Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Critical-Thinking Learning Games

A year ago I attended a conference sponsored by the Kansas Gifted, Talented, and Creative organization.  At the conference there were vendors selling all kinds of critical-thinking learning games.  I also met some wonderful gifted facilitators who offered some great recommendations about which games to purchase.  I was able to purchase several games and I wanted to share those with you.  My academically talented students love them!

Rush Hour by ThinkFun

40 Different Traffic Jams, Hours of Fun. Rush Hour pits players against gridlock as they slide cars and trucks out of their way to clear a path for the red car. Four levels of difficulty allow each player to progress at his or her own pace.

We also have Rush Hour, Jr., Rush Hour Safari, and Rush Hour Railroad.  If you have iPods in your classroom there is also an application for Rush Hour in iTunes.

Shape by Shape by ThinkFun

Shape by Shape introduces puzzle solving in a fun, challenging way by encouraging players to match red and yellow tiles to the images on one of 60 challenge cards.

and . . . Square by Square by ThinkFun
Square by Square is very similar to Shape by Shape. 

This is not an advertisement for ThinkFun and they have no knowledge of this post!  My students really love each of these activities.  They would be great to put in a center or to have in your classroom for your high-ability students.  Check back and I will be sharing other critical-thinking learning games in the future!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Meet the Teacher

Welcome to my new blog!!! I have been blogging for more than a year. My other blog that you can see here is a place to showcase the work that I am doing with my academically talented students. I decided to take the plunge and join all of you fabulous teachers who are sharing WONDERFUL ideas!

In order to properly introduce myself, I decided to join Cara Carroll's Linky Party over at The First Grade Parade!

I am in my 15th year teaching at the school where I student taught. Oh my, feeling really old right now! I student taught in a 1st grade classroom. I was hired the following school year to teach 6th grade. Everyone, I was TERRIFIED! I stayed in 6th grade for 3 years and wasn't sure I wanted to leave. Then I had the opportunity to move to 2nd grade. I took it and loved it! I taught 2nd grade for 4 years. Then we had our first child. I then took the chance to teach Title I Reading/Math part-time. It was such a great opportunity for our family! I was working 4 hours a day and it.was.marvelous! We have added two more children to our family and I have gradually worked back to teaching full-time. My work with Title I students takes up 60% of my week and the remaining 40% is spent with academically talented students. I work with students in grades K-6. Talk about variety! I love my school, students, and parents!

I am currently 9 hours from finishing my master's degree in Reading at Pittsburg State University. Go Gorillas! I 'm taking 6 hours this semester and will finish up with 3 hours in the fall of 2011.  It's been a long, slow process that has really given my teaching a whole new energy. Even though the coursework is becoming a little redundant, I have done A LOT of professional reading, lesson planning, and reflecting.

This is me with my family

Here are our three lovely children . . . ages 8, 6, and 4

On with the Q & A!

Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a teacher?
I would love to own a teacher supply store. The only supply store in my small town recently closed - it didn't have much to offer. The university in my town is known for it's education program and I think it could be very successful. A girl can dream right?

Q: What are your hobbies?
Spending time with my family, teaching, and surfing the web.

Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I always wanted to be a teacher. I spent a brief time in high school considering becoming a pharmacist - I worked in a pharmacy.

Q: What are your guilty pleasures?
Dr. Pepper, anything sweet, American Idol and Castle!

Q: What is your biggest fear?!
Dying before my children are grown.

Q: When you’re on vacation, where do you like to go?
We like to go camping in Colorado and Disneyworld. My sister is getting married in Vegas in May and I've never been. Very excited!

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Worrying is like a rocking chair . . . it's something to do but it gets you no where.

Q: What do you value most in others?
Kindness, loyalty, honesty, AND a good work ethic!

Q: If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass down to your kids, what would it be?
Maybe my sense of responsibility and ability to self-motivate.

Q: If you could have lunch with anyone in the world….living or dead…who would it be?
My grandmother passed away several years ago and I think of her every day. I would also choose my biological father. I was just getting to know him a few years before he passed away. The moral of the story = don't waste chances with loved ones.

One random thing about myself:

After trying for quite some time to become pregnant, we found out we were expecting our first child on 9/11. I took the phone call from my doctor's office in our school library. I began to cry and the librarian said, "Honey, did you know someone in the Twin Towers?" What a day of crazy emotions.

It was great to meet you!  I hope you'll follow my blog and the resources and ideas I share will be just "The Pot o' Gold" you're looking for!