Friday, January 23, 2015

Busy Weeks aren't as Bad as You Think...

Quick thoughts from our first full week back in the classroom since December (no delays, no snow days...just me and a bunch of five-year-olds).

  • Martin Luther King Day was on Monday, and while we talked about him multiple times this week, the bulk of our discussion was on the actual day. I introduced Dr. King to my kiddos with a BrainPop Jr. video talking about his life and what he stood for. It was a great choice. The video hit on the serious talking points about MLK and his life, but did it in a cartoony way that the kids loved. While they enjoyed Moby and Annie, the room was pretty silent as they were taking it all in. I would stop the video every now and then to simplify some main ideas, and draw comparisons or try to draw out some background knowledge. Afterward, we read a book, The Crayon Box That Talked, where the crayons don't like each other at the beginning because they are different colors, but work together in the end to make a beautiful picture. The kids made the connections very quickly. Then we did this journal page, where students told what their dreams were:
Upper Left: "My dream is that my family could always be together." Upper Right: "My dream is that everybody would share." Lower Left: "My dream is that everybody would have food." Lower Right: "My dream is that everyone would share their toys."

I left school on Monday believing that, (contrary to what I think sometimes after a high school tennis practice), the future of our nation does not look so bleak after all. Every kid provided an answer that gave me a glimpse into their giving and caring hearts. Five-year-olds are awesome.
  • I have been reading so much about coding in the classroom recently, and I wanted to give it a try. Setting up an iPad station, I introduced my kiddos to the game Kodable, which teaches them the basics of computer programming. According to numerous articles, coding can help develop problem solving and critical thinking skills. It also provides opportunities for collaboration while helping them develop some computational thinking skills that will inevitably be necessary for the future. I was unsure of how my group would take to it, but they loved it. By the end of the week, they were working pretty independently, using trial and error to navigate characters through the levels. Some of them were very successful with it. I was glad that I could bring coding into my classroom, and expose my kids to it.
  • I started using GoNoodle in my classroom this week. GoNoodle ( is a website that helps teachers find and compile videos for brain breaks to be used in their classroom. It is very user friendly, and it has a great collection of videos on it already. As a teacher, it's nice to have a website where I can show my students videos, and not worry about the advertisements and junk surrounding it. The Koo Koo Kangaroo! videos are our favorites so far, but it will let me show videos from YouTube as well, so Big Block SingSong videos are coming...
  • Thursday of this week was our 100th day of school this year. It's hard to believe that we are already 100 days in, and it's hard for me to believe how much these kids have grown, and how much they've learned. We are definitely on the down-hill part of this year's journey, and we have a long way to go, but it's been a blast so far!

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