Currently August As Summer Chugs Along!

Happy August!  Today I'm delighted to link up with Anne in Residence for her monthly link-up:
 
Choosing
 
I am trying to NOT think about how school is going to start.  On Friday, August 14th, all schools in Massachusetts must make their back to school plans official.  Then I can start to make my plans based on the real deal.  
 

  
 
Consuming
 
I am drinking a LOT of Polar seltzer.  It's been very hot ~ which I guess is the trend across most of the country as far as having above average summer temperatures.  I especially love the limited edition summer flavors.
 
 
Enjoying

I just LOVE going in my pool and doing my water aerobics!  When I'm done, I sit in the shade and read a book.  Right now I'm reading "A Woman Is No Man."    This debut novel by author Etaf Rum centers on the lives of Palestinian women who live in Brooklyn, NY.  If you enjoy reading about other cultures, you will enjoy this book!


 
Ordering
 
I just ordered a Mexican lasagna from a chef who started her own business:

Who We Are

Doodle's Dinners was founded by the chef and her partner. Lindsey is professionally trained, and has been in the industry for years. Cooking is her passion. "Bringing happiness to people through my cooking is what I live for."

Doodle's Dinners started on a whim after tossing the idea out to family and friends, and then eventually the public and getting some serious positive feedback and interest. We are so excited for the future of this.  

What We Offer:  The idea behind Doodle's Dinners is to make life easier for everyone else. We offer fully prepared, restaurant quality, ready to reheat meals, and we'll deliver them right to your door.  Heating instructions are included and dinner will be ready in minutes. 

 

Remembering

 I'm remembering how much I love the sky in the summer.  It's so blue and beautiful.  The clouds seems whiter and brighter.  I need to remember how precious and short the summer is so that I can enjoy every minute.  Now that it is August, I need to relish every minute of summer!


I hope you are well and enjoying your summer!  Thank you for visiting the blog today! 

 


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Changes Are Coming and Evolving!


The Prompt:

How is your school/district operating differently this year?

Hybrid Model Right Now

The latest news includes a Hybrid Model:

    Cohort A:  Monday, Tuesday

    Cohort B:  Thursday, Friday

    Whole Class:  Wednesday online

We will all wear masks; eat lunch in our classroom; practice social distancing.  In school, our teaching will focus on Reading, Language and Math.  Content specialists will take over teaching Science and Social Studies online.
 
vs.
 
All Distance Learning

Our union just released survey results for teachers.  More than 60 percent of teachers did not feel comfortable going back.  Many teachers would choose to not return at all if the hybrid model was the district's choice.  In addition, there are so many unanswered questions.
 
After reading the union survey results and the Boston Globe's headline about more and more districts choosing remote learning, I feel that the writing is on the wall:  we will probably be doing distance learning.   I really wanted to try the hybrid model for a few weeks in order to make connections with my students.  I'm starting to accept the possibility of distance learning for the upcoming school year.  
 
What about you?  Do you know how you will be
going back to school?  I would love to hear what you think!
 
 
 
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Online Learning: With vs. Without a Teacher

Hello everyone!  Thank you for popping in for this week's blog challenge topic.  Today I'm linking with Hot Lunch Tray!

This post is week 7 of 8 in the #8WeekBlog Challenge for educators.

Here is this week's prompt:

Describe your mix of synchronous (online in real time with a teacher) and asynchronous (online done independently by student)  learning activities from last spring/will provide this fall?


Synchronous (online with teacher) Learning Activities

When my students and I were online together last spring, we spent most of our time connecting by sharing.  Students were much more interested in visiting vs. actually learning while online with the class.  At first, the emphasis was on "making connections."  Eventually, learning standards were added to the mix, and teaching online became necessary.  To accomplish teaching, I used these strategies:

*Share a slideshow to preview/introduce/review material. 

For example, I taught fractions on a number line.  I would share my screen during our meeting time and talk about the concept.  I would review what was on the slides.  In addition, I made a video for the kids to watch later when they would be doing the activity on their own.


I felt that repetition and review were extremely important ~ especially when teaching a topic that we had not covered in class.

Here is another example for comparative adjectives.  I always spent time reviewing that day's slides with the goal of helping the kids understand the concepts so that they could complete the activities independently.

