Saturday, August 17, 2013

Blog Swap Sunday


Hi, I am Amy the teacher/blogger behind Teaching in Blue Jeans. First, before you judge me let me say that I do NOT get to teach in blue jeans everyday. I wish I did, but not so much. But I do love me some blue jeans. One day as I was thinking about my beloved blue jeans I started thinking about why I loved them so much: they are comfortable, oh so comfortable; I can dress them up or down which means they are versatile; and most importantly I just feel like myself in them. When I wear blue jeans I find that I am more willing to try something new or take a risk, more likely to have fun and be silly, more likely to focus and work hard (probably because I am not tugging at hose or thinking about my aching feet (but shoes - that's another blog post entirely)). Somehow in my brain I went from thinking about all the reasons I love blue jeans to concluding that "the blue jean feeling" is exactly how I want my classroom to be. I want me students to be comfortable and feel like themselves. I want them to be willing to work hard, try something new, take risks, have fun and be silly. So there you have it - my Blue Jean Mentality and the idea behind Teaching in Blue Jeans!

In this Back to School season I am putting the finishing touches on my room and mentally switching gears to lesson planning.  I don't know about you, but I have, no HAVE, to have my room done before I start thinking about anything else.  Don't know why - but I just go with it.  My room is about 95% done but I don't have my class list yet so I am still waiting on things like nameplates, locker tags, etc.  Here's a little sneak peek of my library corner:

 

You'll have to check back for the rest of the "big reveal" in a few days.  But since I am in a good place in my set-up my brain has started racing for the lesson planning. Today I would like to share with you some ideas of how I lesson plan.

In my district I am fortunate to have a quarterly guideline of what needs to be taught, without having specific lessons that I must do.  I know some teachers that told what to teach and how to teach it.  That just isn't my personal style so I love the freedom I do have.  I generally plan one unit at a time so that I can organize my ideas.   My district does on-line lesson plans through a website called Eduphoria.  It is actually more than just lesson plans and a resource the district pays to use.  At first, all I wanted was my paper lesson plans, but now I really love it!

Since my plans go on-line, I do all my planning sitting in front of my computer.  My internet browser is open and the first tab is for Eduphoria.  I also have a few other tabs that I open before I even get started.  Those tabs are dedicated to Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, Google Search, You Tube, and the blog Mrs. Wills Kindergarten.  (Total Side Note: but I love Deedee's blog and feel so indebted to her.  She helped me get through my first year in kindergarten with great guidance and amazing ideas.  I {heart} her Sunday visual lesson plans.  AND - I got to meet her and talk with her in Las Vegas at I Teach K.  She is super sweet and funny!  I really enjoyed the sessions that I went to that she taught.  Now, what side note would be complete without a picture!


OK - side note over!)

Now, my approach to lesson planning may be strange to you, but here it is.  I start but looking at my curriculum framework and determining what I will teach.  If I have a tried and true go-to activity I write it in my plans.  If I don't, first stop is always Pinterest.  I do a general search and browse through the results until I find something that "speaks to me."  A lot of this is based on what I know about my students.  One year my kiddos may be ready for something more complex than other years.  When I find an activity I like, I stop looking and put it in the plans.  If I don't find something I like on Pinterest, then I do a search on Teachers Pay Teachers, Google and/or Mrs. Wills Kindergarten (and other kinder blogs that I love).  I also plan with Windows Explorer (the listing of files on my computer) open so that I can see what I already have!  With this method, my lesson plans change every year.  I don't just pull out the same thing for week 13 every year.  Sometimes I wish I could, but that's just not my style.  For one thing, I get bored do the same thing over and over again - yes even a year later!  Second, there are so many amazing teachers out there sharing their great ideas.   I know I am not the best teacher in the world, so why not get inspired by others.  I love that doing this helps me grow as a teacher too!

So this is what my lesson planning looks like:

This is what my internet brower looks like when I start.  Different tabs for each of my resources.

 
This is what my lesson plans look like in Eduphoria.  The blue box at the top of the section is where I select the TEKS / CCSS that I am teaching.  The white box is where I put in my plans. 
I would start by putting in any activities that I know I want to do.  These are usually things from previous years or something I stumbled on previously that I still remember.  This is when I go and look at the files I have on my computer.


This is my Kindergarten file on my computer.
Then I go to Pinterest to fill in the gaps. 
Here's what I found on Pinterest.  I pretended to look for activities for learning our names.  In the circle I did a search for "name activities kindergarten" and this is what I found.  The activities with a check mark are the ones that jumped out at me.  Those are the ones I will click on to find out more about or add them to my lesson plans because they are self-explanatory.  In this search I found some great whole group and center activities and even a math extension!  All in less than 2 minutes!

At this stage in my planning process, I would plug in the activities that I found that I want to do.  If I still have gaps I will look at of my other resources.  In this case, I probably won't go to TpT because I know there are lots of name activities on blogs that I could use.  However, if this was a less common unit or something that I wanted to make sure had some serious "meat" to it, I would go to TpT next.

I jumped over to Google to do a quick search on "kindergarten name activities."  This is what I found:

I like to look through the images because I am a very visual person. 
So like Pinterest, ideas jump out at me by the picture.  The first two search
results were to Pinterest so I didn't go there.  I will browse through the search
results of different blogs and see what I can find.

This would help me fill in my missing gaps and tah-dah - all done with the activities!  But I can't forget one of my favorites - You Tube. There's gotta be a song for that!  Here's what I found:



I watched a couple of these and decided on a song to use.  If you don't know how to "pull" these videos off You Tube so that you can use them in your classroom, make sure and check out my posts on the Power of Music.  OK - done!

Now I know that's a lot of different places to look but I really don't spend but a few minutes, maybe less, on any given sight.  Yes, I generally do this for all subject areas.  Even when we plan as a team, I usually go back and fill in special activities and centers that I want to use with it.  What's great is when a unit is longer than 1 week, I do it all at the same time and the next week I get a little mini-vacation on that subject area. 

I hope you got an idea or 2 that will help you in your lesson planning.  Do you have some lesson plan rituals that you love?  Please share in the comments.

Don't forget to check out Kristy's blog swap at Teaching in Blue Jeans.  Thank you Kristy for this great opportunity!

 






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