Thursday, December 18, 2014

Pajama Read o Rama

Each year we have Pajama Read o Rama at our school. It is always a fun way to promote reading and listening to reading. Our librarian finds a wonderful visitor, such as an author or illustrator. This year we were able to enjoy the entertaining and talented Michael P. White. He led us all through drawing a variety of animals with lots of laughs. I appreciated his message: to make your mark and share ideas! Sounds familiar - like one of our favorite authors, Peter H. Reynolds. We enjoyed it!

We invited a group of 4th graders to join us for Buddy Reading. The 4th graders brought a book to read, then my 2nd graders read books from their B.O.B.s (Box Of Books). A few teachers passed the idea of using a YouTube fireplace which made for a cozy addition to our comfy classroom!

Mystery Readers are always tons of fun, especially on Pajama Read o Rama! One of my students was thrilled to figure out his grandmother was coming to read after I read her clues (Mystery Readers usually send 3-5 clues that gradually make it pretty clear who they are, but not always, to the child they are connected with) as well as his mother, who teaches at our school. 

What a treat!

Pajama Read o Rama is a cozy day but we needed to make sure to move around a bit, too. We boogied a bit with GoNoodle - it was a bonus that they had a holiday song!

In between our special events, students chose between Read to Self, Read to Someone and Listen to Reading (3 of our Daily 5 options each day).

Pajama Read o Rama is one of our favorite days at school that we look forward to each year! 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Classroom Facebook

As my students and I continue to break down the four walls of our classroom, we find new ways to communicate our learning. One of the ways we do this is with our classroom Facebook group. A few years ago, I began a classroom Facebook page to provide a 'window to our classroom' for parents. Parents are able to view pictures of their child's school day. Our Facebook group is used to communicate information, flip our classroom, share pictures, post homework and connect our families.

To set up our classroom on Facebook, I have used two different options. The first year I set up a Page. I liked that it was separate from my own personal page but for some reason I changed after that to  setting up a classroom group. I enjoy the group - it is closed so no one can view anything without being approved by myself or another member of the group. It also allows other members to add to the wall on this group. In order to get parents in the group, I add the URL and a QR code on emails, my Meet the Teacher letter at the beginning of the school year and it is posted on my door. 

Often I use our Facebook group to communicate information. Anything from reminders for Library Day, Picture Day and bringing supplies for a project to posting our monthly smore newsletter. I don't always post pictures, sometimes I just type the post - I just thought the visual was best. : )

At times our Facebook page is used as a tool to flip our classroom. I may post a question, picture or video for students to view ahead of time in order to prepare for an upcoming lesson. 
Most of the time, the pictures I post are just to provide a window to our day. Parents, grandparents and other family members enjoy viewing the children in school. Feedback each year has been positive from those who join the group. They have requested we leave the group open to continue to communicate and post pictures during the summer.

I share a lot of pictures. Pictures often say more than words in my opinion. Plus, classrooms are so very different than when most parents were in school. I think it is important they see what we do and understand why we do it. They enjoy seeing their children at work. 

Pictures may be used to help define Daily 5:

Pictures may show an activity or experiment:

Pictures may highlight lunch, recess or specials:

I think of it also as a way for parents to ask more detailed questions about their child's day. Instead of "What did you do today?" parents can ask "Tell me about expanded form. I saw the expanding capsules you had in class. What does 'expanded' mean? What is the expanded form of 145?"

That awesome things is, parents will post pictures of homework projects or students working at home. I enjoy these pictures and so do my students. They enjoy showing their work at school the next day on the big screen.

The amazing thing about social media is it provides a two-way street. Some years, my parents and students have used our Facebook page to connect. They will share pictures of students in the community (Trick or Treating, Easter Egg Hunts, and other holiday celebrations), ask questions about upcoming events and even share personal big news, like a new baby sister in the family!

An incredible thing is several teachers at SLE have some sort of page or group on Facebook. Some days I come home and just view everything everyone is doing across our building. I'm able to gain information from my team, share ideas and see how things come together across the grade levels. 

As we continue to break down our four walls, I find Facebook is a beneficial tool for my parents and students. We use other tools to interact with others (class Twitter, Kidblog, etc) but Facebook is best for us when it comes to building community in our classroom.