Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Biography Book Reports

We had a lot of fun presenting our biography book reports and most of the students got really into their character!
Watch the video clip below to see exactly who we had in our classroom!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Science Champions!

Our #1 Scorer!
Back in March, my class competed in the World Education Games.  This annual competition is a Global Online Event open to all schools and students around the world.
Today we received official word and a beautiful country that we scored 7th in the world in the World Science Day competition for our age division. Over 1.5 million students competed in the World Education Games this year!

The students in my class all participated during the school day and many also continued competing at home that evening. Everyone did very well and we had a lot of fun! It's pretty amazing that the students are actually competing against other students close to their age in real time, all over the world. 
We actually finished in second place in our age division in the United States! Congratulations students, on this incredible victory! 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Promethean Board

A few weeks ago I was presenting "Putting the 'You' in YouTube" at a national ed tech conference, when I went to reach into my purse. Much to my surprise, I almost grabbed a scorpion! Yikes!
Despite Being Slightly Panicked, I Managed To Snap A Photo
I carefully whisked it out the door and two women who happened to be standing by the doorway kindly helped me dispose of it. About ten minutes later I realized I should probably go apologize to those women since I had never even bet them, went charging at them with a scorpion and then disappeared. So I introduced myself, apologized, thanked them and chatted for a few minutes. It turns out they were vendors at the conference, and urged me to send them my contact information. Long story short, after answering some questions and sending them links to some of my presos, my blog and my YouTube channel they said they were eager to help me with technology in the classroom. I have since met with them a couple times and today our Promethean Board was delivered! 
In their words a Promethean Board is similar to a Smart Board but MUCH better! So far, I have to agree and I love the built in projector on top so our shadows don't block the board. Someone from the company is coming to do a few lessons with us next week and I can't wait to learn more about it! The students were VERY excited about this new classroom addition!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gak Attack!

After a week of serious, heavy duty testing, what better way to celebrate and relax than to get involved in a messy, sticky, hands on science experiment like making Gak?
Why does this reaction occur? In the simplest terms possible, the mixture of glue with Borax and water produces a putty-like material called a polymer, which is a long chain of molecules. Glue is an adhesive polymer made of polyvinyl acetate, which can be modified by a chemical process called cross linking. The Borax (sodium tetraborate decahydrate) can be used as the cross linking agent. Properties of long chain molecules change when they are cross-linked. The glue changed into slimy glob. That process is known as vulcanization. Watch the students react to the Gak in the video clip below!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bucket Poster Contest Winners

Congratulations On Your Award Winning Posters!
Much earlier this school year, the school hosted a "Bucket Poster" contest and students were encouraged to create a poster to demonstrate "bucket filling", based on the book by Carol McCloud. Bucket filling is all about saying nice things, being a good friend and being a kind person. On the flip side, bucket dippers, say hurtful things and make others feel bad about themselves.
We had three winners in this contest, and their posters have been reproduced on this beautiful plaques which are currently hanging in the front lobby of the school. Nice job, students! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

We Made It!

We made it through three days of Stanford 10 Testing. Hooray! The students took the tests very seriously and managed to sit quietly at their desks for the majority of the past three days. I know they were bored and found the test easy, but they did a great job and we are excited to be FINISHED! The results will be mailed to your home during the summer. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Our Class "Pets"

Have you heard the exciting news? The mealworms we have been observing have started metamorphosizing into darkling beetles!
The students have been very interested and excited to watch their mealworms go through the life cycle and undergo such dramatic changes right before their eyes. 
We have learned some excellent vocabulary during this unit like larva, pupa, metamorphosis and exoskeleton. We did a few simple (and harmless) experiments with the mealworms and students have been recording their observations daily. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Testing Week Is Here!
This week will be very different than all our other weeks so I wanted to give everyone an idea of what to expect. 
First of all there will be NO HOMEWORK all week. Yes, you heard me right - no homework!
The desks have been rearranged for the week and students will be sitting in traditional rows. Any "helpful" posters on the wall that explain anything of an academic nature will be covered or taken down.
We will not be starting any new concepts this week. Tomorrow we will continue to review and will also spend some time talking about test-taking strategies and tips. This is the first big standardized test most (if not all) of the students have taken so I want to make sure they are adequately prepared. Already a few students have expressed how nervous and worried they are so I am going to talk about ways to stay calm and put their minds at ease. 
Our testing days are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  AIMS testing also begins this week so it is important for us to be quiet in the classroom, in the hallway and at lunch. Students will be expected to behave appropriately during SAT 10 testing and there will be little leeway for a student that decides to test the limits. We will discuss this thoroughly in class! We have already discussed test taking tips, and using a Google form, students submitted their ideas. We created a script from the results of their submissions and produced this brief video.
Tips for home...
*Make sure your student gets a good night of sleep the nights before the tests.
*Make sure your student has a good, hearty breakfast that day. We will still be having our morning snack, so send a good one! Fruit, cheese, something with protein - all excellent choices! 
*Get to school in plenty of time that day. This is not a good day to miss the bus or arrive at school late. If a student arrives after we have started the testing he or she will not be allowed in the classroom until we are finished and will have to make up the test on Friday with another teacher. 
*If your student has a dentist, doctor, etc. appointment on testing days, please reschedule if possible! If a student is dismissed during the day, he or she will not be allowed back in the classroom that day and will have to make up the test. 
*Keep the morning as smooth and stress free as possible. 
I think that's everything! Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. 
Have a super week!

