Saturday, May 2, 2015

Reading Out Loud...My Choice

This week my sub gig takes a different twist.  I will be a full-time sub, filling in for a teacher who is due to have a baby at any moment!  I am excited for her, mostly because it is her first baby.  I recall how scary and yet wonderful that was all at once.

I am excited for me, mostly because I started the year out in a fourth grade classroom and now I will get to end the year in another fourth grade classroom!

One of the tasks I have been given is to pick a book for a read aloud.  Well, crumbs that I only have about three weeks to be with these kiddos.  I would LOVE to read all 8 of these books to them.

I am not sure, any of these books may have all ready been read aloud this school year.  When I get to class, I am thinking about having the students vote on their top three favorites.  I will do a book review on each.  Maybe a "Mad Minute" teaser about each book.  

However, on Thursday, I listened to a story on NPR about reading the Harry Potter series.    

I love this introduction to the article, "New research suggests that school kids who read and identify with Harry Potter display more positive attitudes toward people from disadvantaged groups."

If that isn't a compelling reason to read HP out loud, I'm not sure what is!  I know that as a teacher, I would love to inspire my students to read over the summer months.  Last summer I did my master's thesis on summer reading loss.  I might have to rig the kids votes so Harry Potter is number one.  It's only been 17 years since I've read book one, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.  The classroom teacher, for whom I will be filing in, is having a boy...hmmm...The boy who lived?....THIS could be FUN!!!  


Friday, February 6, 2015

Using Apps in School and Hands-On Problem Solving


I'm totally into using new technology in the classroom.  But, I also think hands-on problem solving is a must for today's students.

This morning I was a sub back at my old stomping grounds.  I had anticipated subbing the whole day and had failed to see it was just a half-day gig.  No fourth graders were just a hallway away!

After I finished subbing, checking in with the school secretary (told her where I'd be if they needed more help),  I was able to help with a little prep for my former student's next week.  I was allowed to play a fractions game with some of my former math students.  I was also able to touch base with what my former students are currently studying.  The coolest thing I did though...learned first-hand how a new app works.  My mentor teacher finds AMAZING resources!  Today the students shared! with me.

This app is a source in which a computer is used to launch questions on a big/main screen.  Students (and it could be anyone really) use another computer, an iPad or a smart phone to log into the app.  There are a set number of questions to answer and as many players, as able or around, can join the game.  The administrators (whoever has written or is launching the quiz) has control of various parameters: names of players, number of players and when to go to the next question.

When the game starts, questions are asked one at a time on the big/main screen.  There is Jeopardy style music...which definitely adds to the fun! Players use their phone/iPad, computer to answer the questions.  Imagine you are looking at a Simon game on your phone (etc)...four primary colors, representing four possibly answers.  After everyone has answered the question, one can tell instantly what the correct answer was, and if they got it correct!  Then a list shows the top five players on the big screen.  So, to make that clear, you see the question, a picture and the four answer choices on the big screen, as well as a timer and hear the stress causing music.  On your phone (etc) you see the four colors of the answers.  You have to pick one answer within a certain number of seconds!  Tick-Tock. Tick- Tock!!!

Today, the quiz I took was written by two of the students.  It was about a comic book they were writing.  They read the book to us first, showing their drawings on the document camera.  Next, we all logged in.  I logged in as Elsa, of course,..they know I love Frozen!

After every question, one can see exactly where you are placing in the grand scheme of the other players.  I was only close to the top one time!

What a blast!  What an amazing tool!  This app does not need to be limited to just the classroom.  There are all ready public tests that can be previewed, edited and used.  At home I created my own profile, then called up and took a HARD QUESTIONS Frozen Quiz.  I suggest you try your hand at your favorite topic!  For a teacher, there is instant feedback.  What are students getting?  What areas do they need more help?  Did they understand that book/article you just assigned and they read, or concept, or facts, etc?  Besides answering the quiz questions, students can build their own quizzes, as the two students did today.  Just think of the knowledge they gained from doing that!  I'd say that's a real world life skill they are learning.

I have plans to write my own quiz for my former students before I head back into sub for them later this month.  :) I'm thinking it needs to be on Indiana History! They are in fourth grade after all.
Back to balance though...hands-on problem solving.  Kids nowadays need to be able to think without technology all the time being in their hands.  This summer I will be teaching several science camps for my favorite children's museum in town.  One in particular will be called Tinkering and will be for grades 2-3.  Simple tools will be used to create.  I do believe that students need to be able to ask why something works, take things apart and then re-create. I believe students need to be able to take take their questions further though.  They need to solve problems.  How can they make it, what ever they may be interested in, better?  What does better mean?  What if they don't have all the same materials originally used to make something?  Does that mean they are just out of luck? Do students know how resourceful they really are?  Part of growing means having failed, but persevered.

I'm not sure students are receiving the message all the time in school that they really do have what it takes to grow and persevere.

After I returned home today, I noticed a few pictures that a teacher friend posted of two of the boys in her class.  They build a wonderful colonial ship from recycled materials found mostly in her classroom!  I'm hoping she lets me share her pictures.

**insert pictures here, if possible...stay tuned**


Sunday, January 18, 2015

100th Day of School...Crisis Diverted!!!!! A Kindergarten Story.

Life as a substitute continues.  Last week I was in kindergarten most of the week.

Although not always true, the youngest students can sometimes be the most emotional.

