We’re Connecting with the World. Again. :)

If you’ve been here for a while, then you know about the map that hangs in our classroom.  And then how it changed after some really good suggestions from some really smart 5th graders. If you’re new here, or you haven’t read those past posts, then let me tell you about it.
Blogging is a great activity for so many reasons.  I read blog post from fellow teacher and blogger Pernille Ripp the other day that really summed up everything I wanted to say about the “why” of blogging.  One of the really important benefits, which goes along with Common Core beautifully, is the global connection that blogging brings with it.  Children have the opportunity to reach outside themselves, sometimes to “talk” to people from places they’ve never heard of or don’t know much about.

 

In our classroom, we have this map.  Right now it looks really sad and empty:

But it doesn’t have to stay like that, and that’s where you come in.  On this map, we’re going to keep track of the places from where all of our comments come.   As readers leave comments–and tell us where they live–we’ll put in pins to show us all the places where we’ve made a connection.  We’re hoping to be able to reach as many countries and continents as we can!  So far, we actually have had comments from several places in Missouri, Alabama (thanks Mrs. Clark!), Kentucky (thanks Mr. Browning!), Argentina (courtesy of @gret in Buenos Aires!), Alaska (thanks Ms. Girard), and Australia (from Mr. Mannell, who is a regular visitor to our blog!)!  I’m a little late in getting those in, but partly because I was hoping that after this post, we’d have tons more to add!
So…if you are willing, after you read this blog, or our kid blogs, leave a comment and tell us what you think (and maybe if you’ve already commented, but didn’t tell us your location, come back again)!  Please tell us where in the world you live, so we can add you to our global connections!  We’re excited to see how our knowledge of the world grows as our pins are added and we continue on this journey!  Thanks in advance for your help!  We’re excited to meet you. 🙂

I Told You We Were Blogging, Right? :)

Really they’ve been blogging all year.  Only it’s been on our class blog.  A few short weeks ago now, though, our 5th graders got their own blogs!

There is a long story behind how I started down the road toward kid-blogging, and I posted about it here.  We did much of the same process this time, and it went equally as well with these kiddos as it did the first time around.  Only I have a little bit of  hunch that this year’s class will go even farther with their blogs.  Partly because we started earlier and so they’ll simply have more time, but also just because this class just seems to dig into their work with such eagerness and enthusiasm.  I think they’ve already written more posts on their own at this point.  They really think in terms of what is “blog worthy” as they go through their normal lives.  I love it when I go home and there are posts waiting for me in the inbox that tell the tales of all the great things that happened during the learning day.  And not because I told them to write about them, but because they wanted to write about them!  It’s great.

But I digress…

Here are some pictures of our first days on the blogging journey, which started with creating our paper blogs:

Some kiddos got inspiration by checking out last year’s blogs before they got started on their own.

After we had our blogs created, we learned how to comment.  And got to work practicing on post-its before we went into the “real” world.  I have to say how proud I am with how great they did, remembering to be positive, tell something they liked about the blog post, as well as ending with a question to keep the conversation going.

               

               

               

               

              

              

              

So needless to say, they are totally rocking this blogging thing!  If you haven’t had a chance to check us out, visit our student blogs to see what it looks like live! We would LOVE it if you left us a comment to tell us what you think!

Picture of the Day

It KILLS me that I’ve been gone for so long (my whole family has been sick for what seems like FOREVER, so I’ve been a little out of it), and this is all I can post on this one today.  Don’t worry–I PROMISE I will tell you all about our Read Aloud Timeline, the amazing learning we’ve been doing about the Cahokian and Iroquois Native Americans, the beginning of our blogging journey, changes coming in how we are doing spelling, my thoughts on homework, Math Warm-ups for the week, new “about” pages with the other subjects I’ve missed, and much more–but today I just have a picture.  But hopefully that picture will speak a thousand words about how amazing today was:

Links I Like

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long while now.  Mostly because my kiddos are amazing bloggers now, and many of them have started their own personal blogs at home, inspired by what we’re learning in school.  So here’s a list of blogs (some kid-created, some from teachers and some that are just inspiring to me) that I follow.  Please feel free to check them out, read a bit, and leave a comment or two!

