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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Nautical and Ocean Themed Classroom

This year I will be teaching First Grade after two years out of the classroom.  I feel like a new teacher full of enthusiasm and giddy excitement.  I am on to a new adventure at a new school.  With a new school, there is a new classroom which is my empty palette.  

Here is my new room!



In the past I've done a lot with trees, animals, cows, owls, stars, dots on turquoise, etc.  (I have been teaching about 13 years.)  For some reason though, I am beyond excited about this theme.  I LOVE the ocean / nautical theme.  It is so versatile and has so many cute sayings! 

Once I have my room decorated I will add more pictures.  

In the meantime here is a link to my pinterest board where I am collecting fantastic ideas.  


What is your theme this year and why did you choose it?


Sunday, May 17, 2015

End of the Year Class Party Ideas

Can you believe it is that time of year again?  Even though I am not in the classroom right now, I feel the energy from this time of year.

This post is dedicated to the End of the Year Class Parties.  I am going to share a few ideas and then I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for you to share more ideas in the comments section.

My favorite party was an indoor picnic.  We moved all the desks out of the way and brought in blankets to sit on.  Parents brought in sliced watermelon and other fruits.  We ordered pizzas and set up an assembly line on the counter.  It was a parent picnic so the kids sat with their families. Afterwards we went outside and did relay races and free time.  The reason we sat inside to eat is because it was extremely humid so we wanted to limit our outside time.  We came back inside to cool down and shared about how our classmates are wonderful.  It was so much fun.

Usually I brainstorm a list of ideas with the kiddos and then narrow it down to the three I am okay with.  The kids vote and that's what we do.

Our grade level did a Luau together.  Each teacher has a station like "pass the coconut" (like hot potato) or pineapple tasting.  Then the classes rotate to each station every fifteen minutes.  We had nine first grade classes so it was quite an undertaking.  Other stations were relay races, limbo, hula dancing, making a project, and drawing with chalk.  The kids love it.

Some other party ideas include:


  • Popcorn and a movie
  • Outdoor structured games like kickball
  • Ice cream sundaes
  • Having a "theme" day like rockin' rainforest day or dinosaur day (activities and decorations are centered around the theme...

But honestly some of the best ideas come from the kids. 


What do/did you do for your end of the year party? 
Please share. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Teachers Pay Teachers Update

Since I've been working on growing Lowery's Loft LLC, I changed my TpT store name to match my business name.  So even though this Groovy Educator is still groovy, you will seem more Lowery's Loft LLC as I transition somewhat.  I will still keep the Groovy Educator Blog and the Groovy Educator Facebook Page but more and more will be Lowery's Loft LLC.

On a side note, I marked down some awesome items in my TpT store AND made some FREE!  Feel free to check it out.  Teachers Pay Teachers Store

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Q: Why is it Important to Teach Critical Thinking? (A: Life Experiences Beyond the Classroom)

Often I think critically (without even realizing it); I'm known for "over analyzing" just about everything.  I feel it is necessary to visualize different scenarios and the possible outcomes.  This skill helps in many situations from planning a wedding/event to deciding which route to take home.

Recently in the evening, I was driving (by myself) over to my mom's house to dog sit while she went on a short trip.  

As I was nearing her house there was a group of men walking down the middle of the road.  I quickly started weighing my options (thinking critically).  I could drive up to them and wait for them to let me pass and then they would see a single lady pull up to a dark house alone, I could go home, or I could turn onto the block before I reached them and circle back giving them more time to get further up the road without seeing me get out of my car.  Of the three scenarios, the last one is what I chose and it worked out well.  The first option would have put me in a vulnerable position.  The second would keep me safe but I would be considered irresponsible. And the third option got me to the house safely and the dogs fed.

Being able to see a scenario, word problem, story, essay, event, etc. all the way through and make an educated judgement call is essential in school and in life.  It is also important to have fluid judgements (making alterations as more information is revealed) so that the outcome can be adequately gauged.

