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Hi! My name is Patti Barker and I am a 4th and 5th grade teacher in South Carolina. In the fall I will be looping up to 5th grade  with last year's class that I taught in 4th grade. I am very excited about this adventure. I am a huge fan of technology in the classroom. Bookmark this site as I share my adventures in teaching along with some tidbits and tips on using technology in the classroom.
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Sunday, February 2, 2014

February Currently.....



Wow..what happened to January?!?!?  I could swear we just celebrated New Years! Well the GREAT thing about a new month is that it is time for CURRENTLY by  Farley over at Oh Boy! Fourth
Grade!



Here are my responses....head on over to Farley's blog and see hers and grab the graphic to do your own!


Listening- My son really wants to get on the laptop but I am blogging so he has settled for playing PS# and is playing one of the video games he got for Christmas. He loves playing video games but I find that he would play all day if I let him. Of course as soon as I relinquish possession of the laptop he will get on here and play Minecraft!!

Loving- Here in the South we don't do winter very well so when it snowed just a little over an inch here in the upstate of South Carolina, schools closed early Tuesday. were closed Wed-Thur and we had a delay yesterday morning. Not that I am complaining but I prefer my January with a few more 50+ degree days. Today is supposed to get close to 60...WAHOO! If I had gotten a pedicure this morning, I would be wearing flip-flops!  Soon.....

Thinking-I promised myself I would stay on top of papers and grading but so far...I am failing miserably. There is always tomorrow!!!  For now, the papers stay in the bag!

Wanting- I a not usually a cold Starbucks kind of gal but a few weeks ago I took a sip of my husband's Java Chip Frappuccino and I was hooked! I am craving one right now, but I will have to wait until later today when we head to church!!

Needing- I guess i should not complain since we had so much time off this week for snow but the weekends never seem to be long enough!! I need a 3 or 4 day weekend at least once a month..maybe twice. I could seriously get caught up if I had that!!

2 Truths and a Fib- Yes, I am addicted to Pinterest and yes, I have been to the White House back in 1991 I was dating a guy who was in the Army stationed in The Old Guard. He was able to get be on the guess list for the arrival ceremony for the Queen of England on the White House lawn. It was very cool and a nice in a lifetime memory. And NO, I was not born in France (but my husband was...in a military hospital...my Father- in -Law was a Colonel in the Army)...I was born her in the good ole U S of A...in Virginia! 



Saturday, February 1, 2014

I have been challenged....

Alright..I admit it...I am a slacker when it comes to blogging. I try really hard to keep up but I just can't seem to stay on top of it an everything else.  Well here is my motivation to get going again...

About a month ago I was notified by George Champlin @GChamplinAP  via Twitter that he had mentioned me in a Tweet. It was the first day back to school after the Holiday break...and you know how this story ends..I have not been on Twitter or in my blog-related email account since them. So today I decided to get caught up on email, blogging and Twitter and fond that the mention on Twitter was realted to a PLN challenge.  So here is the deal...

I was challenged by Mr. Champlin to share some blog-love with flow bloggers out there via this challenge.  Let me start by telling you about Mr. Champlin and how we came to know one another. Two years ago I was sitting in a session at the Upstate Technology Conference here in Greenville, SC where I live an teach.  The session was taught by a fellow GCSD teacher Chris Beyerle,  whom I follow on Twitter, and was titles "Building your PLN (Professional Learning Network) through Twitter. We all posted our blog names and Twitter on the Edmodo page for the session, and George and I started following each other. He is an AP here in Greenville, and we know a few of the same educators (mostly edtech folks). Anyway, last September our paths crossed again as we both attended EdCamp in Rock Hill, NC. I think it is important to make professional connections and I always learn so much from the conversations George contributes to on Twitter. So here goes...