  1. Mrs. Bearden’s Class kidblogs–We’re online!  Check us out. 🙂
  2. www.ixl.com–Great math games organized by grade level
  3. www.hoodamath.com–My kids love this one!  They even do it at home (even when I don’t tell them to!)
  4. Robinson Elementary School–Ever wonder about the amazing place where I work?
  5. Jim and Blue Guy  –Story of a cartoon character and his crazy life (Jared’s personal blog)
  6. Bill the Banana –Follow Bill the Banana on his crazy adventures (Colby’s personal blog)
  7. Hooked on Life —Find knitting patterns to make and love (Abigail’s personal blog)
  8. Cartoon and More–Crochet love (Kathryn’s personal blog)
  9. Calling all Clemson Fans–Biggest clemson fan ever! (Evan’s personal blog)
  10. Make It and Love It–I get so much inspiration here.  I’ve tried so many of these great projects!
  11. Daily Daisy (and Caleb, Too!)–My friend Carrie shares pics of her amazingly cute kids
  12. Weelicious–Have a kid to feed?  Or are you hungry for something wholesome and healthy?  You’ll find something wonderful here.  Believe me–I’ve tried it all!)
  13. Blogging Through the Fourth Dimension–I gotten so many great ideas and most of my blogging inspiration from Mrs. Ripp on her blog
  14. Picky Palate–Found some yummy, yummy stuff here.  Haven’t tried much yet, but have it in my plan soon!
  15. A Math Dictionary–We use this all the time for math help.  So organized and useful.
  16. I Heart Organizing–Just found this one the other day, but am so excited to read it and start organizing!
  17. Open the Door to B4–Our New Zealand friend, Mrs. McKenzie’s, blog in Reefton, NZ

Now as I get this far down my list I realize the thing I hate about making lists like this: I will inevitably leave someone out.  So I’ll save those for the next list.  When I remember the ones I forgot.  🙂

What links do you like?  What websites or blogs to do you follow that you find useful and helpful, either in your personal life or your classroom?  Share them with us!

The Other Side of Me

I’m a teacher.  I love what I do, and try to do a really good job of it.  But I’m also a lot of other things–wife, mom, friend, sister, daughter, writer, crafter, runner.  I love what I do, but it’s the other things I do outside of school that keep me going, make it possible for me to stay balanced so I can do the best job I can with my students.

So I thought I’d take a minute to write about how I’ve been nurturing the other side of me lately.

On Winter Break, I had a lot of  down time.  I filled in a lot of that time sewing.  It’s a new hobby that has come up for me just since my baby girl was born; it seemed that there were many more things that a little princess needed than when Riley was a baby.  So that was the spark, but it’s grown into a crazy crafting fire!   Here’s what’s come out of my sewing room recently:

Sweater dress made from a shirt I don’t wear anymore.  Loved how the sleeve detail looked on those tiny sleeves!

Another sweater dress–this one from a “too-itchy, too-small” donation from her big brother.  Again, loved the details on this one: sleeves match the bottom, pleats on the sleeves and top of the neck.

Made these from leftover material from Riley’s Peter Pan Halloween costume.  The ruffles were a cute addition, right?  My favorite part. 🙂

These little pants were for baby girl’s birthday party.  Again re-purposing an old shirt I don’t wear.  There were really cute in the cake-smooshed-on-the-face pics.

Wish this picture came out better, but these were a Winter Break project to help corral all the new Super Hero toys Riley got for Christmas.  Love how they turned out.  So quick and easy.  Was thinking about making more of these for manipulatives or games in the classroom!

Mesh bag ($1 from GoodWill, 3 pieces of ribbon I already had, 30 minutes and two suction cups later, our tub toys have a new, drier home!

                                Baby girl’s GOTTA have bows in their hair.  And so then I had to make a board to keep them all organized.  This was my first project with Mod Podge.  Next one will be a little neater.

Ok, so this is a picture of the scarf, not me. 🙂  This was one of the first things I’ve made for myself.  It’s a knit scarf made all scrunchy with elastic thread.  This will become an easy gift for others–or for me! I want one in black now.

These were too-small pants that I added ruffles to.  Now she can wear them again and they are so much cuter than before.  Again, an old shirt of mine that wasn’t wearable anymore. 🙂

We’re a cloth diapering family, and I’ve been busy refreshing all of the Velcro on our diapers.  This job is super simple, but takes much longer than you’d think, but still so much fun!

