February 28, 2016

Read Your Heart Out!




It's that time of the year! A Seuss filled week of engaging activities. I love this time of year because I love promoting literacy! Now, if you are looking for activities on TPT, it may be hard to find. That's why I turn to Pinterest, the internet and other teachers. 

Click below to go to my Pinterest board for Dr. Seuss ideas. 

So what am I doing this week?


Tuesday we are having guest readers coming in to read Green Eggs and Ham. So the kids will be wearing green tshirts along with a Dr. Seuss hat I have for them. For snack we will be having green eggs! Then at the end of the day we will be making green slime using borax.  

Wednesday we are wearing crazy sock fort Fox in Socks. We will also be completing a fish graph with colored goldfish. Learning is certainly a little more fun when you can eat it after!
Thursday we are dressing Wacky for Wacky Wednesday. Yes, we're doing it on Thursday - how wacky is that?   
In the past we have had the kids design their own Dr. Seuss hat. There were some GREAT ideas. We held it as a contest for the whole school. The older kids were really into it. That could be a perfect Art project for your older kids on Friday.       
In the past I have made a giant batch of Oobleck. This year we are skipping it and making the green slime. 
Now, what I am really excited for this week!

March (Book) Madness


HOW COOL!!! I got the original idea here, from The Brown Bag Teacher. I decided to use Dr. Seuss books because I already had a mini bulletin board set that came with 12 book covers. You can see that the B&W ones are the ones I included. Now, the board does not look exactly like this any longer. I switched Fox in Socks with There's a Wocket in my Pocket because the paired up a better, in my opinion.
This board is huge! I was very fortunate to have 3 other colleagues help me put it up! The students are very excited for it. I am having older students come down and read the books on the left to my students. They are all loving that! And it is helping the older kids with public speaking skills. 

How it Works

So the board is based off of March Madness. It starts with the sweet 16. Two books will battle and one will advance. All books compete in the sweet 16 until we get to the elite 8. From there we will have our final 4. The Game will have the top book from each side going up in the Championship game until we discover the favorite Dr.Seuss book!

The whole school will be participating and voting. We give everyone a ticket and they will place it in the container for their favorite book. I have it going for the whole month of March. The goal was to get kids excited about reading! (below is our voting table)



I will be reading of the books to the kids, but the other grades may chose not to. For example, you could also watch the animated videos for some of the books! Or assign them for a homework assignment for your older kids. So many ideas!

I picked up Dr. Seuss' last book, What Pet Should I Get? and I can't wait to read it! Check out below for more ideas for activities with read alouds.

Recipe for Teaching


Looking for even more ideas? Jump over to the Primary Pack! They all have a great post for you.
The Primary Pack




I hope you read a lot and have an amazing literacy filled week!!! 

Tech in the Classroom


Every day I need to include a component of technology into my classroom. And I feel that I do. I use my smart board so frequently. But there has to be more I can do. So I reflected, as all good teachers do, and I did find more.

Recently during my centers I gave my students the opportunity to utilize my personal iPad to use with QR codes. I love QR codes and have ideas turning for how I am going to use them more! I entrusted my students with utilizing my iPad. I did this because I explained the expectations to them for the use. I have high expectations for my students and they are beyond capable of reaching them. It is my job of making them realize this and lifting them up!


21st Century Skills

Technology in the classroom is crucial for our students. I will admit, I was resistant to the change! It saddens me to see that students are being taken away from writing skills or reading a book from the library. BUT! That's how it is and we need to embrace it! No matter your stance on technology you need to provide you students will the skills that they will need in order to excel in the real world. 

In Kindergarten I struggle with the idea of going to one-to-one ratio with tablets. It makes me nervous to see so many toddlers on up manipulating a tablet. It's taking away from their fine motor skills in my opinion. So I find ways to use technology without having them on the tablet. 

OSMO

This is my favorite!!!! I purchased this for my classroom as a Christmas present to myself. Osmo is an educational game. It has games for words, numbers, tangrams and engineering. I am loving this game for a variety of reasons. 

