Sunday, January 27, 2013

FREE phonics app!

First of all,  if you haven't liked Smart Apps for Kids on Facebook, do it now!  They search iTunes for the best and newest apps in education, and post about them weekly.  The best part, is that they offer a free app of the week!  Yes, free!  

I just picked up Phonics Genius, and it is great!  It's like personalized flash cards for each setof phonics you can think of.  Last week, we were working on vowel pairs, specifically "ee."  Guess what?  They have an entire set of ee flash cards, on top of a hundred more sets!  The phonemes are colored red to highlight it for the user, and the rest of the letters are black.  The app reads the word, and you swipe to go to the next word.  Great practice for some of my guys who are struggling with picking up different blends, digraphs, etc.  It should be still free until tonight.....go get it.  

Theres also a feature that you can record them saying the word to diagnose and document any articulation issues.  If you miss the freebie, I would say its totally worth the cost if you have to pay.  

H-app-y Sunday!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Online Collaborative Projects

Happy 3 day weekend to everyone!  I wanted to share a collaborative project that my class is participating in.  It's through an amazing online resource called
She has created an online database of projects that your kiddos can be involved in.  They are all different.....from sending in a picture of your favorite pair of shoes, to having a penpal from across the world.  I think that's my favorite part.....some are super simple & some projects are more involved.  I know what you're saying, "this is great in theory, but I don't have any time for things that arent tested on (insert state standardized test!)". Well.....
They don't have to take any valuable class time, per se.  The project I'm participating in is, "what's the weather like at your school today?"  I have a weather watcher of the day.  I keep track of it with a class list & a clothespin that moves down the list.  When that student comes in, they grab an iPad, take a friend to go outside & snap a quick pic of the sky outside, and come back in to use the kid journal app to complete their entry.  All during our morning announcements/ unpacking/ breakfast time.  No extra class time needed!  
    App shout out:  I love this app:  kids journal.  It does cost $1.99, but IMO its totally worth it.  
Simple kid-friendly interface.  They can very easily add a picture to their entry by clicking PICTURES not words.  This app is even successful for my non-readers!  For this project, my weather watcher uses the FREE weather bug app to find out the high & low for the day, and to check on whether it will be sunny, cloudy, etc.  
Then they open the kid journal app to take a picture.  Next, they sit down and journal about the weather.  My advanced students are writing independently, but I also offer a sentence frame for my less confident writers.  They are required to tell the high & low temperatures for the day.  Also what the sky will look like: rainy, cloudy, sunny, snowing (yeah, right!). Last, they have to add one more sentence of their choice--usually about what they would wear for the weather.  That's it....the whole process Thames about 10 minutes of morning time, and the kids are so excited about it!  
We are also going to get to Skype with another classroom to compare their weather with ours!  
What about y'all?  What sorts of projects are your kid-doodles working on?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Smart Collaborative Classroom

So, I've been an absent blogger lately, forgive me :(

School, life, and this labor of love I can finally share with you all has been a bit overwhelming these past few months.  Awhile back, I was approached to write a proposal to be one of about 20 classrooms across the nation to be a Smart Technology Collaborative Classroom.  First of all, I was amazed to even be asked to write a proposal.  Then, when I found out I was chosen.....mind = blown.  I kept it a secret because it was a huge surprise for my kiddos.  What is it you ask?  My classroom is going to be a model of how using technology collaboratively can boost student achievement.  My proposal included all of the awesomeness that Smart offers....3D document cameras, surround sound (its like a movie theater in my room,). Smart response clickers,, voice amplification system (like i need help in that dept,) a small group set of smart slates, Smart Tables, and of course the 4 new wide screen dual touch Smart boards.  im in full out Techie heaven right now
We were moved to a portable building for 2 days to allow for the install, and then came the magical reveal!  They walked into the classroom this morning & their jaws just about dropped!  It was like Christmas all over again, the air was filled with excitement!
Here are a few pics from my new improved classroom.  Please excuse the baroness of the walls....I literally had to remove everything from the walls & then put it back up in a matter of hours to be ready for us to move back into our classroom. 

So this is my latest project.  Be looking for lots and LOTS of technology integration ideas in the coming months.  Happy almost Friday!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Texas First Grade Teachers Conference!

What have I been up to these past few days...err....months?
Well, I'm busy with a surprise that I'm SO excited to share, BUT not just quite yet.  It's been a labor of love for the past few months, and it's being put into place this week, squeeeee!  I'll share on Friday....stay tuned!
Just as exciting, I'm in Austin for a first grade teachers conference since Sunday.  I love conferences!  Although its been difficult to be away from my kiddos, I come back energized with TONS of ideas.  I'll share a few when I get back home.  Anyone else out there at the conference???