Tales of a Fourth Grade Something

This year, for my #ShadowaStudentDay, I became a fourth grader. Once again, being a student was exhausting and incredibly rewarding at the same time.

I stopped by the fourth grade classroom the afternoon before my visit to check on my homework so I was prepared for the day. I had to read the first two chapters of Moby Dick (Junior Classic), complete some addition of mixed number math practice, and prepare some spelling materials.  I was excited about the reading since the students were just getting started on a new book.

I also got a sneak peek at the 4th Grade’s Thursday schedule. I thought to myself — I better get a good night’s sleep!

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Here are some observations/highlights from my day:

1) Having a clean and organized desk in fourth grade is absolutely necessary for the multiple transitions throughout the day. Students were given 10 minutes to tidy up and organize at the start of the day. I had some helpful classmate give me some tips! It set me up for success!  

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2) Our morning meeting and greeting was calm and set a great tone for the day. We did some word puzzles to get our mind working. The fourth graders were very welcoming to their new ‘classmate’ and asked if they could call me Lorri. I thought it best that we keep it at Mrs. Carroll.  They were super cute about it. 🙂

3) I loved Reading class!  Digging into new characters (“Call me Ishmael!” ), making lists of character traits, inferring what the author meant in his writing — I miss this and it made me want to join a book club. What a great discussion about how unfair it is to judge people by the way they look. This time FLEW by!

Side note: I had a hard time stopping after two chapters the night before. I can imagine this is even harder as you get deeper into the book.

4) Fourth graders are trusted to work with matches! And, they did so responsibly in science class. We completed an awesome lab on gasses. The students loved it.

5) Time is tight in fourth grade and there is no time to waste! After science, we had a “working snack,” where students navigated stations. This was planned masterfully by my teacher, Mrs. Dixon. She called off different groups giving them the direction of what they should be doing:  illustrating character traits from Moby Dick, working on spelling, working on vocabulary, or reading to self.  During this block of time, Mrs. Dixon worked on personalized, directed spelling lessons with two of the groups. An impressive fete, for sure!  Each group of students had different spelling words that met their needs, including me! For the record, I had a very hard list from the Derivational Spelling Stage.  I had to sort these words and do some activities with them. I still can’t spell bureaucracy.

Then, I moved to the vocabulary activity.  I was bummed that I didn’t have time to read my book of choice but Mrs. Dixon reminded all of us that we would have more time for stations later on.

6) Energizers are less popular in fourth grade. I got the sense that all the students really wanted to participate in the movement activity but didn’t want to look “uncool.” Only 6 or 7 did. Very interesting. It made me a little sad. Of course, I didn’t care and jumped around with SpongeBob and it made me feel refreshed and ready to work again.

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7) Writing is fun and most kids loved it! During Language Arts, students got right to work on revising their opinion stories or adding an introduction/ conclusion. Students seemed to know exactly what they needed to work on. Mrs. Dixon conferenced with students who needed some additional support. I enjoyed getting started on mine!

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8) While I am not the best artist, I still enjoy drawing and coloring! Our assignment was to illustrate a silly poem/song in preparation for Alan Katz’s visit to our school next week. I chose the one about a student who had a very overdue library book. I liked how we were asked to discuss our work with a classmate and offer compliments and suggestions.

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9) During Social Studies, I had a flashback of being in 4th grade with Mrs. Ross in 1979. Students were in the midst of a unit on government. There was a quick review of the three branches but then we watched “How a Bill Becomes a Law” and completed a fun, group activity with it.  So awesome that “Schoolhouse Rock” is still as loved now as it was back then!  


10) Listening to the little conversations between peers during math was awesome! That’s where you can tell learning is happening. “Wow. This seems easy now.” “I can’t believe I couldn’t get this yesterday.”

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Conclusions:    

Even after the desk cleaning/organizing earlier in the day, it was amazing how many students misplaced materials in what seemed like the bottomless pit of a fourth-grade desk!  This is an important skill and we need to keep having students work on it. 

After my 3 days of soreness after last year’s 2nd grade PE class, I was smart enough to pick a day when 4th grade didn’t have PE.  It was interesting, though, that on a “normal day” for me, I usually have about 10,000 steps by 3pm. When I was a fourth grader, I had 6,045 instead. Need to find a way to add more activity!

Desks are still uncomfortable to sit in for extended periods of time and I was grateful for the movement around the 4th-grade classroom. Students made use of all the spaces with ease and comfort. Need to keep working on options.

This was the easiest year to be without my phone. I took it out to take a few pictures but resisted all urges to check and answer email.

Once again, I cannot stress the valuable experience of walking the walk of a student for an entire day.  I thoroughly enjoyed my day and I thank all my teachers and classmates for welcoming me!