1. It is hands free. The kids do not sit and play ON it, they play WITH it. Watch here.
2. It's collaborative - the kids work together. I utilize this as a center, so 4 kids are on it at a time.
3. It's engaging and challenging - I am loving the influence of S.T.E.M. in classrooms and this is such a fun way to get my kiddos thinking differently. The games can be a little hard for them, but through teamwork, resilience, and trial and error - they get there!


Plickers

Click on the image to go to an awesome blog post!



This is my newest addition of technology in my classroom. I was initially hesitant to implement these because I felt maybe they were not age appropriate, or that my kids would struggle with it. I don't believe that at all, now! My friend Bonita scoped about using Plickers in her classroom.(Click on her logo below to watch!) It was so eye opening for me! And just another reason I love Periscope. You need to get on there!

Now, when I love something and thing it is useful, I implement it right away. So during my prep the next day I printed out the cards and set up my class. I just introduced it to them with sample questions to practice. 

Again, I was nervous that some would struggle with turning the card to show the correct letter. Some did. BUT - raise them up! I will walk them through it and I guarantee that by the end of the this coming week, they will have it down. 


It is such a great way to do free assessment in the classroom! Go to plickers.com and get started soon! I also linked up with a friend to share more tech ideas. Click below to go to her blog for how to use plickers in the classroom! She lists all of the pros and cons for you!
logo

QR Codes

What are they? So this is what a qr code looks like. You use your device to scan the code. When you scan it with your reader it can be utilized for a variety of functions. The code can take you to a video, website, or provide you with plain text.


This past week I play a scoot game with my students. They LOVED IT! I also had them do QR codes during my center. They had to scan the code, read the number, and fill in that many circles on a ten frame. Super simple. They LOVED it. Can you see all the love this week?!  

I am working on combining a scoot game with QR codes to utilize during my centers for next week. If you'd like to make your own you can use qrstuff.com. 

Grab a sight word freebie here! I will be using it my centers next week!




Check out the video below of how I used QR codes and the Scoot game in my class.  

Search Engines

I get so nervous when I search Google using my smart board! Kiddle has changed that for me! Kiddle.co is a visual search engine created for kids! I longer have to worry about inappropriate content popping up. That is a win!



February 24, 2016

African American History Month in Kindergarten


February is Here 

Does your school teach about Black History Month? Call me naive, but I never realized that there were some schools which did not allow this. There are other schools that neither promote nor discourage the focus of the month. Where do you stand on this? 

Personally - now, hear me out - I don't think we should focus on Black History Month. Are you still hanging with me? Don't run or yell yet! I believe that we should focus on Culturally Responsive Teaching. I believe that we should be fostering a classroom community in which all levels of diversity are be represented. 

Clarification

Before your imagination begins to run wild, and you judge this post, let me clarify. The reason for this post is I want you, as a teacher, to self reflect for a moment. I want you to think about your teaching. Do you only spend a month teaching about famous African Americans, Women, Native Americans and Latinos during their designated months? By no means am I faulting you for that if you do. Believe me, I get it. Being a teacher is stressful. We have A LOT to get in during 180 days. We have to hit all of our standards and make sure our students are meeting their benchmark. And now I want you to add more to your curriculum?! I bet you are just shaking your head or rolling your eyes at me. That's fine. However, today I am challenging you! Asking that you branch out of the mold. Break free from it and run!

My Challenge To YOU!

Here it is. I want you be to teaching about PEOPLE all year! Get representative books of all nationalities and cultures in your book shelf. Swap up your reading series for a diverse read aloud. Integrate it into your everyday curriculum. I feel that just focusing on a group of people for a month, because that is what it becomes, is not enough for our kids.

Take a look at your students. Tell me what you see. I see a room full of beautiful students. In my room, they are all Caucasian. Perhaps your situation is similar or perhaps you look around and see a group of diverse students. 

