Monday, September 17, 2012

Mali, malaria, mosquitos...oh my!

School has been in session for an entire month. I have 26 sweet second graders and we are having a lot of fun learning new things! It's been a busy few weeks, but I'm excited to get back to blogging. I'm going to start tonight by sharing an article I wrote about the Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI). The article can be found on the LCMS English District website and it will also be featured in the English Channels, a publication sent to schools and congregations within the English District of the LCMS.

Is your school or congregation interested in a new mission project? Are you looking for somewhere to donate your weekly chapel offerings? Be sure to check out the LMI website and get involved in this wonderful project being sponsored by the LCMS! Read on to learn more...

Under the Net
Mali, malaria, mosquitos...oh my!

Did you know every 60 seconds a child dies from malaria? Or that malaria kills approximately one million people every year? The LCMS launched The Lutheran Malaria Initiative (LMI) as a way to combat the deadly disease in countries where malaria is prevalent. Currently, LMI is reaching out to countries where there are partner Lutheran churches and missionaries on the ground. Mali, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya are the countries that have benefited from malaria projects thus far. In the near future, LMI will begin to offer programs in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Nigeria, Guinea, Niger and Ghana. To date, over 2.4 million people have been reached by ongoing LMI projects.

Several elementary schools and congregations within the English District have already contributed to LMI. $10 is all it costs to send a treated bed net to a family in need. Education and training on how to properly use a bed net is also given to every family. Last spring, students in San Francisco, CA contributed their chapel offerings to LMI. Over $2,000 was brought in by the students and their families. Together, they donated over 200 treated bed nets to send to Africa. Students kept track of how many bed nets were donated by hanging mosquitos in the hallway for every $10 that was given as chapel offering. As you can see from the pictures, the hallways were overtaken with mosquitos! 

In addition to schools and congregations joining together to combat malaria, a small group of deaconesses, DCEs, lay leaders, pastors and teachers have come together to serve on the English District LMI Team. The meetings are held via conference call, as the team members are spread across several different states and time zones. The team will serve as a coaching model and resource for congregations who wish to support the LMI. The English District officially kicked off the LMI project at this summer’s district convention in St. Louis. Martie the Mosquito was seen buzzing around, encouraging conference attendees to get excited about LMI and what they can do to support ongoing partnerships in Africa. It is the committee's hope and prayer that English District schools and congregations will join us “under the net” to put an end to this deadly disease that is taking away so many lives. 

Together, we can change “Mali, malaria, mosquitos!” to “millions saved, medical treatment and the message of the gospel proclaimed!” What will your school or congregation do to help this worthy cause? Together, we can save lives.

Statistics and facts stated in the article were taken from Be sure to visit the website for more information, resources and ways to support LMI. Don’t forget to “Like” Lutheran Malaria Initiative on Facebook and share what your congregation is doing to help in the fight against malaria. Pictures of current projects are especially appreciated.

Heather Schneider is a 2nd grade teacher in San Francisco, CA. She serves on the English District Lutheran Malaria Initiative Team.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Therapeutic Thursday

It's Therapeutic Thursday with Blog Hoppin' and I'm linking up again! 

I relax by: 

running - I'm currently training for a full marathon (26.2 miles - ahh!), so I typically run 4-5 times per week. I love my running club and couldn't imagine running so many miles by myself. The picture below is after my first half marathon.  

traveling - I LOVE to travel and spend a majority of my free time during the school year and summer traveling to new places. The picture on the top is from a recent trip to Japan. The bottom two pictures are from Lake Tahoe. Yeah, I'm pretty relaxed in that last picture...

ABCs & 123s, 


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Where I Teach Wednesday

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' again. Today's topic: Where I Teach Wednesday! 

Take a look at where I spend my days from August - May. Ocean view from my classroom window! It's not always this blue...

Left: My reading center. I really wish my reading center could be close to my classroom library, but with the way it is set up, it's just not possible. Each day, a different group can choose to read in the reading center. They LOVE sitting on the pillows and beach chair.                   

Right: Classroom library! I saw the children's book bunting idea on Pinterest and I had to make it for my classroom. I used the book jackets from books I previously purchased at Kohl's. You can read about Kohl's current book collection here

Left: Student mailboxes - Every student has his/her own mailbox. This really cuts down on the amount of time passing out papers. Every Friday, my aide files all of the graded papers to be sent home and she puts them in the mailboxes. 

Right: Writing Wall & Publishing Table - We love writer's workshop in 2nd grade. We work through every step in the writing process during all of our writing projects. The publishing table is where I place special paper, book covers, etc. for when it comes time to publish. It is empty now, but will be bursting with publishing supplies in the next few weeks. 

