Monday, November 30, 2015

Camp Share-A-Story

Last week, on the day before Thanksgiving break, the 5th grade students went camping in their own classroom!  I transformed the room into Camp Share-A-Story.  
Ranger Bowman
The students never get a chance to read aloud their writing in class, and they get so disappointed when we don't have time to share.  I thought, since Thanksgiving week is short, we could use an hour to read aloud a couple of samples of our favorite writing pieces from our Writer's Notebook.
The students enjoyed eating S'mores dip/Graham crackers and drinking milk while listening to each other read aloud around a fake camp fire.  The sounds of a crackling fire played on the Promethean board and made the experience seem even more realistic.  As you can imagine, they had a blast at "camp."

Friday, October 30, 2015

"Everybody Talks" Parody

It's that time of the school year--the "honeymoon" phase is over and the kiddos are starting to feel more comfortable...and talkative. 

I have an especially chatty class this year, but I also have strong classroom management skills, so we are doing just fine.  However, I was inspired by my students to rewrite the lyrics of "Everybody Talks" by Neon Trees.  This was just silly fun, but I'm sure some of you teachers can relate with my song. 

You can access my recording HERE and follow along with the lyrics below.  Don't judge my voice; I'm no singer!  


Everybody Talks
Ahhh—ahhh-ahhh  (Ahem)
Hey, students won’t you look my way?
Don’t you let us have this friction.
Hey, students, all I gotta say is
I wanna have your attention.
You’re my awesome kiddos
but this happens all the time…

I realize that everybody talks, everybody talks, everybody talks.

It starts off with a whisper
And don’t think that I missed it!
And then it makes my head hurt.
I can hear the chit chat
Don’t think I can deal with that
Mrs. Bowman wants to backtrack
When everybody talks back

I get you wanna speak your mind
just don’t do it while I’m teaching
Too much can be an overdose
and leave me with bad feelings.

Oh my, my, my
Everybody talks, everybody talks, everybody talks too much!

It starts off with a whisper
And don’t think that I missed it!
And then it makes my head hurt.
I can hear the chit chat
Don’t think I can deal with that
Mrs. Bowman wants to backtrack
When everybody talks back

I don’t wanna deal with this all day
When everybody’s words get in the way.

(Instrumental break)

Hey students give us all respect
Don’t you give us no more friction
Hey, students, what you gotta say?

It starts off with a whisper
And don’t think that I missed it!
And then it makes my head hurt.
I can hear the chit chat
Don’t think I can deal with that
Mrs. Bowman wants to backtrack
When everybody talks back

Everybody talks, everybody talks
 Everybody talks, everybody talks
Everybody talks, everybody talks back

It starts off with a whisper
And don’t think that I missed it!

Everybody talks, everybody talks back

Friday, September 4, 2015

A "Good" Teacher

Several weeks ago, I was told by someone who had never seen me teach, "You are such a good teacher!"  I graciously replied, "Thank you!" but my over-analytical mind went straight to, "Why would you say that?  You've never been in my classroom.  Just because you heard about a cool activity I did, doesn't mean I'm a gifted teacher."

So, I began thinking, What does it mean to be a good teacher?  I brainstormed using Popplet and here's the mind map I created:
To me, being a good teacher means being an effective teacher.  I want to really impact my students' learning.  I feel that anyone can lead a cool activity; however, I want to impact the way they think.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

EdCamp Leon 2015

Today, Leon County hosted its third annual EdCamp, and I'm so glad I was able to attend again this year.  Like my other EdCamp posts, I'm simply going to share what I participated in throughout the day.
Registration lasted an hour, from 9:00-10:00 a.m.  When I arrived, I noticed a few coworkers, but I also recognized the friendly face of a teacher I know in a local public school.  We have sort of a history together (I taught his child and have also worked with his wife).  He soon approached me and asked if I'd like to present with him today about student engagement.  At first, I said, "Don't teachers already know about student engagement?"  To which he responded, "Do they??"  I said, "I think everything I would have to share, most teachers already know."  He reminded me of the Whole Brain Teaching techniques I use, plus my chants/singing/dancing, Mystery Skype, classroom transformations, etc.  He's observed my teaching.  Finally, I decided I would present with him.  I wasn't really prepared, but he assured me it would be more conversation-style than true presentation-style.  Within 15 minutes, we were standing in front of our audience.
There were four sessions of presentations throughout the day, and we were in the first group:
Just ignore the misspelled words.  I didn't type the schedule, but I assure you, we were sharing about "Student Engagement," not "Student Engagment."

