Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Our new Hue HD Camera

Recently, my students and I were fortunate enough to connect with Hue and try out their HD document camera and stop motion animation kit. Before our exploration of this new tool, I knew nothing about stop animation other than what it actually was. I had no idea how the motion films were created, how exciting it was to create films using stop animation, or what all went into creating such a project. Was it hard? Easy? Could this be something that my 5th graders could do without me?

When our kit came in, I opened it up and installed the software super quick. I love how easy it is to plug the camera in the laptop. This means that we can take the camera and laptop anywhere in the room, building, or school with no problem! I played around with it at home just to feel comfortable enough to show my kiddos how to run everything, and then I brainstormed a list of ways that we could use this tool in the classroom. 

*Content specific short films
*How-To videos
*Student modeling of understanding/explanation
*The list could go on and on......

The kit not only came with the document camera ,but it also came with an idea book that showed different types of stop animation film ideas. We spent our first class period just watching the example animation films included in the software and reading through the guide book. The students selected which types of stop animation were their favorite (talking fruit, grass skating, sticky notes, etc.), and we voted on which version we would attempt first. 

After showing the kiddos the basics of the program and the camera, we split into teams. 5 teams were in charge of graphics. One team was the production crew, another was in charge of music, and
the last was the tech crew.  

Even though this was our first time doing anything like this, I put the kiddos completely in control. I didn't help with the ideas, make big suggestions, or even select the music. EVERYTHING was done by my kiddos, and it only took two days(one day for exploring and brainstorming and one day for creating). 

The students worked amazingly with the Hue HD camera, the software, and the whole project in general. They were begging for more, but school ends tomorrow! They asked if they could come back and train next year's class! Of course! I think that would be neat. 

Here is the video that the kiddos made. For their first time, I was really impressed. Yes, there are a few grammatical errors, BUT it is a student project led by students. Bringing this new document camera and stop animation software into our class has really helped me see all of the different directions that we can go with our Hue HD document camera in the future!


Want to check out Hue? Visit them here

Saturday, May 14, 2016

I'm Not Ready...to Say Goodbye

I know that summer is getting close for many teachers and students. 

Many of us are just days away from the end of the year.

But, I am NOT ready to say goodbye. 

This happens every year. There are countdowns, end-of-the-year celebrations. Parties. And, I am just barely holding it together. I don't want to do countdowns. 

I don't want to celebrate saying goodbye. I don't do goodbyes well. 

Each year, these students become my family, and I am not ready to send them on.

I literally could cry if I really let myself think about just how much time I actually have left with my students. 

This year has been magical. 

It has been beautiful. 

The new grade level has been challenging. 

Some days I thought that I was the worst teacher in the world and other days I felt we had it going on!

Did I mention that this year was magical?

I don't want it to end. 

I love these students. I am going to miss them writing on our message board. 

I am going to miss our morning meetings...

the crazy, random things they would say..

the conversations...

the lessons we learned together.

I am going to miss the hugs,

the smiles, 

the successes and the failures, 

the moments where they overcame fears, 

and accomplished amazing things.

Yes, there are lots of things about this year's 5th grade class that I will miss. 

But, above the sadness is something bigger. 

I am PROUD! 

I am so proud of every single one of the 43 kiddos who were a part of our classroom this year. 

I look back and reflect on the year and cannot help but be so stinking excited about everything that they have accomplished. 

These kiddos are rockstars, and they are going to do BIG things in the future. 

They are going places!

And, it has been an honor to be their teacher and a part of their educational journey. 

These kiddos have touched my heart and for that....I am forever grateful. 

The end of the school year is not goodbye. It is just the end of one small part of their adventure. 

Until we meet again kiddos. I love you all. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Our Donors Choose Project for Book Clubs

Recently, my students and I put together a new project on our Donors Choose page. Just like our last project, the idea was completely created by my kiddos. The only thing I did was locate the books on Amazon and help type up their plan. 

