Monday, August 5, 2013

Hi everyone, I am Alyssa from Teaching in the Fast Lane. I am always looking for ways to keep our classroom fresh, and one way that has proved to be super easy, and very effective is by using QR Codes.

If you don't already know, QR Codes are scannable icons that can be found everywhere from your groceries to billboards along the highway. They can link to text, pictures, websites, or just about anything you want to easily get to.

Let's start with how you scan QR codes.

Most electronic devices that have a camera and data capability are able to scan QR codes.  In our classroom students use Ipads, my cell phone, their cell phones, and some of the newer models of Ipod Touches. Basically, anything that can be used, we use.

There are MANY apps available for scanning QR codes on these devices. They all vary just a little bit, so you have to choose the one that works best for you and your students. If you do a search in your app store for QR reader several will appear. The one that I use is simply called, "QR Reader."

To use the app you simply open the app and will see a screen like the one below.
You next choose the "Scan" option at the top of the choice menu.

Then, you hold your device over the QR code. The app will help you to center the code so that it can scan. It usually takes just a second to scan. If it is taking too much time to focus or scan then cancel your action and try again. This is usually a quick fix. 

This question asks, "Which is NOT a region of Texas?"

The answer will immediately appear in a box that is similar to the notes app on most devices. In this case the answer, "Coastal Mountains," is a text answer. As I said before you can have these codes lead to just about anything. 

Can you imagine the possibilities for classroom use? 

A few ways that I use QR codes in the classroom are:
  • to make task cards or assignments self checking
  • a way to send students to appropriate websites without students having to type long URLs
  • storing information from student projects for others to access

I know that there are many more ways that they can be used, and I would love to hear them from you! If you have any unique ways of using QR codes in your classroom, please share in the comments below. 

Happy Scanning,

Friday, August 2, 2013

Interactive Writing

Hi!  My name is Amanda and I am so excited to be sharing with you all today!! I usually can be found at Mrs. Richardson's Class.

I have taught first grade for 3 years, 1 of which was two-way dual language, and Kindergarten for 2 years.  I am really excited to go back to my Kindergarten roots this year!

Today I wanted to share a little about interactive writing!

Interactive writing is one of the many elements of a balanced literacy model. The act of interactive writing is a bridge, so to speak, between reading and writing. The students not only get to write alongside an expert writer, the teacher, but they also get to read and re-read as they are composing text.    

Many times interactive writing can get confused as shared writing.  I know I am guilty of that! Shared writing is when the students tell the teacher what to write and she does so using correct writing conventions.  This writing is a good example to be displayed in the classroom for students to reference.  Interactive writing is when the students actually use the pen and write the text with the teacher assistance.  This type of writing will not be perfect, but is a powerful learning experience for students. 

So let's get started! 

-We use chart paper and mark off a line towards the top half.  This is their practice area. You can also use a dry erase board for this. Chart paper found HERE from Staples.

-With the colored markers, I allow them to choose a color and I write in black.  This helps distinguish their writing from mine easily. Markers found HERE from Staples.

-We call the Post-it Tape "Oops! Tape".  We use this when we make an oops in our writing. Post-it Tape found HERE from Staples.

-The alphabet chart is one of our resources that we use when stretching out words. We use its pictures to help use determine what letter makes that sound. Alphabet Chart found HERE from Creative Teaching Press.

-We use the pointer to help us track our text as we re-read what we have written. Pointer found HERE from Teacher's Tools.

Now we are ready to go!

When doing interactive writing, we usually write about experiences that we have shared in together. Sometimes it may be after a crazy experience with a frog on the playground and other times it will be a simple task of writing Daily News together. Whatever it is, I make sure that the students are eager about it and they are engaged!

Keeping a class of 5 year old engaged when they aren't the ones writing can be hard!! Goodness! Here are a few suggestions.
There are SO many benefits to doing interactive writing with your kiddos! 
-They learn alongside you!
-They feel proud of their work and feel like an author!
-They have confidence because they are successful with your scaffolding!
-Everyone observes the writing process!
-They can apply these skills during their independent writing time in writer's workshop!

Do you do interactive writing in your classroom?  What does it look like? I'd love hear any tips and tricks you have! 

Be sure to check out my blog for more about what reading and writing looks like in our classroom!

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Content Vocabulary Strategy: Word Drawings

Hi Texas Teachers!  It's Ari from The Science Penguin.
I want to share a strategy for content vocabulary.  Someone asked me this summer if there was any better way to help students with vocabulary other than writing a definition and drawing a picture.  This occurred to me the other day while I was listening to a presentation.  I've seen word drawings for math, but not for science, so I decided to try it out.
It takes creativity and a true understanding of the word in order to create a word drawing.  Students use a variety of skills in creating a word drawing.  I made some examples in the image below.
Word drawings are something new I am trying this school year.  I will definitely model the technique and have students work whole class and in small groups before making it individual.  I think GT kiddos will enjoy this.  It seems like a great idea for interactive notebooks, science stations, and pairs work.