I was kind of surprised when we went to our room--every seat was full and we needed to pull in more chairs.  Apparently, more teachers than I thought are interested in student engagement!  Bryan mainly led the conversation, but I jumped in and shared when I felt like it.  There was a great flow to the presentation, I thought, and many of the teachers shared their own ideas and strategies.  We discussed Bill McBride's Six C's of Engagement, various attention getters, Whole Brain Teaching, Ron Clark Academy techniques, and a variety of resources.  We recommended all of Ron Clark's books, Inside the Trenches by Adam Dovico, and Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire by Rafe Esquith. 

The second session I chose to go to was called Roadtrip Nation.  It was a good resource, but really geared more toward upper middle and high school students.  Roadtrip Nation is about career exploration, and we looked at several links from www.roadtripnation.org.

After the second session, it was lunch time.  Salad, pizza, and drinks were provided, and we were all able to talk and share with each other at lunch.  I'm so glad we had this networking/sharing time because we didn't last year.  Instead, we had to sit through a webcast that wasn't relevant, in my opinion.  Today's sharing time was much more valuable. 

My third session was titled, "Connecting with Florida Educators."  I learned about Google Hangouts, EdCamp Global, and #FLedChat on Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. on Twitter.  #cantwait.  This session revolved around participating in a Hangout with EdCamp Volusia, the cofounder of EdCamp Tampa Bay, and Jerry Blumengarten. 
I was a little star-struck when I saw Jerry on screen.  I know him as @cybraryman1 on Twitter, so it was fun to get to chat with him for a bit.  His online resources have been so beneficial to me, and I encourage you to check out his pages: www.cybraryman.com.  He has a plethora of information. 

Finally, my last session was "iPad Everything" and we were able to share apps/resources and discuss how we use iPads in our classrooms.

We ended the day with prizes, and I actually won an Interactive Whiteboard System:
There were some great prizes offered including a document camera, the IWB Systems, webcams, free registrations to FETC (Florida Educational Technology Conference), Plickers, t-shirts, etc.  I believe everyone walked away with something.

One final cool thing happened that left me in tears (of gratitude).  Once the conference ended, I spoke with a lady who organizes the FETC event.  Unbeknownst to me, she had come to the presentation I shared in earlier that morning.  During our conversation, she referred to my blog and I mentioned that I help with technology workshops at my school.  She said, "You need to come to FETC."  I told her that I've always wanted to go, but I teach at a private school and we just don't have the funds to send our teachers to a huge conference like that.  She invited me to the next conference and gave me a free registration!  Tears immediately started welling up in my eyes.  As she was pulling out her card and writing the information down, I asked, "Are you really doing this for me?!"  I was so excited, overcome with gratitude, and just tried to pick my jaw off the floor!  Without going into detail, this past year has been incredibly difficult for me personally.  I've had to deal with great disappointment, so when this moment happened, I had a hard time processing it--Is something good really happening to me?!  This isn't typical.  What's going on?!

I'm sure for the average person, my excitement may seem overboard and way too dramatic.  However, I love conferences...I love learning...and FETC is something I've wanted to attend for at least three years.  It's one of the nation's largest educational technology conferences.  I am thrilled!  The conference is in January, and I can't wait to share with you what I learn and experience.  It's going to be great!

As you can see, EdCamp Leon was another success, and I had a wonderful time!  

Friday, May 29, 2015

End of Year Gifts

This year, I decided to give my students something that would get them in the mood for summer (as if they weren't already in the mood!).  Inspired by Pinterest, I gave each child an inflatable beach ball and we took time in class to sign each other's.  This gift was so easy and a huge hit:
Static electricity discovery took place while we were waiting for everyone to inflate their ball:
In addition to student gifts, I also gave my parent volunteers a gift of appreciation for their help this year:
A pitcher and various Crystal Light drink mixes

If you'd like to print the "Thanks for Pitching In" tags seen above, click HERE to go to the What the Teacher Wants blog post.

