Sunday, November 2, 2014

Big art grant! Help!

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. ”
-Pablo Picasso

I could really use your help! I am the only teacher in California competing for $100,000 in the Farmers Insurance Dream Big Challenge. Voting goes through the end of November. At the end of November, the school with the most votes will be awarded the $100,000. We are competing against two other schools in our zone.

We are going to use the money to create a digital art program. Students will have the opportunity to create original art, use digital cameras to take photos and integrate the different media into original pieces. We will be able to purchase all the necessary equipment such as digital cameras, computers, printers, scanners and all the necessary support materials with this grant.

You know how valuable experiences with art are and how essential technology skills are. Our students are hungry for these types of experiences, yet the circumstances of their lives find them having alarmingly few experience in these areas.

Our rural district does the best it can to offer as many experience as possible for our students, but our kids need so much more. Most of the resources we have are spent on bridging the academic gap that our language learning and low socioeconomic status students experience. I am very excited to have the chance to bring this enrichment opportunity to all of the elementary schools in our school district.

At the end of each session of classes, we will have a community art show to spotlight the great work our students have done. It will let the community see what great things our kids are capable of and will strengthen our community.

I sincerely hope you will take just a moment each day to vote and verify your vote in your email. It only takes a minute and there will be no other spam or other emails sent to you as a result. We desperately need your help with this!

You can vote each day for Michael Jones of King City, CA (Southwest Zone) at

For more information about the grant, how you can help, and how art is SO important for our students you can visit the web site I created:

There is information on how to join our Facebook group, participate in our Facebook Event, or a place to sign up for daily voting reminders in your email. (I control the reminders and they will stop on November 30th when the contest is over.)

Thank you for your cosideration!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Making Insects (FREEBIE)

Our class has been studying insects so I thought it would be fun to make one.

The students planned what their insects would be like, identified the parts of their insects, provided some details about their insect, then got to create their insect with clay.
 photo IMG_0043.jpg
 photo 32dec4ad-f38e-4e64-b918-f1ae3cd99f98.jpg  photo 5f8b6b19-bcdb-4293-ad6a-f134a6c0f6ce.jpg
 photo 3f8d333a-3f22-4b2c-811e-a7bddee8d7ce.jpg  photo 5b5f2868-8ba9-458d-a02d-7d45ea4ea9bc.jpg

If you are interested in using the printable to plan your own insect project you can download it from TPT here:
My Insect printable (FREE) at my TPT store

To see all the insect that my class made you can visit our classroom blog here:
Our class blog

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Our First Grade Podcasts

I really wanted to help my students experience something new, something that is going to get them excited about practicing language. So, I decided we would create our own internet radio station and create podcasts. We are starting out slowly with the students using language frames and I am hoping to progress to the students helping decide on content and giving interviews. I'm excited to see where we can take this idea!

If you want to check out our work so far visit our internet radio station page Superstar Internet Radio

We are using an Olympus DP-311 for voice recording and Audacity or Adobe Audition (depending on where I do the editing) for editing the audio files. If you and your students are doing something fun to keep the kids engaged and excited about language practice or if you have any questions, please comment.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Classroom Tech Makeover

Well, the year got off to a great start. I posted back in July about the Farmers Insurance Thank a Million Teacher grant opportunity. I GOT IT! It took a lot of my time to get the word out and get the support of my community, but it worked and it was well worth it. The money came in and I was able to turn it into great technology for our classroom. We got some Chromebooks so we can continue to do great things with Google Apps.
One of the other things we got for the classroom was digital voice recorders. They have been a lot of fun and have helped engage the students in practicing their verbal skills.
I have created a new classroom web site where I will share the fruits of our labor. You can see our first podcast there. We have decided to take to the internet airwaves and put out some podcasts on our very own internet radio station. I am excited to stretch the limits of what we can do with our new technology and find new ways to support our educational goals with technology.

Our new web site is

Monday, July 7, 2014

$2500 grant opportunity - I could use your help - YOU CAN APPLY TOO!!!

I am a teacher in King City that is trying to earn a $2500 grant for my classroom from Farmers Insurance. The grants are awarded based on internet voting. I am the only teacher on the 'leaderboard' on the entire central coast of California(and probably the only participant in this month's grant cycle.) Any way that you can support my efforts to bring this grant to our area would be greatly appreciated.

