Friday, March 23, 2012

We Have a Winner!

The winner of my Promethean giveaway is......
Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B. Congratulations, Elizabeth! Why not take a moment to stop by her amazing blog:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

If You Lead Them, They Will Think

What amazing thinking went on today in my classroom! I pulled out a new poem from our ARMT packet for testing practice called Parrot in the Pine Tree, about someone seeing birds in a tree through a window. We spent several minutes analyzing the text before echo reading it:

  • What type of text do you think this is?
  • What do you notice about it?
  • Do parrots live in pine trees?
  • Then, what can you predict about the genre of the poem?
We began to echo read the poem, practicing fluency, phrasing, and rhythm, and stopping every so often to discuss. Halfway through---I could not have planned this better if I'd tried---I stopped after the line about the walnut, with a genuine question to ask the class: Why was there a walnut if the parrot was in a pine tree? Where did it come from? They started coming up with all of these ideas that I'd never even considered! But the best part was that my little HONEST question lead them to share what they were really wondering and thinking. 

When we got to this line:
 "Or maybe to the deep and very dark forest, Behind the library he knew," 
I paused. A hand went up: "Maybe the writer is looking through a library window and sees the parrot." 
My jaw nearly hit the floor. What?! I hadn't even had time to consider that yet! Talk about being impressed. From there, it continued. I shared that her insight made me think that maybe the writer didn't actually see the birds, but was gazing toward the window and visualized them. Pause. Another child, "Maybe the child is reading by the window, and there really is a pine tree outside, and the pictures in his book are reflected on the window. That would explain the different types of birds." (Jaw-drop moment for me). 

As teachers, that's what we want! We know there's usually more than one way to do something, and many times there's not "one correct answer." We want them to think, consider, imagine---even during test prep. And today, it all started because I was willing to share something that was genuinely confusing to me, then provide time for them to share their thinking. Not a new concept by any means, but still amazingly powerful.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Adventures in Wall Ball

Setting: On the playground at school during "Break" (a short 10 minutes recess)
Opening Scene: Kids come bounding out of the gym doors at full speed (and full volume), race to the back side of the gym, congregate in a large group, and excitedly begin playing a curious-looking game. 
The teacher is quite confused by this and has no clue what is going on as nearly her whole class is in this group, shouting "Wall ball!" and randomly catching, throwing, and running to the wall. 

Teacher: Hey guys, what's that game you're playing?

Kids: (Sort of talking over one another) Wall Ball! You run and touch the wall! You have to throw it! Don't let it hit you! 

Teacher: (With a puzzled look): You mean, you just throw it, then get out of the way?

Apparently, jumping into this game is the best way to learn it, so that is exactly what I did. Shouts of excitement and shock began to fill the playground:

Kids: Mrs. Kilgo's playing! (more kids come to join in). Let Mrs. Kilgo throw it! No, give her another chance!

Conclusion: Teacher fails miserably, but has a great time playing and laughing with her class. 

Eventually, I did finally figure out the rules of the game, and even had to run and tag the wall once or twice, but the real learning? How about:

  • working as a team
  • cooperation
  • listening
  • take time to learn about something important to my kids
  • show them I care by spending time with them
My kids were super excited all because I played a 10 minute game of wall ball with them. I didn't have much of a clue what I was doing, but it was the willingness to learn from them and take time with them that spoke volumes to my kiddos. It really amazed me how much that small investment mattered to them. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Teaching My Calling: Everything's Intermediate Virtual Teaching Expo

Check out the Everything's Intermediate Virtual Teaching Expo. My friend Cara is one of the presenters!
Teaching My Calling: Everything's Intermediate Virtual Teaching Expo: Please {visit here} for more information. ~Cara

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Its Time for a Giveaway!

Who's ready for a giveaway? For the next two days I will be attending meetings as part of the Promethean Social Media Council. Why is this good news for you? It inspired me to do another giveaway! 
The winner will be randomly selected 
Thursday, March 22 at 10:00 PM CST. 