Finally, I had a high school student helper this year.  She loves dark chocolate, so I bought her an assortment of Lindt dark chocolate and some lip balm with the following tag from U-Create Crafts:
So cute, right?!  I just love Pinterest-inspired gifts. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Celebrating the end of the school year...

The last two weeks of school have been a little tough.  Many of my students have already "checked out."  We are tired and ready for summer.  Listening skills are lacking and I'm trying my best to keep the students focused until the last day.  It's very difficult.

To try to get them more engaged, we decided to do one fun activity each day until the last day of school.  At this point, we are only two days away from summer!  Here's our list of activities that we started last Monday:

1.  Name Change Day (my students were able to pick out a new name for themselves and I called them by this new name all day.  I had them wear name tags so I could recall their names.  The class said that I needed a new name too.  Yes!  Now I don't have to hear "Mrs. Bowman" a million times a day!  They decided my new name was Mrs. Namwob (Mrs. Bowman spelled backwards).

2.  15 minutes Extra Recess

3.  Gum Day (students brought their own gum, but I also supplied each student with a handful of Dubble Bubble)

4.  Sit Where You Want Day

5.  Soda Day (students brought their own soda)

6.  iPad Play (I gave the students about 20 minutes of free iPad time)

7.  Donuts for Everyone (This was easy because we won a donut party for bringing in the highest number of Box Tops for the school)

8.  A visit from Miko (My little 10 pound, Yorkie mix paid a visit to the class.  I felt this meeting was appropriate because my students have had to listen to stories about him all year.)

9.  Last Day of School party at Fun Station! 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Safety Patrol Luncheon

Each year, the 5th graders have the opportunity to participate in Safety Patrol.  This is a pretty big deal that requires interested students to submit an application as well as letters of reference and then take part in a scheduled interview with the principal.  Once accepted, students can sign up for either morning or afternoon patrol.  During morning patrol, members help make sure that younger students get to their building/classroom safely; during afternoon duty, members help keep everyone quiet during pick-up and answer any questions the younger students may have.  5th graders who participate must keep up their academic and conduct grades or else they will be put on probation.  Students typically take their jobs seriously. 

At the end of the school year, we thank them for their service by providing a Safety Patrol Luncheon in their honor.  We usually treat them to either pizza or subs, a dessert, and then we play games/trivia for prizes, followed by selected students reading aloud their Safety Patrol essay.  A few days before the luncheon, I require the students to write a brief essay about their Safety Patrol (SP) experience.  In it, they include their assigned duty/post, what they enjoyed most about SP, what being a SP member taught them, and their most memorable moment while on patrol. 

Here are a few photos from this year's luncheon, as well as two sample essays:
 Playing a timed "Unscramble the Words" game
Finally, I'd like to share two essays.  FYI, the students completed these on their own without any assistance from me.  I was especially pleased with the first essay because of the word choice.  The second essay knocked my socks off because it was written by a student who made huge progress throughout the year.  At the beginning of the year, I would never have guessed that this child would be able to write so eloquently.  I am so proud!

First essay:
"During my 5th grade year at CCS, I was a part of the Safety Patrol team.  I was assigned afternoon duty.  The best thing about being a Safety Patrol student was being able to help younger children learn how to behave at car pick-up and teaching them that bad behavior has consequences.  My favorite Safety Patrol memory was when (insert another student's name) loudly announced that I was her favorite Safety Patrol.  One thing I learned during my time as a Safety Patrol was that sometimes being strict is better than giving a lot of grace.  I learned this because very few children changed their behavior if I constantly gave them warnings and never gave strikes.  In all, I enjoyed being a Safety Patrol student and wish I could have an opportunity to do it every school year."

Second essay:
"During my fifth grade year, I decided to commit to being a Safety Patrol member.  As a Safety Patrol, you have two jobs available--morning and afternoon, or you can do both.  At the first quarter of school, I did both, and at the second, I did afternoon.  The best thing about being morning patrol is getting to see the school when it's vacant.  The best part of being afternoon patrol is not needing to sit on the wall and do nothing.  My favorite memory was when I had morning patrol and I got hot chocolate.  Out of the whole year of being Safety Patrol, I learned how to be a better leader."


Thank you, 5th graders, for your service this year!