Using Blogs in the Classroom

We’ve all heard of blogs, read blogs, and maybe even written one too, but how can these online interactive journals be used in the classrom? I’ve recently sat down to further ponder this question. Wait ’til you see what I’ve come up with.To start, I initially thought about using a classroom blog a few years ago but that idea fizzled away due to lack of planning on my part. In the end it was a flop and I forgot about it entirely until recently.

There I was making updates to a few pages on my website when I saw the link to my old classroom blog. I looked at it and what I saw was pretty sad. There were only two entries posted and a few comments from three years ago. I did think about ditching the entire idea and forgetting about the blog, but then I remembered that the original idea to use it was brilliant. So I decided to really take time and decide how I would use it, what changes I would make, and how would I introduce it to students and parents.

As a result of all of this, I did some research on how other teachers use blogs in their classrooms and what technology experts have to say about the benefits of using them with students. The end product of all my research and findings was the document I am providing below to all who read this post. I also decided to change blog providers and recreate a new refreshed classroom blog.

In a nutshell, I plan on being the moderator of the blog and writing posts for students to respond to with comments, thoughts, feedback, questions, etc. Students may reply to these posts during class time or it may be assigned for homework. Here are some examples of the types of posts I will have students respond to:

Reading Response
Post questions about literature we are reading in class and ask students to post their answers, opinions, and questions as part of an extension from class learning.

Writing Enrichment
Post information about a writing skill we learned in class and have students provide their own example of that writing skill. For example: If I’m teaching about using stronger verbs in their writing, I might write a sentence using weak verbs and have students reply to the post with a revised version of the sentence using stronger verbs. Another example would be to have students practice writing a great beginning to a given topic.

Math Practice
Post a review of a skill learned in math during the week and have students reply by writing their own problems with solutions using that skill.

Science and Social Studies Extensions
Post notes on a scientific or social studies topic learned in class and have students reflect through their posts.

Other teachers of older students actually have each student create a blog where they are encouraged to post school-related topics as an extension of classroom learning.

Here are some places that offer free classroom blogs:

www.blogger.com
I had my previous blog with blogger but chose to move it to wordpress because the “Next Blog” link on the top toolbar may sometimes lead students and/or parents to inappropriate blogs.

www.wordpress.com
I use this site for my current classroom blog.

www.edublogs.org

This site specializes on blogs for students and teachers. “It’s safe, easy, and secure.”

A NOTE ABOUT SAFETY

It’s important to review your district’s guidelines on acceptable use policies regarding the use of school-wide computer networks and the Internet. You should also pay close attention to what your district’s guidelines say about displaying student work online and take the necessary steps to secure parental permission before using a classroom room in a participatory manner.

It’s also important to teach students about online safety and never revealing any personal information about themselves through their comments. Students should only use first names or nicknames, NO LAST NAMES! In addition, students should also be taught about respecting other people’s privacy and rights when writing posts or comments to the blog.

I’ve included more information about online safety as well as a list of Blogging Rules and a Blogging Permission Slip to give to parents in the document found below.

I hope this post has given you information on how to effectively incorporate the use of blogs in your classrooms. I can’t wait to launch my new classroom bog this upcoming school year and have students get motivated about participating in this online collaborative tool.

Document Download

Using.Blogs.in.the.Classroom

New Math Poster Creations

After a very busy school year, I’m ready to start posting new ideas to my blog. “It’s about time!” the voice in my head shouts. To kick off my new avalanche of ideas, I would like to start with these cute math posters I just created with the purpose of helping students solve math problems.

The first poster features Dr. Math. He’s a specialist who can only perform four basic operations: add, subtract, multiply, and divide. On the poster he asks students, “Which operation would you like me to perform today?”

The second poster features Aunt Sally. She makes really great mathematical recipes but in order to get the right answer you have to follow the recipe which is the Order of Operations.

Both of these posters feature graphics from Thistle Girl Designs (www.thistlegirldesigns.com). I recently purchased a Resellers license from her and a Smart Notebook Lesson Creator license too so I can create documents and files using her graphics and be able to share them with others. I hope you enjoy these files. You are free to photocopy and use them with students and teachers at your school. Be sure proper credit is given and maintained. Please feel free to leave me a comment or feedback. Enjoy!

Download the Math Posters Below:

Dr. Math (Basic Operations)

Aunt Sally (Order of Operations)

I P.A.W.S. for Word Problems

A few months ago I attended a workshop where a math teacher shared a strategy that she uses with her students to help them solve word problems.

The strategy involves a paw outline using the title “I P.A.W.S. for Word Problems.” This is what the acronym P.A.W.S. stands for:

Problem Key Words
Analyze the Steps
Work it Out
Solve! Does it make sense?

Then on the actual paw part of the outline, the students would work out their problems. This area is called the “Work Pad.”

This was such a creative idea that I decided to create a document for it.

