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A place to share thoughts, ideas, gadgets, and giggles from my classroom. 💜

Google Forms: Digging Deeper

     As I was navigating remote learning, one Google App I consistently forgot about was {Google Forms}. Forms can be such a valuable tool, but I couldn't think of a way to use it...so I did a deep dive (Office Ladies reference anyone?) and found so many useful ways to incorporate Forms into the traditional and virtual classroom. 
     I found 3 great ways that were simple to add into the curriculum: quizzes, a choose your own adventure, and an escape room. As a Certified Google Trainer, I am very familiar with the how these functions and activities are designed and work, but many others don't. I created a training to help others discover Google Forms and how it works. 

My trainings are so very different than the regular ones you have seen and been through. Mine are interactive and exploratory. As you work through the challenges, you will come out with three useable activities! I challenge you to play with the buttons, use the tools, and solve your problems as they arise. I don't just throw you into the pool though. 
I walk you through each step involved for the challenge. I give you a criteria for each challenge and links to videos of me doing each of those steps if you run into trouble. The challenges get increasingly more difficult and do require some preplanning. You can work at your own pace and you get a 2 hour Professional Development certificate at the end. 
If you are ready to dig deeper into Google Forms, head this way! {Google Forms: Digging Deeper}

Spring Time Safety Tips

     Warm weather is on the way...finally! I love when the groundhog does a good job. With spring comes outside playing, fun activities, end of the year prep (YES!!!), and stormy weather. I love to discuss how to stay safe while in the sunshine or bad weather. Here are my top 3 talking points when discussing spring time safety with my students.

1. Tornado Safety
"In like a lion" sometimes takes on a real meaning! Just last week my students had to be in our tornado safe place for 2 hours... When warmer weather starts to appear, I want to
1. Make sure my students are prepared for bad weather.
2. Help them understand what is happening, the science behind the tornados/stormy weather so it will help take some of the fear out of the storm.
I am one of those people who hear about a tornado and run right outside to see it!
My husband is just the opposite, so I have him take the dog to safety too. When discussing tornados, my favorite book to read is {Super Storms by Seymour Simon}. 
Then we dig into tornado vocabulary, then discuss how a tornado forms. 
Then we talk about how to stay safe during a tornado. Students then make their own tornado safety plan. I really like to make this a family project so familes kind of HAVE to talk about tornado safety. I can remember my mom telling me allll our safety plans and 12 year old me would just roll my eyes, totally annoyed. But I can still tell you where our meeting place is for a fire and what to do at my Mom's for a tornado! I think kids need to know where to go and what to do for multiple locations...school, Grandparents', the car, Wal-Mart...because let's be real, tornado's are scary and kids need to be prepared! 
You can find all this and a science experiement in my {Tornado Mini-Unit}

2. Playground/Park Safety
As the weather warms, kids love to go outside and play. In this day and age, many parents don't mind taking their kids to the park or a playground, but they also take their phones. I see so many people just scrolling through whatever while their kids are playing. If something were to happen, kids need to be aware. I always remind my students:

1. Don't talk to strangers- Pretty basic I know, but with all the creepy stuff happening with people watching and taking kids, a park would be easy. Kids need to know that if a stranger is approching them, they need to go to their adult, just to be on the safe side.

2. If you see something sharp on the ground, tell an adult you trust right away.-Some parks are not as clean as others. Better safe than sorry!

3. If you can't see your adult, they can't see you.- This is a good rule for more than just the park! My mom always told me to "Stay where I can see you." I tell my students this on field trips too!

4. If something is broke, it's probably best to stay away. -Park equiptment can be dangerous if it is broken. Metal rusts, and I've those shots are no fun!

3. Bus Safety
This is important through out the year! Toward the spring, field trips are happening and end of the year trips are scheduled. Kids get restless toward the end of a nice spring day and are ready to run! My friends at {Andy Mohr Kia} made a great infographic to remind parents, kids, and drivers how to stay safe when on the bus.

Warm weather is my favorite! I love getting my students outside to work, read, or just plain old play. 

My students "earn" so many extra recesses when it's nice out. Sometimes you just need to get outside in the sunshine! It's always a great time as long as we stay safe! 

Happy Spring!


How to get your Students Hooked on Books from Day One

Day 1
     The butterflies are flying all around the room. Everyone, including you, is a little nervous and excited for the new school year. You are looking back at a whole variety of reading levels and interests. Some are super into unicorns or dinosaurs, where others just like Minecraft. How do you reach all those interests and help them love reading?
      By now, yes even in 2nd grade,  they have a strong opinion whether they like to read or not. Many, unfortunately, are not. Reading is not "cool." The ones who loving reading have already been labeled as a nerd. What they don't realize is being a nerd is totally in!

Step 1
     Have students make a list of books they have read. Then they can circle the ones they really loved with a crayon. If they can't remember the title, thats OKAY! Have them describe the book, even better. This can be a great get to know you activity for the first week of school. Give them groups and let them tell each other about their lists. A discussion of books and stories on the first day?!? #teacherwin!

Step 2
     As you are giving a classroom tour, jump into what the perfect reading spot looks like. Do they like bright or dim spots? Do they need background noise or a quiet spot to read? What about seating: laying down or sitting up, hard chair, or fluffy pillow? Discuss fun places around your room they can read. Of course you also need to discuss places they cannot read, like in front of doors or the teacher area. Jennifer Serravallo suggests you have students think about what distracts them while they are reading as they think about finding the perfect reading spot. [ The Reading Strategies Book, 2015]

Step 3
     Remember that list of books they loved? Let them get those brand new Crayolas out and make a poster "advertising" their favorite book. Hang them around the room or in your own classroom library. This will be a great incentive for them to do their best coloring too. You don't even have to have poster board, just use printer paper or construction paper! Make this easy on you and fun for them. I like to have the students write JUST enough information or details to catch someone's interest without giving away the story.

Step 4
{Just Right Books}: you knew it was coming...Most of the time, students don't like reading at a second grade level because it's HARD. They want to read the cool books their older brothers and sisters are reading, they try, but they can't. That's where the "I hate reading" mentality comes from. Help them find books that fit THEIR interest and THEIR reading level. Let's be real, second graders may need the Biscuit type books, but they generally aren't interested in Biscuit and his little adventure at school anymore.  As you get to know your kids, you can introduce the to DogMan graphic novels or maybe your student needs to meet Encyclopedia Brown!

Step 5
     You need to show your students that YOU are interested in reading yourself! Choose a fun read aloud that will get their attention from the start. Read to your students every. single. day. Angie Olson from {Lucky Little Learners} has an amazing list of {great read alouds} just for 2nd grade! In my classroom, I love to read Roald Dahl to my kids. The stories are generally funny and they are just a little too hard for second graders to read alone. I skip over any bad language and take time to explain the English words that Dahl uses so the kids aren't lost. When I think of a read aloud for elementary students, I think about books that are too hard for them to read themselves, but still interesting for their age. Head to your local library or your school library. Talk to the librarian about what you could read if you aren't sure where to start!

You may still have some reluctant readers, but keep trying! Don't give up on them. They just need to find THAT book they can't put down. These types of students typically get intimidated by all the words. Start with {graphic novels} and watch their love of reading take off!

<3 Aimee

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