I want to enhance my students' learning by providing them with technology experiences.
It is too late to get in on this round of grants, but you can submit for a future cycle. But in the meantime, PLEASE give me a vote each day to make this a reality for my students. Comment that you voted for me and when your grant is up for voting I will return the favor when you share your grant proposal. Thank You!!!

The web address is: Farmer's Thank a Million Teachers
A search for 93930 zip code shows my grant for M. Jones of King City

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Common Core Assessment Workbooks

I just downloaded a preview of the Common Core Aessment Workbooks for first grade from This really seems like an interesting idea. The notion of having a resource to go to with a tangible assessment for each of the standards seems like a concept that might simplify things a little. Of course for many of the Common Core Standards a worksheet or a page or two is not enough evidence of the complete understanding of a concept or standard. However when it comes to record keeping, this has a nice checklist of the standards and an actual artifact that you could put into a folder. These seem like they could be valuable as a piece of your common core record keeping arsenal. Let's face it, keeping on top of all those standards can be a real challenge. Any resource that can help simplify things or take a little of that management off your plate has to potential to be beneficial.

In the interest of full disclosure, I am going to be given a complete workbook for writing this review and following some basic steps they have laid out. However, I would not go through the trouble if I didn't think that the product had some merit. I will follow up with how this workbook fits in with the other things I am doing with common core assessing when I put it to use.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Video Math Prompt Friday! It's back again!

My kids loved the dramatic music and some of the surprise elements. We were able to have a lot of context based discussions about subtraction using this video math prompt.

Click here to see the new video (youtube)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Video Math Prompt Friday - Free math animations

Here is another video that I made to show to my class to start conversations about math. We will use it to generate word problems. Watching a short animation to demonstrate a math idea has proven to be a lot of fun for my class. They are much more enthusiastic to talk about math and it is very engaging for them. Well enough of the hard sell. If you like them please share with your students.

This video features one of my daughter's favorite friends, "Lego" the horse.
Click here for the video:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Video Math Prompt Friday - Free videos to start math conversations.

I am trying to make videos to support math and make the concepts more concrete. These videos will hopefully help you to have quality discussion about math topics. I will try to make this a regular event. Video Math Prompt Friday!

For the tens frames video click here --> Tens Frame Video Prompt

Monday, August 26, 2013

Going bradless... (Much like Jennifer Aniston)

I'm sure that our school is not the only one that is tightening it's belt a little. All those fun things we used to be able to order for our class seem like such a luxury now. On this very topic, let me tell you about something fun that I discovered. Now I'm not claiming to have made this up as the first person to ever do it, but I did come to this realization on my own. You can use tiny pieces of pipe cleaner instead of brads! It is much cheaper than brads and it was actually much easier for my students to do this than to use brads. They always have trouble poking them through the paper. Here is a quick photo-torial with brief directions.

Here is a cute word wheel. Cut a pipe cleaner into pieces just under a 1/2 inch long. You can easily get 20 out of 2 pipe cleaners. Poke it through the first paper. Then poke it through the second paper. After that, push the two papers against each other. While holding the pipe cleaner on one side bend the other side flat to the paper, the fold the other side flat. It allows you moving parts to move while holding the paper pieces together. It is not much more intrusive than the parts of a brad. There you have it. I hope it changes your world the way it changed mine.

Friday, August 23, 2013

FREE Common Core Math video prompt (Bears and Caves)

The year is now well underway and we are going to be getting into our EnVision math Topic 1. We will be asking the kids to learn about spatial patterns and ways to make 6 and 7. This is a fun video prompt to help contextualize ways to make 6. It is a visual that will help them make sense of the "Crabs in the Cave" activity in EnVision. It is a fun conversation starter and way to get kids asking questions about math they find all around them. I hope you find it useful and your students enjoy it. I will try to keep making little video shorts to encourage math thinking as time allows. Hope your start to the school year is/was a great one!

Click here -> Bears and Caves

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Common Core - Video Math Prompts

After Linda Dilger (from the County Office of Education) visited us for some Common Core Math training I decided to jump into the fray by creating some Video Math Prompts to support math discussions. Here is a link to my first one on my new Youtube channel.

I hope you enjoy it and find it valuable. As time permits, I hope to make more.

Click here -> Balloon Video Prompt