Monday, January 30, 2012

2012 CalenDogs

We are nearing the end of January 2012 and I finally finished my classroom calendar. It took awhile, but it was definitely worth the wait. Having an interactive calendar is a great way to get the students involved in learning the year, seasons, months, days...etc...If you are lucky to have a SmartBoard or a projector in your classroom, head on over to where an interactive/hands-on calendar is available everyday! Once the kids get used to using it, you can ask them more questions. For example: how many Monday's are in January? or What day of the week is our 100th ay of school?

Since I am a computer teacher this year and I don't really do much with calendars (besides in the beginning of the year when I have each student visit I decided to create my own little "foldable" calendars. Mr. Printables is a site with "oodles of free printables for kids." The site was recently updated! Exploring the site I managed to find their calendar section, where they have these things called Monthters. They are these monthly monsters calendars that fold to a small pocket size and stretches to a long monthly calendar! Because I don't really like monsters. I edited the image using Pixelator (a Mac program) and changed all the monthly monters into dogs!
I think I did a pretty good job, but the credit of the design and the idea definitely goes to Mr. Printables! Today is January 30th, so on my foldable calendar I will use a sharpie and outline the number. You can kind of see from the picture, but each day of the week I outline the date in a sharpie so that when my students ask "What is today's date?" I can easily look over to the wall and tell them.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Place Value Puppies

On the hunt for "teaching printables" I came across an adorable two page file folder game where students have to match each number (dog) to the correct place value (bone). I absolutely love the dog graphics used and how the bones look like they are filled with manipulative cubes used for counting. While the download does cost $2.60 from Aimee Asher, if you don't have time to create your own, I would have to say it is a worthwhile investment. (As long as you are actually going to use it!)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Paws on Paper -- Make your own Raised Line Paper

I love to write and doodle, but as a kid I was a perfectionist and I never listened to my teacher about how to hold my pencil. Today, while I do have handwriting that looks like it has been typed, I definitely think listening and learning to write the correct way would make my hands less stiff after writing for awhile.

Today MEAD along with many other companies has special paper available to purchase that helps students with staying in the lines. During student teaching, my cooperating teacher made her own paper which was great for the kids because it was designed to help them with their writing. I've seen houses like the one below, the Cat and the Hat and even a tree. Personally I would like to make my own and design it to look like a dog house. But that will be in the future when I am teaching Kindergarten, 1st or 2nd grade.

Raised line paper is an excellent tool for teaching, but can be a litte expensive. Luckily, if you have the time and patience, you can easily make your own by using some of these tricks:

1. Glue: Glue the lines of the paper and let dry for 24 hours. Use colored glue to highlight the lines. Use red and green colored glue to create your own "stop and go" lined paper.

2. Puffy Paint: Apply puffy paint to the lines, it will add dimension.

3. Wax String (Wikki Stix): Put wax string sticks along the lines of the paper. These are great because they are reusable.

4. Rubber Bands: Put a lined worksheet on a clipboard and wrap rubber bands around the board. Then tell the students to write between the rubber bands.

5. Embossing: My favorite. Use an embossing tool and on the back, press down and raise the lines on the front of the paper.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Hot Diggity Dog Organization Tips for a Clutter Free Classroom

As teachers we tend to be hoarders. We keep a copy of everything (not necessarily student work), but every handout, printout, pattern template...etc.. You get the picture. Keeping track of everything gets super tedious, especially when you also have to store and organize art supplies. For example, every holiday I like to do a craft with my students, and even though I am the tech teacher I try to do something w/ and w/o the computers. A combination of the two.

Right now my storage space is limited, since most of my closet is filled with computer junk (cords, wires, headphones, ink...etc... But one technique that I've seen used is to go to the Apple store and ask them for old laptop boxes. They are spacious, have a handle, and can be easily labeled. They also don't take up a lot of room.

While it may be fun, it is hard to create an organization system that revolves around your theme.

However, Teacher Created Resources has a Paw Print Lesson Book that is super cute and matching bulletin board decor. I bet you could also find paw print file folders and labels somewhere.

Until next time....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Math Center

Working with manipulatives is an excellent way to build student math skills. Having a math center (or math rug) allows the students to collaborate and work together to solve problems via a worksheet or oral directions from the teacher. What I love about manipulatives is that they come in so many different shapes and sizes. I've seen teddy bears and farm animals, but my favorite would have to be DOGS.

The different colors can be used for making patterns or simply for doing basic math (adding, subtracting...etc..) If you are lucky, you might even be able to find the dog counters in different breeds to make the lessons more interesting.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Incentives, Incentives, Incentives

In every classroom I've been in, whether teaching or observing, the teachers use some sort of incentive to motivate their students. I've seen sticker charts, marbles, grab bags, prizes...etc... In my computer class I use a prize bin filled with erasers. I would have preferred to get erasers shaped like dogs, paw prints and bones, but instead I felt that I needed to stick with the technology concept and got little computer mice, keyboards and the new obsession at my school, "Angry Birds". Nevertheless, the container is covered in paw prints and is from Petco. (I assume it is supposed to be used for dog treats).