 

I Survived Second Grade! #shadowastudent Challenge 2018

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For the second year in a row, I participated in #ShadowaStudent Challenge to gain insight and perspective on being a student at Hamden Hall. What a great surprise to feel so welcomed into the 2nd grade classroom with my own desk, laminated name tag, book bag, and cubby!

Here are some reflections of my day:

1) 2nd grade desks are SMALL! Even for me. It’s a good thing we didn’t have to sit in them for too long.

2) Morning meeting truly set a positive tone for the day. (just as Responsive Classroom intended). So many important skills were reinforced during this time – takingIMG-1240 turns, eye contact, speaking clearly, self reflection, listening…I could go on and on!  Loved the dice greeting.

3) Read to Self was so awesome! I curled up with a good book (literally, with pillows on a comfy rug) and was able to read 47 pages – the classroom was THAT quiet and focused! (OK. It was a third grade book but it was still quite an achievement!) Yes, some kids were less engaged than others, but overall, it was a very calm and productive time for all. The 10 minute mini-lessons in Vocabulary and “Writer’s Workshop” were just the right amount of time for students to sustain attention and grasp the skills that were being taught.

IMG-12424) Choices are good and the kids really embraced having them. “Word Work” (my choice) wasn’t your boring 2nd grade daily spelling activities from 1978!

5) Carefully reading each question on a math assessment is still very important. I got one wrong because I didn’t do this! (Oh, and my “classmates” loved calling me out on it.) I was super impressed with the higher order thinking skills required to answer some of the questions on the Money/ Time Assessment. Ending the math block with TIME BINGO was super fun. (and I liked winning two rounds.) I was glad to see that the kids who didn’t win dealt with it just fine and were happy for others.

6) Energizers work! After the Daily 5, Snack, and Math block, I was fried! But, a little Go Noodle really helped. Check out the schedule for the day! WOW!

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7) While I still can jump rope forwards and backwards, I cannot do it for 2 Tom Petty songs continuously! (I thought I would die.) Flag tag was a lot of fun but after jumping so much, I was a slow target.  Note: I am still sore 3 days later. 

8) 30 minutes for lunch was just enough! Kids have interesting eating habits. The swings are still my favorite on the playground.

9) Waiting for water to boil is hard for adults and even harder for 2nd graders. We learned all about the water cycle in Science and the kids totally got it!

10) Ending the day with a collaborative STEM challenge was perfect! We had to set up an Alpine Downhill Ski course and get our lifesaver to make it through all of the gates (made out of pipe cleaners). A lot of great planning and communication skills were required and my fellow 2nd graders were awesome at it.
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Once again, the #Shadowastudent Challenge was a very valuable experience and worth every moment I spent out of my office.  I highly recommend it for all teachers and administrators. There is no better way to see life from a student’s perspective.

Thank you to Erin Correa, Cait Murphy, Mark McEachern, Nally Sahin, Steve Jewett and the second graders for welcoming me and making my day so enjoyable! We have amazing things happening at Hamden Hall, and I am so proud to be a part of this learning community.

P. S. Remind me not to #shadowastudent on the same day as the Science Fair next year, though! I was EXHAUSTED!

 

 

Another awesome #caisct Academic Technology Retreat!

making a buzzerEach year, the CAIS Academic Technology Retreat never disappoints. It’s filled with amazing, thoughtful, forward-thinking educators who debate, discuss and explore ways in which they can improve and enhance the learning experiences for their students. This year, our Keynote was Don Buckley.  His topic was “Design and Maker Thinking.”  Don is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of  Tools at Schools.  The focus of his presentation was to investigate the teaching and learning of design and maker thinking in schools. We thoroughly enjoyed his animated and engaging presentation and I, personally, loved his break-out session where we were challenged to design a wearable technology that would change the student learning experience as we know it.

Here are my tweets from my time at the retreat. (I needed to leave early due to commitments back at school.)

https://twitter.com/lcarroll94/status/466938856047394816

 

Here is a link to other tweets from the event.

Here is a link to our “App Smackdown.” Feel free to add your favorite tool/app to it!

This tweet by Rush Hambleton is, by far, one of the most powerful things about this retreat, and one of the many reasons it’s not to be missed each year.  Thanks for another awesome, awesome learning experience!

Here are some additional photos from the event.

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Pi Day 2014

This year’s pi day celebration was awesome! Students really enjoyed celebrating, especially since it was the last day of school before Spring break.  We started our class watching this video, talked a little bit about the history of pi, and then we had the “pi recitation” contest. (see video below) This year, I was astounded at how many students got “into it!” The winner, a 6th grader, recited pi to the 82nd place! The 2nd place student made it to the 61st place and the 3rd place student recited to the 42nd place. Pretty amazing!! We then went on this scavenger hunt. When students returned to class, we calculated the ratio of the circumference to the diameter of each of the circles they measured and most got “a little more than 3!” We ended with eating PIE for dessert. We had a blast!

