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Archive for the ‘1st grade’ Category

Oh Canada, How I Love Canada


Can I just say that I love skyping to classes in Canada?  Well, whether I can or cannot, I will.  This week I was in Danielle Maley’s grade 1 and grade 2 class.  I learned that in Canada first and second grade do not exist as far as terminology goes and that it is referred to as grade 1 and grade 2.  I just love this age.  These kids have so much enthusiasm and zest for life.  You can see how engaged they are in the pictures that Mrs. Maley took. 

The first thing that we talked about was how far away from each other we are.  We found out that we are 1,000 miles away.  Then we got to the important stuff like what is your favorite book.  One little girl happened to say that her favorite books are Franklin books.  Since I just happened to have a Franklin book I dedicated my reading of Franklin’s Halloween to Georgia.  The kids did not mind at all that it was a little past Halloween.  They were just mesmerized by the entire experience because they had never skyped with someone in one of their classrooms before.  I had the wonderful opportunity to be their first.

After skyping with Canada I quickly came back to Wisconsin to work with an adult that has struggled with reading her whole life.  She happens to live in Wisconsin and is only 30 minutes away from me, but working via skype makes it so much easier.  Neither of us has to travel for an hour and we get to get more done than if we were in person. 

This new student has mentioned that Skype has completely changed her life.  The fact that she can now get help with reading and not have to leave the comfort of her home just astounds her.  She loves the convenience and the new tools that she learns with each session.  She is continuing to get better and better every day and she brightens my day with all of her insights. 

I love that I can spread positivity around the world via Skype and in my day to day life.  It is a blessing, a calling, and for me a way of life.

Soccer Practice: Please Show Passport

Imagine this, it is time to bring your child to soccer or football practice.  You pack all of your clothes, equipment, and get everyone settled into the car.  You begin driving and forget to bring your passport.  So, you go back home, grab your passport and cross the border to get your child to practice on time.

This may sound far fetched to many of you, but it is reality for the children in Saskatchewan, Canada.  Last week I got to hang out in Ms. Elder’s class and she was explaining that many of her students have sports practices in Montana.  I was extremely interested in this, especially since I already knew she lived in Canada and that the class I was specifically talking with was in Canada.  To them it did not sound like a big deal, but to many of us who have never experienced that it is fascinating.

This is one of the reasons that I love volunteering in classrooms all over the world and reading to them.  I love learning and I love learning about different people and the way that they do things.

Ms. Elder and I met last year via Twitter and I was able to read to her class then.  She does a looping grade 1 and grade 2 split.  So some of the students had recognized me from last year.  It was really cool to pop into their classroom and have many of them recognize me.  One little boy said, “I know you”.  It was really sweet.

Ms. Elder asked me to share my favorite story with the class.  For me, my absolute favorite story is Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco.   However, I do not have an ebook version yet to share with the children, so I decided to go with my second favorite Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  Ironically, the class had just taken down their Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree and they were absolutely thrilled that I chose that book out of all of the books in the world to read to them.

I have read this book to several children all over the world and it seems to be a hands down favorite.  What are some of your favorite books to read with children?  I would love to know.

Watch this clip from a past reading of the book to a group of students in North Carolina.

Books Boys Love

Cover of "Everyone Poops (My Body Science...

Cover of Everyone Poops (My Body Science)

Parents often wonder how they can engage their boys in enjoying reading.  They are looking for books that aren’t too girly and that their sons will enjoy.  Therefore, it is no surprise that one of the biggest questions that I get is, “What books do you suggest for a __year old boy?”  This question has inspired me to make a list of books from my favorite book publishing company, Usborne Books and More.  Below you will find a list of books that tend to be boys favorites along with the age that they are appropriate for.

Boys tend to like books that fit into 6 different categories. Of course this is just a brief list of the most popular and not all inclusive.

