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

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Back to school, Back to school...

When I hear or read "Back to School" I think of Billy Madison singing.

"Back to school, to prove to Dad that I'm not a fool. I got my lunch packed up, my boots tied tight, I hope I don't get in a fight. Oh! Back to school... back to school... back to school."

This year I am determined to put something into balloons and have the students pop them. I like the idea of letting the kids pick their own student numbers this way. But, I really want to have that set up before the first day. So, I am going to come up with some sort of game to play. I am thinking of a an "I have, Who has?" game or a secret message where the kids can put letters from the balloons into. I might put their behavior chart clips in balloons and have them find the person that the clip belongs to. Then they can put it on the chart. I am open to your ideas on this. In fact I would love some good ones. If you have any other really fun activities that you like to do on the first day of school with your kids please leave a comment below.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Back after a long break... with Henry and Mudge

I am glad to be returning to blog world after taking a little time off.

I have been enjoying my 2 year old daughter at home so much, I just can't allow myself to spend too much time running around the blogs.

I am going to be working on devoting a little more time here... when I can.

I have also been hard at work on another TPT unit. It is something that I have really been wanting for my students. I finally invested in a couple class sets of Henry and Mudge books. I am reminded of how much work it really takes to move your ideas to reality and how much extra work it takes to make your good ideas for the classroom actually TPT ready.

If you have your students read Henry and Mudge I recommend you give this a look. It is set up just like my Magic Tree House unit. My students have been devouring the Henry and Mudge books and just can't get these question packs done quickly enough. I had no idea how much it would motivate them.

I was so energized and motivated when I started this blog, and I am excited to tap back into that. So, let me know what you have been doing to keep your students motivated to read at home. Mike

Monday, June 11, 2012

Classroom Technology - Old and New

The last weeks of school are a great time to pull out the a few fun ideas that you haven't had the chance to get to.

First the 'new':

Data projectors and document cameras have replaced a lot of overhead projectors in our school district (if not all of them) but I get questions all time on how to make more effective use of them. There are so many possibilities... one thing I like to do with my students is show them some "Howcast" videos. You can find them online, but it is challenging to show them with all of the advertising (you never know what the content will be.) TIP: ALWAYS use the "Freeze" button on your projector to freeze the screen while you preview an upcoming web page if you are unsure of the content. I have two favorite Howcasts that I got from iTunes as podcasts. Saving them in your iTunes library is more reliable and the content will not change. I show them "How to Make a Tissue Paper Flower" and "How to Make a Clay Animal". We go over the materials needed, the basic steps, and we create some great opening sentences and closing sentences. They complete a graphic organizer, and then write the directions including an opening sentence, the materials needed, and a closing sentence. Here they are working on their projects. Having a project at the end of the writing is a great motivator for the kids to dig in and get it done. Now the 'old':

The last few days of school can find the kids a little restless. It is a great time to bring something out they have never seen before. When we think of technology, we often consider the newer more cutting edge technologies that are new to our classrooms. Often our students have not seen the way things used to be. I have an old Dukane film strip projecter. The kids are mesmerized by the pictures and the cassette tape narration. After seeing a few over a couple days, I like to choose a story, put up the slides one at a time, and have the class help me write the narration for each slide. Their ideas are priceless. After we have completed the narration, I make copies for them and we read it together along with each slide. Of course we include the famous "beep" before advancing the slide.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


... That's me coming up for air. I apologize for neglecting the blog world for a while. The end of the year craziness got the better of my time (and the blogging is what had to give.) I look forward to sharing some of the end of year fun we had as well as what I have in the works for the summer. Stay tuned I promise to be more attentive to my blog.