For the past 3.5 years, I have been teaching tap dance classes in the evenings for our local theater company Maui OnStage. It started because I love to tap and the other teacher wanted to phase out. Now I have taken continued education through the American Tap Dance Foundation, Karida Griffith, and Hillary Marie at iTapOnline. Tap dance is more than a hobby, it's a passion and stress reliever. I always leave class so energized and soul-filled. 
I previously taught at Pōmaika‘i Elementary, an arts-integrated school on Maui. There, I loved to teach my firsties about artists. We drew chalk cats like Paul Klee, finger-painted impressionist ponds like Claude Monet, and painted close-ups of flowers like Georgia O'Keeffe. I wanted to teach my students about famous dancers, too. Inspired by Misty Copeland's children's book Firebird (affiliate link), my students learned about her life, a little about ballet, and created a beautiful torn paper firebird art piece.  You can find that unit I created about Misty in my TpT store for free

In my tap dance classes, I always bring in a bit of tap dance history. In my studies at the American Tap Dance Foundation, I learned dances from the Copasetics repertory. The Copasetics were a group of tap dance soloists who were dedicated to preserving the memory of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. I teach my students the Bill Robinson time step and the Bill Robinson turning flap sequence. We watch videos of his stair dance, his tap scene in Stormy Weather, and his duet with Shirley Temple in The Little Colonel

I created this unit to help my students learn about his life as we learn his steps and his legacy. 

Start with the book "Rap a Tap Tap" (affiliate link) by Leo and Diane Dillon.

Then show students these quote posters. 

Use the vocab cards to preteach vocabulary from the reading passage or mini book. Use the questions for a class discussion or for students to complete with a partner or on their own. 

Finish your unit with a timeline to discuss important life events and to learn a little bit more about Bill Robinson's life. 

Don't forget to watch the video clips I listed in the unit and help students recognize similarities between the dances and start to identify Bill Robinson's "up on the toes" style. 

I hope you have so much fun teaching your students about Bill "Bojangles" Robinson! Download the unit FOR FREE from my TpT store

When I taught 1st grade, my school used the Wonders reading curriculum. This post is all about some ideas we used for Unit 3, Week 5 and the essential question “How do we get our food?”

Make sure to scroll down to the bottom for a fun freebie!
Find my Essential Questions on TPT

The stories focused on how milk gets from the cow to our morning cereal bowls and how foods we eat everyday are made. The interactive read aloud is the Little Red Hen (except they say she’s collecting corn – not sure why they changed it from the traditional story of wheat). The paired selection focuses on nutrition and the food groups.

During my science block, I tied in more nutrition lessons to help students understand the concept. We focused on this health standard from our Hawaii Content and Performance Standards: HE.1.3 Describe the benefits associated with a healthy diet.

I love using OCDE Project GLAD (R) strategies in my classroom, so I started our learning with songs and chants. I wrote a Bugaloo chant and taught it to my students. I write mine on chart paper and alternate the color of marker I use. The title is one color, the chorus another, stanza 1 another color, and stanza 2 is the last color. This helps students see the structure of the poem. Older students don’t need this color coding scaffold anymore. I teach the poem line by line, then we go through and identify “clunkers”. Those are words students either cannot read or do not know what they mean. I highlight the clunkers right on the chart paper and then teach the word by giving a definition, break it into chunks and show how to read it, and either draw a little sketch next to it, or create a little motion students can do the next time we read the poem that will remind them of the meaning. On the student copy, they draw sketches in the box of what they learned from the chant. It helps them process the new information.

I also use this free Nutrition Education poster from the Kokua Hawaii Foundation.

The next thing we did was a Healthy/Unhealthy photo sort. I passed out the photos to the students and had them turn to a neighbor to read the word and discuss if they had a healthy or unhealthy food. Then, one at a time, students came up to the chart and taped their food under the corresponding heading. A few of the foods were tricky (on purpose), like the fruit juice. Students thought it should be listed under healthy since it’s made from fruit. But then I told them how most commercial fruit juice from the store contains too much sugar, therefore making it unhealthy. Some of these foods might be controversial, like milk and dairy. Please use your judgement and research when approaching any foods. That's why I didn't create an answer key - this activity was a great way for my students to discuss what their family eats without judgement and we were able to confirm ideas through the text in our reading curriculum.

