Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fleet Week Ship Types

Ok, if you're like me, your knowledge of military ships comes from playing Battleship many, many years ago.  So to help you out with the Fleet Week ships that are in town and which ones you want to see here's a list of what the prefixes mean:

USS:  Unites States Ship - for commissioned ships only

USCGC United Stated Coast Guard Cutter

USNA United States Naval Academy

HMCS  Her Majesty's Canadian Ship

Fleet Week Continued

So tomorrow is out annual Fleet Week trip, and I don't know who is more excited, the students or teachers.  It's going to be a beautiful day in NYC and the sailors and Marines are already put and about everywhere.  I even saw a bunch in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, yesterday (of course we do have an army base).

So if you're interested in taking your class or just want to go on your own, here's some helpful hints to get you where you want to be.

In Manhattan:

USS Bataan Pier 88S (Cruise Ship Terminal 48th and 12th)

USCGC Katherine Walker Pier 86N (USS Intrepid Pier 46th and 12th)

USNA Yard Patrol Boats Pier 86N  (USS Intrepid Pier 46th and 12th)

HMCS Athabaskan Pier 92 (52nd and 12th)

HMCS Kingston Pier 92 (52nd and 12th)

HMCS Moncton Pier 92 (52ns and 12th)

In Brooklyn:

USS Farragut Brooklyn Cruise Terminal 72 Bowne Street

USS Bainbridge Brooklyn Cruise Terminal 72 Bowne Street

USCGC Forward Brooklyn Cruise Terminal 72 Bowne Street

In Staten Island:

USS Fort McHenry The Sullivan's Homeport Pier 305 Front Street

USS Shamal  The Sullivan's Homeport Pier 305 Front Street

Ship tours are free and open tot he public from 8am-5pm, but they may close the lines at 3pm if it is very crowded.  Enjoy!!!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Ok. I screwed up. I forgot to post today about my field trips. But in my defense, it is almost 90 degrees, sunny, and there are sailors and Marines all over the city.  Go out and celebrate our fabulous men and women in uniform.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

 Air view of the USS Intrepid at Pier 86.

 The flight deck with vintage airplanes.

A view of the Concorde and space shuttle.

USS Intrepid

Since I posted about Fleet Week yesterday,  I thought I'd do a series about field trips I've done.  I usually go on 8-12 field trips every year, depending on behavior and weather.  As I mentioned yesterday,  Every year I take my kids to Fleet Week and up until last year that meant the USS Intrepid.  

The USS Intrepid is a retired aircraft carrier that saw service in WWII, the Cold War and Vietnam. It's decommissioned now and docked in  West Manhattan at  Pier 86 at 12th Avenue and 48th Street,  i always took the subway there and then the long walk down to the pier, but most school groups go by bus. It's a good 20 minute walk from the 42nd St-Times Square station, but the walk back is downhill.

I always did the self guided tour which used to cost $9 per child with 1 free chaperone for every 10 kids.  You have to send in a request for more updated prices. They also have guided tours which obviously cost more money, but are available for all grades K-12.  You can also book the lunchroom with a food package.

I love the self guided tour.  There are retired sailors who are extremely knowledgeable who are just as good as a guided tour. I highly recommend the movie about the history of the ship.  It's only 8 minutes, perfect for children's attention spans.and gives the kids a thorough history of the ship.  Also outside are a bunch of great exhibits that help the kids understand the ship. I usually take them to the spot where one of the five Kamikaze planes hit the ship.  The kids love that.  And then we go up to  to the flight deck where the planes are and into the top part where the navigation systems are.  That takes about an hour to an hour and a half. We eat lunch at the outdoor spot they have ste up and then we're off back to school.

There are a million other things to see there, like the living quarters for the men, the combat info area, both on board the ship.Of course outside, there is the Growler, a sub, one of the Concorde supersonic jets, and the space shuttle. They also have some simulation rides for an extra charge. 

