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