We ended the lesson with an exit slip (called a Learning Log in the OCDE Project GLAD (R) model). On the left side, students wrote and sketched one of the unhealthy foods and wrote why it’s considered unhealthy. On the right side, students wrote and sketched one of the healthy foods that they like and why they like it. Some of the sentence frames I had the kids use were:
________ is an unhealthy food because it has too much ___________.

A healthy food I like to eat is ________. It is healthy because ___________.
In a learning log, the text (or book) side is where students write about what they learned from the text. On the you (or smiley face) side, they make connections to what they learned. 

We also did an individual food sort freebie from True Life I’m a Teacher.

Next, we watched the BrainPOP Jr. video on the Food Groups. Using a plain paper plate, students drew a line down the middle, to divide the plate in half. They then drew lines to make the larger vegetable and grains sections and smaller fruits and proteins section. After we watched about each food group in the video, I paused and they drew foods on their plates. Susan Jones’ nutrition unit on TpT has a worksheet that would work well for this activity, too.

The last thing we did was to make our own food! I asked parents to send in 1 quart of heavy cream (a 1/2 cup each for 4 groups of 5 kids), oranges, whole grain crackers, and plastic knives. From home, I brought my KitchenAid mixer with the citrus juicer attachment and 4 mason jars with lids.

First we made butter. I poured a 1/2 cup of heavy cream into each mason jar, filling the jar up halfway. We added a spring of rosemary to each jar from our school garden. I screwed on the lids. Students got into groups of five and sat in a circle. I set a timer for 1 minute and one student in each group shook the jar. When the timer went off, they handed it to the person to the left of them (reinforcing “clockwise”), who then shook the jar for a minute. Each group went around the circle twice, continuously shaking the jar.

After their butter turned, I dumped out the buttermilk (my baker mother-in-law would be horrified!), then gave the kids a plate of crackers and a plastic knife for spreading their butter. We talked about how hard it was to shake up their butter, but also how this was healthier since we didn’t add any salt or sugar that is unhealthy for us. And how hard work pays off (like in the Little Red Hen) because now we have a delicious snack. 

Next we made fresh squeezed orange juice. I cut the oranges in half and the students got to press half of an orange onto the citrus juicer as it spun around. This is definitely easier to use than a hand press or handheld juicer. They each got about a 1/4 cup of juice, since we talked about how even though we didn’t add any sugar to our juice, that fruit juice has natural sugars and we don’t want to drink too much; this is only a treat. The kids had fun using the juicer.

The last thing we did was a lesson idea from my colleague Mel. We read the story Gregory the Terrible Eater (click here to see the book on Amazon). Then students wrote on writing paper about healthy and unhealthy foods. You could have them write a five sentence paragraph (maybe using the 4-Square method to plan it out) or sentence frames with a word bank. Then I gave them cut outs of fruits and veggie clipart from EduClips and they glued torn paper on top to create a collage. We added a little crayon-colored image of Gregory as a finishing touch (my colleague drew his outline). They came out beautiful!
My colleague Mel's pineapple example

This was one of the more memorable weeks for the kids due to all the fun extra lessons I added into our core curriculum. Grab my freebie with the Healthy Foods Sort (paper or digital), exit slip, and Nutrition Bugaloo!

How do you teach about nutrition in your classroom?

I know I'm about 3 years late to this party - but I've had the book (affiliate link) Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites on my shelf since 2015 and I knew I needed to read it! Since I've been working in an Arts-Integrated school, my teaching has really transformed.  I don't do nearly the same amount of crafts as I used to, students create their own graphic organizers and Thinking Maps in composition books, and my reading instruction doesn't include the same amount of comprehension worksheets as it used to.  With today's education focusing on brain research and appropriate development, it seemed like a good time to crack this book open and dive on in. 

Marcia Tate (as seen in this YouTube Video) starts the book off with two scenarios:

