I LOVE to do lists. Even though they can be quite frustrating (it seems like I'm adding to it more than I'm checking things off most of the time...) to see how much I have to do, the feeling I get when I can check something off of the list is amazing! I'm constantly trying to find more effective ways to help me remember what I need to do and what I'd like to get done.
I'm sure that many of you, like me, have many lists going at once. There's the one on my desk at school, the one in my planner, the notebook on my kitchen counter, the notes typed quickly into the memo app on my phone....and then there's always the occasional item or two scribbled on my "palm pilot" (read, the back of my hand).
In a course I am taking this summer, I learned about a google tool that I am excited to use and excited to tell you about it so you can check it out too! While logged into your google account, go to keep.google.com. The beauty of this is that where ever you are you can log into your account and see these notes you've written. You can even get an app for your android or iphone! These notes can be organized by color, you can add a picture to the top of it, you can create lists, or write down something that you need to remember. If you have written something that you would like to put into a document, you can do that with a couple clicks. If you'd like to share information or an idea with another person, you can do that. If you'd like to organize your notes and lists by category labels, you can do that too! It is such a flexible tool!
As you are getting ready for a new school year, check this tool out. I know I am! I'm looking forward to not having to keep track of my paper lists this year! Thank you Google! I might be able to see what color my desk is a little more often this year. :) ;)
I started using Seesaw in my classroom at the beginning of this school year. As an early childhood special education teacher, I wasn't entirely sure the best way for me to use it with my students.
At first I used it to show parents what their child was doing at school. I took pictures and captioned it with what they were doing. The parents loved being involved in class in this way. So many of them would love to volunteer in the classroom, but know that their child isn't ready for them to do that yet. More recently, I have branched out using the draw function in Seesaw to do letter traces and picture/recording activities where students get to pick their favorite (fill in the blank) and record over the picture to label it verbally.
This week I tried something I saw online and it has worked really well. A talking alphabet! It has been a hit so far and I think is going to become a more regular activity for us. I'm so excited!
This week we are talking about the letter "X." I cut out two strips of construction paper so students could use them to make the letter "X." I would have used my handwriting without tears materials, but I wanted some color to help make it more interesting.
Once they had made an "X" with the construction paper strips, we opened ChatterPix and took a picture. The student drew a mouth and then we started to record. Some of my students were able to practice a couple of times with me and then record "I am a X. I make the sound /ks/ /ks/." Some of my students needed me to prompt them while we were recording. Others needed prompts more along the line of:
Teacher: I am a
Teacher: I say
This can be adapted in so many ways! Once done recording, there are sticker options to decorate your picture. After the letter was decorated, I exported it to my camera roll and then uploaded it to the student's Seesaw folder so they can watch it at home and show their parents.
Everyone LOVED creating their talking letter and playing it back.
Click on the picture below to see the example I made for my students.
Have fun making your alphabet talk!! :)
Over the summer I got an email from my dad about this coding robot that had been developed for children ages 4-7 years old. It's called KIBO and it is made by KinderLab Robotics. It looked really cool and like something that would be a great adult led group activity for my preschoolers. So, I did some research.
Our school has 3 preschool classrooms. Two classrooms are similar to the Head Start program and one is an early childhood special education classroom. I came back to school in August and talked to my team and we decided that we wanted to try to get one or two of these KIBOs. With their blessing, I wrote a grant through our county and we were able to purchase one. Our PTA helped us buy another. So, now we have 2 KIBOs and are starting to brainstorm fun ways to introduce them to our preschoolers and use them in class.
One of the things we are talking about this week is the letter D and when you talk about the letter D you need to talk about dinosaurs too :), right? I set up one of our KIBOs and put the stage attachment on it, then I taped a toy dinosaur on top and we got started!
I explained to them that when we are telling KIBO what to do, we always need to start our block line with green for go and end our block line with red for stop. We took turns picking what we wanted KIBO to do and adding it to our block line. We scanned our block line with KIBO and then we watched our dinosaur dance!
The kids LOVED it! We had fun taking turns pressing the button to make the dinosaur dance.