New York Times Article Mentioning This Class

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Have you heard talk about new classroom "pets"? We are studying mealworms in Science class and each student has a tiny mealworm habitat on his or her desk. 
We are learning about the lifecycle of a mealworm, doing a few experiments and lots of observing! Experiments today included journaling about what happens when a mealworm is touched and what happens with a gentle gust of air.
The students have taken their new responsibility fairly seriously and have diligently made sure their mealworms have plenty of food and water. Ask your 2nd grader what we give the mealworm to drink and why. This unit has been a lot of fun and a nice break from the almost-over test prep!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Non-Digital Tweeting

Since students technically have to be 13 or older to create their own Twitter account, whenever we have partcipated in classroom Twitter chats, we have all worked together under my account. 
Last week students had to "tweet", keeping their message 140 characters or less, and adding at least one hashtag. They tweeted one thing they had learned this year. 
Our non-digital Twitter bulletin board was a lot of fun and allowed students to tweet and forced them to think carefully about word choice. If you still haven't jumped into the "twitterverse" and are interested, be sure to watch the Twitter Tutorial Video my class put together earlier this school year. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012


The last few weeks we have been learning about geometry, including 3-dimensional shapes. 
The students have enjoyed identifying and sorting the shapes, along with counting faces, bases, vertices and sides. Some of the students were surprised at how different seemingly similar shapes are and the hands on manipulatives have been a big hit! 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Primary Fun Day

A few days ago grades K through 3 participated in "Primary Fun Day" - the junior version of "Field Day" which begins in grade 4.
We spent most of the day outside and my class had a ton of fun participating in all the sports, competitions and activities! 
There were several individual games and also quite a few team-building sports, like the tug of war and the class relay race. 
The parachute and playground station were both favorites and we were lucky to enjoy these two activities towards the end of the day. Throughout the day we also played outdoor pinball, basketball, flag tag, participated in a high jump competition, the tennis ball throw and a hula hoop competition. 
After lunch we enjoyed some icy cold popsicles as a special treat!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Honored and Humbled