  1. Mrs. Taylor, a civics teacher, who gives lectures day in and day out.  Sometimes her lectures go on for the whole class! She doesn't use visuals and expects students to take notes on what she says. She has them round-robin read (which we know is a huge no-no for a whole group setting).  Not surprising - few of them are listening or engaged.  
  2. Mr. Stewart is a civics teacher next door, but he has different techniques for his classroom.  He uses graphic organizers, checks for understanding with questioning techniques, and even gets students involved in a simulation activity to learn the branches of the government.  He has few behavior problems and his students excitedly learn the content.  
As 21st Century teachers, we know that they ways we were taught in school just don't work anymore.  They weren't engaging then and they aren't engaging now.  We want ALL of our students to succeed, not just the ones who are intrinsically motivated.  Tate has come up with 20 strategies to ensure that students are learning and having fun at the same time:
  1. brainstorming and discussion
  2. drawing and artwork (Yay for arts-integration!)
  3. field trips
  4. games
  5. graphic organizers, maps, and webs
  6. humor
  7. manipulatives, experiments, labs, and models
  8. metaphors, analogies, and similies
  9. mnemonic devices
  10. movement (more arts-integration!)
  11. music, rhythm, rhyme, and rap (even more arts-integration!)
  12. project-based and problem-based learning
  13. reciprocal teaching and cooperative learning
  14. role plays, drama, pantomimes, and charades (arts-integration again!)
  15. storytelling
  16. technology
  17. visualization and guided imagery (ahem, arts-integration)
  18. visuals
  19. work-study and apprenticeships
  20. writing
As you can see, there are quite a lot of connections between Tate's 20 strategies and arts-integration.  There are also a lot of connections with visual learning, which is helpful for struggling learners and multi-language learners.  We know that long gone is the Sage on the Stage, that we need to be the Guide on the Side.  If you are interested in expanding your repertoire or even validating some practices you already do, I suggest checking out this book. I was not compensated for providing this review, I just love reading teacher books and sharing them with you. 

Which strategy are you excited to learn more about or try? Which is one that you already do?

I recently had a project funded that I'm really excited about - Legos to teach place value! I got the idea from my friend Jen who blogged about it over on Hawaii's HSTA HYPE blog.  Basically, instead of using base ten blocks for place value, you use Legos.  Here's why Legos are better:
  • Many students have Legos at home and can use them while doing homework
  • Students have background knowledge of Legos and already love using them
  • Legos create a novelty and bring some fun into your math class

I was intrigued by the idea, so I wrote up a project.  Here is what I requested - there are some affiliate links that help me continue to run this blog :)
From Amazon:

Did you know that The Lego Store is now an approved vendor for DonorsChoose? So excited about that! Unfortunately, I had to write a special request because it was a few months ago.  

I went into the Pick-a-Brick section of their website and ordered 240 white 2x10 plates (part # 383201) and 200 gray 1x10 bricks (part # 4211521).  Using five 2x10 plates lined up on top and 3 spread out on the bottom to secure together, I was able to create 10x10 pieces to use as the hundreds pieces.  I got this great idea from Jen, too. 

In our math curriculum, we are currently working on standard 1.NBT.C.4: Add within 100, including adding a two-digit number and a one-digit number, and adding a two-digit number and a multiple of 10. Understand that in adding two-digit numbers, one adds tens and tens, ones and ones; and sometimes it is necessary to compose a ten.

It's a long standard and it's a hard one for kids who are still very literal.  We've been counting the days in school using base ten blocks every day, but they still don't understand that 7 tens and 4 ones is the same as 6 tens and 14 ones.  Using Legos is absolutely helping.  Here are some photos from class as we were adding two 2-digit numbers and regrouping.

You might be wondering about storage and management. I got the drawer organizer so the kids have easy access to the materials and can grab them when they need them.  We have to practice with them whole group so they will know how to use them independently.  I have 16 sets of tens and ones, but 20 students.  So some of the students share.  We call that "making a strong choice to share" and I praise the ones who choose to share so that others can have their own.  We like making strong choices in my room and doing something that's best for everyone even if you don't want to :) 

I put the brick separators in a little container on the top.  I put the base plates 
in that green scrapbook paper container at the bottom of this pic.

I made these labels, laminated them, and stuck them on to the drawers with double sided tape.  You are welcome to grab this as a freebie

Let me know if you end up making a Lego cabinet by tagging me in a pic on IG and using the hashtag #learningwithlegos.  I bet your students will love it! 

In Part One of my Arts Integration series I introduced what is arts integration.  In Part Two, we will dive into Visual Text.  We will answer the following questions:
  1. What is visual literacy?
  2. How do we observe and describe visual text?
  3. How do we make sense of and connect to visual text?

What is Visual Literacy? 

When Common Core came into practice, visual literacy was a term many teachers were not familiar with.  Yet, it cropped up in many standards.  For example: 
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.SL.2: Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally.
Edutopia blogger and assistant editor Todd Findley defines visual literacy in simple terms: It's how we teach kids to think about and think through pictures.

How do we observe and describe visual text?

