My classroom has become the Global Classroom! Technology has had the largest impact on my teaching this year. It has helped engage students, and my lesson plans are richer and timelier. My classroom has become a 21st century classroom due in part to the technology grant that I was awarded at the beginning of the year, which includes 10 iPads, 5 netbooks, 3 flip cameras, 2 iPods and a laser printer

A 21st Century Classroom

1. outcome based
2. Learning based on Blooms's- synthesis, analysis, and evaluation
3. Research driven
4. Active Learning
5. Learners work collaboratively with classmates and others around the world
6. Student Centered
7. Grades are based on what was learned

During the next few weeks my students and I will not only be preparing for the high stakes testing that is soon approaching, but also working collaboratively in groups on technology based learning projects.

You can check out my lesson plan for next week here!

Also, on Saturday I am presenting to new teachers Effective Use of Technology in the Classroom. Click here to view my powerpoint.

What technology tool do you find most effective with your students in your classroom?
An Anchor Chart Linky Party is happening over at Ladybug's Teacher Files and I am joining.

I recently pulled all my charts off the walls of my classroom for testing. So, today I had a few of my students hold them up while I snapped a few shots.

Here are a few I have created this year. You can check out more Anchor Charts created by me and some that I pinned here.

We all breathed a sigh of relief when testing was over with today. Now just 4 more testing sessions to go, but they won't begin till April 12.

Today students took the writing portion of the test and the Math constructed response.

Before testing began, we did a few stretches, yoga poses and a lot of shaking to get the nerves out? What do you do to relax students before the test? My student teacher also walked around and chanted with students "The LEAP" and they whispered in response "We Got It."

After testing was over, we did an art project inspired by Runde's Room. Check it out!
Tonight's #4thchat on Twitter was fabulous! We discussed all of the technology tools we have taken away from #4thchat some of which include Skype, Edmodo, Glogster, Voki and Voice Thread to name a few.

During the chat someone brought up the topic of book clubs. I immediately tweeted out that my homeroom students were about to begin James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl and my second class Because of Winn Dixie by Kate DiCamillo. Immediately, I was tweeted back with other teachers who were interested in their students collaborating. Within 15 minutes, I had 5 educators interested and all mostly ready to begin by next Monday. The power of Twitter is unbelievable!

I already created an Edmodo group for both books and have already posted a pre-reading assignment for students.

I would love more participation and collaboration from other teachers and students. Please leave me a message if you would like your students to join the group. We will begin on Monday, March 26th.
Tomorrow is the big day for our state writing test the LEAP and I feel that my students are prepared.

Today we met with the other 3 4th grade classes and one third grade class to share our best writing piece from Camp Write Along. They exchanged papers three times while hunting for hooks, transitions, figurative language, vocabulary and topic sentences. The conversation was meaningful and a lot of students received positive feedback on their papers. They were definitely proud.
I just applied for the Leading Educators program here in New Orleans,Louisiana. The application process was pretty lengthy, in that, I had to write two essays, and submit my resume, which I had to update. The essays consisted of the causes of the achievement gap and the solutions based on the causes.

Here are my solutions to eliminating the Achievement Gap.

While we cannot change the lives of children outside of school, we can greatly improve the conditions within the school’s domain. This can be accomplished by challenging teachers to strive to become teacher leaders in their school. A teacher leader is someone who strives to improve and support teacher and student success. Through my experience and practice, I am confident that a teacher leader can help to eliminate the achievement gap by modeling the most effective teaching practices, and believing that all students can learn regardless of past test scores and labels.
A teacher leader has enthusiasm that shines throughout his/her lesson planning and execution of lessons. This enthusiasm for teaching begins to not only spread within the teacher’s classroom, but throughout the entire school. Teacher leaders will begin to share their strategies and challenge their colleagues’ perceptions about high academic expectations for all students.
Teacher leaders hold high expectations for students by setting limits, providing structure and rigor in lessons, and pushing students to achieve.
They also prepare students for the world outside by engaging students in authentic experiences using technology or providing students with experiences outside of their everyday activities through field trips. These are just a few solutions to the social-economic causes of the achievement gap.
Technology integration challenges students to think critically, work collaboratively and prepare students for the world outside of school. Schools equipped with 21st century technology can engage students in a plethora of authentic learning experiences some of which may include Skyping, blogging, and game design.
Teachers can also enrich student’s lives by planning a field trip to the local library to use computers or other resources available, or a trip to a college campus so students can begin to see their future as something possible and begin to dream “BIG”.
Inadequate funding sometimes hinders the use of classroom technology and field trips, however, this should not be an excuse to stop trying
These and many other solutions are what we as teachers leaders need to strive for. Through the support and collaboration of teacher leaders within schools, closing the achievement gap is possible.

