Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Blogging Buddies

Hi ISTE Blogging Buddies! 
The first step to change is admitting you have a problem, right? Well then, Hello, My name is Jessica and I am a lazy blogger.  

Can you relate? 

I have always loved reading educational blogs.  Some of my best lessons and professional developments have come from reading and implementing ideas found in blogs.  So when I started my blog a few years ago, I thought writing would come naturally.  I had so many ideas to share. Boy was I wrong! 

While at EdCampAtlanta last weekend there was a session on staying motivated as a blogger.  One attendee mentioned ISTE Blogging Buddies.  I looked into it and signed up right then and there! 

Blogging for me is a very personal thing.  I feel like I am letting people see the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I began to feel very venerable which is why I ultimately stopped blogging.   I now realize that the "bad and the ugly" are just as important to explore as"the good".  

So I am writing a new Mission Statement for my blog to help me stay focused.  I found great guidelines for writing a blog mission statement on a blog called CoSchedule. I want to do this right so I'm going to take a few days to get my thoughts organized.  Hopefully, I'll be able to unveil my Blog Mission Statement in my next post.  

Do you have a mission statement for your blog? If not here are a few resources: 
Why You Need A Blog Mission Statement and How to Create One

How To Write A Daring Blog Mission Statement

Happy Blogging! 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

New Beginnings!

I am excited to announce that I will become a part of the Unity Grove family in Henry County next year.  I will be joining the third grade team and teaching a talented and gifted (TAG) class.  The school is adopting a project based learning focus that I am looking forward to.  I have learned a lot about project based learning in the past few years and hope to bring some new ideas to my new team.  

With new beginnings comes a sense of closure.  I have been blessed to be at a school for the past 8 years with many friends and talented colleagues.  Leaving Jackson Elementary is bittersweet.  My administrators always supported me and my ideas (although they probably thought I was crazy for wanting to do some of the things I did i.e. see through bird feeders on our class windows and having a leopard gecko as a class pet that wandered around our class), but they always supporterd and even encouraged me.  I am leaving behind families where I have taught 2 or 3 siblings, a community of supportive parents, and colleagues that have become friends.  

I look forward to getting to know a new group of students, teachers, and administrators as this new chapter of my life begins.     

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Crayola Experience

I had the opportunity last year to work with Crayola to develop this video.  It was filmed at my school and most of the artwork you see on the walls (fractured hearts, impressionist imposters etc.) was done in my classroom.  This amazing experience detailed our development of a Creative Leadership Team in our school and how we taught our teachers to set aside some emotional baggage they had when it came to arts integration. The staff from Crayola filmed at our school for 3 days and were the ultimate professionals. Enjoy the video!

Project Based Learning

Students in my classroom have ample opportunities to develop social skills and confidence through role play, class meetings, and student led read alouds, just to name a few. In this living biography picture, we see one of my students dressed as her favorite female historical figure (Pocahontas) reading her favorite book to the class.  

 Other Examples of Project Based Learning in my classroom:

Students enjoy using the iPad to create podcasts about topics they  are experts in.  These students created a podcast about Savannah, GA and the historical figures they studied that were from Savannah.  Students are responsible for creating the script and researching the content for their podcasts.


I enjoy integrating the arts as often as I can in my classroom.  This has been possible through numerous trainings on art technique and differentiation instruction.  I have had the opportunity to lead staff development on these topics for all teachers at my school.  If you are in the Atlanta are and would like to know more about integrating the arts at your school please contact ArtsNOW.  Our school has partnered with them for the last 3 years and their training has been more valuable than any other training I have participated in.  

3-D Trees:
Standards: S2E3. Students will observe and record changes in their surroundings and infer the causes of the changes. (a.) Recognize effects that occur in a specific area caused by weather, plants, animals, and/or people.

Students used the mosaic art form to create a 3-D model of what a deciduous tree looks like in all 4 seasons. 

Readers' Theater:
I believe it is important to TEACH the skills needed to read a script.  Readers' Theater is a great way to teach students to read fluently with expression and projection.  This is a presentation I created using Haiku Deck to teach proper script reading for my 2nd graders. 

Beginning Blend Project: 
Students researched blends and digraphs for this poster project.  Since this was a student led project, I noticed that they were more involved and excited about the topic.  

A Tour of My Classroom

Every productive classroom needs rules!  This is how they are displayed in my classroom.  I use anagrams for a lot of things around my room.  The students seem to remember things better this way.  

This picture illustrates the importance of collaboration in my classroom.  Students are arranged in heterogeneous groups and collaborate throughout the day in order to foster a sense of community and cooperation.

Students participate in learning stations (centers) while I pull students in small groups.  As long as you have rules and procedures established this flows smoothly.

I developed these vowel characters and the Story of Mother Vowel to help my first and second graders distinguish between long and short vowel sounds and to recognize vowel patterns within words.

This academic gallery was produced after an artist/author study of Chris Van Allsburg in December.  Students researched the life of the author and used one of his illustrations to produce an original creative writing piece.

We concluded our unit with a Polar Express Day where students drank hot chocolate in their pajamas and read their favorite Chris Van Allsburg stories to the class.

I use many graphic organizers throughout the year in order to teach to mastery and assess understanding. This is especially helpful to students in the primary grades where concepts such as comparing and contrasting can be difficult to understand.

The T.A.P.E. method is used in both reading and writing to deepen understanding of a text.  The tier it up word webs are used to increase vocabulary and comfort with writing “dangerous” words.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Donors Choose

I have to spread the word about this wonderful website! I have been posting grants on Donors Choose since 2007 and have received over $7,000 in funding for my classroom.  I have received everything from basic school supplies to a new iPad.  It is amazing to me that there are generous souls out there willing to support projects for students and teachers they have never met.  

If you are a teacher RUN to this website and post a project! With the economic downturn in the past couple years, I have noticed that funding is not coming as quickly as it used to.  However, you won't receive anything if you don't ask, right?

If you are a business owner, or community member that would like to be more involved RUN to this website to support a classroom in need.  Donors receive thank you letters from the children impacted by their donations.  These letters are so heart felt and inspiring.  I've had students cry over receiving a new backpack from a project I had funded.  If you're looking for a way to make a lasting impact look no further than Donors Choose! 

You can check out my projects at:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Resources from GaETC

Quite a few people were asking four our resources after our presentation at GaETC last week.  I've decided to make them available here for you as well as on the GaETC website.

Gadgets We Love

QR Codes

Evaluating Apps


Our Favorite Apps

Please let me know if you have any trouble opening the links, I'd be more than happy to email them to you.