Thursday, July 2, 2015

Front Row seats PLEASE!

Here's a confession, I love to go see live music. I am married to a musician, and live in Music City, so luckily, our opportunity to go to concerts happen quiet often! 

I don't know about you, but if I'm going to a concert, I try to get front row seats, or at least try to sneak as close to the front that I can get if it's open seating. I was thinking about this when I started using Front Row in the classroom.

That's when my own real world experience hit me. . .maybe some of my students aren't getting everything they need because I can't always be there, front and center during independent/station learning time. I have rotations during math time, and this works great for our technology piece. We have 5 laptops that we are able to use in our class, but I also used this when I was in Kindergarten with 1 iPad! 

When I first stumbled upon Front Row - my mind automatically thought, "I have to share this!"

Let me introduce you to my favorite math rockstar: 

Students are getting quality differentiated common core instruction that is adaptive to their learning path. There is also a reteach option, videos, and other tools to help students meet their learning targets. The cool thing is this is a game! The "Piggy Store" where they can use the coins they make from answering correct answers to "buy" items for the cartoon pig. NOW it's very important to set your expectations before letting them play! If a child just clicks around and gets most wrong, they will still get SOME points but will have to do more problems like the first set, until they have shown mastery.

The REALLY awesome thing from a teachers standpoint is...DATA! I get a report for everyone and even an email from the Front Row team weekly. I can see who is struggling, who can be used as peer tutors, etc. Also, it can be used on computers or iPads!

I really suggest you and your grade level team sign up and check it out before setting the kids loose! DID I MENTION IT'S FREE? Also, parents can get updates as well.
Here is the video that I suggest you show the students before you start:

We had a long conversation about how independent works before everyone moved on.

I created this freebie for our end of the year review, looking back I will probably edit this to be more appealing and weekly based on what we are reviewing or learning that week. Let me know if you use Front Row in your classroom!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Using QR codes

I have used QR codes before - I have one on my resume that takes you to my digital teacher portfolio. I also used them in a sixth grade classroom, allowing students to make their own QR codes that linked back to a webpage they created. I have never considered using them in kindergarten, until I attended a district technology training. I started researching it and saw the independent benefits for my students. My goal is to have center work be fun, engaging, but also have something that holds the students accountable for their work.

It seemed easy enough so, the first thing that I did was search TPT for freebies under my grade level:

After we received our class iPad from our Donorchoose project we started using the iPad every chance we got in the classroom. Since we already do math center rotation, I just added this as another incentive for great listening skills in whole group. 
Students working with QR Codes in small group rotations

How do students use QR codes in my classroom? 

1. Get a record sheet.
2. Take off the camera cover.
3. use QR code app to scan the code and then record your answer. (You can search on the APP store for QR code scanner, I use QRReader).
4. Record your answer. 
5. Repeat, follow iPad rules, & have fun.

It's honestly that easy. I print the different center record sheets front to back so there is a chance for students to move to another baggie of questions if they are an early finisher. 

THEY BEG FOR THIS CENTER in both Reading & Math! 

These are easy to differentiate and put in different color bags. 

The QR code games shown in the pictures above come from one of my favorite bloggers:

Mr. Greg over at the smorgasboard has created so many great resources already that I always checked there first this year before creating something. I was so thankful I didn't have to recreate the wheel everytime. His products are alined with Common Core standards and he creates some of the best products on TPT that I've seen lately. He's also a local, TN blogger, and pretty much my blogging idol. Rockstar Teacher ALERT! :) 

There are more out there that we have used but here are 2 of our favorites: 

Bloomin' Subtraction QR Code FREEBIE!

Watch Mr. Greg's video about QR codes:

How do you use QR Codes or the iPad in your classroom? 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

I'm Back...

I honestly don't know how rockstar teachers have time to blog! Blogger teachers are my role models.

So, where has this teacher been you might be wondering?

I have found myself in a kindergarten classroom, teaching and learning with 17 creative and energetic kinders this year. Mrs. T's Travelers have "traveled" to many different places this year. I cannot believe that it is almost Spring Break, can you? What are you planning to do for Spring Break?

