Wednesday, May 06, 2015

TER 2015 - Conference Do's and Don'ts

I was just thinking about something. The Educator's Room Conference is only two months away. I need to start getting ready. There are several things I want to do before the big day arrives. Just to keep my self sane, I am putting together a list of Conference Do's and Don'ts. Hopefully you can get some use out of them as well.

DO (Definitely Do)
* Make some business cards. They don't need to be too fancy, just your name and blog or email for contact information. You never know where new friendships are going to lead! Office Depot sells plenty of options and  your Word programs are usually set up to coordinate with them.
* Make sure you have all of your conference documents in hand. Print out the schedule of the day and the confirmation email to show at the Registration Booth.
* Get there early. Not only to start the day off, but also for the sessions. You don't want all the good seats taken before you make your grand entrance, do you? Being early also affords you some time to check things out. Where are the bathrooms, what kind of concession food will be on hand, will you need to go off site to get something good, are there any vendors present, and the layout of the rooms so you can find your sessions quickly. Wouldn't want to miss anything.
* Bring something to write with (two of them won't hurt either) and to write on. After previewing the sessions, I can already tell that the ideas will just be flowing and you will want to record those that you want to bring back to try out in your own classroom.
* Since I'm on the subject, preview the sessions. Check out the speakers websites and any pertinent information they are already sharing about their talks. This way you will be well informed on the day so that your brain can be thinking of how to best make use of the information instead of, "Huh? What was that? What does she mean?"
* Talk to people. This is called Networking. You will be pleasantly surprised to meet someone who flew all the way from California, or is here from your own backyard. Talking to them can open up new understanding, or even better opportunities. I hung out with some great people at another conference in February and a GA collaborative blog blossomed from there. Talk to others. They are there for the same reason you are.
* If you are attending with other friends, or colleagues, set up a meeting spot for getting back together later. A familiar spot like the entrance is an easy place to remember. This way you have someone to talk to at lunch or dinner.

DON'T (Stay Away)
*You don't want to leave with any questions. Talk to the others who attended your sessions. Ask them to help you understand difficult materials. Make a note of your questions, maybe you can email the speakers after the conference if you aren't able to catch them there.
* Try to do it all. Give your self some down time to let your brain process all the goodness you've crammed into it from your sessions.
* Neglect your Instagram account. Take tons of pictures! They are great reminders once the whirlwind of the day is done.

Are you getting excited as well?

I will be finalizing my sessions next month, so make sure you stay tuned for that!

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Educator's Room Conference is Coming to Atlanta!

Hey there, it's Gary again. The 4th grade teacher from Metro Atlanta.  From 2009 to now, I've had some major changes brought to my life through this little blog of mine. I've gone from a avid scrapbooker to a TeachersPayTeachers designer to a blog collaborator. It's never a dull moment around here. Which brings me to my reason for today's post.

Just thought I'd drop in and let you know about a little secret.

There's a really great opportunity coming to town for educators. The Educator's Room is a collaborative blog started in 2012 by Frachesca Warren to bring news about what's going on in today's classroom by the people who know, the teachers! Their blog covers topics that encompass all aspects of the teaching world, from instructional strategies, to legal matters, and opinions about current practices. You should give it a shout. I've already got my eye on the "Teacher Branding" article. I never thought that I need to live my brand as a teacher. I thought we were all doing the same thing, how am I different than the herd?

On July 17th (a Friday), they are going to bring their first ever conference of amazing speakers to the hallowed halls of the AMA Executive Center. The title for the conference is "Empowering Teachers as the Experts." Isn't that just thrilling? It is a one day event with several breakout sessions offered throughout the day. I can't believe how many different topics they will have on hand in the given time. The list of content is mind-boggling. Besides the usual Reading, Math, and Literacy, there are sessions on student behavior, classroom management, educational technology, and my newest interest branding.

And guess what? I've been invited to become part of the Blogger Brigade! Don't you just love that name???? I am very interested in seeing what is happening on the front lines of education. I am already feeling a shift in methods as our school embraces the new BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement this year. My students definitely jumped at the chance to bring in their devices. We had some talks about how and why to use them. Unfortunately, I've already had to remove some devices for a time to help them learn the proper use of electronics in the classroom. I am not downhearted by this, though. The outlets this brings into the classroom are endless, but still need to be handled appropriately. I know I will find some answers at the TEC2015.