No matter our classroom dynamic, we owe it to our students to represent all children. Be it so that they see themselves in a book or so that they learn about someone new. Children are so perceptive. Our goal as an educator is to build them up! Start now and don't stop, We are shaping the leaders of tomorrow. I don't know about you, but I want our future leaders to be passionate and empathetic. Are you fostering that in your classroom? If yes - woohoo! But how can you do more? If not, that's okay! How can you?

Easy Ideas

Now that I have either traumatized you or empowered you, I need to give you a How To. Honestly, for me - it is second nature. I am constantly purchasing books and that is the first thing to do. Picture books are the easiest way to represent all children in your classroom. I have a bookshelf that I change each month, so it is a great visual as well. 

You can also teach explicitly about a historical or modern figure. Teaching about plants?

 Boom - George Washington Carver The Little Plant Doctor: A Story about George Washington Carver


Teaching about the Olympics or being a strong person? 


There are SO many ways to represent people in your classroom. I feel that in primary classrooms it is easy to use read alouds to represent diversity. I will be teaching a unit on Cinderella as we explore Fairy Tales and map skills. While doing that I will teach them about 7 different countries. What a fun way to travel the world! Teaching older grades? Current Events or literature for the classroom is such an awesome way to fuel your students.

Now, I am not saying that you shouldn't teach Black History or any other cultural month. I am just encouraging you to integrate it more into your everyday curriculum.

Check out below for an easy and fun Ruby Bridges activity I will be using. No, I did not get to teach about her in February. BUT I will. Because Ruby is so inspirational and motivating.



Another great resource for older grades is Teaching Tolerance. This website is specifically designed to help your teach acceptance and respect in your classroom. Follow them on Facebook for daily tidbits. Even better - order their free film kits. 


I LOVE these! Plus, they are free! They are helping teachers teach their students as best we can. Each film kit contains a DVD for your students to view (Grade 6+), as well as a CD with PDFs for you, the teacher! They give it right to you!

I hope that you find these ideas useful for implementing in your classroom! Now, go teach your kiddos as best as you can!! #yourock

February 22, 2016

#mondaymotivation



Hey all!  

I am teaming up with two awesome women to bring you a dose of Monday Motivation. Why? Because #2getherwearebetter!

If you are on a journey to better overall health, join us!Amanda, Myranda and I will blog/periscope/instagram a weekly dose of Monday Motivation for you. 

No matter what you are doing, don't stop. 


YOU CAN DO IT!

I have to tell myself this often. At times I can feel so defeated. Sometimes I feel I am going 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. The hardest part is to keep moving forward and remembering, even if you fall back - you are still not where you started! Keep going. Your future self will thank you!

Everyone on this journey has different weaknesses: time, meal prep, overall motivation. Well today I want to share with you a few whole 30 recipes.

Whole 30 is a program that makes me feel so good! Now, to make myself stick to it more. That is my weakness, when I fall off...it's bad. But I am so excited to have accountability partners that will motivate me to get back up.

Click below to follow Amanda and Myranda!





And follow me on pinterest to have recipes right at your finger tips!


Be stronger than your excuses!





February 19, 2016

Ditch the Junk!



Okay teachers, time to be honest with ourselves. How many of us are where we want to be with our health? Anyone? I know I am not!

Let's Get Real

I am going to be open and raw with ya'll  right now. Two years ago - oooh buddy - I was so proud of where I was with my health and fitness. I was eating Paleo and working out hard core. I LOVE classes like Tabata that are high intensity. That was my business! I was crushing life. I lost 40 pounds and was totally feeling myself. 


Then IT Happened

The excuses hit me hard. I really thought I could stay on point by myself. But the truth is, I just got lazy. I didn't have to be accountable any more. I couldn't bring myself to spend so much money on the gym, because I do not have a flexible income.

So - I started working another extra job to pay for my gym addiction. Well, the hours of my job made me unavailable for the classes I really loved. So here I am bringing in extra cash for the gym and I am not even going. Well what's a girl to do? Oh ya know, pick up some more hours.

Fast Forward To Today 

 Here I am teaching Kindergarten M-F and then working as a TSS M-Th, after my full time job. I also teach an after school Science club on Wednesdays. And with working at a Catholic School I have a lot of additional roles I need to fill. Guys - I Am Tired. Plain and Simple. 