Each day, a class calendar is discussed:  month, day of the week, counting to the date, how to write the date, how to say the date, singing the months of they year, singing the days of the week, etc.  When students have time to write in their journals they are expected to write the date on the top of each page.

Additionally, the weather is talked about and recorded.  Patterns for recording such information are used...precursors for reading.

Part of the K curriculum is that the students are learning how to count to 100.  On Friday, it was the 98th day of school.  During our morning meeting, we filled in the 98th day with the appropriate card.  Then we discussed how many more days until the 100th day.  How did they know?  It was simple to see the two blank cards still remaining.  I know the classroom teacher has worked with her class so they could see this pattern.  

Flash forward to the end of the day.  Several of the students were starting to get upset and I was puzzled as to why.  It was Friday!  In fact, I pointed out that on Monday there would not be school due to the Martin Luther King, Jr. that meant three days off!

As I was trying to get the class ready for our end of the day final tasks, one boy was explaining to me that he was worried he was going to miss the party.  He was going to be spending tonight (Friday), Saturday and Sunday night at his grandma's house.  I tried to tell him how much fun I thought he was going to have.  I recall spending long weekends when I was growing up with my grandma, and then it hit me.  What party are you worried you are going to miss I asked?


One of the last things we needed to do before the students were dismissed for the weekend was to have one final meeting.  Pete, the cat, was in his suitcase and ready to be going home with someone for a weekend adventure.  I hadn't announced who that would be yet.  Before we talked about Pete, I asked who was worried about missing the 100th day of school party.  Most hands went up into the air.

I assured the students that only the 100 days that they come to school are counted.  Weekends and holidays do not count.  I reminded them, that their teacher is due to be out again on Tuesday, but she will definitely be back for the 100th day!

Crisis diverted.  Whew!  That was a close one.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Life as a Substitute

Day one...

I entered a new school today.  Didn't know anyone there.  None of the staff, nor any of the students.  Excited to be in the classroom, nervous I wouldn't get as much accomplished as the classroom teacher had hoped.  Normal feelings I'm sure.  

I realize there is a disadvantage to being a substitute in a new school.  One doesn't know their discipline systems.  One doesn't know immediately what is acceptable or unacceptable, who is capable of what and what is considered crossing the line.  

I learned so much today.  

Late in my afternoon I was told by one of the students, "You are pretty, like a preschool teacher, but you are kind of mean."  It makes me laugh every time I think about it.  I hate being mean.  Mostly I don't think I am, it's just not in my nature.  But, I am firm and will not tolerate disrespect in a classroom.  I'm sure students don't realize how disrespectful they can be to a guest teacher.  I hope I have an opportunity to go back and be in the same classroom again.    
                                                                          ~Mrs. K

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Electronic Portfolio

I am please to finally have my e-Portfolio up and running!

You can view my cover letter, resume, teaching philosophy, differentiated unit, and letters of recommendation at the following link:  Lisa Kroll, MS Ed

I used the site Weebly.  It took a little figuring out, but overall was easy to use.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Creating an Electronic Portfolio

Coming soon:  Documenting my lessons from Student Teaching

Still working on my portfolio.

Lisa Kroll e-portfolio

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Final stages...before my own classroom...

Fall hasn't even arrived, but I am currently student teaching and taking my final class on campus.  I have plans on keeping this blog active and using it to reflect on my experiences.
Community Building

I have been co-teaching for a month now in a fourth grade classroom.  The days are going past too quickly.  Within five days I found myself in love with all 24 of my students!  I see so much potential within each and every one of my students.  That may sound cliché, but it's true.

Just after school started, I asked them to fill out a "Who Are You" paper.  From their answers, I know if they could be any animal they wanted they would be: cats, dogs, lions, cheetahs, a dolphin, a dragon, horse, bald eagle, a tiger, a lynx, and a hydra.  One third of the class says Math is their favorite subject, while another third listed PE or Recess as their favorite.  The final third was divided between reading, art and music.  When they grow up they long to be: teachers, veterinarians, dancers, artists, basketball players, hockey players, soccer players, graphic designers, singers, doctors, gymnasts, police officers, marine biologists, scientist, and inventors.  

Three weeks into school and I still wanted to know more about my students.  On a whim, I asked them to put their favorite songs onto little pieces of paper, then place the papers on my desk.  I told my students I'd like to create a playlist for us on Spotify.  WOW!  They were really into this and wanting to share!  NOTE TO SELF: I need to learn when it is a good time to engage in something like this.  Questions, and more questions.  Could they put more than one song?  What if they were unsure of the title?  What if they didn't know the artist?  I answered all their questions but was worried I was using valuable class time for a little idea I had.  Over the weekend, I listened and watched on YouTube, every song they suggested.  I pre-viewed lyrics online as well.  On Monday morning I told them I was working on our playlist.  I shared that I was enjoying hearing all their music choices.  Truly I did.  Unfortunately, some of the lyrics are not appropriate for school.  On Thursday morning the playlist was up and ready on Spotify.  As the students came in, I had our music playing.  Talk about happy students!  Such ownership too!!!  "Hey, this is my song!" Boys and girls were singing.  I could feel the community between them growing deeper.  They liked hearing what others chose.  It was sad when the bell rang and our day started, and yet...they were all happy.  The next morning we were able to put their songs on again.  We will see how long this lasts.  I now have a sign up sheet on my desk where they can add new songs.  My weekend homework will include pre-viewing more songs.

While shopping this afternoon, I felt as if our playlist was at Kohl's!  :)