Horace Mann Quote

~Horace Mann Quote
A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on cold iron.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Recap of 1st Nine Weeks

My, my, my! We've arrived at the end of our first nine weeks together as a team, and we've landed in the middle of a fall break. Where did the time go? I wanted to take this time to recap some of the activities and successes we experienced as 4th graders thus far.
Our most exciting venture was the arrival of our very much coveted Google Cardboards! We posted our first project on the DonorsChoose website at a time when DonorsChoose was matching donations dollar for dollar using the special code: Spark! Our project was posted on September 24, and in exactly one week, our project was fully funded!! We are very grateful to all of our donors.
Google Cardboard allows us to have virtual experiences that are fun and exciting. One of our vocabulary words the week prior was "virtual." How authentic is that?
We've practiced our writing skills by sharing what we've experienced using the Google Cardboards. It works well because it's a topic ALL of us are interested in, and each time we interact with the Google Cardboard, we have a different adventure.
Another highlight of our first nine weeks is that one of our team member's name was chosen to win a brand new shiny bicycle!!! Every nine weeks each teacher chooses a student from their class to receive the "Citizenship Award." Those names are then placed in a drawing and one lucky person wins a bike, compliments of our local police department and our rotary club. We are very proud of and happy for our winner!!
On another note, our class was chosen as the "Spotlight Class" during the first nine weeks; therefore, we celebrated by having lunch in the room while enjoying a movie. We also had A LATTE party on the last day of school just before our awards ceremony started. The purpose of this party was to give students a deeper understanding of a goal that has been set for them and to place partial ownership of that goal in their care as part of their responsibility. A LATTE stands for A Lap Around The Track Everytime, which means that wherever they are academically upon entering a grade, they must show at least a year's worth of growth everytime. There are no exceptions and no fails.
We made mini hot chai tea lattes, complete with whipped cream on top, and we indulged in mini cupcakes. We regret that we did not capture that activity on camera. :(
Moving along, we had a couple of visitors to our classroom who interviewed and photographed us, and wrote and published articles about us. Those articles may be viewed following these links: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/a-teacher-like-you/sharon-clark-a-different-_b_8150178.html http://tn.chalkbeat.org/2015/09/09/qa-tennessee-teacher-and-digital-innovator-on-ed-tech-and-why-schools-might-not-be-ready-for-online-tests/#.VimyOsvlsic
We would also like to give a huge shout-out to HueHD for their generous donation of a Hue HD Pro document camera. The document camera has afforded us richer, more engaging and fulfilling whole group experiences. The Hue Document Camera is great in that it is easy to use, has a lot of flexibility and functionality. We highly recommend this company (www.huehd.com) for your technology needs. Their only request was that we share how we use their product in our class. The small snippet we shared with Hue can be viewed here as well.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Musical Chairs in the Classroom

We really enjoyed our classroom photoshoot by Trey Clark of Trey Clark Photography (http://www.treyclark.com) on Thursday! Mr. Clark was sent to our class as part of a project hosted by Renaissance Learning and #ATeacherLikeYou. I have been chosen as their next featured teacher. For this opportunity, I am truly grateful and totally humbled. I've had a couple of photographers and videographers in my room stemming from my selection as a PBS Lead DigitalMedia Innovator. As I look at the pictures and videos, I ask myself, "Just how engaged am I with the students?" "Am I working harder than the students?" I know that whoever is doing the work is also doing the learning. With that in mind, I decided to try a game of musical chairs in my room. We were learning about run-on sentences, and we were also reviewing complete sentences and sentence fragments. I placed a pre-cut sentence (run-on, complete, or sentence fragment) in each chair. Hakuna Matata begins to play. When the music stops, of course the student without a chair has to sit. However, if the student chosen to read their sentence can not determine what type of sentence is on the paper, but the student who has to sit can, then they switch places, and the game continues. Each time the music stops, one student is chosen to determine what type of sentence is in their chair. If they are correct, they stay in the game. If not, they sit down, another chair is removed, and the game continues. I randomly chose students to read their papers. I realized afterwards that a better way to do this would have been to number the sentences, then whoever has #1 when the music stops would go first. Each time the music stops, the student in the chair with the next consecutive number would read their sentence. The students really enjoyed this, and Mr. Clark expressed his delight in watching me work with the students (especially the energetic boys). We put this on our list of "fun and engaging ways to learn."

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Saturday, August 8, 2015


WOW! What an awesome first week of school! We read The Dot and Have you Filled a Bucket Today?
We spent time filling our peers' buckets with kindness and making dual dots.

