Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Short and sweet tonight...

I've been working on some materials about cochlear implants and hearing aids for my students. I recently created a short mini-book for a student who won't wear his implant and needs to get comfortable with the idea of just putting it on. I designed a printable mini-book called "I Put on my CI" that can be used as a coloring book or as a reusable book with cut-out cochlear implants for the student to put on the boy in the book. Check it out in my TpT store and see the preview for the cover, first page and printable CI pieces.






Sunday, March 17, 2013

New toy!!

I've been wanting one of those digital drawing tablet & pen gadgets for a while now, but I'm one of those people who always finds a reason not to spend money on myself - my family, kids and students always come first. My husband finally convinced me to just get something for myself for once, so I did - my very own Wacom Bamboo Capture tablet! I was completely antsy the entire afternoon - like a little kid on Christmas! As soon as I got home, got my son settled and our things put away... I plugged it in. I was skeptical and had prepared myself for a steep learning curve after a warning for the sales guy... surprisingly, it's easy to use! It only took me a few minutes to get used to drawing on the tablet and seeing my lines on the screen. I'm so excited about this thing!

I've been working on my own original clipart for some of my TpT ideas and hopefully my new Bamboo tablet will help me take my ideas digital without so many steps. I was messing around with my tablet tonight and came up with this fun Rainbow Alphabet poster:

Rainbow Alphabet Poster

I've also been working on these foldable 3-D Paper Farm Animals. I'll be adding the whole set to my TpT store soon! Just in time for spring Farm Themes...

Foldable 3-D Paper Pig


Friday, March 15, 2013

Green Eggs...

This week, we read "Green Eggs and Ham" by Dr. Seuss. The students really enjoyed this book - especially shouting 'NO!' every time Sam asked about eating the green eggs and ham!

Green Eggs and Ham Sensory Bin
I LOVE our Green Eggs and Ham sensory bin! There are tons of fun things int his bin - the kids' favorite things are the felt eggs and ham inside of the mini plastic eggs. They've been 'cooking' up interesting plate fulls of green grass, green eggs, green ham and multicolored pom poms for my assistant and I to 'eat' - mmm yummy!

I made lots of adaptations to the reading of this story so that all of my students could get into the story and understand it on their level. Interestingly enough, this book works great for multiple speech, language and listening goals.

I was able to incorporate many 'listening' sounds and phrases into our reading to keep students who are just learning to attend to sounds and words interested in the book:

eggs/ham - mmm yummy
mouse - squeak
car - beep beep
train - ooo-ooo
rain - "it's raining its pouring.." 
boat - buh-buh + "row row row your boat..."
goat -  maaah
tree - up, up, up
crazy train tracks - up, up, up wee!
falling into the water - uh-oh!

The simplified version of the story when something like this:

Sam: Do you like green eggs and ham?

Man: No, no, no! I don't like them! 

Read & REPEAT...

I paired the simplified story with reading the actual rhyming text and threw in the 'sound effects' as we went...

We made Green Glitter letter G's and Painted with lots of Green... what a mess! I think we'll hand up all of these green pages in the hall like a giant green quilt mural. Green's a great color for spring :)


Green Finger painting
We made a plate of green eggs and ham. The kids watched me put the pieces together to make the completed plate of green eggs and ham, then had to figure out how to do it themselves - kind of like a puzzle. They did pretty good remembering how I made mine and copying the steps themselves. There's also our Cat in the Hat letter C's too!
Green Eggs and Ham Craft

We also played "Who at the Green Eggs and Ham" Card Game from Elaine over at the Schoolhouse blog. Once the students realized it was a funny game and that getting the Green Eggs and Ham card wasn't a 'bad' thing, they enjoyed it.



Who at the Green Eggs and Ham? Wasn't me...

To finish out our week of Green Eggs, we had planned to eat green eggs and watch the old green eggs cartoon on Youtube, but I forgot the eggs... The kids enjoyed the movie anyway though. Perhaps next week we'll get to the eggs... 





Next week, we'll dive into "Mr. Brown Can Moo"!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

We LOVE Dr. Seuss!

We're currently in the middle of a month long Dr. Seuss extravaganza in my classroom! Our Dr. Seuss unit quickly became one my very favorite units to do with my students. Last year was actually the first year that I even attempted more than just a few days of Dr. Seuss books and activities due to a awful experiences in my past...

Years ago, when I tried to introduce Dr. Seuss books to my deaf/hard of hearing students, they HATED them! Looking back, I think know that the failure was my fault... I didn't really think it through very well. Seriously, Seuss books are complete nonsense; to a child who can't hear and is struggling to learn to listen and talk, just to simply make sense of their world, listening to a Dr. Seuss story could be torture!

Last year, I rethought my approach, my goals, my story choices, my teaching style -- well EVERYTHING! The very first thing that I changed was my overall goal for the unit - since I'm working with deaf/hh students in an auditory/oral program (i.e we're working on listening and talking and do not use sign language) we always we have extensive speech and language goals integrated into every aspect of every activity - including vocabulary (expressive & receptive), comprehension, listening, oral language and the list goes on, with different and very specific goals for every child. My primary goal for every child became simply to have FUN; enjoy the stories, books, silly pictures, the 'sound' of the books (rhyme and rhythm) etc. I had to approach a nontraditional type of literature with a nontraditional approach to goal making...