Here are the files for you to download:
I P.A.W.S. for Word Problems (Color)
I P.A.W.S. for Word Problems (Grayscale)

Camping Theme 2010-2011

 For the 2010-2011 school year my classroom is going CAMPING! Well, we are not going to any place in particular but my entire class will become a Camp Site! Welcome to Ms. Sanchez’ CAMP WANNALEARNALOT! Here are some of the ideas I have gathered for the camping theme:

BULLETIN BOARD IDEAS

READING
“Warming Up with a Good Book” (use a campfire graphic on the board)
“Camping Out with a Good Book” (use kids in a tent graphic)
“Pack of Reading Strategies” (backpack with reading strategies coming out of it)
“Camp Read A Lot”
“Hiking Up the SuccessMaker Mountain”
“Hiking the AR Trail”
“Climbing the AR Mountain”
“Climbing the SuccessMaker Mountain”
“Rafting the AR River”

WRITING
“Campfire Tales”
“Campfire Stories”

WORD WALL
“A Forest of Words”
“Word Woods”
“Word Forest”
“S’more New Words”

MATH
“Hiking Along the Math Trail” (show a hiker climbing rocks and write the different multiplication properties on the rocks)
“Pack of Math Facts” (use a backpack with facts coming out of it)
“S’more Math Facts”
“Making Math Tracks”
“Bird’s Eye View of Math” (use an eagle on top of the bulletin board)

SCIENCE
“The Stream of Science”
“The Scientific Stream”
“Paddling through Science River”

STUDENT WORK
“S’more Good Work”
“Roarin’ Good Work” (use a big campfire image)
“Reaching the Summit of Success”
“Mountain of Good Work”
“Fired Up for Good Work” (use a campfire image)

STAR STUDENT
“Star Camper of the Week”
“Camper of the Week”

OTHER
“Put Your Best Food Forward” (show hiking books with classroom rules written on them)
“On the Trail to Success”
“We’re MakingTracks into 4th Grade”
“Camping Out in 4th Grade”
“Nuts About Helping” (squirrel with jobs on nuts)
“Camp Chores”
“Fishing for Good Behavior”
“Camp Assistants”
“Happy Campers”
“Wanna Behavealot Trail”

BOOK IDEAS

A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen
A Week in the Woods by Andrew Clements
Camp Granada: Sing-Along Camp Songs by Frane Lessac
Three Days on a River in a Red Canoe by Vera B. William
The Lost Lake by Allen Say
When We Go Camping by Margriet Ruurs
S is for S’mores: A Camping Alphabet Book by Helen Foster James and Lita Judge
Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O’Connell George

DECORATING IDEAS

· Carson-Dellosa’s Camping Bulletin Board Set
· Carson-Dellosa’s Owl Tree Bulletin Board Set
· Carson-Dellosa’s Camping Nameplates
· Trend Enterprises Green Foliage Discovery Border for Bulletin Boards (black paper on the background of all bulletin boards)
· DJ Inkers Camping Graphics to Accent Bulletin Boards
· Hang Stars from the Ceiling
· Place a Pretend Campfire in Reading Area
· Place a Small Tent in Reading Area
· Use Camping Chairs and Electric Lanterns
· Use Small Water Coolers in Reading Area for Seating and Book Storage
· Wooden Sign with the Name “Camp Wannalearnalot”
· Plants Around the Classroom for Decoration

IDEAS ON HOW TO CREATE A PRETEND CAMPFIRE

Here’s a brief slideshow showing three pretend campfires people have created.

http://www.slide.com/r/tFaBOUK-xT8qy6iUpS8VEyk8uzi8FcEO?previous_view=mscd_embedd ed_url&view=original

 
Here are the links to the websites which show you how to create each of those pretend campfires:
1. Campfire Using Construction Paper: http://kids-indoor-activities.suite101.com/article.cfm/making_an_campfire_from_construction_paper
2. Campfire Using Cardboard Tubes:http://www.familycorner.com/family/kids/crafts/cardboard-tube-campfire.shtml
3. Campfire Using Ring of Rocks: http://www.funinthemaking.net/2009/02/17/pretend-to-campout-how-to-make-a-pretend-campfire-and-paper-marshmallows/
 
I’m actually thinking of buying the indoor campfire featured on this website: http://www.indoorcampfires.com/

The cost of it is about $100 (not including the logs) but I really like how it looks. I could also buy medium-sized river rocks to create a ring around it.

SNACK IDEAS

These are some ideas I gathered from surfing around on the Internet:

· Moose Munch (cheetos, cheerios, chocolate chips)
· Make an Edible Campfire: Start with a large cookie. Add M&M’s to make a fire ring, pretzels as kindling, and cheese puffs for logs. Then “glue” candy corn on (using icing or other edible choice) for flames.

