Saturday, May 28, 2016

Reflections on Flexible Seating and Summer Reading


First Day of Summer
Reflections on Flexible Seating
I've done a "modified versions" of flexible seating for several years by allowing students to work around the room and for some to have the ability to sit on ball chairs.
But I really jumped into the whole class flexible seating during the second semester of this year after reading more fabulous articles and blog posts about how successful teachers were 
finding it in their rooms. 
I can honestly say... I AGREE!

I've been thinking about ways to "gather" more options for flexible seating to use next year...this summer, so I wanted to jot down some of my thoughts for possible improvements for next year...

Since I do have whole group lessons, I kept the desks in an arrangement that allowed everyone to be able to see the projected screen or whiteboard.

Desk legs were taken off two desks so that crates could be used to sit on comfortably. 
Tennis balls were added to the table legs so that they wouldn’t scratch the floor. 
Shorter desks were kept in the front of the room to allow for ability to see projections.
This was a favorite option for many...need to find more ways to create/use crates in the room

Carpet was available to sit on with laptop desks to work. Need somewhere for students sitting on floor to store their binders and art supplies. Popularity of this option varied from week to week. May just add carpet and some scoop seats to library area for working on independent work.

Standing desks were in back row. Just desks heightened to the tallest setting. 
(Tried adding bed risers to table, but was not in my comfort zone this year)
Students could have chair at desk and put one knee on chair while working if liked...
could also sit in chair or push chair in and stand behind it to work.

Middle area of room had desks at 4/5 hole settings to allow for chairs or ball chairs.

Name tags were laminated and NOT taped to a desk. 
Students could put on top of their new desk or inside the desk so 
that when they were out of the room, I could find desks.

Books were stored on a shelf where kids could get to them if we needed them 
or in  individual cubbies at the front of the room 

2 Binders and a supply box were kept inside the desks.

At first, students switched areas twice a day. 
Once after reading and again after math. 
However, as the months progressed, they preferred to switch just once a day. 
So we we would choose a new seat after reading. 

There was a request to have the ability for some to not switch if they felt more comfortable 
sitting in the same spot.
However, in order to keep desks organized and free from papers and pencils all over, 
I still had those children get out their supplies to “move to another seat”.
The movement helped them take a brain break, keep their supplies organized 
and helped me to see who needed the same seats.


I kept ultimate control...
if I perceived that a child was not doing well in a certain spot, 
I asked them to move…”It’s my perception...however, you can change it with your actions”.
Also had certain students that were asked NOT to sit by others as the days went on as it was my perception that they were not working to the best of their ability in that situation. 

I kept the “last say” as I am the queen of the classroom...
really...
I wear my crown from time to time just to remind them 
(and when we’re playing beat the queen) :) 

I'd love to hear any suggestions for what works for you
where you've found items to use
or how your experience with flexible seating has gone!

Comment below...
Share a tweet and tag me...
@swampfrogfirst

I'll choose a connection or two for some free items from my TpT store.
(I'm working on some fluency packs for next year with 
multiplication & division like the ones I created for addition & subtraction)

Also planning to share more posts about this book for my
summer reading nugget!
If you're interested in joining in...let me know
I'd love to share some ideas and activities 
to use with NonFiction Reading
with you! 


If your new to flexible seating
or
Just checking out the possiblities...
Here's some research that helped me as I developed my classroom plan..

Flexible Seating ....
‘Classroom design influences levels of interaction and engagement. Engagement and active learning improve retention.’

‘Comfortable classrooms—physically and psychologically— promote a sense of well-being, keep minds focused, and limit distractions.’

‘We need to serve as advocates for teaching and learning so that our facilities truly become learning spaces.’


Resource Articles:
*Article with video from Edutopia to talk about the research behind flexible seating and some ideas of what it might look like...

*Article by Kayla Delzer (Fantastic 2nd grade teacher in Minnesota) provides examples and research for flexible seating….
* another article by Kayla…

*  “Leading the Transition from Classrooms to Learning Spaces” by Diana Oblinger


* Fabulous Blog Post by Angie Olson (another stupendous 2nd grade teacher) on
Flexible Seating FAQs This post is jam packed of most of the questions and answers I had when I first started out...
You can find her blogging about her teaching experience on “Lucky Little Learners”.

* Article on one teacher’s journey into flexible seating and how it went…ideas on types of seating choices
http://www.literacylovescompany.com/2016/04/flexible-classroom-seating.html


Enjoy your Summer!
Heidi


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Green Screen for Reporting



Presidential Reports were due on 
Friday....YIKES! 
Friday the 13th!