  • humor
  • non-fiction
  • Suspense
  • Hands on
  • Sports
  • How to

Baby Boys 0-4

Animal Board Books

Noisy Touch Feely

That’s Not my Monster

Glug, Glug, Glug Bath Book

Lift and Look Board books – Books include topics about construction sites, tractors, trains, and dinosaurs

Boys Ages 4-6

Everyone Poops

Engaging phonics Readers

How Big is a Million

The Gingerbread Man

There’s a Mouse About the House

Very First Reading Program

Boys 7-10

Beginning Non-fiction Readers

Illustrated Stories for Boys – includes the following

The Masked Pirate
Robot Racers
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Jon and the Green Troll
The Tale of the Haunted TV
The Band of Robbers
Sinbad the Sailor
Victor Saves the Village
The Terrible Tidybot
The Story of Shiverham Hall
The Pesky Parrot
Sam and the Giants
The Tale of the Kitchen Knight
Attack of the Swamp Monster
Robot Robbery
Treasure Island

Jack Russell Dog Detective

The Team Series

Boys 10-15

Moby Dick

Tom Sawyer

David Copperfield

Conspiracy 365

These are some suggestions for boys to engage them and get them excited about reading.  Usborne Books has many many titles that boys love.  You can check them all out at

This topic was discussed tonight as well on the Totoal Education Network, where I was a guest.  Check it out and learn what some of Neil’s favorite books for boys are as well.

Total Education Network Radio 08/18 by Total Tutor | Blog Talk Radio.

Skyping Reading Tutor in Singapore

Yesterday I had the unique chance to visit an International School in Singapore via Skype.  I found out that the students in this Ms.

Skyping Reading Tutor Reading the Very Hungry Caterpillar

Goggins class were born in England, Australia, and India.  It was a very special group of students who have a sincere desire to learn.

I met Ms. Goggins on Twitter and from there she sent me some wonderful links of her students performing Reader’s Theater plays on Vimeo.  I love The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  You can click on the link to see their really adorable performance.  It is absolutely fantastic.

These students have all done an author study this year and some students had done one on Eric Carle.  During our talk we were not sure if Eric Carle was dead or alive.  The fantastic news is that he is still alive and kicking and about 80 years old.  However, this is not the case for his dear friend Bill Martin Jr.

I loved learning all about Singapore.  It is hot there all year long.  The kids told me that they can ride their bikes and skateboard all year long.  Many of the students had never even seen snow.  When I mentioned that it can get so cold in Wisconsin, one of the little boys yelled out that that was cool.  I laughed, because perception is everything and nothing at the same time.  His perception was that it would be cool to experience that.  My perception was that I had experienced it and did not like it very much.

We found out that the students in Ms. Goggin’s class and myself both have the same favorite author.  I absolutely love Robert Munsch and created one of my own videos of the book Boo.  We had an amazing time together and I have a wonderful video showing pictures and a video of the experience.

Meet Baby Chicks in Lockport, New York


Image via Wikipedia

Today was a super exciting day for me.  I got to meet not only some amazing first graders and their teacher Ms. Bitka, but also their newly hatched baby chicks.  These wonderful first graders in Lockport, New York were given 24 eggs from a local farmer that also is a teacher and shares her farm with the local schools.

The students were very excited to show me their baby chicks and I am not sure which was cuter, the baby chick, or the little girl holding the chick.  One of the chicks was a typical yellow chick and the other chick was black.  No matter what their color, they were super duper cute.  It makes you want to keep them forever, but after you learn that they only stay a baby chick for five weeks, you quickly realize that probably isn’t a good idea.  On top of that, their peeps are going nonstop.  I absolutely loved the sound in the classroom, but wouldn’t want to hear it all the time in my home.

I read the book A Chick Grows Up by Pam Zollman.  This is a fantastic non-fiction book written for a younger audience that goes through the life cycle of a baby chick from egg to hen or rooster.  We also learned that there are other birds that go through this same process.  Some other birds include geese, peacocks, turkeys, and ducks.

I absolutely loved the excitement in Ms. Bitka’s classroom.  These kids were excited about learning, excited about their chicks, and excited about having the Skyping Reading Tutor in their classroom.  I love that I was able to share in this excitement with them and I can’t wait to see them again.

A Wonderful Surprise from Port Hardy, BC, Canada

I had the most wonderful surprise awaiting me when I woke up this morning.  A group of students not only read one of their favorite books to me, but they made a video of it for tons and tons of other people to enjoy.

Ms. Soltau-Heller had her students read Jillian Jigs by Phoebe Gilman.  I love when kids read books, but I love it more when I am introduced to a new wonderful author.  I had never heard of this book or the author, so it was even more fun than you could ever imagine.

This teacher had mentioned that she had never done anything like this before and you absolutely can’t tell.  It is amazing.  She had the whole class choral read the repetitive phrase in the book and individual students read the pages.  All of the kids had an amazing part in this creation and she did a wonderful job.  I have yet to go into a classroom where there has not been amazing teaching practices going on.  I am so honored to still be in classrooms all over the world via my computer and Skype.

