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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

20 Ideas for using WORLD CLOUDS

I love using word clouds in the classroom. If you've never heard of them take a look at mine below, and check out these free sites Wordle and Tagxedo. You can create them to show kids, or have students create their own word clouds. Whatever you choose, here is a list of ideas on how you ro your students can use word clouds:

1.Introduce a new topic
2.Introduce new vocabulary
3.Visual Prompt, create sentences/stories from words
4.Practice oral reports (reading words vs reading report word for word)
5.Copy/paste news article, tweets, - have kids try to figure out what's going on from words
6.Include names of people/events- have kids guess the time period or historical event
7.Have kids create one to summarize/describe a person, place, time period, event
8.Encouraging creative writing from words (character, setting, mood descriptors)
9.Focus on one word- synonyms, antonyms, rhyming, alliteration, related words
10.Teach prepositions Table, Door, Book, Bed, Pillow, Boy (nouns in word cloud)- have the kids make sentences; The bed is by the door. The book is under the pillow. Great for ELL students!
11.Matching Spanish and English (kids find the pairs)
12.Do all of the above with different languages
13.Use Active Expressions handhelds to collate student responses to questions
14.Personal Narratives Copy/Paste for 'Guess Who' game.
15.All About Me words
16.Copy/Paste text from famous speeches, what are the important words/topics
17.Pre-freading- Paste non-fiction words related to book topic, have kids guess a title
18.Copy/Paste two fairy tales, two word clouds-try to guess what they are or the theme
19.Character Traits analysis for book characters or people from history
20.Word Wall online

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tweet, Tweet

One of my goals for this year is to incorporate Twitter into the classroom, as a means of enhancing instruction, engaging students, and communicating with parents and students. Here are some of the crazy ideas I've thought of and some I've stole off the internet...Okay...Most of them I've stole off the internet! : )

*Shout out- Give kids a random question, see who's the first to respond.... ie. Temperature in Anchorage...
*Buzzwords- Post a vocabulary word or concept. Kids then post phrases, words, or thoughts they connect with it. ~This can be turned into a word cloud using Wordle or Tagxedo OR go to Twitter Map to see a visual of these words and how they relate to one another.
*Parents can follow what we're doing in class. Students can also take the lead here and do the tweeting themselves.
*Geotweets- Ask people to tweet where they are or where they've been (farthest, last vacation, etc.). Then pinpoint these on Google Earth. Use GE to make a map and/or calculate distance, etc.
*Language teachers- Students can post a 'boring' word, or a mispelled word, others can tweet the correct spelled words or synonyms, just like a dictionary or thesaurus.
*Find an expert to question or follow (Vet, Scientist, Author, etc.).
*Scavenger Hunt- Ex. Find a picture of a piece of art from the Renaisance, no duplicates.
*Reseearch Diary- Give the entire class a topic, let them tweet information found.
*Create 'fake' Twitter accounts for famous historical people or book characters. Tweet dialogue as if you were the character.
*Current news events- Each student is assigned a day that they have to tweet a current event.
* can puplish students tweets over the course of x number of days, which can then be turned into a professional looking newspaper.
*Blurters- Students who like to blurt out answers, questions, or thoughts can tweet them to you using a laptop. These go instantly to your computer or cell.
*While watching a movie or short clip- engage students by giving each a laptop. Students can tweet questions or comments about what they see...Also, give them questions to find answers to tweet during the movie.


I'm Back!!!

I'm about to begin the 2011-2012 school year, and I'm super pumped! I have moved from 4th grade (self-contained) to 6th grade (social studies). My school starts computer classes in 5th grade, so at fourth grade, most of the kids are not very familiar with technology, unfortunately. My school is getting better as teachers are being given more technolgoy to use in the classroom and, of course, more training. I'm hoping that these sixth graders are ready and able to really dive into the 21st century with me! (After all, I was, for many of them, their fourth grade teacher.) I'm also really excited for the upcoming year because my superintendent has asked me to create/teach a few technology workshops for teachers throughout the year. **So...I get to share some of my ideas and Web tools with teachers, getting technology into the classroom and into the hands of teachers and students, PLUS... I get paid for it!! Doesn't get much better than that! Please note...I am far from an expert when it comes to all this ~stuff~. I'm really actually quite a beginner myself. I do, however, love to explore, learn, and try new things. I'm hoping this year will bring many new adventures, experiences, and ideas!

