Monday, March 24, 2014

It's Monday...What Are You Reading?'s Monday again! It's cold AGAIN here in Minnesota and my kids are headed to sunny, warm Florida this morning to visit my parents for the week while my husband and I have to work. I have a different Spring Break this year...super BIG BUMMER! 

I thought I would post what I am currently I've been reading some AWESOME books lately. 

I have read so many children's books lately that I decided to hit up Amazon for some new books. The first one that I read was 
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I literally read this book in 2 or 3 days. It is about a girl who travels across the country on an orphan train and lands in Minnesota. (random part that I didn't know about until I read it!) The book details her life and sucks you in and makes you want to keep reading about her life. I could not put this book down!

The next book that I picked up was Me Before You By: JoJo Moyes.
This book was highly recommended by a I bought it! It is another awesome book that I can not put down. I even took to the Minnesota Gopher's basketball game this weekend and when I pulled it out my daughter about died and made me put it back in my purse. I have been carrying this book with me everywhere to try to sneak in a chapter here or there. I'm about halfway done and it won't take too much longer to finish. It is about a quadriplegic and the girl that cares for him. 

We just finished RUMP this week and the students LOVED it! And I mean...LOVED it! It was awesome and amazing and EVERYONE should read it! 
The book by Leisl Shurtliff provided our class with so many moments of deep thinking! The students loved hearing this "spin" on Rumplestiltskin and are patiently awaiting the book "Jack" due out next Spring! 

The next read aloud that we will be starting TODAY will be 
Walls Within Walls by: Maureen Sherry. I have heard great things about this book and my students love books that have puzzles in them and make them think. I think that they are really going to enjoy this book. I read the first chapter this weekend and I think this book will be a hit! I'll keep you posted on my thoughts! 

And last but not least, for our class after school Book Club...I am reading
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by: Karen Foxlee. I love seeing many of my students checking this book out of their local library, reading it in class,and talking about it with the other students in class. We are meeting after Spring Break and will have our 2nd book club meeting since February. This is a great book and has kept me hooked since I started reading it. Lots of great discussion will emerge from this book! 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Using Twitter in the Classroom

Twitter...I've had an account (@megskogie) for a couple of years...but I only started REALLY using it during this horribly long, cold winter! I started this blog in January and realized that Twitter could be a great tool for sharing my blog posts. I wasn't ready to share my blog on Facebook, but Twitter felt pretty safe. Once I started to use Twitter, I realized that Twitter is full of great resources! Great blog links, professional development, twitter chats, PLN's(Professional Learning Networks), links to professional resources, and the list could go on. I thought to myself after my first twitter chat that, "wow...all teachers should be on Twitter!" My friends that follow me on Twitter and see my #nerdtweets(that's what they call my tweets) know that I am on Twitter strictly for professional growth. 

After, a couple of months of playing around on Twitter, I decided to start a class Twitter account after one of my fellow 4th grade teachers was brave enough to start one with her class. I had thought about it...but I just wasn't sure if it was acceptable and appropriate. I spoke with her about it and she referred to me a website that had some basic information on it about starting a classroom Twitter account. I read through it, created some ground rules for my class and created a class Twitter account. @Skogstad_Class

I pulled the account up on the SMARTBOARD and showed the class some basics. I told them that we would only follow people that would benefit our class educationally. I won't follow parents, students, sports heros, etc. Our main goal is to be able to share what we are doing in our classroom and to connect with other classrooms around the country. 

The best part is picking our "tweeter of the day." This is an important honor for each student and they get to decide what to "tweet" each day. The rule is that they have to approve every tweet with me before they tweet it out. I have final say in what gets tweeted out since it is a reflection on our classroom. The students actually have great ideas and do a great job, I just usually check the spellings and add the hashtags. :-) 

Our rules about tweeting are...
1. You can only use first names on Twitter.
2.  Before you post a picture of someone on Twitter, they have to approve it. 
3. The teacher has to approve every tweet before it is officially tweeted. 
4. Twitter is a tool for learning in our classroom.
5.  We only connect to people and classrooms that add value to our classroom. 

