Friday, January 29, 2016

Multiplication Begins...

Ever place a song and find yourself singing it all day (and sometimes all night) long?  I am really good at counting by 3's thanks to this engaging song.  Counting by 3's song:  One of my students put a visual display of counting by 3's for the rest of the class.   Happy Friday everyone!

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Super Scientist

Inspired by one of my college professors who assigned, each student a week to present an experiment...  my second graders do a “Super Scientist” of the week.  I made up a couple of bags with science experiment cards, a couple of science books, a variety of different science type tools…like eye droppers, collecting cylinder, etc. I tied on a pair of goggles with a ribbon.  Inside the bag is a brief letter describing, how the student can practice any experiment at home and then when they are ready they can present the experiment to the class.  I also included pictures of scientists from last year to inspire my students. 
Pictured here is one of my students this week conducting an  experiment demonstrating Thrust using a rocket balloon... all while calling on volunteers, asking her peers scientific questions and asking for their predictions.  The students also gave her suggestions on further investigations she could try.  So many good things happen when students present their experiments!  

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Bones of the Foot - Tarsals - Metatarsals - Phalanges ...

Bones of the Foot - Tarsals - Metatarsals - Phalanges ...

Using real world experiences to bring STEAM lessons to the classroom.  We learned all about Metatarsals today from this second grader.  She's an expert and also shared the safety lesson of why you shouldn't do cartwheels in the house :). We will be taking good care of this teacher as she moves from place to place!

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Activtable Part 2

 Our students explore the Activtable...we have found a couple of things.  One, this table is incredible!  Two, it is important to put one student as lead student to read the help screen and the "rules" of the activity. Three, it is important for us to give up the control of knowing everything about the activity...the students can explore and teach each other and we get so much further by doing this.  Tosha and I are able to facilitate other activities in the classroom and as we check back in at the table the students can show us what they have discovered.  

My oldest son (college) stopped by our classrooms last week and had to try out the table...he was instantly engaged and amazed by this technology and all that it offers to students.

The table seems to be the perfect match for our makerspace time. It opens up another space for students to collaborate and interact. This is quite a piece of technology for our students to use.   The learning and discussions taking place is truly amazing!  This is the link to Promethean, if you would like to know more about this table:

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Friday, January 22, 2016

All in a Day...So many good things happening today!

All in a Day
Yes this is going on….

The bunny is out and on a leash during writing time, students are learning multiplication on the Activtable, students are scanning a QR code to fill out a survey to help with our classroom design...

...Mrs. Miller is marching students through the hall as she reads students’ opinion pieces and gives them ideas on how to make their writing (conferring at its finest) even better, students are documenting the bunny with their iPad to use in their iMovies, students created snow creatures in our outdoor classroom.  The great thing to see is students actively engaged and collaborating!!!  Wait…did I say day…we only had a HALF day of school…now we are off to Professional Development! 

Happy Friday everyone!

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Little Bits

Our students are taking Little Bits beyond exploration...

Access the Little Bits Educator’s Guide by clicking this link:
“The intuitive, color-coded Bits™ each have a specific function (ie. motion, lights, sound, sensors, internet connectivity), and all the Bits snap together with magnets to make larger circuits. Building circuits is simple and intuitive, allowing students to create powerful, sophisticated electronics in a matter of seconds. With an ever-expanding library of Bits, educators and students can grow their collection and engage in increasingly complex projects as their understanding of the system and Bits grows.”

Our organization strategy for Little Bits:

We took this picture of the individual Little Bits pieces and made color copies and cut apart each individual part.   

We then glued each picture, in the bottom of each box, so students can easily put back the pieces when they are done.  We also labeled each box, with a designated number, and each piece with that matching number, so the right sets can be put in the right box.
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ActivTable and the ActivPanel have arrived!!

Tosha and I have been asked to demo a couple of products from Promethean in our classrooms.   First, the Promethean ActivTable - This interactive table allows up to six students to work simultaneously and collaboratively on the same or different tasks. Second, the 70" ActivPanel – This panel has HD making the experience for students top notch!  Looking for a bit bigger with UHD/4K, they a 84" option.  Should boxes give you goosebumps?  

Look how great those boxes are!

Through this process we have been able to contact with a couple of dynamic gals at Promethean:

Melissa Lipka an Education Consultant at Promethean for the Midwest states:
“I have heard so many great things about both of you and admire the work you are doing.  As a former teacher of 23 years, I understand the passion and desire to help educate children.” 

And Beth Petrosian Inside Sales Regional Coordinator:

If you are interested in these products, or the many other they offer... look these ladies up!  They are very knowledgeable and helpful and the response time is amazing!

The team of Tosha Miller and Julie Leach of List Elementary School is a power team. They are not only technology teachers of the year, but inspirational bloggers (, and now will be MACUL presenters in March of 2016.”

We are so excited for our students to get their little hands on these amazing products.  Please check back in, to see how these products have enhanced our students’ learning environment.