A Honolulu Museum of Art docent once told me she on average witnesses museum patrons looking at a piece of art for seconds before moving on to the next piece.  I get that - the museum is a big place.  There is a lot to see.  But what if our eyes were trained to look longer and closer at certain art that caught our fancy? I think we would notice more and appreciate more about the art.  I saw that even with art that I didn't like at first glance, once I spent some time with it and noticed more and more, it started to grow on me and I liked it more.  

The key to looking at art is to actually look at it.  Set a timer for 1 minute.  It will seem like eternity, but keep looking.  Notice the details.  When you think you've seen enough, look again.  Look closer.  Look for more.  Ask yourself "What else?" In the arts integration world, this process is called Observe.  The first step to looking at art is actually looking at it and noticing all the details.  

The next step is to Describe.  This is where you will verbally talk about what you see.  In the first PD I took about this process in 2014, we viewed the painting "Lei Sellers".  Hearing others' descriptions helped me see things differently.  The painting is a bit abstract and I did not know what was in the background.  After hearing another teacher say he saw a white boat, the painting made a lot more sense to me.  It was a cruise ship and the woman and girl were selling lei to the tourists who arrived by boat. My mother in law had told me a story about her first visit to Hawaii was by boat from California when she was a teenager.  She told me it was a rough ride across the Pacific and it took several days.  Once I knew the painting had a boat, I could start to make deeper connections and form a deeper understanding of what was going on.  

Lei Sellers by Juliette May Fraser, 1941
Oil on canvas, 26 x 18 in. 

With young children, typically we first focus on quantity, size, and color of the subjects in the painting.  This helps them know what to look for and know how to describe what they see.  In the case with the Lei Sellers, I could say "I see one large, white boat in the top left background. I see four people.  Three are facing the front and one is facing the back."  This would get us started noticing and describing.

 How do we make sense of and connect to visual text? 

The next step is to Interpret.  This is where students make inferences.  Kids are good at inferences, but we have to make sure they are grounded in evidence.  In close reading, students make claims based on text evidence.  In visual thinking, they make claims based on visual evidence.  Look at the Lei Sellers painting again.  "I think the girl is bored of waiting for the ship to come to port because she is standing with one knee popped and she is staring at her hands.  When I stand like that, I'm waiting in line at the grocery store or post office.  I'm really bored when I stand like that." Notice how I made an inference of how the subject of the painting is feeling based on what I see in the painting and also on my own experiences.  One very important phrase you will repeat over and over while interpreting paintings is "What do you see that makes you say that?"

The last step in the ODIC process is Connect.  This is the part where I would share the story that my mother in law told me about going to Hawaii in a ship when she was a teenager.  We could talk about how we can sometimes hear cruise ship horns when we are close to the harbor, or see them tendered off shore in Lahaina.  Students might talk about their parents taking a cruise in the Caribbean or Alaska, or how they have been in a boat before.  Students might make connections to selling things.  Some students might sell Girl Scout cookies or fundraising items for sports teams.  The connect section is a great way to create deeper understandings of art because we have experienced some part of it ourselves. 

Another C is Create and we do that with drama.  That is another post entirely ;)


Honolulu Museum of Art Teacher Resources - they will only send posters to teachers in Hawaii schools, but you can download them and print them out or project them for your students to view. 

Example video of ODIC - see students from my school walk through the process on our morning Keiki Honu News.

My first visit to the museum - read about my first visit to the art museum in an old post.

Reading Portraiture Guide from the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery - they have other fabulous teacher resources, as well!

See Melanie Rick, from Focus 5 Consulting, talk about the process of reading art, from Any Given Child Sarasota - they have a great IG account, too!

Bring high quality arts integration professional development to your school! The teaching artists at Focus 5 Consulting lead my favorite workshops to attend! Talk to your administrator about bringing them to your school.  They travel all over the US!

Want to give the ODIC technique a try? Gather up some art - it doesn't need to be printed, you can show your students PowerPoint slides if printing is an issue.  Then download my updated ODIC posters to help you guide your students through the process.  I promise, your students will surprise you with their descriptions, inferences, and connections.  This will probably become your new favorite way to introduce and connect topics to art.  It's definitely my favorite!
Click image to download

What is Arts Integration?