My students keep a vocab folder of the MOST important terms for 5th grade science and word drawings are a great option to incorporate.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

5 Tips for New Teachers

Hi!  It's Ari from The Science Penguin.
If you are a new teacher, welcome!  This is post was written just for you!
I have been teaching for five years, which is long enough to pick up some tips and tricks, but not so long that I forgot what it was like my first year teaching.  Also, I changed schools and grade levels last year, so I got a little reminder of all the things to remember when you are preparing for those kids to show up the first day.
I like to seem pretty "with it" the first day because then the kids know we don't waste time and I know EXACTLY what is going on.
Here are some organization tips for the first day of school.  A little planning goes a long way!

1. Not all students will bring all supplies.  Find out what the norm is at your school and be prepared with extras.  You don't want to be labeling things the first day when half of your class has nothing.  The Back 2 School sales are a great time to stock up and if you're lucky, you may have some money from the school to get basic supplies.

2. Go through the supply list your school/ district/ grade level uses and figure out what exactly your plan is for each item.  If you plan to collect glue bottles, then make sure you have a basket to hold all of it nearby.

3. Have something on the children's desk to do when they arrive.  An easy About Me page, word search, or coloring page (make sure to have crayons available) are a good way to get started.  You can make a packet that you can have the kiddos work on while you take care of housekeeping needs.

4. Make First Day Bags.  I use gallon bags and include EVERYTHING they will need for organizing and labeling that day.
In the bag: sharpened pencil with cap eraser, notebook and folder labels, bookmark, nametag, folders that I'm providing, classroom procedures page, welcome letter for parents, word search/coloring packet, and supply checklist
{I wrote about my Welcome Baggies on my blog last year.}

5. I make about 5 extra First Day Bags for students who come in later in the year.  It is VERY helpful.  While we are labeling and setting up folders and notebooks, I make extras for the bags.  Most of the time, I haven't had students bring supplies when starting school mid-year, so this way it's ready and they can get started with the class.  :)

If you have any advice for new teachers, PLEASE comment below.
If you new teachers have any questions, PLEASE ask!  :)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Introducing Ari!

Howdy Friends!

This post is long overdue!!!!!!!!!!  I wanted to introduce the brains and the beauty behind this wonderful resource.... Meet Ari!  Besides Texas Teacher Round-up, Ari has two other blogs, The Science Penguin and The Math Penguin plus she has a store that is one of the best on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Ari is from Austin, Texas. She has taught 4th and 5th grades and will be teaching 5th grade again this coming school year.  Check out her Introduction to Science is fab-u-lous!!!!!!! Perfect to start the new year with.

I am beyond thrilled to be working with Ari on Texas Teacher's Round-up! We love providing you with this awesome resource!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes for Katie at Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher

Hi Teacher Friends! My name is Katie and I currently blog over at Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher.
However, I have big changes coming my way because I am going to be teaching 1st grade in the fall and could not be more excited about it! I had the privilege of working in a 1st grade classroom for two years while I was in high school through a class I took and I loved it! I also continued to volunteer in this classroom when I was in college and needed some observation hours.

I have spent my first two years of teaching in a 6th grade Language Arts classroom that is on a middle school campus. When I was in college, if someone had told me I was going to be teaching 6th grade I would have told them they were crazy! Guess I was wrong. I have loved my experience in 6th grade, but I am so excited for the fall. I am looking forward to getting to really know my students. This year I have had 105 students in a total of 5 classes. Oh wait, did I mention that I only have 55 minutes with them too? It has not been easy.

I am so excited to share this journey with you all and to contribute to Texas Teacher Roundup with some amazing 1st grade things that I do in my classroom! You can count on some posts about implementing the Daily 5, Writing Workshop, and Guided Math that will be meeting the TEKS for 1st grade!

Hang in there because it is almost summer!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Poetry Cards with Lindsay

Hi everyone! I'm Lindsay from My Life as a Third Grade Teacher. I am excited to be blogging with Texas Teacher Roundup today!
My Life as a 3rd Grade Teacher
As I was packing up my stuff for this school year, I found an "oldie but goodie" idea for poetry in one of my drawers. It is actually something I learned in my college classes. (Who knew?)
I call them "Poetry Cards" and these are visual representations of a poem. Students take the topic of the poem, or a particularly strong image from the poem and bring it to life. They also include the poem itself somewhere on the item.
Here is an example of a Cinco De Mayo poem on a 3-D taco! It's made out of sand paper, felt, paper, foam, and red pom poms. 

These cards are a great way to start off or end your unit on poetry! Kids can use a favorite poem they've read, or even one they have written. I have done this with many classes and they always blow me away with their creativity! Their ideas are amazing. I had a girl bring in a shoe with a poem on it! So cool.
Here are some more examples I had on hand. 
This giraffe was made out of felt so that it has a unique texture to the touch.
This October poem is made out of foam. The pictures are just simple clip art mounted on an additional piece of foam. 
I have had success with this project sending it home as "homework" and doing it at school during class. Either way, I try to encourage kids to think outside the box, and to use a variety of different textures. I think that this activity would be appropriate for grades 2-5 but some firsties may be able to grasp the concept as well. Depending on the grade, I would possibly have older kids make a collection of poetry cards.
When your class is done, have a gallery walk or display the finished pieces somewhere special like the library. Get your kiddos fired up about poetry! 
I hope you have enjoyed this idea! Check out my blog over at My Life as a Third Grade Teacher for more ideas!