 

#NAISAC14 “Beyond These Walls: How Augmented Reality Can Promote Your School’s Message”

Justine Fellows (Greens Farms Academy) and I presented at the Speed Innovating Session at NAIS (Disney World!). The session is set up much like “Speed Dating.” Attendees pre-register for three topics they want to learn more about and presenters have 15 minutes to share their topic. When the 15 minutes is up, participants move to their next topic of choice.  There’s a large, (very intimidating) stop watch on the screen at the front to keep everyone on schedule.

We started with a 3 minute description of augmented reality and then let our participants “play” for 5-7 minutes. We had iPads (yes, we lugged them from CT), headphones, and our trigger images all ready to go. We spent the next 5 minutes sharing ideas we had for using Augmented Reality to promote our school’s message, and we ended with a “share” of ideas that participants offered. It’s high energy, a lot of fun, and attendees learn just enough to figure out whether they want to learn more about the topic. They now have a contact person at another school to reach out to so they can. We had a blast! 

Here is our presentation along with handouts.

#NAISAC14 “Yikes! What have I gotten myself into?”

Here are my notes from this amazing session led by Peggy Campbell-Rush, Director of Lower School at Gill St. Bernard School (Gladstone, NJ). Every minute of this session was filled with great advice!

My favorite tweet from this session:

JOY

Here are the rest of my tweets:

Hamden Hall’s #HourofCode

There is nothing like the expression on a students face when they solve a problem or achieve a goal they have been striving for. This is one of the many reasons I was very excited and proud that Hamden Hall participated in Computer Science Education Week’s Hour of Code!

I presented this video

 at a Technology Committee meeting earlier in the fall and we unanimously decided that participating in the Hour of Code would be an exciting experience to offer our students.  After digging a little deeper and exploring the wide range of coding apps and programming options out there, we were eager to begin to organize the event across all three divisions. (I need to be honest– we were also a bit overwhelmed). Thankfully, our librarians took the bull by the horns. We scheduled a follow- up meeting, and decided that weekly library class would be the best place for our Lower School students to have a coding experience.  Martha Djang, our Lower School Librarian, researched many options and decided to focus on two apps–  Kodable and Cargo-Bot . Kathy McNeiece, our Head Librarian, worked on the plan for our Middle and Upper Schools.   The librarians worked with the tech department to organize optional times (during lunch and study hall)  in the library for students to code with Light Bot and Scratch. We got the kids excited to sign up by showing a video at assembly and by pushing out messages through OnCampus and via email. Some classroom teachers even jumped in to give it a try.  There was definitely a buzz around campus and it caught on even more as the week unfolded!

I took the opportunity to utilize two days of my pre-algebra class to explore Hopscotch. We used our school set of iPads and followed along with this video:

Having had experience flipping the classroom, I know that students usually stop watching after about 7 or 8 minutes. I have to admit, I was a little concerned that this was 25 minutes. I went for it anyway… and sure enough, the kids were completely engaged and didn’t want to leave when class was over. Many students who had their own iPads downloaded the hopscotch app and completed the project that we were slated to work on the following day without being asked! I thankfully had some of these additional projects to challenge those students. We had a blast!

According to Computing in the Core

Computer science develops students’ computational and critical thinking skills and shows them how to create, not simply use, new technologies. This fundamental knowledge is needed to prepare students for the 21st century, regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation.

Anyone with personal experience in coding at any level can completely agree with this. And can also agree with the indescribable feeling you get when your program finally works. 

So, even though the official week is over, there’s plenty of projects and ready-made lessons waiting for you. I encourage you– give coding a try — whatever discipline or grade you teach! Why would you not want to provide an authentic learning experience where students are excited, creative and collaborative?    

Note: If you don’t have technology readily available in your classroom, you could even try some “unplugged” options listed on this page.

Here’s a photo gallery from our Hour of Code week!

2013 CAIS Academic Tech Retreat: The best yet!

Each year, the CAIS Academic Technology Retreat is the “prize” and we keep our eye on it the whole year.  It’s a time to sharecheryl tweet the great things that are happening, to learn from others, and to dive into some new technologies that can enhance teaching and learning at our schools.  Cheryl Costello summed up the feeling with this tweet:
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After hearing that our longstanding venue, Trinity Conference Center in Cornwall, CT, was closing, we got a little down. It was a space we were familiar with; it was charted “territory”. Guest House in Chester, CT was recommended as a replacement, and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint.  This new venue forced us to rethink (and improve) the conference on the whole, and, because the place could accommodate more guests , new and different people were able to attend. We loved the spaces for break out sessions and the common areas were very flexible, allowing for the unconference model to work even better!

