Book Talk and Giveaway

Make sure you click the picture above to enter this week's giveaway. The book is:

I'm bringing you three more of our SSYRA Primary winners for 2017 - 2018. I am enjoying the picture books from this year's list and plan to read them all to my kids.

1. Let Me Finish

This is another book about the joy of reading, so I loved it! This one is about the trauma of having someone spoil the book for you. Now personally, I don't usually mind spoilers (yes, I sometimes flip to the end of the story), but it can drive some readers bananas. This young man does NOT want the story spoiled and all the animals have already read it. They keep popping up and telling details about the story, when he just wants to finish it himself!

2. Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea

Narwhal is a bit of a free spirit. Jelly is all business. You might think they would not get along, but a wonderful friendship develops in this book. This is a graphic novel which contains three separate stories about the duo. The first is about friendship, the second is about working together, and the last is about imagination. And yes, there is another book in the series.

3. The Rooster

The little town of La Paz is quite a noisy place, so the people fire their mayor and hire a new one. Bit by bit, he takes away all the noise -- it becomes illegal to sing. Along comes a brave rooster who refuses to stop crowing no matter the threat. Will freedom win? The illustrations in this book are wonderful and add a lot to the read-aloud experience.

Until next week . . .

Back To School - For Two Days

The first two days of the 2017 - 2018 school year are in the books! And a busy, rather exhausting two days it was. I spent a great deal of my time learning names of two classes of second-graders and introducing the routines of our day. This year I am teaching math and science so I wanted to begin those routines ASAP. We have Avid notebooks/interactive journals in both subjects, we have a math workshop routine that I want to have established by the end of this week, and as a STEM teacher I am excited to introduce engineering to new students!

Last year I was teaching in the STEM lab, so many of my students had me once every two weeks as first graders. However, we have a very transient population so there are many who are new to our school. This week we will do our first STEM challenge - very exciting!

One of my favorite things from the week was a growth mindset lesson based on the book "Giraffes Can't Dance." We talked about the power of YET, and made a poster of things we can't do . . .yet.
If you don't know the book you may enjoy watching this animated version.


STEM PD: Podcasts

In this edition of STEM PD, I am sharing about podcasts. I am finding podcasts to be one of my favorite ways to learn about so many things so why not STEM? It can be a little difficult to find STEM podcasts, but I have been sampling a number of titles over the last three weeks. These are in no particular order and may be worth checking out. My commute to school is 40 minutes each way so I depend on audiobooks and podcasts during that time. 

I have more than three podcasts on my list so I'm going to break this up and do another post later on this topic.

1. Brains On

Brains On! is a podcast featuring science and kids produced by American Public Media. We ask questions and go wherever the answers take us. Sometimes that means talking to a food scientist or a snake handler, other times that means putting on a play about sound waves or writing songs about sleep. A different kid co-hosts each episode. We talk to them about the interesting stuff they’re doing and the things they think about. It’s a science lesson for your ears – so join us and turn your brains on!

Sample Episodes:

Deep Sea vs. Outer Space
Fart Smarts: Understanding the Gas We Pass
How Do Engines Work?

2. Everyday Einstein

"Why do apples turn brown? Could Jurassic Park really happen? I'll help you make sense of the science in your everyday life and give you the skills to solve the next science question that comes your way."

Sample Episodes:

How do we encourage more women in STEM?
Hidden Figure: Katherine Johnson

2. The K12 Engineering Education Podcast

Promoting education in engineering and design for all ages. Produced by Pius Wong, engineer, of Pios Labs ( This podcast is for educators, engineers, entrepreneurs, and parents interested in bringing engineering to younger ages. Listen to real conversations among various professionals in the engineering education space, as we try to find better ways to educate and inspire kids in engineering thinking. 

Sample Episodes:

Best Movies for Engineering
Helping Kids Explore STEM Careers
Autism in the Engineering Classroom

Book Talk and Giveaway!

Kathleen at Kidpeople Classroom is having a giveaway right now over on her blog. I hope you will enter to win one of the three books. This is the first giveaway book:

1. Too Much Glue

Matty LOVES glue! At home, he and his dad make lots of glue projects, so why not be creative at school too? Yes, his art teacher did tell him not to use too much but that is easier said than done (haven't we all had this kid in class?). She warns the class that too much glue never dries, and tells them "raindrops" not "puddles."

When Matty tells about things he makes with his dad he includes glue bouncy balls. I've done that project with my students, so once again this is a picture book that you can connect to a STEM challenge for students.

Of course, Matty goes wild with the glue and ends up with himself glued to a table. Somehow, everything the kids try to do to get him out ends up with more things glued to Matty. The school nurse can't help, and neither can the principal. Finally, his dad arrives to take him home. 

The best part: Dad's reaction to the mess that is Matty! Read the book to find out. If you are not fortunate enough to win the copy of Too Much Glue, check it out from your library or find it on the Epic app. Your students will enjoy the story and you can use it as a springboard for glue instruction.

I first read this book to my third graders a couple years ago. They loved Matty's story and the activity we did as a follow-up. You can purchase "Stuck Like Glue" on TPT from "Science and Kids" here. It's listed as 4th grade and up but worked well for my thirds. I'm thinking about adapting it for second grade this year.

Even without the activity, this is a great book for teaching proper use of glue early in the year. I expect to be using it next week.

Monday Made It: August 7, 2017

Today's MMI includes a little something for Open House, which happens Wednesday evening this week. Thursday is our first day of school.

