Hmmm — will this work?

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Last Friday — I was out buying doorprizes for the #DENAPALOOZA green session I was doing.   Dollar store green tableclothes make great green screens!

While I was picking up the tableclothes — I saw green paper plates and thought — “Hmmm, will this work?”

So, I grabbed 2 packages, a bunch of tableclothes, and off I went.

During the session — I showed the paperplates — but due to time constraints — we did not get to try them out.

So today — I took the time to play — AND THEY WORK!!!

To create with green screen — I use an ipad and the doINK green screen app:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/green-screen-by-do-ink/id730091131?mt=8

Since today is DOT DAY and also the beginning of the O.R.E.O. project
I first combined 2 images to make a DOT/OREO image:

Step One:  Stack Oreos

IMG_0740

Step Two:  Add in Dot Day Image

IMG_0747

and got this:

IMG_0741

Okay — that was fun

SO I decided to try something else — what if I cut the paper plates into different shapes or sizes — etc

And I did — and this is what I got:

dotday2

Smiles — I think a green screen monster has now been unleashed!   This is fun!

 

Re-inventing — Re-evaluating — Realizations

Just Jen's Thoughts 7 Comments »

I attended college in 1978 – 1982 and then returned in the 1990’s.
I took many many courses on education.  Used a ruler to learn to write neatly on a chalkboard.
Read and read and read facts and figures and historical data and more!
Struggled through (still do) with math and cartwheeled with joy through literature.
Discovered which educational leaders I agreed with — and which I strongly disagreed with.
Did my student teaching pretty much unobserved, unaided, and learned as I failed and succeeded!
Listened to umpteenth lectures on what makes a great teacher GREAT —

and entered the classroom.

And for about 25+ years — I was a great teacher!   A creative teacher — yes!
AND — by the book — I was a great teacher —

it you believe conformity, strictness, and obedient dutiful (and terribly bored) students demonstrated my greatness.

And now– since 2013 — I find myself re-inventing myself —

and IT IS HARD!

I struggle with not having rows in my class.
Rows show neatness — rows show order!
And I am a symmetrical person — so rows help me stay calm.
BUT – I have totally rearranged my classroom with comfy areas, and lack of rows, and lots of floor space.
However, every day — deep down inside of me — I want to make the room “straight”
 — yet, I don’t have rows of desks — because I see the students thriving and learning in a casual and comfortable environment.
AND the students think I love the cluttered chaos comfyness in our room — and I am learning to love it —
Yet, still — there is a teeny bit of me saying “rows, Jen, rows”

I struggle with having a positive behavior policy.
My classroom has no don’ts — we only have do’s.
Sometimes, I want the room to be totally silent, for kids to only be able to answer a question when they raise their hand — and often I want conformity and little robots all doing Miss Wagner’s bidding.
BUT - I allow students to be kids, to have second chances, to see examples of grace/forgiveness/kindness
However, every day– deep down inside of me — I want my room to be “perfect”
– yet, I don’t have a perfect room — because I see the students thriving and learning in a casual, comfortable, and considerate environment.
AND the students think I love catching them being good — and I am learning to love it —
Yet, still — there is a teeny bit of me saying “behavior charts, Jen, behavior charts”

I struggle with students wandering out of their seats
After the lesson (idea) for the day is demonstrated – the objective shared — my students are able to roam the room freely.
Sometimes, I want students keep their eyes on their own work.
BUT – If they understand the concept, they can move and help those who don’t….if they don’t understand the concept, they can move and ask for help.  From me — or another student.
However, every day– deep down inside of me — I want everyone in their seats — working individually….with Miss Wagner as the SUPREME knowledge in the classroom and the students sit in awe at my WISDOM —
– yet, I don’t make students stay in seats — because I see the students thriving and learning in a casual, comfortable, considerate, and cooperative environment.
AND the students think I love the freedom of classroom movement — and I am learning to love it —
Yet still – there is a teeny bit of me saying “students in their seats shows a controlled classroom, Jen”

I struggle with students being on different tasks.
I have semi-structured goals – standards — expectations — for the computer lab.  Since it is an “enrichment” I am allowed a certain freedom – but I still have my “plans” — yet, some of my students have demonstrated very “above average” computer skills and I have worked out individual computer goals with them — which they work on while the rest of the class might be working on something else.
Sometimes I want cookie cutter kids.
BUT– I have different students working on different projects at different times at different learning levels.
However, every day — deep down inside of me – I want everyone on the same page — the same lesson – learning at the same skill level and timing,
– yet, I don’t keep kids on same page — because I see the students thriving and learning in a casual, comfortable, considerate, cooperative, and challenging environment.
AND the students think I love letting students learn at different levels — and I am learning to love it —
Yet still — there is a teeny bit of me saying “we learn in unison”.