Here is the Drag and Drop independent activity:

Bottom Line:  I will definitely continue to create slide decks that are colorful and easy to understand.  During meeting time, I will preview and review the information as well as answer student questions.  One improvement I definitely want to make is meeting regularly with small groups of students.  I only met with the whole class except during my office hour.  I really missed getting to interact with the students as a way to assess understanding and make connections.

Asynchronous Learning (Done by Student Independently)

My Google Classroom assignments were always scheduled to be posted at 8:00 a.m.  When they were not there due to some sort of technical difficulty, several students would sent me messages asking where their work was.  I kept the assignments consistent every day:



I enjoyed creating these slide decks for the students.  It was a tremendous amount of work to create the work in digital form, but once I had my system, it came together.  During our Morning Meeting, I always reviewed the work for the day ~ especially something new like the Declaration of Independence.

Right now I am taking a class from Salem State.  I am learning and practicing Flipgrid (free) and Nearpod (free and paid versions available).  I'm really enjoying both of these "new to me" programs.  Nearpod has an add-on in Google classroom and has added lots of new templates (which I loved in Pear Deck). 

I am going to improve distance learning by adding more videos that the kids can watch.  I think it is so important to hear and see new learning concepts.  What online platforms do you prefer?  I would love to hear about them!

Thank you for visiting the blog today!  Happy August!








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Current Professional Goals: Remembering and Practicing Google Classroom!


Happy Summer Days Everyone!  We are definitely having very hot, humid weather in Massachusetts!  I'm happy to join Hot Lunch Tray's link-up again this week!

This post is week 6 of 8 in the #8WeeksofSummer Blog Challenge for educators.

This week's prompt is: 

Share your current professional goals.




1.  Keep Making Google Slides!

I spent a lot of time making my own Google slides.  I continue to make my own digital and print versions of work that I will teach when we go back to school online or in person.  I want to keep these skills fresh and up to date so that I remember and reinforce what I learned.  In addition, I am taking an online summer class:


...Learn how to use presentation software that not only allows your students to hear your voice, but allows them to interact with the presentation itself. Have students watch, and then interact with educational videos. The video app even allows you to add your own voice throughout. Both applications allow for formative or summative assessments, in app. Next, you will be instructed on up to date materials for reading, and assessing along the way. Learn how to make gamification (learning through games) a fun part of your student’s day. Also touched upon; an online portfolio (that gets shared with families,) and ways to get your students talking to you (their teacher) and to each other. The best of all, you can then have your student’s use the same tools to create something for you!..    

2. Develop New Teaching Resources

Here is something that I am still working on:


It includes reading, language and math review. I'm really excited to create and share some new resources that are both digital and print.


3.  Familiarize Myself with Lucy Calkins' Writing Program


Next year we are using the Lucy Calkins' Writing Program.  




Back in the spring, I used parts of the opinion writing chapter to teach my students.  I even made a slide show to go along with it:


  


By the way, if you love that cover, check out this Luna's Yard TPT store!

I will be spending time familiarizing myself with our new writing program among other professional development!

What are you doing this summer?  I really hope we have some time to go back to school with students, but nothing is definite yet!

Thank you for visiting today!  I hope you are enjoying your summer!





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Technology and Its Effectiveness in Distance Learning

Hello there!  Another week has flown by which means that I am linking up with Hot Lunch Tray!





This week's prompt is:

What technologies enhanced/reduced your effectiveness this past spring?


Google Classroom

Before at-home learning, I dabbled in Google Classroom.  Right away I realized I had A LOT to learn.  I taught myself by making many mistakes, watching a lot of tutorials (head here to check out one of my favorites for locking down backgrounds in Google slides), reading blog posts and practicing.  I wanted to make activities that were directly correlated with what I needed to teach according to the State of Massachusetts.  Here is an example of what we needed to cover for fractions:

Represent a fraction 1/b on a number line diagram by defining the interval from 0 to 1 as the whole and partitioning it into b equal parts. Recognize that each part has size 1/b and that the endpoint of the part based at 0 locates the number 1/b on the number line.



