Welcome to My Office

Welcome to my office. I’d offer you a seat, but I can’t get to my own right now.  

Show your office. I am sure they meant the office when it is neat and clean. However, this is life. This week I’ve had a huge book order from First Book arrive. This is about 2/3 of the order. My Demco supplies arrived today. Tomorrow night is our STEM family night, and I am doing Plastic Cup towers. Let’s now forget the on going weeding process. Thus the book cart. And the headphones that need a new home. And, And, And... 

Most items will be put away by the end of the week. Until then, this is it. 

I also have an office at home. It is fairly clean. Mainly because I misplaced a ring two weeks ago. Since I am notorious for taking them off while working, I cleaned my desk to look for it. 

The Dell monitor is new. I like working on a larger screen. I can scale the page to actual size. I get a true sense of placement and what the final page will look like. 

I may or may not put a Netflix show on the laptop screen while I am working. Right now I am rewatching Luther, so I don’t need it on a large screen. 

The ring was in the jewelry tray, just the wrong compartment. 

Yes They Can! Primary Students Can USE Technology!

Four years ago this district started a one to one laptop program. Teachers have to apply to get the cart. At the time I was teaching Kindergarten. I don't think very many people expected me to get the cart. But I did! I am teaching first grade now and every day they prove what I felt: Primary students CAN use technology!

Then came all the concerns:
    They can't use a trackpad
    They can't log in themselves, this districts uses a password that requires numbers and letters (at least one uppercase)
    They will drop them
    They will color, write, draw, etc... on them
    They can't do it

I will share how I addressed these concerns in my classroom.  I should also add, my school is high poverty, they don't have computers at home. It is also high ELL, with over 75% being dual language learners. 

Let's start with getting a laptop each day. They are stored on a cart and have to be plugged in to charge each night.

   This is key to the laptop use. I give my students a number, 1-18, and put it on their name tag. Each laptop has the number on the top, in a nice paint pen or chalk pen. The trays in the charging cart also have a number. My students use the same computer every day. They know where to find and where to put the laptop away. Bonus: The network will cache the profile meaning the daily login goes a little faster.  

The laptops stay on the desks. I have 4 desks pushed together, so the laptops go in the middle; leaving plenty of room to work. The students get their own laptop from the cart each morning. In the afternoon, the helpers for the day put the laptops away. It is less crowded around the cart. fewer students in one spot = less chaos.  

They know the plug isn't in all the way if the charging light doesn't come on. It is a great visual clue for them, and something they would pick up themselves. They are already learning to troubleshoot technology problems. 

How to Have a Snow Day in Florida

I live in South Florida where the winter temperatures can range from a low around 60° to a high of 80° plus. We will get the occasional cold front and might see lows in the 40s. Rarely does it freeze in the area.

How do you teach about snow to children who rarely experience winter temperatures, let alone see snow?

Of course the first step is to read books, fiction and nonfiction books about Snow. Some of my favorites include:
Snowballs by Lois Ehlert,  The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, and The Biggest, Best Snowman by Margery Cuyler.

I use YouTube videos as well. My favorite are time lapse videos that show accumulation.

     Four Feet of Snow Time Lapse (43 seconds) 

    Snowfall time lapse and clean up (3:42)  This one give them a good visuals of shoveling, cars making tracks and snow covering the tracks.

We can't see snow videos without seeing some snowplows.

     Kids Truck Video- Snow Plow (2:49)

Finally, we have to watch kids play in the snow.

     The kids playing in the snow (3:47)

I want the students to get a feel for snow. I also like quick, easy, and cheap recipes. I cannot say where I found the idea for shaving cream and baking soda, but it is my favorite recipe for snow. At the right consistency, the students can build a snowman. It is also cold to the touch. My students always comment on that when they touch it for the first time.

Here is my simple recipe:
    1 can Barbasol shaving cream
    32 oz of baking soda
    Dispense all the shaving cream into a plastic container with a lid. Slowly add baking soda until the mix is not running and holds a ball shape. You just have to eyeball this. Let the mixture sit for at least an hour before the students explore.

   This amount makes divides into 4 nice piles of snow for the students to explore. I let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes between groups. As you play in the snow, the heat from your hands will 'use' up the shaving cream. Letting it sit helps the mixture become fluffy again.

I put out shapes and toys for the students to make tracks and designs. Most want to build a snowman. The kids enjoy getting to play in the 'snow' and I feel like they get a realistic feel for snow without having to leave south Florida.

This is what the mixture will look like when it is ready to use.