Sunday, October 7, 2012

Jan Brett

Jan Brett has been a favorite children's author of mine for a very long time. My kindergarten, first and second grade students were always treated to her books when I was teaching in the classroom and of course my own children grew up listening to her books. I never tire of reading her books and can always find something new in her exquisite details. Not only does she write wonderful books she has an amazing website for children and teachers full of resources.
On Saturday I had the wonderful experience of finally meeting Jan Brett. The first grade teachers and myself went to Wegman's in Dewitt, NY to meet her and have her sign a book. We reserved our tickets and picked them up at the door. What we didn't realize was she was doing a 20 minute presentation before she began the book signing. She showed how she drew Mossy. So, unfortunately we missed that. But it was lovely getting to meet her and chat with her as she signed our books.
Here's a few more pictures of our trip.
Her Amazing Bus

October Technology Links

For Parents and Children:
The Scholastic site has a wealth of information for parents on a wide variety of topics including, book lists of all ages, reading help, homework help, activities, and child development. There is also a great section for children. One part is for children 8-12 and it includes interviews of authors, book suggestions, videos and games. The other section has fun activities for children aged 3-7 with Clifford and the Magic School Bus just to mention a few.
For Children:
ABCya is a fun site for your child to practice math, spelling, reading and keyboarding. It is geared for K-5. There are a variety of activities for each grade level and some activities are just for fun. ABCya also has apps for Apple products. There are some ads on the site but they are appropriate for children. In other words, you aren’t going to see ads for such things as dating sites.

Marcelino’s Letters is a good beginning keyboarding site for kindergarten and first grade students. The site does contain ads.
Halloween Fun:

Grades K-5
Photo Card Make a postcard using preprogrammed photos or your own. Children write their message and then decorate it with a stamp and stickers. An address can be added and the message can even be recorded. Then email the postcard to someone or print it out to mail it to someone. A fun way to practice letter writing skills.

September Tech Links

This year I volunteered to do a tech article for our school's monthly newsletter. It will be a list of suggested webpages and apps for parents and elementary students.
Here's my September suggestions: -->
For Parents:
This is a great resource for parents and teachers. For parents, there is information on reading together, connecting with your child’s teacher, helping a struggling reader, early literacy, children’s books and authors, top 10 phonics apps and much much more.
For Parents and Children:
It’s never too early to begin talking to your child about internet safety. This site has information to help you no matter your child’s age. It explains different topics, how to protect your child, and how to start a discussion with your child. From this site there is a link to which has videos and activities for young children to learn about safety. It would be great to watch the videos and do the activities with your child.
Grades K-5

Children select puppets, props and a background. Then they record their own story using the different characters. The characters and some props are moveable while they are recording. The app changes the child’s voice to match the character. I have not used it with students yet but it looks like fun. Students can work on storytelling-beginning, middle end, retelling a story and creativity! Puppet shows can be saved and you could even share their show via Facebook or YouTube. The app is free and comes with quite a few choices. There is a store where you can purchase more content.
Grades 3-5
This app uses text, videos and photographs to learn about animals, volcanoes, submarines and much more.

Children learn what animals like to eat, watch a video of an animal in its habitat and play games that develop memory, sorting and reasoning skills. The app is free and comes with 5 animals to explore. More habitats/animals are available for purchase.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Beanie Babies Wanted!

This year I'm going to be using Beanie Babies to teach decoding and comprehension skills. I found the idea on Pinterest here. I only need certain beanies and I have found at least one of each in the 2 big tubs of beanies that I have kept from my own children. I would like to have one beanie for each student to use as we practice the skills which means I'm looking for about 6 of each animal. When I put a call out on Facebook asking for beanies from my local friends, my friend, KimberlyW from Texas suggested that I collect one from each state. Hmmm, good idea! If each beanie came with some information about a state and school I can incorporate reading and geography. I'll make a tag with the information for each animal. Thanks, Kim!

So, here are the beanies that I'm interested in collecting:

If you have one that you would like to donate to my class, including the shipping cost, please fill out the Google Form and then I will send you my mailing address.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New Responsibilities!

