Teacher Spotlight: Anne Turner, Kindergarten Teacher at North Tama County Community School


Every day is a new adventure for Anne Turner. As a kindergarten teacher at North Tama County Community School in Traer, Iowa, she encourages hands-on, active participation in her classroom with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) at the center of her lessons.

“I love creating new things, whether it’s new STEM centers at school, books with my students, or crafts at home,” she says. “Every day is a new adventure!”

Her love for creating new things sparked an innovative nature that she uses while teaching her kindergartens.  Whether it’s producing books, developing STEM centers, or making arts and crafts, she says that hands-on, experiential learning is the way to go.

For the Teacher Spotlight, Anne, a FableVision Learning Ambassador, recently shared her favorite things about being a teacher, how she applies Stationery Studio in the classroom, and how she and her students had a blast on International Dot Day 2016!

Tell us about your classroom; what is a typical day like?
My kindergarten classroom is full of fun! A typical day starts with morning meetings and welcomes. We then get the opportunity to explore different STEM centers. We do many book read-alouds throughout the whole day and this will start a new learning adventure! We focus on literacy and math throughout the day as well, connecting everything together and creating hands on fun… In the afternoons, we focus on Daily 5 and guided reading centers that encourage our independence as young readers and writers!

Daily 5 are centers we rotate through that help us learn on a more individualized level. Each child rotates through guided reading (individual work with Mrs. Turner), read to self or to someone else, listen to reading, work on words, and work on writing.  These centers can include activities from our STEM investigation, or working on our leveled readers and things we struggle with. The kids go at their own pace and include their own interests!

What is a STEM center?
These centers are a great way to connect everything you learn in school together and spiral kids’ learning.  We don’t have just science or reading time anymore. Let’s say we are meeting the standard ‘analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.’ We would, in our STEM investigation, build ramps and use different types of balls to conduct tests. We would also meet our reading standards by looking at different types of texts to support this and by dictating opinion pieces based off of the pictures we take of each others ramps. They become pretty big writing projects. So, STEM, to us in our room, is mixing all of our learning together to truly understand!

I hear you have some snazzy uses for Stationery Studio, can you share a few?
We use Stationery Studio almost daily! I use the software to create different styles of writing pages to encourage the kids to write and help them get new ideas. I also insert images that connect to a book we've read to help use continue to write about our findings. It is greatly beneficial to my students because they have writing lines (head line, belt line, and foot line) that help guide them to write legibly. With the fun pictures and borders, they are much more encouraged to write. When the kids take a picture of their creation or investigation, and we print it and glue it on the Stationery Studio paper, they feel great ownership!

Dot Day 2016 was huge at your school this year, can you share how your students got ready for the day?
My students love International Dot Day! This celebration is new to them and we may have read The Dot about 20 times! Our students started learning about how special they are and how we are all unique. We brought in families to see how each family dynamic is unique. We also learned about mixing paint colors to make our own dot and tried to cut out a circle. We had fun decorating dots to fill our halls! As a whole elementary school, each student got to decorate coffee filters and hang them in our hallways to fill the windows. It was so beautiful! Our class also explored all of Peter H. Reynolds’ books, one being The Water Princess. We helped raise $50 for Ryan’s Well as we found it shocking that people in our world struggled for water every day.

What was your favorite 2016 International Dot Day moment?
My favorite International Dot Day moment this year was getting Peter H. Reynolds into our classroom to talk to my students. Their faces were glowing! We talked about typical “kindergarten” things, like frogs and other random things. Mr. Reynolds drew us a new idea for a book called “Toad the Artist” because the students got stuck on talking about frogs and toads. We are currently working on creating this book! Peter H. Reynolds inspired a lot of people that day at North Tama.

What has been your favorite moment as a teacher?
My favorite moment as a teacher is working with the kids. I love our Daily 5 centers because I get time to work with the kids on learning individual skills, making books, and writing letters that the kids want to create. We have also extended chapter books and had lots of fun together doing that!

You are new to the league of FableVision Ambassadors. What are you looking forward to?
I am always looking to learn! I am anxious to explore everything and to use what I learn with my kindergarten students. Always up for new things!

Are YOU – or someone you know - activating any of FableVision’s books, media, and/or software to approach learning in more creative, engaging ways?  If you'd like to nominate someone for the FableVision Creative Educator Spotlight, click here and complete your submission electronically.

FABClassroom Spotlight: Arrowwood Elementary

From the library to the classroom, Arrowwood Elementary is a FABschool. Earlier this year the neighborhood school in Douglas County, CO added Fab@School Maker Studio, a digital design and fabrication program, to its STEAM curriculum. Recently, Dana Palmer shared a bit about how students are using the tool and the plans for the future.

As a STEM/STEAM teacher can you share a bit about the importance of introducing STEAM concepts in elementary school?

