Saturday, September 29, 2012

Technology Overload

A few weeks ago, our classroom received a package.  We had to wait until the VERY end of the day to open it.  The anticipation was driving us bonkers as we stared at the brown fed-ex box.

(Grainy Android Photo)
In the box was TWO IPod Touches for learning!  To say we were ecstatic would be an understatement.  It was interesting to see how many of my firsties could tell me exactly what the technology was and was not. I immediately got lots of "That's an ipod touch, NOT an iPhone." and "You can't call anyone on it but you can play lots of games."and "My sister/brother/aunt/uncle/mom/grandpa/dog/ has one of those!"
Google Image

AND THEN, this past week, our classroom received yet another package.  I received it after school and absolutely positively could not wait until the next day to open in with the kids.  I ripped into this one and found:
A brand-stinkin' new LAPTOP!

At this point, you are probably wondering   Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?

I'm about to let you on the  big secrets.  Shhhhh.  Don't tell!

*This new technology came from donorschoose and costs me/my school $0!*

I stumbled upon this website last year when a fellow co-worker told me about it.  She had purchased a new bookshelf for her classroom library AND got her and her teaching partner all new student desks.

Donorschoose is a a website for teachers who create projects based on what their classroom needs.  You will find projects of crayons, pencils, and glue sticks as well as computers, projectors, and furniture.  How it works is any person can donate to your project. Anyone.  Friends, family, co-workers, strangers you've never met, or businesses.  At any given time, you can find an organization to match your donors *dollar-for-dollar*  It is truly an amazing idea.

I set up my account sometime in between my first and second year of teaching, but I never created a project.  I was scared.  I couldn't bring myself to do it because...let's get real.  I don't know anyone with a lot of $.  I didn't want to create a project that was not funded.  I didn't want to fail.

This year, I was relocated to a brand new school.  My circumstances caused me to reevaluate my fears.

When we opened our school doors, there wasn't a single computer in our building that teachers or students could access. 

"What?" You say.  "How can you possibly stalk other bloggers, get on pinterest, check your facebook, or update your twitter write lesson plans, update your online grades, take attendance, or email parents/administrators without a computer?"  

I will be the first one to tell you: You can't do any of those things.

We were told the computers were on their way.  But it was driving me crazy to the point where I couldn't function as a teacher.  I decided to take things into my own hands.  I'm a bit of a control freak self-starter.

I first posted a project for 2  Ipods. I was nervous to put a computer on because I honestly didn't think I could fund it.  

Within 3 days of me posting the project it was funded.  THREE DAYS?  

That was so easy.  They send me a email saying they had shipped my new toys learning tools.

Next, I posted a laptop and Cah-Bam! Funded. Shipped.  

Signed.  Sealed. Delivered. 

The whole shenanigans. 

<I'm almost positive I have exhausted all of my grandmother's generous donor's resources.  And I don't want to push my luck.  I am going to take it easy on the projects for a while.  >

But I'm writing you to tell you that you can and should do it.  Check it out here.

Think about what your students would benefit from the most that you do not have and just ASK.

It's almost that easy.

Now onto a very important topic that I need your advice on....

I do not want to end up like this:
Google Image
 I need to keep all of my hair intact on my head.  But this new technology situation, (albeit: the possibilities are endless for my kiddos and learning.  I'm not bashing it one bit.  I'm grateful for the technology. Really.  I am.  Honest.) it is driving me crazy.

How do you manage to incorporate your technology into your student's learning?

Do you have a pocket chart? A schedule that tells you which students are going where?  Do you let the student's choose?

And how do you teach them to become independent with the technology?  I even have a technology helper, but those poor little firsties just do not have experience with some of it- especially the tape players! "What IS that?"

I currently have 2 Ipod Touches, 1 cd player, 2 tape players, and *will* have 4 computers.

How do I manage it all effectively?

I'd love to know your thoughts :)

-The Frizz in First

P.S. It has been raining nonstop for 8 hours today and my hair is FRIZZ-EE! And I haven't even stepped foot outside.  Yikes!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Taking the Plunge

Today was the day.