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Friday, January 8, 2016

Donors Choose JGGW...When a Donor Breaks a Promise... Make Lemonade

 Donors Choose Project Fully Funded by JGGW

Making Lemonade Out of Lemons

The Story of a Donor's Broken Promise

The Lemons

Sometimes things don’t go as planned.  Just recently, a donor made a promise to support not only our students, but thousands of students across the Nation, and then they backed out.

This is disappointing for us on about 13,230 different counts and over 200,000 counts for teachers and students across theNation.  

Here's the situation (from our perspective)...

On December 1st, Donors Choose posted a project that was written by us (Julie and Tosha) with the help of our students.  The project was to develop a children’s museum inspired Hands on Hall.  The project was written to impact our entire elementary school.  You can learn more about the project here.    

Imagine our excitement, a few days after Christmas when we were notified by a parent who was excited… in awe… shocked!  This parent had  logged on to check out the project and make a donation.  She was amazed to see to see the project had been FULLY FUNDED.  As this message came across my (Tosha) phone notifications I immediately checked… I couldn’t believe it!!! Fully funded!!!  I was jumping with excitement.  My son, who is a student, was thrilled… my husband, my other two sons…. we were all celebrating.  “Good job Mom!”  “Good job Hon!  What a great thing this is for the kids.”  I started calling… texting… parents… teachers… administrators… superintendent.  Joy! Joy! Joy!  So blessed!!!  

Julie and I spent the next few hours messaging, researching, Googling.  Who was this donor JGGW from Virginia?  Wow!  Look at all the projects they funded… these students are getting MacBooks… these students are getting iPads… computers… furniture… going to AFRICA!!!!!   A Christmas Miracle maybe…. possibly a last-minute tax deduction… this was truly a scene out of the movies.  These teachers and student must all be so excited!!!   

A few days passed, news spread to family and friends.  We received numerous positive responses and congratulations through social media and personal contacts.  We announced the funding to our students.  You can see for yourself their response:

Then the email… funding has been removed… WAIT!!!  WHAT???? REMOVED??? How can this be so???  Stomach-ache… headache… heartache… What do we do?  Who do we call? How could this be?  We have had projects funded in the past by Donors Choose.  The small nonprofit organization is so good to teachers.  Donors Choose has been such as blessing to our classroom.  They are a small, unique, non-profit organization who makes big, impactful differences in classrooms.  We have never had anything like this happen.  This couldn’t be true.  Then the private messages from other teachers across the nation began to pop up on our Two Sassy Apples Facebook page and public messages were posted on our blog post.   Not only was this happening to us… not only were we feeling this way but so were others… many others.   

Here's the situation after talking with a representative at

“A donor pledged a large donation to help support many projects on our site. We were thrilled by his generosity, but we also carefully looked into this particular donation to make sure that the donor would be able to follow through with his pledged support in the time that we'd need to bring these projects to life. We were all incredibly disappointed when it became clear that, despite that work, this donor won't be able to provide the funds he promised.

I know this is a really difficult time for all the teachers who were excited to see a generous donation like this one, and who might have shared this news with their friends, families, and (most heartbreaking of all) their students. Right now, the top members of our organization are working hard to figure out what we can do to better protect our teachers in the future.

It’s time for Lemonade!

As we talked… as we listened… as more teachers reached out to us… my mind kept going back to a teacher by the name of Ms. W in Georgia and her thank you note to the donor JGGW

She cried… she was so happy that her special education students would have access to computers and programs they so desperately needed.  Now I was crying for the loss she is feeling and for the loss her students would feel.  No! Disappointment couldn’t be the end… we aren’t stopping with lemons...we knew we had to do something.  Not for us, but for our kids and all the other students and teachers affected by this.    

We must tell this story… we must turning disappointment into hope--hope that someone else will make that promise to our kids, and will follow through on it--that's what will make the difference.  We must make lemonade out of lemons.  

How You Can Help
- This is a chance for us to spread the word to donors: "You--whether you're a leader in town, a college acquaintance, a local business owner, a next door neighbor, a corporate CEO-- you can be the one who makes this opportunity possible for all the  kids affected by this. You can be a hero to kids!  You can turn lemons into lemonade!

For those teachers who are experiencing this right now:

- Give us your information and we will help spread the word for you:

- Please also consider leaving your story in the comments below.  Who knows what the power of your story will do...for the other educators involved, for your project...

- Log on to to learn what options might be available.  Whether it's giving your project some additional fundraising time, helping you look into other funding opportunities, or giving any extra guidance on some tools to help you reach your funding goal, we're here to help.

- Seize on this chance to rally your community. Over and over, I think all of us have seen how the boundless generosity of donors--those tremendously kind, thoughtful, supportive folks who might know you personally or might not know you at all, but who are all passionate about getting teachers everything possible to bring opportunities to their kids--can be heroes in getting classrooms what they need.


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