"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do." Helen Keller

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Fran Richardson
Welcome to my blog!I'm a teacher in a beautiful, small, rural town. I moved here a few years ago, but I have taught over 20 years in this same small town that is now my home. My experience is in teaching second, third, and fourth grades with one year in sixth grade. I am always reading, learning, and reflecting on what goes on in my classroom. I love the work that I do with the parents, my fellow teachers, and most all-my students.I hope you will enjoy reading my blog.
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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Just for Fun: From “Trash” to Treasure

Now that  my summer is winding down, and I will be back to school in another week, I have found TONS of crafts to make from “recycled” items on Pinterest, and   I am  busy trying  out some of these ideas as possible art projects in my social studies classes. For instance, I found directions for making beads made from old magazines and catalogs, and I created a  beaded bracelet. Because I am always looking for ways to make abstract ideas tangible, I am thinking of making “ friendship” bracelets  during our study of William Penn and the Quakers settling Pennsylvania. Did William Penn actually use old magazines to  make and trade beads with Native Americans? Uh-mmm, sources say  “No,” Nerd smilebut one of my goals this year is to bring in more creativity into my lessons while making my lessons a bit more real, and so making and trading beads to create bonds of friendship  as a tangible reminder is a good thing.

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Here’s how I created this simple project:  I  cut strips of an old catalog into thin triangles.  ( The wide part  or base was about an inch in this project). Then, I rolled the triangle from the wide end to the smaller  end.  I  added a  little dab of glue ( I used Elmer’s), took a finger and smoothed the glued end,  and voila- a bead. I let the beads dry.

After the beads were dry, I trimmed a few just to make the look a little more uniform. I used  twine to thread my beads and did a spritz of shellac to make it a little more permanent and give my creation a glossy finish.

And here’s my bracelet- nothing fancy but pretty nonetheless:

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Thanks for taking a look, and I hope you’ll share some ideas with me on my Pinterest boards.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Classroom Set-Up: Personalized by Pinterest

This week I’ve started setting up my classroom,  and this year, thanks to my obsession with Pinterest, I have decided to add some personalized touches to my classroom.Rolling on the floor laughing

Here are some of my recent projects  inspired by some of my pins.

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You can download this  wonderful poster from eighteen25. Lots of great ideas there.

Here are some new projects that I have worked on this week.

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and a few previously posted.

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Check out my classroom boards at Pinterest for the inspiration for these and future projects.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

HAPPY SCHOOL YEAR! It’s BACK TO SCHOOL!

Because Christmas in July is here, the NEW SCHOOL YEAR can’t be too far behind so it’s time …

to avoid the television because the “back to school” ads like this classic are in full force!Rolling on the floor laughing

Why not celebrate and think of happier times?  My memories of  Christmas in my classroom are all good ones, and by the time December 2011 rolls around, the nationwide heat wave will be in the past, and I’ll be dreaming of a White Christmas.

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Actually the day after Christmas, we got SNOW here in SC. Nice to think about when the temperatures are 100-plus. All the more reason to stay indoors and check out some COOL ideas.Open-mouthed smile

Charity over at The Organized Classroom Blog is celebrating Merry Christmas in July. Charity has put together some activities from several great blogs showcasing the BEST ideas, and let me mention  that they are all FREEBIES!

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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Saturday, July 23, 2011

PINTEREST PARTY!

I have stopped pinning for a few minutes  to invite you to check out

my boards over at Pinterest. Over at Michelle's Math in The Middle, there’s a linky party going on! Hot smile  Grab something cool  to drink ( I suggest some sweet  iced tea), stay inside from this triple-digit record heat, and look at all the cool stuff we’ve been pinning this summer!

Have you ever seen a great idea for your classroom and then you forgot later where you saw it? Even with book marks it’s often hard to find what you are looking for.  Pinterest lets you add a “pin” to your toolbar where you can “pin” a picture to any board you create: recipes, home projects, classroom ideas, , books, fashions- you name it. Then,  you have a picture to remind you of where you saw that great idea. But the  other neat thing is you can share your boards with your friends, and anyone else you want to share with publicly so you can follow, share, and repin as much as you desire.

I will give you a quick tip for how I pin ideas. I use Google images, and my searches take me right to photographs for me to choose from. I have come across some awesome projects and ideas for social studies just by doing that.

