Back to School Night

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For about the past two weeks, I’ve been working on getting my room ready for a new school year. Switching to a Montessori Upper El classroom has meant getting used to a lot of transition. I have moved halfway across the school, and I have spent a good deal of time sorting new materials, locating shelves, setting up lessons, arranging my library, and learning how to plan for a different way of teaching.

Parents have come and gone for Back to School Night and on Thursday morning a new group of students will enter my room. This makes me both excited and a bit nervous. In a way this will be almost like my first year teaching all over again after 12 years of experience.

Here are a few pics of my room. I hope it’s ready!




4th and 5th Grade Math Technology Session

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Today is our district wide in-service day. On this day, teachers all across our school district get a chance to come together in the name of professional development, and I will  get a chance to co-present a session on using technology in the math elementary classroom. I have created a prezi to help facilitate the presentation, and thought I could share that webpage here.

I would love to hear back from folks that take a moment to check it out. It covers some pretty useful ways to use social media as a teacher. I like to know what others think.

Make Your Own Window Farm

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Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the Montessori Back To School Workshop at Brockman Elementary School. The event was sponsored by the South Carolina Montessori Alliance, a group uniting the private and public Montessori programs in our state. At the conference I attended a session on Hydroponics in the classroom led by Roger Pryor of Abner Montessori in Chapin. I was not sure what to expect, but I ended up having a great time, learned how easy hydroponics can be, and left dying to start a Window Farm in my classroom this year.

This session immediately grabbed my attention when Roger related Window Farms to a ride a Disney World in Epcot called “The Land” where boats take passengers through Disney’s Farm of the future featuring hydroponics. I love that ride, and have secretly always wanted to try it myself. I felt it would be too dificult, so I never tried. Well, in this session, that changed. In fact, we actually built a working Window Farm during the time we had at the conference.

I recommend learning more about this type of gardening by checking out these resources:

To see some window farms, and purchase your own kit, or find a plan to build one from scratch like we did check out

This is an open source community started by Britta Riley where different people from across the world come together, share ideas, improve designs and spread the knowledge of window farming. You can see lots of DIY ideas and plans or you buy your own.

Also, I would watch Britta Riley’s Ted Talk on window farming to learn more. Click here to view it.

In the session, we built a three plant water pump system. The materials we needed were mostly stuff you can find easily. 1.5 liter water bottles, a water pump, tubing, large bucket, chain, and hanging hooks. There were a few hard to find items like Hydroton (replaces soil), and 3 in. diameter net cups, which can only be found in a Hydroponics store. If you don’t have a store nearby then it looks like can ship to people. I made a short video showing how we made our window farm in our session. Take a look, and I hope you get as excited about this idea as I did.

Name Change and Teaching Update

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The start of another school year is just around the corner, and I will be making some pretty big changes. After many years of teaching in a one to one computing classroom in fifth grade, I am making a move to another section in my school, and joining the Montessori Magnet Program as an Upper El Montessori teacher. I am excited by the change and looking forward to learning a different approach to teaching and learning. Because of this you will notice a name change on the blog, and see a difference in the blog posts I make in the future.

Horse Camp

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The boys enjoyed a week learning to ride horses. Horse Camp

Fun at Riverbanks

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The gorillas were a bit frisky today Gorillas Ate Fast