Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why I'm a Fan of Instagram

For a little over a year now I've had an Instagram account.  I didn't jump right in immediately.  I was afraid there would be too many things to figure out and I wasn't sure if I'd have time to learn to use it.  But, as the school year was wrapping up last year, I decided to give it a shot.

I started out slowly.  I added a picture or two a week.  I'm not on facebook, so the world of tagging and hashtags was foreign to me.  However, I trudged along and eventually starting figuring out the basics.
My first picture was of my dear, sweet dog Lilly.  Certainly not school related, but very near and dear to my heart.

first ig shot, my dog Lilly

Gradually I began following other igers and gaining some followers of my own.  (At the moment, almost all of the people I follow are teachers.)  
Eventually Instagram grew on me and here are some of the reasons why . . .

Instagram is a great way for teachers to share classroom happenings.
If you have a classroom (at school or at home) and you have something noteworthy going on, Instagram is a great platform to share.  Instagram is a fabulous place to get ideas for your own classroom or just to see what other teachers are working on with their students.
Plus, Instagram is a awesome place to post questions and get responses from other teachers, like "Can anyone recommend an app for leveling books?"  Answers are often quick and plentiful. 

telling time write the room

partner activity with /oo/

Cinco de Mayo craftivity

Instagram is a wonderful way for teachers to find deals.
Igers often post when they are having sales, deals, contests, or freebies.  Keep your eyes peeled for "flash freebies."  Sometimes teacher authors will, for a limited time, offer paid products for free.  Instagram is a timely way of making these offers.
Many bloggers will also alert followers to new or upcoming blog posts via Instagram.  

ig flash freebie for my April math centers

free center Valentine center packet found at School Is a Happy Place

Instagram is a fun platform for personal pics.
While I share some personal pics on School is a Happy Place, I do try to limit them and focus teaching ideas (although my daughter makes many appearances demonstrating my activities).  If you follow me or other ig teachers, you will often get glimpses into their daily lives and interests.  I love seeing what other teachers are up to, both in and out of the classroom.

Father's Day pics

our cat B.B.

family vacation

Instagram showcases real world style.
Of course, this totally may not be your thing, but I love looking at pics of outfits that real people are putting together.  I've always been in to clothes, shoes, and accessories.  Instagram allows me to share outfits I put together or special finds I come across.
I've found some new brands that I love through Instagram.  Igers often tag the brand or where the item came from.  So if you really like a piece, you should have no problem finding it for yourself.

If you have not tried out Instagram yet, give it a chance.  It is user friendly and a great way to build community with other teachers or people who share your same interests.  Your pictures will reflect you and the things you enjoy.  You may love to garden, read, or craft.  You may want workout motivation or love sharing pictures of favorite foods.  And if nothing else, your posts will be set of images that you will love to look back through.  
You can find me on Instagram, by searching the user name schoolisahappyplace.
Thanks so much for stopping by.

Friday, June 13, 2014

One iPad, One Class, No Problem

IPads in the classroom . . . certainly a engaging tool for many learners.  However, unless you are a teacher in a one to one technology classroom, you have to exercise a certain amount of creativity and organization to make sure you students have fair access to the devices and you are utilizing them effectively.
For the past two years I have had one iPad in my class.  Not great.  I would love to have enough for a small group.  But, one is what I have and I am truly grateful to have it.
When I first got it, I started using apps right way during our Daily Five time and our math center time.  Months later, when my Apple TV was finally installed, my one lone iPad increased in functionality ten fold.
If you are not familiar with the Apple TV, it is basically a little box that attaches to your television which allows it to display what is on the screen of your Apple device (in my case-my iPad).  The cost of the Apple TV is about $100.  

Once the Apple TV was up and going I started trying to think of some activities I could create that would benefit my young learners.  Just so you know, these activities are not super sophisticated, but they did go over well with my firsties.

One way I used (and will continue to use my iPad) is taking pictures (or video clips) to teach a specific skill.  For example, taking pictures of various three dimensional shapes and having students identify the spades on their recording sheets.  
This summer I've been using this strategy with my daughter.  Earlier in the week, I took pictures of various three letter word objects around our house.  I took a picture of our dog, a bag, her leg, our fan, etc.  She wrote the word for each picture on her recording sheet.  It was great practice for my rising first grader.

 In class, I would use do this activity whole group with the Apple TV, but it could also be a left on the iPad for individual use or for partners.  For class purposes, I would create a document and view it in Keynote or access it through Google Docs.

I also found a iPad stand on Amazon that allows me to use my iPad (or iPone) as a document camera.  Again, you will need an Apple TV connection to use your iPad as a document camera.  But, having this capability makes your iPad an even better classroom tool.

Another little project my class used the iPad for was self pictures and descriptions when we started learning about adjectives.  Students took a selfie and came up with describing words about themselves on a recording sheet.
A  demonstrated this project.  She's a pro at self pics, so this activity was a hit with her.
This self picture adjective activity was super simple and easy to execute.  Something like this would be cute for display during Open House.