Finally,  if you want to join your blog   in the party fun,   here’s how to  add your link to join in the party. Here’s what you need to link up:

 

  1. A teacher blog, where you will write a quick little post telling your readers about this Linky Party ~ {Don't forget to grab the Linky Button on Michelle’s page)
  2. A Pinterest account
  3. The Follow Me on Pinterest Button displayed on your blog

Have fun and get those pins ready!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Look Who’s Coming To My Class

Kermit_thumb

After blogging about My Back To School Best , I decided that I need to upgrade my frog. I found this Kermit doll along with this book at Amazon along with several other Muppet characters. For a little frog, Kermit has a lot of dreams, or at  least he did back in the original Muppet Movie. Kermit ( actually this is Jim Henson singing the words of Paul Williams) said it best. Have a listen just in case you forgot:


The Muppet Movie

This has always been a song  that makes me think of  why it’s okay to be called a dreamer:


Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that called the young sailors.
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.

So I am going to encourage my kids this year to be dreamers. Kermit will be our mascot of sorts. He will represent what we want to take hold of ( as in More Than Anything Else).  He will be an example of someone small who has big dreams that call his name, and he will be our model of someone who explores the world around him and beyond to find that dream.

Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
and rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it.
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection.
The lovers, the dreamers and me.

Thanks, Kermit for reminding me that it’s okay to dream.Smile

 

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Back To School Best

Last year was the first year I tried this read aloud and comprehension activity, but it will now be a tradition. It really does set the tone for what kind of  deep thinking you are aiming for in a literacy-based classroom.

One of my first read alouds was an old favorite of mine, More Than Anything Else by Marie Bradby. I have read this book for years, but last year was when I “got it”!

PLEASE NOTE: In case, you’ve never read the book, I will only refer to the main character as “the boy”. If you want to know why, you may look at the end of this blog. Smile

During the first week, I read the book,  but what was different this year was that I thought of some lessons I wanted to use after reading Angela Bunyi’s blog at Scholastic on Using Symbolism To Deepen Comprehension and the work of Kelly Gallagher. Skeptics be prepared to be amazed.Smile

I read the book aloud with my fourth grade students. Usually we would  just follow up with some writing response to the read aloud, about our goals-blah, blah, blah, but not this time! I went back to the text, and we looked again at the boy in the story catching a frog and reread and discussed using the pictures and the text the boy playing with the frog. I reread those pages, and we talked about how the frog was slippery, wet, and always on the move,  and the boy had to  carefully hold onto this little animal that he wanted.

I asked the children what was the boy hanging onto and wrote that on a t-chart under  the word tangible  ( which we had already talked about). I asked them what the  boy wanted “more than anything else,” and  most easily  my class said “to learn to read, ’” and so they needed a little  more prompting from me . I showed them the man in the book who can read, and the children then understood it was more than just being able to read, the boy wanted to be like the man- not just a reader but an educator! It was being educated that this boy wanted, and he wanted to  share and pass this education on to others! That was his dream or goal. I wrote  the words dreams/ goals under intangible.

I just so happen to have a stuffed animal- a frog in my classroom. I told them that  I was putting the frog where we could see it to remind us of how the boy in the book wanted his education and also to be a teacher, and he had to hold onto those dreams or goals despite the rather bleak situation he was in at the moment. It may be that you can think of a tangible object that can be a class mascot or symbol for your students as well ( a bird, a seed, a book, a rock).

The next several days we read some other books that had a similar theme. Here are some other  children’s book that follow that idea of having a dream or goal for both children and teachers:

The one Angela Bunyi uses in her lesson is:

How great would this book be to get kids thinking deeply and setting goals for themselves?

The funny thing is once you use this reading strategy with your classes, you will never look at books the same. I dare you to reread the book, Everybody Needs A Rock, and see what I mean.

If you want more ideas on using books to have students think deeply, I recommend that you take a look at  Kelly Gallagher. If you are a teacher of third grade or higher, you can adapt his ideas to your lessons. Don’t let the idea that he has high school in his books intimidate you. You can adjust many of his ideas for younger readers.

His book Deeper Reading is a great resource for reading teachers who teach intermediate, middle and high school students.

Note: The boy in the fictional  story More Than Anything Else is educator Booker T. Washington!Smile

MONDAY QUESTION: Post A COMMENT, PLEASE:)

 

My friend Meredith Landis posted this on her Facebook page:

Question of the Week: Picture books to teach characterization protagonists, antagonists, and changing characters.... Who has ideas?

My vote: An author study of one of my favorites: Eve BuntingRed heart!

I chose three of her many, many books with characters that change in some way with themes that older elementary students can dig deeper into.