I was the "tech lab teacher" for the first 8 years of my career - straight tech lab activities devoid of creativity did not help students develop a deeper understanding of concepts. I found students cutting and pasting information from the internet directly into PowerPoint and calling it "technology integration.” They were unable to explain concepts in their own words; they were unable to relate concepts to their lives or other applications. With the hands-on creative approach of STEAM that I use, students are highly engaged and have a much deeper understanding of concepts.

How are the students at Arrowwood Elementary School using Fab@School Maker Studio?

We are at the starting stages - our older students are creating manipulatives for younger students. We reworked an old lesson that used straws and pipe cleaners to make 3D prisms with Fab@School Maker Studio prisms created by students.

For our older students, they are learning to be creative and do for others-creating something another student will use to learn has been really exciting for them, and the younger students are receiving top quality manipulatives made by school mates.

What has been the “aha” moment?

When I looked at last year’s "prisms" compared to this year’s it is evident that they are accurate- having accurate prisms allowed students to better understand planes, vertices, etc...

They got the "correct" answer quicker and were able to understand the correlation between sides, vertices, etc..

What is next?

Looking to create a fabrication center in our library - great software - easy to get started with and reasonable equipment prices will make this a reality much quicker than I thought possible.

Is your classroom a FabClassroom? We would love to feature your school! To be featured in an upcoming post, send an email to info@fablevisionlearning.com. You can also tweet your photos with the hashtag #FabMakerStudio! For more posts featuring Fab@School Maker Studio, click here.

Peek Inside the Mind of Peter H. Reynolds with his Latest Book Happy Dreamer!

The following post was written by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator and FableVision founder, Peter H. Reynolds. His new book Happy Dreamer will be released on March 28, 2017. You can pre-order the book through the Blue Bunny bookstore, here. 

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My book, Happy Dreamer was originally called Amazing, Delightful, Happy Dreamer. And yes, the initials do spell: ADHD.
The first spark of the book ideas were inspired while attending a learning difference conference at Harvard University where successful CEOs shared their challenging learning journeys in school, making it clear that their achievements were made because of their brains, not in spite of them. It was pointed out by the panel host that this group had all described attributes of ADHD as children. Those attributes sounded very familiar to me.
I thought for a moment, "I wish ADHD sounded like something you'd WANT to have!"

I took a pencil and wrote...

I went home and wrote a poem by the same name and that poem ultimately became this book.


I wrote Happy Dreamer for kids (and grown up kids) like me. This really is my story. A peek inside my mind to share how my brain works in its own wild and wonderful way.
It wasn't always easy having a brain like mine though. While I was never officially diagnosed with ADHD (it was a term that would not be used widely until a decade after I was in elementary school) I do believe that as a child I had experienced many of its symptoms.
I wanted to send out a hopeful message that kids who are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD that they have a gift, not a label. That their minds are very special. That they are "delightful dreamers." Their brains are capable of being flexible, generous, nimble, and inventive. Their kind of thinking is to be understood, nurtured, accommodated and CELEBRATED!
Growing up, I was dreamer. A day dreamer. Night dreamer. I had a super-charged imagination which kept my brain very, very busy. SO many ideas which was probably the impetus for me grabbing a pencil and starting to capture these thoughts and images on paper with words and art. Outside of school, it really wasn't a problem. I grew up in a big family. Seven people roaming the house doing chores, hobbies, but at night we would gather together at the dinner table to share stories. It was a busy, noisy house and I loved it that way. All the energy and buzz. In school, however, it was a different story. I found it a bit of a shock to stay put in one chair for most of the day. Learning to focus on the lessons were sometimes a big challenge for me. I was not encouraged to capture any of my racing thoughts on paper. I was in fact, discouraged from doing it.
"All eyes up front."
"Mr. Reynolds, do not draw in my class. You can do that after school."
"This is math class. Not art class. Put that away."
I was an agreeable, friendly kid eager to please, so I did my best to comply and control my buzzy-brain. It was not always easy. Every so often, I found a teacher or an activity that tapped into that special brain of mine and WHOAH! Like my 7th grade math teacher who asked me if I could teach math by using art, story and animation. It was magic. I was in my element. It was an AMAZING feeling. Happy. Delighted. My Dreamer brain was engaged—and I was ME.
I hope this book speaks to you, your family and friends. May it reassure you that good things are ahead for all us dreamers.
And in fact, I do believe that if we are to solve some of the planet's biggest problems—we can't keep trying the same solutions. We must invite inventive, flexible minds to the table. World problem solving aside—if this book encourages my readers to simply be happy with themselves, then I'll sleep—and dream— better at night.


In the Boston area? Join us for Happy Dreamer book release party at the Blue Bunny Books & Toys, on Saturday, April 1, 11-1 p.m, located at 577 High St, Dedham, MA 02026. For more information, click here.

For inspiration on how to bring Happy Dreamer into your classroom, check out the Happy Dreamer Classroom Kit.