Monday, May 15, 2017

if it INSPIRES one student...

My "non-teacher friends" are always commenting on some of my elaborate outfits that I have worn to school or my collection of onesie pajamas that continues to grow.  They say "teachers do the craziest things".  I like to think there is some sort of method to my madness.

I figure, as long as whatever I do helps one student, then I am going to continue doing those things that "non-teacher friends" (love them!) will never understand.

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Each time I come to school in a bit of an odd outfit, the kids are always intrigued.  Why are you wearing that?  Who are you?  Why do you look different?  They are curious and seeking knowledge.  As a teacher, you have a lot of power.  You can simply answer the question and let the child move on OR you can reply in a way that is going to make the child wonder, explore, and want to know more.  I prefer the latter.

You see, I've worn multiple onesies to school this year.  Yes, the kind that you have with the footies when you are a kid.  I have been a shark, The Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, Ms. Frizzle, and the list could go on.  Is it fun for the kids? Of course, they are kindergarten students and they do LOVE that kind of stuff.  Is it crazy?  Maybe, depends on who you ask.  Are they learning from it, YES!  And here is the proof:

Ms. Frizzle was a new outfit for me this year.  I had some funny looks, but as the kids started piecing it all together, they couldn't stop asking questions.

I remember talking to one boy who seemed to be the most curious.  "Why are you Ms. Frizzle?  Do we get to go on a field trip?  Is the lizard going to move?  Where did you get the dress?...." and the questions went on and on and on.  I simply responded to my friend, "I wanted to be this character (ahhh, see his brain turning and making connections) out of all the characters I know. What if you could be any character you want!  Would you be one that you know or would you create a new one?  My little friend said "oooooooooooohhhhh......".  And walked away.

Fast forward many weeks to writing one day.  This little friend had some wonderful writing about the ocean.  A boy explored the dark ocean and saw lots of ocean animals.  He was so excited to share his story.  He read it to me and it was fabulous.  He pointed to his picture and said, "but ya know Ms. Cones, ya know who this is?!?!?!"  I made my best guess, "you?".  "Nope!! That is Scuba Joe!  He is my character.  You said we can be any character.  Scuba Joe is my character!" and his eyes lit up as he continued to tell me all about this character he created.

So might teachers be a little crazy?  It depends on who you ask.  But as long as it inspires one student, I am happy with being crazy.

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Monday, April 3, 2017

You Are Only a Kid Once



As a teacher, I often think back in my life to when I was the same age as my students.  What was I doing?  How did I learn?  What did I enjoy?  How can I replicate this in my classroom?

I have very fond memories from my elementary years.  I remember exploring in the woods with all of the neighborhoods until the sun went down.  We would always find cattails or frogs to bring back home.  I remember creating forts out of every blanket in the house with my brothers.  We would have to twist and turn the furniture to get it just right to hold the blanket in the perfect position.  I remember playing school with my best friends.  I, of course, always had to be the teacher.

Kids are growing up in a different way today.  While this can seem vastly different than my childhood, the foundation is really the same.  Kids are exploring, creating, and dreaming big.  Those three things are such an important aspect of childhood.  

When students are given the time to explore, they discover so many new things.  My favorite time to let kids explore during class is at science time.  We study weather.  This can be a really tricky concept for five and six year old kids.  How can it be sunny outside and cold at the same time?  Why doesn’t it rain every time it is cloudy?  If we can’t see the wind, how do we know it is there?  I spend time teaching my class about the tools we use to measure weather.  The students get to create their own wind flag and go outside and figure out what wind is and how a flag can show us that it is windy.  Students get to take a thermometer outside and see what happens to the temperature in the middle of winter with the sun shining.  My kids learn so much and start teaching one another when they are given the chance to explore.

My students are encouraged to create.  Students have had opportunity to code, film, build, paint, and more in my classroom.  They have created paths for robots to take using different coding techniques.  They have designed structures that would keep a little pig safe if the big bad wolf were to come knocking.   Through creating, they are able to teach their peers.  They make mistakes and keep working until they find a way to fix it. 

My students are encouraged to dream, and to dream BIG.  We recently used the Green Screen to compose a piece based off of the book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go”.  Students shared what they want to be when they grow up as they flew across a page of the Dr. Seuss book.  I have students in my class who want to be doctors, paleontologists, mommies, electrical engineers, policemen, and more.  When time allows, we pull out blocks, Legos, Lincoln logs, iPads, baby dolls, animals and paint and allow kids the freedom to explore these paths.  I was in awe when an aspiring engineer created a catapult out of Lincoln Logs.  My kids are encouraged to follow their dreams, no matter what that may be.  

Kids, regardless of when they were born, learn in the same ways.  They learn through exploration, through creating, and through dreaming big.  My hope is that my students leave my room at the end of the year inspired and not afraid of taking risks.  We are only a kid once, and I want my students to make the most of it.

This is me in Kindergarten!  Fun Fact:  I teach at the same school that I attended as a Kinder Student!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

#EdCampWake

Well it has been quite a while since I posted anything on this blog!

I attended EdCamp this weekend, shoutout to #EdCampWake , and just loved it.

EdCamps are so unique in so many ways.  The people who attend are clearly excited and passionate about education, or else they wouldn't be wasting a Saturday to be there.  There are no presentations or lectures, it is all driven by what the attendees want to learn more about!

I attended 3 sessions:  Genius Hour, Technology for Young Learners, and Blogging.  Each of these sessions giving me valuable information and new ideas to use moving forward.

My take aways from each:

Genius Hour:  Kids are always wondering this and wondering that.  They need time to answer these "wonders".  Let your guard down, allow for a little chaos,  and you will be amazed at what your students can create, discover, and learn! 