Overall, it's a great trip, and gets the kids involved in the history of the USA.  All of my kids have always had a great time there.  Once we even were invited to a ceremony for the remaining Marines who stormed Iwo Jima!  It's a little prices, but you can always put in on Donors Choose (yes, they can fund field trips too).

Monday, May 23, 2016

Field Trip Time of Year

Ok so in addition to doing the book club read alouds this time of year to wind down the school year,  I also ramp up the field trips.  This Friday marks by favorite annual field trip, NYC Fleet Week.  Every year, (with the exception of that budget fiasco) sailors come to NYC and dock their boats in Staten Island and Manhattan.  The battleships are open to the public for free and they are AMAZING!!!!  Last year was the first year we did the free tours (we always went to the USS Intrepid festivities before that).  My kids were able to go into a military jeep, hold actual weapons, sit in the back of an Apache helicopter and see where the sailors sleep.  And that was an abbreviated tour because we were pressed for time.  This year we will be there bright and early and take the full tour.  Excited!!!Check out all of the activities planned for this year.  It runs from May 25-31, 2016.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Want a 21st Century Classroom?

Here's a great link about easy steps to turn your classroom I to a more modern layout and structure.  They also suggest using Donors Choose ( my favorite).  Definitely check it out and make the move!m

Saturday, May 21, 2016

21 Century Classroom

As I sit on my couch on another dreary Brooklyn weekend,  I started looking up how to make my classroom into a 21st Century one. 

I already have a start on it with my Donors Choose projects.  I'm trying to get rectangle tables, wobble stools, and stand up desks.  I'd like to have them by the start of the school year to offer half of my class flexible seating.

I'm pretty excited about it, and the bike desks I have my eye on.  Can't wait to see if it works out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Closing

And just like that, you're done. Simple, right?  This is a big improvement on the old way.  They tell you that you'll hear back from them within 5 days, but they're usually good for 2-3 days.  If you haven't checked out Donors Choose lately or at all, now is the time to go for it! 

Start Writing

Ok, start writing your proposal.  Donors Choose gives you a lot of help here. They have samples of great proposals and they give you pretty clear directions.  I always write like I talk.  So most of my proposals come across as rather old Brooklyn, but hey that's who I am.

Right before you submit your proposal, they give a chance to see what it will look like live and to make any last minute corrections.  It's very easy to navigate between pages, and the process has been streamlined a lot.  It's much more user friendly now.  

Next you'll talk about your kids.  I always use the same info, and I think Donors Choose was wise to that and your class description will carry over to new proposals now.  Very nice. 

Now is the fun part. Let's go shopping.  Donors Choose has a set of vendors they work with and you use them like any other online shopping site.  They do get specialty pricing, very nice.  You can do Special Request projects for other vendors. I'll go into that in later post. 

Donors Choose

So I've mentioned before how much I absolutely live by Donors Choose for my classes.  Well Ian very excited to announce that they've just streamlined their proposal posting process and it is everything.  I used it yesterday to post a new proposal and I'd love to share their new design with you.
 So here is the new introduction screen. 
When you first start a proposal, this is your welcome screen. You can choose either a classroom directed proposal for your kids or a teacher development one for yourself.  They'll even show you match offers to help inspire you. 


So I figured out the problem with my lessons on Teachers Pay Teachers. The font I used was all caps so I didn't capitalize anything. The website didn't have the font so all of my lazy grammar showed up on the thumbnails.  Serves me right for taking a short cut.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


So I've been trying to start a Teachers Pay Teachers store because a woman I met said a teacher at her school (yes I know how that sounds - my mother's cousin's' neighbor's mailman) makes so much money he pays his rent with it!  I will say that there are A LOT of resources already on there so it's kind of daunting just getting started.  But I put my free lesson up (first one has to be free) and then added a few more both paid and free, and it is soooooo difficult.  I give these teachers super credit.

I've already edited most of them about 5 times because I keep on forgetting this that and the other thing.  I know it will get easier as I get more used to it, but what a pain in the butt right now.  And that's my issue for not being well prepared so I can deal with that.