Are you a teacher leader within your school? What do you do to improve and support student success?
Today was our last day of Camp Write Along. The students were shocked when they walked in this morning because the desks were back. They had no idea that they weren't going to use their sleeping bags on the last day. I didn't decide till after school was out to put the desks back to prepare for our testing run that took place today at 2pm. The students take the Writing portion of the LEAP on Tuesday.

Anyway, after they got over the new arrangement of desks that were now in rows and not in groups of four, we continued day 5 of Camp Write Along.

My student teacher, Mrs. Ahmad began with a shared reading of Wilford Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox. This book was recommended to me by Mrs. Rodriguez a third grade teacher at my school who is also doing Camp Write Along. She read this book to her students yesterday and then had them write letters to our principal to share their camp memories. Since this was such a wonderful idea, I decided to do the same. This book was a great way to conclude Camp Write Along and have the students reflect on what they have accomplished, what they will always remember, and what they enjoyed the most.

Here is the anchor chart we used for the shared reading.

On Monday, all the fourth grade classes and Mrs. Rodriguez's third grade class are going to gather in the cafeteria to have a mini LEAP rally. We are going to sing our writing songs from Camp Write Along and share our best writing. Since there are four classes we are going to partner up and have the students pass papers every 5 minutes or so. They will read someone else's paper and go on a Scavenger Hunt looking for hooks, transitions, vocabulary, topic sentences, punctuation, capitalization, and interesting sentences (figurative language). We are really looking forward to this and are hoping this will help pump the students up for Tuesday's writing test.

I am so glad I discovered Camp Write Along while blog stalking. It has been the best way to prepare students for their upcoming LEAP writing test. Students were able to bring all of the steps in the writing process together in a fun and meaningful experience. This week long plan is definitely going in a file to forever keep, use and share in the coming years.
Today was devoted to revising. We began our day with a short video from our camp director.

We sang all of our songs!

Then, I reviewed with students how to revise using the anchor chart shown.

I then had them draw a circle map and write down two of their favorite adjectives. I modeled by using the words stupendous and scrumptious. Then students turned and shared with their buddy and recorded a word from their buddy's circle map that they liked.

Next, I had them flip their papers over to draw another circle map on the back to brainstorm other words for said. You can see from the picture we came up with a few.

Then I sent students off to revise. They each received a dictionary and thesaurus to use, as well as, a colorful pen to make any revisions.

Students shared their essays with their partner for more revisions, and then set off to publish on their blogs. Please take a look here at a few student samples and leave a comment.

Lorraine over at Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies is hosting a Linky party for teacher bloggers of grades 3-5. There are so many teachers who have already linked up and I am next.

I hope you will link up too!

Today was another fun filled day at Camp Write Along.

We began the day with announcements from our Camp Coach(me). Then we reviewed all our songs, "Write, Write, Baby",and "The Twelve Days of Writing." Today we introduced them to a new song called "The Writing Hokey."

Next, my student teacher read the book Amelia Bedelia goes Camping.

My second class had library today, and our friendly librarian came to our camp to share a book.

In the middle of our camp, I had a call from our office that my son's school called to report that he was injured during recess. He ran into a little girl, and her head hit him right under his eye. Luckily since his school is right next door, I walked across to pick him up. Here is a picture of him and I at Camp Write Along.

Finally, students began writing. Here is our writing prompt from today and a student sample.

Last but not least, a short video to showcase our day!

Make your own photo slideshow at Animoto.

Day 2 of Camp Write Along went better than yesterday. You could tell camp is making a differnce because more sleeping bags were brought today than yesterday. All students were motivated and eager to learn, and may I also say we had 100% attendance today. That definitely says a lot!

Today's theme was focused around a time when you have been afraid.

We began with our announcements from our principal, who is our Camp Director.

Then we began by reviewing our songs from yesterday some of which are: "Write, Write Baby", and "The Twelve Days of Writing." These songs and the agenda said by our Principal can be found at Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies.

Next, my student teacher shared a chapter from the book Nightime by Todd Strasser. Students sat around our campfire, and listened attentively as she read the story in a soft, and scary voice. She even had them screaming, as she startled them halfway through.

Then onto the best part of the day, the Writing!

Our writing prompt was as follows:
You teacher has asked you to write about a time when you were afraid of something or someone. Maybe you watched a scary movie or had a weird dream. If you had to make an important decision or was worried about a consequence, perhaps you were afraid.
Before you begin to write, think about a time when you were afraid of someone or something. Who or what made you afraid? What happened to make you afraid? How did you deal with it?

Camp Write Along Day 2 on PhotoPeach

Check out my shoes I wore to camp today. I had many comments made about them including that my shoes were not camp shoes. My reply was that I am the Camp Owner and I am dressed to impress!

Looking forward to another great day at Camp Write Along!