OTHER IDEAS

· Play a Bingo game called “CAMPO” (don’t know the instructions for this yet)
· Use Camping Mad Libs
· Make Friendship Bracelets
· Award Students Badges for Special Accomplishments (i.e. Amount of AR Books Read)
· Create Camp Shirts for All Students
· Create a Survival Guide for Parents (includes class information)
· Use a CAMP Binder instead of a DOLPHIN Binder (which I’ve used the past three years)

Clip Chart Behavior Management System

I would like to thank my fellow PT’ers for sharing their comments, thoughts, and info. on the Rick Morris’ Clip Chart behavior management system. This system has given me new insight on how to manage behavior. I’m going to be implementing it this upcoming school year with a few minor changes.

To start, I decided to flip the colors and not use pink or purple. Instead I will be using the following colors (in parentheses you will find the conduct grade I will use for each level):

BLUE: Outstanding (A)
LIGHT BLUE: Great Job (A)
LIGHT GREEN: Good Day (A)
GREEN: Ready to Learn (A)
YELLOW: Think About It (B)
ORANGE: Teacher’s Choice (C)
RED: Parent Contact (D)

I will only give an “F” in conduct if the student is constantly and severely disruptive. Also, if a student moves their clip down to Teacher’s Choice and/or Parent Contact, he will complete a small slip with his name, date, and check off what he did to move his clip down. This way I will have documentation on behavior. It’s important to note that students are able to move up and down the chart during the day. They move their clip one space at a time and are not stuck on a particular color for the entire day. However, if a student makes it to Teacher’s Choice or Parent Contact, they still have to serve the consequence even if they are able to move back up the chart.

The following consequences will be in place:

YELLOW: Think About It
Warning

ORANGE: Teacher’s Choice
(I will choose one of the following)
Behavior Journal
Lose Recess Time (I choose how much time)
Clip Down (depends on how severe the behavior is)

RED: Parent Contact
(Parent’s will be contacted in addition to another consequence listed below depending on what the student did.)
Call Parent
Remove Student from Class (Send to another classroom or the office)
Detention
Referral

As for the REWARDS, this is what I have in mind:

  • REWARD TICKETS: Students will earn 1 ticket each day their clip stays on OUTSTANDING or higher. Their names will be written on the tickets
  • MYSTERY PRIZE RAFFLE: I will draw 10 student reward tickets at the end of every week. Students who are called will have a chance to select a random reward coupon from the Mystery Prize Box.
  • GLIMMER & SHINE: Students will receive a small stick on jewel to place on their clip each time it’s on OUTSTANDING or higher
  • POSITIVE PARENT CONTACT: I will give an award certificate to students who make it to OUTSTANDING or higher. I will also call or write a note to their parents to share the great news.

Additionally, since I am doing a camping theme this upcoming school year, I went ahead and created two Vista Print Small Car Magnets to display information about the chart’s colors, consequences, and rewards. I call it the “Wanna Behavealot Trail” and “Behavealot Trail Rewards.” Here they are:

I went ahead and created a sample clip chart to give me an idea of how I was going to set it up. Here it is:

 I’m going to make the chart myself using colored cardstock which I’m then going to laminate. I’ll place the chart in an area where I can also display the car magnets along side.

I’m looking forward to implementing this system. If you would like to learn more about Rick Morris’ Clip Chart, check out this free e-book about it:

http://www.newmanagement.com/ebooks/…hart_ebook.pdf

New Florida Math Standards

I was recently trained in the new Florida Math Standards which we refer to as the Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NG SSS) for Math. Basically, elementary grades are no longer going to cover all aspects of Math in each grade level (i.e. Number Sense, Geometry, Measurement, Algebraic Thinking, and Data Analysis/Probability). Instead, each grade level will focus on a few Math concepts which are referred to the Big Ideas.

In fourth grade for example, we will be covering Multiplication/Division, Area, and Decimals. We will also cover three supporting ideas which will help students review previously learned concepts and concepts they will learn in future grades. The state is moving from teaching a mile wide and an inch deep. Long gone are the days when we used to teach Math just to cover a topic without the students understanding it in depth. Now we will cover less but go much more deeper in the topic so students know it inside and out.

With these new standards, we are also getting a new Math textbook. The book is called Go Math! Florida and it’s published by Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt. I Googled the book and found a really informative site with video FAQ’s with answers provided by the two authors of the textbook. Here’s the link:

http://www.hmheducation.com/fl/gomath/videos.php

I would like to hear from other Florida teachers who might be using this book and also what are your thoughts on the new standards. Thanks for stopping by.

Reward Coupons

I wanted to post on my blog the reward coupons I created for my students.

There are eight coupons per page and a total of 27 pages (27 coupons) to use. I created them in black and white so they are easier to copy. I copy my coupons on various sheets of color paper. The color of the coupon matches a price category the coupon belongs to.

My students are able to use their “Fin” dollars (earned in our classroom economy) in order to purchase coupons they want. I also award free coupons to students who consistently demonstrate super behavior and consistently turn in their homework.

Since the file is too big to attach to this post, I am providing a direct link to the PDF file of the reward coupons. I hope other teachers may find these coupons useful in their classrooms. Enjoy!🙂