Denim Column

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Alabama, United States
Instructional Partner, National Board Certified Teacher in Literacy, Graduate School Student, Social Media Promoter for VocabularySpellingCity, Promethean ActivInstructor and Social Media Council member, Avid Twitterer @WhiteheadsClass, 1st Vice President for ALNBCT Network Board of Directors, Certified ALEX Trainer

Thursday, May 24, 2012

JogNog Mastermind: The Meek Shall Rise



THE MEEK SHALL RISE. All ages from all over the world are invited to participate in the JogNog Mastermind Challenge. Answer as many questions as you can to win the JogNog trophy for your school. It is FREE to play!


To take part in the JogNog Mastermind Challenge:
  1. If you have not already created a free account, visit JogNog and click REGISTER NOW.
  2. Once you have created your account, log in and click your username at the top right of your screen.
  3. On that screen, make sure your school name is listed in the last blank. You are also able to customize your Nog avatar by clicking CUSTOMIZE.
  4. Select UPDATE MY ACCOUNT.
  5. In the search line at the top of the screen, enter H8BHKAR.
  6. You are ready to take the challenge!
Good luck!
~Cara
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Although I'm Not Their Mother


A friend had posted this on Facebook. Although, I do not know the author, I feel as if could have written the words. I think all of us as teachers can understand its sentiments. 



ALTHOUGH I’M NOT THEIR MOTHER
I CARE FOR THEM EACH DAY
I CUDDLE, TEACH, AND READ TO THEM
AND SAFELY WATCH THEM PLAY
I SEE EACH NEW ACCOMPLISHMENT
I HELP THEM GROW AND LEARN
I UNDERSTAND THEIR LANGUAGE
AND I LISTEN WITH CONCERN
THEY COME TO ME FOR LEARNING
AND I DO THE BEST I CAN
THEY PROUDLY SHOW THEIR WORK TO ME
I’M PROUD TO SHAKE THEIR HAND
NO, I’M NOT THEIR MOTHER
BUT MY ROLE ALMOST AS STRONG
I NURTURE THEM AND TEACH THEM
THOUGH MAYBE NOT FOR LONG-
I KNOW SOME DAY THE TIME WILL COME
WHEN WE WILL HAVE TO PART
BUT I KNOW EACH CHILD I’VE LOVED
AND TAUGHT
WILL BE FOREVER IN MY HEART!

~Cara
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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Operation 2012-2013: My Goals for Next Year



As this school year winds down, I have been thinking of things I want to add and improve for the next school year. I would appreciate any ideas, tips, or comments you have as I initiate Operation 2012-2013.

  • Common Core Integration-We are moving into the Common Core Standards. Although, I am familiar with the 4th grade standards, I need to familiarize myself with the 3rd grade standards. It will be necessary to fill in the gaps for this group of students. Also, I want to make sure my current curriculum matches the standards and make appropriate changes if needed.
  • Better Writing Instruction-Teaching writing has always been a struggle for me. Often, proper writing instruction falls to the wayside because I just don't know the best approach to take. Over the summer, I plan to research various programs and find one that best fits my students and me. Any recommendations will be appreciated.
  • Daily Five Implementation-I am familiar with the Daily Five. In fact, I own the book! However, I have never implemented the program completely. My goal this year is to fully implement the program in order to achieve success in all of my students.
  • Revamp my Classroom Setup-My classroom is very small, and every inch of the space is utilized. I hope to maximize the space for easier flow, small group instructions, peer tutoring, and availability of materials for student use. I have found several ideas on Pinterest for storage seats made out of five gallon buckets, decorative boxes to store manipulatives and supplies, circular drying racks for displaying student work, etc. I've visited other classroom and gathered ideas. Also, I want to provide each student with a book box. I am still looking at various examples to find what will fit my limited space and budget most effectively. What do you use?
  • Include Math Notebooking-Throughout the year, I have been introduced to math notebooking through blogs, Pinterest, and presentations. It is a topic that I think would be very influential in math learning. We are getting a new math program this year, so I plan to incorporate math notebooking with it.
  • Do a Better Job with Science and Social Studies-This was a goal I had last year, and in my mind, I failed miserably. Due to a lack of time and a push for greater math and language arts instruction, my ideas of more project based learning activities, research projects, and hands-on experiments fell to the wayside. Students need to be immersed in science and social studies instruction.
  • Provide Social Media Opportunities for Students-My students are give many opportunities to integrate technology into their learning. A whole other area of technology integration that I plan to tackle is social media. My students use Edmodo on a daily basis, but I want to expand into Twitter, blogging, website creation, Pinterest, etc. Kids of all ages are already using social media, but no one has ever stopped to teach them appropriate digital citizenship. I want my students to know how to use social media responsibly.

So, Operation 2012-2013 is now underway! This is a long list but one that is highly attainable. Can you help me stay accountable? Throughout the summer, I will be preparing for next year's class. My students deserve the very best education that I can provide. 
~Cara
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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Voting Starts Today

I was recently nominated for  The Most Fascinating Blog in 2012, Category: Elementary Teacher Blogs What an honor! Would you take a moment to vote for my blog? Simply, click on the icon below to cast your vote. Voting is anonymous, and it will only take a second. Thank you for your help!

Accelerated Degree Programs


~Cara
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Sunday, May 6, 2012

EdCampBham: My First Unconference Experience


I had my first opportunity of attending an "unconference" at EdCampBham on May 5, 2012. What is an unconference? It is a participant driven meeting. Upon entering EdCampBham, the participants were greeted with a blank session board. Any participant could add their session to the board. Sessions ranged from preplanned to discussion. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed the "unconference" setting. It was a time to network with fellow educators, discuss and debated education trends, and learn new teaching tools.


Since it was my first unconference experience, I chose to remain a participant. My friend, Farrah from Think Share Teach, and I started our day in "Love It or Hate It." The group was presented a variety of education topics such as tenure, homework, charter schools, and Twitter in the classroom. We had to chose if we loved the topic or hated it. You could also choose on the fence. Then, within that group, discussion on why you loved it or hated it or your reasons for being on the fence. Then, debate took place. This was my favorite session of the day. I enjoyed the discussion and debate with fellow educators. It was interesting to hear others reasons for feeling as strongly as they do. This would be a great PD session in any district. I wish it could have lasted longer.


From there, we attended a session on integrating technology into your science instruction. As a hands-on session, we got to launch rockets, created foam milkshakes, and play Angry Birds with blocks and boxes. My favorite activities involved Legos. Did you know you can create scannable QR codes with Legos? The trick is to use the thin blocks on a large mat. You simply create your code online and then replicate it. Also, I was introduced to Life With George. It is a Lego version of Flat Stanley.


During lunch, there was a Web Smackdown. Several participants had 2 minutes to share their favorite new webtool. You can click the list that was generated by {clicking here}.


I chose to attend a session on iPads in the classroom. The presenter led discussion on apps, gestures, and tricks that would make the iPad more useful in the classroom. Look forward to a blog post on iPads. This was a very informative session. I learned too much information to sum up in one paragraph.


The last session that I attended was actually presented by an 11th grade. It was refreshing to hear from a student on the importance of integrating technology into the classroom. He actually led discussion among the participants, encouraged our ideas, and praised our efforts. As a student, he agrees that technology makes learning more engaging, but there is also a time for traditional methods of teaching. He discussed BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) policies and their possible uses. This session was another favorite of mine. The discussion was rewarding.


A lot of time and planning was put into the unconference experience. I want to take a moment to personally thank the EdCamp Team. What a great day! Now, I'm looking forward to next year's unconference!
~Cara
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