Our book club dream actually grew from our AMAZING Global Read Aloud experience that we participated in this year. As a class, we read the book Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt. After the book was finished, the students begged for more. They had enjoyed the discussions, the shared reading, collaborating together on tasks and reflections, and wanted to do it again. 

Here is an overview of our project incase you are looking to write your own Donors Choose request!

Book Clubs: Embarking On A New Reading Adventure

My Students

"Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark."- Kate DiCamillo As the school year matures, my students are finding that they enjoy discussing and sharing books with each other. However, only having one copy of some of their favorite books can be a challenge! 
My students are readers! Our class is about 40 students strong.
We are a community. We are family. We work together, learn together, succeed together and support one another. These students are eager to learn and appreciate the opportunity that learning and education brings them. They love reading about adventures, connecting with characters from the stories, learning about important life lessons and discussing what they are reading with their peers. They are bright individuals who desire the opportunity to express what they are feeling during and after they read a book. 

My Project

As our classroom matures as learners, it is evident that this young group of readers is desiring a way to connect with one another when they are reading. We will be using the books purchased with this project to create classroom literature circles. Students will get to choose which books they want to read and will be able to collaborate with their lit circles through conversation. Students can help each other understand and interpret text. Because of the wide variety of books in this project, students will have a choice and a say in their learning experience. Through this project, students will be reading and working together through literature circles with other students who share similar reading interest. The literature circles will provide them with deeper engagement, meaningful experiences, and guided decision-making. These new book resources will provide the students in our class with powerful learning experiences that are tailored to meet their needs and interests. 
There is so much power to be found when students are in control of their learning experiences.
By being able to purchase sets of novels for our classroom, we will be able to create book clubs/literature circles that will allow students to meet in small groups to discuss the stories, adventures, relationships, connections, and life lessons, that can be found in these stories, with one another. It is the key to unlocking more of the magic behind reading and letting students soar to success.

                                          Here are pictures of the books we selected for this project. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Innovator's Mindset Book Study

Every once in a while, I read an educational/professional development book that just rocks me to my core. The ideas, critical thinking, puzzlement, affirmation, ah-hah moments, and personal growth experiences that stem from reading a solid piece of literature is just so juicy! When moments like this occur, I can't hold it in! I have to share the book out to the world.

That my dear educator friends is why I have decided that my latest juicy read was SO phenomenal that I wanted to do a group/collaborative book study on it. When a friend and colleague recommended the book The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros, I bought it, read it, then FREAKED OUT and read it two more times.

Innovation is a term that is tossed around like confetti, is often misunderstood, and yet so needed and vital to our education system. Mr. Couros has done an exceptional job of pinpointing the need for innovation in education and to make learning an experience that is relevant and meaningful to every.single.student. He stresses the need to create a vision of what learning for your students could be and then the importance of following through and making it happen in the classroom.

He doesn't ask you to recreate the wheel or step outside of the box. Mr. Courus encourages you to work with what you have and make "it" happen so that your students are growing as learners, learning experiences are tailored for each student, and you are challenging yourself and your students to take ideas/experiences and make them better.

I cannot wait to see where this book study takes us! As of March 23rd, we have over 60 educators signed up for this course. We have a private Facebook group started, will be participating in slow Twitter chats, and a few Blab shows. It is going to be EPIC, and we would love to have you join us! If you are interested, please try to jump in by March 28th! 

You can grab the book here. 

Want to sign up?
Fill out the Google Form. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Importance of Fostering a Love for Reading

As the school year continues to fly by, I have been reflecting on some of my favorite parts of my new experience in 5th grade this year. Hands down, the reading community that my students have built is my absolute favorite part of this year. Helping build a reading community has really helped me reaffirm just how vital loving/enjoying reading can be to our youth and how lucky I was to find my love for reading at a young age. My parents read to me all the time growing up. My mom, who is a preschool teacher, has always encouraged me to read, explore books, and appreciate a good story. I am the avid reader that I am today because of the reading opportunities and encouragement that I had in my youth.