HERE ARE THE RULES OF THE CHALLENGE:
  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • List 11 bloggers.  They should be bloggers you believe deserve a little recognition and a little blogging love! (I chose 7 people who inspire me)
  • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they’ve been nominated.  (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you).
  • This is a challenge but you do not have accept.
11 Random Facts about me
  1. Teaching is my second (really 3rd career)...I spent the first 11 years of my post-college years in the Corporate world (data collection, information services production manager, corporate trainer, training manger). 
  2. I spend way to much time on my devices (phone, iPad, computer) but technology is my passion.
  3. I have an MBA but after completing it, really had no desire to continue working in the corporate business world (I only stuck it out for 3 more years after graduating..then left to be a stay at home mom).
  4. When my son was about to start Kindergarten, I decided to go back to school to become a teacher.
  5. Since becoming a teacher, I have taught at the same school for the last 7 years, although I have taught different grades...3rd, 4th and 5th).
  6. If I could teach Social Studies and Technology all day...I would be a happy camper.  Although I am developing a passion for teaching Math.
  7. In June I am starting on a second Master's degree..this one in Library Science. I hope to finish my career as a school librarian. 
  8. Our family is very involved in Scouting and despite my dislike for sleeping outdoors, I have enjoyed going on camp-outs with my son's troop. 
  9. I am originally from Virginia, but we moved to South Carolina almost 7 years ago when my husband retired (he has since gone back to work in the same profession he retired from...law enforcement).
  10. This year, I started a technology club for Kindergarten, First and Second Graders at my school. We have our first meeting in a few weeks. I am hoping to teach them to code using Tynker.
  11. I try not to watch too much television, but my new obsession is the show Scandal. 
Okay, now to answer the questions posted by Mr.Champlin:

  1. What book or magazine are you reading?   Currently, I am reading two books...Divergent by Veronica Roth (for enjoyment) and Teaching with Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen (for a professional book study).
  2. What inspires you?  Wow it is hard to pick one thing...I get inspired by great teachers and administrators, by students, by my own child, by people that have faced challenges and fought hard to overcome them. 
  3. Who was the educator that has most impacted your life? My High School English teacher. She was also a neighbor of ours and my Mom and Stepdad were going through a divorce. She let me hang out at her house, encouraged me to always do my best. She helped me realize that college was not an option but instead an obligation I had to myself .We have kept in touch over the years and last Spring we were both vacationing on the NC coast and got together for the first time in over 20 years. It was as  if we had not been apart...so proud to call her friend. 
  4. What motivates you to do what you do? My students...they don't have the best of lives at home, but school is a place they can feel safe, and successful.
  5. What is the best advice you received concerning education technology? Use it as a tool, not as a replacement for good teaching.
  6. Where do you hope to be professionally in 6-10 years?  I would like to be a school librarian but want to use that position to expose students to new technology and encourage them to dream big!
  7. What is your happiest childhood memory of school? Learning to read!
  8. What is your happiest memory as a professional educator? Helping a student learn to read!
  9. What advice do you have for peers who are overwhelmed with the current educational environment? Speak up, use your voice, stand up for the greatest profession. If you don't no one else will!!
  10. What is the best book you read to help you professionally? The First Days of School by Harry Wong....I buy a copy for my student teachers too!!
  11. What superlative would you give yourself and why?  Most determined....because no matter what I set my mind to, I am so determined to succeed! 
The questions I have for those I am inviting to the challenge are:
  1. What is the most important thing you have learned as an educator?
  2. What do you think you would be doing if you had not become an educator?
  3. What is your happiest childhood memory of school? 
  4. What is your happiest memory as a professional educator? 
  5. How would you want to be remembered by your students at your funeral?
  6. What is the one book you remember reading as a child?
  7. What is your biggest frustration with the current education system?
  8. What word would you use to describe how you feel on the first day of school?  On the last?
  9. What celebrity do you think would make a great teacher?
  10. What made you decide to start a blog?
  11. What book are you currently reading for fun? For work?
My PLN Invitations go to:

Joann Claspill  http://www.fifthisfabulous.blogspot.com/ 
Mo Mullen Detrick @mmdetrick
Shasta Looper http://theteachersloop.blogspot.com/
Lorraine Vasquez http://www.fabulous4thgradefroggies.com/
Lacie Sullivan http://polkadotsnpencils.blogspot.com/
Ginger Watkins http://gingersnapstreatsforteachers.blogspot.com/
Jessica http://ideasbyjivey.blogspot.com/
Bridget Pearsall http://www.littlelovelyleaders.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Our very mischievous elf......