We participated in team building skills to see which team could work together to construct the tallest structure made from marshmallows and spaghetti.
We designed word clouds to define us as a class.
And now we're working on our Silhouette Autobiographies!
Last, but certainly not least - We were visited by Rocky T, Reading Ranger, from WLJT (our local PBS station)!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Art meets Technology

During our Extended Learning Summer Express, Mr. Roy Hawkins and his students painted self-portraits. I used the ChatterPix App on my Apple iPad to record Mr. Hawkins while he explained, in 30 seconds or less, what he and his students had been accomplishing. This is the final result.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Ilos Beta Launch/My first video

Sean Liggins from ilos sent me an email stating that they were doing a beta launch for the free version of their platform and asked if I'd like to be a part of their beta group. Since I have a passion for technology, naturally, I said yes! Here is my first video using ilos.

QR Code Experimenting

It's time for summer learning in our county, and I have been chosen to teach technology innovations to approximately 95 students, ranging from pre-k through 7th grade. I've heard and read a lot about teachers using QR codes and Aurasma for educational purposes, and I wanted to experiment with these items myself. The course that I'm teaching only lasts for 9 days, and I'm visiting 12 different classes for approximately 37 minutes each so I'm having to be very creative in putting something together in that length of time.  The students and I have gotten off to a really great start. Here are a couple of samples from the younger group using the ChatterPix Kids App and a QR Code generator. Please use your QR scanner to scan these codes.


Friday, May 15, 2015


It's the end of the school year. I have a senior graduating from high school (I've had one every year for the past 3 years). This means extra cleaning at home to prepare for out-of-town guests. I'm trying to finalize grades in my classroom and get the room all packed up. Everything has to be off the floor because it all gets moved out in order to have the floors cleaned and buffed. We're changing from teaching SPI's to TNReady. We're switching to pods. Our school houses 4th and 5th grades, and for the first time students will have four teachers instead of two. I'm excited because that means I can focus on one subject and do it well rather than having to plan for and teach multiple subjects. But who will teach what? And who will they teach it with? So many changes simultaneously can be a bit overwhelming; however, I embrace change. I think change is good.

As I reflect back over the year, its been a good year. I don't base my year on my scores (although I pray that they will be good scores). I base my year on how much I've learned and grown, and how much my students have learned and grown. I reflect on the life lessons and the aha moments. I look back at the days that turned into months and ask myself, "Were they meaningful?" The answer is yes. There was not a day that went by where we did not learn something meaningful. Some days we learned more than others. We grew together, learned together, laughed together, and there were also some tears. We shared those together as well.

Now it's almost time to close that chapter in my book. This class will move on; new classes will come (four next year instead of two). My last child will prepare to leave for college, which means my husband and I will become empty nesters. Next year life will be very different. Until then, I will embrace what I have left of this year, both with my students and with my own children.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Transforming the Classroom to Black & White

I combined the ideas of http://www.designimprovised.com/2013/08/file-cabinet-makeover.html" and http://www.remodelaholic.com/2012/01/dry-erase-painted-desk/, which I found on Pinterest to fuel my ideas for this project.

#EdBlogADay/My Big Take Away From Teacher Appreciation Week

Well, it's over. The daily celebrations that included lots of food, fun, and laughs have come to an end. Teachers all over the world were lavished with praise and a variety of gifts. It was a time set aside for people to stop and take time out to show teachers that they truly are valued.

There were as many ways to show appreciation for a teacher as there are cells in the body. Those moments were precious and will be forever remembered; however, my big take away is the thought that a great number of students who appreciate us most were unable to communicate to us the depth of their appreciation. These are the students who are never able to purchase a teacher gift because there's barely any money to put food on the table at their house. They are the ones who are too ashamed to tell anyone that they are being misused, mistreated, and neglected at home, but they know they are loved and cared for in the classroom. They are the students who are afraid to share that they are being abused and molested for fear of what may happen once Pandora's Box has been unleashed, but they feel safe in the classroom. They are the students who are being bullied when there are no adults around, but they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that when they are in the presence of their teacher that no one, and I mean no one, will be able to harm them. They are the ones teachers are constantly on the look-out for in order to give them a better quality of life, and in some cases, save a life. They are the ones who appreciate us the most. They are the ones we should never overlook because they didn't bring a gift, make a card, or say an encouraging word. They fight a battle that most of us can only image, and with the help of a teacher, they will win. Sometimes it comes in the form of "outing out" that is more often than not called "behavior problems." But rest assured, they appreciate teachers in unspoken words and uncried tears.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Day 8 - #EdBlogADay/Why Celebrate Teachers

The best teachers teach from the heart, not from the book. ~Author Unknown

I recently read in one of John C. Maxwell's books that a lot of times people don't think they've had much success because they fail to celebrate the small victories. They wait for something "big" to happen before they can celebrate. We need to celebrate small victories as well.

Teachers are those daily victors that need to be celebrated. Every day a teacher enters a room and imparts knowledge to his/her pupils. That knowledge will help propel students into their destinies. A teacher makes many sacrifices daily to insure that each learner gets what he or she needs in order to grow and prosper. Not only does the teacher impart knowledge, he/she also wears many other hats as well. Teachers are care-givers, nurturers, protectors, judges in the classroom, advisors, mentors, referees, entertainers, problem-solvers, disciplinarians, singers, poets, master story-tellers, innovators, visionaries...need I go on? I don't think there is a student on the earth that does not expect their teacher to be a magician.

