Thursday, September 15, 2016

Flexible Seating- Ron Clark Inspired

Ron Clark

Kim Bearden and Hope King






Last April I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, to visit the highly acclaimed Ron Clark Academy, a nonprofit middle school that promotes innovation in the classroom.  Some of you may have seen the academy featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show.  The school’s primary goal is to engage its students through energetic teaching, balancing that with a strict code of discipline. 

This experience has been the most rewarding professional development of my teaching career.  I was able to observe Ron Clark and his fantastic teaching staff use different techniques to increase their students’ engagement, to promote academic rigor and to create a climate of success.


I have tried very hard over the last 21 years to implement many different research-based ways to make my classroom environment conducive to open collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.  Kim Bearden, Co Founder of the Ron Clark Academy suggested: Get creative with your learning environment. Choose a place in which you would have wanted to learn as a kid! Kids don’t need to be sitting at a desk to learn and collaborate. She helped inspire me to try another strategy to reach my classroom goals. It’s called flexible seating.



What is flexible seating?

Flexible seating allows students to choose comfortable spaces around the room to work. Along with the freedom to kneel, stand, or sit, students may be working on carpet squares, leaning on pillows or sitting on exercise balls.  Flexible seating can help students grow by giving them the power of choice. It also has many other immediate benefits like burning calories, using excess energy, and improving core strength.  There’s proof it creates a better oxygen flow to the brain and increases motivation.  It’s no surprise that physical activity is linked to higher academic achievement, better health and improved behavior.

It does require an entire mindset shift, however. Not only is it a change in structure, but also in teaching philosophy.  In fact, teachers need a keen awareness of where students are working and how engaged they are at all times. 


What does flexible seating look like in Team Newell?

Pete Miller and Jan Stoneburner, both retired USEVS teachers, helped me construct and paint 5 amazing tables to replace our 26 traditional student desks.   Now painted as a basketball, a baseball, a tennis ball, a bowling ball and a pool ball, each table has different seating options, which include 2 traditional chairs, a 5-gallon bucket, 1 cube ottoman and 1 stability ball.
 

 

Our whole-group instruction, where we spend most of our day, happens on the big rug in the front of the room near our Smart Board.   Students break out throughout the day to work in a variety of learning spaces listed below which were purchased with donations from the First Citizens National Bank.

 A stand –and-work area with no chairs
 Stools & table
 Crate seats & stability balls
 A sit-on-floor area with pillows and work table
 Work rugs with clipboards
 Director chair
 6 Student scoop rockers
 2 Big Joe bean bags
 2 Tail gate chairs
 Stage
 Sit spots
12 Lap desks
3 Carpeted areas
Ottomans
Giving up control to my students will always be a challenge for me, but I have already seen the benefits.  They are happy, more engaged students, who have great conversations with each other.  I love watching them become a family while using their work time effectively. 

This year is my 21st year of teaching!

My visit to The Ron Clark Academy inspired me to think outside the box and to help me grow as a professional educator.  You can check out more about the academy at http://www.ronclarkacademy.comor watch “The Ron Clark Story” at http://youtube/xVsid1Wls10

Donors like Oprah Winfrey, Delta Airlines, Inter Continental Hotels, Dell computers, Coca-Cola and Promethium Boards support The Ron Clark Academy. I am proud to have wonderful donors like The First Citizens National Bank to help me fund flexible seating.  I also appreciate our other community partners like the Elks and classroom volunteers, who help with other projects.  If you would like to visit Team Newell classroom or support our flexible seating goal in anyway, please contact me atmindy_n@usevs.org. We would love for you to join our team.


Team Newell Flexible Seating Contract

I promise to use our classroom seating options the way they were designed to be used. Each day I will strategically choose a working spot and seating option that will help me do my best.  I understand that our flexible seating options are here to help me learn and should be treated with respect like all classroom materials.  If I am not fully engaged and able to work in my self-selected spot, Mrs. Newell will move me and choose a work spot for me.  If I am not sure, or have a question about the seating choices I will ask my teacher.  Student Signature _________Date ___













Do you use flexible seating in your classroom? 
I would love any advice :)

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Blazer Fresh GoNoodle Channel Reveal September 12

To all of my GoNoodle friends, I got my GoNoodle Ambassador swag today! My students will be so excited. Costumes and nerd glasses are packed for our Blazer Fresh Channel reveal party on Monday, September 12. Make sure you log into GoNoodle to check out the new channel! 
You'll love it!



