Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bucket Fillers

 We are all striving to be bucket fillers (as opposed to bucket dippers) and have learned all about the invisible bucket everyone carries at all times and how to fill it!
Several books have been written about bucket fillers. Carol McCloud wrote a book called Have You Filled A Bucket Today? (A Guide to Daily Happiness For Kids), which we read together in class. The premise of the book is the idea that we all carry an invisible bucket that contains our feelings. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When our bucket is empty, we feel sad. A bucket filler is someone who says or does nice things for other people. By doing this, they are filling other people's buckets and filling their own bucket at the same time.
When someone fills a bucket, students have the option to write out a bucket drop. We did some writing activities regarding Bucket Filling and everyone wrote and received at least one drop. Ask your child about bucket filling! It is a concept all of Sonoran Sky embraces and I am sure you will hear more about it this year.  Last summer every teacher read How Full is Your Bucket? by Donald Clifton and it is a philosophy we live by as well.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Morning Surprise

Wow, what a wonderful prize this morning when I had a package from waiting for me at school. Someone ordered lots of great items for the classroom from my Amazon Wishlist. This is the first year I have ever had a wishlist and this is the first order that has been placed, and unfortunately I cannot figure out who the generous donation is from!
We had an opportunity to use a few of these new games and puzzles while I was doing DIBELS testing students individually.
The class had a lot of fun rotating from one group to another this afternoon, exploring the new learning tools.
 So a giant THANK YOU to whoever sent us this fabulous package! It is greatly appreciated. Feel free to identify yourself so I can send a proper thank you note. :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sonoran Sky Family Bingo Night

The Problem: How can Sonoran Sky get students and their families to show up for the first Family Bingo Night this Friday?

A brainstorming session determined advertising was the answer! But what kind of advertising? My ambitious class had lofty goals - statewide billboards, television commercials and sign spinners scattered throughout the Valley directing potential customers to the school were the top choices. Based on our tight deadline, lack of funds and the fact that all 21 of us really need to be in the classroom all day, limited our options a bit. But we decided that writing and producing a commercial would be an effective strategy that we could handle.
Students worked in small groups writing commercial scripts based on copy points we received from our fabulous PTO President.
We spent some time learning how to write a script, what we needed to include and the best way to present our message. After rough drafts of scripts were written, we also spent some time editing and proofreading. However, due to our tight deadline, I aided this process more than I will in the future.
Once we had a finished script, the next step was to begin shooting footage! Many students mentioned they preferred a "behind the scenes role" rather than being on camera, and our film crew did an excellent job. All students participated in at least two facets of this project.
Everyone quickly learned that it is not as easy reading a short script on camera as it might seem! Our persistent actors did several takes due to a few common bloopers - mispronouncing words, forgetting a line, talking too quietly and excessive giggling! 
They also re-recorded a few shots so we could edit in a couple different angles and close-ups. After plenty of footage had been recorded came probably the most difficult step of all - video editing!
We used iMovie on four different Macbooks for the majority of our video production...
...but one small group also edited using the iMac, which has a much newer (better!) version of iMovie.
Students also used Keynote to create our "closing credits" at the end. The Keynote presentation was then exported as a QuickTime movie, which was added to our iMovie.
 Video production is not easy and it is extremely detail oriented! Since we were under such a tight deadline, we moved through this project very quickly. We will be doing many more iMovie projects this year where instruction will be slowed down and students will have an opportunity to play with special effects, insert text, add transitions and other fun iMovie features. Given the time we had, the class did an excellent job even though it will "only" be airing throughout Sonoran Sky Elementary School and not on national television, like many of them were hoping. :)

To see the version that airs at school, following the pledge of allegiance, please click here: 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Week of August 22

 We have a really busy week ahead!

*Tomorrow is an early release day. Students will be dismissed at 12:30pm. No lunch will be served but we will still have our morning snack, so pack a hearty one.
*Tomorrow evening is the Make Your Day Parent Evening. This event begins at 6:00pm in the media center and is highly recommended for any  parents new to the Make Your Day program.

