad school, and I try to act tough. So many other people have done this, and it seemed so easy. I don’t want to look like a failure or weak or that I can’t do this, too. If I am being honest the “Mommy Guilt” that comes along with grad school has been detrimental. The mountains of laundry – impossible. A full time job, a family, pressures. It gets to you. This morning, out of the blue, I got a text from Summer Diamond. It wasn’t just a text. It was a prayer that God placed on her heart for me. A prayer that will get me through my last semester of grad school. It was exactly what I needed at this moment in time. Thank you God for opening doors for me. Thank you for Social Media and the opportunity to use it in a positive way. And thank you so much for using Summer DIamond as a vessel to touch not only my life, but students and teachers everywhere.

The most important thing

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By: Daisy Marino

I came up to my classroom today after church so that I could work on the large amount of homework I have due in the next two weeks. When I need a break I just sit and look around my room and start thinking about all the things that I need to do in my class before school starts back. It’s a lot. I need to move furniture around, figure out my centers, start making lists and schedules and get paperwork ready for the first day. All of those things are important. They are tasks that every teacher will complete before school starts back. But are they they most important? Should all of our focus be on “that”. I don’t think so. My main goal this year, the thing that NEEDS to happen before school starts back is getting in the right mind frame before students and coworkers hit those doors. A successful school and classroom should be centered around positive attitudes and morale. The focus should be on making every single student feel like they are important. The same goes for coworkers. When people feel important they work harder. When students know their teacher loves them they are going to try their very best.  I’m excited to get back into the swing of things. I love that I have the best job in the world. Working with kids. Working in a tight community. Working with people that have the same goals and vision that I do. Don’t get me wrong, not everything is always perfect. But my attitude will decide the atmosphere of my class. So if I am having a bad day I need to figure out how to keep that to myself. If someone hurts my feelings, I have to keep smiling for my students. Some days this is going to be really easy, and some days it is going to seem impossible. These kids are going to hit the doors excited in two short weeks, and I can’t wait. These kids need us. One wrong word and we can scar them for life. But one right word and we can change their lives for the better. We can empower them. I want to be the change that some child needs. I want to be a positive force in their life. I want to make a difference.

If you need a little inspiration as the new school year starts look up Angela Maiers and Todd Nesloney on Twitter. See what they are doing with their #YouMatter campaign. It’s easy. Simple. It does not take a bunch of extra work or time……just smile and be kind…those two things can change a child’s life or a coworker’s life.