Sunday, September 20, 2009

The video I shared today was the final project for a SMART board course, "Using the SMART Recorder to Solve a Math Problem." The tutorial led me through the steps I'd need to take to create my own recorded solution for an algebra problem.
So, how does this fit into my first grade classroom? Oh, my Biese mind is buzzing already!

In September, my students are just getting their "feet wet" in math concepts. Some still have trouble identifying numbers (or writing them in the proper direction), while others are skip counting, counting coins, and more. Their math abilities vary as greatly as their reading abilities!

Now that I know how to create these teaching videos, and post them here on my blog, my students will (someday soon, I hope) be able to view a lesson on writing and reading tally marks, if they don't yet understand that concept. (I'll be able to direct the parents to the proper video on this blog.)

Those of my students who already have tally marks figured out could browse through my available teaching videos posted on this blog (once I get this up and running), and check out a more advanced math concept video, like counting coins or a trick to skip-counting by 2's.

My first graders' parents will benefit, too! They'll be able to view the video clips on this blog with their child, and see what terminology I'm using, as well as the techniques and tricks I'd like their child to remember as they work on specific skills. They should no longer have to hear their child moan, "But that's not the way my teacher does it!"

(I used to tell my folks that a lot. Finally they stopped helping me with my homework, thinking that if I could remember that well what my teacher DID say, I could probably do it on my own!)

I'm looking forward to using this new feature a great deal on my blog, and benefitting my parents and students at the same time! :)

My First SMART Board Video Tutorial--Posted!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Back in the Game!

Oh, my...has it really been so long since my last post? I welcome my newest readers, and welcome back those of you who are still checking back, even though your child is now in second grade! :)
With the new school year comes the establishment of new routines. I'll admit, blog updates aren't on the top of my priority list, but I would like to experiment with this media more frequently this year than I did last year. I'm thinking to post about twice a month; that sounds like a feasible goal for the first "full" school year of blogging!
My students are getting used to routines, too. September is always the toughest month, in my opinion, because everything is new. Kids, parents, and yes, even teachers have many worries about the unknown school year that lies before them. After some time together, however, those concerns are traded for confidence; we all know each other better, and feel more comfortable in our shoes as parents, students, or teachers than we did at the beginning of the year. I'm hoping that this blog will serve as a "get to know me" vehicle, to help us all work better together, for the benefit of the kids.
This year, we started out with 5 hermit crabs, a beautiful betta fish ("Red Rocket"), and an unmentionable amount of red wiggler worms (yes, the Worm Composting Camp is doing extremely well!). I'm hoping to add more to our classroom critter menagerie soon this school year. Yesterday, I led the kids on an informational journey online, to research hedgehogs. Now all of us in the classroom are psyched to get our new classroom pet--even the teacher! :)
Our classroom will be growing Romaine lettuce again this year, with the hydroponic tub my husband built for me last year. Last May, our "Salad Party" was a huge hit! I couldn't believe so many 6- and 7-year olds would eat so much lettuce by their own free will! Ha ha! It was great to see them enjoying a healthy food that tends to get a bad rap from their age group. By the time that lettuce was harvested, the kids really developed an "ownership" of our little garden, and I think that was key to the salad party's success. The longest roots were over 30 inches long, which goes to show you can raise fantastic things in a hydroponic tub!
This school year, we will also be restoring some of our school property into the Oak Savannah Prairie that it was long before the Europeans arrived in North America. Over the summer, I attended a wonderful class, along with two kindergarten teacher friends of mine, and we've been granted a patch of 4,000 square feet to develop the land. Our Parent-Teacher Organization generously donated money so we could buy seed and other materials, and we're hoping to plant in October this year. I can't wait to see that area of land become a new habitat, on school grounds, for kids, teachers, and the whole community to explore and enjoy! :)
So, what other unique learning experiences are heading our way this year? Part of the thrill of teaching is that I don't always know the answer to that question! I'll keep you updated on our first grade adventures! Together, we are life-long learners; thanks for joining us in the ride!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Back to the Blog!

Been spending a great deal of time working on my school webpage, getting summer school finished, and meeting new friends at the National Education Computing Conference in Washington, D.C. Two more fascinating days to go at this wonderful event! Hopefully I'll learn how to make this blog more valuable to its readers as a result of this technology convention! :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Plant Swap/Sale Coming Soon to Room 723!

I'm planning on hosting my Spring Plant Swap and Sale again, on Thursday, May 14th and Friday, May 15th. I had to skip it last year, because we were in the process of moving into our new classrooms in the newly-created Primary building. But it's back, and hoping to be better than ever! Here are the details:

If you're a perennial gardener who needs to divide some of your plants this spring, we'd like you to consider joining us in this fun gardening event! Share your love of plants with others! Get new plants! (You may get some spending cash out of it, too!)