For whole group math instruction, I really like using a white board app (and again the Apple TV).  Often my students will use white board paddles to solve math problems as we go over the lesson.  I also like using pictures and real world examples of math ideas.  The iPad makes this very easy.  Sometimes I take my own pictures or videos and sometimes I find them online.  
One example of a way we used the iPad for math (not including apps-which we of course used) was to learn about where the touch points go in TouchMath.  I created a set of slides with the touch point numbers, I used them when I introduced the numbers.  Later I put the iPad out as a center where students practiced drawing the points on the numbers.

The ideas above are just a very teensy tip of the iceberg.  I'm excited to further incorporate these tools into my classroom next year.  If you are on the iPad path and thinking about quality ways to use it with your students, be sure check out Reagan Tunstall's post Effectively Teaching with iPads.  I have one word for this post . . . inspirational.

Thanks so much for stopping by.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Five for Friday: Five Favorite Freebies

Is it just me or do Fridays seem to roll around really quickly on summer break?  When I was a kid, summers stretched on endlessly and now . . .  not so much.  But since it is Friday, I'll mark the occasion by linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday.
This week I'd like to do a little something different.  Instead of posting five random things from the week, I'd like to repost five of my favorite freebies that I've been honored to share over the past year.

Number 1
Last summer I compiled my Number of the Day printables into one packet, Number of the Day for a Year.
I created these printables to spiral in complexity as the year progresses.  I really like using these number of the day handouts as part of morning work two or three days a week.  I think they serve as a great review for my students.
If you would like more details or to get your own free copy of Number of the Day for a Year, click on the picture below.

Number 2
Word Work It is a packet of five word work printable activities that I like to use as part of my word work time during our Daily Five time.  My students work with manipulatives, the Ipad, the computer, and these printables each week to practice their spelling words.
While I would prefer to keep our word work time all hands on, the reality is my students need a bit of accountability in order to stay focused during this independent practice time.  Mixing in some written assignments along with the other activities has really helped.
These activities are not specifically designed for use with The Daily Five.  So, if you do not do The Daily Five in your class, these printables can still be useful to you.
Click on the picture for your free copy of Word Work It.

Number 3
The next freebie is for the second semester, which seems like a million years away right now, but bare with me.  If you think you might be able to use this activity, you can always pin it.
Make Way for MLK is a packet that includes two literacy centers, two math centers, and a writing craftivity focusing on Martin Luther King Jr.  Having these centers and the writing activity really gave me a great jumping off point to plan for learning about MLK.
If you would like a free copy of Make Way for MLK, click on the picture.

Number 4
If you use Touchpoint Math, you'll want to check out my Rockin' Touchpoint Numbers.  This freebie is a math center that I use at the beginning of the year when my students are memorizing where the points go on the numbers.
If you are not familiar with Touchpoints or Touch Math, do a little research online.  My students have had great success with addition and subtraction accuracy using this method.
For more details about Rockin' Touchpoint Numbers or a free copy, click on the picture.

Number 5
My final freebie is my set of Whole Brain Teaching Class Rules.  Whole Brain Teaching Class Rules and Mini Book is a packet that includes a variety of posters featuring the Whole Brain Teaching Class Rules and a printable mini book for your students.
I use the posters all year and the mini book is great to use early on when your students are learning the rules.
Like all of the goodies above, click on the picture if you would like a free copy of this packet.

I hope some of these freebies will be useful to you.  If you like them, be sure to browse around School Is a Happy Place.  There are many, many more free activities ready to share.

Thanks again to Doodle Bugs Teaching for hosting Five for Friday.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Easing Into Summer

I don't know about you, but it seems to take me a few weeks to realize I've made it to summer break.  We've been off for about two weeks now and I have not completely unwound.  I've been working on a couple of school projects and trying to get caught up around the house.   A  and I are also spending some QT together; making crafts, playing some games, swimming, going to the park, reading, and doing a little pre-first grade academic work.
This week has also been Vacation Bible School at my church.  I've had a fabulous little group of kids in my "tribe."  It has been such a blessing to see their joy and excitement each evening.  Of course, being a leader in VBS keeps me in teacher mode (just a bit).  So, maybe next week I'll finish unwinding.

I have had a few minutes to start on my summer reading list.  First on my list is the new edition of The Daily Five by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  Ever since starting The Daily Five with my class, I try to reread the book each summer.  I especially like reminding myself about all the details of the launch period.  This summer I am so happy to have an updated edition to read.
One new part of the book that I'm extra interested in is chapter 8, The Math Daily 3.  I can't wait to learn about the authors' take on math independence in the classroom.  I'm using a lot of self control to keep myself from jumping ahead to that chapter.
I'll be sure to post about this book after I finish it up.

The other school related project I have spent time on is actually related to The Daily Five.  I started work on a series of word work packets called Words at Work.  Each of these packets include seven consistently formatted word work activities for each short vowel sound.  These activities are ideal for independent practice and are quick prep (just print and go).  I plan on using them as part of my word work time during Daily Five rotations.
A  has been my tester.  Seeing how a young learner responds to these activities is super helpful to me.   It's also a way to get in a little structured summer academics with  A.   Win.  Win.
All of these packets are available at my store, individually or bundled together in one mega pack.  If you would like to find out more, click on the picture below.

I'm planning additional Words at Work packets for long vowels, vowel variants, and more.  Hopefully I'll have plenty of time to get everything accomplished before school starts back.  But it's summer, so we'll see :) .
Thanks so much for stopping by and enjoy the rest of your week.