I just uploaded what I thought was a great unit plan for When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.  i worked on it for a week, gathering all my materials and everything.  I upload it and the thumbnails look at cockeyed.  UGH!!!!! I had to email them because now my product looks weak.

Hopefully this will get much easier.  If anyone has any tips on how to fix this, I would be eternally grateful.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Fun Time

All work and no play makes for a dull xlass.

Donors Choose

So I hope most of you already know about  It is seriously the best resource for teacher's out there in terms of funding opportunities.  I have been a member since 2006 and over the last 10 years, I have had over 200 proposals funded totaling over $10,000!  And I am not an overly specialized writer.

Donors Choose

It's only open to public school teachers so if you don't have an account yet, set one up immediately.  It is ridiculously easy to set up an account.  They walk you through the process and your new account should be set up in 10 minutes.  Make sure you use an email account you check regularly, it's important to the proposal process.

When you set up an account, you get 3 points.  You'll see that different types of proposals cost different amount of points.  My suggestion is to start small.  Ask for $100-$200 worth of supplies for your first proposal.  Smaller proposals are more likely to be funded.  And then when your proposal is funded, you get additional points for completing the process of thanking your donors.  It's really simple.

This was just the intro to Donors Choose.  I'll continue to add more helpful hints in the future.    But definitely get started today with your new account!

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Countdown Continues

 Official Cinder PageThere's only a few weeks left to the school year, and everyone can feel it.  The weather finally broke in NYC and it's gorgeous.  My kids started Cinder last week and they LOVE it.  I'll post some pics this afternoon of them working in their book clubs during discussion time.  

Also this week, I'll start to talk about my experiences with Donors Choose.  if you don't have an account yet, get one immediately.  The class set of Cinder we're reading was funded on Donors Choose.  It's a teacher's best friend.   

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Working hard

I thought it was time to introduce you to my class.  This is my Superintendent's class. The kids a really little above grade level. Today we are researching endangered animals in groups for an informative essay for our portfolios.  We are using the brand new Chromebooks we got from Donors Choose! #donorschoose  #edtech

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Ok now that I have your attention, it's not exactly free stuff right now guaranteed, but it is pretty easy.  I am a big proponent of Donors Choose, which I will explain in depth at a later time.  I can not stress enough how awesome this website is for public school teachers.  I've had over 200 projects funded for my classes over the past 10 years.  It's beyond. 

But in honor or #ThankaTeacher for Teacher Appreciation Week, GoFundMe is offering a great opportunity for teachers and anyone posting a campaign on a teacher's behalf.  If you post a campaign by May 8, 2016 and it gets over $100 donated by 5 unique donors by May 13th, GoFundMe will also donate $100!!!!  That's ridiculously good news.  

Give it a go and good luck.  Mine is already up for desks and stools.

GoFundMe #ThankaTeacher

Monday, May 2, 2016

A New Beginning for Our Final Stretch

Another Monday

Greetings from chilly Brooklyn. As the school year winds down,  I like to make life easier for my students and myself.  After the long school year of reading groups, homework assignments, test prep and the actual tests. I like to finish off the school year on a high note.  What I've done for the past 8 years now is to find a hot YA book and use it as a read aloud book club.  

End of Year Book Clubs

After the tests are over, I like to introduce our final novel of the year.  It's always a little too hard for the kids but a popular book they know and love.  In the past, I have done Twilight, The Hunger Games and Divergent.  This year we're reading Cinder, a sci-fi fairy tale about a cyborg Cinderella in a futuristic New Beijing.  

I let the kids choose their own groups (4-6 kids in each groups depending on class size) and the games begin.  This is a little different than traditional books clubs in that everyone reads, or listens to, the same book.  Since the book is more difficult than most of my students could read independently, I also get the audio version.  We read along as the CD reads the story aloud to us for about 20-25 minutes a day, and then the kids have a list of book  questions that they have 15-20 minutes to discuss and then write a summary of for me to review their classwork.  They can choose the direction of where their group goes.  

It's always a big hit and I'm looking forward to getting started on a brand new book (for me too!).  I'll keep you updated about how it's going.