Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Google Docs -- Parent Questionnaire

My friend, Tammy Myers, posted a Parent Questionnaire on her blog, so I "borrowed" this idea from her. :)

Click here to view fullscreen. 


Please take a few minutes to fill out the parent questionnaire form below to help me get to know your child. You can type directly into this form -- just click submit when you're finished. Thanks for partnering with me to make this a successful year for your child.

~Cheryl Dick

You can create one too. This is just a form in Google Docs. :)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Google Earth the Olympics

Link:  http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57481985-93/google-maps-earth-updated-with-high-resolution-imagery/

PD - Thoughts on SMART Board Training

I don't know about you, but we're back-to-work in Nixa, MO. As much as I love summer, and I LOVE summer, I also love returning to school. I had the opportunity to spend the day with about a dozen educators, and we talked technology.  

If you have a SMART Board in your classroom, the best advice I can give is to Google Smart Exchange and set up an account -- it's FREE. Once your account is set up, look around and download pre-made lessons you'd like to use on your computer. Once you download and save the files on your computer, you can modify them and make them your own -- be sure to give credit to the original authors if you share your modified files with others. 

I linked some of my favorite SMART lessons created by others on my Pinterest page. There's a link to the right of my blog that says, "Follow Me on Pinterest." If you click the link, you can look at the files I linked even if you don't have a Pinterest account. Click on the SMART Exchange board once you're there.

If you teach in a school that has a SMART Board, you can download the software on your home computer for FREE -- just ask your school for the product key -- you might be able to find the product key code on your board. If you're not at a school with a SMART Board, you can download the software for a free, 30-day trial. Practice makes progress, so the best way to get more proficient with the software is to practice. 

Sharing a smile:  Today, my colleague and friend, Heather Pearce, showed me a QUICK way to create the backgrounds I've been making in my SMART Notebook files. Who knew the image-fill button would create the backgrounds I've previously spent hours cloning and grouping??? That tip alone has made my life so much easier so the time spent in PD today will save me hours in the long run. 


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thoughts on State Testing

Well, it's almost August, and soon, my principal will walk down the hall to hand me my test scores. This one piece of paper will tell if I'm an effective educator or not. Someday soon, my paycheck may even be correlated with the results. I'm actually a fan of testing -- just not with all the hoopla that accompanies it.

I don't believe one measure of learning should determine my pay or my status as an educator. I do believe my job is to teach and assess the written curriculum. I also believe it's my job to adjust instruction based on assessment data - that's called differentiated instruction. The classroom should be a place students are free to explore and make mistakes. It should be a safe place where students want to learn. 

Last year was my first year back in the classroom after spending six years as a "Teacher on Special Assignment."  My primary job title was to increase test scores. Well, I'm back in the classroom and that title now belongs to someone else. I got a chance to put into practice what I'd been sharing in professional development trainings -- to put my money where my mouth was.

It was very much like being a first year teacher all over again. At the beginning of the year, I reviewed my students' state test scores from the previous year. Let's just say, on paper, it looked like they had a long way to go. 

I didn't say much about the M.A.P. test to my students, but it was in the back of mind each week as I planned and adjusted lessons. I also made sure my supervisors knew my starting data. 

I say "on paper" because I had a wonderful class of motivated learners. I believe willpower is half the battle, and my students were definitely strong-willed children. I told them how smart they were and showed them data on weekly assessments and benchmarks to prove it. About six weeks before the test, I joined in my school's M.A.P. kick-off/celebration. 

The first thing I asked my students was, "How many times have you heard me mention the M.A.P. test?" The responses were, "Hardly ever." 

That's when I took the time to remind them of the expectations on our weekly assessments. I correlated those expectations to the M.A.P. and told them I had been preparing them for this test since the first day of school -- the test would merely assess 4th grade curriculum and most of them were much higher so they had nothing to worry about. 

I realize I'll be compared with other 4th grade teachers in the district and in the state -- regardless of where my students started. I also know I did the best I could. Sure, I'll make adjustments to my instruction based on the data, but regardless of scores, I formed relationships with my 4th graders that will last a lifetime.

