Monday, July 30, 2012

Welcome Guest Blogger Joell from Totally Terrific Teaching!+ Giveaway!

Happy Monday Friends!,
I hope you have been enjoying the guest bloggers on here over the past few days. Sadly, I am going to have to skip Monday Made It for now. I still have a project I am working on so I may get it up later, depending on how things go around here! :) I still have family in town so I have another special guest blogger for today.
Please welcome Joell from...

I am so honored to be a guest poster for Lisa's wonderful blog.  I'm a  blogger newbie and I'm learning tons, but everything seems to take forever to figure out.  My name is Joell and I have taught first grade in a title 1 school for 18 years.  The funny thing is I was NEVER going to teach first grade.  Now I love it so much, I can't imagine teaching the older kids.

One of the big professional goals in my school this past year was keeping kids engaged and getting multiple responses to questions.  Ilike lists, so I thought I would just list some of the ideas we came up with.

High Tech 

  • Clickers.  Ourschool purchased clickers for students to use.  Pros:  I loved using the clickers, and my students did too.  Some of my kids held the clickers out like they were laser guns and would shoot the screen with their answers.  Cons:  To get the most out of them, I felt like I needed to make powerpoints with the questions built in.  Some of my lower students and ESL students had a hard time figuring out how to use them.  
  • iPad.  I only have one iPad in my classroom and I'm thankful for it!  Last year my kids loved it when I used the doceri app to control my computer through the iPad.  I could use this in conjunction with my document camera, or with any website or computer program.  In some activities all students had to write down their answers, then I chose someone to write or select the answer on the iPad.  They knew if they were off task or didn't answer they wouldn't get to use the iPad.  Pros:  Kids loved it, I get away from the computer and document camera and move around the room.  Cons:  Only 1 iPad, so we have to take turns.  
  • Cameras.  I was fortunate enough last year to get a grant through donors choose.  My classroom got 6 digital cameras.  My students loved to use the cameras for assignments.  It was a wonderful assessment tool, I would tell them to go take pictures of nouns, or things that start with p, etc. and see what they found.  I gave them timers and sent them out in groups.  They had to come back to class when their timer beeped.  Pros:  Great assessment opportunity, can use the photos to make books and add to the class website.  Cons: Getting the pictures off the cameras to the computer, keeping track of who took which picture.
  • Class Dojo.  Class Dojo is a website and if you haven't signed up for or used this wonderful resource, you should hurry over there.  I add positive behaviors such as "smart answer", "contributing to class" and "good listener" to it and give out points for that.  I also use my iPad to run Class Dojo and on occasion I'll give it to a student to give points out.  Pros:  Free, easy to use, students love it, immediate feedback to students, tracks behaviors.  Cons: Can't think of any at the moment.

Cooperative Learning

  • Whole Brain Teaching. WBT is a great resource for teachers, and best of all, their stuff is free. I have used some of their classroom management stuff and this year will be using some of their lesson planning stuff.  They're all about active learning.
  • think/pair/share.  Tried and true.  Last year I gave my students several different response partners:  milkand cookie partners, peanut butter and jelly partners, etc.  The share part of this can also be done in a written form rather than verbal.  Or they can share with another pair rather than the whole class.
  • jigsaw.  Groups students into topical groups.  They become experts in the topic, then go back to their home groups and teach what they learned to everyone else in their group.
  • peer tutoring.  My favorite way of doing peer tutoring is to reward both the learner and the teacher.  "If Johnny can do problems 10 and 11 by himself when I come back, you both get a reward."  This helps the tutor focus on teaching rather than just giving answers.  

Low Tech Response Systems 

  • Gel Boards.  I love my gel boards because there is no need for an eraser or marker, they use magnetic pens and erase with their hands.  
  • white boards.  Some people have kids keep markers in socks for these.  This year I'm going to have them just keep their markers in their pencil boxes all the time and see how well they handle it.  (If they lose or ruin their marker, they need to "buy" a new one from me.)
  • sheet protectors.  Put papers in sheet protectors, students use dry erase markers to write their answers on the sheet protector.  I'm using these for Whole Brain Teaching's Super Speed 100.
  • Response cards.  These are very fun and easy to make.  Here's how:
All you need is construction paper and a stapler.
Fold the paper in half "the hamburger way"

Fold up a flap about 1-1.5 inches from the bottom, and repeat on the other side.
It should look like this.
Staple along both sides to close the pouch.
Students insert their hand in the bottom and can hold up their answers for you  to see.
Make cards to go inside.  Students can make these, or you can.  If you laminate them, they can use dry erase markers and re-use them.  The prompt for this might be:  which vowel is in the word class.
Do you understand how to do your assignment?
I use these for true/false, thumbs up/thumbs down type questions.

Students can make their own number sentences.

Physical Responses

  • thumbs up/down.  I sometimes use thumbs sideways.  Have students hold their thumbs in front of their chests instead of up in the air.  This makes it harder for friends to just copy what everyone else is showing.  I've also done "1,2,3 show" where they decide which one they're going to show, but don't show until the cue "show".
  • Four corners.  Have students get up and move.  They move to a certain area of the room depending on their answer to a question.  This can be really fun with opinions.
  • Blow it in your hand.  Have students think their answers and blow it in their hand (that's kind of like a think time thing.)  Then they answer on cue.
  • When practicing with pattern blocks, coins or other small items, I'll have them hide their answers in their hands, then on the count of 3 show it.
  • Physical demands:  wiggle your nose if it rhymes, touch your toes if it doesn't.  Etc.
  • My first graders love the silliness of talking to strange things.  When we practice  new vocabulary I have them say it to the floor, say it to your chair, say it to your crayon.  Say it in a spooky voice, sing it to your paper, etc.  Many of my kids don't have literate parents, or don't have parents home in the evenings, so I tell those kids for their reading practice to "read it to your pillow."  Then have them suggest weird items they can read to.  
I was going to write about incentive systems, but I think this is plenty long, so I'll save that for another day on my own blog.  Thanks, Lisa for allowing me to be a guest blogger!

Totally Terrific Teaching

Thank you to Joell for guest blogging for me today. She has a great blog so head on over & check her out! 
Just a reminder about my 650 follower giveaway!!! I'm giving away 6 gift cards to 6 followers. Please click on the picture & check it out if you haven't already. It ends on Friday. 

It looks like I am going back to work tomorrow. I always like to get a jump start on the school year! Wish me luck as I will have my 3 year old in tow! Thank goodness for my Kindle Fire and Netflix! :) Pictures to come as I prepare my classroom for this year.
Have a Marvelous Monday!,


  1. I love all these fun and different teaching tips and it made me feel good when I read something that I already use!

  2. I'm glad they were helpful to you, Little Miss. I've learned that keeping them busy reduces behavioral issues so much!

    Totally Terrific Teaching