I found out a few weeks ago that my job is changing again this year. I've gone from K-2, to K-3 and now I'm 1-5 with a possibility of K later in the year if we can fit it in the schedule.  I'm not thrilled with the change and it upsets me because I'm used to seeing my K-2 students every day. I haven't worked out my schedule yet but with the numbers I'm afraid it will be every other day instead. Seeing kids every other day plus throw in testing and all the other factors that prevent kids from getting to class every day and I'm having a hard time understanding how I'll be effective. I haven't taught 4th or 5th other than in the lab for a few years so that has me pretty nervous as well.
There are so many changes going on in our school this year, many of them thanks to the NYSED,  that it's going to be a crazy year filled with more testing for the kids and new evaluation procedures for teachers. I'll admit I've been in a funk this past week dreading the changes and the new schedule. But today I gave myself a pep talk. First of all, I'm one of the oldest teachers in the building and I don't want to become that grumpy old teacher everyone is waiting for to retire. Secondly, I'm thankful I have a job and I'm glad I'm not in the regular classroom. Those teachers have a lot more on their plates. Finally, I need to be at the top of my game for the kids. They need a teacher that is positive, caring, willing to work and help them grow as readers. So, let the new year begin. My Plurk buddies assure me that I'm going to love the 4th and 5th graders the most. I'll let you know in a couple of months!

Friday, June 22, 2012

I love Pinterest but I don't get to spend near as much time there as I'd like. It's a dangerous place, when I get there I lose all track of time! When I first joined I told myself I would only use it for personal reasons-photography, home decorating, crafty stuff etc. but I would not use it for school. I think I made it a couple of weeks before I realized that just wasn't going to work. I'm friends with too many teachers and I just couldn't keep passing by those ideas. So now I have many boards for photography, a few for home things and a variety of boards for school topics. (I should add organizing the boards to my summer to do list but I think the list is long enough already.) My education boards include ipad apps, quotes, elementary literacy, ideas for my classroom and a few others.

I recently discovered the blog, Imagination Soup written by Melissa Taylor. She's all about active learning and has some great ideas for early literacy. She's also on Pinterest and as soon as this is posted I'm going to check out her boards. She has 51 boards which include over 200 pins on Children's Books,  150 pins on Writing With Children, over 300 on Reading and Writing Readiness.... School just ended today and I can't wait to get started looking for new ideas to put into practice next year.

If you're on Pinterest and you're interested in elementary reading or photography feel free to check out my boards and follow them. Search for Nedra Isenberg. If you haven't checked out Pinterest yet you really should and summer is a great time to begin.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Obviously, I'm having a tough time with this blog. When I was a tech teacher I was much more consistent and I had followers and received comments and I was reading other blogs and it seemed easy. Now, I don't read other blogs consistently and I certainly don't post on a regular basis. I'm going to give this blog one more try. I decided I need a focus. Am I doing this for my parents or for other teachers? I've decided to focus on teachers. I'll share helpful sites and ideas I'm trying out in my classroom. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Our wonderful PTA bought me an iPad this year. I'm busy looking for good educational apps to help by young learners with reading. So far, my favorite app company is Grasshopper Apps. They have story apps and apps for learning rhymes and sight words and more. The first thing I notice is their bright colorful photos in their story apps called "I Like..." Children can listen to the story or read on their own. If they choose to read on their own and get stuck on a word, no problem. Just click on the word and it is read to them. Another great feature is that children can record themselves reading the text. I had my 2nd graders record a story and then had my first graders listen to the story. It was a great way to get the students reading with some expression. They even have an app so you can make your own book! I haven't tried it yet but I hope to do one before the end of the year. The sight word app can be customized with your own words and voice. I had my first graders record the words instead of me. :) In all the apps there are many ways to customize actions to fit your needs. I find "You're great! Awesome!" repeated after every correct response really annoying but it's easy to turn it off. They offer many free apps. If you haven't checked them out be sure to do so!
 "I choose to see possibilities and opportunities in these times because to do less would be to give up and admit defeat as an educator." This is a quote by my friend, Kevin Honeycutt. I just ran across the quote this week and it's turning my attitude around. You see, I've been in a negative rut all year. I'm frustrated with the amount of testing and test prep we're putting our poor kids through in NY. I'm focusing on  how many years to retirement. Basically, I've given up, admitted defeat. I realize now I need to change my attitude and make sure I don't become that grumpy old teacher everyone is waiting for to retire. I'm lucky, as a reading teacher I don't have to do all the test prep materials. I can plan my own lessons. It's time for an attitude adjustment! To help with this adjustment I'm going to be presenting at Podstock this year. I can't wait to be surrounded by all the positive people and energy for three whole days. I'll admit I'm nervous about presenting but I also know that I'll be working hard on my presentation materials and it will be ok. So, here's to attitude adjustment time!