Top: Grab Your Passport! Every student has a passport in class. Passports are stamped for making good choices and excellent student behavior. We study the continents in 2nd grade and they love looking at all of the maps. 

Bottom: Bulletin boards that are changed throughout the year, based on topics we are studying. 

Front of the classroom - SMARTboard 

 I think I've shared enough pictures for one post. Where do you teach every day? 

ABCs & 123s, 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Technology Tip Tuesday

I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' for Technology Tip Tuesday. It's Teacher Week!

I love using Skype in my classroom! The possibilities for using this in the classroom are endless. Listed below are ways I use Skype in my classroom every year: 

  • My grandmother speaks with my class about what life was like when she was in 2nd grade. This is perfect at the beginning of the school year, because our first social studies unit is learning about life long ago. We study schools, families, traditions and transportation of the past. My grandmother went to school in a one room school house and my students LOVE listening to her talk about her childhood. 
  • As part of religion class, we Skype with missionaries. The students are very curious to learn about life in a foreign country. They always have great questions to ask! 
  • As part of National Lutheran Schools Week we Skype with a different Lutheran school class every day. The students love connecting with other classes across the country. We tell each other about special activities and our crazy dress days. 
  • We learn about other states! We play "20 Questions" with other classes to figure out where they are located in the United States. I encourage my students to use geography terms we have studied to help them figure out where the other class is located. Some example questions: What state is located to the north of your state? What state is located to the west of your state? We also learn about our state flower, tree, bird and flag so I encourage my students to ask about those identifying factors as well. They love to learn about other states! It's a fun geography lesson. 
  • We take virtual field trips! Last year, we traveled to Indiana to watch a snowstorm. Some of my students have never seen snow! 
  • When we publish a special writing project in writer's workshop we share our finished products with other classes. One of the most important parts of the writing process is sharing. 
The activities listed above are just a few of the ways I use Skype in my classroom. Do you use Skype in your classroom? How do you use Skype to supplement your lessons? 

ABCs & 123s, 


Monday, August 20, 2012

Blog Hoppin'

It's the first week of school and I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week! Hop on over and check out some great teaching blogs! You're sure to find something you can implement in your classroom right away. 
My must haves this school year are: 

1. My Cricut machine. I'm going to use this a lot this year! I made my own birthday chart to match my Dr. Suess theme.  

2. My SMARTboard! I use my SMARTboard every single day in my classroom. My students love it and so do I. SMART Exchange is a wonderful, wonderful website with interactive SMARTboard lessons for every subject and grade level. 

 3. Dr. Suess items from the Target Dollar Spot. Not everything I purchased is pictured. I stocked up and went a little crazy! I really love the "Cat in the Hat" and "Thing 1 & Thing 2" whiteboards. I added magnets to the back and have them hanging on my desk. 

4. "Getting to Know You" activity for the first day of school. My students loved walking around the room this morning and asking their friends questions. We learned a lot about each other today!

5. Teacher toes! I saw a similar idea on Pinterest that I neglected to pin. (It was for painted fingernails and had a different teacher design on each one.) I got a pedicure this weekend and had my wonderful pedicurist paint pieces of notebook paper complete with an A+! One of my favorite subjects to teach is writing! :) And 2nd graders notice EVERYTHING about your appearance. I thought it would be a fun way to start the school year. 

What are some of your must haves this school year? Be sure to link up or leave a comment.

ABCs & 123s, 


Sunday, August 19, 2012


The room started to shake. Pictures fell off the wall. Glass shattered. Books tumbled off the book case and across the floor. Water splashed out of the fish bowl. I held on to a nearby ledge until the shaking came to a stop. 15 seconds of violent shaking.  It measured 6.9 on the Richter scale. It was terrifying. And it happened last week. 

In the midst of staff meetings, setting up my classroom and Power School training, I decided to head to the California Academy of Sciences for their special educator night. Over 800 educators from the Bay Area were in attendance. Nearly 15 minutes after we walked through the doors the room began to shake and it didn't stop for several seconds. 

If you've watched the news the past few days, you probably haven't heard about a 6.9 magnitude earthquake in San Francisco. And that's because there wasn't one. What I described above is actually a current exhibit at the Academy of Sciences. One of the most popular parts of the exhibit is the Shake House - a replica of a Victorian-era home. While inside the Shake House, visitors view a 10 minute video that describes the 6.9-magnitude earthquake that happened in 1989 and the 7.9-magnitude earthquake of 1906. After the video is finished, visitors walk to the next room where they experience shaking similar to that of both the 1989 and 1906 earthquakes that so violently shook the city. The house is complete with a view of the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square. You can almost imagine yourself in one of those homes as the earthquake struck. 