With that being said, every day there are victories in the classroom, and every day there is a cause for celebration. Even if its a simple pat on the back. Each day doesn't always seem victorious, but I know from experience that regardless of what it looks like, every day is a winning day when students are learning. They don't always learn the skills that are being taught; sometimes they learn from their mistakes, or how to be a better person, or they may have an aha moment. That happens because of the environment set and the modeling of a good educator.

Teachers provide something that no one can ever take away. Material valuables can be stolen, lost, or destroyed; however, what a teacher imparts will last forever. That in itself is a reason to celebrate. Plus celebrating helps to keep things in perspective. Who is important in your life, and why? Who has made valuable contributions in your knowledge bank? Who has offered guidance and encouragement? Who has cared? If the answer is "A teacher," then be sure to celebrate them!

Why I Love Blogging/#edblogaday

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Day 7 #EdBlogADay #ThankaTeacher

It is Teacher Appreciation Week, and I've had many people to show their appreciation for me as an educator; however, I could not do what I do had it not been for some very important people - my own teachers.  One teacher that particularly stands out in my mind is my high school homeroom teacher of four years, Mr. William Harris, who was also my science teacher.  Although he was assigned to teach me science, it was his philosophy that stayed with me all these years. I remember him saying to me, "Ms. Murphy [my maiden name], you can be anything you want to be if you put your mind to it."  It took years and years for that to really sink in, but today I believe that with all my heart all because of a seed Mr. Harris planted.

I remember another day when senior boys were coming in late and asking for pencils. Mr. Harris said, "Some of you are working now and buying all of this expensive attire for the prom, but you can't afford to buy a pencil? Isn't it amazing? People will pay for what they want, but beg for what they need. Buy what you need first, then if you have to, beg for what you want."  Still today I see students purchasing excessive amounts of snacks at the concession stand, but they will show up in class without pencil or paper and expect the teacher to provide it for them.

My last memory that I would like to share was a memory that has helped me as I developed into the person I have become.  I'll never forget it. I was in my junior year of high school, and the senior boys were having a conversation about who each of them were taking to the prom. I considered the girls they were taking to be beautiful, "mature" young ladies in that they were curvy and wore pretty make-up while I was bony and didn't have any clue as to how to apply the stuff. They were going on and on and on until finally Mr. Harris says, "Why are you all taking 'those kinds of girls?'" You should be taking someone like Ms. Murphy.  She's respectful, smart, and intelligent. One young man replied, "Why would we take her? The only thing we would be getting is a brain in a skirt?" I was totally humiliated to the point that I wanted to crawl under a rock and disappear. But now as I look back on that day, I am so proud to be that brain in a skirt. My brain has evolved more than ever, and my skirts fit just fine around my curves, AND I can apply make-up now if I so desire!

I realize that  Mr. Harris's message that day was that I was a lady to be respected, and what I had went much deeper than surface beauty. I'm not saying that if a woman is appealing to the eye that she doesn't possess that, I'm saying that what's on the inside will make the outside beautiful. 

Thanks Mr. Harris, for the lessons you taught me. I share some of the same philosophies with my students today that you once shared with me. You are truly appreciated some 28 years later.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

#EdBlogaDay Challenge/How We Know When Our Profession is Respected

I signed up for this challenge I saw on Twitter #edblogaday with to blog daily, usually with specific topic with some flexibility. I took the challenge, then failed miserably at getting started. I'm not sure if I can "catch up", but I can certainly "catch-on."  Today is Day 6 and the topic is "How We Know When Our Profession is Respected."

Times have changed tremendously since I was growing up. During my school years, if you were in trouble at school, you were definitely in trouble when you arrived home. In today's societies, if some students get in trouble in school, the teacher better believe she's/he's in trouble when that student gets home!!! However, that's not all students, not even most students. There are still those parents who raise their children to be respectful to teachers (or any adult). These parents go above and beyond to partnership with teachers and show how much they appreciate them for not only educating their children, but for protecting them, loving them, nourishing them, and in some instances - providing for them. There are community members that go out of their way during Teacher Appreciation Week and beyond to show their support for educators. There are numerous businesses that offer discounts to teachers.  I love it when I go into an establishment and see something that I want (especially for my classroom)  at a reasonable price, and I ask if they offer a teachers' discount, and their answer is, "Certainly!" It's also nice when I'm out having a conversation with someone that has nothing at all to do with education and I get asked, "Are you a teacher?" Do I smell like a teacher? Lol. So, in a nutshell I would say, "You know your profession is being respected when you get the kind of feedback that speaks to the appreciation of what you symbolize and represent."

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's Spring Break!!!!

It's time to take a much needed break! Time to renew, refresh, and rejuvenate. I recommend trying something new, revisiting your New Year's Resolutions, getting back on track if you're not on track, doing some spring cleaning, reading a good book, and catching up with old friends.