The winner will receive a copy of The Response Revolution, and an ActiVote and ActivExpression stress ball. To enter: 

  1. Follow my blog or tell me you're already a follower. (Leave a comment)
  2. Like ThinkShareTeach's Facebook page. (Leave a comment)
  3. Blog about this giveaway (Leave a link to the post in your comment)
  4. Grab my button and post on your blog (Leave 2 comments with a link)
Every time you comment means another chance to win! Happy Blogging! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wanted: All 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Teacher Bloggers

Are you an upper grade teacher blogger in search of bloggers like yourself? Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies is hosting this Linky Party. Hop on over to add your blog! I just added mine and I can't wait to peruse the others on the list.
See ya there :)

Friday, March 16, 2012


I stumbled upon this picture on Pinterest tonight and thought of how much that applies in the classroom and even every day life. It reminded me of my days as a Reading Recovery teacher. Sometimes it seemed overwhelming to think of all the skills that those children were missing. In our training and practice we learned to always focus on and start with what the child knows, then build from there. Small successes such as knowing that the print on a page goes from top to bottom and left to right were praised and children learned the things they needed to know when it was developmentally appropriate. Those three years were eye-opening to me and taught me to try and see things from a different angle. They completely transformed my perspective when I returned to the regular classroom.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Transparent, Translucent, Opaque

We made these awesome foldables last week and I thought I'd share:


Monday, March 12, 2012

They Don't Know

"I just don't know how you deal with all those kids all day. I'm glad its you and not me." I think probably every educator has heard this phrase at least once from friends and family. The simple truth is that they don't know.

They don't know...
...the shouts of "Yes!" when a child finishes the facts timed test in a minute for the first time.
...the excitement on a child's face when they get the answer correct.
...the gleam in the eye of a child who can't wait to learn more about (Egypt, Electricity, Government, etc...) it feels to have all the kids in the class cheer because one kid made an A (finally) on a test.
...what it looks like for kids to jump up and help someone who just spilled everything from the Battleship box.
...the confusion on little faces when they learn about Jim Crow laws and the Civil Rights Movement.
...the bursts of spontaneous laughter because the class clown said something hilarious (again).
...the concern on their faces when one child is upset, sick, or hurt.
...the encouraging things kids say to other kids when you least expect it.
...the fun we have singing "Happy Birthday" 26 times a year.
...the "Aha!" moments.
...the memories we make together each day.

They don't know...But I do.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Words Matter

Teachers know that teaching is extremely rewarding, but we also carry a heavy burden. Every single thing that comes out of our mouths or we show through actions is teaching children something, whether we mean to or not. Like it or not, our words matter to children. I was reminded of this important fact yesterday while talking to a child. Let's call him Sam.

"Sam" has had a lot going on in his life lately. He's completely brilliant, but sometimes lacks motivation to do well. Lately, I've really been on him about working hard, doing his best, etc...and this week I noticed that he was working really, really hard to do his best. I was impressed. I knew I needed to praise him for his effort so I called him outside in the hall to speak to him privately (reassuring him that he was not in trouble).

We get outside and I proceed to tell "Sam" how proud I am of his hard work. "I've noticed that you have really been putting forth a lot of effort, and I'm really proud of you. You're so smart and you're making great choices." 

Then I looked in his eyes. This precious child has tears in his eyes! I reach to give him a side-hug, (still acceptable where I'm from) and he hugged me back, hard! That 30 second exchange made his day!

As we walked back into the room, all I could think of was how I'm so glad I took the time to give that child what he needed to hear. What an awesome reward. What an awesome responsibility. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

We Get to See That

Every single day I'm reminded that I have the best job in the world. I am blessed to get to actually SEE children learning. I get to see them excited about finding out new things they never even considered. I get to hear them conversing and sharing about things they're interested in. I get to be a part of their excitement and discovery! 

"Mrs. Kilgo, did you know that a cuckoo bird 
lays its eggs in other birds' nests, then the bird hatches and 
knocks the other birds' eggs out of the nest?" 

"Do you know this bird called a killdeer pretends
 it has a broken wing to distract predators from its young?" 

"Mrs. Kilgo, do you think someone could fit 50 of those
 cupcake flags in their mouth at once? One flag for each state?"

"Mrs. Kilgo, did you know there's a guy in this book who 
has THIRTY rattlesnakes hanging out of his mouth?!"
 (child says while excitedly pointing at the picture). 

"Mrs. Kilgo, look these are the largest jeans in the world!" 
(aerial photo of a very large pair of blue jeans spread
 out over what must be several acres of land). 

"This book shows how jeeps were used in World War 1!" 

"Hey, I found this book in the library about The Great
 Depression! I'm going to read more about it." 

"Look, this diagram shows every 
stage of how the Titanic sank!" 

"Did you know there was a bad solar storm
 and it may interfere with cell phone service?" 

"I saw this show on the Discovery last night about..."

Could there be anything more exciting than seeing that light in a child's eyes? That's the kind of thing that makes it all worthwhile. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hello, My Name is Farrah, and I'm a Pen Hog

If you have an Interactive White Board or a slate, you can probably identify with my confession. Isn't admitting it supposed to be the first step? Perhaps it is because I like being in control, or perhaps it is because its quicker and generally more efficient if I just do it myself. But for the board to truly be interactive, I have to let the pen go. I'm working really hard to leave the pen alone and leave it to the kids. Surely I'm not the only one who struggles with this...