*Thursday, August 25 is student picture day. These will be individual fall photos only. The class photo is taken in the spring.
*Friday, August 26 is Family Bingo Night at 6:30pm in Thunderbird Hall. One free game card will be offered to each person and if you bring a package of new socks to donate, you will receive a second free game card.  Students are welcome to wear pajamas and snacks will be available for purchase. If you attend this event please bring pennies or dimes to use as markers. It's sure to be a fun event!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Scholastic Book Order Reminder

Don't forget, if you are interested in ordering from any of the Scholastic September catalogs, orders are due this Friday.

Online Ordering Information:
Web address:
Class Activation Code: GK9BF

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Amazing, Awesome, Astonishing Adjectives!

We are starting out this year learning about parts of speech so we can become incredible writers! My favorite part of speech is the adjective because it tends to make writing so much more interesting and fun to read. We learned about what an adjective is, why it is important and how to use one properly in a sentence. Then we brainstormed adjective lists in small groups.
Later students each created a "mini-me" me  and decorated their creation with adjectives that describe themselves! A few interesting adjectives that students used on their mini-me project: brilliant, sarcastic, hilarious, athletic, hardy, multilingual, gentle, lovely and spectacular.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Getting to Know You Bags

Every student remember to do the Thursday night homework and brought in a colorfully decorated "Getting to Know You" bag Friday morning. 
Students were eager to show everyone what prized possessions they had brought in to share with the class. 
Some students used the document camera and projector to display the contents of their bag...
...while others presented to the rest of the class sitting at their feet. 
We did not have time to get through all twenty bags on Friday, which concerned a few of the students. But I promised them everyone would get a turn and we will continue with the presentations on Monday.
I love this project because it gives everyone a chance to share a piece of themselves and we all get to know each other a little bit better. This student brought in his face on an Angry Bird. Cool! Did you know Angry Birds are actually showing up on high school physics exams? What a fun way to learn! 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Fabulous First Day!

We are off to a great start! We spent some time getting to know each other and also started a discussion regarding the Make Your Day Program. The program will be fully implemented in the classroom by the end of next week.
Students have a "Getting to Know You Bag" for homework tonight. We discussed this project thoroughly in class and I presented my own bag as a sample.

Many forms and notices were sent home today or last night at the "Meet the Teacher" event, so please take a moment to go through your child's folder.

Forms that need to be filled out and returned to school:
Emergency Card - please make sure you sign the bottom line on the back - it's easy to miss.
Infinite Campus - this is regarding our online grade book.
Sonoran Sky Handbook - students also need to sign this.
PVUSD Guarantee - it's on an tan sheet of paper.
Online Communication and Collaboration Form - this is a really important one for my class because technology is a huge part of our curriculum.

We will have a daily snack break. I provided snacks for students today and will provide them again tomorrow, but beginning next week your child is encouraged to bring a healthy snack each day. We do have nut allergies in the classroom, so no nut products please. 

I hope everyone enjoyed today as much as I did! Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The New Classroom