Have you heard of Seesaw? It is a diverse app that is great to use in the classroom...or really for anyone who works with groups of children. I can see this being a very useful tool for coaches, babysitters, daycare centers, and even adult care facilities.
Seesaw has an Ambassador program that teachers can apply to be a part of. I have applied, completed training, and am now an Ambassador for Seesaw! I am so excited to be able to learn more about this app that I have enjoyed using in my classroom this year and to be able to share that knowledge with other teachers. Let me know if you would like to learn more about Seesaw or if you're already using it and have questions I'm glad to help!
Click HERE to access a referral link that will give you an additional 30 days (for a total 90 days) FREE trial of Seesaw Plus. You can use this link whether you are setting up a new Seesaw account or you already have one.
As a preschool special education teacher, I change a lot of diapers. In my classroom we use a disposable liner so we can quickly get the changing table ready for the next child. Like most teachers I am always trying to find a way to make the money I spend for my classroom last as long as it can. Sometimes it means getting a little creative.
When I first began searching for changing table paper I found most of these were very thin rolls that needed to be replaced often. They also are not cheap. One day as I was doing my shopping at Costco, I found a thick roll of white butcher paper. It is about as wide as one of those classic Kindergarten rest mats and a couple rolls of this paper will last the whole school year for me most years. The best part? They are only $14.99 per roll! If you're in need of inexpensive changing table paper, check it out the next time you're in Costco. In my Costco it is located in the same area as the cleaning supplies/laundry detergent.
Last week I told you how excited I was to have Reflector 2 installed on my classroom computer. We have had a lot of fun playing iPad apps together as a class using this computer program. I can take the iPad student to student and have them do the activity giving them the help they need as individuals. At the same time, the rest of the class can clearly see what we're working on, so everyone is involved!
I found an app called Curious World made by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt that is Curious George themed but has so, so much more. It has a similar set up to Amazon Kindle Fire's Freetime with games, videos, and books. In order to get the most out of it, you will need to have a subscription which is under $10 a month. They do have a free trial period available for you to check it out.
We've been having fun with it in our classroom :)
You might find this blog helpful if you are looking for a way for your learners to practice their spelling words in an interactive way using the A+ Spelling test app (iPad).
In the school district I work in, we have ITRTs (Itinerant Technology Resource Teachers). These teachers do not have a homeroom classroom. They travel throughout the county and help teachers integrate technology into their classrooms. They're a HUGE help and a great source of information.
I recently got an iPad to start to explore what apps are available to compliment what we do in my classroom. I have found that there are so many awesome apps out there!
Last week I was using the iPad to read a story about winter I found in an app. My students were crowding in trying to see as we read it together and I thought, "Man, there's got to be a way to connect this so it will project onto my SmartBoard." I did a google search and sure enough, I found many ways that I could accomplish this. A couple emails back and forth with one of our ITRTs and I found out there is a program our district already uses; Reflector 2--Even better!
An ITRT was able to come out yesterday and install this onto the desktop that is connected to our SmartBoard projector and with a couple of easy steps my iPad is mirrored wirelessly onto my computer screen, so when my SmartBoard is turned on, it is also mirrored on the SmartBoard. (Note: In order to use Reflector 2 your computer and your iPad need to be able to use the same wireless network)
We have had a LOT of fun with this yesterday afternoon and today. It has been great! It allows me to do whole group activities using the iPad and everyone can easily see what is on the screen. I have students in my classroom who have mobility challenges. It allows them to more easily participate in group activities in the same exact way their peers are participating in the activity. Today we were playing a letter tracing game on the iPad that was projected up on the SmartBoard screen. We took turns tracing the letters on the iPad by passing it around the circle (with adult help...remember, 2-5 year olds here). While students were waiting for their turn to trace they could answer questions about what letter was displayed and what sound each letter makes. As I went around the group with the iPad I had the ability/flexibility to work with each student one on one to trace their letter.
I can't wait to explore more ways for me to use this in my classroom!
Pictures of the SmartBoard while using Reflector 2 to mirror my iPad to explore interactive images of Antarctica from the Google Expeditions app.
My Teacher Hat
I am a teacher in a preschool special education classroom. My classroom serves students ages 2-5 years old.