Poem in Your Pocket Day 2016

There is just something about pocket-sized anything that is so appealing!

I’ll be honest, I had never heard of of Poem in Your Pocket Day until I read this post by Shannon Miller.  Here is a description of Poem in Your Pocket Day from the Academy of American Poets:

Every April, on Poem in Your Pocket Day, people celebrate by selecting a poem, carrying it with them, and sharing it with others throughout the day at schools, bookstores, libraries, parks, workplaces, and on Twitter using the hashtag #pocketpoem. 

Poem in Your Pocket Day was originally initiated in 2002 by the Office of the Mayor, in partnership with the New York City Departments of Cultural Affairs and Education, as part of the city’s National Poetry Month celebration. In 2008, the Academy of American Poets took the initiative to all fifty United States, encouraging individuals around the country to join in and channel their inner bard. In 2016, the League of Canadian Poets extended Poem in Your Pocket Day to Canada.

Poem in Your Pocket Day 2016 was held on April 21

I just knew my classes had to participate!

I started with awesome poetry from the Poetry 180 program.  Poetry 180 is designed to bring a different poem to high school students each day of the school year.  I sampled a few of the poems before sharing it with my sixth graders and found them to be appropriate.  [Note, I would use caution with younger students.  You may want to hand-select poems from the site to provide age-appropriate reading material for the younger grades.]

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I let the children analyze two poems using the Poetry Peace Map Method by Lauren Candler.  You can preview this method of exploring poetry with this link.  They selected their favorite, and edited this Canva from Shannon Miller with their poems.  We printed three copies on standard paper.  We placed one copy in our pockets, put another copy in a basket, and a third copy was hung outside our classrooms to celebrate and share!  I also adjusted the document, selected four of my favorites, and printed four to a page.  I placed them outside of my classroom for students and teachers place in their pockets.  The more, the merrier!

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The students were surprised to find that they actually liked some of the poems.  In fact, I have even caught some of them reading from Poetry 180 during Free Reading time!  I would highly encourage you to participate for Poem in Your Pocket Day next year.

Poem in Your Pocket 2016

 

 

Fear Project Reflection Video

So, what did the kids really think about the Fear Project?  I decided to ask them.  First, they created reflection posts on Kidblog.  You can view some of them here:

Mrs. Lavallee’s Homeroom Kidblog Posts

I selected some of my favorites to feature in this Animoto video.

I am so proud of the sincerity, honesty, and thoughtfulness displayed in this student reflection video.  Sixth graders have so much potential.  I am lucky to work with them!

What’s Your Point?

This post is dedicated to my wonderfully patient colleagues at CIS who may still be waiting for me to get to the point.

I often struggle with spoken communication. This is a difficult admission for an ELA teacher. I should be able to convey my ideas, my plan, my passion succinctly. But I can’t. Because once I get rolling, Ijustcantseemtostopmyself.

This is a problem. I am full of big ideas. I want the best for my students, and I want to team up with others who are likeminded. I want to share. I want to teach. I want to inspire. But sometimes I can’t get over the Big Picture long enough to convey the little details.  And sometimes I can’t move past the little details to convey the Big Picture.

But this is important: I really do know what I am talking about when it comes to certain topics. I’ve been teaching a long time!  I might get too excited. I might get too caught up in the presentation and moment to remember the bottom line.

But guess what? So do our students. Most of them, even those at the advanced level, are still experimenting. They are learning, trying, proving, creating, revising, and editing their learning. They are excited about new things. And it never stops. So please don’t judge me, or them, with a single outcome or evaluation. The words we’d like to convey may escape us.  We will explain it better next time.  We are a work in progress.

And I promise to try harder, to slow down, to check in more often to be sure you get what I am saying. Thank you for your understanding and patience. There is not a personality among us that I don’t truly enjoy. How lucky we are to work with each other!

I promise to get to the point… Maybe next year?

Giving Individuals a Voice with Padlet

Looking for an easy way for students to SHARE their learning?  Padlet is a terrific, FREE tool!

I encourage my students to share what they are reading frequently.  The students are much more likely to accept a recommendation from a peer than me.  Biblionasium has become a staple in our classroom, but I also like the on-the-spot responses that Padlet provides.

The steps to using this terrific, FREE, collaborative tool could not be easier.  First, create a new wall.  You can modify the wall by choosing fun backgrounds like blueprint or chessboard.  Create a title and description.  This is where I usually post my instructions.  Select a layout (freeform, stream, or grid).  I vary this depending on the assignment.  Then you SHARE it with your audience.  I’ve found the easiest way is it use the Padlet generated QR code associated with your wall.  (You can find it under the share icon.)  The students bring their device to the iPad or computer screen, scan the code, and they have instant access!  They can tap anywhere to add their response!  So easy!  They don’t even have to log in!  Best of all, the finished product can be printed as a  .jpg, .pdf, excel or csv document.   It can also be embedded into a blog!

Our DIY Bench/Table/Ottoman

At the beginning of the year, I had my students learn about the brain and how the different parts function.  Then we read a few articles about how people learn.  We continued our study by dissecting some really complex material about what students need to learn BEST.

This lead to a few important focal points:

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Then I asked the students to create a list of things that would enhance our learning space:

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We knew we needed to make some changes.  The students needed somewhere to sit when they were reading and a small table for when they were collaborating on the carpet.  I consulted our guidance counselor, who just happens to be a carpenter on the side, and we came together to make our own seating.  Here are a few pictures!

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Look at these proud, happy faces!  Mr. B. , we could not have done it without you!bench 2.4

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And the final results…

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Our Digital Journey: Selecting the Tools


Screen Shot 2014-10-05 at 5.57.33 PMThis is the third post in a series documenting the digital literacy initiative at Cecil Intermediate School.  If you like this post, you may want to read “What Do You Value” and “Building a Team”.

Writing a lesson plan can be difficult.  I always know what I’d like the outcome to look like, but I struggle with the details.  Sometimes, I just have to get started before I can be super specific about how I will meet my objective.  The same is true with our new Digital Journey.  As I highlighted in my first post, the world is looking for problem solvers, team players, collaborators, and communicators.  But as many of you know, there are thousands of web tools and apps that encourage these skills.  How do you narrow it down?

I considered the following categories before making my final selection:

1.  Ease of Use:  Our students are sweet, hard-working, and bright fifth and sixth graders.  Many of them have their own devices at home, but they have not had a great deal of experience using complex programs.  I wanted them to feel comfortable and successful right away.

2.  Compatibility:  If we are going to encourage students to learn and create at home as well as school, I felt that the programs needed to be available on many different platforms.  I gave special consideration to tools that could be accessed from computers, Chromebooks, tablets, and even phones.

3.  Google Connected:  The technology department created Google Accounts for each of our students as we have three Chromebook carts available for use.  I wanted students to have the experience of registering through Google, so they could see how easy it is.  The fewer the steps they need to take to get into a program, the better off we will all be!

4.  Application:  The tools selected allow students the ability to express themselves through pictures, video, and audio.  The tools can be utilized in ANY of our courses, including the Arts and Humanities.

5.  Ability to Share:  After students have created their spectacular projects, we need to be able to share them with the world.  Tools that encourage sharing via email, Twitter, YouTube, and Schoology were given special preference.  But no worries, most educational web tools are built with this in mind!

Want to see our first digital tool list?  Stay tuned!