I won the "One Lovely Blog" award. It was awarded to me by Jennifer at LifeLong Learning.
Please check out the following blogs, as I am awarding them the Lovely Blog Award:

Here are the rules for the Lovely Blog Award:
1. Link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Pass the award onto other bloggers.
3. Follow the person who sent it to you.

Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies

Ed Tech Chic

The Scoop in Room 1

4th Grade Frolics

A Teeny Tiny Teacher
Today kicked off our first day of "Camp Write Along." It was full of singing, reading, purposeful talk, brainstorming, writing and even eating.

We began the day with a message from our Principal, Mrs. Daniilidis.

These announcements came from Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies.

Then we started with a chant directed by my student teacher, Mrs. Ahmad.

Next, students gathered around our campfire for a shared reading of The Junkyard Wonders by Patricia Polacco. The focus was on the "Wonders" that the students created. We also discussed how Trisha's class was unique,what made Mrs. Peterson a great teacher, and how everyone's dream can come true.

Finally students, were introduced to the writing prompt and they began writing.

Here is the snack for today made especially by me!

Make your own slideshow at Animoto.

Inspired by a pin on Pinterest, I created a bulletin board today for my students to post their most memorable experiences or thoughts thus far. The board I saw was a Facebook page on someone's class door. I decided instead to create a Twitter page. I quickly introduced students to Twitter and informed them of a few differences between Facebook and Twitter such as the 140 character limit and the use of the hashtag. I asked students to tweet a memorable experience thus far or something positive about our coming state test. Here's how our board turned out.
"Teachers who use questions strategically promote new kinds of thinking in their students and motivate their engagement in thought provoking discussions." Sue Brown- Shared Reading for Grades 3 and Beyond

Maria Wickstandt is our wonderful Professional Development Coach for integrating a balanced literacy approach in our classrooms. She has held 4 sessions since May of last year that have brought purpose and meaning to my Reading Lessons. So far this year, we have discussed Purpose Statements, Text Selections, chunking, crafting questions and scaffolding.

Today we began by reflecting on our current practice, what has been successful and what has been challenging? My successes are with creating purpose statements and choosing age appropriate texts. My weaknesses are scaffolding to support thinking and talking when necessary.

Our focus today was generating higher order thinking questions, that focused more on the higher end of Bloom's taxonomy. We began by discussing the difference between Thick and Thin Questions, which I know I've seen an anchor chart floating on Pinterest about. Maria stated that 80% of the questions we ask should be "Thick" questions and the reasons are as follows:
-To develop higher levels of cognition or critical thinking
-Prep for writing in response to reading
-Test Prep
-Promote thoughtful discussion and engagement among students
-21st century skill

Thick Questions allow students to connect towards bigger ideas, think beyond the text, form opinions or give their personal response to text, builds questioning, allows for prior knowledge, higher on Bloom's, discussion promoting, more than one answer, develops divergent thinking, and best of all increases engagement.

We also discussed ways to Scaffold questions to support thinking and talking if necessary by:
-recapping text
-Think Alouds
-Allowing Time
-Looking back at the illustrations
-looking back at the text in smaller chunks

Finally, we helped Maria plan a lesson with purposeful talk and construction of meaning. Since, she was going to model the lesson with my class I chose the book Babushka's Doll by Patricia Polacco. Our purpose statement was I can determine the theme (Big Idea) by analyzing how the character Natasha changes from the beginning to the End of the story.

She then modeled the lesson in my room, which turned out great overall. The students were attentive, and engaged in purposeful talk. I was so proud to hear all the vocabulary they were using to describe the characters. Some of them were even using the anchor charts in the room to locate words.
This week my student teacher, Mrs. Ahmad, began her unit. She facilitated a unit on poetry with a focus on identifying figurative language and applying literary devices within their writing.

Monday she began by administering a pretest. Then she began by reading Diffendoffer Day by Dr. Seuss. She modeled how to identify figurative language, and then students began engaging in purposeful talk identifying devices within the text. They also discussed the meaning of the figurative language used.

Then on Tuesday, she facilitated a shared reading using the mentor text My Many Colored Days by Dr. Seuss. Once again she modeled how to identify figurative language within the text, and once again students engaged in purposeful talk determining the meaning behind the language and identifying the comparisons within the language.

Wednesday, she began the lesson by reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. Then student's were given the lyrics to the song, and engaged in purposeful talk identifying the figurative language within the lyrics. She used the last two verses as an exit slip to determine whether students were mastering the target skill.

Every day, students participated in a 30 minute writing lesson using the Genius Ladder, a Whole Brain Teaching Strategy. Students incorporated figurative language within their essays.

Finally, on Friday students researched different examples of similes, metaphors, onomatopoeias, and hyperboles using the search engine Google on the iPads. Then they took their examples and created a simple sideshow using Keynote.

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