Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bright World eBooks app review: Ocean Forests



I am super excited to review an app from Bright World eBooks. Bright World eBooks offers non-fiction eBook apps for iPads that offer a variety of nonfiction reading for our primary learners. As you know from my blog, I LOVE technology. I love using laptops for Google Classroom, and iPads for all the various apps that kids can learn and enjoy from. I also love using my own iPad for classroom management and culture purposes. I believe that we need to prepare our students to truly have 21st-century skills.

My kids tend to not navigate toward nonfiction, so I try to use apps during my literacy stations specifically for either nonfiction or reading comprehension (so the kids can get practice on testing in a fun way).  I think more exposure to fun and interesting nonfiction will help students pick to read that genre more. I usually have three or four kids who LOVE nonfiction (specifically the science texts), but the other ones seem nervous or unsure of where to start in the nonfiction world. I NEVER tell kids what sorts of books to read, I am a strong believer that teachers must be careful not to squash a young child's love of reading. I personally dislike fiction books, I prefer nonfiction. My students are not told what genre of books to read, the library is a safe haven that they can pick whatever they would like. I also do not do reading logs for this reason. Who on Earth wants to "prove" that they read for 20 minutes by getting their parent signed nightly by a parent? No thank you. Okay, enough of my rant. Back to topic.

What is interesting about this app is that although it is nonfiction, it is written like a story that kids generally prefer at the primary level. It is a good transition to help encourage kids toward reading a variety of nonfiction books as well as fiction. This is an engaging gateway toward the world of nonfiction.


Something that I particularly liked about this app is in the "Reading" section. If offers three ways for the nonfiction book to be read- by myself, record my voice, and storytime. The storytime feature reads the book aloud and highlights each word as it is read. If the student comes across a word they do not know (such as "algae" in the screencap to the left), there is a dictionary feature that kids can tap that will not only define the word, but also offer the option of having it read to them.  The "record my voice" feature is super neat as well to help specific kids with reading fluency.

The app also has a gaming feature. Kiddos can match up words and be able to view the picture of the word (for example, seeing a picture of kelp alongside the word). The game is more demanding as the kids improve at the game, so it provides nice differentiation. I can see the game being used for early finishers or as a motivator for kids who have a tough time with their writing or reading.
The graphics are also well done on this app. They are crisp and clear. If kids click the "Exploring" link, they can take a peek at the ocean floor. There's even a flashlight feature to light up some of the organisms down there!

Overall, I was very pleased with the app and will definitely integrate it into my literacy stations in September.

The app is currently available for $2.99 in the iTunes store, feel free to check it out here! :-)


Thanks for Bright World eBooks for providing me with this app. All the opinions expressed in this review are purely my own.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

FRACTION PUZZLERS! Free fraction math center!



SO I know that most people are either in the midst of summer break or just started their break, but in case you are getting the planning jitters, take a peek at Fraction Puzzlers!

In my classroom, fractions are by far the hardest thing we do all year (well.... except for long division.... that is the only mathematical concept that brings some of my kiddos to tears on the first day we learn it!). We do fractions early in the year, so they often forget much of the material at the end of the year while we start reviewing for our standardized testing. I always make sure that some sort of fraction game or activity is available on year long so the kids practice identifying fractions and gaining constant fraction exposure.

This game is super easy to print, laminate, cut, and throw into your math rotations. It can be done independently during guided math, but also with partners. When I start utilizing these next year, I am going to throw in a timer or hour-glass so that students can try to "beat the clock" and get these guys matched up.

It's free, so download now if you think that it might be helpful in your classroom next year! Then go do something fun and summery, like drink a margarita while pool-side :-)

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Third-grade Year 3: COMPLETE!


WOW. Yesterday was an exhausting day - physically and emotionally. Half the class cried as we said good-bye. Those were truly an amazing and inspiring group of children, and it saddens me to know we will never all be together again. My drive home was a mixture of sadness and pure relief. The last two weeks of school are so chaotic, with after-school meetings for next year and good-bye events.

On the happier side....IT IS SUMMER!!!!! Packing up my room wasn't too bad. I always have the kids help me. The girls have a blast sorting markers/crayons by color and testing out which ones are try. The boys especially love the furniture moving aspect, I put them in charge of moving the furniture and flipping tables. I think it is great to instill that sense of help and responsibility in them, instead of having them sit around while their teacher lugs furniture around. This was OUR room, so we will pack it up together. Teamwork makes the dreamwork!

My school has a rule that everything must be on wheels or in cabinets, when we leave hence the ridiculously high storage containers on my carts.

In just a few short months I will be returning, this year with a new decorating theme! Good-bye jungle theme, hello to neons and bright colors! Since this will be my fourth year in this room, I need a change. Two of my teammates are leaving (and best friends), so I want to start fresh next year in a new feel of a room.





Thursday, June 18, 2015

Genius Day


Today we had our classroom Genius Day. Genius Day is a takeoff of Genius Hour (which I am determined to incorporate into my schedule next year on every Friday!). I have done Genius Day the last three years during the last week of school. I choose to do it at the end of the year because it is 100% student directed… meaning that I can pack up the room in peace while they are working hard on their masterpieces!


 Genius Day is a day when the students are totally in charge. This is not teacher led, it is student led! Genius Day is a time to truly give students ownership over their learning. Students can create, draw, invent, even read! However, they MUST have something to show for the end of the day. They can choose to read all day and create a project or report. They can paint a picture. They can bring in an iPad and research a country and make a Prezi. They can create a board game. They can sew a dress. ANYTHING is okay! This is a moment for students to explore their interests and passions.