Last year was one of my all-time favorite years. It will always be one of my favorite classes - regardless of the end result.

I'm ready for my principal to hand me my test scores -- I just hope a pink slip doesn't accompany it. ;)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

I Teach 1st in Chicago

I had a fabulous time at SDE's I Teach 1st conference in Chicago and even had some time to see the city with friends. :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Teambuilding Idea

These are three of my favorite back-to-school read alouds. They're wonderful for classbuilding.

Voki Example

For about $30 a year, teachers can use the ad-free version of Voki. With this upgrade, students can create a Voki without logging in. I plan to use Voki a lot this year for summarizing and sharing facts/opinions. 

Lesson Ideas for Big Al

Teambuilding Activity

Each student had his/her own color of construction paper to allow for individual accountability. They worked together to create a scene from the book, Big Al. Besides paper, the only supply available was glue. 

I got this idea at a cooperative learning workshop I attended years ago and have been using it ever since. 

Big Al is a big, mean, scary-looking fish.

Big Al disguised himself in seaweed so the little fish would talk to him.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Money Song

Robin shares a catchy tune to teach students values of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blog Design

For years, I have played with the free blog designs available on the Internet. On Monday, I decided to do a blog makeover with a real graphic designer. Alicia worked her magic for only $30.00, and I love it! If I had known a blog makeover was that inexpensive, I would have done it years ago. Thanks so much, Alicia! :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

High-Quality Document Camera


Are you looking for a lightweight, high-quality document camera? The Director of Technology in Nixa suggested the HoverCam T3. Here's the link if you want to check it out. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

DI with Technology

Links to register for the conferences can be found to the right.

  • OEHRI Conference in Willard, MO, on May 30, 2012
  • Rocky Mountain PK-3 Conference in Montana on June 18, 2012
  • Nixa, MO,  Back-to-School PD on July 31, 2012 (I'll use these web tools in Use Technology to Differentiate Instruction.)


Links to Sites 

How to Crop a Song in iTunes

This post is for my friends in Montana (and surrounding states). Thanks for a great conference!

I found this video on YouTube that demonstrates how to crop a song in iTunes. I thought it might be helpful when you want to refresh your memory.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More Science Experiments - Writing in Science

Do you want to increase test scores? Teach kids to THINK. :) Look at the students' faces. Students LOVE science, but it's not tested at the 4th grade level in my state. Does that mean we stop teaching it? Absolutely not! Marzano's research indicates student achievement increases when teachers have students form hypotheses and draw conclusions. 

Conclusion:  Increase math and reading scores by teaching science. 

Students were learning if air and water can occupy the same space with this experiment. I modeled how to conduct the experiment and let them form hypotheses. Then, they conducted the experiment and drew conclusions. Finally, they shared this experiment with their parents at student-led conferences. Learning can be so much fun!

Making Oobleck:  Is it a solid or a liquid?  (or a colloidal suspension?)

Link to download lesson:  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writing-Lesson-Oobleck-Cornstarch-and-Water.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Summer Vacation

White Water Rafting the Chattooga River in South Carolina on July 6, 2012

It's so exciting to see thousands of passionate educators at the Las Vegas National SDE Conference sharpening their teaching skills. What's that myth about teachers having the summer off?

I was packed and ready for this conference last Wednesday because my family set off on a 13(thirteen)-hour car trip to the Smoky Mountains to white water raft on Thursday. We didn't anticipate being stranded in the park due to storms downing hundreds, possibly thousands, of trees. It took over five hours for rescue workers to clear the roads to get us out of there. We drove around the mountain instead of through it as planned and arrived at our destination at 4 AM. We rafted Friday and drove home Saturday. Surprisingly, I LOVED rafting.

It was an exciting three days! I hope you take some time to relax this summer too.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Add Common Core Widget to Your Blog

I saw this on Lori Elliott's blog (www.lorislatestlinks.com) this morning and thought I'd share. You can add a common core widget to your blog (look to the right of mine) and embed the standards. Here's the link if you want to add this to yours: http://www.masteryconnect.com/learn-more/core-app.html.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lots of DI Resources

Wonderful Site for DI Resources