Here are some of the technology related goals I have set for myself this year:
1. Blogging- Continue to blog, but this year set up a blog for all five classes, and use it to create some really great discussions about the concepts we are learning about. Also- using idease oGradual Release of Responsibility, allow the kids to really take this and make it their own.
2. Twitter- Get all students and parents on twitter and use it to collaborate.
3. Google Earth- Create a map/or multiple mapping projects using Google Earth.
4. Glogster- LOVE THIS- Create a Glogster Project for my social studies classes
5. Prezi- Have each student create an online presentation via Prezi or Powerpoint
6. Excel- Teach students to create a spreadsheet/graph information ie. population- collaborate with the math teacher on this. Possibly publish findings online.
7. Survey Monkey- Use this at least two times for parents this year (maybe set up mini lab at pt conferences in the hallway), and with students to assess background knowledge.
8. Diigo or Create a curation project with kids, teaching them how to find information
9. Group Me- Probably not possible bc of our school's cell policy, but I would like create groups with cell contacts and bring cell phones into the classroom for collaboration.
10. Smart Board- Use my smart board daily, to enhance learning and engage students.
MOST IMPORTANTLY **SHARE- Share my ideas with other teachers in the building.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Technology Tuesday


Vocaroo- Free Voice Recording

(You do need a microphone, but one can be purchased for less that $20.)

R,R,A- Read, Record, Analyze -- Practice reading a few times, record, listen and analyze yourself/partner for "Fluency Factors" (smoothness, accuracy, clarity, expression, etc.)

  • Short, timed passage

  • Poems, Tongue Twisters, Song Lyrics

  • News Articles (Scholastic or Dogo News online)

  • Reader's Theaters

  • Word Lists

  • Short stories

  • Book talks

  • Persuasive Speech

  • Student Writing (Analyze for sentence fluency)

**Recordings can be posted to class webpage or sent to anyone via email!**

I thought about having students record themselves reading a short story that they have practiced and sending it to their younger brother/sister's class to have it played by the teacher!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Classroom

My Classroom

*Please note that many of my ideas for anchor charts and posters were taken from Beth Newingham, Angela Bunyi, and Heather Renz, 3 of my favorite teacher role models!!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Technology Tuesday


A group of my fourth graders just got done making a timeline on Timetoast! It was the first time I've used this site, and I will definitely use it again!! A little backround, in reading, we have been learning about text structure, more specifically, sequencing. A small group had just finished reading Antarctic Adventures, a book about 6 different Antarctic expeditions. I had them make a timeline of the important events from the book. They really enjoyed this, especially getting to add pictures to the timeline, but do this last, as kids will get caught up in searching for the pics rather than typing the information. Timetoast worked great for this reading activity. Here are more activities I am envisioning trying with my class (that go beyond the obvious History related timeline.)


-Using the timelines already on timetoast, or their own, to create a math activity where students have to do calculations to answer questions about the timeline.

ex. How many years before Scott arrived at the South Pole, did Shackleton reach the Pole?


-Observe change Plant Growing (Great for primary, let them each take a day to describe their observations and take a picture with a digital camera) Caterpillar to Butterfly Bread Mold/Bacteria Growth/etc. Seasons Changing -Famous Inventor/Inventions Writing

-Students can create a timeline of their most important moments in their lives-upload their own pictures from home : ) FUN -Teach time/order transition words using timeline and plot -Have students write instructions or plans, then share pictures of themselves doing these things.

eg. (How to Get Organized, Workout Plan, Baseball Training Activities, Summer Activities to Stay Busy) You could even have them look at some examples from magazines like Self or Shape, or maybe even from a kids magazine. I love American Girl!


-We are in the middle of BIG research projects. I was thinking of using Timetoast to create a timeline of important deadlines.

-Timeline of important school days to remember

-Timeline of memorable events from our school year to share on the last day of school! (I have to remember to keep my camera handy!) ***I would love to do this one! There have been so many memorable things that have happened-- broken arms, a visit from a famous football player, making a class video, Wii Just Dance Party, field trips, etc.***

-Timeline of losing teeth (Primary) CUTE!!!!

I plan to put all of our timelines on our class website to share with students, parents, grandparents, etc.

If our timeline doesn't show up, click here to see A History of Antarctic Adventures!

A Few of My (Seven) Favorite Things

Katie at Persnickety Pickles is having a non-teacher related Linky Party! Here are A Few of My (Seven) Favorite Things:

1. Make Up Forever High Definition Invisible Cover Foundation, $40.00 at Sephora!! : ) The best foundation, ever!!

2. Jewelry...Especially Premier Designs Jewelry! I heard (at one of my Premier trainings) that you should spend 70% on your accessories and only 30% on your clothes. I love how putting on 2-3 pieces of jewelry can change the entire look of an outfit.