 
Dirk DeLo from Avenues: World School was our keynote. In his presentation, “Classroom in the Cloud”, he shared his technology journey, and Avenues’ journey, and offered inspiring words about moving our schools forward. Here are some quotes that have stuck with me:

  • “Best way to predict your future is to invent it”
  • “It’s no longer about IT it’s about TI (technology integration).”
  • On digital content creation …. “Teachers need to make their own”playlists” using tools to create their own digital resources. “Teachers should be curators of content”.
  • “iPad is the new Trapper Keeper”
  • Digital Diet. Choose a few tools. Classroom in the cloud: Stick w/ core tools. Evernote, iTunes U, Subtext, GDocs, Dropbox, Showbie
  • You have the tech tools, how do you get the teachers to accept this ‘invasive species’?
  • “You have to get the teachers to take the bait”
  • “Technology should not drive the curriculum, curriculum should drive technology . IT needs to “retool”
  • Challenge Based Learning… not about technology. Tech is the tool. What is the big idea? Essential Questions?
  • “Substitution”, “Augmentation”,, “Modification”, “Redefinition”
  • The goal of tech integration is REDEFINITION: Tech for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable!

Phenomenal!

Following Dirk, we had an “App Smackdown”, where each person attending shared their favorite website or app.  Here is this year’s list of recommendations from colleagues at CAIS schools. The second tab in the spreadsheet are twitter handles from other CAIS educators. The third tab includes resources from a session called “Bleeding Edge: Where do you hear about the next big thing? Come and share your favorite reliable sources.”

Our sessions for the remainder of the unconference were impressive! Check out the board!

I led a few sessions, including: photo 4

Twitter Maniacs (w/ fellow twitter addicts Sharon Plante and Cheryl Costello)“If you aren’t on Twitter you should be! Come talk about how being a Twitter Maniac will help you be a Connected Educator.”  The session was PACKED and we all have many new connections to continue our learning 24/7! We had a blast!
and
How to Poke the Sleeping Dragon: Implementing Change & Tips to Manage from the Middle (w/ Justine Fellows) A great discussion implementing change in our schools.

Instead of a “normal” social hour,  we really geeked out. Some were trying to program a robot and another group was learning how to “augment reality” with an iPad app called “Aurasma”. Awesome to think of the many ways this can be used at our schools. COOL STUFF!  In keeping with our tradition, some of our colleagues provided musical accompaniment.

We also played techie charades/ pictionary, once again.

Here
is the archive of tweets from the conference.

Thanks to everyone who attended, shared, inspired, collaborated, and learned with me these two amazing days. It’s what true professional development is all about! 

Here are some more pics:

If these mathematicians were on Facebook…

For the third year in a row, my Algebra 1 class researched mathematicians and created a Fake Facebook wall for him/ her. einstein(See projects from 2011 and 2012 here and here.)  Each year, I reassess the project and make some changes and improvements. This year, given the number of snow days we had, I decided that introducing Diigo would be too much. I still wanted students to have a place to organize their research, and I wanted to be able to monitor it and give feedback. So, I created a googledoc Planning Sheet for their research, instead.

Here is the rubric for this year’s version of the project. 

Here is a link to the planning sheet, which included the justification of all of their photos, wall posts, friends, etc. Turns out, this was even better than Diigo. I was able to see their progress very easily using the history of the document, and I was able to have an online dialog with them about their research using “comments”. I know Diigo could have done some of this, but the kids hit the ground running with a tool they were already familiar with.

Since the online fake Facebook sites were so unstable last year, I used this JFK template I found online and taught students how to edit this to reflect their own mathematician. Even though the updated Facebook interface is different, students still were able to make this template work.

We spent a few days working through the research. Students still needed to be reminded that they would not be able to find a list of friends of their mathematicians. (See I Can’t Find Blaise Pascal’s Friends) After some one-on-one discussions as I circulated the class, students were able to figure out friends, photos, wall posts and comments for their page. They seemed to have a blast with it.

Here is a link to the peer assessment. This worked really well for us and students were able to make some connections between the mathematicians that were contemporaries of each other. That was cool!

Here are some of our final projects:
Carl Gauss
Rene Descartes
Isaac Newton

Pi Day was super fun!

I admit it. I’m a corny math teacher! Pi Day provided me with a great excuse to share my enthusiasm with my students outside of the curriculum. I wasn’t really sure what to expect since this was the first time in many years that I was officially celebrating. Here was my Pi Day Plan.

I was really happy with the pi recitation contest. One student was able to recite up to the 30th decimal place. I will post that video soon. Students seemed to like the musical representation of pi and, while they thought some of the jeopardy questions were over the top, we laughed and it got them thinking!

My favorite part was the scavenger hunt. I love to get out of the classroom and so do my students. They were racing around campus and had so much fun! We ended with pie for dessert in the caf.

We had a blast! Here are some pictures.