  

This is probably my favorite project to date.  It’s a messenger bag that has straps that snap on to the stroller.  And I LOVE the the inside red and the print.  I think I’m gonna try this in a different size and shape next.

Ok, so I know–this is not a post about life in a 5th grade classroom.  But it is about the life of a 5th grade teacher, and so somehow it’s fair game, right?  Thanks for indulging me. 🙂

Oh, and don’t want to forget to mention that these are not my original ideas.  Ashley at www.makeit-loveit.com is my cyberspace mentor and inspiration.  It’s just my sewing machine and me doing the work.

Are you connected?

Today I was at school all by myself.  Ok, not all by myself, but without any students there.  It was a work day for teachers before students return tomorrow.  And it’s definitely a nice way to ease back into the school routine slowly.

I had a couple of goals today, one of them being this new bulletin board:

It’s right at the front of the room, behind the rocking chair I sit in for read aloud and much of our carpet time.  I hope it becomes a place where we can have daily conversations about the world, specifically about the people and places we’re connecting with via our blogs.  The plan is to mark the places where visitors (and those who leave comments) to our site are from.  I anticipate some really rich conversations around culture and geography will spark from this map–thanks to you, our readers.  Can’t wait to see how full the board becomes as the year goes on.

Will you help us?  We’d love to set the goal of getting as many different pins as possible on our map! Be sure to leave us a comment after you read and tell us a little about your town and yourself.  My kids would love it if you did the same on their blogs, as well, which can be found at www.kidblog.org/MrsBeardensClass2.

Can’t wait to see who we will meet this year!

New Year, New Theme

So if you’re here as a returning reader, then WELCOME BACK and HAPPY NEW YEAR! If you’re here for the first time, WELCOME and HAPPY NEW YEAR to you, too!

Just wanted to take a minute to say hope your 2012 is off to a great start! I wanted to officially start off a new blogging year with a new theme. Ok, I really just can’t decide which theme I like best and so I decided this would be a good time to try out another one that looked good.

But whatever the reason, I hope for you your best year yet. Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? My kids will be blogging about that very topic this week, but until you read theirs, tell us about yours. 🙂

Ready, Set, Blog!

We did it.  We’re officially online!

After a little technological hiccup yesterday, we set today as the day for our first “real” blog posts.  Remember how I’m always saying my kids are amazing? Well, today they did not disappoint. 🙂

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I know you will want to read what they’re doing, and I know they will love to have you read it!  And, as most of them remembered to add to their posts, please remember to leave a comment!

Check us out at www.kidblog.org/MrsBeardensClass2!

 

Entering the Blogosphere

If you would have asked me last school year if I’d ever have a blog, I’d have said you were nuts.  I knew what they were, but didn’t see myself as a blogger; I didn’t have a story that anyone wanted to hear.  I wasn’t really sure what I’d write about–up to that point I’d only written for myself as the audience in my notebook.  So then if your next question would have been if my kids would be bloggers, then I’d have considered you certifiable.

So I guess you’re all crazy–and I am, too!–because my class has a blog, and my kids started their blogging journey this week, too!

Before I go any further, I have to give a shout-out and a thanks to Pernille Ripp (@pernilleripp) and Karen McMillan (@mcteach) for providing many useful blogging resources to teachers like me who have a great idea but don’t really know where to start.  Their assistance via Twitter and their own blogs has been unbelievable!

Now for the story:

I have been talking up blogging since pretty much day one.  I started the class blog that you’re reading in July, after talking alot with my brother, who teaches high school math and just finished his Masters in Educational Technology (or something like that–sorry if I got the title wrong, Chuck!).  I have been writing for a long while now, but I needed another outlet.  At this same time, I also joined Twitter, and have been learning much from my “tweeps” ever since.  That’s actually where I got the idea for blogging with kids.

I was noticing that so many people were tweeting about updated posts by their kids, and so I started reading.  I soon learned that there a tons of kids out there who are learning super important lessons about writing and internet safety (and too many more to name) because they are blogging.  Even kindergarteners.  Yep, 5 and 6 year olds.  So the more I read, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew I wanted my kids to join them.  And so I began planning on how my 5th graders would enter the blogosphere.