Teaching fractions on a number line which can be difficult when taught in person.  I felt that I knew my students' level of understanding so I developed a week's worth of related activities.  This slide is from the first day's slide deck, and it includes a link to a Screencastify video I made.

 

Screencastify = Another Useful Technology Tool!

Screencastify is a free Chrome extension which allows you to record what is on your screen.  You can only use this extension if you are using your Chrome browser.  If you look in the top right corner of your screen and see an orange and white arrow, you have Screencastify.  I loved making short videos (the videos are only free for 5 minutes or less) to help explain new material.  In addition, you can post your videos to Youtube where I now have my own channel!  I made several videos about Massachusetts in the American Revolution.




Google Meets ~ A Mixed Bag

Our meetings were always on Google Meets.  I found this option to be unreliable.  Some days it worked, and other days, it was very glitchy which made it frustrating for all of us.  The best part by far, was making that daily connection with the kids.  I would try to throw in some academics, but the kids just wanted to visit and learn cursive or play Kahoot.  

Teaching cursive was not planned, but when I noticed the kids losing interest, I asked them if they would like to learn cursive.  They all perked up so cursive it was!

In closing

Overall, at-home learning was a tremendous amount of work because I needed to create all new material that was interactive and engaging.  I spent hours at my computer figuring out the new technology and incorporating it.  I kn
ow a good chunk of kids did the work and learned some of the material.  Other students' work habits and participation were fair to poor. 

Thanks for visiting.  I hope you are enjoying your summer!





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Addressing Bias at School

Hello everyone!  I am so happy to see you and hope that you are having a fantastic and patriotic weekend!





This week's prompt is:

How do/will you address implicit bias at your school?

True Story

Many years ago, I had "that" class.  Due to the variety of issues, a psychologist came regularly to observe my class to help me develop strategies to deal with all the situations.  She had just entered my classroom; we were having Morning Meeting; this is a paraphrased version of the conversation between two African American boys (I am using their first initials).  One of the boys asked me a question about a book we had just read:  More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby.  In this amazing story, George Washington Carver finds a newspaper man who teaches him to read.  He calls the newspaper man "the brown face of hope."

M:  In the story we read yesterday, why couldn't he call the man "the black face of hope?"

R (slaps the rug):  That would be even worse!

M:  Why?  I'm black, and nothing is wrong with that.

R:  You never call anyone black, that's why!  You should know that by now!

At this point, M. runs to the front of the room and bursts into tears. 

Now the class becomes silent as I comfort M. and encourage him to return to the rug.  My main message to the students was that each of them should be safe to express opinions at school.  We need to accept differences respectfully.  At home, families have different views on everything, but in school, it is a safe place.  We might have different skin colors, however, on the inside, we have feelings that need to be honored whether we agree or not. 

Wow, I can still remember this from 10 years ago so vividly because I had no time to think, but I absolutely knew how I felt and believed, and still do.  Students learn from our example; what we say and do every day.  That's what counts, and that's what kids learn.  They see how I treat each of them equally, fairly and respectfully.  I do not tolerate anyone's feelings being hurt.

Other Ways to Prevent Bias

*Read books with characters from diverse backgrounds and cultures. 

*Add books to your classroom library to make it more diverse.  Amazon has a whole section of books to check out here.


*Discuss differences often.

As always, thank  you for popping in to read the blog today.  Every day in the classroom is an adventure; that's why we need to be in school (hopefully)!  Kids learn so much from interacting with their peers and teachers.
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Currently It's Just July ~ The Summer Is Just Beginning!

Happy July!  My summer vacation started six days ago, and it's already a new month!  Plus, people will soon remind me:  "Once, it's July 4th, the summer is over."  Noooooo!  I don't believe that ~ I'm going to enjoy every day of the summer starting today by linking up with Anne in Residence for her monthly link-up:



Cooking:

I have been cooking on my grill ~ A LOT!  I love to make chicken, turkey burgers, steak...  Yesterday the marinated steak was $18.99 per pound.  Needless to say, tonight I am trying turkey tips!


Photographing:

Last weekend my husband, daughter and I drove down to New York City.  Although she is currently working from our home in Massachusetts, she will be getting a new apartment in the fall.  Consequently, we drove down so she could put all her "stuff" in the car.