So to make it more interesting and add a bit of tech...
We incorporated DoInks Green Screen App
into our reports....
It was scary to get in front of your peers to talk 
so we pinned up the green screen I ordered from Amazon...
totally worth having the extra material to cover a LOT of area...
to hold our iPad with a microphone attachment to help pick up our voices.
We used the DoInk Green Screen app
It's sooo easy and totally worth the cup of coffee to have on one of our iPads!
Students were able to import the background of their choice and SEE what their video would look like...make note...it was a ONE TAKE event...if I would have let them redo...
we'd still be filming the reports right now :)
To keep the audience engaged...they were tasked with coming up with a 2-3 sentence comment to write in their Seesaw journal about the presenter's speech...
We made a "quick" suggested comment list and chose some of the comments we thought might work for the presidential report...always being mindful to 
THINK before posting! 
It went off well! 
The audience was engaged, the presenter was a LITTLE less intimidated and the end product was awesome! I'll be adding their speeches into the Seesaw journals so they can share with their family and friends this weekend!


If you're not using Seesaw with your students, I ENCOURAGE you to try it out at the end of the year so you can see how it works. I have LOVED the engagement and ability to connect with families through this awesome FREE tool!
Here's a peek into the recording...

I hope the end of your school year is going fabulously well!
and that you'll consider trying something new
to see how you might be able to use it with your 
students next year!

Enjoy
Heidi











Sunday, April 10, 2016

Beyond the Standards: Mathematical Awareness Month

Originally posted on blog.tenmarks.com on 4/10/2016

Math Awareness Month
Beyond the Standards

by Beverly Ladd, 2nd Grade Teacher, NC and Heidi Samuelson, 4th Grade Teacher, TN

            Did you know April is Mathematics Awareness Month? The goal of Mathematics Awareness Month is to increase appreciation and understanding of math. As we reflect on math during this time, we are struck by one particular aspect of the subject: Getting the right answer is not always what math is about. More than the right answer is the journey students embark on as they strive to learn a new skill or solve a task. The importance of math goes beyond the day-to-day standards that we teach. Often, the most important part of math is what is not written on a lesson plan at all. Often, the important part of math is in the connections, communications, and commitment to work toward a goal.
           As teachers, we strive for students not only to get the right answers, but also to develop a growth mindset when they make a mistake. Helping a child internalize that making mistakes is part of learning gives them the opportunity to understand that the mistakes they make are proof of learning. Creating this growth mindset in our students is vital to helping them become better learners, as well as developing a sense of determination.
Empathy and Respect
          Students who work together in a collaborative learning environment gain social and emotional skills that are priceless and will allow them to be used in careers that haven’t been created or thought of yet. These are skills they will use not only in their everyday lives, but also as they work in other skill subject areas.
Often, a student working with a student that has the wrong answer will instill empathy because they have the opportunity to guide and teach the struggling student on how to get the right answer.
Students can also learn with others beyond the walls of the classroom. This builds empathy as they learn to appreciate cultural differences while developing math skills and seeing life from a different viewpoint. Breaking down classroom walls to initiate student collaboration and learning can happen in a variety of methods: Skype, students tweeting from a Twitter classroom account to participate in the Global Math Task Twitter Challenge (@globalmathtask) or in a collaborative online document. The method and frequency can vary, depending on the comfort level of the teacher and the technology resources available, but learning outside the classroom walls is beneficial for all involved!
Critical Thinking
           Learning with other students in a collaborative learning environment allows students to carry their math conversations and observations outside the structured “math lesson,” granting math talk to be blended throughout the day. More connections and deeper relationships are discovered, which helps students respond to the mathematical thinking of others, not just in their classroom, but also globally. Critical thinking is continually developed as students look deeper at the different ways in which students from across the globe are solving and sharing math tasks.
Communication
          In order for students to develop reasoning skills, students need multiple opportunities to practice communicating in math. Challenging students to use both written and verbal methods of communication gives them more opportunities to justify answers. Many times, students gain another viewpoint or method on how to solve a task while listening to other students justify answers to show their thinking. Students must learn to use appropriate vocabulary terms when explaining their thinking. Solutions must be presented in a clear “voice” when sharing with a global audience. This helps everyone develop better communication skills and become more confident mathematicians, not only today, but also years from now when they are no longer in a classroom.
          Developing lifelong learners is a goal that every teacher dreams about. We want the students in our classroom to build their own curiosity and interests through discussions, lessons, and activities they have experienced while with us. Using math to spark the imagination and help mold the developing skills of our students, teachers strive to help our students leave our classrooms with more than just what was written in our daily lesson plan book. Let’s endeavor to spark curiosity and desire in our students towards collaborating, communicating, and respecting others even though they may look and talk differently. Allowing collaborative learning environments can potently change the way our students learn to develop necessary skills, like respect and empathy for others. Let’s inspire our students to treasure the differences that make us unique, as well as to help them see how math can be a common factor for all of us during Math Awareness Month, and always!