If you're looking for a great place to find home-grown perennials at great prices, come check our plant swap/sale out! You don't need to bring in any plants to share in order to get new plants--those who can't swap can always purchase plants, and many are sold at $5.00 per pot.

If you are bringing in plants for the swap sale, here are some extra details for you...

1.) As you dig up the plants you wish to contribute to the swap/sale, please put what you consider to be "Five Dollars Worth" into a pot at a time. That makes for easier swapping, since a majority of the plants will have a $5.00 value attached to them.

2.) If you need empty pots, please contact me--I have lots! :)

3.) Please maintain the potted plants until the sale event. You can bring your potted plants for the swap/sale as early as Wednesday, May 13th, from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m., or on Thursday or Friday that week, before or after school. You'll be best off having the plants to me Wednesday after school, so please plan accordingly.

4.) If you have plants that you wish to sell/swap for more or less than $5.00, please label the prices clearly on the pot. Pots of like prices will be swappable; for example, if you bring in a $2.00 plant, you can take a $2.00 plant, or two $1.00 plants. I'm a first grade teacher, after all; let's keep the math simple! :)

5.) Please label the PLANTS NAME, if you know of it, and the type of environment it thrives in (ex: full sun, part shade, houseplant only, etc.), as well as any other growing tips the buyer/swapper may need to know (ex: spreads rapidly, poisonous leaves, etc.).

Please contact me a for more information. Thanks for participating, and helping to beautify your yard, and the yards of others!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Easter Bunny Balloon Car Races Are A Big Hit!

Last week Wednesday, before our school started spring break, I gave my first graders some little bunny cars, that were "powered" by balloons. We took the crazy vehicles to a less-traveled hallway, blew up the balloons (some of them a bit TOO much! POP!), and ran some bunny races! The furthest one traveled over 10 feet!

Spring Break Progress Post!

Our school had a shorter spring break than some, but it gave me enough time to get some more pictures taken of our hydroponic Romaine lettuce garden's progress, as well as show you what our worm camp looks like--before the kids come back tomorrow and mix up all the worms, vegetable scraps, shredded paper and soil particles all over again! (They love mixing the compost pile, and would be heartbroken if I told them I did it while they were gone!)

I bought some Coleus plants, a Black Pagoda, and a wonderfully interesting plant called Alocasia today, from my botanical buddy Aric. He's been a huge help for my husband and I, as we explore the world of hydroponic gardening! Check out his store, Aric's Indoor Garden Supply, on Wisconsin Avenue in Appleton, or on the web at It's a gardener's dream come true!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Goodreads Book Review on Technology

Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives by John Palfrey

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
This was an informative, well-researched book. As a "non-native," I have developed a strong interest in the grand possibilities of ever-changing, ever-expanding technology. At the same time, I've had to battle strong fears (what if my mp3 gets smaller and vaporizes in my pocket, or--worse yet--ends up in the washing machine?), and listen to the tech naysayers who are still hoping it's just a fad, and they don't wish to deal with it right now. In my educational profession, I don't believe we can wish technology to go away, or even to stay the same for any amount of time. Is there honestly any profession that doesn't stand to improve with technology literacy? I believe it is imperative that us "old" folks get on the ball, and get ourselves educated in technology, so we can assist these digital natives as they come up through the grades. Technology's going to be a large part of their lives, whether we use it (and ALLOW it) in our classrooms or not. It's time to be proactive and share the positive aspects and safe usage practices of recent technology leaps with these curious young minds.

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Our Hydroponic Garden Adventure, in Pictures, Begins...

Here are some pictures from another one of our classroom science adventures.

Those are Romaine seedlings in growing cells. Next step? Into the hydroponic unit, which my husband so cleverly constructed.

All these photos were taken March 21st; it was a busy day for taking pictures!

Here's what our compost looked like this morning, before I added more shredded paper bedding. I'm amazed how quickly these creatures have created something new and useful out of food and paper scraps! My first graders are thrilled to see so many more worms getting to work! Wiggler Worm Composting Camp rocks! :)

Monday, March 30, 2009

More Pictures, Now That I've Learned How to Post Them!

What a change, wouldn't you say? Those worms are really busy little creatures!

Here's what our "composting camp" looked like on March 21, 2009, just after I added more shredded paper for their bedding.

One of our very first photos of our vermicomposting adventure, taken January 21, 2009.

Sun Light is Up and Running!

Last Sunday we set up the T5 Sunlight for our Romaine plants. I took 3 plants out of the aeroponic system that didn't look like they were doing so well, and replaced them with stronger looking seedlings. Today I'll be adding more nutrients to the water, so my little Romaine plants (and chives, too) can get a strong, healthy start!
I'm hoping to upload photos today, too, after I figure out how that gets done on these blogs...with any amount of luck, you'll be seeing those, soon!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Happy Spring!

