Kindergarten Teacher

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iPod Listening Center Setup

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This year I will be using an iPod for our listening center (any version of the iPod or an old iPhone will work for this.)  I have over 70 listening centers on CD and I hope moving over to the iPod will help me streamline the process and make my class more independent. The first step is converting all the CD’s to audio files and getting them into my iTunes library. If you read below I have the step-by-step process I used to do this.

Each week I plan to add one set of books to our listening center. This year I will be using wireless headphones from Califone and I will post a review about them after my kids have used them for a few weeks. Since the iPod is connected to the wireless headphone transmitter all four headphones will play the audio from the iPod. After they have their headphones they will open the iPod Music app and search to find the title of the book in our playlist (the playlist only has books.) There are 70 titles as I mentioned so I expect this to be difficult for them at first. As they get practice I know they will learn how to use the book to help them find the correct title in the playlist and hopefully learn about ABC order in the process. Once the story starts they can sit anywhere in the room and listen to the story!

Adding CD’s to iTunes and the iPod! 

Step 1: Open iTunes (without any device plugged in) and go to the music section. On the bottom left click the plus sign to create a new playlist. You can call the playlist whatever you like, I made mine classroom books.

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Step 2: Insert a audio book CD. When I do this I get the following pop-up message. Click Yes. If the pop-up doesn’t show up see step 2A

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Step 2A: If the above step worked skipped this step. If you did not get the message above click import CD instead.

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Step 3: Once the CD starts importing I always unchecked all the boxes except the first one. I only wanted the audio with turn the page signals which was the first file on every CD I imported. Some had other files as well. You can decide which files you want to download by checking unchecking them, just do it quickly before they all download. My main reasoning for only keeping one file is so that it would be easier for me to manage in the playlists. After the download was complete I then ejected the CD (red arrow)

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Step 4: Add the book you just imported to the playlist you created in step 1. In the main search bar of iTunes (top right) search the book title or author you just downloaded. When found click the small arrow on the right side to get this drop-down box below. Click “Add to” and then click on the name of the playlist you created.

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Step 5:Insert a new CD and repeat the process! See step six for syncing iPod once you have all the books imported.

Extra Tip: Two of the CD’s I entered did not have the title of the book automatically imported. This is easy to fix. Go to your playlist and click twice on the name of the book. You will be able to edit the title of any of the books. Also, many of the books had the title plus “with page signals” or other text in the title. I deleted all the that extra to make it easier for my class.

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Step 6: Plug in your iPod or iPhone to sync.

Red Arrow: click the correct device. Black Arrow: click music Blue Arrow: click sync music Green Arrow: click sync selected music Orange Arrow: click the name of the playlist you created Click Sync!

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Photo Tour of My Class 2014

The first few pics are taken with the GoPro to get a wide-angle. If you have questions about anything just let me know.

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The science shelf. Kids have access to the globe, hand lens, goggles, balance scale and various other tools any time.

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We have seven classroom computers and two windows! I would give up the computers before the windows.

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This is from the back corner looking towards the doorway

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The view from my desk. The table that is closest to the camera is what I use for teacher table

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The view from our doorway looking in

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Every table in my room is assigned a color. The kids do not have assigned seats or assigned centers the colors just help for organization in general.

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Math tubs

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The panoramic

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Using the Calendar Like a Calendar

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Last year I wrote about changing the focus of calendar time. The goal was to have the kids actually using the calendar. You can read about that change here.

Using the year-round calendar was a major success in my room. The kids used it daily and we referenced it often. It was common to see a kid counting how many days until the next big event, using the calendar to discuss past events and referencing the calendar in their journal writing. Since they had access to the entire year of dates they were able to use the calendar like adults us it, which is my goal.

If you want to give it a try I have the 2014-2015 file available for download below. As you can see in the picture above I simply cut sticky notes in strips and used those strips to add dates to the calendar on the side. The main reason for not writing directly on the calendar is so the words can be written larger and seen easier.

These calendars go from Aug 2014- July 2015. I display that as one full year.

2014-2015 Word Document

2014-2015 PDF Document

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Join Me on #teacherfriends Twitter Chat

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Many of you know I am a big fan of using twitter to connect with educators and for constant professional development. This Tuesday at 9:00pm EST I will be helping to moderate a new chat called #teacherfriends on Twitter. This chat was created as a space for teachers who are new to twitter to get a chance to try out a chat in a fun and relaxed way. If you have never tried twitter head over to The Cornerstone blog for info on how to get started.