3. Shopping!!!! A few of my favorite stores are:

4. My new Mizuno running shoes! I've went through a lot of good running shoes, but these are by far-- the best.

5. Shoes, especially heels and wedges! Click here to see my some of my fav's for the season!

6. Being a mom to three boys!

7. The band Santus Real! Love the song "Lead Me". Listen to it on YouTube!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Mighty Max's Wish for One Million Cards

Max Low, a twelve year old from Neola, Iowa, has been battling terminal cancer since 2004. When most kids would want their dying wish to be a trip to Disney World, or a chance to meet a famous singer, Max's wish is to receive one million cards. This week, my class is making cards for Mighty Max. I am also using this as an opportunity to talk to my kids about leukemia, and helping others less fortunate than ourselves. If you would like more information about Mighty Max you can view this

Des Moines Register blog, or join his facebook event

Cards can be sent to the following address:

Mighty Max Low

P.O. Box 111

Neola, IA 51559

As of 3/20/11, Max had received 19,966 cards!!!

I will try to keep you updated!

Please spread the word about Max and keep him in your thoughts and prayers!!!

Management Monday

SoN's SoCCeR pRacTiCe, PaRent-TeAcHEr COnFeRenCeS, nIece'S dAnCe RecItaL, bESt FrIenDs BirThDaY DiNneR, BoOk CluB, PreK ReGisTratION...
Does your week ever look like my week?

Do you ever feel like doing this....


Here are a few things that I use to keep my family (and myself) getting to the right place at the right time, and so I'm doing this,


a little less often.


I have this magnetic, dry-erase calendar hanging up in my kitchen. I also have one at school. It is nice to be able to change/add things quickly. I also like having cork board at the bottom to place any notes, appt. cards, phone numbers, etc. The notes section of the side lets me add more details about upcoming events, lists (I'm a total listaholic!!), or, just like it says, notes.

This one is made by Board Dudes and you can find it online, for $28.75. I bought mine at WalMart for around the same price.


To manage all of my family's events, including my school events and deadlines, I use Cozi. Cozi is an awesome website that allows you to create and manage an online calendar for you and your family's events, for FREE!!

Here's more:

  • Color code each family member and their events

  • View a single person's calendar or the entire family on one

  • Send yourself (or other family members) email or text reminder

  • Create a Cozi side bar on your desktop (to view/manage easily, anytime)

  • Create, view, and manage anywhere with the Iphone and Android Apps Plus...

  • Create a grocery list

  • Have that list text to you if you leave it at home (by calling an 800#)

  • Create To Do Lists for yourself or others- share via email or text

  • Use the meal planning tools to plan what's for dinner, then sync it with your grocery list to make sure you have everything you need

Click here to read Cozi reviews.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Shhhh!! Testing in Progress

Anyone ever taken the MAP tests? We are taking ours today and I am sooo anxious to see the students' results. My class had 100% of the kids proficient in reading and math on our state tests (ITBS), so I'm hoping that we do as well on these as we did on that test!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Technology Tuesday

It was hard to decide what I would write today since there are soooo many awesome technology ideas that I could blog about, but then I came across Ladybug's Teacher File, who was blogging about her Document Camera....So, I thought...why not blog about mine! : ) I have had an ELMO (Document Camera) for two years now, and it has been AHHHMAZING!!!!

Here are some ideas for using a

document camera in the classroom~

  • Social Studies: Timelines (Have students fill in dates or events), Maps, Charts

  • Math: Any and ALL Manipulatives, Clocks, Base 10 Blocks, anything for counting, Place Value Mats, Dice, Modeling how to use _____, Calculator

  • Reading/Language Arts: Shared Reading, Read Alouds, Morning Message, Procedures, Anchor Charts, DOL, Revising with 6 Traits, Modeling Mentor Texts, Spelling & Vocabulary (Word Webs, Categorizing, Word Families, Word Ladders), Strategy Instruction- write on text/code with post-its/highlight, Environmental Print, Labels, Nutrition Facts on the back of packages, Ingredients, Text Features: Glossary, Index, Table of Contents, Captions, Headings, Bold Print, etc. Text Structure: Filling in Venn Diagrams or T-Charts (Compare/Contrast), Problem & Solution, Cause & Effect, Chain of Events (Sequencing), Webs, Lists (Description), Dictionary Practice

  • Science: Rocks, Flowers/Flower Parts, Mold, Types of ______, Samples of ____, Nutrition Labels, Ingredients, Steps/Directions, Dissection, Experiments, Growth/Change of ______ over time (Save images), Observations of _____

  • General/Managment: Timer, Looking at Rubrics, Worksheets, Assignments, etc., Pictures, Show and Tell, Reports or Presentations (Turn the camera up to face the student, they will be projected onto the BIG SCREEN!)

