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! 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Robin Nash Helped Us Wish Dr. Seuss a Happy Birthday!

Last Friday we were treated to a Dr. Seuss read-aloud by the one and only, Robin Nash from My 103.9. She read us "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" and then stayed to answer lots of questions from curious 1st and 2nd graders.
Robin was a ton of fun and the students had a wonderful time interacting with her. Since her visit she has generously invited my class to her station for a tour and to record a real commercial in a production studio for the upcoming "Taste of Sonoran Sky" event. Details to follow very soon...
In the meantime, click below to enjoy Robin's rendition of the Dr. Seuss classic!

Monday, March 5, 2012


On Friday, some firefighters stopped by the classroom in honor of Dr. Seuss' birthday. They brought us a bag full of special gifts and spent some time talking about safety and answering our (many) questions. We loved chatting with the firefighters and were so excited that they came by!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Google Certified Trainer

As all my students know, I love Google, Google Apps, Google Products, etc! I am so thrilled that PVUSD is a Google Apps For Education District because I love cloud computing and all the amazing (and free) features Google has to offer teachers and students. While at the Google Teacher Academy last summer, I learned about how to become a Google Certified Trainer (different than a Google Certified Teacher) and I made it a goal. To sum up, I passed the six 90-minute, ridiculously tricky exams, created a video about myself, created a screencast about Google apps, answered a bunch of essay questions, wrote a case study, filled out the application and submitted everything to Google a few months ago. This weekend, I received my acceptance letter!
I am so excited to be a Google Certified Trainer! Google is a huge passion for me and I was actually surprised at how challenging it was to achieve this goal. Hooray for Google! :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Planting a Truffula Tree

This week we read the book The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss in preparation for Dr. Seuss' birthday! After reading the story, students planted their own truffula trees and then wrote a sequel to The Lorax.
Truffula Trees!