Since I last left you all, I have had many life changes. I was very lucky to join an AMAZING school & I got married (it was at one of the happiest places on Earth and yes, I surprised my husband with Stormtroopers!). Lots of good things happening in my life right now and I feel really blessed. 
My first Friday in kindergarten,
 Date night: cleaning and organizing! 
Healthy "Candy Corn" Snack
Masterpiece Museum 
May the Force be With Us! 
Enough about me (for now...) What's been happening in my classroom?

I have started a donorchoose for my classroom. Right now, we are in need of an iPad. This would change the way we learn in many ways. With an iPad, I can be in 2 places at one time. I can record instruction and allow students to use the iPad to explore centers, games, and learning projects. I am excited by the donations that are coming. If you feel like you'd like to donate please do! My students are excited with updates about donations that have been coming in. 

UPDATE: WE MET OUR GOAL! Thank you, thank you, thank you for all who donated. I have already paid it forward and donated to another project that was almost at their goal!

Help us meet our goal:

Do you use iPads in your classroom? If so, do you think they make a difference in your student's growth? 

Interesting articles to read about iPads for kinders: 

iPads can help improve literacy scores:

iPads for every student:

Thanks for stopping by, 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Teamwork Bingo

I incorporated "Classroom Bingo" (I borrowed this idea from's "TEAMWORK BINGO." You can find more about it here: Ladybug's Teaching Files), in second grade last year. I still love this idea and would like to do something like this again. 

We "played" this bingo game as an entire class. Our prize was a Rocking Reading Party - including popcorn, reading, dancing, music, and gifts! Once we gained all the points needed. . .we set our party date and it was as easy as that! (You don't have to do a party, you could do Extra Recess/No Homework, etc.)

At our party, each student got to take home a book that they shopped for. (Yes, I have a stockpile of unopened school supplies and free/cheap/donated pictures books.)

The students were hyped on good behavior vibes (and juice boxes) that day! I saw many showing off their books at dismissal.

One of my favorite things about the book shop that we set up was that the kids had a chance to pick out their own book. It was something they could take home and share. One student I thought for sure was going to pick out a sports book, picked out Good Night Gorilla, which he told me he intended to read to his sibling. Maybe that will spark an interest in her to become interested in books! Young leaders paying it forward! - Woo Hoo!

I have seen other similar cute ideas like the Brownie Points board. But the Bingo was fun and was as simple as printing out the free material, throwing the bingo board on a clipboard and the numbers in a brown paper baggie. I kept track of BINGO points on the whiteboard. At the end of the day I picked someone's name stick to draw the numbers.

Get the Free Printable from CFClassroom: Teamwork Bingo Whole Class FREEBIE

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Common Core Bookmarks

Williamson County Schools - 

WCS hosted an open forum in the community and posted answered to questions on this site. 

Even if you are not a teacher, student, or parent within Williamson County (TN), Dr. Mike Looney, Superintendent, opens up on how Common Core will change schools.  

This list was useful for me to start seeing how administration and parents are reacting to Common Core and it's a useful site to look at and bookmark. 

Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything- 

Everything (may I repeat, EVERYTHING) Common Core related for many different grades.
Lots and lots  of rubrics!

The Curriculum Corner - 

Oh, Curriculum Corner, how I love thee! Breaking down Common Core into teachable checklists, for most grades and subjects.

You've won my heart again because I love a good, "I Can..." printable list.

Pinterest - 

I try to keep the pinterest site updated with new ideas and you can find whatever you're looking for through search. I DO try and go to each page before I pin it to check for accuracy and usefulness.

Core Standards - 

For more information about the actual standards:

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What does our classroom sound like? Wrap Up.

What you can expect to hear when you enter a class I'm teaching in:

I hope you've enjoyed learning about how I use music in the classroom. This poster also showcases other ways I incorporate sound. I use interviews for author studies, we love BrainPopJr videos, Skype sessions with people who use math and other skills on a professional level. Students use iPads or computers to record their own review for lessons.