Many of these things can be projected onto a whiteboard, which can be written on, creating an "interactive whiteboard" experience. If you cannot project it largely onto the whiteboard, use a transparency to write directly on your document, 'without' writing directly on your document.

Technology Linky Party With Jena Snowden

Monday, April 4, 2011

Management Monday

Math Centers

I store my math centers in baggies, in a hanging shoe rack. Don't go cheap though...These WILL fall apart easily! You can even label each pocket with the name of the game, or skill. (This one is from Target, $14.99.) I label the rows by math concepts/skills:

  • Money

  • Calendar and Time

  • Place Value

  • Fractions and Decimals

  • Computation (Addition/Subtraction)

  • Computation (Multiplication/Division)

Here are a few websites that have great center ideas:

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Technology Tuesday (Wednesday)

Using Word Clouds to Teach Sentence Fluency

My students created short, personal narratives, writing about a memorable time they shared with a special adult. When finished, I asked them to circle the first word of each sentence. Next, I typed these words into Tagxedo. (You could also use Wordle.) After changing a few of the settings, I was able to create a word cloud that displayed the students' words, with the most frequenly used words showing up the largest, and so on...Taking the 5 largets words, we then created a bar graph to display how many times we used those 5 words. The kids were amazed to see that we had used the word I twenty-six times to start our sentences. I used this activity to transition into the importance of varying our sentence beginnings. Tomorrow I am planning to read the book Owl Moon, which is a great book to analyze for sentence fluency. Here's a great lesson, taken from Writing Fix, where I took a lot of my ideas for this particular activity, and many others!!

I'm trying to come up with other ways to use word clouds in the classroom.I was thinking of having students upload some of their poetry, maybe shape poems. Has anyone ever used one of these sites for teaching writing in your classroom?

Monday, March 28, 2011

10 Things I've Learned from Teaching

I'm still pretty new to this whole blogging thing, but apparently bloggers have

'Linky Parties,' where they link to each others pages and blog about certain topics.

(It's amazing...There is like an entire blogging teacher community out there!)

Jennifer at Rowdy in First is hosting a "Ten Things I've Learned from Teaching" linky party. Here's my 10...

1. Choosing a baby name gets harder every year! (Trust me, I have two kids.) 2. Teachers do have favorites, and it's okay. It's not okay to show your favortism. 3. I have an addiction to garage sales and picture books! 4. Organization is KEY! 5. No matter how many late nights, early mornings, and weekends I put in, I still feel like I have so much left to do! 6. Aside from my family, there is only one thing I love more than teaching....Learning! 7. Set higher expectations for kids, and they will work harder to meet them! 8. Unless you are married to a teacher, husbands don't quite understand why we work as hard as we do...Does anyone, really? 9. Teaching takes a lot more time, effort, and love than I ever thought, but the rewards are much greater, too! 10. I am so glad to have a job where I don't have to watch the clock all day long. My job challenges, inspires, motivates, and gratifies my spirit everyday! I feel truly blessed that God has called me to this profession.

Management Monday *Bookmarking*

How many of you have serendipitously stumbled upon a really great website and added it to your 'Favorites' list? How many of you forgot that site even existed because your 'Favorites' list was ten miles long? Maybe, you didn't forget about that awesome site, and a couple weeks later, go back to your 'Favorites' list to look for it, only to realize that it's not on that list at all... It's on the "Favorites" list on your school computer, not your home computer. What if you need it now, and despite your best efforts, finding that site again would be like finding a needle in a cyberspace haystack??? If you haven't already, I would encourage you to take advantage of Yahoo's FREE bookmarking site, Delicious. Delicious allows you to create your own, online 'Favorites' list by bookmarking your websites. You can manage your bookmarks by tagging them, and, if necessary, adding a description, so searching for a certain website doesn't have to include the drudgery of reading through a list of 259 websites. To get started, sign up for a free Delicious account, or you can sign up using an already existing Yahoo account. Once you have your account, you can choose to "Save a New Bookmark" on your homepages, or you can download the toolbar to your Internet Explorer browser window. This allows you to create, manage, and search your bookmarks instantly.
Take a look at my Delicious bookmarks!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Welcome to my BLOG!!!

I'm finishing up my third year as a fourth grade teacher in Southern Iowa, and I LOVE my job(s)!!! I say job(s) because I'm not just a fourth grade teacher. I'm a wife, mom of three busy boys, Premier Designs Jeweler, Praise Team singer, Sunday School teacher, athlete (currently training for a 1/3 marathon), and now, blogger.

I know that there are many teachers out there, who are just like me, trying to juggle God, family, career, and their own personal interests. I hope this blog can be a place where I can share my successes and failures, as well as tips to make life a little bit less crazy for teachers, wives, and mothers like me!~