New York City was relatively quiet, and we spent a lot of time just strolling.  We did pass a bakery with these amazing cookies:



Sharing:

Today I am sharing a link to check out summer reading books for Summer Reading Lists for preschool to grade 8 from the American Library Association.  After at-home learning, kids really need to read A LOT this summer to keep their reading skills sharp.
cover image summer reading lists Kindergarten - Grade 2 shows laptop displaying rocket image, stack of picture books, and phone with headphones

Trying:

Last Friday I popped in to school to get some items from my classroom.  I told my students I would be there, and some came to say hello.  We tried and succeeded in taking a social distance picture:





Wondering:

I wonder if we will really go back to school in September.  Massachusetts is on track to start in-person school in September.  It seems that a lot of colleges are holding classes until Thanksgiving and then switching to at-home learning. 
What are your thoughts?
 
happy 4th of July Cards

In the meantime, have a happy 4th of July!




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Insights About Students and Distance Learning


Happy summer days are here again! 

Hello there, and thank you for visiting the blog today as I link up for the third installment of this Summer Blog Challenge!  This week's prompt is:  

What insights do you have about your students after #RemoteLearning?


How The Kids Feel ~ Do you still like online learning?:

Although less than half of my students answered this question during the last week of school on Google Forms, I would say most of my students missed school terribly.  They missed their friends, recess, gym, ...  I think the social interaction is most important to the kids.  Hopefully, they learn academic skills along the way as well.  Our daily Morning Meetings were very important to the students because it was their time to socialize with their peers.  I included periods of instruction, but the kids really wanted to see and hear their friends.




Teaching Opinion Writing:  A Wide Range of Results

One topic taught during at-home learning included opinion writing.  I tried to include student samples from prior years and other strategies such as modeling how to write an opinion piece during our Morning Meeting.  Honestly, the results were all over the place.  Check out some student examples.

First, we started with completing organizers.

This student completed the organizer and the ideas are all here!


These are some examples of final paragraphs:








I save my favorite opinion piece for last!




I felt that writing skills got short shrift during online learning.  Writing is such an important skill that involves conferencing with the teacher and sharing with classmates.  Online learning just does not cut the mustard when it comes to writing instruction.  I would say most of my third grade students' writing skills need improvement.

Other Academic Insights

In addition to opinion writing, the kids learned about geometry and area in Math; the American Revolution and the U.S. Constitution in Social Studies; force and motion in Science; sequencing and story elements in Reading.  What will students remember?  I worry about how well my students are prepared for next year.  It is impossible to really know from online learning.

Staying Connected

Yes, this was a priority, and I think we all did our best under the circumstances.  There is no replacement for in person
learning for younger students, but my students knew they were important to me even if I couldn't see them face to face.  It still comes down to this important quote:



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How I Am Recharging This Summer!


Hello there, and thank you for visiting today!  My last day of school is next Thursday, June 25th which means I'm still planning work and completing report cards.  In the meantime, I can plan how I'll recharge!



Spending Time in my Pool

I find my most relaxing moments in my pool while I warm up for my water aerobics.  The sun shines warmly on my back; I do my warm-up routine; and look up the beautiful, blue summer sky.  It is meditation for me ~ then I do my exercises and make a whirlpool.  I look forward to my pool time every summer!



Enjoying the 4th of July

4th of July is always a fun family holiday!  It will be different this year due to lack of all the big festivities, but my family always gathers at my home, and now my kids make this fun cake:



http://www.kraftrecipes.com/recipes/flag-cake-53409.aspx

Click here or on the picture to get the recipe for this no-bake festive dessert!

Reading, Crossword Puzzles, Sudoku and Word Scrambles

I just finished an amazing book:






The book centers around twins who are light-skinned African Americans.  One decides to live her life as a white person while the other returns home to Mallard.  Mallard is an interesting fictional place where people strive to have light skin.  They actually discriminate against darker skinned people.  Click on the book cover to read more at Amazon because this book is a must-read these days.

In addition to reading, I love to do word and number puzzles.  It keeps my mind sharp (at least, I'd like to believe so!).

What are you doing this summer?  Do you have any must-read books to recommend?  I'm always looking for my next book!

Happy Summer Solstice!





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