I struggle with being on social media.
I want the world to know about our classroom — what we are doing — how we are doing it — what FUN and LEARNING is happening.
Sometimes I want me and my class to be invisible.
BUT – I have a personal blog and classroom blog, twitter, facebook, edmodo — and students will be blogging soon.
However, every day — deep down inside of me — there is an insecurity of being judged, of being misunderstood, of being ridiculed and it is a daily discipline that I can easily ignore
– yet, I don’t stop blogging or tweeting — because I see the students thriving and learning in a casual, comfortable, considerate, cooperative, challenging, and connected environment.
AND the students love when they hear me talk about others on the internet following our classroom, people responding to our tweets.
Yet still — there is a teeny bit of me saying “shhhh, Jen…..what happens in your class, stays in your class.”

I struggle with technology
I am a hands on person — enjoy learning new programs — truly enjoy free apps on Friday!   Always reading blog posts and twitter ideas for things to try in the classroom.
Sometimes, I just don’t get it.
BUT — I roll up my sleeves, take a deep breath, and sit down at the keyboard.
However, every day — deep down inside of me – I am terrified! that I might break something, I might get a virus, I might bring down the network, I might accidentally show something inappropriate on the internet or youtube
– yet, I don’t close tech down — because I see the students thriving and learning in a casual, comfortable, considerate, cooperative, challenging, and connected, and computer-using environment.
AND the students relax in the confidence I display with technology and the expectation I place on them that they too will have confidence and success!
Yet still — there is a teeny bit of me that feels like a fraud to admit how utterly scared at times I am with all this.

To be honest — I think the last two years have been the most exhausting — yet exhilarating years of my teaching life.
Still struggling to figure this all out — and some of it is very very hard as I rework ways I have done things for a very very long time.
But, when I see the students flourish and learn and are not only excited to learn – but also excited to share their learning — I have to honestly believe I have to be doing something right — right?

Just my thoughts today!
Jen

 

ABOUT JEN:
I am an educator who LOVES bringing creative opportunities each day to my students.   Currently, I am working with a wonderful group of Kindergarten through 6th grade students at a Private Christian School in California.   Since 1999, I have been hosting online projects for elementary classrooms at ProjectsByJen.com.   I have won several awards for my projects – but those mean nothing compared to the smiles from students and the thanks from parents & teachers! I enjoy traveling to conferences and edcamps and sharing ways to bring JOY and CREATIVITY back into your classroom. Follow me on Twitter @JenWagner.   Have a wonderful day!

 

The Names We Know – the NAMES we SHOULD know!!

Just Jen's Thoughts 1 Comment »

I saw this on Twitter this morning:

saygoodmorning

And then — later today — I was wondering my campus — and hearing “Hi Miss Wagner” — “Hi Miss Wagner” — I noticed that some students I answered quickly back with “Hi Walter”* — “Hi Sally”* — “Hi Don”* — some I have to stop for a moment before remembering their name – and some students I answered back with “Hi Sweetie” — “Hi There” — “Hey” —

and returned to my room with thoughts — deep thoughts — disturbing thoughts.

Which names do I know so quickly — and why?

And I knew the answer to this — and you do too —
The names I know well are either
(1) the noticeable students (always raising hand, behaving, etc) and the
(2) notice me students (acting out, not keeping hands to themselves, disrupters)!

and the one’s I did not know as quickly — shame on me — I call them the “middle of the roaders”
— proceeding forward, but perhaps overlooked
…..the one’s that are doing their best — but not perhaps as vocal.
….the one’s that get their work done — but perhaps not as colorful.
….the one’s that are kind and good friends and etc – but that’s what they are supposed to do.

The one’s that go unnoticed —

And that saddens me — and I need to continue to work on knowing ALL names!

Yet — it also brings me to an extended thought.

Are we not also doing that with our learning network — whether it be twitter, conferences, facebook, hangouts, edcamps, etc?

We notice the “VOCALS” (award winners, top bloggers, keynote speakers, etc) and we notice the “DISRUPTERS” (argue everything, push and shove, etc)
but the many many diligent workers — doing their best to be great teachers, providing wonderful learning environments for their students, staying late and getting up early just to learn and try out new ideas, encouragers, and much more
— but often, they are very very unnoticed!

And that saddens me.

I challenge MYSELF to know all my students names — all 250+ of them — inside my classroom and out.  And know more than their names — take the time to get to know them….know at least one thing that makes them smile!