Both earthquakes devastated the city. During the 1989 earthquake, part of the Bay Bridge collapsed. In 1906, nearly 3,000 people were killed and 500 city blocks were destroyed by fire. 

I've spoken with several people who were living in San Francisco when the earthquake struck in 1989. A coworker's husband was stuck underground aboard BART (the Bay Area's underground transit system) on his way home from work. Others recall getting ready to watch the third game of the World Series, where The San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics were scheduled to play each other. As the warm up was happening, the jolt was broadcast on live television. 

It was interesting to learn about the earthquakes that many San Franciscans still talk about today. I've only experienced a few small earthquakes since moving to the city, but people often say the next "Big One" is just around the corner. 

Today is the first day of a new school year! One of the procedures we are required to teach the students on the first day is what to do during an earthquake. I yell "EARTHQUAKE!" and the students quickly get under their desks. (They love earthquake drills because they get to go under their desks! How often do you get to do that?) In addition to earthquake drills, each student has a red survival kit in his/her cubby. Each kit contains water, food, glow sticks, basic first aid supplies and a blanket. We've never had to use the survival kits, but they are there for us to use in an emergency. 

What are some of the procedures you teach your students on the first day of school? 

ABCs & 123s, 


Monday, August 13, 2012

Do or Die(cut)

The Ellison Die Cut Machine has been a staple in elementary schools for decades. It's not my favorite school supply to use though - I'll save that award for the trusty laminator. The die cut machine so effortlessly cuts through stacks of construction paper requires the strength of an Olympic weightlifting champion to finally obtain your finished product - whether it's a catchy bulletin board title or pumpkins for the upcoming classroom Halloween party. And sometimes, it doesn't even cut all the way through the paper! Do you want to know something that does cut through the paper? The Cricut machine! I think I'll be using mine a lot more this year - more on that in a future post. 

We do have a pretty nifty Golden Gate Bridge die cut though. Maybe I'll make use of it this year. And I always end up using the hearts around Valentine's Day and the shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day. 

But I'm not here to talk about the Ellison. I am writing about the way I create bulletin boards now - sans old fashioned die cut machine. I searched my photo albums to find a picture of the bulletin board above my reading center my first year of teaching. Look at those letters...and the fish...and the sand dollars! I quickly learned that making these letters took a long time. It could take nearly an hour to make ONE bulletin board. My time is valuable and I didn't want to waste it on the die cut machine any longer. 

So - I decided to start TYPING the text for my bulletin boards. What a really simple solution! I cannot begin to tell you the amount of time it has saved me. Another perk? With the die cut machine, you only have a handful of fonts from which to choose. With your computer - the possibilities are seemingly endless. And you can change the font size too - small or large - it's up to you! (My graphic design friends will be happy to hear I've never used Comic Sans for a bulletin board. Well, okay, maybe once before I knew better...)

Here is the process you can use to create bulletin boards within minutes: 

1) Choose the font of your choice and type your desired text. 2) Print and cut out the words. 3) Glue the words to colored paper of your choice. 4) Cut out the words and staple to your bulletin board. 

This bulletin board is hanging above my reading center. Students have the option to sit on pillows or a beach chair while they enjoy their books. 

Here are some bulletin boards that were hanging in my classroom last year:

I have five bulletin boards and plenty of wall space to decorate in my classroom. Typing the text I want has saved me (and my teacher's aide) hours of work!

ABCs & 123s, 


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Los Chimichangos

Every few months, I find myself inside a local Kohl's store in search of new books. Kohl's releases various children's books and stuffed animals as part of their Kohl's Cares program. 100% of the net profit made from their special program is donated to support kids' health and education programs nationwide. And the best part? The books and stuffed animals are only $5.00! 

I was so excited when I walked through the doors a few weeks ago and found...

           SKIPPYJON JONES!!! 

To my surprise, several of my teaching friends have never heard of the Skippyjon Jones series, written by Judy Schachner. (I have had some of these books in paper back for a few years, but absolutely couldn't resist picking them up in hard cover with stuffed animals to match!) The main character in the series is Skippyjon Jones, a mischievous Siamese cat who longs to be a Chihuahua. In the first book of the series he travels far, far away to old Mexico where he runs into Los Chimichangos, a pack of Chihuahuas. He spends his days in old Mexico telling everyone he meets that he is El Skippito, the great sword fighter. Los Chimichangos ask El Skippito to help them defeat El Blimpo Bumblebeeto Bandito, who stole all of the beans for their burritos. An epic battle ensues and alas El Skippito and Los Chimichangos are victorious. A fiesta is held and everyone is happy! 