Click Here to read the whole article on TenMarks.


Join the fun and connect your students learning!

Enjoy your day!
Heidi

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Speed PD at innovatED16





Thanks to the organizers of the 
innovatED16 for allowing me to share some ideas
about engaging & effective apps.

I got some #awesome resources from the 
other presenters' sessions as well!

Do you have any engaging & effective apps you
use with your students to share?

If you'd like a copy of the 
interactive presentation 
in googleslide
above 
click 

Have an AWESOME day!
Heidi


Sunday, April 3, 2016

#TeacherFriends Twitter Chat GuestEduCelebrity




Join Beverly and I for some 
PD in PJs 
April 5th @8pm CST/9pm EST
#TeacherFriends
 
We'll be sharing 
Math Solutions & Strategies 
Activities, Resources, and Ideas
on the
#TeacherFriends weekly Twitter Chat
Whether you're a 
twitterchat newbie
or a
twitterchat regular
this chat is full of teachers 
with ideas and shares
that will guide you along the 
chatting experience!

The wonderful Debbie Clements
moderates the chat with the help of
some wonderful teachers 
to help answer questions
and give support!

Here's a sneak peak at our questions
for this week's topic of 
Math Solutions & Strategies

Beverly and I co-host the 
Global Math Task Twitter Challenge 
#gmttc

We'd love to have you join in too!

We're happy to answer questions 
and help you connect 
the learning!

Hope to connect with you soon!
Heidi
and 
Beverly



Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Joy Cowley Classroom Giveaway


NEWSFLASH! 
There's a Joy Cowley
 (author of Mrs. Wishy-Washy) 
Classroom Giveaway going on right now!
Hop over to the link HERE to sign up for a chance to win.

When I taught First Grade, Mrs. Wishy-Washy was a beloved book among my students.
But I wasn't aware of the Joy Cowley Collection of books...
#sadnessonmypart

The Hameray Publishing Group 
sent me two sets of the character books to 
read through and share. 

Oscar is the first set of books I choose to check out
...and what a cutie he is...
The youngest of the family, Oscar allows students to connect with 
the perils of having older siblings in a real world fashion.
In "Go to Bed, Oscar!", students can relate to how "unfair" it is that they have to go to bed before the older siblings in the family! This wonderfully illustrated series also helps share how being the youngest in the family isn't always such a bad thing and how small people can help in big ways too! In "Oscar Did It", students will relate to a funny ending when he is blamed for doing everything that mom is upset about :)

Sloppy Tiger is the second set of books I read...
With another delightful character who students can relate to their own lives! 
Sloppy Tiger has fun while cleaning the floor, takes a hilarious adventure on a bus, and has a messy room to clean up for a picnic treat.

Each book in the series is set up for guided reading with 
Features of the Text listed.
Before, During, and After reading questions and things to notice listed.
and how to connect the text to real life suggestions.
Perfect for a small group for reading or
for sending home to read with parents...
what better way to help parents connect the reading with their little ones!

I'll be donating the books that were sent to me for review to our Kindergarten classes at school.
I hope to have some of my fourth graders hop down to read a favorite story with a student one day 
(after all this crazy testing is over and life returns to normal)

Hop over and join in the contest for a chance to win the books for your class!
Check out all the prizes in this giveaway
Then share with your friends! 

Thanks again to Hameray Publishing group 
for the opportunity to review these adorable 
lesser known characters of a fabulous author
Joy Cowley!
I look forward to seeing how our Kindergarten compadres enjoy 
Oscar and Sloppy Tiger too!

Enjoy!





Saturday, February 27, 2016

On the Same Day in March Collaboration



We're excited about joining in to share 
our weather with other classes from around the world
in this amazing project
surrounding weather and 
the book by Marilyn Singer

You can register to participate in
the sharing until Friday, March 4th.
by visisting
You can view a map of all the classes
that have already signed up to share

or check out the Twitter feed with the 
hashtag #SDIM16
Looking forward to connecting to 
see what the weather is like
in different areas across the world!