Thursday, July 11, 2013

Vegas Baby!

I was traveling to the USA for the summer anyway when I discovered there was going to be a national teacher's conference in Vegas at the same time.  Why not? I thought and immediately registered.

Today was day one of the conference and it was, to quote Guiliana Rancic "amaze-balls."  Truly.  Here are just some snippets of my take-aways.

Marvelous Math Journals - Cyndi Giorgis, Ph.D.

Take Away 1:  Start off slowly and build towards using math journals.  Don't start on Day 1 and expect success.  It is a long process of increasing print awareness before students will be successful with journals.  Of course this all depends on your class.

Take Away 2:  Writing begins with reading.  (You're probably thinking "Well, duh"...but it's such an important concept I thought it deserved credit in print).

Take Away 3: 
Find the book Windblown by Edouard Manceau.  This adorable book has a TON of great uses and shows these windblown shapes that turn themselves into multiple animals.  Great math book (shapes, transformations, sequence) but also good for retell and science (hello, weather!).


Alphabet Activities in Kindergarten - Shari Sloane

Take Away 1:  Have a large easel alphabet chart for yourself and individual, matching alphabet charts for each of your students when reviewing daily letter names and sounds.  Later, progress to digraph/blends charts the same way.  Send them home to your parents as well!
Take Away 2:  Friday homework shares (or in my case Thursdays).  Have students partner share their homework once a week to two partners.  Then do a museum walk in the circle so all students have  a chance to see everybody's homework.  They then earn a sticker on their homework chart.  I think this will really help to get more participation with homework - kids would hate feeling left out if their was a weekly sort of celebration.
Take Away 3:  Get in the habit of having students share with partners for accountability.  Especially useful in completion of center activities.  "Tell a friend what letter you found and show them where it was."  Great for my ELL's for speaking. :)

Celebrate & Appreciate: Lyrics to Literacy - Debbie Clement

Take Away 1:  Be engaging!  She had such a high energy and had me laughing a lot.  The kids will eat it up.  I know this one is also obvious but sometimes it is so hard to bring in that high engagement when all you want is 5 espresso shots and/or 12 hours of sleep.
Take Away 2:  Sign language can be the common thread to bring multi-nationalities in a diverse ELL classroom together.  Some signs will also be helpful to communicate meanings like dream, book, read, sing.  Love the idea of the active participation sign language brings to stories and songs as well.

Super Sight Words -Lauren McCann

Take Away 1:  The Sight Word Song Recipe - commonly known songs that can be used specifically to sing with any 2, 3, or 4 letter word (depending on the song).  However she did caution to keep the song tune specific with one sight word so it would cue auditory learners to that specific word.  One thing I did not agree with:  she kept spelling "me" as "M and E".  My ELL's would get seriously confused if I used "and" to spell the word - they might think there were 3 letters!
Take Away 2:  Pair words with actions that make sense.  For example, when spelling eat make eating motions and/or munching sounds to go with the word.
Take Away 3:  Discovering letter formations can be done through many tactile ways including using pipe cleaners for round area of letters and attaching them to popsicle sticks for straight areas.

Ron Clark

Take Away 1:  What you exert in the classroom will return to you.  If you are only giving 10 percent, expect 10 percent from your students.  High energy will create enormous buy in with your students.
 Take Away 2:  It's important to foster a close community among parents, educators, and students.  Make sure your students are seeing you engaged in fun ways with your colleagues.  Make jokes together, hug, laugh.  Tell them you are family and have each other's back when someone says something negative.  Which brings me to...
Take Away 3:  You cannot "fuss" at a child until you have built a connection with them that shows them you truly care, love and respect them.  Otherwise the fussing will show as belittling and do nothing to help their self-esteem.  Besides, it will make you feel as low as dog poo afterwards (that's from me, not Ron Clark).
Take Away 4:  Even Ron Clark has days when he wants to quit and not get out of bed for the day.  Even Ron Clark has had days where parents complain about unfairness or other teachers complain about how he is teaching in their classroom and showing them up.  But sometimes, he said, you just have to close your door and do what you know is best for the children.
Take Away 5:  Not every child needs (or deserves) awards.  This one I whole-heartedly agree with.  Too many times I've seen co-workers who at the end of each semester want to give every child a certificate.  But we are not fostering the desire for high achievement and earning awards/rewards if we are coddling children and just handing them something for doing nothing.  Not every child on the little league team needs a trophy.  Not every child in your class should get the reward for doing the work - it is not based on effort.  It is based on their result.  I grew up not always getting a certificate or award and it made me work harder to try to get it for next time.
Take Away 6:  Always set the bar high and the children will reach to achieve it.  But do not set the bar on the top level and say "good luck" while you stand back and hope the mat will break their fall.  Give them the tools for success to reach the top.  This is what teaching is all about.
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I think I could go on and on but it is now quite late.  There is another full day tomorrow plus...
Super excited!  Hope I can get some sleep.

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