So the past few days have been very busy in our classroom! Our student teacher, Ms. Hentz finished up on Tuesday, we have been MAP testing and tomorrow each of the 700 students at our school will receive a brand new pair of tennis shoes from a local church!  Through it all, our elf Kringle has been so busy getting into a little ( ok, a lot) of mischief!!! After getting into the powdered donuts on Monday, he found my stash of tinsel. He appeared to have lots of fun and he even blamed it on our student teacher!!! Then this morning I discovered he had gotten into the indoor recess games and had pulled out all the checkers games! Checkers were every where.
I think my students are really enjoying Kringle's daily antics as well as the letters he leaves them each day!
I think the magic of Elf on the Shelf is definitely working because today was the first day in a long time that every student in my class got a 3 for behavior!!!
I am loving it!!!!
Thanks Kringle!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Introducing ......Kringle the Elf


Yes, I broke down and adopted an elf on the shelf for my 5th grade classroom. At first I thought that it might be a little too juvenile for my 5th graders but judging from the reaction of my kids today...they love the idea.

Our elf's name is Kringle and he left the kids a  letter on the Promethean board and a platter of powdered sugar donuts.

I found some cute activities and ideas on daily Elf antics online (thank you to all who have shared).

I will be taking pictures and blogging (hopefully daily) to chronicle Kringle's activities in our classroom.

Follow along for a little holiday fun.....

Monday, September 9, 2013

Best Pencil Sharpener EVER!! (A product review) and a little about my new pencil program!


Last year I got so frustrated that my students broke every pencil sharpener I bought for my classroom. In fact they broke 5 including the one I borrowed from my principal (oops!).  I tried everything to keep those sharpeners working while still making sure my students took the responsibility of having pencils and being prepared for the day. I was just about to give up and let my students use those annoying (not to mention, messy) hand held sharpeners this year.

Then I saw a posting on one of the blogs I read about this beauty.....
A fellow blogger posted that Classroom Friendly Supplies was giving away these sharpeners to teacher bloggers who were willing to try them out in their classroom and do a review on their blog. Well, I could not sign up fast enough and almost immediately I was contacted by a rep who asked me what color I wanted. I picked green because, well green is my favorite color.  Less than a week later, it arrived at my school just in time for me to start my new pencil program in my classroom (see below). I can be a little mechanically challenged so it took me a few minutes to figure out how to put it together and attach it to my table in the classroom. Then I grabbed a fresh pack of No. 2 pencils and I found Nirvana!!  

This sharpener sharpens pencils perfect every time. The cup that holds the shavings is big enough to hold the shavings of at least a dozen pencils before needing to be emptied. And the best part is the little gripper thingy (I am sure there is an official name for it)...you just push the two levers together and pull out the mechanism (doesn't that sound move official) that holds the pencil, then crank the handle and start sharpening.  The entire sharpener can be mounted to a table or counter in your classroom with a vise like-grip that can be inserted into the bottom of the sharpener. It makes sharpening pencils a DREAM!! I really don't know how I have survived this long without this sharpener. Thanks Classroom Friendly Supplies....I love my sharpener and I know this one will survive my students this year!!!

And as I mentioned, it will really help out with all the pencils I have to sharpen each week now as part of my new pencil program. If you are like me, the last thing you want to endure while teaching is one of your little friend's hands shooting up and announcing that they need to use the pencil sharpener. If you let said friend get up to sharpen his/her pencil then we know that this invites every other student in the class to then want to sharpen their pencil. And this leads to mass chaos, and anarchy!!  Not to mention the number of times that students come to class WITHOUT a PENCIL! Who does that???