I know that not everyone has parents who love to read or have role models who have encouraged them to read so helping students embark on their own reading journey has been one of my missions this year. 

As I prepared for this year, there was no question in my mind that reading was going to be vital part of my classroom as an educator. As a second grade teacher, I provided read to self as a center during our rotations. I did an afternoon read aloud(usually from a chapter book), and read poetry or a trade book to the kiddos every morning during our morning meeting. Looking back, I see that there was SO MUCH MORE that I could have done, but exposing students to all types of reading experiences was a great start.

Our reading looks very different in 5th grade this year. Whether you are a passionate reading advocate like myself or are looking for ideas on how to incorporate more reading opportunities into the classroom, or need some convincing on WHY reading could be THE NEXT BIG THING for you and your kiddos then you have come to the right place.

When I refer to reading in this post, I am not talking about teaching students how to read or reading comprehension. I will save that for another day. No, this post is all about how to get students to READ and enjoy doing it. Here are my whys, whats, and hows for growing young readers' passion for BOOKS! These ideas are simple and meant to help you brainstorm your own ideas. :)

Why Create A classroom Community of Readers?
Reading should be enjoyable. Truly. I firmly believe that every student can fall in love with reading. It shouldn't be forced. Students should be so obsessed reading that they literally can't put books down. For many, that passion doesn't happen over night. But, there is so much power behind reading text of all kinds. Help students LOVE reading, but let them discover it. Don't force it.

Building relationships is key when helping students, of any age, foster a love for reading. Placing a book in a child's hand is not the answer. Taking the time to build relationships with your students, learn what they are interested in, reading to them, with them, taking reading interest surveys, and never giving up on finding the "right" book or "THE" topic is a step in the right direction. We learn how love the smell of a book, appreciate the way a book feels when we hold it in our hands, and unleash excitement over new reading material.

Book talks are my JAM! Some of my most favorite moments as an educator have come from the reading conversations that I have with my students about the books that we are reading in class. This scenario is quite common in our classroom now-->

"Mrs. Cooper, I don't know what to read next."-S, "Okay, let's sit in the library and I will pull out some books that might interest you. What are you in the mood to read? Action? Adventure? Mystery?"-Me.

Or, here is another conversation that has become a weekly occurrence.

"Mrs. Cooper!!!! I just finished reading Roller Girl. You have GOT to read it! You can borrow my copy if you want! "-S, "Oooo! Tell me what it is about." -Me.

When I purchase new books for the classroom, we ALWAYS sit down in a group as class and talk about the new books going on the shelves. Whether it is watching a book trailer on the new books, listening to me share about the book, having a student who has already read it share, or just reading the jacket cover; we talk about the books and really focus on getting excited about the new stories/information that is being added to the shelves. Each new resource is new information, new adventures, new experiences and building that anticipation and excitement is just part of the reading fun!

Building Student Created Reading Spaces
There are so many awesome ways that I see teachers implementing spaces for readers to share what they are reading. From doors that have book displays to book stands and reading shelf tags; the possibilities are endless. Our classroom adopted the idea of a reading graffiti wall this year, and it has quickly become a student favorite! Our reading graffiti wall is a space for students to share quotes from books that spoke to them in some way. In order to add a quote, the students must have a "quote chat" with me, they share the quote with the class, and then they write it on the wall. The "quote chat" allows the student to run the quote by me and we talk about why the quote spoke to them. They share the quote with the class because the quotes they pick are powerful and many students can usually relate to the message behind the quote. It also gives the students an opportunity to share why it was important to them and encourages other students to read the same book!

This is just a small peek into my reflections on building a classroom community of readers. A lot of my ideas have stemmed from reading The Book Whisper and Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller.

Reading is a powerful tool. Are you tapping into it?