I have literally NO desire to workout. And the snack monkey has been jumping on my back hard core. I am spiraling down hill. And it is not okay. I am ready to take back my health. I am ready to put in the work I DESERVE.

Can You Relate?

I thought so. And so did my friend Myranda.
 .Keep Calm and Teach 5th Grade  
Myranda and I have been friends for 6 years now. We have seen each other at our best and (almost) worst.We are kindred souls. We have a desire to better ourselves. We have both gotten off track. Read about her story here. But we are ready to get it back on! We deserve to be better than we were yesterday.

I want nothing more than to be able to grocery shop and work out with Myranda. Problem is, we live on LITERALLY opposite sides of the US. So we came up with an idea. Through our periscope videos we have found that there are other teachers out there who want to better themselves too. Since like minded people are attracted to one another we had a brain baby.

We have decided to launch a blab together. All about ditching the junk -  in diets, lives and in our trunks. ;)

What is Blab?

Blab.im is a place to watch, join, and interact with live conversations about the topics that matter most to you. Our goal is to set up an accountability forum for other teachers. Myranda and I will host the blab and share with you different topics and resources every other week.You can interact with us and let us be your forum for accountability.

Disclaimer

We are by no means experts in this area. We are just regular teachers who know that we are creating excuses for ourselves. Having a location where we can check in is just what we need. If you need that as well, come join us! 

Our first blab is going to be at 2pm EST on Sunday, February 28th! Click here for the link! We hope to see you!

February 14, 2016

My Periscope Journey - PD in your PJs!



Listen, I am a bit of a dork and LOVE professional development. I spent my Saturday sitting and listening to free webinars about implementing more technology into my classroom. I loved sitting and listening and getting new ideas - on my couch!

Professional Development

PD is so crucial to us teachers. However, not all of us have the ability to go and hear great presenters or collaborate with grade partners. Take me for example. I teach in a small Catholic school and am the only Kindergarten teacher in my school. Our school also doesn't have the funds to bring in the resources that I personally want to hear. Like Jen Jones from @hellojenjones, she is a power house in the field of literacy!
No way my school could bring her in. BUT she shares so much on her periscope channel.

What is Periscope?

Periscope is an live video streaming app. . Their tagline is "explore the world through the eyes of someone else". How awesome is that?! Your account is linked to your twitter, if you have one. Then you can easily see when someone goes live. I follow a variety of teachers and love it because they have so much to offer. I gain a wealth of knowledge by interacting live with awesome teachers. So much better than read through a book! You can even see strategies being implemented live! 



I am new to Periscope, but it is really life changing. I LOVE being able to get on an engage with other teachers. Oh huge perk - the teachers are all positive!! There is such a wonderful online community of positive people that are just waiting to come into your life and motivate you.

That's what teachers do. We motivate and inspire. Not only our students, but other educators. 


But I Can't Get On For The Scopes

That's okay! I can't always catch people live. So I go on a lot when I am on the treadmill or just getting ready for the day. When you catch the replays you can also fast forward if you need.


These are just a few of the accounts that I follow.



 (THE place for awesome teaching strategies. 
Multiple teachers come on this channel. You can find replays here.) 

She teaches at the Ron Clark Academy - enough said!

Brooke gives us so many ideas for the littles and with implementing STEM activities

Solid literacy PD right here!


Andrea is helping you with your Whole Brain Teaching!

And of course follow me @_kristen_z 
 I am sharing with you the how and why of teaching diversity in your classroom!

Personal Development
Now, not all scopes are teaching related. Because, well, we are people. Yes we teach but it is not the only thing that defines us. For example - I share about what I am cooking in the kitchen, because to me, cooking and being healthy as a teacher is important. BUT I am also doing a solid series on teaching diversity. Looking for ideas in the classroom - I got you. Need great picture books - hit me up!

And health and beauty for us teachers? @myrandasue is your girl.