 

Which picture books would you suggest?Smile

Sunday, July 17, 2011

PINTEREST : Projects

Hello. My name is Fran, and I have a problem: PINTEREST!Smile

Actually, my interest in pinning projects has been a Godsend. I grew up drawing, painting, and making crafts daily, and my parents at one time thought I might go into something that was artistic, but it seems like over time, I have deemed those desires to create things counter-productive and wastes of time. To be truthful, it seems as if there was a point when I was in school back in the late 70’s where there was an artistic track and an academic track in education especially in high school.  I believe with the testing mania that has taken over education,  art has been pushed aside. If it’s not tested, we usually don’t do it. Yet listen  to Sir Ken Robinson : Creativity is a skill we need to nurture if we as humans are going to survive.  (Thank goodness for that ancient person who decided fire was a good idea!) There is a human need to create in all of us whether we acknowledge it or not. All the more reason to search for projects that will allow teachers and their students to create. Teachers especially  almost all have that desire: Talk to most teachers, and they will say that we love those few times a year that we get to sit down and just color or make something- and the messier the better for me.

So I am loving the fact that I can create something after finding inspiration!

Here’s what inspired me today:

original read

from The Blue Eyed Owl Boutique

Here’s my own creation made with an apple I stenciled many years ago, a Flip camera, and befunky

.

READ apple with books_Sepia_1

My READ Poster

Take a look at my Classroom Pinterest and  perhaps you will be inspired to start creating some of your own projects.Smile

Saturday, July 16, 2011

PINTEREST- Inspired Project: Positive Thoughts

I pinned a picture on Pinterest  from the many beautiful things at   The Papyrus Project and My Wild Imaginings. Here's my own project that I worked on as  I sat on my deck this evening. Same idea but using magazines and catalogs. It is a simple collage  of positive thoughts and words. This could easily be adapted into a classroom project for elementary, middle or even high school.



I have to find my glue gun so I can move onto some other pinned projects!:)

Teambuilding 101

 

working together

As much as possible in my social studies classes, we learn and work together in teams and small groups.

delic sara

WHY? TEAM-BUILDING BUILDS BRIDGES!

The challenge here was to build a bridge of pipe cleaners that would hold a textbook. The only materials were two desks, masking tape, and the pipe clears. There was NO TALKING allowed

This group of girls worked quietly and efficiently to build their bridge in less than 10 minutes. Another plus with  that class of kids happened naturally:  When a group completed the task, the entire class  ALL applauded and celebrated. WOW!!!

funhouse wade and josh

Another Bridge Built

Sometimes you can rethink an activity into your theme or subject matter  and make  it a cooperative game or task. In our camping unit, we used the beach balls to do the traditional over and under. It was a challenge because it was a windy day!

over and under relay

Beach Ball Over and Under Relay

Just about any activity can be made into a cooperative one- tasks can be divided among the group or steps can be given as roles in the group.  Third- fifth grades love this stuff because they want to be social.

But they are KIDS so sometimes we play games  just for fun as teams, too. Playing and working together is important as well as learning to accept defeats, being a good sport and also be a  gracious winner. You don’t  “just earn” how to do this if you don’t play  any games where there are winners and losers. There must be a balance if you play games in your class.

My best classes over the  20-plus years I have been teaching  are the classes that we live, work, and play almost as a family. We support each other, get along well, and have a caring atmosphere. Sometimes these relationships happen naturally  like the group in the pictures above, but most often, teambuilding really must be an on-going  DAILY effort  starting from Day One. Here’s a new favorite of mine used at the end of last year with a group that built relationships over the course of that year to be like our school family by school’s end.

Lifeboat- Everybody's in (2)

 

“THE LIFEBOAT”

We   did this activity at the end of the year as a part of our  2-3  week unit based on camping and the book Week in The Woods  by Andrew Clements. I used the Lorenz Publications team and game books throughout that unit. They are awesome books to develop these skills and can be done very often with no special materials.

How To Do The Lifeboat:

I put several old blankets on the ground. All 20 of my students stepped into our lifeboat. I explained to them that we wanted everyone to be rescued, and that if the lifeboat capsized or sank, we might all possibly drown or freeze ( Thank you Hollywood for the movie Titanic!).

Everyone had room and was comfortable, but then I explained that the lifeboat was leaking and so there would be less space. I folded one blanket in half.

