Assess Me! A Fun Get To Know You Linky!

I'm so excited to link up with Rachel from the Tattooed Teacher for a fun Assess Me! Linky! What a fun way to start thinking about the Back to School season and get to know a little more about some wonderful teacher bloggers!

Week one is all YES or NO questions! How fun it this!?!?

Here are my answers! :) 

Thank you Rachel! Make sure to link up HERE and join the fun!  

What happens in Vegas....

I'm so excited to finally have the time on this rainy Sunday afternoon here in SoCal to share a little about my Vegas adventure with you! What a wonderful and inspiring time!  

Here a some of my favorite pictures! 

With some of my favorite people: 

These ladies are absolutely INCREDIBLE. Uplifting. Inspiring. Funny. Truly amazing women! 

And here are my three BIG take aways: 

(Duh, right.) This was a big AH HA for me, though. I really just need to sit down, and do it. I have so many ideas and goals I'd like to accomplish (both personally, with this little blog, with TpT, at school, and so many more), and none of those things will actually happen unless I sit down and make it happen. Although it's not always easy- as I type I'm trying to keep my one year old from throwing the clean laundry -that *still* needs to be folded- into the trash can....

This goes for anything, right! We all got so much GREAT advice about how you can do things and how often you should blog and the best time of day to pin things and SO. Much. Information. There's no one right way. I just need to continue on with why I started this blog and TpT- because it it's fun for me. I enjoy it. And nothing is going to change that. So, I'm going to blog when I want to. About what I want to. (If that includes my family, so be it.) I'm going to post on Instagram when I feel like it or when inspiration hits. I might post picture of my dogs or school stuff or silly stuff- whatever. I'm not even going to try to take on Facebook for this blog or Periscope... #notenoughhoursintheday. This is just how it's going to be for me. And I'm just going to own it. It'll be my own "right way." 

For me, balance is still key. I want to create amazing things and be an awesome teacher and do absolutely everything, but my family will always be my number one. Always. And that's okay with me. 

Did you go to Vegas!? What were your big take aways?? I'd love to hear!

Project Based Learning in a 2nd Grade Classroom: My Story

Project based learning has always intrigued me. If we're being honest, though, I've always been a little scared of it. I never really understood what exactly it would look like in a primary classroom or how to go about actually making it happen. 

Here's my PBL story in hopes that it might inspire you too! 

We use the reading series Wonders, and each unit has a "Big Idea" along with "Essential Questions" to help answer the Big Idea. Our Big Idea question was:

How can people (even kids) make a difference? 

Over the course of five weeks, we read texts, watched videos ({THIS} one from Kid President is my favorite), and had some great discussions about ways that kids can help their communities. 

At the end of the unit, we used Padlet to share our final ideas about the best ways to help our community. There were a lot of "Pick up trash" responses as well as "Give money to the homeless." 

I knew I wanted the kids to take some sort of action, so asking the right questions to guide thinking was essential here. For example- "It looks like you have a great idea to raise money, how can we do that?"

From there, came the idea of selling lemonade (as well as having a "yard sale" outside of our classroom with all of our old toys, and charging the students in our school $1.00 to come into our classroom and pet our class guinea pig, Brownie).  I didn't shoot down any of the ideas because I wanted the kids to decide which idea might work the best and actually be doable. 

We emailed our principal for her input, and it seemed that the lemonade project might be doable.

Lemonade. Seemed simple-ish, right. 

Well, we needed to get in touch with our food services lady to see if it was okay. 

This whole time, the kids were helping me write all of these emails and make all of these phone calls- shared writing and communication at it's finest. 

Our wonderful food services lady responded with an attachment of the school food guidelines. We printed this out and read it- (awesome information text reading lesson here!!!) and we determined lemonade wouldn't be possible because it had way too much sugar. 

This is where I normally would have quit and said oh well.

But through the awesome discussions and ideas my kids were coming up with, the idea of popcorn arose. 

Although it would have to be air popped popcorn. 

"What's that!?!?!" my kids asked. 

