Friday, March 17, 2017

Reporting From....

"Hello, and welcome to the 1st Grade News!" If you are walking down our hallway on a Friday morning, you will hear these same words from members of our class News Crew as they record their newscast.

It was about a year ago when I began dreaming of a class newscast. You know the teacher life though; dream big and you'll get to it someday. Well it finally happened! With the help of my first graders, we planned and carried out our first newscast a month or so ago. It has been such a hit that I think you should give it a try too! And it's easy! Watch this if you aren't quite sure yet.

Here's the run down:
  • In the first newscast I choose 3 students who would make great guinea pigs! In following weeks, I require a job application to be completed before they can serve on the News Crew. 
  • On Monday or Tuesday we have a News Crew meeting (3 students and the teacher). In this meeting we discuss: 
    • Expectations of the News Crew
    • Who will serve as two anchors and one recorder 
    • News Crew Report: they start working together to find current news that should be included in the newscast for the week. 
  • On Wednesday or Thursday they work together to turn their News Crew Report notes into a script. They do the talking, I do the typing.  I'm certain to send home the script at least one day in advance so families of the anchors have a chance to practice. I also remind them to not wear green on Friday (that could cause a major green screen issue)!
  • On Friday we record!  The News Crew is responsible for setting up the equipment in the hallway (small table, green screen, iPad, 2-4 chairs, etc.). I am also their to guide and help them when needed.
  • After the recording is finished and they approve of their work, I begin producing the segment with DoInk (an easy to use green screen app). 
    • I use PowerPoint to create the images (save as JPEG) I want in the background - including the corner images that change throughout the newscast. 
    • With DoInk, I am able to overlap the recording and the images. 
    • Press SAVE and SHARE on Seesaw! We also put it out in our weekly school news bulletin.
Best part? Applicable to ALL grade levels! 

You can find all of the documents here.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Holiday Breaks are for Naps, Good Food.... and Connecting with Students!

Many of us are preparing for our beloved holiday breaks. We have Thanksgiving and Christmas break plans on the horizon and we are more than excited! Yes, we are still working our tails off preparing lessons, assessing students, and wrapping up our semester, but we are anxiously awaiting the days when we can sleep in, munch on delicious food, see family, and take unlimited naps.

But while we are on our holiday breaks, many of us often think about our students. We wonder what they are up to, where they've been, or who they are seeing. We look forward to our return to school so we can see our students and hear their exciting stories.

So, with a similar idea from @AmandaBuethe, I decided I wanted to connect with my students over their holiday breaks. And that's just what I did, with the help of my favorite app, Seesaw.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Why would any teacher want to take time away from their holiday break to check in on their students? Aren't we supposed to be enjoying our time away from the hustle and bustle of work? Why would I want to bother my student's family during this family time?

Well, my theory is... go for it, bother your students, connect with them over break! And here's why:

So let me tell you how I use SEESAW to do this:

1. Inform students that during the break you will be sharing something on Seesaw periodically. Our class chooses 3 books that they would like hear during break. I also inform them that at the end of each video there is a secret word. If they bring back all the secret words, they will be entered for a prize.

2. I share a video of me reading a book - that way my students are at least hearing text while they're away from school. They can grab their parents device and watch the video and even comment if they would like. The possibilities are endless - try anything!

3. Take 5 minutes out of your break on 2-3 separate days and record and share your video on your class Seesaw. At the end of each video share one secret word and remind students that if they want to be entered for the prize they must write down and bring to school the secret words.

4. When you head back to school, put names of students in the hat if they bring back all the secret words. Choose a student out of the hat to receive the prize. I gave out a $5 Sonic card but this is definitely not necessary.

  • Post a picture from your break and have students comment on what math they see. Challenge them to see math wherever they are during their break. 
  • Post a discussion question and let students comment. 
  • Secret words and prizes are not necessary. 

Check out my Seesaw examples here: 

Spring Break Read Aloud 1
Spring Break Read Aloud 2
Spring Break Read Aloud 3

Let me know if you have questions or a new idea to share!
Enjoy your holidays!


Sunday, October 2, 2016

Let Kids Share with Student Led Conferences

We all know parent teacher conferences (PTC) as being one of the longest days for teachers. With a tight schedule, teachers must meet with parents to discuss student goals, strengths, and areas for improvement. For so long we've always just sat down with parents to discuss their child, but why have we never included the child in this discussion? So many teachers are taking a swing at student led conferences (SLC) and now I know why!

Last Spring I was realizing how independent my students had become over the year. They had developed a tremendous ownership and pride for their learning and there was no better time for us to try SLC. Here's why I use student led conferences:

Student led conferences are achievable with any grade level. I teach first grade and have had success with SLC and intend to continue to use these method. I use the Seesaw app to organize and guide our SLC. Here is the run down:
  1. Create goals for yourself and your students. What do you want to get out of SLC? What do you want students to share with their parents?
  2. Create a folder titled "SLC" on your class Seesaw account. 
  3. Post the "Behavior Self Evaluation" to your Seesaw account for each child to "copy and edit" to evaluate their own behavior. Parents will possibly see this on Seesaw, but this will also encourage conversation at the SLC.
  4. Create a checklist so students know what to add to the "SLC" Seesaw folder. Students were only allowed to add items to the folder if it was a post of their own work from the months up to the conferences. Parents may have already seen these items pop up in their Seesaw notifications, but they most likely haven't heard their child talk about each item. 
  5.  Provide students with a practice checklist and allow students to practice SLC with a partner. Model how they should show what is in the "SLC" Seesaw folder and how they should share and discuss items. This is a great opportunity to teach appropriate speaking skills (clear voice, eye contact, etc.). Students will discuss what they are good at and what they think they could get better at.
  6. Inform parents that their child will be leading the conference. This will encourage parents to come! I post this on Seesaw the day before conferences. 
  7. ENCOURAGE parents to ask questions of their child. This opens up discussion on success and areas for improvement.

    Want these documents? They're right here!

    Let me know if you have any questions or if you would like to collaborate!

    Thanks, Andrea 

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Encourage Family Interaction with Seesaw

Use this image in your Seesaw account to encourage interaction between families and students.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Hello Families! Seesaw Welcome

Wow! Another school year is just around the corner and I am so excited to get things rolling again. As always, Seesaw will be a huge part of our classroom. It allows students to show their learning, while parents can have a front row view of our classroom.

Before parents and students join your class, share this image to welcome families and students so they see something when they first log in to Seesaw. This will give parents a quick view of what you will use Seesaw for this school year.

If you want to know more about Seesaw, click here. Or comment below to ask questions!


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Here We Go

Hi there!  I'm a first grade teacher from central Kansas and loving every bit of it. I enjoy connecting, sharing, and of course, learning. I am hoping that this will be a place where I can document my own learning as an educator and share ideas with others.

Please join me along this wonderful journey of first grade life!
Follow me on Twitter (@mrsbirzer) and on Snapchat (@mrsbirzer).