My Next Step:  Create a WonderWall - put it up in my classroom.  Students add sticky notes whenever they wonder something.  Find a time (or perhaps 2 times!) before the end of the school year to let kids participate in a Genius Hour and find out some answers to these wonders!

Technology for Young Learners:  They can do it!  #KindersCan use all sorts of technology to help enhance their learning.  BrainPOP Jr., Seesaw, Green Screens, Draw & Tell, Shadow Puppet, Little Story Creator, Buncee - you name it, they can probably do it!  Don't be afraid to try something new with your kiddos, if it doesn't work, try it again, just in a different way!

My Next Step:  Look into BYOD for kinders!  Who is currently a BYOD class/school?  What suggestions would you have?  Any management tips?  If that doesn't work, start drafting a grant to get more technology for my little learners!

Blogging:  Well, I am writing this post, so clearly this session had some influence on me.  I haven't been blogging.  I don't know how long I have even had this blog, but I rarely post, and posts have been more product posts than anything else.  My excuse:  "I don't have time to blog!".  Well, that isn't what it is about!  My new motto:  I need to make time to blog reflect.

My Next Step:  What am I doing in my classroom?  What went well? What could have gone better?  Blog about it!  Get my blog up and going again!  Add a variety of posts!  I have been encouraged to blog about my Flexible Seating in my classroom, so I will be adding that to the blog as soon as all the words come to me.  I am hoping that my blog will be used as a reflection tool on a monthly basis and that it can showcase the good, the bad, and the sometimes even ugly.

Why Blog?  How can a blog help you as an educator?  Find out what I experienced while at EdCamp that I can bring back into my classroom.

So, here I am, reflecting, on my experience at #EdCampWake.  I look forward to being back in the near future!!

Until next time!
Kelsey Cones






Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Seesaw Plus

If you are anything like me, you have been ooh-ing and aah-ing over Seesaw for the past year.  I have loved how the app has allowed my students to take charge of their learning and really show their thinking in unique ways.  It has been eye-opening for many parents and I couldn't pick a better app to use with my Kinders.

That being said, I am super stoked about Seesaw PLUS because now I really feel like the app is helpful for ME as a teacher in many new ways!

Learn how to get Seesaw Plus - the learning app FREE for your classroom.  Seesaw learning journal has been a game changer in my kindergarten classroom.  This iPad educational app will transform your classroom!

A few highlights for Seesaw PLUS:
  • Add skills - I can attach standards or skills to the items my kids upload, allowing parents to see exactly what the task was focusing on!
  • Rating system - I can rate students work on a scale of 1 - 4.  
  • Private notes - I can type in private notes for my teacher eyes only that I can pull up at conferences or use during PLTs with my grade level!
Image result for seesaw plus 

So I know you are wondering how to get Seesaw PLUS for yourself!  Well I have great news for you - you can get up to a 90 day FREE trial of Seesaw PLUS (Seesaw will always be free, PLUS has features you typically have to pay for).  Here is how:

  1. Update your app if you have not done so yet.
  2. Tap your profile icon. 
  3. Click the gear icon.
  4. Go to account Settings
  5. "Activate FREE 60 Day Trial!"
  6. Scan the code or click the link below for an ADDITIONAL 30 days!!!
Learn how to get Seesaw Plus - the learning app FREE for your classroom.  Seesaw learning journal has been a game changer in my kindergarten classroom.  This iPad educational app will transform your classroom!

You will not be charged for Seesaw Plus when your time runs out and you will not lose any work that was saved using Seesaw Plus.  I am telling you folks, this is a game changer!

Let me know if you have ANY questions!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Dollar Deals!

[Dollar Deals!]  I can't believe it is already July!  Where has time gone?  I have pulled together some of my favorite back-to-school products and I am bringing them to you for just $1!  Over $20 in savings are coming your way this month!  6 of my "must-haves" for my kiddos are being marked down to $1.  I will mark a product down every 3 days.  This is your chance to save big & get things ready before the hectic start of the school year!  Dollar Deals will run from July 6 - July 23!

[Give-Away] Head over to facebook, llike this post & tag a friend or two!  Comment with the dollar deal product you are most eager to get your hands on.  I will pick a winner tomorrow at noon.  You and your friend(s) will get the product for FREE.

Here is a glimpse at the deals!



Guided Reading Sorts: Set 1 - 9 different sorts covering many of the early literacy skills for kindergarten.  I use these sets during guided reading (which is great, because not all my kiddos come in as readers) and then put them in my Daily 5 stations for the kiddos to use independently.

Humpty Dumpty Activity Pack -  Reader's Theater is HUGE in my room, especially at the beginning of the school year.  It gives kiddos the confidence that they can read (even when they can't) and focuses on so many of the early literacy skills.  It also gets my kiddos up and talking in front of their peers!  This contains a reader's theater play for your class along with many other activities centered around Humpty Dumpty!

All About the Letters - ABC's are so important!  We want to figure out those letters early on so we can build off of it!  I love this pack for my kiddos.

Reading Comprehension Pack: Set 1 - Another must have in my classroom.  Some kids come in reading, others don't, regardless, many are still confusing letters and words or they can read but are not processing any of the content.  This SIMPLE comprehension pack hits on many of those early skills.  We do these together on the smart board and we also do these during guided reading.  Great practice!

Sound Houses BUNDLE - Letter sounds are so important.  We need them to read and write.  This hands on pack has kiddos sorting pictures based on their beginning sound.  Add velcro to tie in fine motor skills.  Worksheets are also completed so students can show what they have learned in a variety of ways.

Math Centers - Math by Myself: Unit 1 - My math block would not be the same without math centers.  These allow kids to independently practice the skills that we have worked on as a whole class.  So many hands on ways of practicing & I laminate everything to eliminate the "paper mess".

Get your deals now!! July 6 - July 22!