Enter an awesome science lesson on air popping popcorn and how heat changes things. We actually brought an air popper in as well as a regular oil popper and saw how each one popped popcorn and the differences. Talk about engaging!

At that point it was decided we would sell popcorn to raise money to try and make our school community a better place. 

Once the kids were set on selling popcorn to the students in our school, it was time to get organized. 

Drive seemed to be the best to organize ourselves, because there were so many questions we needed answered and lots of logistical things to figure out. *Here's where I'm thinking at this point- Oh my goodness- this is all going to take me FOREVER after to school to figure out!!!!!* 

Instead, I really focused on devoting our time together in class to letting the kids take charge and organize everything. And they did *with a little help and guidance from me of course*

Each student chose a "Popcorn Partner," and that was their go-to buddy for this project. 

Here were some of the questions asked and the answers we came up with:

Where will we get the popcorn kernels and bags from? We'll write letters to Trader Joe's to see if they'll donate popcorn kernels. ***This was another awesome writing lesson!!!!!! And Trader Joe's was happy to donate 20 pounds of popcorn kernels to us!!!*** 

How many pounds of kernels will we need? We'll have to measure. ***Awesome measurement lesson! Multiplication, division, measurement, and LOTS more all included in ONE lesson!***

What day will we sell popcorn on? On June 6th we'll go to classrooms to let kids know that we're selling popcorn. We'll also hang up posters. On June 7th we'll go to classrooms to see who brought one dollar. If they brought one dollar we'll give them a popcorn ticket. On June 8th, we'll pop the popcorn and deliver to the students who have a ticket. ***These were ALL their ideas. PLUS we fit in SPEAKING STANDARDS with the presentations to all of the classes!!!***

Do we have enough air poppers? We'll call and ask everyone we know who might have an air popper if we can borrow them. ***And we did. The kids literally spent one whole morning making phone calls to anyone I knew who had a air popper asking if we could borrow it.***

How will we let the kids at our school know we're selling popcorn? We'll make posters. ***The kids make both large hand made posters as well as smaller posters in Pages to advertise and hang around the school.*** 

Who will go to which classroom? Google Doc! ***Kids 100% created and managed this = NO work for me after school!***

What should we do with the money we raise? We had lots of great ideas, including 20 computers for each classroom and a pet guinea pig for each classroom. ***Again- great math lesson. We researched how much $ each item would costs, then multiplied by the number of classrooms and decided these might not be the best ideas. We put this question on the back burner as we got ready for the big day. ***

Finally, the big popping day arrived. The classroom was set up with five popping stations. Each station had an air popper, bags, two bowls, and gloves for the kids. 

I should mention here that I was extremely nervous about this because I didn't know exactly how it was going to go. And we had promised 345 students popcorn by the end of the day. I had no idea if we'd be able to actually pull it off....

But we popped. For four straight hours. It was absolutely glorious to see my kids so engaged, working together, on a shared goal. I had zero behavior issues that morning (come to think of it- throughout this whole entire projected there were very few issues...) 

When all was said and done, we had popped for four hours and filled 375 bags of popcorn, delivered them to classrooms, and raised a total of $346.00. 

Counting up the money we had earned the next day lead to ANOTHER amazing math lesson that included counting coins, place value, and addition!!!

Cleaning up was another story... Have a plan to get cleaned up! Make sure to have brooms, dustpans, and any vacuums available at your disposal if you plan to do something like this!!! Because Oh. My. Goodness. The popcorn mess. I'll probably be finding popcorn kernels in my classroom for years and years to come. 

We cleaned for two straight hours. On our hands and knees. 

If you wanted to try something like this, learn from my mistakes! Hindsight is 20/20, right!? 

1. Do this somewhere else. Not inside the classroom. Four hours later there was a two inch thick layer of popcorn covering the ENTIRE floor. I'm not even kidding. Side note- it was worth it. Although every time I took a step a cringed at the crunching sound... 

My favorite part of this picture? The XL size gloves the kids are wearing from the cafeteria. Hehe.