Customize Chrome for Your Classroom

Do you have multiple accounts with Google? Why not create one for your classroom and use it to personalize your class's browsing experience? You could have everything the students need literally right at their fingertips. You can easily sign in and have all of your bookmarks, apps, docs, mail, and extensions on any computer!

Here's what you do:
1. Set up a Google account for your classroom. (I already had this created because I was teaching my students to use Google Docs a few weeks ago).

**Note** If you don't have the icon in the upper left-hand corner, go to your customize button (wrench) and click Sign in to Google Chrome.

2. Add things to your bookmarks bar that you know your students will need. 

3. Add Apps that you want students to have access to. You can do this by opening a new tab and going to the Chrome Web Store. Here's what I fixed for my students:

4. Customize your iGoogle page by adding or deleting gadgets. (If iGoogle is not your homepage simply click the customize button, go to options, and beside Homepage in the Open This Page box, paste this URL: Use this icon to search for and add gadgets: 

Here's what our iGoogle page looks like:

I love the fact that I can now customize my students' web experience. They can easily find commonly used websites by simply clicking on the bookmarks bar, access classroom emails and documents, and even play safe games that I've approved. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I Made an App! (And you can, too)

Never, ever in a million years did I even remotely consider the possibility that I would create an app---but I JUST DID! Using this Free site:
All you have to do is register for a free account, then log in and begin building.

The interface is very easy to use. There are tabs and step-by-step instructions. It looks like this:
You basically just fill in the information in each tab (make sure to click save at the bottom of the page before changing tabs). Start with App Info and give your app a name, version, category, description, and picture. The picture you upload will be the actual app image on the Android device.

In the Activities tab, you choose what types of pages you want to add (RSS feeds, websites, etc...) I used websites and RSS feeds only. Later, when they add a Twitter feed, I'll add that to a newer version of our app. 

For each Activity, you can add an image. The image and the title will both appear on the app when it is downloaded. 

The Styles, Dashboard, and Action Bar tabs were a little tricky for me. These tabs let you design the colors in your app, but the only down side is that you aren't able to preview them as you're creating. (Which is why I edited my app five times before I got the final 1.0 version). 

When you're finished, click on the Generate My App! button in the Build tab. 

When your app is finished being built, you'll receive an email with a download link. Voila! You're done. That link should be opened on an Android device, as it is the download link for the app. It will download immediately. Just install, and enjoy!

*Note: They recommend uploading to the Android market, but since you have to pay a $25 fee to register, I didn't do that. I just shared my download link on Facebook, Twitter, and our school's homepage. 

*UPDATE* The link expires quickly! My husband told me to go ahead and pay the $25 fee and register so I could upload it to the Android market. I didn't want to, but I did because I thought I might make other apps as well, and because I didn't want to have to keep updating the expiring URL on our school's homepage. Here is is in the Android Market if you'd like to view it:
Ivalee School 1.0

Customize your Bookmarks Bar

Don't know what a bookmark bar is? Well, you're in the right place. In this post I'll explain what it is, how to enable it, and how to customize it in your Google Chrome browser. (If you're a Firefox user, click HERE for information.)

What is a Bookmark Bar?
Basically, it is a bar below your URL toolbar which stores your favorite sites. One click takes you to the sites you've saved. You can also drag and drop a site onto the bookmark bar.

What First?
First, you need to enable it, by clicking on your 'Customize and Control Google Chrome' icon in the top right corner of your browser. Click Bookmarks then choose Show Bookmarks Bar.

You may be given the opportunity to import bookmarks from another browser. You can do that if you choose, or start from scratch by simply going to your favorite sites, clicking their favicon (little picture beside their web address), and dragging it down to your bookmark bar.


Editing Titles: You might notice that when you first enable your bookmark bar, it shows the favicon as well as the title of the website. This takes up a lot of space, and is generally not needed. Here's how to fix it so that only the icons or specified text shows up. Just right click on the favicon on your bookmark bar. Click Edit. Now you can delete the name, or give it a few letters so it won't take up so much space on your bar. Repeat as necessary. 

Rearranging Favicons: Favicons can be rearranged by dragging and dropping them into place. You can even separate them into groups by renaming the last favicon in the group with a period or slash mark. 

If you'd like to add a favicon to your own blog, please see Cara's post at Teaching My Calling.

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