Saturday, August 2, 2014

Vegas Recap: Lessons Learned on Day 1

Please tell me I'm not the only one whose life gets away from them?  I fully intended to write this post 3 weeks ago, but then camp started. Doesn't bode well for my intentions of blogging during the school year does it?  Oh well as my hubby says nothing to it but to do it, so without further ado....

First off I need to own the fact I picked most of my sessions by searching for presentors I follow on Blog Lovin and purchase most from on TPT.  At first this seemed silly but after talking it over with my two girlfriends it was the best strategy. These sessions spoke to me, I already trusted the presenters and believed in their methods. I'm sure it's how I'll pick next year too!  

Session 1:  Turning Your Math Instruction into a Fun-a-Licious Experience for All presented by Cara Carroll.  
I was so pumped for this session!! I seriously heart Cara big time.  Meeting her may have been one of the biggest highlights of the whole trip.

Let me tell you she does not disappoint. I would be honored to have one of my babies in her class! In this session Cara broken down her math instruction and math tubs. She gave tons of ideas and suggestions on how to make it work in other classrooms.  She explained her schedule and how she uses her math time. The two main things that I took away from her presentation were:  
1) It's not necessary to have rotations that include teacher table.  If you "free" yourself of that commitment it allows you to sit back and observe what your students are doing. If you see a student hasn't fully understood a concept or needs more instruction you can pull them during this time. You can pull a small group if you see a few need more attention. You can use this time to do conferences or one on one assessments but, you can also observe and use these observersations to plan more lessons. I loved this idea because it make so much sense yet I have this idea I have to always be teaching but forget that observation is such an important part of planning our teaching.
2) Math Mouth- this is how Cara introduces math vocabulary to her kiddos. I loved the cute catchy phrase and her anchor charts. They are simple but really allow the children to form connections with the terms. 
Cara has blogged about her session a bit and shared a lot of what she presented so be sure to check out her post.  I loved the whole thing and will definitely be applying a lot of her suggestions but the two above have stayed with me a month later. 

Session 2:  Rhythm, Rhyme and Phonological Awareness by Sherri Strating 
I was really looking forward to this session because I had a student this past year who had apraxia and  I was looking for more information on the importance and a deeper understanding of the developmement of phonological awareness.  Sherri was a very sweet presentor and gave tons of lesson ideas.  It reaffirmed what I was doing in my classroom and offered me some more activities I could do during summer tutoring. Sherri shared some books that can help children develop their phonological awareness, they are sitting in my amazon cart right now. She suggested Mother Goose Meets Monster Goose, Mary Had a Little Jam and Hink Pink books. I loved these. 

Session 3:  Squeezing Learning into a Every Second by Jodi Southard 
Let me start by saying Jodi is tiny!  I mean sister is SO stinkin' cute and fit, you can't tell she's pregnant till she turns to the side!! So jealous!  Moving on though, this session was all about how to maximize time and what to do with those annoying random 5-7 minutes between periods or activities. I seriously have two pages of notes on different things we can do during those times.  I loved them all but what I think hope to make a constant in my classroom is what Jodi calls compliment time. Basically you take those 5 minutes and pick one student to sit in the middle, or in a high chair, actually it doesn't matter where they sit or stand the point is you pick a student and each children pay the chosen student a compliment.  How awesome is that?  I recently read Ron Clark's End of Molasses Classes in which he talks about the importance of teaching children to lift each other up, Jodi's idea supports this perfectly! The other idea I love is have a student in the "hot seat" chose a student and have them answer academic review questions their peers ask them. If they get it right they get to stay in the hot seat if they answer correctly but if a friend stumps them they switch out of the hot seat. What a great way to review!  Jodi talked about a lot of different ways to get students writing short pieces during those 5-10 minutes. My favorite was using Story Cubes. I've  already purchased a set and plan to have it in my writing center as an option during Work on Writing. 

Session 4:  Vocabulary Building:  A Challenge & Opportunity by Cara Carroll
Another fabulous session with Cara.  Since she has blogged about her session already I'll just share my favorite takeaways. Her suggestion of using a 10 day cycle for vocabulary words is great!  I think it's great because it gives the kids more time to fully learn the words and also takes some pressure off of not having time to teach vocabulary. When you have ten days you can carve out bits of time throughout the day to get the instruction in. I guess what I'm trying to save is 10 days gives me room to breath.
 My other takeaways from this session, well really from both, was Cara's vocabulary!  I mean I love it. She has the best terms and really shows her fun personality.  During her presentation she referred to her students who were struggling as "sweet and lows". I mean seriously what a kind away to describe our babies who struggle?  You can't call someone a sweet and low and not like them or view them as a challenge.  Then she mentioned those students who are on the bus to struggle street, love it!  Probably my favorite term she used was her response to that one student we have in each lesson who swears they know the answer but really doesn't. Cara's answer of "sweetie that's the right answer to another question" is just perfect! I love it will definitely be using it.  Not to look like a dork but I'm not lying when I tell you I actually made a page in my notebook titles Grace's New Vocabulary and I kept track of all the charming saying Cara threw out.  

Hope you've made it this far and hopefully you've enjoyed the glimpse into these ladies fabulous sessions. Next up will be Day 2 and all I'll promise is I'll get to it before school starts. :) 

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