It began to get a little more crowded. Our lifeboat began to lose more air…The blankets were folded again.At this point, I was only a spotter ( and you must have several children to have that role).The kids actually thought how they could save room.  ( One or two  girls wanted to piggyback!). It was interesting and fun to see who became the leaders and who were the thinkers and problem-solvers. It was decided  that everyone must  stand on one foot, balance, and hold tight. And that is exactly what these kids did in order to “survive”.Smile

Once  someone lost their balance, and it was inspiring to watch the kids grab someone as if they really would fall into the cold, freezing waters to a certain death, and hear the group rejoice that no one was lost. This was one of those spine-tingling “A-HA Moments” of teaching. Smile

I would recommend  any of these teambuilding activities below to any teachers but especially in the intermediate grades  ( 3-5), middle, and high school.

Here are some fabulous resources I use for finding teambuilding games many of which can be adapted to review and content in any subject matter such as spelling, math, and reading:

Here are some teambuilding ideas  that I found online, also:

Teambuilding Games

More Teambuilding Games

Teambuilding Activities for Kids

I hope you will include some team-building  activities and games in your classroom this year. Enjoy!

 

Where The Rubber Hits The Road…

That phrase keeps coming to me, “That’s where the rubber hits the road.” The weeks of summer vacation are quickly passing by, and in a month, I will have students again.

It’s been fun the past several days pinning photos of bulletin boards, displays, classroom arrangements, and  social studies projects on my classroom board at Pinterest, but the reality is that I need to get into my  real room and get some of these things off my to-do list.

There are some people who mistakenly believe that the 4-5  day week before school starts for students is when teachers can get those tasks done, but the truth is you can’t. Those in-service days aren’t designed to all be  “teacher workdays,” and so chances are you will only have a good full day to get the room set-up. It can be done, but it is probably not the best decision.

I am not one who believes every  single spare space of the wall needs a chart or  teacher-made or store- bought decoration. I believe in anchor charts, but I also believe in my students creating  writing, art work and projects that will become part of our room’s décor.

I do believe in putting around  my own personal touches in my classroom especially with older students. I do believe that I need to  personalize this space because that personalized space can be an invitation to get to know me. In my case, I put pictures around of the “fourth grade Fran” that you see here along with several  other pictures of my parents and me . My boys often pick up the picture of my father being carried off the field by his football team, and they ask about that  person and who he is, and that is exactly why I do it: I want my kids to ask questions and have conversations with me.I put those things around my room so the kids see I am a real person and that my life has been enriched by the people around me and the experiences we shared.

Several years ago there was a push to remove all the personal touches from our classrooms. Someone who was “our special friend” from our state department told several of us that she worked with on a weekly basis to “remove any personal objects that have no real educational purpose.”  (I suppose seeming more business-like  and impersonal would improve test scores).  Reluctantly I did put away several class pictures, handmade crafts from kids, and personal photographs. My room didn’t have much of me left when it was done. At the time, I didn’t argue or question, but now I know better: My kids need to be reminded every day of what is important to me by what is included in my classroom.

And what is important to me should be a reflection of what I want  for my students. Anyone coming into my room should be able to tell what is important  immediately from what they see in that classroom. Looking around my room, there are reminders of what I want for my students. I want my students to have the support of loving adults-teachers, coaches, and parents. I want my students to value education not just as a ticket to better paying job, but as a personal lifelong journey. I want my students to understand the importance of teamwork. I want my students to understand what it means to give your best effort and personal best. I also want my students to begin to learn that some lessons require much hard work and sacrifice in order to excel. I want my students to see the love of books, history, and life that fills that room.

I would say to everyone who teaches young or old that before the first chair or desk or bookshelf is  moved or placed to do this: Sit down and write down what you want your class to know about you in your own classroom. Can your class see what you value by looking around your room? Let you answers to these questions drive your decisions in planning and set your purpose for the upcoming year. Let those words be your mission statement.

Somewhere in my many travels across blogs and teaching websites and professional reading these past several weeks, I  saw a mission statement posted. I don’t mean the one that your  principal or your school or  your district tells you that you have to post: I am talking about your personal mission statement. Write  those beliefs down on a piece of paper, put those beliefs where you can see them, and let  those words  guide you as up set up  your classroom and plan for this school year.