There have been so many great things that have come out of starting a class Twitter account. 
We have been able to 
-connect with parents and keep them in the loop about our learning
-connect with other classrooms in our school and district
-connect with other classrooms around the country and world
-connect with current events and educational websites
-connect with educators who ask about our work
-share our learning with others
-connect with authors that we are currently reading and interact with them

Twitter has been a great experience and I definitely encourage you to start a personal Twitter account for professional learning and a class Twitter account to share all of the great things going on within your classroom! 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Genius Hour Progression

So this is my first time doing Genius Hour in the classroom and I absolutely love it! I would say that my students love it even more than I do! They are borderline obsessed with their projects. I have been completely shocked by their continued engagement, initiative, excitement and their products. The students are creating iMovies, movie trailers, informational books, Google Presentations, PowerPoint presentations, Google websites, and 3D models. 

The students have been so creative and so inspired to work. The fact that they have choice in choosing a topic that they are passionate about and then have choice in the products that they create has created a frenzy about Genius Hour. 
The students want to work on it whenever they have a chance! 

Watching the students collaborate, communicate, think critically, and use their creativity has been amazing! One of the students decided to make a Google site and then some of the other students wanted to try a website as well, so we ended up having a mini "how to make a website" training during Genius Hour.  All of this was led by a student! The only thing that I needed to do was to show them how to make their site public. The authentic learning was AMAZING! 

I have been conferring with the students each time that we have Genius Hour. It has been a struggle to meet with everyone throughout the week, so I have had to be creative in how I check in with them and see if they need help. I have emailed students back and forth, used Google Forms to collect information on where they are in the process, regular one-on-one conferring, KidBlog, and also having the students submit their progress through Showbie. See some examples below...

Once I read through all of their submissions I was able to email students that had questions for me or to ask students further questions about their work. This week, the students will start presenting their Genius Hour projects to the class. I am anxious to see their final products and presentations and they are anxious to start a new Genius Hour topic as soon as they are finished! I will be sure to blog about their presentations as soon as I can! 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

World Read Aloud Day 2014

What an awesome day! Today, our classroom participated in our first World Read Aloud Day! We celebrated by reading a different read aloud every hour on the hour. The class was so excited to do this, they could hardly contain themselves. We even had our "tweeter of the day" tweet the details of our day on Twitter. You can see the tweets at  @Skogstad_Class

We started the day by reading Noah Webster and his Words. This book is a picture book biography about Noah Webster and was FABULOUS! We learned so much about Noah and his life! 

We then read One Grain of Rice by Demi. The students loved this book and used their iPads and the Explain Everything app to calculate the amount of rice each day and to make a chart of the rice given over 30 days. 

After lunch, we read our wonderful read aloud RUMP. The students beg me to read more of this book every time that I read it. They are sharing their thinking on our chart paper and I have been impressed with their thinking each day! They write their thinking in their interactive reading notebook while I am reading and then I choose a few students to add to our chart each day. 

We then read Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss. We read this because one of my students brought it in to share after we discussed Dr. Seuss on Monday during Read Across America Day. The students really enjoyed this book and the theme of the book was very similar to One Grain of Rice. It was great to demonstrate a text-to-text connection between these two books. 

After that, we read the latest Time for Kids which focused on "Reinventing the Library." We connected this article to Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library and had lots of great discussions about libraries and the advantages of e-book readers over regular books! I then read a book that I had picked up at the library called, The Inside Outside Book of Libraries. This book tied in PERFECTLY with our TFK article and showed many different libraries across our country, including The Library of Congress.  We actually started talking about possible starting our own Little Free Library after reading this book. We'll see what kind of motivation I can muster up in regards to this project! :-) 

We ended our day by reading Young Zeus.  My class LOVES, LOVES, LOVES Greek Mythology. They have been eyeing this picture book up and were excited to finally hear it. They were engaged throughout this entire read aloud...even after sitting through numerous read alouds today! 
Overall, #WRAD14 was a success!