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I teach at an arts integrated school.  In fact, it is the only arts-integrated public school in the state of Hawaii.  We still teach required curriculum - Hawaii is a one-district state with mandated curriculum for math and ELA.  But at our school, we use the curriculum as the content to teach the standards and use arts integration as strategies for HOW we teach that content.  One main focus is on professional development.  We need to learn from teaching artists how to teach through the arts.  We need to be inspired.  Our professional development also brings the artists into our classrooms so we can see how they work with students.  And sometimes it leads to mentoring.  We all know that sitting in a one-hour professional development does not make the biggest impact on our students.  It's revisiting the content, talking about it with peers, seeing it in action, and then being coached on it after we've given it a try.  That's the model my school employs.  At each meeting, we are expected to get up out of our seats and do the work we ask our students to do everyday.  We dance, we sing, we act, we draw, we write.  If I can't get out of my comfort zone with my colleagues, how can I ask my students to do it with their peers? It's amazing how empowering it is.

Many of the teaching artists who visit my school are from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC.  Here is how the Kennedy Center defines Arts Integration:
The part that really sticks out to me is that in order for integration to occur, you have to have evolving objectives in both the subject area and art form.  Reading about the Statue of Liberty and then painting her is not integration.  It's a great art enhancement.  For it to be integration, you would need to have visual arts standards that you are focusing on, as well, not just social studies.  In first grade, one of our visual arts standards is about the elements of art: line, shape, color, texture, and form.  I could focus on her color (mint green) and have students mix primary colors to create her green patina.  We could then do a science experiment with pennies to find how copper oxidizes.  The final project might very well be a drawing or painting of the statue, but after learning about color with an art perspective and her color from a science perspective, students would have a much deeper understanding and more connection to the content.

When creating a work of art (dance, drama, visual arts, poetry, etc), students naturally go through a creative process.  This process can be entered from any stage and doesn't follow the same path each time.  We all have heard it, art is messy.  But that's the beauty of it.  By not following the same exact process, we can surprise ourselves.  And that element of surprise is what is intriguing about art.

ARTSEDGE is a wonderful collection of lessons that you can try for integration purposes.  I find that ELA and social studies lend themselves to integration very easily.  Those standards are a great place to start.

Go try a lesson and let me know how it goes!

Part of the first grade standards for Hawaii state social studies is to learn about American Symbols! My teaching team puts together these adorable books that I want to show you and provide some resources for where you can put together your own!  I've included lots of pictures, lots of links to products and freebies that I use, and also a freebie I put together for you that you can download at the end of this post!

We start by singing a silly song I found on YouTube by KinderBlossoms.  We then do a simple foldable in our Science and Social Studies Books.

I use the organization idea from my gal Corinna at Surfin' Through Second to separate my notebooks.  You can download the song freebie here.

We then make US Symbols books that I prep and comb bind ahead of time.  We use a combo of pages from Lindsay at Teacher Bits and Bobs and craftivities.  Each day we introduce a new US symbol, write about it, and make a craft.  We start with the world's oceans and continents, then focus in on our state in the US, Hawaii.  I like to play a continents and oceans song from YouTube, too.  I can't find the one I usually play, but there are a lot of good ones if you search on the site.   

These are some of the crafts we've done in the past. 

However, I switched some of them up this year.  We made the eagle and Liberty Bell crafts from Mrs Ricca's freebie President's Day packet.

For the Statue of Liberty, I did a directed drawing.  I love this one from Art Projects for Kids and also this one that is just her head.  The kids' paintings turned out beautiful! The parents loved seeing this project at Open House!

Speaking of Lady Liberty, I like to throw in this fun experiment when we learn about her to find out why she is green if she is made out of copper.  The kids love it! I bought this pack and use the worksheets in our science and social studies journals from Kindergarten Boom Boom, and also these directions from Buggy and Buddy.  I printed this out and put it by our experiments during Open House.  You can download it here.

For the flag, I cut white rectangles as the background, smaller rectangles for blue, red stripes, and then glitter for the stars.  

For the Pledge of Allegiance, I use Lori's freebie, just shrunk down to fit on the page.

There are a couple pages we made ourselves.  That includes symbols for our state and school, the White House, the world, and an assessment.

We also did a Lady Liberty OCDE Project GLAD® Pictorial Input Chart.  I'm becoming an OCDE Project GLAD® trainer, so I try to practice the strategies any chance I get!  The kids were fascinated that you can walk inside the statue and see out from the crown! I also wrote a poem that I included in my freebie.  

Via Pinterest

You can download my freebie with a poem, interactive journal, crafts for the world, state symbols, and the White House, as well as an assessment for free on my Google Drive!

How do you teach the US Symbols?