2. If I were to do this again, I would've assigned students jobs on Popping Day (it was pretty much a free-for-all in here but somehow it worked...). By the end of the four hours and 375 bags we had *finally* gotten into a groove. If I were to do this again, I would've assigned: Poppers, (to pop popcorn), kernel kids (to be in charge of the popcorn kernels), bag fillers (to fill bags with popcorn), runners (to deliver the orders to classrooms), and a bookkeeper would've been helpful (to keep track of which orders had gone out and which orders we still needed to fill).

3. Have a back-up plan just in case. We blew a fuse and the whole entire left side of my classroom lost power thirty minutes into popping. I panicked. But we just kept popping on the right side!

The wonderful thing about this project is that it didn't end when the popcorn was all cleaned up and the money had been counted. Then we needed to decide what to do with the money...

The Buddy Bench idea was born from {THIS} video and {THIS} video on YouTube. And the Buddy Bench it was. But benches are expensive. (I had no idea...!?) So we researched and found THESE!

Build your own bench kits from the Bench Factory.

Perfect! Inexpensive enough and another wonderful math lesson- division, multiplication, tax, etc.!!! How many benches do we need? How long do we want them to be? How much wood will we need? How much does the wood cost? All questions the kids worked on answering through research. It was basically a MATH PERFORMANCE TASK in REAL LIFE!!!! #teacherscore

This week, we'll work on painting the 2x4s.

And then we'll go ahead and put them together and place them on the three playgrounds at our school at the beginning of the school year next year. Check back for more pictures of the final bench projects soon!

We've also been busy writing thank you letters to all of the people who helped make this possible!

I know I'll never forget this project (and neither will my principal or the poor janitors). But more importantly, I know the kids won't either. And maybe, just *maybe* they'll hold onto the incredible learning that was done throughout our Popcorn Project. One thing is for sure, they learned more through the Popcorn Project than through any workbook they'll ever do. 

Do you have any experiences or resources for project based learning? PLEASE share! I'd love to hear all about them! 

It's My Last Week of School!!! And a Giveaway!

Happy LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL for me!!!!!!!!!

This week is going to be so busy as I wrap up my *eighth*!!! year of teaching!!! 

To celebrate my last week of school and just because this poor little blog has been incredibly neglected lately, I am so excited to bring you a fabulous giveaway from some of your favorite teacher bloggers. We are giving away TWO prizes! A $260 Target Gift Card and a TPT bundle valued at almost $100! Please see the rafflecopter below for how to enter, and make sure to check out these amazing teachers and bloggers! Good luck! 

Teach. Inspire. Change.


Our TPT Bundle includes the following items (all valued at almost $100!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Video Conferencing Etiquette {FREEBIE}

Hi there! I hope you're having a great week! We have Open House tonight and then THREE more days until our Spring Break!

I CANNOT WAIT!!!!!!!!! I've got big plans to spend time with this not-so-little-anymore guy.

The CUE conference this year was amazing!!!! I presented with my dear friend and teaching partner, got to spend some awesome time collaborating with and catching up with old friends, and met some new friends too! Our presentation went well too (I think!)! 

I always leave CUE feeling inspired and energized and this year was no different. 

One of my big AH-HA's (aside from overcoming my Twitter fear) was the idea that we HAVE to get kids collaborating and communicating with others outside of our classroom walls. I want my kids to be able to share their work and thinking and learning with others- not just with me and each other. The world is a big place and what better way to get them to understand and collaborate than to video conference!? 

I've video conferenced before with my kids, and they always flip out the first time. When I say flip out, I mean the other classes probably think we have no rules in our classroom, and my kids seem to have forgotten all forms of common courtesy (just because they are so incredibly excited!). 

I'm hoping these posters will help!

{Click the picture to download} 

Do you Skype? Google Hangout? FaceTime with other classes? I'd love to connect my class with yours! Leave a comment or email me!!!!!!!!!! Maybe we can "meet up" soon!!! Mystery Skype? Mystery Number? Poetry reading? Just to say hi!? We're up for anything!   

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