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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!~