Monday, June 5, 2017

Camp Google

Today I stepped out of my comfort zone. 

A while back an email was sent out in our RESA district for presentation proposals in regards to Google Apps. I thought about it...for a moment...then decided WHY NOT! I looked at how Google has been used in my classroom and quickly decided that I definitely had some ideas that were worth sharing. I submitted my proposal, and to my SURPRISE...and yes I was surprised...I was selected. 

My presentation focused on the use of Google slides in the elementary classroom. One activity was academic based, the other focused on build classroom community. I titled my presentation "Picture This", because both activities used classroom snapshots that were either taken by me or my students. 

I was very nervous stepping into today, but it exceeded my expectations. I had a BLAST presenting and listening to other teachers as they shared about their endeavors. So thankful for the opportunity and looking forward to many more!

Saturday, May 20, 2017

And Just Like That...

It never ceases to amaze me how fast time flies...especially when you're having fun! Once again I find myself in awe as the school year has come to an end. I cannot believe that year 9 is officially in the books and I'm heading into post planning. This year I had a group of students that taught me so much. We grew together and I am thankful for the journey we shared. 

The end of this year...and looking forward to next year brings another round of changes. I'm excited about the road ahead, and will explain that more in a future post. Happy summer sweet teacher friends. To those still treading the end of year waters, peace to you and happy end of the year! 

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A 2nd Out of the Box: Mathket-ball

A 2nd Out of the Box: Mathket-ball: Mathket-ball is a game I've played for years! See how we took it up a notch!!


Mathket-ball is a game I've played for years! Long description short, you review any subject and allow teams to shoot at a hoop with some sort of ball to earn points. 

Today we stepped it up a notch! 
Let me begin by letting you know I have had my eye on a Mini professional basketball hoop for a while...I now own it! In the past I have just used a plush basketball I got from the dollar store.

 I stayed late a little yesterday to make some posters to set up for our game. I included rules that I felt were important for my 2nd babies, and created a basic run down for the game. 

I also changed the background on my laptop so that the activeboard became the basketball court!! THEY LOVED IT!

As for the game, I spent time the past week or so developing a document that had several questions for each Georgia Standard of Excellence in 2nd grade math. I printed, cut, know how that goes. I figured better make something that can last for a while. I also stopped at the local Dollar general and got some super cute popcorn cups to sort my cards for the game. 

The premise of this game came from another game "grudge ball". Not sure if you've heard of it. I had not, but found it intriguing. Students work in small groups to show their knowledge. In return for correct answers teams are given the opportunity to erase a point from any other team. They are also allowed to send a player to the line to shoot for extra points. 


After playing today I know that there are things that need to be addressed. Number one...figuring out the pace depends on your group of learners. For my kiddos it worked best to have teams all working through their chosen question at the same time. They then had to cue me that they were ready to give the answer. I would check and let them know if they were correct. If so they chose which point to erase first, and then shot for points. 

This may seem harsh or unfair, but it did some AMAZING things in my classroom! One team in particular was being targeted and had all of their points erased. Instead of stepping in I watched in anticipation. Another team approached me and asked if we could give that team a point. I explained that the point had to come from somewhere. 

They conferred a bit more and returned... 🙌!! They asked me if they could erase one of their own points and give it to the team that had none! I am beyond impressed with this caring group of children. Needless to say I said of course and the game continued in this most encouraging manner. 

The game was a success. My students loved it and asked if we could play again tomorrow. I am still making tweaks to the game and am planning on placing this on TPT. That being said I would love feedback and critique on my product as I finish it before putting it on TPT. If you would be interested, PLEASE comment below and I will send you a copy of my product for review. In return I will let you have the finalized product for FREE!! 

To close out today I want to leave with you some images of my kids playing Mathket-ball! Enjoy your last few weeks of school.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A 2nd Out of the Box: A Butterfly Funeral

A 2nd Out of the Box: A Butterfly Funeral: heard me right!  A set of words I never thought I say. Butterfly funeral. Today started like any other. We came to school shared...

A Butterfly Funeral heard me right! 

A set of words I never thought I say. Butterfly funeral. Today started like any other. We came to school shared our learning throughout the day, then ended with our science lessons. 

We have been raising butterflies from larva. Ours were purchased through amazon, in connection with Insect Lore (Butterfly Kit)

We got our caterpillars in larva interesting. Over the next few days we watched them eat, and eat, and eat, and get FAT! Love it. We watched in awe as we got to witness butterflies breaking through the chrysalis!!! FANTASTIC that 3 did this while we were in the classroom. To our dismay one of our little fellows didn't survive. It stopped part of the way through metamorphosis and just never finished.