What an inspiring 1st grade class.  This class is filled with amazing readers.  Who knows maybe some of them will become famous actors.  We shall see.  Only time will tell.  Anyway check out their wonderful video reading Jillian Jigs.

Connecting Classrooms with Books

Skype is such an amazing tool that just keeps getting better.  Skype now has a group call feature that allows people to have multiple people on the line at the same time.  We tried this as educators today with 3 classrooms and the Skyping Reading Tutor.  What a great experience it was.

I found out that it was not only cold here in Wisconsin with a temperature of -15 degrees, but it was cold everywhere today.  Todays classrooms included,

  • Mr. Greenberg’s 2nd grade class in Bridgeport, CT
  • Ms. Well’s 4th grade class in Kansas
  • Ms. Kidd’s Kindergarten class in North Carolina

Connecticut won out as being the warmest place to be today.  I was quite surprised.  I guess they deserve it since they have been pummeled with snow lately.  It was a balmy 25 degrees there today.  Kansas had 1 degree and I forgot to ask the kids in North Carolina what the temperature was.  They were in the middle of a 2 hour delay and had just arrived at school, 10:30 EST, due to the snow they had.

Today’s topic was snow.  Usually when I skype with classrooms I show the pictures of the book that I am reading.  However, when you are skyping with multiple classrooms you are unable to do a share screen.  The week prior I read a non-fiction book about snow, but many of the words forced the reader to look at the pictures.  So, I decided not to use that book again.  Instead I used the book Millions of Snowflakes by Mary McKenna Siddals.

This was definitely not a book that I would have picked out to read to 4th graders.  The pictures have little kids in them and are geared for younger children.  However, the words in this book I found to be very poetic (and poetry is definitely appropriate for 4th grade).

I found it really cool that the Kindergarten, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade students all enjoyed the book as much as I did.  The 4th graders in Ms. Wells class had mentioned that it was a very relaxing book.  We talked about how this might be the perfect book to put a younger brother or sister to sleep with.

The 2nd graders in CT said that the book sounded like where they live.  I could relate to it as well living in Wisconsin and just having had a fresh layer of snow last week.  And the Kindergartners just sat and enjoyed the whole experience.

While I was reading the story I made a connection with one part.  When readers do this, it is called a text to self connection.  The part of the text that I connected with was,

Three little snowflakes melt on my tongue.  I eat them up. Yum! Yum! Yum!

I remembered how my 4 year old daughter was walking into school on Tuesday this week with her head up to the sky and her tongue hanging out catching snowflakes.  I was able to focus on how this was a proper connection to make.  Sometimes we can make connections that are actually distractions because they have nothing to do with the story, but this was a good connection because I could visualize the snowflakes melting and someone enjoying them in their tummy.

Take a look at our experience together and wherever you are, STAY WARM!!!

First Grade Smarticles in New York

Image by Sebastian Niedlich (Grabthar) via Flickr

Have you ever heard a term or a phrase and fallen in love with it instantly?  Well that happened to me today.  I read a story about The Greedy Python to a group of students.  Afterward I asked the students if they thought the story was fiction or non-fiction and they instantly replied fiction.  I was so amazed that such a young group of students knew the answer so quickly.  The teacher responded that her class is working on their smarticles.

The word reminded me of barnicles from Spongebob.  I love the word so much and the way that she used it, that I am going to use it.  I have a group of students that I tutor in reading everyday that are working on their smarticles and they certainly are smart.

Today I had the wonderful pleasure to read to Mrs. Magyar’s 1st grade computer class in New york.  I was so jealous to hear that many of the students have had the wonderful opportunity to see the Thanksgiving Parade live instead of just on t.v.  What an awesome opportunity for them.

These students have been learning about Eric Carle and have read some of his amazing books like Pancake, Pancake, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Clumsy Cricket, and Papa, Please Get me the Moon. I explained to the children that Eric Carle is both an author and an illustrator.  In the book that I shared with them, The Greedy Python, Carle is the illustrator.  The Greedy Python is sooo greedy that he eats many animals including an elephant.  Click on the video below to see what he ends up eating.  The surprise ending is hilarious.

Fun with Technology and Snow

the children's blizzard

Image by mhartford via Flickr

What an interesting day we had via skype!  The technology did not quite work the way I thought that it would, but wow, I sure learned a lot and some great teachers made connections today.  We tried to get 9 classrooms from around the United States and Canada to Skype all at once.  What amazing educators there are out there to dive into this fantastic endeavor.

