Freebie Friday

Friday, February 27, 2015 No comments
Yay! Welcome to my FIRST. EVER. LINKY PARTY! I'm so glad you're here! Like really, so glad. 

I thought it'd be fun each week to feature a Freebie of my own or another Freebie that I've found and love!

This week's freebie comes from my very own Teachers Pay Teachers store. I have chosen to share my Parent Communication Log. I would be completely lost without this. Each time I make parent contact via phone or notes home I use this log to keep track of what is said each time. Obviously I don't have to do this for email (since I have copies of those), but sometimes (when I'm feeling really organized) I do. 



Check out this freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers

Don't forget to link up and share your fabulous freebie! Thanks so much for coming to my first official Linky Party! I can't wait to see all of the freebies we come up with. 

Land Your Dream Teaching Job

Monday, February 23, 2015 7 comments

It's that time of year again, you're looking for a job. Of course you're thinking to yourself "How do I stand out?" Well I've got some ideas for you! 

You've seen a million teacher portfolios on Pinterest and they're beautiful little binders and you're ready to tackle it! You're going to make 15 of those beautiful little binders and drop them off with principals all over the area. But I've got to ask...



You'll end up spending way too much money, and really ask yourself...what happens to your beautiful little binder when you don't get the job? The principal THROWS IT AWAY! All of your hard work and money are now in the trash.

So let me show you the 21st century alternative - a digital portfolio! 

  • it's FREE
  • it shows your "tech-savvy"
  • they can be emailed to a million people
  • it's FREE
  • less intrusive than a bulky binder
To start your digital portfolio you'll need an account at Wix.com (or other website builders - but I love Wix the best! Then, it's as simple as picking a theme and you're off to plug in all of your information.


I made sure to include a fun picture (with a photo release of course), links to my pages, more highlighted links under the big picture and then a quick "Who I Am" at the bottom of the page. You'll notice at the bottom of every page I have all of my contact information along with links to my Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin account.


Click the images to enlarge. 


Here's where you want to give them your background. Be sure to include anything and everything that might spark a connection or a reason to follow-up.

Click the images to enlarge. 


Here's your chance to include all of those great things you've done in your previous positions or during your student teaching. Each picture on my "Our Classroom" page took the viewer to another page with a more detailed description. 

Remember, principals are BUSY people. If they don't have time to explore your whole portfolio they should be able to look quickly and get a glimpse of what your classroom is like. Pictures can be very beneficial here! 

Click the images to enlarge. 


Next, you'll want to include your Philosophy of Teaching and your Resume. I also included links to some of my reference letters. More than likely you've already uploaded all of these things on an online application, but it doesn't hurt to have them here too. 

Finally, I included a "Feedback" page. As part of my professional responsibilities in my 1st year I had my students and parents complete surveys for feedback. I highlighted some of the positive answers on my Portfolio and linked the full results as well. 


After securing my most recent teaching position my teammates filled me in on the "research" that happens during the hiring process. Employers WILL Google you! They will. They will look at your Twitter, your Pinterest boards, your Facebook, your high school schedule, your blog, your dog pictures, whatever they can find - they will look at it. One of the compliments I got was on my organization of my Pinterest boards. I felt so nerdy to hear that, but they I realized that my OCD was paying off! If you can organize and clean up your digital footprint - do it! It will absolutely pay off.

I hope this post has given you some ideas on where to start! To see my complete digital portfolio, click here.
I would love to see your take on a digital portfolio! Post your link below - who knows, maybe a prospective employer will bump into it one day. 

Good luck on your job search. 

Reflecting On My Personal Learning Network

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 4 comments
Over the last 6 weeks I have been working hard on growing my Personal Learning Network. I have learned a lot about creating your own PLN and it's not as tricky as it seems. All you need is to find something that you're interested in and run with it. Luckily for me, my interests are teaching so it directly benefits my career. 

I used a website called Symbaloo to organize my PLN so far. Here's what I've come up with in the past 6 weeks.

You can view my live Symbaloo page by clicking here.

I thought Symbaloo was the best way to organize my PLN because it is always changing and Symbaloo is a great site to bookmark and move things around. 

Currently the sites I have in my PLN are as follows:
  • My Pinterest Boards
  • Instagram - @ATrendyTeacher 
  • Feedly
  • My Teachers Pay Teachers Store
  • A Trendy Teacher (Business) Facebook Page
  • A Trendy Teacher Blog
  • 2nd With Strunk (Classroom) Twitter
  • Diigo
  • A Trendy Teacher Twitter
  • Primary Teacher Resources and Ideas
Through these sites I am just clicks away from communicating with educators from all over the world. It is through these social media and web platforms that I am able to ask for advice, explore new teaching styles, make long lasting connections and grow as an educator. 