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU so much for all your support and congratulations regarding my recent Arizona Technology in Education Association Teacher of the Year award. The last week or so has been a whirlwind of excitement and activity!
I am very grateful to have a job teaching an exceptional group of students and lucky that I have such amazing, caring, supportive parents working with me as well. When I started teaching the self-contained class a few years ago I have to admit, I did not fully understand exactly what I was getting myself into. The K-2 s-c was a brand new position, and as far as I know there was not another such class (or one even similar) anywhere. Believe me, I looked! I was also fairly annoyed to learn that PVUSD was a Mac using district. I'd spent the last decade or so using a PC and felt very proficient with it. The closest thing I had to Mac experience was with an Apple IIC in the 80s. I figured Macs were for graphic designers - that wasn't me, so why waste time figuring out an entire new operating system?
After taking many courses, going to lots of trainings and constantly scouring the Internet for new resources, I learned a lot. I realized I LOVE Macs and laugh at my original closed-minded thinking. After spending five years teaching profoundly gifted learners, I would never choose to go back to a more traditional classroom. I love creating lessons around the interests and needs of my students. I love watching the students take classroom projects to a level that actually astounds other teachers and classroom visitors. (A 7 year old did THAT? Are you SURE?) Technology and 21st century learning make it all possible. 
Governing Board Meeting - March 15, 2012
Collaborating with other teachers globally, finding existing lessons online, piecing together different strands from assorted activities to create a lesson which will work for my particular class and letting students develop their own 21st century skills, makes 2nd grade in 2012 nothing like 2nd grade a few decades ago. I love working with children who are brimming with knowledge and excitement and are not only eager to learn, but are eager to teach me about their diverse interests. And believe me - they do! It's often mind blowing what can be learned from a 2nd grader. Did you know there is no such thing as a brontosaurus? Do you know that strawberries are not actually berries? Do you know how to quickly close every open app on an iPad? Do you know the history of the stock market? Do you know how to write using the Hindi alphabet? Did you know butterflies taste with their feet? Do you know how to speak Chinese?  These are just a few of the many things I have learned (okay, I am not yet fluent in the Hindi alphabet or speaking Chinese, but the kids are teaching me) over the past few years. 
When planning lessons I try to put myself in the role of the student and think back to my own elementary school days. Like many of the s-c students I had a very hard time sitting still, got bored easily, enjoyed hands on activities and would have rather been reading a book under my desk than listening to a mind numbing lesson. Obviously not every single lesson can be a party or technology focused, and there are times when formal, written assessments are necessary. But I try to create a healthy balance so the students remain engaged, excited and enjoy learning. That is my goal. 
I love incorporating contests into the curriculum because the students love it. They get excited and will put far more time and effort into an essay knowing there is a slim chance to win a prize than they would if it were just an ordinary assignment. I love having the students wear "lab coats" (actually men's white dress shirts I bought at Goodwill) when we do science experiments because along with protecting their clothing it makes them feel like "real scientists." I love incorporating technology into the curriculum because it adds a whole new level of appeal to learning and it teaches the students real life skills - email, research, presentations, collaboration, creativity and global learning to name a few.  I love finding new and unusual ways to get my students excited about school and learning.
With Dr. Lee
I intend to be a lifelong learner and relish learning new things and enjoying new experiences. I hope my students always maintain their zeal for learning and I can't wait to follow them them throughout their lives to see what incredible opportunities unfold for these brilliant, enthusiastic young people. Technology changes faster than anything else, so learning is mandatory! Often there is no better teacher than my own 2nd grade students. Digital natives are remarkably quick to catch on to new technologies and become experts with a program or device much quicker than I possibly could. Thank you again for your support and for allowing me to spend a school year with your inspirational children. I have never felt more honored! 

My 103.9 and Taste of Sonoran Sky

Last week we took a field trip to the radio station, My 103.9 to record a promo for the upcoming "Taste of Sonoran Sky" event. 
Look Closely To See The Turtles On a Rock! Those Turtles Were Pretty Exciting!
We enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch by a pond (yes, there were turtles!) got a station tour lead by Robin Nash, met some deejays, heard a little bit about the ins and outs of radio and recorded a promo. The video clip above (produced by 103.9) sums up our exciting day! I am really looking forward to the "Taste" event and hope to see you all there! I know our PTO has been working hard to put together an enjoyable evening, the food sounds delicious and some of the auction items are incredible! Incidentally, my husband, Jim Sharpe will be emceeing. If childcare is a concern ("Taste" is for adults only) Xtreme Gymnastics is running a "Kids Night Out" event at the same time. 
Robin Nash Explained Playlists and Radio Station Formats To The Class.
Special thanks to Robin Nash to inviting us to the station and making this once-in-a-lifetime field trip happen, and of course my parent helper! 
We Felt Like Rock Stars Touring The Radio Station!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pioneer Living History Museum

Two days before Spring Break, we took a field trip to the Pioneer Living History Museum. The weather was perfect for this outdoor tour!
Students participated in a scavenger hunt while exploring this historical village and learned about life in the 1800's. Many were surprised to learn how very different things were a few hundred years ago!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day!

Check Out Those Mathtastic Shirts!
Although we didn't have a lot of time today due to wrapping up our "Kids Are Authors" collaborative books, rehearsing for the hoe-down and our field trip to "My 103.9" (post to follow), we managed to celebrate Pi Day! We had a class discussion about this magical number, talked about that it is a transcendental number and also an irrational number
Then, the best part of our Pi Celebration, singing Happy Birthday to Pi and enjoying a piece of fresh chocolate pi(e)!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Stuffington Bear Factory

This Teddy Bear Was Built At The Factory And Weighs Over 500 Pounds!
We had a fabulous time at the Stuffington Bear Factory yesterday!
When we entered the building in the students "oooohed" and "ahhhhed" as they walked through a teddy bear lined tunnel.
We then got a brief history lesson on the teddy bear and got to play some animal themed Jeopardy.
Next, a tour of the factory which was certainly much more primitive than I expected. We saw some of the employees stitching by hand and using small sewing machines.
The best part of the day was when students to create their OWN stuffed animal. They had several choices and got to stuff it, watch someone sew it tightly shut, smooth it, brush it, bathe it, tie it with a festive ribbon and name their new creation. The trip was a lot of fun and the kids really loved that they all got to keep a memento. As always, thanks to our parent helpers!