Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! {Book Tour & Giveaway}

Guess what?

Michigan author, Maria Dismondy, has done it again - made the lives of countless kiddos BETTER...and our teaching lives easier!

She has written another book...and I'm so happy for that! 

If you're not familiar with her work - Maria Dismondy focuses on writing stories that help children navigate this social world of ours.  As teachers, we know that there is much more to our job than the ABC's and 123's.  We are also responsible for helping our little ones understand one another as human beings.  WOW - that's a daunting task - but one made easier with the help of Maria's books.

Such rich discussion can take place before, during and after a read aloud.  Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! is about two young boys, Johnny and Gabe.  Johnny loved school until Gabe entered into the picture.  Gabe doesn't speak English and Johnny has a hard time accepting Gabe with his differences.  As the story progresses; Johnny learns a lesson about empathy and he and Gabe become friends who are able to accept and celebrate their individuality.  

After I read this story to my first graders here's what they had to say...

Character education is part of a well-rounded classroom climate. I know sometimes it's hard to fit it all in - I'm right there with you.  That's why I like incorporating it into my daily read alouds.  
Maria's other books {here} can help you with that.

To get you started Maria has offered to give away one signed copy of Chocolate Milk, Por Favor! 

Because my first graders are so invested in this book and the lessons they learn from all of Maria's books, I'm going to ask that you give one piece of advice to my kiddos, in the comments below, that can help them be a good friend to others.  We {my first graders} will randomly choose one winner on April 20th! {Please include your email address with your comment}.

Next up on the blog tour...

Erin Klein at Kleinspiration


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: Chapter 11 {Music, Rhythm, Rhyme & Rap}

I'm linking up with Rachelle and Natalie over at What the Teacher Wants to talk about chapter 11 in Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites.

I think I may have said that chapters 9 & 10 were right up my alley - well, so is this one!
They don't call me DJ Jazzy Wazy for nothing..
Okay - they don't actually call me that...but they SHOULD!

Strategy 11:
Music, Rhythm, Rhyme & Rap

"Music has the remarkable ability to energize, relax, set the daily mood, stimulate student brains, inspire, and make learning fun." {Jensen, 2009a}

Holy powerful!  WOW!  That quote right there says it all.  I mean, really, "relax and energize", "inspire and make fun". You name the tone you are trying to set and music can help with that.  
That's just how powerful music is!

I use music a ton in my classroom.  Whether it be during a brain break, a transition, during a quiet calm work time, to have fun, as a celebration, to help us learn new concepts or review previous ones - seriously, I use music CONSTANTLY!

I'm not much of a singer, so I do rely mostly on the professionals when singing in my room, but you do know that our students don't really care about that, right?  So, I will break into song or rap if the situation warrants...{i.e. nobody is listening, all you know what has broke loose, I'm just feelin' it...}

I have so many songs/artists - I thought I'd share some so you can add them to your repertoire!

In no particular order...
We listen to this during writer's workshop.  For some reason I don't play music during reader's workshop.
We listen to all the songs on this album - I typed up the lyrics and put them on my SmartBoard because so many of them teach a lesson.  Some of our favorites:
Read a Book {that's our cue that it's time for reader's workshop}
All the Way Around the World {our cue that it's writer's workshop}
Itchy Itchy, Owie Owie, Boo Boo {clean up time after various activities}

There are so many of "these" that you can find on YouTube - from music set with a fire burning in a fireplace, to sea-side music.  I just search until I find one that I like.  This is a great one to use when we come in from outdoor recess in the spring time.  Lights out, heads down - a wonderfully calming way to give our little bodies/brains a break.

I have a whole collection of Kidz Bop from my own boys - we like to listen to these when doing "Ketchup and Mustard".
Need to teach a certain concept and you want it to stick?  Harry Kindergarten is your man!  Many songs are free on YouTube!
I love this blog post over at Scholastic - Mr. Vasicek put a lot of thought into the songs he uses and when he uses them.  You'll want to check out this post - because I downloaded most of the songs he suggested and will use them throughout the day.  
I just love Rockabye Baby!  Have a favorite music artist? Rockabye Baby may have just turned one of favorites into an album of lullabies.  Great to use during calming brain breaks.
Another YouTube favorite of mine - I love their ABC songs - I use these at the beginning of the year as a review - but also throughout the year when working on handwriting.
I still have this one on CD - I've owned this CD since it originally came out.  Enya is just good for the soul!
The Learning Station is a favorite of mine because they have a lot of "call and response" type songs.  These are great working those listening muscles!