Yesterday we got the aeroponic garden up and running. We placed 7 Paris Island Romaine seedlings, 3Baby Romaine seedlings, and one of chives into their own, separate "net-pots," then filled in the gaps with hydroton pebbles. The pump is nice and quiet; it makes a gentle sound much like the filter of my fishtank, which is probably a good thing--I know my students will miss the koi (and the solitary goldfish) when they get moved back to my pond at home in a few weeks. Hmmm...perhaps I'll just have to get more fish to take their place! Poor things are growing, and getting a bit large for that 10-gallon tank. They'll be happy to make the move to the outdoor pond--and hopefully will be too big for the kingfishers to snag and eat!

The red wigglers continue to munch away quietly in their "worm campground." My students love checking their progress, and now just about all of my students are willing to get their hands right in there and help (gently!) mix the tub contents up every now and then. It's wonderful that these kids can get a summertime experience in the classroom right now, because it's starting to get extremely wet and sloppy outdoors! Oh, well, we're gardeners...we practice waiting all year long, for one thing or another, don't we?! Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More pictures, more activities to share...

This week, we were excited to discover that our Romaine seedlings germinated over the weekend (Saturday morning, to be exact). Now my husband and I are feeling the time crunch to get the aeroponic "tub" ready for the next step of our indoor gardening project! I've taken some pictures, and hope to post them soon.
My classroom gardenia plant had developed a bad case of spider mites, but a good botanical friend of mine has cleared that up (for now). I'd better keep a careful eye on it the next few days, so I can spare the leaves and flower buds (hooray!) that survived the infestation. A huge "Thank you" to my friend Aric for doctoring it up!
Our classroom orchid (the first I've ever owned) continues to bloom profusely, and provide a beautiful, gentle scent throughout the classroom. Since I don't know enough about caring for them yet, I'm planning on visiting the orchid shop in Neenah (where I purchased it from), and the woman I bought it from will walk me through how to divide it and re-pot it. Another learning experience! I always enjoy learning something new.
Our vermicomposting "camp" is really going to town. Our red wiggler worms eat a lot of vegetable scraps, munch on egg shells for "grit," and enjoyed strawberry bits (hulls and "bad" berries) this week. It looks so very different from when we started, when there was only the shredded newspaper, a handful of dirt, and 2 lbs. of worms! They've been extremely busy!
This week, in our classroom, we're starting a unit about taking care of the environment. I hope the kids tie in these science "projects" we've been doing for some time now with the ideals in the unit. We can do many small things that make a large difference.
That's it for now!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Taking lots of photos today...

Today I took a lot of photos, of various classroom activities and ongoing projects. We completed (or nearly completed) our Aboriginal dot art masks today, and I must say, they look FANTASTIC! The kids needed a great amount of time (nearly the entire morning) to get them done, but, I know they've developed a very strong appreciation for the time and talent it takes to create art! Tyler, one of my first graders, said,"I can't imagine how much time it took [the artists] to create the masks we saw on the internet websites!" Many of the kids commented that the venture was definitely a highlight of the week. I'm planning on using photos of their completed masks as part of my SMART board photo powerpoint of "How to Make an Aboriginal Dot Art Mask." Next year's kids, and those that follow in later years, will have a nice array of mask examples to look at: some pictures of masks made by Aboriginal people, and some pictures of masks made by 6- and 7-year olds like themselves!

I also took pictures of how our lettuce is doing (seeds sitting in a warm, moist climate, ready to germinate soon), and I took a few photos of our vermicomposting project. The kids "fed" the worms today--some old lettuce pieces. These kids are really "digging in" to the earth-friendly projects we've started in this classroom! (With BOTH hands!) :)

Looks like I should get a photo of myself taken soon, so I can post it on this site! :) Then I won't just be a shadow blogger! Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Starting our Aeroponic Adventure!

Today our class started 48 Romaine lettuce seeds (2 varieties: Paris Island and Baby Romaine) which will eventually go into our aeroponic growing station. We're going to document the progress on this blog; hopefully it gets other people interested in trying out this fantastic no-soil way of gardening indoors!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Hello, I'm New Here...

I've shed my reservations and decided to jump into blogging. Would like to see how this can benefit me in the future...

A bit about myself :)

First grade teacher for the past 13 years/resident of Wisconsin my entire life/graduate from UWEC (go Blugolds), then a master's degree in creative arts from Lesley U./happily married, with 3 kids/love learning new things (thus, this adventure)/enjoy cooking, the arts, gardening, reading, travel/just learning how to blog, twitter, and grow vegetables hydroponically/tend not to re-send the emails that my friends want me to pass on to everyone I know, yet haven't had any "bad luck" befall me because I deleted those emails rather than send them--go figure!