So the one time I was on Pinterest (okay, that is a lie, I am on there every week...okay...every day....hour) I saw a pin for a perfect solution to my pencil problem. "Winning the Pencil War" is what it was called and it is free HERE on TeacherPayTeachers. Here are the basics--you give each students eight pencils at the start of every week. I bought plastic pencil boxes at Walmart for 50 cents each and placed 8 sharpened pencils and a pink bar eraser in each one, then put the students name on it. They use them all week and turn the boxes into me on Friday. I check them and if they have all 8 pencils, I leave them a small prize --a sticker, a novelty eraser, etc.  We can't give out candy but are a PBIS school and use a paper money system called SOARbucks (we are the Eagles)  at our school in conjunction with our school store and I gave them a SOAR buck the first week. I then sharpen the pencils that need sharpening and return the boxes to them Monday morning. If they are missing one or more pencils, or if their bar eraser is not in there, they do not get the prize Next month, once we have been practicing this for several  weeks, I will begin keeping track of who has all their  pencils each week for the month and give those students a larger prize and perhaps do a drawing for something bigger. So far so good. The first week I had 6 of my 17 who were missing pencils and last week only 3. The overarching benefit is that students know it is their responsibility to keep up with their pencils and not break them (I suspect some of my little friends were intentionally breaking a pencils lead so they could get up and sharpen their pencil because it meant a) they could escape my lesson for a few minutes b) could get out of their seat and c) they could pass by their friend's desk for a little connection. This program stops those three from happening as frequently, as they are not allowed to use my sharpener. I plan to have a student become my Pencil Helper later in the year also, as I will eventually grow tired of doing all that sharpening!!


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Reflections from EdCampSC......


About a year or so ago I started hearing all this buzz about EdCamp. I saw postings on Twitter, read a few posts on blogs and even saw it mentioned on Facebook.  I have to admit, I was intrigued even more once I read up on the format.

For those of you who have not heard, EdCamp is a "un-conference" being organized around the country by educators like us. It is a one day event and I have to say is the best PD I have ever been to. Here is the premise...educators gather together for a day of sharing....only it is much more than that.  At the start of the day, usually over coffee, doughnuts, etc. a brainstorming session is held The attendees write ideas for possible sessions down on butcher paper. Those in attendance who are willing to facilitate a session, sign up to do so next to the session they want to facilitate. Yep there are no canned presentations, no sales pitches, etc. Then attendees vote for the sessions they would like to attend. They are given 3 stickers and they place them next to their top three. Then the group moves into a opening session, usually with a keynote speaker in the field of education, etc. While the keynote is happening, the organizers set the schedule based on the sessions that received the most votes.  Once the sessions are set, the attendees decide which sessions they want to attend. The person facilitating is not a presenter they just get the conversation rolling. The best thing is that these sessions subscribe to the "law of two feet" meaning if you go into a session and it is not meeting your needs/expectations, you get up and go to another one..no hard feelings. There have been EdCamps all over the country including the very first one held in Philadelphia in 2010.  There is even one scheduled for the Netherlands next month. The event is entirely free to attendees thanks to sponsors who provide the facility, meals/snacks/drinks, door prizes, etc.

Yesterday, I attended EdCampSC, the first EdCamp to be held in South Carolina. It was held at Sullivan Middle School (kudos to them and to Rock Hill Schools for hosting this event) in  Rock Hill, SC just outside of Charlotte. It was a 2 hour drive for me, which meant I had to get up around 5am on my day off to get there in time for the 8:30am start. Bleary-eyed with my travel mug of coffee I set out for Rock Hill. Once i got close to my destination, I began to see signs and volunteers directing traffic into the school. More volunteers greeted me, and pointed the way to the registration table where I was greeted warmly, given a schedule sheet with last minute notes and a name tag and sent off to the cafeteria for coffee and doughnuts.  I immediately saw a few familiar faces from the Upstate Technology Conference I presented/volunteered at in Greenville in July including Chris Craft (@crafty184) whom I heard speak at UTC.  I grabbed a fresh cup of coffee and made my way to a table of educators and introduced myself. I found out they were new to EdCamp as well so we all felt a little more comfortable and chatted about what we were excited about for the day.  Soon an announcement was made about the huge sheets of paper around the room. It was time to start brainstorming session ideas. As I walked from table to table I not only realized there were going to be some amazing sessions, but I also saw a lot of common themes---technology, student engagement, Common Core, BYOD and many more. I did not feel ready to facilitate a session (although looking back, I totally should have....but there is always next year), so I just looked at the ideas for the sessions and started to decide which ones I was definitely voting for . I knew it was going to be hard to pick just 3.

