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Friday, July 8, 2016

Classroom Ready- Flexible Seating #StarbucksMyRoom

This year I decided to try flexible seating. I've been looking at it for several years and debating if I should try it. When Natalie, a friend and parent at my school, approached me about being part of a group to pilot this I knew it was time to try it!

I've been working in the room for about 2 weeks. Believe it or not, teachers start back July 25th so I wanted to make sure I was done before school starts.

When I started looking for flexible seating options I saw tons of exercise balls. I know I wouldn't be able to handle all those exercise balls rolling all over the place so I looked for other ideas. I found my bean bag ottomans at Overstock. I ordered memory foam bath mats and the isokinetics cushions from Amazon. I picked up the wooden stools at Target and the little black stools were ordered from IKEA. I absolutely love the way it has turned out!

I've used lamps for several years and I love the way the room feels like home without those fluorescent lights on.

So here is a look into my room!

I purchased bed risers for this table next to my technology shelf. It is high enough that the kids will be able to work around it while sitting on the stool or standing.

This is the shelf where all my technology will go. My Chromebooks will go on the top shelf. I have file folder organizers and the computers fit nicely in the slots. I tied each cord on the organizer so they'll be easy to plug in when the computers are replaced. The second shelf has organizers for my class iPads. I'm not sure if you can tell, but on the very bottom of the shelf are my new robots! I still have to get a large power strip for them because I have 12 Sprk robots we will be using for STEM this coming year.

This is the reading corner. I picked up the rag rugs at 5 Below. I haven't been a reading teacher in several years but the kids still love reading and I want them to have a place to sit and read if they want to.


I couldn't part with my teacher desk but I did eliminate a table and pushed the desk closer to the storage cabinets. The classroom computer is on my desk because it has to be connected to my Smartboard and document camera.




I really love this table. I used it for small group instruction when I taught math and reading. This year I'm planning to let students sit around it. I left a few chairs here in case someone wants one.


These are the wire shelves behind the table above. I eventually want to get some wooden shelves to replace these wire ones. They just don't hold up very well, but I'm about spent out for now!


This is the view along the wall where you come in the classroom. I have two desks there so we can turn them to face the classroom if they are needed.

We lowered this table by removing the legs from it. I put some rag rugs down and also got Isokinetics wiggle cushions.

This is my table with legs removed so the kids can use memory foam bath mats to sit on.


My front carpet (which is well worn) is a large place where the kids will be able to work.


I put my Target stools along the back counter.


And this table wasn't lowered because I put the bean bag ottomans here.




I hope you have enjoyed my classroom tour! I'm still planning to pick up a few other things for the room so if I do I'll be sure to share them with you.


Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Dragon of the Month Club- Giveaway

Edited 7/13/16: Congratulations to the winner: Rachel Sochol-Soloman. Please check your email for information about claiming your book!

I just finished reading a wonderful new book called The Dragon of the Month Club by Iain Reading. I'm giving away a free copy of this book for your classroom!



First, let me tell you a little bit about the book. I truly enjoy reading because books take me to new worlds but this book took me to many worlds. The main characters are Ayana and Tyler. Ayana has recently moved and is having a hard time fitting in when she meets Tyler in the library. While spending time together in the library they discover "THE BOOK." It is called How to Conjure Your Very Own Dragon in Six Easy Steps.

They join the dragon of the month club and begin getting instructions to conjure new types of dragons. One day when they are conjuring a dragon in Tyler's bedroom something goes wrong and they are transported to an alternate world. They have so many exciting adventures in different worlds that are tied to books Tyler has in his room. Their goal? They are trying to reach the home of a scientist named Professor Doctor Linus Aloysius von Mobius so he can help them return home.

Ayana and Tyler meet some very memorable people and creatures on their quest to return home! Want to win a copy of the book for yourself? Check on the rafflecopter below to enter. The giveaway ends July 14th so enter now!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

#NATC2016- Super Google & Super Hero Fun

Today I presented about Google with my friend, Tina McKenzie. We had two hours and still didn't make it through everything. There are so many wonderful things Google can do for you! Want to see the presentation? Take a look:



I had a great time with our Super Hero theme! Here are a few fun tweets/pictures from today.




Saturday, June 18, 2016

Flexible Seating- I can't wait!

I am so excited about setting up my classroom for the 2016-2017 school year. We have been out of school since the end of May. Normally we can get in to the school to start set up after July 4th. I keep waiting for that email that tells me when I'm allowed in. This is how I feel...


