Carrying out a catapult for forces and motion

We started the year off with learning about force and motion. We continued this with states of matter as we observed working energy in systems and how it affected matter.

One STEM activity we did was building the safest and tallest playground slide:

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We moved on to creating moving energy in systems using pumpkin catapults. Students created their own using classroom materials. Then we would create a life size catapults to launch pumpkins. Ms. Dyer, Teaching Talented Thinkers , thought of us throwing them in the air and we did!

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This was our life size trebuchet that inspired my students’ mini catapults. A parent volunteer helped build it with materials donated by parents. We tested for distance/target with the mini catapults and identified forces of motion using the trebuchet.

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Let’s do this!!

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Things I finally tried this year!

Students love technology and scented markers, but I personally think the things that make classroom management run smoothly is the teacher! I had to build strong relationships with my students before discovering their favorites which include Prodigy, scented markers, and of course all electronics. Here is a glimpse of our classroom and how students are motivated to stay engaged on their work.

Introducing their VERY favorite learning tool, scented EXPO markers! IMG_8278.JPG

They became a thing in our classroom and now a parent told me their child hates using pencil and paper for homework practice. Ooopsss! 🙈

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Of Course technology in the classroom is my jam! Many of my past co-teachers have taught me so many tips and tricks. I think my favorites apps are Chatterpix and Number pieces basics but I’ve picked up a few things this year. First is pictured above use a spinner for all things! Numbers, work choices, and we used it for our Fear Factor Transformation.IMG_9779.JPG

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Another thing I’ve learned is how great the students can use the Brainpop features to create movies and thinking maps! The kids love them and they’re a great tool for presentations. This allows them to explain their thinking, show their learning, and practice presentation skills with their peers.

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To be honest I was skeptical of flexible seating because I wondered if it was one of those teaching phases we go through BUT it works wonders. It’s helps keep my sanity by allowing students to work independently and comfortably! I also noticed it increased their engagement. I just didn’t know where to start….. so I looked it up on a garage sale website during the summer. I found these gems from a retiring teacher first and got inspired by Mr. Greg to add bathroom rugs. I bought them at Wal-mart and it has helped my centers run so smoothly!

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We share our technology but we are so thankful to have it!

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Fear Factor: Matter Edition

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Our mini classroom transformation was inspired by Hope King, Elementary Shenanigans. Ms. Dyer, Teaching Talented Thinkers , approached me about transforming our classrooms. We saw her post about fear factor in their classroom and we ran with the idea. We didn’t go all out for our first classroom transformation, but even what we did do took some work. I made the shirts. All of our boxes were copy paper boxes from our teacher work room that we covered with lots of yellow butcher paper and then cut holes in the top. Our tables were covered with black table cloths and the caution tape was donated by a parent. All of the signs, for our walls and the boxes, Ms. Dyer created on powerpoint. Ms. Dyer printed them out and we cut, assembled them and took them to be laminated.

What was in the box? Because we were studying matter in science we tried to get a mixture of solids, liquids and gasses. All of the items were donated by parents using the website signupgenius. For solids we had: cooked spaghetti, peeled grapes, dried apricots, dried cranberries, popcorn kernels, bananas, and a peeled tomato. For liquids we had: ketchup, strawberry jelly, and premade slime. For gases, parents had donated diffusers, we had four separate ones set up for them to use their sense of smell to investigate. We used lemon, grapefruit, lavender and peppermint oils with the diffusers. This made for 14 items total which were set up across two classrooms! (Text and pictures from Teaching Talented Thinkers)
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Glitter for the win!

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Our students were so engaged and made awesome memories learning! P.S. We had to show them what Fear factor was; I guess it’s not a very popular show anymore but it has made my students more courageous. 😂

When we digged through a pumpkin it was nothing compared to the mysterious items in fear factor.
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Switching to First Grade

My switch to first grade has been incredible. I was very nervous to leave Kindergarten but decided to challenge myself to something new. For someone outside of the teaching field, Kindergarten and first grade may not be much different but shout out to Kindergarten teachers who know that Kinder is its own world. I miss Kindergarten a lot, especially when I visit my best friend’s classroom (plus she’s hilarious and who doesn’t wish they were in her class.)
I now teach First Grade Accelerated. This means in my classroom my six years olds are learning second grade or beyond curriculum, based on their level. I have a very curious bunch with hilarious stories to tell daily. I love them so much already. Here is a sneak peek into my classroom this year:

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Also, I found my other creative half. The teacher next door to me is very passionate about teaching and SO supportive. What happens when teachers encourage and support one another?! GREAT THINGS HAPPEN. I look forward to telling you all about our adventures as they come a long.IMG_8007.JPG

Switching to first grade I began to challenge myself even more. I mean new standards, new school, new class, the new school year and I was ready to begin! I immediately fell in love with my students and all that they bring and are. It’s amazing how much you can do in an environment where you can be yourself and wake up everyday eager to greet each other every morning. 😀 We began the school year getting to know each other and the importance of accepting ourselves and families. Our classroom is very diverse and we appreciate all of the perspectives we have! I adapted the Kindergarten PBL I used in Texas for my little ones and we studied the importance of self-value and acceptance.