 

Friday, July 15, 2011

PINTEREST: My Classroom Board

School will be starting for me in less than a month so my mind is on getting my room ready as soon as I get to my room. The floors are being waxed so it's OFF LIMITS :(. IN the meantime, I will just have to dream and "pin" my dreams on my Pinterest board.:) Check it out: My Classroom Board
Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blog Mixer LINKY

Welcome! Please check out my blog, and then  follow these links to check out some blogs that I am following:

1. My New Kid blogger is  Joy Hall at Joy of Teaching who has been blogging since June 2011.

2.  I teach  fourth grade social studies to four homerooms of about 20 students each so the blogger I chose was based on content. Michelle Lundy of  Math in The Middle also teaches in a specific content area.

3. While I teach in an elementary teacher, Kristen Bowers has a blog that is aimed for middle and high school teachers at  Secondary Solutions .

4.  Check out her blog and grab the cute button over at Nyla's Craft Blog.

There are  more great blogs to check out at the Blog Mixer Linky at Yearn to Learn.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More on Active Participation

I am a firm believer that to be a good teacher, you truly have to be creative. To keep students interested you have to keep them ACTIVELY  PARTICIPATING, and often, that takes a great deal of creativity and thought. In previous posts, I have already written about how many authors and teachers suggest this  simple strategy as a way to manage a classroom and prevent discipline problems.  The longer  a kid sits passively, the less engaged the brain is, and the mind will wander after about 10-15 minutes, and often the body follows!
Carol Glynn offers some simple ways to get the class up and moving in her book and video, Carol Out of The Box.

Here’s a creative  and simple way to keep students engaged  that  is easy and very do-able even for content areas as well as older learners and can be used in any subject area including reading and math.

Carol Glynn

Rae Pica, a movement and learning author, teacher and speaker, states on her website the reason why this type of movement and learning link should occur:

Eric Jensen labels this kind of hands-on learning implicit – like learning to ride a bike.  At the opposite end of the spectrum is explicit learning – like being told the capital of Peru.  He asks, if you hadn’t ridden a bike in five years, would you still be able to do it?  And if you hadn’t heard the capital of Peru for five years, would you still remember what it was?  Extrinsic learning may be quicker than learning through exploration and discovery, but the latter has greater meaning for children and stays with them longer.  There are plenty of reasons for this, but one of them just may be that intrinsic learning creates more neural networks in the brain.  And it’s more fun!
from Rae Pica’s website Moving and Learning.

Creating  MORE Neural Networks IS THE KEY!
Who wouldn’t want to be part of the classes in Carol’s video?  Moving, singing, writing,talking are all ways to keep kids engaged, and if  you  watched Carol in action at the workshop with the adults, you can see it's very EASY. You ,too, can have the same results.
In my classroom after watching the video, I was convinced it was worth a try.  I took a boring textbook reading lesson about the parts of a New England village and assigned each student a role. There was a field of wheat, a  waterwheel,  a stone mill, a cobbler,  a blacksmith, the stocks, a meeting house- yes I had to assign multiple roles, but everyone was up and participating. It was loud, it was fun, and months later, the kids remembered who was the waterwheel  ( I can still see the poor kid spinning in circles ), and that mills were important in New England’s economy!

Out of the box thinking can be done- simply in any subject, any grade, and in literacy and reading classes,too.  Some examples could be the solar system, the parts of a circuit, the parts of a cell, order of operations in math, story elements in literary fiction, genres, and the list goes on.

Challenge your self: Think of what you teach that you can try some of these “out of the box”  experiences with your class this year.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Whole Brain and Whole Body Learning

In my last post, Brain Breaks and FMAP: What Do They Have in Common?, I talked about ways that author and teacher Angela Watson uses active teaching methods to manage a classroom.  Whole Brain Teaching is also active, engaging, and brain-based. But be prepared: The kids aren’t sitting in rows  quietly doing workbook pages. It is at times LOUD and to some, it will look chaotic, but it’s not. And like most things in education, there is  at least one thing  that most of us who are teachers can learn from this method if nothing but to “jazz it up” a bit.

If you aren’t familiar with the idea of “whole Brain Teaching”, sometimes a picture  ( or a video) does indeed speak a thousand words! These sixth graders are awe-inspiring!

Sixth grade

 

The reasons WHY we need these brain-based, whole brain, and active learning strategies is explained by these fourth graders.

Fourth grade

And here’s the thing about Chris Biffle and Whole Brain Teaching: IT’S FREE. Go to WHOLE BRAIN TEACHING and you will see resources for all grade levels and abilities, and did I mention :It’s FREE!   Go to the website to get the details, and right now, there is an e-book on setting up a Whole Brain Teaching model classroom so please give them a look. It will get you thinking about how any grade or age can use some of these techniques. Even young learners respond well to these strategies.

