Thursday, September 29, 2011

Walk to School Week

Next week the Mann School community is rallying its members to participate in active transportation for Walk to School Week.  The whole week children are encouraged (and rewarded) for walking or rolling to school, in anything powered by human energy.  This is an awesome week for practicing and teaching the importance of living an active, healthy and earth-conscious lifestyle!  Classrooms will be tallying totals of how kids get to school and graphing results.  To help support the week's activities, encourage your children to wear colored shirts for each day.  Click here for the full handout. Here's the list:

Monday, Oct. 3 – Wear Red for Transportation Safety
Tuesday, Oct. 4 – Wear Blue for Water Conservation
Wednesday, Oct. 5 – Wear Green for Reducing Waste in Landfills
Thursday, Oct. 6– Wear Yellow for Conserving Electricity – Turn it Off!
Friday, Oct. 7 – Wear your Favorite Sports Team Colors – Stay Active!

One fun activity for each class during the week will be on-bike training.  Our P.E. teacher will be leading on-bike safety lessons with children during gym class.  We ask that your child bring their bike to school on the day they have physicial education.  (Our class needs their bikes on Friday, October 7.)  And have no fear about the bike lessons because Mrs. Garcia is a certified on-bike instructor! 

As a final event for the week, there will be a mini Walk-a-thon.  We are trying to get as many school community members to join in walking laps around our park.  The goal is to walk as many laps as possible and break our record from last year!  There will be teachers, parents and, of course, kids!!  Everyone can help to make this week a success getting involved!  A huge THANK YOU to the Mann PTO for organizing all the events and activities! Hope to see you out there! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Purpose of Edmodo

Last week I wrote an overview of web tools I am using with students because I wanted to give readers a list of things I'm trying with students using laptop computers on a regular basis in a fourth grade classroom.  The whole process is a learning curve for me as a classroom teacher because I am trying to balance and integrate different parts of curriculum, organize multiple content areas, and adjust to a spectrum of student abilities.  (Prior knowledge, previous experiences, academic ability, and tech skill, to name a few).  But in this post I really want to focus on one tool that is helping mess everything together: Edmodo.

As a teacher, this social learning network is a convenient way for me to share important information, notes, links, and other online media directly with students.  It offers another form of communication from teacher to students but also students to students.  It's a great discussion platform for topics we cover in class; both for ideas we don't get to spend enough time discussing and ones we want to explore more deeply.  Edmodo is set up to allow students a unique way to participate in discussions, one that focuses on their voice and words.  It allows them to read other children's thoughts and enrich their own ideas or understandings about an issue in a way that doesn't always happen in a traditional classroom discussion. 

Another benefit of Edmodo is that it helps children practice grammar (and typing) skills and focus on their audience.  When a child posts on a discussion, they learn quickly that their audience is reading and analyzing their comments without physically looking at them; as opposed to the traditional face-to-face classroom exchanges.  In some cases, students are more receptive to written text than verbal cues because they are focused on words and thought, not face and person.   

For now, I am expecting students to learn how to use Edmodo as a discussion tool for exchanging ideas(with an additional emphasis on typing, writing, and grammar practice). It is also a great platform to teach children how to use web tools, appropriate internet use, and communicate effectively.  As the school year evolves, so will our use of this social learning network.  If you are still wondering about social media in the classroom, read thisChildren are going to learn about social media somewhere, why not in school?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Students Use Web Tools!

There is a seemingly endless number of web-based tools for just about anything you can think of in education and beyong... creation, sharing, collaborating, developing and communicating, just to name a few.  The daunting fact of this reality is that the number of web tools is growing and not everyone knows exactly where to start.  Finding just the right tool can be a challenge, regardless of the desired outcome.

But one of the wonderful things about web tools is that when you find the right one, it can make a project or task increasingly engaging and a final product incredibly valuable.  This year I am using a foundation of five web-based tools in my fourth grade classroom, with others to be utilized as needed throughout the year.  The big five for my students so far this year are Edmodo, ConnectED, Xtra Math, Custom Typing and Google DocsEach of these domains offer very specific tools for assignments and skill development for nine and ten year olds.  They also offer great opportunities for children to acquire technology skills and develop their Internet awareness. 

The power of each tool can be calculated according to student outcomes and progress.  For example, Xtra Math can be great practice or mindless repetition, depending on how the student approaches it.  On the one hand, a child might be very engaged and love competing against a timer to practice basic math fact knowledge, which is ideal.  On the other hand, a student might not be motivated to do repetitive fact practice, even though they don't know all their basic facts.  In which case, there are plenty of other ways to learn and practice math facts. The final outcome of any approach, however, is the end result of student effort and ability

As my class and school continue to learn the power of these tools, we will undoubtedly find others that will help us with assignments, projects and assessments throughout the year.  An awesome aspect of many of these tools and portals is the variety of ways students learn to use and manage them.  Most importantly, the tools have a very specific purpose in the learning process for students.  And it is important to make the children aware of that fact. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

New Family Potluck

Mann School PTO invites all families to: New Family Night
Thursday, September 15th - 6:30 pm Mann School Cafeteria
Please join us for pizza and an opportunity to meet the principal, members of the PTO board and some Mann “veteran” families! Bring the whole family, your questions & if your last name begins with:
A-L: Please bring an appetizer
M-Z: Please bring a dessert
Please contact Kyla Lombardo at 708.763.9339 or to R.S.V.P. on or before September 14th. Volunteers needed too!