I would like to personally thank all of the classrooms that were part of this historical call.

  • Ms. Shield’s 3rd grade class in Alpharetta, GA
  • Mr. Greenberg’s 2nd grade class in Bridgeport, CT
  • Ms. Elder’s 1st and 2nd grade class in Coronach, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • Ms. Kidd’s Kindergarten class in Kernersville, NC
  • Ms. Bond’s Kindergarten class in Walled Lake, MI
  • Ms. Anderson’s 1st grade class in Missoula, MT
  • Ms. Griffith’s 3rd grade class in Linden, AL
  • Ms. Sheffield’s 2nd grade class in Linden, AL
  • Ms. Good’s 3rd grade class in Tescott, KS
  • Ms. Well’s 4th grade class Meriden, KS

There were other amazing classrooms that wanted to be a part of this call as well, but unfortunately there is a limit with Skype.

Have you ever had the experience that when something didn’t work you ended up learning a lot?  Well, that is definitely something that happened today for me.  I learned that when you are skyping with multiple classrooms you definitely want to make sure that you have one person designated as the speaker.  All other classrooms have to be muted, otherwise, you hear a lot of kid voices and it is hard for people to listen/present.

We also learned that you must have Skype 5.0 installed in order for other classrooms to see you.  If you do not have 5.0 installed you can still be a part of the call, just people will not be able to see you.  Another thing that I learned is that if you are not able to communicate with words, you can still communicate with the typing feature to at least let everyone know what is going on.  However, the way to get to the Instant Message feature is different for Mac users and PC users.  PC users have a speech bubble and Mac users have an arrow with a box.

To sum up what I have learned today about group calls;

  1. Everyone must have 5.0 installed
  2. All users must mute their mic to listen
  3. All users must unmute their mic to talk
  4. Mac Skype and PC Skype looks different
  5. If there are problems use IM to communicate

A sincere thank you goes out to all of those classrooms that were brave today and trying out this feature.  It was definitely a wonderful learning experience for me and many others.

There were a couple of classrooms, that really wanted to skype today and after 25 minutes of it not working they still wanted to get together with another class and make it happen.  I ended up getting the opportunity to Skype with Ms. Giffith’s 3rd grade class and Ms. Bond’s Kindergarten class simultaneously.  Ms. Griffith’s class is in Linden Alabama and they hardly get any snow.  It is a rare occasion for them and when they get snow they can definitely appreciate it’s beauty.  Ms. Bond’s class is on the other side of Lake Michigan from me in Walled Lake, MI.  They ended up getting hit with 9″ of snow from the blizzard that just got Wisconsin earlier this week.  So , they were well in tune with the wonder of snow.

Next week, we are going to try this group skyping thing again, but with just five classrooms instead of nine.  We definitely knows that it works with three classrooms and we are slowly going to build up to a large group as time goes on.  Until then, stay warm and have fun!

Take a look at a brief clip of our large group Skype.

Fairytales All Tangled Up in Canada

Cover of "The Three Little Wolves and the...

Cover via Amazon

I just spent about 20 minutes with a very enthusiastic class.  They were so much fun.  This group of students is from Coronach, Saskatchewan,Canada.  One of the things that they are grateful for are their houses and food.  I told them that I am also grateful that we have houses and food here.

I learned that Coronach, Saskatchewan,Canada is right above Montana and that they are right over the border.  The closest city to them is in the United States.  Wow, that must be so cool.  I wonder if they think that is as cool as I do.  When I mentioned that this class is 1,072 miles away and that it would take me 18 hours and 57 minutes to get there they were completely amazed.  I am still amazed that I can talk to people so far away all from the comfort of my home.  I love technology and what it is capable of doing. (In the near future I am going to be working with some students in Germany).

Today the story that I read was The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig. Ms. Elder’s class has been finishing up a unit on Fairytales.  The students shared with me that they got the opportunity to go to the movies and see Tangled.  I explained that The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig were just like Tangled because they are versions of a fairytale, but not the exact original of the fairytale.

When we got to the part where the pig brought out the dynamite, I was scared to go to the next page.  The class was very eager to see this house explode and you will have to read it yourself to find out if indeed the explodes or not.  Take a look at the video of our wonderful adventure together and see the enthusiasm emanate from this group of students.

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