Monday, August 12, 2013

Professional Development Week

Hi All! This week I am back to summer mode, but definitely thinking more about school. Last week I took a hiatus from summer fun to spend a week on professional development.

For the first three days I delved into the world of the Next Generation Science Standards. As a part of a STEM Specialist group with Kids@Science I was charged with going through our present science curriculum and seeing where engineering practices already reside and where our curriculum was lacking.

When I started my task I was overcome with the feeling that what I was doing was somewhat pointless. I thought to myself, "Why am I going through a text and materials that cover topics that will no longer be third grade when NGSS is implemented?" I thought this to be a waste of time. After resisting my task and being patiently led by the planning committee of our organization, I realized that what I was doing was a help to not only myself and other third grade teachers, but for whatever grade level that standard fell to in the future.

I became better at seeing the engineering practices in science and determining how to tweak lessons to give them more engineering tasks. I became more familiar with my text (we don't use it much... we use FOSS kits from Delta Education for most of our science curriculum). I found that I had been missing out on some rich informational reading material that will help students with not only their science knowledge but to reach their reading needs as well. So while I am not going to be teaching these topics for much longer, I gained valuable experience in what to do to move forward with my new topics and NGSS.

The last two days of my week were spent at the Orange County Department of Education with Julie Hull, the GATE Coordinator for OCDE. What an amazing teacher and professional development leader. The PD was focused on Differentiation for Gifted Learners. I don't teach identified gifted students, but I live with one and have many students in my class who need to be challenged and offered ways to meet their learning styles. This training was excellent.

We learned about the Depth and Complexity Icons (here's a fun video explaining them all) as well as the Content Imperatives from Sandra Kaplan's work. I have used these in my classroom before, but without a real understanding of how they enhance and enrich the students understanding of what they learn. These simple icons open up an amazing array of possibilities for student understanding and analysis. I can't wait to use them further in my class. I am going to start introducing them day 1 with the details icon.

After just one week of professional development and thinking about school, I am energized. I am excited to meet my new students in just a few short weeks. I am going to start that shift back into school mode, but not today... today I am going to enjoy my summer. I am going to play with my son, laugh with my friends and count my blessings that I have this amazing career that allows me this time, but also excites and challenges me every year!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lego Stop Motion Movies DONE!

We finished our Lego stop motion movies! Last week we held a red carpet premiere night in my classroom. Yes, we had a red carpet! I rearranged the room to look like a theater. We had a concession stand with popcorn and bottled water. It was awesome! I have never seen so many people in my classroom. I am sure my dad (the retired fire captain) would have closed it down for overcrowding. But, we all piled in and watched our movies.

It was so cute. Some kids dressed in their finest. All were proud and anxious. No one had seen all of the videos except myself. I watched them all the day prior. So, this was truly a premiere.

The lights dimmed, the movies were cued and the crowd quieted. We watched all ten movies. People laughed, clapped, cheered and had a great time. It was a SUCCESS!

This was a great project. The kids had a great time creating. They worked so well in their cooperative groups. I learned a lot about how to make next year better.

We are taking our show on the road already. For the next two days we are visiting the 2nd grade classes and my groups are teaching their groups how to create short movies. I am hoping they will download the app on their devices this summer and practice. Having kids with experience coming to me next year will definitely make the process easier.

If you'd like to see our movies, go to my teachertube channel. You can view the videos and download them if you want. Enjoy the viewing!


Monday, June 10, 2013

Geeking Out!

Hi All!

We have 10 more days to go here in Huntington Beach, but we are still going strong. Today and tomorrow I am attending the Illumination Education Users Conference in Aliso Viejo. Who knew that data systems, assessment and common core could be so interesting? I certainly didn't.

Today I learned about implementing the common core standards from one of my favorite presenters, Jason Willoughby from Action Learning Systems in Pasadena. He is a wealth of knowledge on all things standards and assessment. He is also a hoot to listen to!

He also gave a great presentation about Action Learning Teams (aka Professional Learning Communities). He had some great insight about how to make the most of these meetings and how to use them to increase student achievement.

I learned something else from Jason and he didn't even intend to teach it. When we walked in, he had a QR Code on the screen. By scanning it, it provided us with his presentation electronically. I had seen QR Codes before and had even seen some information about using them in the classroom, but I never really got it. Now, I get it! I have all sorts of ideas for using them now. Back to School Night, a scavenger hunt for my students with research questions, etc... I found a cool website that will generate codes for free called QRSTUFF.COM. My son and I have been playing with it and having so much fun!

Another great presenter was Ben Starr from Illuminate. He taught us more about our Gradebook component. Wow, I wish I had known some of those tips and tricks earlier this year. It would have saved me a lot of time. I am ready for next year!

My absolute favorite presentation of the day was with Annie from Illuminate. She showed us how to analyze our test data using M&M's. Yes, that's right... the candy. Using each color of M&M's you look at a different aspect of your data. It was AWESOME!

As difficult as it was to prep for two days out of my classroom this week, the work was all worth it!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Truth Comes Out

It's taken me a little while, but I will finally confirm the truth.

I was nominated for Homecoming Queen at Chico State. I didn't win, but it was fun being nominated.

I do play women's roller hockey. My team is in first place and we have play offs next weekend. I love it!