If there's one thing that you take away from this blog series, it's this: STUDENTS SHOULD BE TALKING IN THE CLASSROOM. Are they talking about what movies they saw last weekend? They can be! What about a graphing exercise that involves their favorite things to start the day.

I know there is a time and place for students to talk. I incorporate opportunities for students to talk as much as possible. Small groups, turn and talk, picking sticks and calling names, scavenger hunts, whole group conversations, etc. Students are talking to each other, to me, other adults, and even themselves (whisper phones) in the classroom. The music and other things are just supplements to assist in lessons.

I want them talking to me and each other so I can hear what they are learning. This also helps me take an informal assessment of students meeting their learning targets.  If students are able to teach someone else what they've learned, they are interested in the subject and have met their learning targets. Most students love to talk and will  jump at the opportunity and freedom to do this.  

I hope you have enjoyed seeing how I use sound in the classroom. I am always interested in hearing feedback from others.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What does the classroom sound like? Part III

Part Three: Get Up, Move On -  Transition Playlist

Confession: transitions are tricky for subs.

Imagine yourself in this situation:

It's time to move onto another activity. You don't know the classroom procedures. There is an attention-getter list on the board but one of the early arrives told you that their teacher never uses it. What do you do?

A. Clap a pattern and wait for students to clap back.
B. Turn off the lights.
B. Scream, "holy moly" at the top of your lungs in hopes that someone screams back, "guacamole."
C. Explain and model your expectations and introduce your attention-getter as soon as you can.

I try to talk to students as soon as we meet and explain my attention-getter (I learned it from my rockstar cooperative teacher during student teaching). I use a countdown. I say, "We have a lot of fun things to do today and just enough time to get it done. We need to work together to help each other stay on task. Thumbs up if you think you can help me stay on task today." Students are excited about the challenge. If I'm ever off task, they remind me!

I explain the countdown:
 "When I say 5, I need your voices off." - I hold up my hand with 5 fingers
"When I say 4, I need your eyes on me." - I hold up 4 fingers
"Please, do not wait until I get down to 0 to give me your attention. That is wasting our time. If you waste the time from class, you owe me minutes at recess. Do you think this is fair?"
I then open up discussion for students to quickly bounce ideas off of. Most students agree it is fair because they really need time in the classroom.

This whole explanation takes about 30 seconds and saves me tons of instructional time in the long run.

Let's move on to the music...

I get student's attention by starting the countdown and saying sometime like, "by the end of this 60 second song you should be finished cleaning up your center, back at your desk with a piece of paper and pencil out, and you should be reading silently. We will start our spelling test afterwards." "READY, SET, WALK."  I then start the music.

Transition Playlist

Album: This song is on many different Disney soundtracks
Song: The Enchanted Tiki Room

Album: Rockabye Baby's Lullaby Rendition of Elvis
Song: Hound Dog, All Shook Up, etc.

Album: Mine is from a Walt Disney World Soundtrack but I believe you can find it elsewhere
Song: The Ballad of Davy Crockett

This is a fun one for students of all ages. It also gives me a chance to tell kids that Davy Crockett is from Tennessee, some know and others don't. I like to hear what they know about him.

Artist: Sesame Street Cast & Will-I-Am
Song: What I Am
Will-I-Am, again? A fourth grader suggested this song to me and it's a fun one for all ages.

Final Thought: While I love music, I don't always use music for transitions. If students are going to spend 1-2 minutes for example, I wouldn't use music to transition from whole group to center work but I would use it if students were doing a craft activity with glue, paper, and the whole kitchen sink all over the desk!  All you crafty parents and teachers know what I'm talking about! :) 

I also try to keep transition time to the very least amount of time possible.

I'm sure there are many other songs out there that get the kids moving. I've heard some Yo Gabba Gabba songs that sound promising. I am open to anything that will help students get up, get moving, and moving on to another activity.

What do you use to help get your students motivated to transition from activities?
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