If you are new to Twitter I hope you will Be Brave and try something new and if you are a twitter expert come check out the new chat. See you on the Twitterz!

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Classroom Cribs

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This is a guest post from Erin Klein, AJ Juliani and Ben Gilpin.

As we look towards the 2014-2015 school year, one question continually jumps out to me as an educator: How do our learning spaces impact our students?

As a new English teacher I remember getting into my classroom for the first time. I set up the space like classrooms I had seen before; I got my lesson plans in order; packed the filing cabinets with resources; started to make copies of overhead slides; put together an area for reading and stacked the shelves with books I had picked up in college or from my parents house.

Then the students arrived, and all my plans went out the window. I realized very quickly that the type of teaching I had been exposed to and grew up with, and the type of teaching taught at many undergraduate programs…was quickly becoming a past practice. That’s not to say many of the pedagogical and instructional strategies I learned don’t stick with me today (the good ones always will) but these students were different learners than I was…and at the time I was only 22 years old.

Flash forward nine years and the classrooms look very different in my same school district. In the two years since my district began a technology initiative our classrooms have evolved once more. Throughout this process I have tried my best to stay on top of where education is headed and what are the emerging “next” practices. Yet, one area that needs to be improved and is often overlooked is our learning space designs.

How We Design Our Classroom Matters

Brain-based learning theory has been around for a long time, and it has been used to improve the classroom experience in many schools around the world. However, I was shocked how hard it was to find great resources on re-designing learning spaces when I started down the path of re-designing my own school’s learning environment.

Luckily, there are a number of creative and inventive teachers and leaders who have designed their spaces with purpose. In order to share our own work with learning spaces, and the awesome work of others in education, we’ve started a new website: ClassroomCribs.com.

Classroom Cribs is our hub for “brain friendly learning spaces”. Our mission at Classroom Cribs is to enhance pedagogy and the learning experience with brain-based classroom designs that students will love. And that is the main point. We can (and should) create better learning environments for our students. Spaces that are centered around research and what works.

We recently launched ClassroomCribs.com and would love for you to visit and join over 1000 educators who are learning more about learning spaces from our newsletter. And to kick things off, we are starting the first ever “Classroom Cribs Challenge” on August 14th.

The Classroom Cribs Challenge

Remember MTV Cribs? We thought, what if that same concept of Cribs…met the classroom! From August 14th to September 14th we’ll be running a challenge that anyone can join. Here’s the details:

1. Rethink your learning space with the student in mind. What changes will enhance the learning experience?

2. Redesign your learning space and show us how you did it: Take pictures and video.

3. Create a 3-min “Cribs” video showing off your new learning space. Include a 250 word (or less) rationale for “why” you made the changes.

4. Submit your video, rationale, and bio to have a chance to be featured on our site and win great prizes!

How to Get Started

Come visit ClassroomCribs.com today and join our newsletter. We’ll keep you updated with new articles, videos, and more free design resources sent straight to your inbox. Then when August 14th rolls around, we’d love to see your learning space transformation as part of the Classroom Cribs challenge!

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Resources for Ditching the Behavior System

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This post is simply blog posts and resources I find that support getting rid of the color chart or behavior system. I keep hearing many people want to remove these systems but don’t know where to start or are forced to use them. Hopefully these resources will give you the inspiration needed to try it or give you resources to talk with your admin about removing them in your class. I will continue to update this post as I find resources! Please add resources in the comments and I will link them!

Blog Posts:

Confessions of a Former Rewards Addict

Put Your Name on the Board: A Tale of Why I Gave Up Classroom Discipline Systems

Moving Past Behavior Charts

Why I Will Never Use A Behavior Chart Again

Chuck the Chart Part 1: But Why?

Chuck the Chart Part 2: Behaviour is Like Reading…

Chuck the Chart Part 3: Talking to Your Administrator(s) 

Reward Free Year

I Lied, We Do Have Treasure

Be Brave: The Only Rule in my Class

“Behaviour Management” : Not systems, but relationships

Too high a price: why I don’t use behaviour charts

So I Gave Up Punishments and My Students Still Behaved

How Do You Reward Students When You Don’t Believe in Rewards

Books:

Punished by Rewards – Alfie Kohn

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