I have gotten rid of my desks. The last day of school my students helped me move them up around to storage. I'm replacing them with tables. I plan to put those tables low to the ground so they can sit on the floor.

I've ordered some bean bag cubes from Overstock.


Stools from Ikea


And a friend is picking up colorful rugs to go around one table. Now I'm on the search for larger rugs for different areas in my classroom and 6 tall stools to go around the counters and tall table.

While out looking for new things to put in my classroom I ran across different letters that were on clearance at Michael's. They didn't have enough of any one type to spell anything but I had this great idea to get all different types of letters to spell science. Look at this! I'm not exactly sure where I'll put it but I'm going to find a space for it. 



I've been looking into flexible seating for the last year or so but I never actually tried it. There are several of us taking the plunge together and I'm all in! I will be teaching four classes of 5th grade science next year so it may be a little difficult to start, but I don't doubt we'll all love it!

Do you use flexible seating in your classroom? I'd love to hear tips and tricks that you can share with me. 


Friday, June 17, 2016

#XpLAP Chapter 2- Myths


Chapter 2 of Explore Like a Pirate talks about all the myths that surround gamification. Several books I've read lately have the excuses chapter. I think if you're reading this book you aren't using any of those excuses. However, I'm sure these are used for talking points if you are trying to get buy in from other teachers or administration. 
  • Myth 1- Games are just for play. 
    • Games are such powerful ways to learn and practice problem solving and critical thinking. 
    • I never thought of it this way but the book mentions that we model so much that when students have a turn to make something they are ready to just move on. 
  • Myth 2- If I give them a badge or points, my class will be gamified. 
  • Myth 3- If's easy for you. It won't work for me because I teach ___.
    • I've got to say this is the excuse I probably hear most often. I'm new to gamilification, but it is the go to excuse for using technology. So often I am told that the kids can't do that. But if you get out of their way you'll be amazed.
  • Myth 4- You need to be a gamer to gamify your class. 
    • If this is true them I'm up the creek without a paddle. I am not a gamer at all! I get frustrated easily. My students would laugh at me because I told them Angry Birds makes me angry. 
  • Myth 5- Students should want to learn; I shouldn't have to dress it up. 
    • Who doesn't want to have fun while learning? I can see how adding gaming elements to a lesson would make it more engaging, and isn't that what we're all after?
  • Myth 6- Gamification is just playing games.
    • This is going to be more than just pulling out the board games and playing them with you class. 
  • Myth 7- Girls don't game.
  • Myth 8- My classroom doesn't have enough technology to make this work. 
    • I can't even argue that point. I have been on a mission to get more and more technology for my students to use. I'm the technology integration mentor for my school and technology is my passion. I am excited to learn about some of the gaming aspects that are used for those who aren't comfortable with technology. That will help me sell it to others.
  • Myth 9- Games in the classroom are too much about competition. 
    • We have had contests in class before and I think a little competition is healthy. 
So now I'm ready to really get into the meat of this book! . 




Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Explore Like a Pirate- Chap 1 #ExploreLAP


I'm a day late getting this posted but I attended Project Lead the Way training this week. Today was my final day so I'm ready to share about chapter 1 from Explore Like a Pirate.

I've had this book for a bit but I haven't had the time to sit down and really dig in. So I pulled a few important ideas from chapter 1 to share with you.

If you are reading this post, you are probably interested in learning more about using games in your classroom. Michael Matera says that gaming allows you to have an "educational mashup." Don't think you have to jump right in. You can use a few gamification techniques to help students become more engaged. At the GAFE Summit last week, the keynote said he wants his students to have FOMO (fear of missing out). I see gamification creating FOMO in my classroom. Students will be captivated by using games in the classroom. 

The great thing about this is that there are many teachers out there who are willing to help you and share ideas. This isn't something you have to do alone. You could recruit some friends/co-workers to get on board with you. If you don't have anyone in your building who would be willing to do that, reach out on Twitter! You don't have to do this along. 

"We, through gamification and playful planning, will create leaders critical thinkers, and even legacy makers." - Michael Matera



Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer Book Study- Explore Like a Pirate

Are you looking for a PD book to read this summer? Rachael over at Sweet, Sweet Primary is hosting a summer book study for Explore Like a Pirate. She plans to cover one chapter each week beginning June 7th. Want to do it with us? Make sure to check back to her blog and link up to share your posts!