 Today was the day my students have been waiting for. RELEASE DAY! We walked out to our nature trail and discussed what we had learned about our butterflies. Each time one took flight cheers erupted and joy filled my soul! Nothing like it. Our final little fellow, who survived, seemed to be struggling. One wing was bent, but he was still determined. We watched him fly to the ground and try several times to take flight. We discussed what could be happening, and I listened as students cheered each time our little guy tried to fly. Then...choking back a few tears...I watched as our last little butterfly took flight into the nearby trees. The best part was the celebration that took place around me as my amazing group of 8 year olds celebrated the life they had watched from the beginning! So amazing.

This is were the funeral comes into play. We went back in the room and talked about our chrysalis that never finished. One child asked what we would see if we broke into the chrysalis...DISCLAIMER: I had waited plenty long enough to know that this one would never finish...I used this as a teaching moment and we, somewhat, dissected the chrysalis to view the inside. We learned that metamorphosis had not fully finished and out butterfly was only partially formed. Once our "serendipity" learning moment was over another student chimed in. She asked what I was going to do with him. She couldn't bare the thought of him ending up in the garbage and asked if we could bury him. So...we did. We marched down to the edge of the woods, dug a hole, talked about butterflies, and buried our 5th little friend. Now some of you may be wondering why this went that far. My students. That is exactly why. Once we finished burying the little half formed butterfly, several students stopped to thank me for my actions. It was worth it. I know that with all my heart. 

Everyone that knows me understands that my love for butterflies runs DEEP. Has since I was very little. I am so glad to share this love with my students as we raise butterflies and release them into the wild. I never thought that I would experience a "Butterfly Funeral", but today that became a reality. I loved every sweet moment we shared today. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Google in the Classroom: Part 3

Today's post is going to be short and sweet. 
After receiving 10 Chromebooks through I received a package from Google directing me to their training and professional development opportunities. I immediately looked into it...and I must say I am LOVING IT! Today I took and passed the Level 1 Google certification!

Each certification has a paid exam, that if passed, last for 2 years. Level 1 certification is based on basic implementation of Google Apps in the classroom. Level 2 steps into advance implementation. There are also opportunities for certification as a Google Innovator and trainer! I look forward to working through more professional development with Google in the future. 

We've been on a Google themed journey in the past 3 blogs and I would truly love to hear your stories, ideas, reflections, and suggestions.
Please consider commenting below and sharing your experience with Google in the classroom. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Google in the Classroom: Part 2

I am getting excited and a little nervous about my presentation this summer. I will have the opportunity to present at Google Camp through our Pioneer RESA. My presentation is on using Google Slides in the elementary classroom. In my last post I shared with you the process by which I introduced my students to Google Slides, and our first official project.

 Google is now a staple in our classroom. One of my favorite things I have done using Google in our classroom is what we call "Twitter Worthy Moments". Throughout the school year my students know I am constantly taking pictures and posting them to social media to share what our class is up to. (Visit our Twitter @mrsLahayne2nd) For this project I decided to put the reigns in my students' hands. To pass the torch, and guide them in celebrating the successes of others. My students watch their peers throughout the day, and when they notice someone being an AllSTAR, or demonstrating outstanding learning they quietly come to me and let me know they see a "Twitter moment". At that I say "you know what to do". That student then becomes the photographer (using my teacher iPad) and takes a picture of the moment they observed. Then they return to whatever we are doing in class. 

This took some training. I guided them through discussion about what a "Twitter Worthy Moment" looks like, and sounds like. We also used Brainpopjr. and watched a video on taking photos. This helped guide my students to truly capture the moment they saw. 

When I have a free moment I add the photo to my Google drive so that I can quickly add it to a Google slide. I share the slide with the student who took the photo, and the rest is in that student's hands. They explain, write, and create a slide celebrating the moment they captured. When they think they are done they let me know and we have a conference. During this conference I am able to guide that student in personal learning. Conventions. Writers Voice. And SOOOOO much more. This has become such an awesome tool for not only celebrating but LEARNING! 

My school library assistant is AMAZING! Each time a slide is fully completed...that means we have conferenced, and they are done...I share them with her and she prints them in color for us. I then laminate them and am building a book of amazing moments that my students have captured and celebrated. 

My class has LOVED creating "Twitter" moments, and I look forward to what the future holds for this in my classroom in years to come. Do you have a special activity that allows students to celebrate the accomplishments of others? Please leave a comment and share your story! Learning from and sharing with other educators is something that education needs more of. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Google in our Classroom: Part 1

This is the first of a series of posts focused on Google in our classroom. We have had a blast using technology this year, and I want to be able to share with you our triumphs as well as growing pains. 

Our year began with the blessing of Chromebook carts to share throughout our school. I currently share a cart with two other teachers. We chose to split and keep a portion of the Chromebooks each day so that they could be used all day, instead of only for a segment.  I have been doubly blessed by gracious donors on, and have now also added 10 more Chromebooks that stay in my classroom. That gives me 17 CHROMEBOOKS each day, ALL DAY! I love it. 