But I challenge YOU as well — to get to know the “Middle of the Roaders” educators.   Respond to them on twitter, comment on their blogs, attend their sessions at conferences or edcamps.

We never know — just which “middle of the roader” just needs that little bit of recognition … to totally make their day!

Jennifer

 (*in case you wondered – students names are fictitious – I have no students named Walter, Sally, or Don)

 

ABOUT JEN:
I am an educator who LOVES bringing creative opportunities each day to my students.   Currently, I am working with a wonderful group of Kindergarten through 6th grade students at a Private Christian School in California.   Since 1999, I have been hosting online projects for elementary classrooms at ProjectsByJen.com.   I have won several awards for my projects – but those mean nothing compared to the smiles from students and the thanks from parents & teachers! I enjoy traveling to conferences and edcamps and sharing ways to bring JOY and CREATIVITY back into your classroom. Follow me on Twitter @JenWagner.   Have a wonderful day!

It is NOT the device – It is Engagement!!

Just Jen's Thoughts 4 Comments »

During the last 18 months, I have been thoroughly engulfed with the use of ipads in the elementary classroom.   First, within the computer lab environment — the class and I learning together as we open each new app.  Some totally for fun — others for creation — others for classroom reinforcement skills — adding new ones, deleting others — and overlapping apps often!   Huge learning curve for us all.   But very very hands on!

As the year progressed — and with admin support, encouragement, and also “expectation” — the ipads began to wander out onto the campus.   Sometimes as filler time (but our superintendent put a stop to that) but mostly as alternative options to what the teacher had taught the year (or years) before.   A lot of math skills (A LOT) – but also creation options too!

And this year — OHMIGOSH — they are being checked out every single day — to the point where I am going to need to start suggesting “we need another cart……or two……or gasp……go 1:1.

But what I am find more intriguing — and not only on my campus — but talking via email, blogs, etc — but with other teachers in elementary using ipads — are the continual comments of “discipline issues are not as much” — or “my child who was always out of his/her seat is now behaving” — or “their attention span is much longer than it used to be.”

However, I do NOT wish to give full credit to the ipad — because I do not feel the ipad (or laptop, tablet, etc) is the savior of our schools.   But what is important — what cannot be ignored — and what has to be stated over and over again — is the engagement that happens with “the device”.   (in this case, the ipad)

ENGAGEMENT — not the device!!
or INTERACTION if you prefer that instead!

Whether it is an ipad click, a playdoh squeeze, a spaghetti/marshmallow skyscraper, a skype call, fingerpainting, ….. you fill in the blank — our students HAVE to be given opportunity to “engage“!

As a preschool teacher for a long time — we were hands on!   Playdoh, paint, magnets, sand, soap, crayons, beads, marbles, legos, constructs, yarn, rice, cornstarch, songs, playground, story time, blocks, dress-up, etc…..involvement  was so important.

Much more than just pushing a pencil — filling in a worksheet — coloring a color sheet — ho-hum boredom.

And I am not talking busy work — or filler time — but true engagement.   That sometimes the student (or teacher) gets so lost in what they are doing — that you lose track of time — and are so busy being involved —-

— that discipline might decrease because the student is engaged
— that the student will be out of their seat because they are interacting
— that their attention span will increased because they are part of the lesson!

Now, as a computer teacher (though I hate saying it that way because I do not teach computers — I work with students) — I have to be careful not to always just defer to the ipad to keep them busy, to keep them engaged — though we do use the ipads OFTEN — with great success, lots of learning, lots of smiles……

But I need to remember it is the engagement and involvement of the student that has to be my FIRST thought.    Which is why we are participating in DOT DAY — which is why we will create cards for the Holiday Card Project — which is why we will stack cookies or graph skittles — which is why we will be a part of virtual field trips — which is why we will skype with other classrooms — which is why we dance to “go noodle” !! etc etc etc

My job — as a teacher — is to make sure my students are engaged — and that does not always mean using a device!!

My thoughts today!
Jen

~~~~~~~

ABOUT JEN:
I am an educator who LOVES bringing creative opportunities each day to my students.   Currently, I am working with a wonderful group of Kindergarten through 6th grade students at a Private Christian School in California.   Since 1999, I have been hosting online projects for elementary classrooms at ProjectsByJen.com.   I have won several awards for my projects – but those mean nothing compared to the smiles from students and the thanks from parents & teachers! I enjoy traveling to conferences and edcamps and sharing ways to bring JOY and CREATIVITY back into your classroom. Follow me on Twitter @JenWagner.   Have a wonderful day!

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