I hope the list of above gave you a few to add to your bag of tricks - having a variety of musical artists/genres is as important as the eclectic choice of books in your classroom reading library.

"Change the music during a learning episode.  Set an emotional mood before class starts, upbeat tunes for moving around the room, music appropriate to the task during seatwork, and positive music at the end of the class." {Sousa, 2006}

One way I'd like to improve is by incorporating music more authentically by encouraging my students to create their own raps, rhythms and rhymes for various concepts.  I'm already seeing this as a work on writing activity during Daily 5!

How do you use music in your classroom?  Do you have any favorites that you'd like to share?

Go visit What the Teacher Wants to see what other teachers shared!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites: Chapters 9 & 10 {Mnemonic Devices, Movement}

Happy Spring Break!

We are having a staycation 'round these parts - and honestly, I couldn't be happier.  Instead of rays - I'm hoping to soak up a lot of laziness, relaxation, snuggles & Netflix! 

I'm linking up with a fellow "Holly" over at Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten to discuss chapters 9 & 10.  These chapters were right up my alley because THIS is how I learn.  I might not be a graphic organizer kinda thinker slash learner - but mnemonics and movement...KA-CHING! 

Strategy 9:

"Mnemonic techniques are time-tested activities that enable students to recall and use material without conscious efforts from the brain." {Mayer, 2003}

There aren't a whole lot of specifics {aside from those personal stories my teachers told about themselves} that I remember from my days in school.  I do, however, remember:

...and so many others!

One I STILL use today!

Just this year, I had one of our parapros say to me "I was working with some of your previous first graders and they shared with me how they will never forget how to spell the words "would, could, should"

Click to grab!

That just goes to show how powerful those mnemonics are!

Strategy 10:

Getting those kiddos moving is so important and that's what this strategy is all about!

"Any task learned when we are physically engaged in doing it remains in our memory for a very long time. {Allen, 2008}

"Because physical movement increases the energy of students, it, therefore, enhances their engagement." {Marzano, 2007}

"Movement not only enhances learning and memory but it also causes neural connections to become stronger." {Hannaford, 2005}

I could just keep pulling quotes from this chapter.  Movement is essential to learning in any classroom - young and old!  I've been Brain Breaking before "GoNoodle" even existed.  HA!
...but thank goodness for those folks at GoNoodle - why didn't I think of that?

Circa: 2013
I'm great at incorporating movement in the form of a brain break in my classroom - but where I'd like to improve is incorporating it into my actual teaching/student learning more often.

I'm sure you've heard of  Whole Brain Teaching.  I've read up on WBT quite a bit and after much hemming and hawing - it's not for me - not in its entirety, anyway {It's a little too robotic for me}.  There are pieces of it that I really like and believe in.  Much like mnemonic devices, I think involving movements as we learn engages the brain and increases retention of new concepts.  There are a few techniques that Whole Brain Teachers use that I use as well...

Blow it in Your Hand/Release - I'll have my students go eye-to-eye, knee-to-knee with one another and share their thinking.  Once they've firmed up their thinking I'll have them whisper/blow the answer into their hand and then release it - by saying the answer out loud.

Just the other day we were talking about decomposing numbers.  When we said "decompose means break apart" we pretended to break something apart with our hands.  The next time I asked them what decompose meant I had several that quickly made the motion.

There's a song we sing about living or nonliving things that we've been singing for years.  I wish I knew who originally wrote it but it goes like this...

Tune: Yankee Doodle

Living or nonliving things,
Now which one will it be?
If something is to stay alive,
It has some special needs.

Give it food and water,

And lots of air to breathe.
It also may need space to grow,
And sunlight for its leaves.

Each year my kiddos love singing this song and creating movements to go along with it.  When I give the test at the end of the unit - without fail, I see kids making the movements to this song and whispering the words when they come to the part of the test where they have to list things that living things need.

"The one most detrimental barrier to learning and recall of information may be a teacher's deliberate attempt to stop students from moving." {Jensen, 2002}

My goal is to incorporate even MORE movement into my teaching/student learning.  Here are a few bloggers who are Whole Brain Teaching gurus that I'm hoping to pull a few more ideas from.

Mrs. Shipley's Whole Brain Classroom

Whole Brain Teaching With Style

Teaching and Learning Together

I'm curious how you incorporate mnemonics and movement into your classroom?

If you are a Whole Brain Teacher I would REALLY love if you would share why you like it so much, how much you incorporate the techniques into your day, and anything else you might want to share.

Go check out Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Connections   and read what she has to say about these two strategies as well as what others have to say in the linky!

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