After attending a Google bootcamp over the summer I came into this school year with numerous ideas. 

**And visions of
grandeur as to how each
and every idea would
play out to utter
perfection without
a flaw**  

Ahem...Back to reality. I stepped into my first grand idea with caution. Which was probably a good thing, because it led to the kind of jump off lesson that kindles a love for learning. (WHEW) The title of our first assignment was "Picture This". For this activity my students used Google Slides (preset with a snapshot...taken by yours truly) to apply their knowledge and understanding of pronouns and reflexive pronouns. Below I'll give you a brief play by play of how I rolled this out in my classroom. 

Day 1: Introduction
Day one was very simple and mostly whole group. 
**Before class I had preselected a photo taken earlier in the year and added it to a Google slide.**

To begin our lesson I pulled up my Google slide on our active board. They instantly noticed the photograph (especially students who were in the photo 😊) and engagement was instant. During our whole group lesson I gave a basic run down of how to use Google slides: how to insert text, change the color, insert clipart, and speech bubbles. Very basic, very simple. I chose not to go into great detail, because I wanted this to be a chance for my students to grow and learn through experience. Throughout this lesson I called "AllSTAR" students up to help me add each new element to the slide, so that it was more than just me working through.

Day 2: Debrief and Discuss
This day began with a brief review to see what my students could remember about the basic elements of adding things in Google slides. After our debrief students were assigned to groups and given a Chromebook. I placed them into groups of 3 (mostly because at this point in the year we had only 8 Chromebooks and not 17). Once in their groups students logged into Google slides and opened their assignment to view their team picture. Some groups had their members present in the picture, while others had a picture that did not include anyone from that specific group.

**Quick sidebar: For this first assignment my district, and I were still working out the kinks of having students in elementary log on to use the Google apps. For this assignment they had to log in as me to have access. This is now remedied and they each have an email and have been connected to my Google Classroom!!!! Much better arrangement. If you have any questions about this, or ideas to help you implement Google Apps in your classroom please comment below.**

Day 3-4: Off to the Races

This was probably the most anticipated day for my students. This was the day the actual group work began and teams began building their Google slides. Let me just say......🙌 AMAZED! I stood in awe as they changed the background color, changed the font, added amazing clipart to give their slide a theme, etc. My students ROCKED it! I was proud that they problem solved and just plain out experimented with Google slides. Their projects turned out phenomenal!
(Here are just a few)

P.S. It was National Talk Like A Pirate Day Photos that were the focus of our Google Slides! 😀

Day 5: Presentation Day!

This was the day that teams got the chance to see their work on the "big screen." Each team came up and shared, loud and proud, their work and what they included! I was so impressed by all they did that I printed out their slides, mounted and laminated them, and am turning them into a class book!

Google Slides are now a staple in our room. The students love creating them, and I enjoy seeing all the ways knowledge and understanding are applied!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Breaking out of the Box

This year just like many others I have tried to step outside of the box. The box of "the typical classroom." The box of "comfort." The box of the "routine." In my previous post I shared with you a little about my switch to alternative seating. Now I want to share with you about two things that have taken a front seat in my classroom, and changed our ways of learning. 

Over the summer I had the opportunity to attend Google camp in my district. I learned so much at this training, and am currently continuing that professional development with Google site training. (Another step outside of the box...I will be presenting at our Pioneer RESA Google Camp this summer!!!!!)

This year my school was blessed with several Chromebook carts to share between classrooms. I also took advantage of partner funding on and added another 10 Chromebooks to my classroom. I have truly enjoyed watching my students use technology in meaningful ways! I will post soon to share more of what that has looked like in my classroom. 

Breakout EDU.
At the beginning of each school year teachers in my district are given a grant opportunity through our local EMC. I thought long and hard about what to submit in my proposal, and then remembered a product I had researched several years ago. Breakout EDU. I thought "why not?!?!". Long story short my grant proposal was selected and my classroom is now the proud owner of 3 Breakout EDU boxes. The cool part about these boxes is they offer amazing opportunities for learning!! Even better, it allows an outlet for group work and problem solving that my students have flourished with. 
You can visit Breakout EDU's website for more information on the actual product.

Okay, back to business.
The first day I chose to use these in my classroom I tried to keep it simple. Main reason, my sanity. Alternate reason, fear of the unknown. I began the day by placing 2 of our Breakout EDU boxes at the front of the classroom. This started engagement from the moment my students entered the classroom. They immediately asked *gasp* "What are the boxes for?!?!?!". (Insert instant smile on a teacher's face.) 