Overall, I think the best part of this PLN journey was realizing that I had been growing my PLN all along (way before I even knew what a PLN was). Knowing this makes me hopeful that continuing to grow my PLN will be just as easy. I hope to take my PLN experiences into the classroom to share with my students.


The Wonderful World of Tweet Chats

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 1 comment
So maybe you're asking yourself, "What's a Tweet Chat?", well I'm here to tell ya! A tweet chat is the easiest communication forum you can participate in (at least in my professional opinion).

A Tweet Chat is an online discussion using Twitter. Because it's on Twitter, anyone with a Twitter account can participate in a Tweet Chat as long as they know the appropriate hashtag.

My Tweet Chats

Before even registering for this course I was participating in a Tweet Chat with the primary teachers at my school along with two other schools in our district. We were using Twitter to host our book studies. The first book we studied was Jennifer Sarravallo's book The Literacy Teacher's Playbook.


Each week we were assigned a different section of the book and then we'd come together on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. to tweet using a common hashtag #LitCBC (CBC standing for Claymont Elementary, Barretts Elementary and Carman Elementary). The instructional coaches from the 3 buildings took turns facilitating each Tweet Chat and the K-2 teachers from each building would discuss the book each night via Twitter.

The Tweet Chat that I'm currently involved in is another book study, but this time it's on Margaret Searle's book, Causes and Cures in the Classroom


This tweet chat also takes place on Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. and each week teachers from my building come together to discuss our assigned reading. We use the hashtag #PKWYBar. What I like about this Tweet Chat is that our whole building is participating in it (classroom teachers, specialists, counselors, our special education department, etc.) so it's been great getting a wide variety of answers and viewpoints. 

Obviously, both Tweet Chats have a similar vibe since we are discussing educational books in each one, but there is a much different feeling when tweeting with people from my building and then when people from other buildings tweet with us. I felt as if our Causes and Cures tweet was a little more active because people felt more comfortable tweeting with an audience that they know. However, it was great tweeting with teachers from other buildings because we gained valuable insight that we didn't have before. 

I learned a lot from participating in these Tweet Chats. I felt that the use of Twitter for a book talk was very appropriate and it provides the reader with a stronger sense of purpose when reading - knowing that you will not only be talking with your colleagues about the book, but posting about it on a public forum like Twitter. I took away a lot of useful resources I was able to bring right back to the classroom. 

If your school hasn't done a Tweet Chat I would highly recommend it. It's a great way to get everyone talking - even those wall flowers. Here's some helpful starter points that I've learned from our Tweet Chat facilitators.

Tips for Hosting Tweet Chats

  1. Host a test run. For some people in your building tweeting will be brand new. Set aside some time that you can work with them to be sure their tweets come up and to help them through any questions they may have. 
  2. Create a schedule and send it out early. Let your participants know what they will be expected to discuss each week (if your Tweet Chat runs over several weeks).
  3. Send out the questions ahead of time! I love to know what I'm going to be expected to talk about ahead of time and your participants will too. Having only 140 characters is tough, especially when you have a lot to say. Take some time to sen out your questions before the chat so that people will have a chance to compose their answers.
  4. Identify common abbreviations ahead of time. For us we always said 'Ss' for students and 'Ts' for teachers. Having a common list of abbreviations everyone can use will help keep your character count down. 

Challenges of Tweet Chats

Obviously, our Tweet Chats took place after school hours. One of the most challenging parts of participating in a Tweet Chat is that you really need 1 hour of uninterrupted time. As much as I would love to have Grey's Anatomy playing in the background, I'd find myself re-watching the show later on. Participating in a Tweet Chat really calls for your undivided attention which can be hard in the evenings when we've got so much going on.

What I've Gained from Tweet Chats

First and foremost I've gained a ton of new followers and a lot of valuable connections with teachers who I might not usually see in the building. It's nice to know that I share the same concerns of my 2nd grade students as a teacher in 5th grade. Sometimes your building can become so separate once everyone gets in the swing of things, but these Tweet Chats have been great to bring us back together as a whole. It's clear through our Tweet Chats that we're all working towards the same goal.

Valentine's Day

Saturday, February 14, 2015 No comments
Happy Valentine's Day! 

This year I decided to make my own Valentines for my 2nd graders and I was so glad that I did. 

I created these adorable Valentine cards with the help from some Melonheadz. Then I found these cool sunglasses on Amazon - 24 for $6.50!


To download these Valentine tags click here.

I hope you enjoy your Valentine's Day! 

xoxo,


Can't We All Just Get Along?

Sunday, February 8, 2015 2 comments
We have had quite the few weeks in 2nd grade. Telling each other to 'shut up', hitting each other and wrestling at every transition time. This has been quite the shock for me. Coming from 4th grade we pretty much got it when your teacher said 'stop'. I did some serious thinking and put together some lessons for my dear friends. 

