Sunday, July 20, 2014

I Teach K! 2014

So a week ago, I returned from the most amazing week of learning in Las Vegas. I attended the I Teach K! Conference and Teachers Pay Teachers conference. You may have seen some of my excitement through my Instagram, but I wanted to reflect a little on my experience.

First of all, WOW!! Just WOW!! I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome this national SDE conference is! A year ago, I was seeing everyone’s posts about I Teach K while I sat at home dreaming of someday going to the conference. I knew I had to find a way to make this happen, so I did and let me tell you, I am SO glad I was there this year! Honestly my brain is still overflowing with fabulous ideas and I still need to sit down and go through my notes to decide what I really want to pull this year and what I should wait to do at another time. All the ideas I got in each individual session are way more than I could ever implement at one time or one year, so it’s going to take some serious sit down time to decide what I REALLY want to start using right away. The hardest part…where do I begin?! Ahh!

Since I haven’t made the time to go through everything yet, let me just briefly share my experience in Vegas and why you need to make this happen for YOU if you haven’t already!

On day one, I went to the opening session to listen to the author or the Arthur series, Mr. Marc Brown. He is such a cute old man and it was really interesting to listen to his life story. Did you know all the characters in the Arthur series are based off of kids that were in his class, his teachers, or his own family members? He showed a class picture and pointed out the people that inspired him to create the characters in his books. He started off by taking a selfie with the crowd too! Haha! 

Then I headed to listen to the oh-so-fabulous Kim Adsit from Kinder Gals. She is a rock star!! I spent both morning sessions with her learning about starting the first 30 days of kindergarten off right and phonemic fun! If you want an overload of ideas and inspiration, just attend one of her sessions if you get the chance. Not to mention that she is such a hoot and great to listen to! The opening session went over a little, so I was bummed to show up a little late to her first session. I ended up sitting on the floor for that session since it was so packed, but moved up to the front row for the second session! J She had loads of ideas that she’s made and used in her classroom set out all around the stage and on the floor for us to take pictures of. Can you say AWESOME?!

After lunch, I headed to see the fabulous and sweet DeeDee Wills from Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten and learn about making anchor charts. She talked about how most of the time she likes to make them with the kids and then refer back to them during the year, but sometimes you want to save them for next year! So…she shared with us this big reveal idea from Kim Adsit where you cover up the chart and then reveal pieces of it at a time. Genius! I love these organization tips too!

For the last session of the day, I attended Dan St. Romain’s session about the key to improved academics and behavior. He had us up, moving, and interacting to keep us engaged at the end of a long day which is SO important to remember with a little ones. They need to move, talk, and feel safe in our classroom every day for them to be able to do the things we want them to.

Day two I spent the morning with the amazing, super sweet, and humble Deanna Jump from Mrs. Jump's Class! I’m telling you, this conference only has the best presenters!! Her first session was over implementing math, reading, and writing with fun storybooks that we love to read to our kids. It’s amazing how much you can do with one or two storybooks. Two books that I ended up buying after this session that I didn’t have before are “The Easter Bunny’s Assistant” and “The Day the Crayons Quit” because they were just too cute! I’m hoping I can find time to squeeze some of these ideas into our packed days this year because the kids would absolutely LOVE it! 

One of the quotes I loved hearing from Deanna is, "It's not just cute. It's cute with a purpose." So often people make comments about things we do as teachers and even TpT sellers is that what we do is just so cute! That's nice, but it's not just cute! There is a purpose behind it! Aren't you more engaged in things that are more attractive? Kids love this stuff and we love it because of the purpose behind it and the engagement that it brings our kids. This seemed to be a common theme amongst the presenters and I was just so glad to hear it explained that way! 

The second session was over language arts interventions. So many great ideas that I can’t wait to use with my kiddos who need interventions this year. The kids will love this small group or one on one time with these fun, engaging ideas I’m taking back to my classroom! I can’t wait to try them out. I had to buy some magnet wands and magnetic chips so we can do this stretchy the word snake idea. They sound out the word and put a chip down for each sound and then take the wand over the chips from left to right and say the word as the wand grasps the chips. So much FUN!!
For my afternoon sessions, I went to LeAnna Wolkis Goldstein’s session over foldables to use in the classroom. This was such a fun make and take session and the ideas for the different foldables she showed us could be used in so many ways! Seriously, how cute (but effective and purposeful) are these foldables?!

Then I went to a classroom management session with Kim Adsit. Tons of fab ideas yet again! J I like this idea of this “We can…” board to work towards something specific. Great for working on one of our rules at a time in the beginning of the year and then bringing it out again when we have troubles with something or forget one of our rules.

I know this is getting super long, so I will wrap it up with my last full day session with Dr. Jean and write a separate post about the TpT Conference and other Vegas fun! 
My day with Dr. Jean was full of more amazing ideas and make and takes from her Common Core Camp! The great thing about her ideas is that they are so simple and cheap, but so effective and kids love them! This is another one of those sessions that I really need to look through my pictures and notes to decide what I want to accomplish this year. She asked us many times throughout the day if we had learned something new and to share one thing with someone sitting near us. It was so hard to pinpoint only one thing because everything she shared was a new and genius idea! That’s the great thing about the technology we have today because we can take pictures of all the ideas we love instead of trying to write everything out in our notes! The only problem…so MUCH to go through! I’d still say that’s a great problem to have!

Well, I hope you enjoyed reading and you’ll have to check back to see the rest of my wonderful experience in Vegas because there’s still so much to share! I’m still having a hard time believing that I actually made this happen for myself this year. I’m telling you, start saving NOW and make this happen for YOU!
My husband got to sneak in a picture with me! He is definitely a rock star of his PE classroom! :)

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