What is GoNoodle?  
GoNoodle helps teachers and parents get kids moving with short interactive activities. Desk-side movement helps kids achieve more by keeping them engaged and motivated throughout the day. GoNoodle is designed with K-5 classrooms in mind.




What is a GoNoodle Ambassador? 
You apply to become an ambassador. It's an inside professional community to GoNoodle. There is a blog and a closed Facebook Group where teachers from all over the world share ideas and learn from each other. We are encouraged to share with our peers, friends and families to get as many people excited about GoNoodle as we can. There are challenges that we can participate in to earn swag for our classrooms. I love being a part of it so far because it's a fun way to collaborate with other teachers and to learn all the "ins" of GoNoodle. My journey has just begun! 


video


video


video

#blazerfresh

Stay tune for more GoNoodle News this year! 


Thursday, June 23, 2016

WeDo2.0 Lego Education

I AM SO EXCITED!
For the 2016-2017 school year, my students will experience Lego BOOT CAMP!
We will use a rigorous program called WeDo2.0 Lego Education to gather evidence, plan, carry out investigations, and design prototypes to solve real world problems. 


I am constantly searching for ways to increase rigor in my classroom. 
WeDo2.0 will be FUN, but it will also give my students the opportunity to learn at high levels!
Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, and each is supported so he or she can learn at high level, and each student demonstrates learning at high level.  (Blackburn, 2008).


Students will use iPad minis to give life to their models. They will drag and drop blocks on Programming Canvas. They will create program strings. 



Two students will share one Core Set to boost collaboration skills.

I owe a HUGE THANK YOU to the Upper Sandusky Elks Lodge- B.P.O.E. #83! Special "Thank You" to Mark Ratliff for
believing in me and supporting my passion for learning!
Upper Sandusky, OH Lodge No. 83 320 E Wyandot Avenue Lodge Phone: (419) 294-2926 OH WEST CENTRAL District No. 7120

Mark Ratliff
 The kits were purchased with funds from a grant  through the Elks National Foundation.  

I participated in 5 courses to prepare myself for the upcoming year as a WeDo2.0 Instructor in my Team Newell classroom. 
https://sites.google.com/a/usevs.org/team-newell/
In August, members of the B.P.O.E. #83 will visit our classroom to introduce the kits. In the spring, my students will travel to the Elks to share projects and to teach local members how to explore and to create. 




I look forward to sharing many of our WeDo2.0 Adventures with you next year!
If you currently use WeDo2.0 Lego Education in your classroom, I would love to hear about your experiences! Please leave a comment. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Emoji Writing, Emoji Bingo, Emoji Parts of Speech Sorts



I love The Late Late Show with James Corden! Emoji News inspired me to use emojis in the classroom :) 


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Emoji-Writing-Emoji-Bingo-Emoji-Parts-of-Speech-Sorts-2603409
This pack includes:

Title Page, Did you know, Common Core, Contents  4 Pages
Emoji Motivation & Class Room Sample  3 Pages
Simple Sentence Poster    1 Page
Compound Sentence Poster    1 Page
Emoji Meanings   4 Pages
Create Emoji Compound Sentence Activity Sheets   12 Pages
Emoji Compound Sentence Activity Sheets Samples   9 Pages
Create Emoji Simple Sentence Activity Sheet   1 Page
Emoji Simple Sentence Activity Sheet Sample   1 Page
Emoji Activity Template Sheet   4 Pages
Emoji BINGo  9 Pages
Sort Lablels  7 Pages
Emoji Cards  48 Pages
Emoji Mini Cards  12 Pages

Credits  1 Page










Just returned from Sanibel Island Florida where I refueled from my 20th year of teaching, and I reflected about my Ron Clark Academy experience! 
Enjoy your summer!
Image result for sun emoji
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