Here's a little teaser from the list of scheduled events:
* Zap! Bam! Boom!  Math Strategies that Work with Felicia Young
* Building a Classroom Culture with Danquel Williams
* Gamification and Learning: Why our Education model must change with Cari Harris
* All Students are Motivated, are You? with Linda Darcy
* Guided Math: Meeting the Needs of All with Mandy Gregory
* Empowering Struggling Readers with Dr. Shakenya Harris-Jackson

WAAAY too many good ones to get them all in. I am going to have such a hard time trying to figure out which sessions to attend. But that's going to be all the more fun. This way the time between now and July will pass quickly as I juggle my decisions back and forth. Several of the sessions are repeaters, so if you can't get into it at one time, there's another chance later in the day.

This is an opportunity not to be missed! So head on over to The Educator's Room website and check out all the details coming to Atlanta this summer. Can't wait to see you there.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Primary Peach Blog - Launch Party!! and Blog Hop

Hello to YOU!

If you found this page too early, you need to start out the Blog Hop on ThePrimaryPeach. But if you just arrived from The Fabulous Life of an Elementary Teacher's page, Welcome!

My name is Gary Fryns. I'm a fourth grade teacher currently educating young minds in Metro Atlanta. I've been teaching for a total of 24 years and have had 1, 2, 3, and now 4th grade experience. I started blogging in 2004 and turned to TeachersPayTeachers in 2013 as a way to share my ideas. This opened up a whole new universe for me.

Here I am with my favorite visiting author, Kristine Asselin.

On March 2 of this year Mandy Holland Gregory  of Mandy's Tips for Teachers sent out a call amongst the GA Bloggers group on Facebook. She wanted to know if there was any interest in creating a blog that we all contributed to on a routine basis. It wasn't long before over 25 people responded in the affirmative.

The Primary Peach was born. A blog intended to share ideas and strategies for elementary educators.

Want a chance to win one of four TpT Gift Certificates? There will be one GRAND PRIZE worth a whoppin' $50 TpT Gift Certificate, and three more lucky winners who will receive a goodly $25 TpT Gift Certificate! Head on over to the Primary Peach to enter the Rafflecopter. Good luck!

This collaborative effort of some amazing educators will launch this weekend. To introduce ourselves to y'all we thought it would be perfect to start with a little blog hop so you can visit with each of them along the way.

Just for you I created a little End of the Year poster (8.5 x 11) that you can hand out to your kiddos this year. They will fill it out with all the Insider Secrets to the teacher that a new student in your room would need to know. There's a HE and a SHE version included in the file. Click on the link beneath the picture for your goodie.
Hope you find our little blog helpful and information and keep returning for new and exciting updates!!
Oh, btw. Watch for my blog post on the Primary Peach this coming Wednesday!
NOW, to continue with the blog hop, head on over to Amanda and Stacia's Colloboration Cuties page for your next freebie.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Reading Game - A Review

A while back amidst the falling snow and freezing temperatures I told you about my Top Ten booths from the EdExpo. My #8 (no particular order) was for a company called The Reading Game run by Erika Bird and her father. Erika has such a great personality and was so easy to talk to she just drew myself and Felicia into her booth to see what she had in store.

Once she began displaying the game cards and materials and shared a quick version of the procedures my little brain was immediately thinking of those students in my class that would most benefit from this. I was telling Erika about one of my students that is reading on a First Grade level in Fourth Grade and how I thought this program would help solidify her sight word vocabulary. Erika offered to send me the game FOR FREE if I'd blog about it.


I did a little dance when I opened that package that arrived not too long after the Expo and had to jump right in. I called J (my student) over and started sharing the cards with her from set 1.

There is a set of color coded cards (six sets of cards in all) that introduce 5 new words at a time. Each set gets progressively harder. The cards are laid down in a Memory Game style and students flip cards over trying to make a match. They need to say the word on the card as they flip them over each time to help fast recall. J and I were playing and she was struggling a bit with some of the words from set 1. One of the boys in my class wondered over to see what we were doing. As J struggled he calmly pointed out letters and reminded her of the sounds.

I had such a huge smile on my face.

Once J could recognize the words and read them without trouble (we played several rounds) I pulled out the first book that incorporates the words introduced in set 1. After my initial read through I thought some of the sentences would prove difficult for J - there were complex sentences and such throughout the story. She did very well with it and wanted to move on. I call that a success!

I can't wait to share this with my colleague next door who just received a Non-English speaking student from Honduras. I'm very interested to see how it goes with her.

Thanks again Erika for the generous opportunity to try out this game!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Top Ten from Ed Expo 2015

I just got a surprise in the mail today. More about that in another post. But it reminded me that I haven't posted my top ten FAVS from the selling floor at this year's #edexpo2015.

In no certain order, here goes:

1. Redispace from Pathways - not only were they giving away samples of great pencil grips. They also had these European inspired composition notebooks that have pages filled with graph paper. This way students learn to write their letters in each box and properly space out their words, rather than these sloppy messes I've been seeing in my classroom lately.