Myranda is actually one of my best friends. We have known each other since 2010 after working a summer program together. I swear she is my soul mate! LOL We live literally across the country from each other. So, when you see my travel pictures...she is the one that is there with me!
. Keep Calm and Teach 5th Grade

Take the Challenge

Now - get on periscope! Maybe you just want to watch and be motivated. That's okay. But Jen Jones is challenging us all. Get on and make a scope. This online community is so powerful to be a part of!
Remember you are an awesome educator and you have something valuable to share with others. Find your voice and come and join us!!

Please Note...

Periscope is not scripted. Yes, often we jot down notes about what we want to talk about. But often, as in the classroom, the conversation can lead us in different directions. We are sharing with you our ideas and strategies. We might forget what we want to say. We may get off topic. But that is what I LOVE about it. It's real, raw and every changing. We are real people that are sharing their ideas. Come and be interactive with us!!
Check out some fellow bloggers who are sharing why they love periscope. Click on their button below!

February 9, 2016

Integrating Multicultural Literature into the Classroom



If you have been watching my periscopes lately (@_kristen_z) you will know that I haven been doing scopes about a topic near and dear to my heart - multicultural education! I love it! I think it is  CRUCIAL to do in our primary classrooms. WHY? Because it fosters a lover and appreciation for all people.

Now, do not stress. I know I might go above and beyond (even though I do not think you can). I have been growing my library for some time now, and it keeps growing!

I feel that it is SO very important to not only have our students find themselves represented in literature, but it is also a window into another child's life. Part of being a great teacher is producing students who are well rounded. You have to expose them to so much in your 180 days together. It can be exhausting! But my philosophy is this - you can't depend on someone else to teach them. Especially as they get older. Now is the time. Primary grades, especially Kindergarten are the foundation. You are molding them into the person they will become. Leave a good framework.

Here is one way I integrate. 


I recently started moving away from the prescribed lessons in my reading series. EK! Yes it is hard work because I need to plan twice as hard, BUT! It is so worth it! Now, before you panic. I am still teaching my required comprehension skills and standards. I am just doing it MY way. 

Example

Next week our skills is comparing and contrasting. For a while I was going back and forth and searching high and low for a book. Little did I know, it was right on my book shelf. 

Have you read this story? It is the story of the Lenape Indians. The story is told by a Traditional and Contemporary Lenape Girl. 

Can you get any more compare and contrasting than that?! Oh wait - it can! The story goes through the cycle of the seasons. SCORE!

See - it can be done. And you can do it too! Need any advice? I am happy to help. Email me at eatpraytravelteach@gmail.com !

Happy teaching!



February 5, 2016

Snow Science in Kindergarten

A few weeks ago I saw a post on Instagram from Amanda at Kinders and Coffee. (love her blog name - I feel like we could be best friends LOL). She posted a video of making snow in her class. 

It was perfect timing for me to see because I had happened to bring home this book from my classroom to prepare for a science experiment. This book was a little above level for my kinders, but perfect for older kids. I love that it has real images for them to see snow crystals up close!

I have always wanted to make snow crystals in my classroom and right now there is a single kit on scholastic book clubs. See it here, I snagged it using my points. But since that will be a whole group science experiment I felt we all needed to do a hands on experiment. 

I purchased snow powder from Steve Spangler Science. It was cheaper than what I saw elsewhere. (Unless you have Amazon Prime) I purchased the powder for $10 - it makes 3 gallons.

Time to experiment. BUT! We are scientists. So first we need to accomplish some things before we jump right into our experiment. 
FIRST - we observed. We used our sense of smell (make sure you waft) and sight. We threw around some ideas of what the substances were. 

THEN - I explained that we would be combining these two substances. I asked them to make predictions of what would happen. 

LAST - we conducted our experiment (with shouts of joy) and described what happened.

(Follow me on Instagram to check out our video!)

Afterwards we discussed our results, and we packed up our snow to take home and show our families.

We also watched a video for the book Snowflake Bently. It was fun learning about the first person to take picture of snowflakes!


Another wonderfully scientific day in K!