#3 was the lie. I have traveled a lot. I've bern to Mexico, 22 states, Europe, Canada and I've lived in Ireland.

Congrats to those who guessed correctly.

It's my spring break starting tomorrow, so I'll be back soon.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Two Truths and A Lie

Hi! I'm linking up with Flying Into First Grade for her "Let's Get Aquainted Linky". This time it's 2 Truths and a's the scoop:

How it works:
Think of 3 things about yourself or your life. You should make 2 of them truths and 1 of them a lie. You can list them on your post in any order. Do NOT give the answer yet in your post. People will try to guess your lie in your comments. So, remember to be very creative so that it's hard for people to get it right. At the end of the week you can share the answer in your comments from the post or include it in a post you make at the end of the week.

Here are three things about me:
 1. I was nominated for Homecoming Queen of California State University, Chico by my sorority sisters.

2. I play women's roller hockey on a team called Victorious Secret and have also played co-ed ice hockey at the facility where the Anaheim Ducks play.

3. I have been to many places in the US, but have never traveled outside the United States.

Well, there they are... which are the truth? And which is the lie??

Be sure to go link yourself up and comment on the two links before yours. HAVE FUN!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Currently March

I am linking up this month with Currently... can't believe it's already March!

Listening - NCIS Los Angeles: Trying to get through all of the programs recorded on my DVR. I never seem to have enough time to watch TV. I tend to do more listening to TV than watching because I am usually multitasking. Makes me have to use the rewind button more often than I would like.

Loving - My son just started playing flag football. We had our first game last night. SO FUN! There was a DJ spinning tunes at the field, a food truck from one of my favorite Mexican restaurants, and a great football game to watch. Another reason to love Fridays!

Thinking - A dear former family just lost their dad/husband. I had both the daughter and son in my class in separate years. I really hate cancer and can't understand how so many people who are otherwise healthy, wonderful people can end up fighting this disease.

Wanting - There is never enough time to relax and recharge after all of the work is done. I am going to celebrate with some great friends tonight, which is sure to recharge my spirit some.

Needing - After looking for paperwork to refinance our house in my office closet this week, it has become very clear that I need to take some time to organize the paperwork.

Love, Like, Hate - it is really tough to find words that start with J!

Lego Stop-Motion Movies Part 1

This year I went on a grant-writing spree! I wrote one grant and used it multiple times (with Kids in Need Foundation, Donors Choose - Disney and Chevron both funded, the Assistance League and Huntington Beach Educational Foundation) to get 10 iPod Touches with protective cases to create stop-motion Lego movies with. We use them for other things as well, but that was the driving force behind the acquisition.

I hatched this idea when I enrolled my son in a Lego stop-motion movie making course through our city parks and recreation department last summer. He went for a few hours each day for a week and came away with a pretty cool finished movie. One night at home he pulled the app up on my phone and in a matter of minutes he showed me how to make a movie of my own. The wheels started turning. I thought it would make a great project in my class that would incorporate many standards and the kids would love it!

Fast forward to today. I am learning this process as I go, so I am sure I will refine my plan as I go and revamp it for next year, but I am going to share our classroom progress toward realizing our movie making dreams.

First, I showed the students examples of stop-motion Lego movies. I chose some from YouTube that were so amazing they made my head spin a little as well as some that were very rudimentary and more like what I expected to see from my class. We talked about what made them good, what mistakes we saw (seeing someone's hand in a shot), and what we could realistically expect from ourselves this first time out. One of the most amazing stop-motion movie creators we explored was from Michael Hickox. We also found some good tutorials on YouTube

The next time we met, we talked about the stages we would go through to create our movies. We made this anchor chart to show what we needed to do in each stage.

We were ready to start preproduction. Since I have 10 iPods and 30 students, we decided each production team would be 3 people. We talked about choosing teams in which you get along with one another, share similar creative interests and you can make good behavior choices while working independently. The students did a great job breaking themselves into groups. We recorded our production teams and posted it.

The teams met and made circle maps of story ideas and elements they'd like to include in their movies. We talked about what they could realistically include and I urged them to keep this first effort simple. After a few work sessions, each team shared their story ideas with one another. Groups had to have characters, setting, problem and resolution outlined.

At this point, students were ready to start with the movie making. I conducted a whole-group lesson on correct use and care of our iPod cameras and tripods (see below - I found these on for less than $4 each). I showed them how to turn them on, open the Stop Motion Studio app and how to use it. I created a short video to demonstrate the basics and then let them explore. They created small sets and practiced taking photos, moving objects and adding sound (either dialog or sound effects). This free exploration taught them a great deal about how to set up the camera angles, lighting, sound and how to work together as a group.

I knew I needed to have a plan for storage of each team's Lego items, camera and other movie making materials. I bought dish bins at Target and labeled them for each team. These allow for easy storage and use when we are working on our films.
Dish bins from Target numbered for each production team

Our next step is to create storyboards, write the scripts and build our sets. Legos are coming in from home, being borrowed from friends and culled from the classroom Lego bin. So far, the Lego costs have been minimal. I did purchase some of the new Lego Friends small sets with the girl Lego figures in them to capture the interests of the girls in my class a bit more. They were already Lego enthusiasts, but they really like these sets aimed at them. I am anticipating needing to purchase a few more large platforms to create a base for our sets, but other than that, I think we will have everything we need.

Look for part 2 coming soon!