2. Goldiblocks - a super cool Kickstarter project that finds a way to engage girls in engineering pursuits. You go, Girl!

3, Capstone - this leading distributor of educational literature has a brand new list of titles that perfectly meshes with my curriculum.  Almost every book I looked at elicited an "OOOH."

4, Essentials - Great writing titles to help kids understand the different genres and their nuances.  LOVE the Stella Writes series.

5. Kagan - if you aren't already familiar with this fun product line for the classroom, go check it out.

6. The Pencil Grip - they had so many different and progressive grips for kids I couldn't stop playing with them all.

7. Roylco - they had this super cool lightbox that students could play with color combinations, look at x-rays, and even a moving one that could seriously change my lessons on erosion.

8. The Reading Game - a great set of vocabulary sight words that builds into a child reading a correlated story independently.

9. Say It - a fun card game where students create stories from random
phrase cards.

10. Learn in Style - super fun multiplication wrist bands to help friends remember their facts.

I'm still trying to track down what the official top ten were from the entire expo.

Anyone know?

Leave me a comment~!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Edexpo 2015- Guest Blogger

Sometimes things just fall into place. 3PM on Saturday I just happened to catch a post from the GA Bloggers about a meet up. Not sure how I missed this in the first place, but okay. We met downtown at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta with about 50 other bloggers from around the country.

Turns out they are in town for an Educational Market Expo. They had been invited by the incredible Sherron to attend as guest bloggers at this dealer and exhibitor exclusive event. HOW do I miss these opportunities?? I wanted in!

I got up at the monkey butt of dawn and drove down to the Ga World Congress Center to see if by chance they had any open slots for people who didn't show up. My newest blogging buddy, Felicia McAtwell, already had an invitation but wasn't able to register yesterday, so I waited for to ride on her coattails if possible. The registrars were more than accommodating and I had a bonafide name badge and entrance to all the goodies within minutes.

I then spent the next eight hours walking up and down the aisles of the brightest, newest, most exciting products available in the educational market today. Oh, it was awesome.

Sherron asked us to list our ten best products witnessed during the event so they could announce the 'Best in Show' on Tuesday. Here's my list in no particular order:
  1. Redispace composition notebooks from Pathways
  2. Goldiblocks - engineering toys for girls
  3. Capstone - their newest list of non-fiction was so spot on with my curriculum it was scary
  4. Stella Writes series from Essential - perfect for different writing genres
  5. Kagan - classroom management tools
  6. Pencil Grip People - so many of my students have weird motor skills this year
  7. Roylco Light box - just fun idea
  8. Reading Game - sort of a memory match to build vocabulary then move to reading context
  9. Say It - fun party game
  10. Learn in Style - multiplication wristbands, better than flashcards

I will be sharing more reviews of specific items later. I just couldn't believe how awesome this weekend turned out to be and had to share!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

R.A.C.E.S. booklet

Sitting in staff development classes is kind of a conundrum. The information is usually good, but if you're like me your mind is thinking of all the OTHER things you could be doing right now. As the county guy was hitting us with the scoring guide associated with the upcoming GA Milestones test, my brain was thinking, "How on Earth am I going to get my students used to this test formatting?" It's so different than the CRCT with all of its multiple choice questions. That in and of itself has its issues. But this new format asks students to write comprehensive essays in the FOURTH GRADE! I'm still struggling to get them to remember to put capitals and  punctuation, forget paragraphing.

Since my other lesson on Close Reading slowed the process down for students, I began to think how we could do that again with another article. The county guy shared (another) acronym to use with students in helping them prepare for these essays.

This sparked an idea to create a booklet for my students that broke down the process for them. We have this time during our morning schedule called DBQ (Document Based Questions) that I could use to have them conduct this lesson.

It starts with them reading an article I wrote about using electronics in school and how it helps improve your academics. There is a question after the article that asks what they think the main idea would be. So they brainstormed some ideas for what it might be for this article. We shared in class and looked for a common theme amongst them all.

Now I 'sound the gun' and they are off to the RACES! There's a page for each of the letters of the acronym as students build up their response to the question.  Citing evidence and explaining how it fits with the main idea puts meat on their essay bones.

The final day (or two) has them writing the essay with an introduction, their answer, evidence and reasoning behind it. They cap it off with their conclusive summary and we are done.

Right now, we have gotten up to the 'E' page. I'm happy with what I'm seeing them produce. Hopefully we are well on our way to preparing to knock out that essay come testing time.

Oh, you can find this booklet at my TpT store. Hopefully you can get some good practice out of it as well.