Monday, May 25, 2015

Mind Shift and PBL

We just had our FIRST EVER School wide Exhibition Night!  This was in place of our typical Open House!  How was it different? Well, Open House is a time to show off our work from the year, right?  In the past, I've had my students clean their desks, layout work for their parents to see and make a cute little card or project for Open House night!  It always turned into a "shopping night" for parents.  After seeing their own child's "display," they would walk through the next year's classrooms and then make requests the next week.

Contrast that scenario with this year's Exhibition Night! My students' job was to TEACH visitors about their research.  They were prepared to answer questions about their projects!

What did you learn by doing __________?
Why did you make the choice to do ______________?
What did you like best about _________?

They didn't "show off" their work, they taught others what they learned!  Parents visited their student's class and then went to other classrooms WITHOUT their own student!  Students remained in their classrooms to teach other visitors!

My student's have been researching and learning all about the Amazon Rain Forest!  I've done this unit every year for as long as I can remember, but this year is different.  My students are driving the project.  They are deciding the direction in which to go!  They are choosing which animals to research and have discovered more about the rain forest than every before.

I introduced them to this amazing and simple little app called Haiku Deck!  Do yourself a favor and check it out this summer!  I know I'll be using it much more next year.  Once I showed it to my students and turned them loose to "play" with it, they blew me away!  I couldn't believe it.  We discussed what would be important to include in our slide shows and then we created a "check list" of slides to include in our presentations.  Here are some some of their creations:

River Dolphins



I was so impressed with their hard work.  We made QR codes of each presentation and the parents used QR readers on phones and iPads to read the presentations.

I can honestly say that this is the first year I feel E.N.E.R.G.I.Z.E.D. at the end of the year!  I love Project Based Learning!

You can also check out our event's hashtag at #ccdsEN on Tagboard

Here is a great link to check out!  Mindshift and PBL

Sunday, May 24, 2015


Have you heard about this amazing app?

I've installed this free app on all of my classroom iPads!  My kiddos can use this app during "iPad time" and read from a huge libray of fiction and non-fiction titles!  Some of the titles offer a "read aloud" option! I've found this app particularly helpful with providing a huge assortment of non-fiction titles!

Check out the website here Epic!

This would be a fun app to introduce to families for summer reading!

Have fun!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Kindness of Squirrels

I thought I would share this sweet story!

I plan on sharing this with my students while we are still learning about the rainforest and the animals that live there!  It will tie in well during the last days of the school year when tattling and unkind words are on the upswing!

The Kindness of Squirrels

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

These are a Few of My Favorite Things!

I'm linking up with The Teaching Trio for their weekly linky of Favorite Things!  Here are some of my favorite things about Project Based Learning!

At the heart of Project Based Learning are the Six A’s!

  1. Authenticity
  2. Academic Rigor
  3. Applied Learning
  4. Active Exploration
  5. Adult Relationships
  6. Assessment
Three of my favorites are Authenticity, Academic Rigor and Active Exploration.  So to get started, I looked at the Rainforest study and thought about it through the lense of Project Based Learning. 


PBL usually begins with a question!  What is the essential question I want to pose to the students…or hopefully have them develop after some discussion?  There are so many ideas, but I want to focus on conservation.  This small part of PBL helps to create authenticity for the students!  I love the buy in from the onset!  

This is what I hope to come up with together:

How do rainforests impact the world?

Academic Rigor

My students get so wrapped up in our projects that our day naturally becomes integrated!  For example, measuring elements of the rainforest will take the place of the measurement “chapter” in the curriculum and during our Daily 5 time the kids read and write about the topic. It's amazing how it just happens!

Active Exploration

Students use a variety of media to learn about the topic.  We will read non-fiction books, conduct research on the internet and create a presentation on the iPad. I am using the app HaikuDeck!  Try it out!  It's free and EASY PEASY for little ones! 

Thanks for stopping by!  Don't forget to hop over to The Teaching Trio and read about more Favorite Things!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

I have a deal for you!

I'm so excited to have a deal on Educents right now!  You can get my Nonsense Word Fluency Bundle 50% off the individual purchase price!  These are great games to play in partners or small groups to help your kiddos practice fluency with nonsense words!  I use these all year long and my kids are awesome at sounding out unfamilar words and also do really well on the end of the year Dibels and Aimsweb assessments! 

Check out this post about how I use these in my classroom!  Winter Assessments