I'm lucky to have 20 minutes each day for Class Meeting, this time is spent teaching those social/emotion lessons and our Leader In Me lessons. 

I started the week addressing the bad words that kept flying around the classroom. Enough was enough! 

We started by reading I Can't Believe you SAID that! by Julia Cook [purchase your copy here].
This lady gets it! Her books are exactly what you need to keep your kids engaged, laughing, and learning valuable lessons. 

In this story Cook teaches the importance of your 'Thinking Bubble' and your 'Talking Bubble'. We spent a lot of time talking about what types of things STAY inside your 'Thinking Bubble'.

Once we established what things STAY inside our 'Thinking Bubble' we needed to address the flat out bad words that were floating around the room. When I pulled this book out the kids all gasped in horror! They all thought I, their teacher, was going to say....a...BAD WORD, at school! 

Elbert's Bad Word by Audrey Wood [purchase your copy here] is a great book to address the idea of replacement words. 

Next, it was time for the Toothpaste Lesson. OH, the fun of the Toothpaste Lesson! You may have seen this one floating around on Pinterest. The concept is simple - squirt a bunch of toothpaste out of tube and then ask a student to put it all back. Being the brilliant educator you are, you realize that this is virtually impossible. The point is to emphasize that the toothpaste represents our words. Once they come out, they're out for good! Yes, you can sorry, but you can't clean up the mess right away. Words hurt! 

My Tweeter of the Day posted this one for us. 

Once we had squeezed all the toothpaste out and tried putting it back we took some time to reflect. 


Next we made a list of expectations - what is okay for school and what is okay ANYWHERE else.

We had a very long discussion about the 'anywhere else' category. Some students were allowed to do these things outside of school and some weren't. That is why we talked extensively about following school expectations all of the time and leaving that other stuff outside of the classroom. 

Finally, to end on a positive, we talked about Bucket Fillers. 

This book, How Full is Your Bucket? is great! [purchase your copy here] I love this book because it discusses how you feel when your bucket is low. Which the kids connected back to the bad behavior. Some even said that when they've been picked on or left out they really don't care about getting 'into trouble'. This lead into a great conversation! 

We had a lot of fun brainstorming different ways to fill each others buckets. 

After 2 weeks of behavior lessons I'm confident that I will see changes in my students over the 2nd half of our year. 

Do you see these same behaviors in your room? How do you handle them? 
I can't wait to hear from you! 

Personal Learning Networks - Social Networking

Thursday, February 5, 2015 3 comments
This week my task was to try some new social network platforms and write a review. Our main focus was to find resources that would benefit diverse learners. 

Pinterest

This is my "go to" social network. I was first introduced to Pinterest in 2010 when a college professor showed our class, back when you had to be invited to join! Since then I have gained 693 followers, created 82 boards and pinned over 5,000 items - yes, I realize that I might be addicted. But you can't argue the functionality of Pinterest. It's easy to use, easy to find what you're looking for and easy to save all of your great ideas for the future. The majority of my boards are educational and I have started to create very specific boards to fill with resources for the different units I teach. 

You can view more of my boards by clicking here

As I continued my research I found many ways that you could use Pinterest in the classroom. Some of these ideas lend themselves better to secondary classrooms, but we could get creative and make it work in elementary. One of my favorite ways a teacher could use Pinterest in the classroom is for a presentation. Students would utilize the web to conduct research and then pin pictures to create a virtual pasteboard with captions underneath each pin. Read more about using Pinterest in the classroom here.

Next, I thought I would feature some of my favorite Pinners and the resources I found that would benefit diverse learners in my classroom.

First up is Laura Candler, if you don't follow her on Pinterest you need to - right now.

I started by exploring this board of hers, Multiple Intelligences Teaching Resources. Here I found a ton of valuable resources to meet the needs of all of my learners.

Next, I would like to share this awesome board that I found full of ideas for interventions for students with ADHD. You can view this board here.

Twitter

We are almost two full weeks into using Twitter in the classroom. I am finding that in my 2nd grade classroom my students are LOVING using Twitter. Each student gets a chance to have a day as 'Tweeter of the Day' [Read more about that here].

I'm finding that using Twitter in the classroom gives a voice to the quietest student in the classroom. Shy and quiet students are really coming out of their shell when they know that they are responsible for sharing what we are learning in our classroom. Also, by sending Tweets to our followers (parents, teachers, principals, etc.) students take on a stronger sense of responsibility when participating in the lesson - they know that they will need to be able to communicate what we just learned with our virtual audience.

Here's some Tweets from my 2nd Grade rockstars:


Here's a great article featuring the great things you can do with Twitter in your classroom. And if you're a visual learner, here's an awesome presentation on using Twitter in an elementary classroom (if only I had found this three weeks ago). 

View the presentation here

How do you use social networks in the classroom? 


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