Fifteen years ago, when I was twenty one years old, my critical thinking skills went on  autopilot during a life changing situation.  I was in a robbery.  My friends and I were on our way to the beach when we decided to stop for a taco.  Little did we know, we were in the wrong place at the wrong time.  After we sat down with our food in the far corner of the restaurant, we heard a commotion (tons of shouting).  I turned around, since my back was to the door and the register, so that I could see what was happening.  In a glimpse I saw three men entering the restaurant with red bandanas covering their noses and mouths wielding guns!  The guns were pointed up in the air just like in the movies...  That's all I saw.  

This is where critical thinking comes into play.  I could have jumped up or started sobbing and drawn attention to myself.  Instead my friends and I pretended it wasn't happening, even though we could hear the shouting and the anger in their voices.  One of the men was screaming for the money and the cashier was screaming back there wasn't any because it was in the safe and she couldn't open it.  

I could not control the situation but I could control my choices.  While sitting there, I started to worry about my wallet.  What if they came around and robbed us?  What if he got my address and the keys to my house? What if this and what if that.  I very cautiously removed my driver's license from my wallet.  I just did not want them to know where I lived.  I also was looking inconspicuously at the windows and the tables that surrounded us us planning an exit route or safe place if they started shooting.  Luckily, they left without any of those terrible outcomes happening.  

If one did, then I would have to rely on my thinking skills to survive.  Critical thinking skills are necessary in life and should be taught as such..  They are not just another reading skill.


On a side note, I sell on eBay and promote other sellers.  If interested check out my eBay Store: Lowery's Loft.  My username on eBay is GroovyEducator (just like this blog).

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Late Night Ponderings About Patterns

Why is it that inspiration strikes when I should be drifting off to sleep?  Tonight I have finally updated my websites:  www.GroovyEducator.com and www.LowerysLoft.com.  You can see my post about these sites on my Lowery's Loft Blog if you are interested.

As I have already mentioned on Facebook, I am backed up in my blogging.  Life happens sometimes and apparently, I lost my "groove" for a bit...

For the past few months I've had the joy of working part time as a Reading Interventionist.  This has been a joy because I get to do what I love, help children read, yet at the same time I still have ample time with my own little one.

My commute is about thirty minutes and during the ride to and from work, I daydream about blogging.  Once I get home however and I become "mom."  By the time I get a chance to sit down at the computer I'm exhausted.  Tonight I am making time for this... Please note that I have not researched any of these ideas yet but if I went back to school for my doctorate, I would love this topic to be my thesis.

Patterns

Most of the time when we think of patterns, we think of math.  There are simple patterns like ABABAB, (apple, orange, apple, orange, apple, orange) or ABBABBABB, and so on.  Patterns repeat and are predictable.

Now let's take that concept and apply it to reading.  Wouldn't it be nice if the curriculum taught children to be aware of patterns?  If a child cannot extend an ABABABAB pattern, I would guess that the child would have difficulty reading.  Isn't reading imbued with patterns?  There are letter and sound patterns like "ai" and there are story patterns (predictable plot elements), even the way books are organized follow a predictable pattern: front cover, title page, table of contents (if applicable) and so on.

I have long been interested in miscue analysis (looking for patterns in errors) as an effective technique to help struggling readers.

What if we taught the children to be attuned to patterns?  I feel that if we study how the brain processes patterns, we can apply it to teaching children to read.  This would be a whole different approach.  Beginning readers or struggling readers would have to master simple patterns before being expected to learn spelling patterns.  Teachers would continue to teach all forms of patterns.

Does anyone know if there are any reading readiness tests that test simple patterns like circle, triangle, circle, triangle?  I am just curious and would love to see this topic explored and studied more in depth.

As it is the middle of the night, I hope that my idea is coming across clearly.  I know that I probably need to elaborate further but this is the gist of what I pondered during my drive today....


On a side note, I sell on eBay and promote other sellers.  If interested check out my eBay Store: Lowery's Loft.  My username on eBay is GroovyEducator (just like this blog).