Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dalton Sherman's Inspirational Speech

My curriculum director shared this with us at our monthly meeting today. I can't believe I had not seen it before now. If you have not already seen this, it is well worth eight minutes of your time. This kid is really going places and what he says really hit home with me. I can't wait to share this at the next faculty meeting.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Teaching Resources

Ever wished you could just dig through a great teachers filing cabinets and see what all she has stored in there? Visit Laura Candler's site and you can do just that. Laura has an online filing cabinet with tons of printable activities all for FREE! Files are in PDF format so you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed. She has activities posted for math, science, reading, and social studies. In addition, she also has a strategies section packed with research-based strategies. Check it out...I know you'll love it!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Teaching Outside the Standards

I know it's sad that many times the teaching of good behavior and sometimes ethical behavior falls to the schools rather than the parents. While I don't presume that we can teach everything a child needs to know about treating and interacting with others in the short 180 days we spend with them, I don think it's important that we use each and every one of those days to set good examples for them and show them some guiding principals. I came across this website with some good lesson plans for 'teachable moments'. I especially like the lessons on teaching the children to listen. I think those could be worked into any elementary school classroom. There are also lessons on respecting differences and being peacemakers. The site also links to activities for Middle and High School students.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Web's #1 Math Practice Site

This site claims its title well. I feel like I've been under a rock because I haven't seen this before now! This website is extremely user friendly and well structured. Grade levels are very clearly divided and the skill division is phenomenal. Click on a grade level and then a skill. You will be directed to a series of questions in which you are timed and given a score out of 100. The best feature of all is the link to state standards. Skills are broken down by state specific standard. All of these features are free! There is an optional membership component which will give you access to reports, identify trouble spots, etc. There are prices for parents and teacher and they all seem very affordable. Give it a try...I know you'll love it as much as I do!

Monday, January 4, 2010

First Things First

In hindsight, I probably should have started with this post. I would not have been able to start this blog, find great resources as easily, have the contacts I have, etc. without the support of a dynamic PLN. The best thing that I have done as far as professional development for myself has been to actively pursue a solid professional learning network. I love this post on developing a network. My PLN started with joining the Classroom 2.0 Ning. There I learned to ask and answer questions and participate and begin discussions surrounding my topics of interest. From there and through attendance at a conference, I learned about Skype (see previous post). Later, I started my Twitter account. This was the hardest network to learn and build, but has been (by far) the best resource for me. The constant ongoing conversation has provided unlimited resources for me and in turn for my colleagues. In 2010, my goal is to be more of a contributor to my PLN. I owe a lot to everyone for all of the great ideas they've sent out and for all the times I've been inspired and supported by them. For example, when I mentioned starting this blog on Twitter, here's the response I got:

Sean Banville @tamralanning Start your blog - we'll help :-)

..and I know they will.

CC Image courtesy of / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 on Flickr

Sunday, January 3, 2010

My #1 Tool for the Classroom

If I had to recommend one tool to begin with in the classroom, it would most certainly be Skype. Skype is a free videoconferencing software that is easy to install and use. Last year, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a project started by Silvia Tolisano in which willing schools were put in contact with one another to arrange Skype conversations for their students. My students came to school early and stayed late many times in order to communicate with students across the globe. We spoke with children in Thailand, Spain, Australia, and even students here in the U.S. They were awed by the experience every time. Another great way to find educators willing to communicate via Skype is through a Ning like Classroom 2.0. I also stumbled across a great blog outlining 50 ways to use Skype in the classroom. Please share your success! How has Skype impacted your classroom?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Woodlands Literacy Zone

Woodlands Literacy Zone offers links to tons of literacy activities for elementary age students. There are online interactive stories and lots of literacy activities. Students could go to this site and navigate to any learning activity or teachers could find an activity for them in advance. These games are great for use on interactive whiteboards. Computers visiting the literacy zone will need an updated version of Adobe flash to run most of the activities.