Monthly Archives: September 2013

Calling on Students Equitably to Boost Engagement

Putting your Students on the Spot

We all have those “teacher pets” who crave attention and love to be called on in class. Often we are grateful to those students who “carry the lesson”.  Do you feel like you are always calling on the same two students? Calling on students at random is a technique that keeps all students in the class on their toes and better engaged. This makes me think of Elle Woods’s first day at law school in the movie “Legally Blonde”.  She takes out her feather boa pencil to take notes, and the professor randomly calls on her.

Being called on at random was not fun for Elle Woods, but you can make it fun for your students with some of the ideas floating around out there!
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All About Me Digital Stories using Little Bird Tales

little bird tales

Project Planning

When I first sat down to brainstorm about cross-curricular projects for my classroom, I began by making a table that had 6 columns.  In the first column I listed the weeks of school.  In the second and third columns I mapped out what we would be covering in math and reading each week.  I reserved the fourth column for possible social studies or science connections.  In the fifth and sixth columns I began jotting down ideas for connections to the arts and technology.  I would recommend this brainstorming activity for anyone trying to follow in my footsteps in regards to integrating technology into your curriculum.

Lesson Background

During the first week of school we focus on reviewing phonics skills and sight words in reading, and in math we focus on number sense.  Many teachers do “All About Me” activities the first week of school to help students get to know one another.  I wanted to modernize this process, so I thought digital storytelling tools would be a natural fit with this goal in mind.

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Dr. Seuss Job Chart

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First Grade students love to help out in the classroom, and let’s face it; we need all the help we can get!  When creating my Dr. Seuss themed classroom I wanted my job chart to be inspired by one of his books.  For my job chart, I tamed the mischievous characters from The Cat and The Hat, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and turned them into helpful creatures!   
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Setting up Kid-Friendly Blogs with


We are all familiar with the writing process. We brainstorm. We draft, revise and edit. Then, we publish. Publishing writing in school usually consists of hanging the writing in the hallway, perhaps with a cute craft attached. Students see the projects as they move up and down the hallways, but really, who gets the time to enjoy and appreciate student work in the hallway?
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Pencils! Pencils! Pencils!

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I don’t know about you, but I have a Pencil Monster in my classroom!

It seems as though pencils are always going missing in a primary classroom.

I would like to share my pencil management system with you.

I have two cups for pencils.  The Sharp cup and the Broken cup.  My mentor teacher used this dual pencil cup method when I was student teaching, and I have used it in my own classroom since.  When a student needs a new pencil they raise 2 fingers, (the hand signal for “I need out of my seat”) and once granted permission, they put their broken pencil in the broken cup and take a fresh pencil out of the sharp cup.  Students keep their pencils inside a basket in their desk.  This seems to inhibit the Pencil Monster’s ability to snatch them up!
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Truffula Trees

As a child I always was enthralled with the illustrations in Dr. Seuss books.  I always wondered what it would be like to live in his world.

As a teacher, I want my classroom to be a beautiful place where children feel like they have stepped into a book!

When I obtained my position as a first grade teacher, I new it would be my opportunity to create my Dr. Seuss themed classroom.  I always loved how colorful the trees were in his stories, so I filling my room with Truffula trees was an absolute must!

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Creating a Morning Calendar for Interactive Whiteboard Use


Towards the end of last school year we had Interactive Whiteboards (IWB) installed in the elementary classrooms in our district. The specific brand we obtained is the EPSON Brightlink.  I love it because it uses the preexisting white board surface I your classroom, so you can still write on your board with good old fashion dry erase markers when you want.  I wanted to modernize my morning calendar procedures to incorporate this IWB this year.
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