 Since I teach gifted students, most of them are highly motivated and have very specific interests. The first time that I did Genius Day, I was worried. Could these students actually work on a project for 5-6 hours, or would they get bored or run out of ideas? WOW, these students shocked me. They did it and created some spectacular items. They suited their creations and research to their own interests and tastes.













 How did I explain this day to my kids? The kids and I brainstormed what we think when we hear the word “genius.” They had all kinds of words and definitions in their head. Most of them said “Albert Einstein” or “intelligent” or “brainiac.” I then told them the dictionary definition of “genius,” “intellectual or creative power.” It was like a lightbulb went off! A genius doesn’t have to be the stereotypical mathematician wizard, but instead could also be someone who looks at a situation in creative ways. We then discussed what sorts of things we could create, since a few kids seemed unsure of the direction to take. We discussed doing something artistic (painting, knitting, clay, cross stitching), mathematic (creating formulas), literary (writing a book, poetry), musical (writing a song), physical (a dance, new game), or other (creating a board game). Neat, right?



 I made sure to email parents ahead of time… I could picture some kids not explaining Genius Day well and for parents to be quite confused!


The students nailed it this year! Some kids chose to create commercials, some interviewed their classmates. Two boys created a ping-pong table. A set of girls sewed and designed American Girl doll clothes. Two girls created a "gift box," that involved a lever that shot a gift into the air. Two boys made a puppet show, complete with changing scenery. These students had such a good time and it was really fun to see the amazing and creative stuff that these kiddos came up with.

Do you do Genius Hour or Genius Day? If so, how do you and your kiddos enjoy it?

Monday, June 15, 2015

BirchBox: June

WOOP WOOP! I love getting my BirchBox every month. Do you do BirchBox or a similar subscription box? My sweet boyfriend gets me a subscription every year. It is so fun to get something in the mail once a month. I have found some awesome makeup through it. For example, I now live by the Coola tinted BB moisturizer, I never even heard of the brand until I received a free sample. Of course not everything in the box is great, but the few products that I discovered through the boxes make up for it. Plus, all of the items make terrific traveling items.

The box was super pretty this month. It looks a lot like a setting sun and the theme is "adventure." I wish I had a use for the boxes, I just can't justify wasting space and saving them! There was a card inside for a sweepstakes and a code, I won 20% off products! I just ran out of the Coola tinted moisturizer I discussed, so I am definitely going to use the code to purchase that item.


Here's what came in my box this month:

  • Dr. Jart+ Premium BB Cream
  • Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner (full size)
  • Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels
  • Temple Spa Good Hair Day Shampoo
  • Temple Spa In Good Condition Conditioner
  • Pure Vida lace headband

I really like the lace headband, it'll be perfect for the gym or running errands. I also love receiving shampoo and conditioner, it makes traveling SO much easier to throw in some nice shampoo and conditioner into my travel bag. I am never a fan of hotel shampoo/conditioner, my hair always feels crunchy from it. The BB cream has a nice sheen to it. I don't think I'd use it during the day, but definitely a nice foundation for nighttime when you're going out to a car or club. It has really good reviews online, so I cannot wait to try it! I don't know how I feel about the indigo eyeliner, not sure how it would look on me. But I always read that purple/blue mascara or eyeliner helps make eyes pop, so I am willing to give it a shot! Although I have very large eyes so I don't know if they should "pop" anymore... I might resemble an alien or a Bratz doll. 

Overall, a very nice box that I am excited to try!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

IT'S ALMOST ALMOST ALMOST SUMMER


ONE WEEK OF SCHOOL LEFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm not excited at all... oh wait. I AM WAY TOO EXCITED! I love my kiddos and think that this may be my favorite class ever this year, but I still am over the moon about summer break.

This last few weeks of school is always super busy yet drags on. I have end-of-the-year luncheons, assemblies, interviews to sit in on, laminating/cutting for next year, volunteer celebrations, parties, packing up my room, and so much more. I just want to get packed up and get my booty out of the school building. I cried on Friday morning because I was so ready to be done and for summer to start (I think due to hormones.... usually I am thrilled and excited every morning to go to school!). I am just ready for summer, the pool, and relaxation.

I am officially done laminating and cutting classroom decor for next year. I am switching up my classroom, so getting all that work out of the way at the end of the year. The beginning of the year is always crazy hectic, so I want to make sure that I don't add on to any stress in September. How cute are those schedule cards to the right??! If you're interested, I sell them in my store. 

Did you see my post on end-of-year gifts that are cheap and memorable? I put them into action this week! Yesterday after school my sweet boyfriend and I opened up Dollar Store frames and stuck the Wordles inside for my kids' gifts. Cute, right?!?!? Of course we went to happy hour first to help it go by a little faster. No one can turn down a $5 frozen margarita! There was a huge rainstorm in the middle of our happy hour though, which is a bummer when you are sitting on a rooftop deck! Happy hour ended a little bit early :-)

For those teachers out there with 5 days left..... YOU CAN DO IT!!!!!!  I am prepared for a long, stressful, and bittersweet week. Enjoy the last days with your kids. You will never have these same kids in the room with you in the happy, dynamic, beautiful atmosphere that you helped create. You worked hard all year, you can do it!!!!!!!!!