The next thing that I did was choose books with a story line as my primary focus - books like 'There's a Wocket in my Pocket' just wouldn't cut it; they were too nonsensical and the kids, might listen to them, but I wasn't confident that we could do much more with them. My favorite books for my preschool students usually include: "dGreen Eggs and Ham," "The Cat in the Hat," "Mr. Brown Can Moo," and "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back." Some of these books get a little lengthy, but surprisingly, even my most fidgety students will usually sit for the entire book! These books include a reasonably familiar and fairly useful set of simple words (for vocabulary goals), not too much nonsense, silly pictures that go with the story and sequential related events (i.e. first, then, next, last). Picking the right books was half the battle...

I also altered how I read these books. The first time I read, I usually read right through without asking questions or stopping to point out pictures; I just want them to listen to my voice, the rhythm and the rhyme. The second time that I read, I often will read the words on the page and then follow with a short and simple explanation of what all those rhyming words meant - "All we could do was sit, sit, sit, sit. We did not like it, not one bit." - followed by " There was nothing to do- just sit. They didn't like it." Sometimes I simplify further for students who struggle with understanding more than a couple of words at a time -- "they are sitting" I'll read it several times with my simplified explanation before asking students any questions about the book; they need extra time to let it sink in and need to hear it many times before I can begin working on comprehension at any level. We might pick up the book and name pictures together, then I might ask them to name a picture or identify a picture - eventually, we get to more difficult comprehension questions (i.e. who, what, where, how...) I have to be on my toes and alter my questions for each students current level of understanding.

To make this long story - short, my deaf/hh preschoolers LOVE Dr. Seuss! Here are some of the fun activities that we're working on:



Circle Time Tree - Dr. Seuss Theme

Our Dr. Seuss Tree which hangs over our circle time corner. The kids love this tree; we decorate it for whatever theme or time of year it is. Soon we'll add flowers and green leaves for spring; we just took down snowflakes that were hanging in it.


The Cat in the Hat Bulletin Board

Up close of our bulletin board... all the things the cat in the hat does silly tricks with in the book. These are just hand drawn with sharpie marker, painted with liquid watercolors and laminated. They've been moved around several times and used for multiple activities. We've worked on receptive language (i.e. following directions "go get the cake and the cup"), prepositions (i.e. having students tell me where to put them up on the bulletin board on, under, next to, beside etc.) and silly pictures with the kids laying on the floor and the items positioned like they're balancing them just like the Cat in the Hat did in the book.

Some of our work trays/centers right now include:

Cat in the Hat Sensory Bin

One Fish Two Fish Counting Mats from Lakeshore

Gruff Tails - Fine Motor, Counting, Sorting & Patterns

Sand tray and sandpaper letters

Dr. Seuss Mini Felt Board Playset


ABC Magnet Match

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Welcome

Welcome to MamaVonTeacher!

I don't really know where this is going, but perhaps my thoughts will inspire someone, some where, some how...I've spent many hours (maybe even days and weeks) reading other teacher blogs and I can't help but think that I've got more than enough of my own ideas and thoughts to write on my own blog.

A little about me to start:
By day, I'm a preschool teacher for children with hearing loss where I teach deaf kids to listen and talk. I love what I do and although I've spend a few years working in early intervention and with children who have other learning challenges, I can't help but be drawn back to working with children with hearing loss time and time again.

I recently began my journey into higher education, and took on a teaching job at a local university. I teach future teachers about language development and I must say that I LOVE working with my college students! It's so refreshingly different than working with preschoolers, but also so strangely familiar...

I also recently started posting some of original teaching materials that I've developed over the years on my Teachers Pay Teacher's  and Teachers Notebook stores. This year, more so than others, I've have to modify and develop TONS of my own materials due to the unique combination of student needs in my classroom. I was unable to find easy, visually simple and non-tracing/low fine motor skills kinds of activities to reinforce basic skills like shapes, letters and numbers. I've really had to stretch my mind and dig deep to find creative solutions...

Just to top it all off, I also have a 2 year old of my own  at home. He's a rough little guy who keeps me on my toes constantly! Most of the time I feel like my life is pretty crazy and most days, completely overwhelming, but I can say that it's MY life and I'm a lucky person to have all that I do. I couldn't do all this without the support of my wonderful husband :)

As a teacher, I'm passionate and committed to what I do. My students really feel like an extension of my family - heck I spend more time with them than I do with my own child most days. My teaching style is eclectic drawing inspiration from a variety of progressive schools of thought including Reggio, Montessori, Waldorf, 'unschooling' and play-based programs. I'm am inspired to bring curiosity, wonder and mystery into everything that I do in my classroom - while still meeting the unique needs of my students and the newly introduced common core standards.

I have no idea where this blog is going, but perhaps I can inspire someone else out there through my own work...