Luckily for our first attempt I chose our first subject of the day, so we were able to jump in almost immediately. 
I chose to use our word locks 
to safeguard the prizes inside. For this particular activity, I felt that this was the best application. My students had to complete tasks based on adjectives (our current ELA standard at the time) to figure out the word which would open our lock. My students had to find adjectives around the room and bring them to the carpet. We compiled the list of words and then began discussing similarities and differences in the words. The lesson continued with discussion on how these words, if any, could be grouped together. they had the understanding that there would be two groups, because there were two boxes. My students were instantly engaged and learning was such a pleasure!  

I have used our Breakout EDU boxes several other times throughout the year. Each time a little more detailed than the last. I found that the more I use them the more comfortable and creative I can be. 
**On a separate note: Breakout EDU does offer some predesigned learning opportunities specific to various grade levels. You gain access to these lessons upon purchase.**

The latest time was a bit of work, but super fun. My students had to solve math problems and then riddles to determine their 3 digit or 4 digit lock code. Once inside my students were directed to Google classroom, where they watched a video I had developed explaining the measurement tools in their box, and what they would need to do. 
(Note to self and you: In the future, when requiring students to watch a video of instructions allow multiple computers so that they can view the material in smaller groups. :) )

Students then began working in their groups to complete assignments. I watched as my 7 and 8 year olds collaborated, problem solved, and persevered. 

This lesson was just as much fun for me as it was for my students. It did take some time and effort on my part, but for the learning that was produced it was WELL WORTH IT! So glad I took the time to write the grant that provided these materials. TOO MUCH FUN, and even more to come. 

I hope that you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed sharing it with you. If you have been looking for a way to shake up learning in your classroom, consider looking into Breakout EDU. I have loved it, and am excited to adapt and learn more about incorporating this into our classroom routine. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

My Classroom: Alternative Seating

The past two years I have stepped out of the "typical" view of classroom setup, and thought about what type of classroom I would have loved in elementary school. Over the summer, two years ago, I did a lot of research into alternative seating. I spent time looking at the pros and cons of this set up and thought through the implications it held for my classroom. In the middle of last year I jumped in feet first, and haven't turned back. 

It began two weeks before Christmas last year. I began giving my students the freedom of choice in regards to seating. We still had tables and chairs like any other classroom, but what happened in response to choice of seating astonished me. My students very quickly learned what choices, good or bad, can do for you in life and learning. My morning ritual began with these simple words..."make a choice that is best for your learning today." With those words a new classroom culture began.

The two weeks leading to Christmas break gave my students a taste of making good choices for THEIR learning, instead of me choosing for them. Now, I still stepped in at times to make the choice. Occasionally students came in only thinking of sitting next to their best friend, and not about what they needed as a learner. In those instances I would chime in with reminders or simply ask..."have you made a good choice for your learning." Many times they would nod avidly exclaiming "YES...this is a good choice." I would smile and let them continue with this choice until it became an issue. In that moment I would step in and ask that student to move. (My students understood from day one that I had the right to step in and help with decision making if they were struggling.) 

I have been blessed to acquire a host of seating options. In our classroom we have: wiggle stools, rockers, wobble cushions, a standing table with "spooners", buckets, etc. My students took time the first week of school this year to test each option to determine what worked best for them. Below are pictures of what our room looks like. (Minus the kiddos!! :) )
 Scoop rockers

 Hokki Stools- We received these through as well

 We now have wobble cushions at our floor table instead of pillows.

This process was scary at first, but I have been amazed at the learning and growth that has taken place because of our flexible seating arrangements. It is thrilling to my soul when students now say, "can I please move, I don't think I've made the best choice." !!!! YES I TEACH 2ND GRADE! Children are phenomenal. They are ready and willing to take responsibility if we just teach them the right way to do that. I LOVE the change that alternative seating has made in my classroom. If you use alternative seating in your classroom please comment below and share your story. If you don't use alternative seating, have questions, or simply want to know more, leave a comment below and I will help in any way I can.

Spooner- We ordered through

Catching up...A Fresh Start

Starting a blog is so exciting. Keeping up with a blog...harder than it seems. It's been quite some time since I've last posted, and hopefully that changes today. I sit here, spring breaking from my living room, thinking about my classroom and the fun we've had this year. 

Since we spoke last:
*I served as Teacher of the Year
*My district went through some major changes
*I now teach at a different school in my district
(Fun fact- my school houses only first and second graders for the entire district)
*I have moved into my dream home with my wonderful husband
*My family has gone through some deep heartache
*I have mentored and continue to mentor up and rising educators

A lot has happened, but through it all my Lord has been merciful. I am truly blessed and hope to continue sharing my journey with you. 

I'm sorry that this post is somewhat long and more of a "gut spilling" than anything else. Please hang in there with me as I try to do this blog thing the right way. 

Blessings, joy, and happiness to you. 
- Mrs. LaHayne