After building my students' writing stamina for 24 days of school, I was finally ready for our first writing conferences.  We had actually reached our 20 minutes of independence goal for a few days, but I was putting off conferencing.  My students are angels this year.  They are as close to PERFECT as children get.  To be honest, I could have conferenced the first day of school and my students would have been fine. But we took it slow.  I didn't want to rush and regret it weeks down the road.  We have been busy filling our writer's notebooks so that student's have a place to find ideas for writing.

After viciously taking notes during writing time for weeks, I decided to take the plunge and confer today.


Why was I so nervous?  
Why had I been putting off the meat of the workshop? 
Why wasn't I looking forward to conferring during the Writer's Workshop?

The answer lies in my fears as a writer.  
If I am not a confident writer, how will I confidently teach writing?  

Today I took a risk and decided to confer.  Not only did I decide to confer, but I decided to meet with *from my perspective* the student who needed me the most.  I could have met with a student who was succeeding in the writing process in order to make myself feel a little bit better, but I am so glad I met with this student first.  Here's what the background knowledge:

Student 1 has filled her writing journal with about 7-8 pages of the following:
my cat my dog my frg my cat my dog my frg my cat my dog my frg my cat my dog my fg mycat my 

(you get the idea?)  Pages and pages of this four words.  The pictures did match the words- Student 1 drew pictures of the cat, the dog, and the frog….over and over and over again.

My first thought was, "Where do I start as a teacher of writing?" 
I asked myself that question and felt instantly overwhelmed.  Not because I didn't know the answer, but because I knew too many answers.  How could I pick JUST ONE THING to teach this student during our conference?

Here is what the conference sounded like:
I walked up on the student using their writer's gum to sound out the word cat (Even though it was written on the paper about 15 times already…).  I asked the student to read the story.  The student read my cat my dog my frog exactly how it looked.  I then asked the student to tell me about the story.  "The girl has a cat and the cat ran away"  Instantly I knew what I was going to teach:  "There's a girl in your story?  I didn't know there was a girl in your story.  I didn't see those words.  Can you add those words?"  Now I could/should have stopped there, but I couldn't stop there.  I then explained that I didn't know the cat ran away because I didn't hear those words.  We then counted the words "The cat ran away." and the student wrote those words. HURRAY!  I decided to move on to my next conference.

It's not that my students became amazing writer's or that I was an amazing teacher.  The reason I am so excited about conferencing is because it was a step in the right direction- AND it was easier than I thought!

My encouragement for you is to get out there and confer!  

Just do it!  

You have NOTHING to loose- only experience to gain!

Where are you at in the Writer's Workshop process?  I would LOVE to know your thoughts!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Dare.

This week I am really trying to focus on letting my words encourage instead of wound in the classroom- and especially in the teacher workroom.

It is too easy to complain.  I am always quick to point out the negative in everyone.

But we, as teachers, are called to find the good in our students and co-workers.  

Take the road less traveled by.

Inspire someone tomorrow.

I dare you :)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sappy Monday

Today I am having a sappy Monday.  I am totally okay with it.  Some days you need a good cry over a long day of work.  

Being a teacher is so much more than a job- it's an all-consuming love. 

I saw this on a friends Facebook page and was inspired.  I hope you can find some truth to this (especially if you've been reading Conscious Discipline by Dr. Becky Bailey)

Keep doing what you are doing. 
It is worth it to the students in your classroom.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spreading the Word

The ladies over at Primary Possibilities are trying to reach 500 followers!  They have great ideas and amazing FREEBIES!

Follow Here

If they reach 500 followers, they will give away their On the Back Pack for free!  They are SO close!

Also, Alisha over at The Bubbly Blonde Teacher has a friend that is in need.  If you donate $20 to her cause, you will receive some great quality teacher files in return.  You can find our more information here.

This year is going great.  I am actually afraid to blog about how wonderful my students are- don't want to jinx it! 

Happy Sunday!