We started on Wednesday, with a lesson that I called “Blogging 101.”  It was funny that I had to explain the “101” part to my kids–they had never heard of that before.  We talked about what background knowledge they had for the word LOG, and discussed how a log is a place where someone (like a pilot or ship captain) writes down important things that happen, organized by dates.  They were able to then transfer that idea to web-log, or blog, and we were in business.

They already have experience with this blog that I write, because we read it together almost everyday, and many of them have been following and commenting for months now.  I showed them several of the other blogs I follow, like Make It and Love It, the Candy Blog (that one is one of my hubby’s favorites, actually), Bake at 350 and Daily Daisy (and Caleb, too!).  We talked about what we noticed about both the appearance and theme of each one.  At this point they were chomping at the bit to get going–but there was another very important thing we had to talk about next: safety.

Thanks to an idea I found from Pernille Ripp again, we talked about why internet safety is like the mall.  While my students, who are 10-11-year-olds, don’t spend a lot of time at the mall or other places by themselves yet, they knew some really smart things to do and not do: not talk to strangers, not share their personal information with random people, only go where you tell your parents you’re going and stay there the whole time, and so on.  I was really pleased, because I knew I was going to be talking about how the very same things would keep them safe while they were on the internet on their own.  We talked through an internet safety plan, that they were to take home to share with their parents and have signed.

Next step: first blog post.  But not online, on paper.  They created a rough draft to tell about themselves, then edited and made a final draft on 9X12 oak tag.  This was serious business in our room.

     

    

After two days’ worth of work, we had finished paper blog posts and we were ready to learn about what makes blogging interesting: commenting.  I shared some guidelines, and we talked about what they were thinking.  I gave them some ideas for comment starters (shared by Karen McMillan on her blog Notes from McTeach), and my kiddos were great to connect some conversation prompts we already use in our classroom to this new learning.  Each student was given a pad of sticky notes, and the were off.  I turned on some quiet music, and they went to work.  They read, they thought, they commented.  For almost 45 minutes!  Yes, you heard right–45 minutes of silence and students focused on sharing their thoughts with their friends.

        

                     

After a while, everyone’s blogs started to become a beautiful rainbow of colored post-its, each containing kind and constructive words from their classmates.

Once everyone had had a chance to comment on blogs (and comment on other comments), we took some time to read what others had written, and then sat down to debrief and celebrate.  As we gathered in a circle on our carpet, I asked them to share with each other whatever they were thinking about what we had just done.  Here were some of their words:

I liked it.  I think this was a good experience for knowing what we’re going to do on our “real” blog.

I think it’s cool because we were talking with paper–kind of like having a conversation, but definitely different.

I think that it was really fun.

It was fun because you got to pass notes and you don’t get to do that in class normally.

It’s great that we got to learn something new while we were having fun together.

This reminded me of Harry Potter–like passing owls–we got to come back and reply to a note that someone wrote.  I really felt like someone was noticing me.

I was excited when Kelsey was replying to my answers, I had to reply back!

So we’re on to the internet on Monday, to be introduced to our kidblog.org blogs.  We hope to have our first “real” posts up by Wednesday.  I have to say I’m impressed.  I am amazed.  I knew it would be good, but it went even better than I anticipated.  It was so cool how engaged they were, how eager they were to share their thoughts and read the thoughts of their classmates, how kind and generous they were with their words.  I didn’t have to censor anyone’s comments; they were completely honest and gracious as they told each other how much they liked what they had read, asked questions to dig deeper and to encourage future work, and to make connections to what the blogger had written.  They commented on each others’ comments, too, and we even ended up with one long string of sticky notes that was about 10 long!  I was so proud of my students once this was completed, and am so excited to see what they do next.  I know it will be amazing.  Because they are amazing. 🙂

Enjoy our first finished projects:

           

               

                    

                                    

                  

                        

          

                          

                                

               

Writing Challenge

I read lots of other people’s blogs.  Most are either teachers or crafters.  Today I read one that I really loved, and thought I’d share here.  It’s a writing challenge that I’m taking on.  Ok, well really it’s something I already do, but love a challenge, so I’m in.  Read about it here and see if you’re in, too.  BELIEVE ME, we’ll talk alot more about it once we get started with Writer’s Workshop, but I thought I’d give you a chance for a head start.  Don’t know what to write about today?  How about the favorite thing you did this summer, or what you wish you’d done this summer that you didn’t get a chance to do.  The biggest thing is that you write, not what you write about. 🙂