You'll have to pick up the other books to find out what happens in those. No spoilers here. 

I love these books for many reasons. This is a great series for teaching students to use their imaginations when they write! Skippyjon Jones doesn't really travel to old Mexico, but he does so in his imagination. And do you know where old Mexico is located? Inside his closet at the house owned by his mother, Mama Junebug Jones. And the Bumblebeeto Bandito that he so effortlessly defeated? Well, that was supposed to be his birthday piƱata. His mother warned him to stay out of his closet, but that didn't stop him from exploring. 

Another reason I LOVE using this series in my classroom is because of all the Spanish words the author uses. The books are a great way to introduce a unit on Mexico to your class. Will you be teaching them Spanish in the near future? Pick up one (or all!) of these books today. It is very important muy importante that you read these books with your best Spanish accent. I can't help but think that a great Spanish accent adds to the charm of these wonderful books. 

Head on over to El Skippito's website for downloads, videos, games and a link to download the new Skippyjon Jones app. The teacher's section is overflowing with resources and lesson plans you can implement in your classroom right away. I already know I'll be downloading the Lost in Spice Readers Theater script to use with my 2nd graders this year! 

If you feel ridiculous for reading this book with a Spanish accent and catch yourself saying "Holy Guacamole!" from time to time, remember this quote by Dr. Suess, "You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child." 

What are some must have books in your classroom library? Tell me! I have well over 1,000 books in my classroom and I'm always looking to add more! 

ABCs & 123s, 


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Where do I sit?

One of the first things I do to get my classroom ready at the beginning of a new school year is make the name tags for student desks. My name tags always match my classroom theme. 

Ocean theme - ocean name tags. Travel theme - travel name tags. Owl theme - owl name tags. Dr. Suess - Dr. Suess name tags!

I've searched high and low for Dr. Seuss name tags, but have come up short. What's a teacher to do? Oh, that's right - I'll create some matching name tags myself! 

Here are the steps I took to create my own student name tags: 

I bought the blank sentences strips at Michaels Arts & Crafts Store - only $1.00 for 50 white sentence strips. I obviously didn't use them all and now have some left for another project in my classroom. I bought the Dr. Suess stickers for $1.99 at a local teacher supply store. 

Then, I added a Dr. Seuss sticker to the left hand side of the name tag. 

I wasn't satisfied with my first attempt - it was too plain. I decided to use blue and red permanent markers to add some more detail to the name tags. 

The finished product! "Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!" -Dr. Suess

What is the first thing YOU do to prepare your classroom for a new school year? 

ABCs & 123s, 


Oh the Places You'll Go!

As if masters classes, marathon training and creating a memorable year with my 2nd graders won't keep me busy enough over the next several months - I've decided to start a teaching blog! Family members, friends and colleagues have encouraged me to share some of my favorite teaching strategies, lesson plans, writing projects, classroom management tips and not to mention some of the cute things that come out of my students' mouths. Last year a student raised his hand to inform me of the following, "Your jokes are corny." Yes, corny. 

What better place to share ideas with other teachers than a blog? I think it's an exciting endeavor to celebrate my 5th (!) year of teaching on the West Coast. It is my hope that "All the Dots" will serve as a resource for new teachers, veteran teachers, home school teachers, daycare providers, parents, etc. After all, we are all in the business of educating the future!

For the next several days, I'll take you through the process of setting up my classroom. Once school begins on August 20th, I'll be blogging with specific topics in mind. Check back often for children's book reviews, technology tips, writer's workshop advice, thrifty classroom decorating ideas, etc. I'll be introducing Monday Musings, Technology Tuesday, Wordy Wednesday, Thrifty Thursday and Flip Out Friday. Bear with me - my 2nd graders and I love alliteration and you should too! 

You might be wondering about the title of my blog. Why the dots? Anyone who has stepped foot in my classroom, flipped through one of my several scrapbooks or has been on the receiving end of a handwritten note from me can probably answer that question! For the rest of you, maybe the picture above will allow you to peek into my world as a teacher and my obsession with ALL THE DOTS. You see, I can't just write words using normal letters. No, I always find myself adding the dots. My letters usually aren't complete until I've added those solid circles. 

With the excitement of the Lorax movie the past few months, there has been no shortage of Dr. Seuss themed classroom decorations. You can pick up these adorable Thing 1 & Thing 2 nameplates at the Target Dollar Spot. 

To quote Dr. Suess, "How did it get so late so soon?" I've got a Seussville classroom to prepare in the morning! 

ABCs & 123s,