Here’s a kindergarten class using Whole Brain Teaching.

Kindgergarten

And first graders using the same methods of learning through movement and brain-based activities.

First grade

And finally, third graders in a class using Whole Brain Teaching in a reading class.

Third grade

How could you use more brain-based learning in your classroom this year?

“Brain Breaks” and FMAP: What Do They Have In Common?

Over at the Organized Classroom Blog page on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/TheOrganizedClassroomBlog 

and other pages such as http://www.facebook.com/teachingresourcesbyshelleygray,

they ‘re discussing “brain breaks.”

I first really thought about “brain breaks” after seeing something similar on mspowell.com ( now http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/). Angela Watson calls these breaks  FMAP for  “Fifteen Minute, Active Participation” when being pro-active in both your teaching and in managing your classroom.

What do “brain breaks” have in common with FMAP? Besides just being a best practice in learning, keeping students actively engaged by moving, talking, and writing helps manage BEHAVIOR!  Winking smileActive students are not off-task. Active students are interested, and active students are LEARNING which should be what we want our kids to do.

Here’s a real gem if you’re interested: Angela’s blog actually offers a webinar on her ideas.

Pro-Active Behavior Management

Other videos in her Cornerstone series may be found at her channel, also:

http://www.youtube.com/user/Cornerstone4Teachers

These webinars are based on the information from her book and blog, The Cornerstone. You may read more about FMAP in  a sample from that book here:

http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/free-resources/behavior-management/off-task

Check out the resources at her site and start thinking of what you can do as teachers to keep your students actively participating, their bodies moving, and their learning sticking by add more –brain-based tasks and breaks to your lessons.

Monday, July 11, 2011

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, E.B. WHITE!

E.B. White- the author of my favorite book of all time, Charlotte's Web.  I loved it form the moment my third grade teacher Mrs. Tyler at Joseph Keels Elementary School  read it to my class every day after lunch. I loved it so much that I begged for the book for my ninth birthday. I loved it so much that I insisted that my Daddy read it ( I was horrified he hadn't), and so we read Charlotte's Web together on the porch at a beach house at Surfside Beach, South Carolina back when beach houses didn't have televisions much less wireless capabilities.Our entertainment in the evenings after long walks on the beach was playing board games, playing cards, reading, or sitting on the porch and talking or singing if Daddy brought his guitar. Those  beach trips are some of  my fondest childhood memories for me.

I sat in an old rocking chair with my Daddy as we read about Charlotte and Wilbur and Fern. We read every night for hours. We laughed a lot. I can remember that Daddy's favorite line was "Wilbur threw himself on the manure pile." I didn't get it, but now I understand Wilbur's despair. We cried together, too. As I   got  older, I grew to appreciate even more Charlotte and Wilbur's love and loyalty to each other.

I thank you E. B. White for that story you put on paper. I thank you Mrs. Tyler for introducing me to that book. I thank you Daddy for allowing me to share that book with you. So many lessons I've learned each time I have read that one little book.

At times in my life, I have felt like Wilbur ( alone, scared, and friendless), Fern ( fascinated by my animal friends), Templeton ( selfish), and Charlotte ( fiercely loyal until the end). I believe there is something there for everyone in this childhood favorite of mine.

Who is your favorite E.B. White character?  Follow the link to answer that question and share your E.B. White memories.
Sunday, July 10, 2011

Read Alouds: Gone to The DOGS

I love reading, and of course, I love my dogs. I have known some kind, patient old souls who are of the four-legged variety, but the first and best example would be  our  beloved old Max,  my Daddy’s German Shorthaired Pointer, who let so many little children ride him, rough-house, and play with him. When Max was being “loved on,” his  big brown eyes would shine so brightly and that little nub of a tail would wag like it was on by a motor.  He was the most patient, sweet-natured, and kind dog  I’ve ever seen -hands down.

I thought of our old Max when I saw that  therapy dogs were being used to help kids read. I can see Max doing something like this. Max would have been a natural!

Here are several ways that dogs are being used in libraries across the country to help children in learning to read beginning with a story from ABC News.

Good Morning America

Therapy dogs are used in the READ program in Salt Lake City.

The READ Program

And in New York, both the dogs and the kids in this library share something in common: They both live in shelters.

CBS News

You can read more about a similar program using dogs to promote literacy at TALES FOR PAWS.Red heart

And here are some great books to read aloud to your own dog. I am sure our old Max would approve.Smile

Get a tissue for this one by one of my favorite authors, Cynthia Rylant.

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