Soon we were headed into the auditorium for the keynote.  Eric Sheninger, the principal at New Milford HS and NASSP National Digital Principal Award recipient in 2012 delivered  his keynote via Skype. How cool was that. He had lots of encouraging words for us as educators and encouraged us to use social media to make our voices heard and to share ideas with one another. Once the keynote was over, the schedule was announced and we headed to our sessions. I chose "Twitter in the Classroom" as my first session, facilitated by @NFLafve.  What a great session to kick off with. The participants ranged from a Kindergarten teacher to a University Professor. I was amazed as I listened to these educators share how Twitters was allowing them to get their students engaged, including kids as young as 5. Other issues that cropped up in our discussions were Twitter and other platforms being blocked in our district, using apps such as FakeTweetBuilder.com and addressing BYOD and parents security fears/issues. It was a great discussion and I came away with a lot of new knowledge on Twitter as well as a renewed determination to make it work in my classroom. For the second session I chose "Google Hangouts" and while I did glean some new info from this session, " but after discovering the limitations of Google Hangouts on my iPad, I  failed to use the law of "Two Feet" to find another session, and chose instead to sit and GChat with a fellow blogger/friend  who could not attend the conference, and also tweeted until the session ended.  Before the final session, we were fed a yummy lunch sponsored by Houghton Mifflin Harcout and I did some more networking.  My last session was very animated and was on a topic that I could relate to "What to Do when Students have No Tech at Home."  It was facilitated by @derekmcquiston a teacher and instructional technology specialist for Rock Hill SD. He was funny and energetic and quite animated and kept the conversation rolling. The group discussed the ideas for getting devices in the hands of students at home through community initiatives with ISPs like Comcast and Time Warner (note to self, talk to folks about getting Charter to replicate some of the programs these other ISPs in othere cities have done,  for our Free/Reduced lunch students here in Greenville.) We also shared ideas for alternate assignments, finding open computer time before, during and after school for these students and using apps that can be accessed on a smartphone (we surmised that more and more parents had them). So it was about getting students access not just devices. I had to admit, I was a little envious (okay A LOT) hearing these teachers from Rock Hill talk about their 1:1 classrooms (RHSD has gone completely 1:1 for grades 4-8) but those teachers also faced issues with students not being able to take the devices home due to parents not attending mandatory meetings or buying the required insurance.  I was also encouraged to hear all the talk about teaching students to be good digital citizens.  The day ended with a closing session where were were told that the official conference hashtag #edcampsc was trending on Twitter! What a great note to end on...but yet, there was more! Door prizes (of which I dd not win) and also a call to spread the word to colleagues that EdCampSC would return again next year, and also that volunteers were needed.  It was a great day and a HUGE shout out to the main organizers/co-founders of EdCampSC,  LaToya Dixon (@latoyadixon5) and Mike Waiksnis (@mwaiksnis) two principals in Rock Hill SD. History was made in Rock Hill yesterday and it would not have been made without them and their planning team! 
Whew! That was long...but I wanted you to get a feel for what the EdCamp movement is all about.  I will leave you with a tweet from Chris Byerle one of the many SC educators in attendance yesterday...says it all.
In fact, one of the highs of my day was meeting so many people in Education in the Carolinas that I follow on Twitter as well as picking up quite a few new followers myself.



Whew- that was long, but I wanted to Skype his 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

We have a Winner!!! My $75 Wise Decor Gift Certificate Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Congrats to Sidney from Teaching is a Gift. Sidney wins a $75 gift certificate to Wise Decor Custom Wall Lettering! Woo Hoo! Start shopping and I would love to know what you get with your gift certificate!  Thank you to all who entered. Check back on my blog this afternoon for some exciting news about a collaborative project I am doing with Pinterest!!