A new favorite book I used this year:

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We did the best part of me:

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We studied symbols and timelines and created them about our families. They included so much detail including symbols from where their families originated from. One student’s timeline even included the year his mom got pregnant with him and included their birthdate in the next year. It was wonderful and I’m sad I didn’t capture it in picture form.

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We used the app Quiver to bring the family flags, which included family symbols, to life.

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I also get to have a World Cultures and Animal Art Club after school. Do you know what that means?!
Crafts with learning GALORE! 😀

Here is a snake from animal art club after learning about🐍:

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Learning about the Great Barrier Reef when visiting Australia and learning about ocean life:

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Finally my favorite was our lanterns when visiting China.

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I also wasn’t the only one who switched to first grade! My youngest sister-in-law, Gabby entered the first grade this year as well! Isn’t she just adorable!!!

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Fairytale PBL and STEM activities

We have been busy comparing character adventures and retelling stories.

We started with retelling the adventures of a story and learning the classic fairytale vs. revised/non traditional fairytale.

Driving Question for PBL: How can we, as authors, showcase fairytales?

Teacher’s dressed up and acted two sides of a fairytale. We told the story of the big bad wolf vs. the three little pigs.

Students studied Goldilocks and the three bears in two different versions of the story using EPIC app.
Students created retelling chatterpixs. Check out the videos:

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VIDEO 2

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Screen Shot 2017-04-23 at 3.52.04 PM.pngStudents compared Little Red Riding Hood vs Super Red Riding Hood.

They were explain which story was the classic version vs. the revised version. Students then picked their favorite story to write their own version.  Students began with their favorite character and used their character to write a version of the story by writing a play, sentences for chatterbox, or a storybook.

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PBL Example video 1

PBL example video 2

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To find rubrics students used for their presentations and Fairytale PBL resources visit this resource:

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or click here

Students have also been using retelling of stories during Science Technology Engineering and Math Activities. (STEM)

Can you help the three little pigs build a model of a structure that can withstand the Big Bad Wolf trying to knock it down?

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It has been such a fun time learning!!

Saving Myself from Teacher Burnout

Teachers dedicate so much time and love to the profession. I know that’s why it is such a personal job because of the relationships we get to build with students and the blood, sweat, and tears put into making learning fun for them. My first year teaching I lived at school. I now know that doesn’t equate into being a great teacher. Learning how to balance and manage my time/ personal life is something I still struggle with. I now know that a rested teacher leading lessons will always guide and manage the  classroom better than a drained teacher. If you are a teacher I’m sure you know exactly what I mean. My second year teaching we had our first child. I big hurdle into life because now I would have to figure out how to balance school life and my new amazing job as a mom. The beginning was so rocky and very difficult.

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I’m very thankful for the administration and team I have. They have helped me grow so much as an educator. I definitely have learned a few things to avoid that burnout feeling that I’d like to share:

1. Build a tribe that helps build a positive outlook.

In a field where you have to balance a hundred things being thrown at you it so important to find a supportive person who you can talk to. Not only is collaborating going to make your ideas better, but sometimes you just need to BREATHE. Every teacher has the moments where they are thinking “Did this really happen?” and having someone with more experience or who understands teaching listen to you really takes the burden of having to figure everything out. If you communicate with another teacher in a positive manner and turn everything into a positive your day to day starts to change.

2. Class Meetings/ Community Building

I’ve always wondered, when do we have the time to teach kids how to respect and love one another. With everything the students should develop it seems so difficult to squeeze this time in. I’ve learned to schedule this time into our daily schedule. This has helped my students’ behavior and relationships TREMENDOUSLY! Carving out the time to talk and practice social skills goes a long way. Not only that but it gives an opportunity to play community games, appreciate each other, and have time for acts of kindness.

3. Spend time with loved ones

One mistake I made as a new teacher, and am sometimes guilty of is thinking weekdays are for and school work. Take the time to do something fun during the week to release the stress. Invite your friends out, go for a run on the beach, anything but school related things. Seems so simple but as a new teacher it was difficult for me to do.

4. Prioritize

I make a To-Do list and tackle things that need to be done immediately first. After I do at least three I head home for the day. Doing this has helped my school vs home time a lot as I look forward to going home to my baby. Spending time with your dog/family/TV is equally important to avoid burnout.

5. Include lesson plans driven by fun!

With today’s standards and curriculum I can get lost on worrying about what my students need and forgetting about they may WANT. I know.. needs vs. wants 😉 I began planning with what my kids have been talking about instead of what do the standards say (We have to get to that anyways.) If my kids have singing the same song over and over in class.. I take that song and turn into our addition song or sometimes make up a song using the beat to get them to line up. If my kids keep talking about the computer came with race cars I make sure to make a lesson using race cars. We get told to this over and over but I forget with my concern of making it standards based. Doing this has definitely affected my attitude day-to-day and made me into a much happier teacher!

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I included picture of my munchkin because playing with her is the key for me. I can’t wait to learn your ways of avoiding teacher burnout. IMG_6333.png

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

— Joshua 1:9