Four days before reporting back for pre-planning I found out I'm teaching second grade. I had spent all summer preparing to teach Kindergarten, so I am still prepping materials!

This note with a bag of microwave popcorn is what I'll be giving to my students who come to Open House. You can get a copy of them here.

My goal was to get this Christmas quilt finished (just the quilt top) before school starts. I'm working on the borders right now.  Next goal is to get it ready, quilt it on the longarm machine, and get the binding on before December 1st. Sounds like plenty of time, but you know what it's like once we are back in school!

I love to do the first day of school photo for my students. I teach in a very transient area, so by the end of the year, I sometimes have trouble remembering some of the students who were with us at the beginning. This year I will be using this sign. I'm also going to take a whole class picture this year in addition to the individual ones.
Next Monday I hope to tell you a little bit about our first couple of days and include some pictures of other things I've created for the beginning of the school year.

Be sure to tune in tomorrow for a very special book talk. I'll be telling you about an opportunity to win a book giveaway over at Kidpeople Classroom. Don't miss it!

STEM Professional Development

Would you love to teach STEM in your classroom this year but aren't sure how to get started? Did YOUR district put STEM in your timeline but didn't offer much in the way of professional development (PD)? I have colleagues who feel completely intimidated by the idea of STEM, not realizing they are already teaching it. So what's the problem?

One big issue that I see is a lack of support for teachers via PD. When I decided a few years ago that STEM was important my district was offering nothing for elementary teachers. STEM PD was just for middle and high school teachers. At the end of one school year I sent an email to our district STEM person asking if there were PD opportunities over the summer and was told that the math/science coaches will pass on info from their meetings (nothing, apparently).

Now, I realize that some of you probably have lots of workshops going on in your district or even in your own building. And some of you are probably as frustrated as I was and having to make your own PD! I have decided to write a couple posts about some things I did to further my own knowledge and skills. First up:

1. Conferences

I realized that I was going to have to look outside for the training I wanted so I jumped on anything I could find. I have had the opportunity to attend some good ones in the last three years. I live in Central Florida so they don't necessarily solve your PD problems. However, you can look around your area for similar chances.

Discovery Education STEM Academy (click here for website)

If Discovery does a STEM Academy anywhere near you, GO! It's free to attend this full day training, so the price is right. When I attended it was in another school district on a Saturday. Because of the travel, I stayed over the night before so I did have some expense. I consider it well worth the price of a motel room. Check the website periodically to see where the events are scheduled. Right now there is no announcement for the upcoming school year. Here are the learning targets for a STEM Academy session:

  • I CAN explain the rationale and implications for STEM education.
  • I CAN describe a STEM experience and explain instructional strategies that support STEM.
  • I CAN identify digital tools and resources to support STEM instruction and engage all students in authentic learning.
  • I CAN describe how STEM is a culture of learning that connects with all subject areas.

 Florida Engineering Education Conference (click here)

The University of Central Florida (UCF) is near me in Orlando. They have an awesome one day conference around March of each year. This one is also free.

  • Keynote speakers representing the education sector and STEM professional organizations and industries.
  • An industry panel to include senior STEM administrators from corporate agencies to discuss the importance of STEM to the future workforce.
  • A series of concurrent interactive and hands-on workshops.

K-5 STEAM Conference (click here)

Because I am on the email list for the UCF conference I received information last year about an elementary school that was having their first conference. This school is a center for mathematics and engineering and it was a blast to be there on school days to see what they do. This one was not free; when I asked my principal for two days to attend she told me the school couldn't cover any of the costs but I was willing to cover my expenses if she would give me the time (she did). I am hoping to go back in December for number 2. With this one, we could see teachers doing lessons in the classrooms as well as go to breakout sessions.

During the 2016-2017 school year, my district finally had a STEM workshop for elementary teachers! They called it "science after hours" because it was an evening class. I'm hoping they will do more, as it turned out to be a valuable STEM training. The key is that I implemented things from the workshop right away. To me, that is what makes or breaks a training.

Next week I will write about another avenue for learning about STEM - one that is completely free!

Book Talk

Today I have three more great titles from the SSYRA Jr. list. The first book is one I have already written about in my STEM Lit series, but I wanted you to know it made this year's award list here in Florida. Again, the covers have links to my Amazon affiliate.

1. Ada Twist, Scientist

If you missed my previous post about this book, please go here to find out more about it.

2. The Bad Guys

This is a book that second-graders will enjoy. It is a type of graphic novel so not necessarily a good read-aloud choice. It might be a good one for boys who are a bit reluctant to pick up a book and read.

Mr. Wolf (who may have a connection to Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs) wants to convince you that he is not a bad guy. He is trying to enlist Mr.Piranha, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Shark to join the Good Guys Club. His plan is to rescue 200 dogs from the maximum security city pound. Does it all go smoothly? Read and find out!

This is the first volume of what is currently a four volume series so kids who love it can continue with the story.

3. Ferocious Fluffity

This picture book is set in a second-grade classroom. It's a rhyming story, which makes it a wonderful read-aloud.

Fluffity the hamster seems like a perfect class pet when the big box is opened. "She's so sweet" was the reaction of the students. The teacher tells them to look but not to touch. Of course, they all want to hold Fluffity.

When the teacher oversleeps one day the kids see their chance and take Fluffity out of the cage. That's when she attacks!

I can hardly wait to use this as a read-aloud this year. I think kids are going to love the story.

Powered by Blogger.