Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Best thing since Sliced Bread!

So today was a day I've been waiting months for. Today was the day I was going to see Dr. Jean. It was everything I hoped for.  (Actually this was yesterday. I started writing my post but then realized I left my notes in the car.)She's so amazing and energetic and nice and funny. One of the things that impressed me the most is that she tries to do a free concert every week in Charleston where she lives. She still volunteers at schools as well.  She shared so much. I made sure to write down some quotes that struck me as important. Here are some of them:
"You shouldn't teach small children if you can't put a smile on your face."
"Children take it in, take it in, and then something comes out."
"You learn on your feet, not on your seat"
"We think we have to give children the state fair, but in reality less is more."
She also talked a lot about how one thing or another was the best thing since sliced bread. Hence the title of my post. If you haven't checked our her website or blog, you should. She has a ton of great ideas on there.
Her blog is Her website is
I was also really impressed that she had the research to back up what she was saying. She's big on brain research and what she does she can tie into the research and the common core. Here are the top 5 things I took away from this professional development and how I"m going to incorporate it in my class:
  1.  She sited some study that tracked kids who knew nursery rhymes. The statistic given was 4 year olds that could say 8 nursery rhymes were the best readers in 3rd grade. - I've been incorporating some nursery rhymes into oral language but I need to step it up a notch. I plan on devoting the last bit of school this year to nursery rhymes. I'm going to finish up the reading series the first week in May. I see a unit in my future. 
  2.  There are a ton of ways to make books in the classroom using things I already have. I'm limited on my copies this year and have to hoard copy paper sometimes. But I have a ton of brown paper bags. She showed us some cool books, backpacks and cameras to make from these bags. She also showed books made out of gift bags and napkins. This is exactly what I need for the rest of the year. If they write it, they'll read it.
  3. Story Sticks - Dr. Jean showed us a sock with tongue depressors inside the sock. On the sticks you write the different story elements. Students pass the sock around and pull out a stick. You can use character, setting, beginning, middle, end, problem, solution, who, what, when, where, why.
  4. Start everyday with song and a smile. I got some new cds that have some great movement songs on them. I try to do different songs everyday already with my kids but it's great to have some new songs. And to see Dr. Jean do some songs I already have and see the hand motions.
  5. Interest Boosters - This was  a list of a variety of ways to read things and repeat things out loud. You use different voices like the three bears, or read with different emotions, or with different motions. We read a poem everyday of the week to practice fluency. This is a great way to wake up the reading and engage the kids.
 I did get a picture with Dr. Jean. I have it on my camera but I can't currently locate my camera cord. I'll have to add the picture later. My favorite part of the day had to be when we sang the banana dance. This is my kids favorite song we sing. We even sang it in the talent show before Easter. I was sitting on the end of a row and Dr. Jean grabbed me to tango with. (I'm such a nerd for being so excited to tango with Dr. Jean) It was truly a worthwhile professional development. I was engaged the whole time and had a blast.


  1. Lots of great ideas! I used to make class books out of paper bags! Guess I need to start that up again. :)
    Conversations in Literacy

  2. Sounds like a blast! I would love to see Dr. Jean live one of these days!

  3. Fabulous. I love everything you've shared. Thanks.

    First in Maine

  4. Sounds great! I totally agree - if they write it, they'll read it!
    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

  5. Thanks for sharing. I am your newest follower! Stop by and visit me...


  6. We start every single day with a song. I Love it! It helps put me in a good mood, so hopefully it does for the kids, too.

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