Anyways, having a prize box is easier when you have to teach every grade (along with a check off sheet to make sure every student gets a prize eventually), but I would say that using marbles or a sticker chart is a much better method for the younger grades (when you are only teaching one).

Unique Teaching Resources has some great puppy themed sticker charts that are available to purchase. They also have templates available for punctuation bulletin boards and book reports.

The book report packet even comes with a grading rubric, "puppy themed" of course!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Woof to Twenty

Counting is a very important skill that needs to be developed in the early years of childhood. Kindergarten (ages 5-6) is usually the time when this skill is stressed. Setting certain milestones or goals for the children is a great way to motivate them, but also helps you as the teacher keep track of their progress.

Using videos as a teaching resource is a "fun" way to get the kids interested. Have Fun Teaching has some great videos that teach kids how to count by 1s, 2's, 3s...etc... They even offer videos for other subjects including: language arts and phonics.

While I may be a technology teacher. You can not solely rely on technology. Sometimes it doesn't work, so you should always have a backup. Or if you are using a video, convert it and save it to your computer. Zamzar is a great program for that.

Getting back to the dogs... Wordle or Tagxedo are both excellent websites that allow you to create a word clouds. Wordle is a little more restrictive, whereas Tagxedo actually lets you create the word clouds in a picture format (or import your own). While technically the idea is to create a word cloud, I decided, why not create a number cloud from 1-20.

Looking at the "number cloud," the teacher can ask the students to locate a certain number, find all the even numbers and circle them, or circle only the numbers 1-20 that are divisible by two. The shape of the cloud keeps up with the theme and makes the activity more interesting than a simple "number search."

Personalize Your Own Paper Dog

Dog cut-outs can be used for many things. Backing up to the beginning of the year, many teachers give the students a body shape cut-out and have them personalize it. Instead, why not give each student a dog shape and have them decorate it with the the question "If I were a dog, what would I be and how would I look?

Last year we took pictures of the kids and glued their faces on the bodies. Then we used old wallpaper to make clothing for the cut-outs. Wallpaper books are hard to find nowadays. If you go to Home Depot and ask, they usually say they don't have any "old" ones or they are "all out." The best method is to ask an interior decorator. I got some great ones, and even some books of rug fabric!

Finding different dog shapes is the next step. The Internet is a good place to start, but I personally preferred to purchase the Fashion Angels Design a Heavenly Wardrobe. It comes with EVERYTHING!

The dogs, the clothing patterns, and some pretty paper. The dogs are very durable, which means they will last for a long time. The patterns are on cardstock, but I would suggest laminating them to be safe and maybe tracing the dogs on cardstock to have an extra set somewhere.

Another project that these dogs can be used for is Valentine's Day cards. Dress your pooch in fun Valentine's Day themed paper and stickers and on the back, have the kids write a message to their parents. What a great way to say "I woof you!"

"Paw Prints on our Hearts"

Last year around Christmastime/Hanukkah & mid-January I lost both my dog and my father. It was a hard time, but knowing in my heart that they are together in heaven made it less painful. Koko loved my dad. The saying "Man's Best Friend" definitely applied to my family. This blog, is dedicated to both of them. Dad always told me pursue my dreams and find something I love to do. I love dogs and I love teaching, so I decided to combine the two! Thank you dad.

After having graduated from Drexel University, and having spent months looking for a job, I am now the Educational Technologist (technology teacher & coordinator) for a K-8 Jewish day school in East Brunswick, New Jersey. I'm half way to my dream job -- to be a Kindergarten teacher and a technology coordinator. While I had anticipated teaching only younger children, I am enjoying my time teaching Kindergarten through 6th grade.

Being the Educational Technologist, it is a little unusual to have a classroom theme that is not technology or computer related, but all through college I knew that my classroom, no matter what I taught, would have a dog theme. So I embraced it and was able to integrate it with technology. My bulletin board at the beginning of the school year had pictures of dogs on computers with a paw print border, and my room has paw prints scattered across the walls in different colors. The school theme this year is 30th anniversary, so I integrated that as well by creating a numbered list of 30 things each grade will learn this year, and printed it with a dog watermark, courtesy of DJ Inkers "Dog Daze Classroom Download." Even though a "dogs" theme is more appropriate for the lower grades, I have found that the upper grades enjoy it. It makes me seem like the "fun" teacher, but they also know, that they are here to learn and while I may be the youngest teacher at the school, I do not accept inappropriate behavior.

Searching the Internet, you read about other people using a "dog" theme in their classroom as well, but they never post what they actually do, or ideas they have besides what to put on a bulletin board. If you are truly going to use a theme in your classroom, you need to embrace it and embed it in everything you do. For the holidays find dog themed holiday units. If you are teaching addition, use manipulatives that look like bones or dogs. There are soo many ideas out there and ways to incorporate something you are passionate about into your classroom and that is what this blog is designed to do.