It was so nice to see such a fabulous turn out at the Meet the Teacher event this afternoon! Almost everyone commented on our wonderful new classroom, so I thought I would post a little pictoral timeline.
What was formerly known as the "Math Science Tech Lab" was gutted with the plan to create two new classrooms for the rapidly growing Sonoran Sky! Along with splitting the 1-2 self-contained class this year, a fifth 3rd grade class was also added. 
The floors were stripped, the oven was removed, and the room was rewired. 
I coordinated the summer program at Sonoran Sky so I was at the school every day, peeking into what was to be my new classroom. 
The crew worked hard and spent a lot of time creating an appropriate environment for 1st and 2nd grade students. Since I was around so frequently, they often asked my opinion. It was nice to be able to give advice and suggest ideas regarding my new classroom. 
I was pretty excited the day they started painting a wall blue! You can catch a glimpse of Mrs. Woodard's red wall through the doorway in this photo. Lots of people have referred to our rooms as "the red room and the blue room."
After what seemed like an eternity (although it really wasn't) the fire marshall inspected both rooms and deemed them safe. Mrs. Woodard and I started moving all of our supplies in that day, which was no easy task. Other teachers had moved into both of our previous classrooms right away so we stashed all of our boxes in various classrooms, offices and labs all around the school. It was kind of like a scavenger hunt unearthing it all.
We spent every possibly minute we could unpacking and organizing our classrooms. It was a huge project, but we were both very excited for the new school year. This photo is from yesterday and there are actually quite a few improvements from today, but I neglected to take a photo before I left tonight. I'll snap a few before the bell rings tomorrow.
I am really excited to kick off the 2011-2012 school year tomorrow morning and thrilled to have a beautiful new classroom. See you bright and early! :)

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dream Out Loud (GTA Part 1)

It's hard to sum up the GTA in a blog post. The day is long, fast paced and jam packed with information. I heard several people describe the curriculum as a fire hose and that's a pretty accurate comparison. The agenda for the day can be viewed here and I keep referring back to refresh my memory and access resources. 
Group Of Us In The Super-Hero Themed Google Earth Break-Out Session
Meeting and collaborating with 49 other like-minded educators was pretty incredible. The enthusiasm and energy throughout the day was contagious and everyone was eager to share ideas. 

Fifty Brand New Google Certified Teachers (Plus a Few Lead Learners). 
We worked really hard all day and learned, and had discussions and presented and learned some more. We participated in a Google + hang-out with GCTs located all over the country. We shared documents, watched and edited YouTube videos and collaborated on a Google map. The lead learners (formerly certified Google educators) stayed with us all day - answering questions, giving us ideas and one of the highlights of the day presenting Google Demo SLAMS! 
The learning was constant - fast and furious. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Welcome to Christmas Morning..."

Standing Outside the Google Kirkland Offices.
Those were the first words I heard after being formally escorted into a meeting room at the Google offices in Kirkland, Washington at the first ever YouTube Teacher Studio. Displayed at each of the 15 chairs surrounding the table was a YouTube Flip HD video camera, a GorillaPod and a Bamboo tablet. 
YouTube Swag
Throughout this amazing day, our small class of 15 educators from around the world were treated to a several top-notch presentations and workshops. The first session was with history teacher James Sanders. He discussed various ways to incorporate YouTube effectively into a classroom and gave us lots of ideas regarding YouTube playlists, searching techniques and video quizzes.

The next session was with high school chemistry teacher and adjunct professor of education from the University of San Francisco, Ramsey Musallam.  His expertise is in screencasting and the power of capturing direct instruction using an approach known as flip teaching. Ramsey demonstrated how to make screencasts and showed us examples of how he incorporates them into his curriculum. Later we got some hands on experience using our new Bamboo tablets, a product I had not ever tried before, and also practiced screencasting. I really enjoyed the Bamboo tablet and need to practice with it before school starts. It will be an innovative addition to my classroom!

The best presentation of the day (in my opinion) was given by the inspirational and engaging Jim Sill, a TV and movie industry veteran who now works as a high school video production teacher. He exposed us the basics of video production and engaged us in a fascinating discussion about effective videos and digital storytelling. He showed us examples of good and bad videos and discussed their different components. Later we practiced by making and analyzing short videos using our brand new Flip Cams. 

The YouTube Teacher Studio was an incredible experience and it was nice to get a chance to discuss with like-minded educators how we are already using video in our classrooms and brainstorm effective ways we could potentially incorporate YouTube. 

After this intensive day (plus some follow up a few days later and several things I can't disclose due to the NDA) I am thrilled to be able to call myself by the official title, "YouTube Star Teacher" - one of only fifteen worldwide at this point!