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Friday, March 2, 2012

WBT, Moustaches, Pokemon, & Party Rock!

The first week back after vacation is always a little difficult, but this week was amazing! We had so much fun this week.  So far, I love Whole Brain Teaching! Last week, I decided to try out some new classroom management strategies (you can read about it here) and my kids have really responded to our new classroom rules, routines, and talk time.  I love that we "rehearse" the rules each time the kids return into the class (it takes 30 seconds) and it is really great that I can remind an off-task student about our rules using a number and hand signal instead of calling them out in class. Smilies and Frownies have also been really successful for us so far. The fact that they all respond together even when they earn a Frownie gets them back on track and together as a group.  I have especially noticed a huge difference with my students that were previously (and frequently) shouting out in class.  I had two that were constantly yelling out to make sure they were heard and it was driving me BONKERS!  The new classroom rules, my shortened talk-time (20-30 seconds at a time), and the simple statement, "If you know (the answer), blow it in your hand... (wait, wait, wait...) RELEASE!" has really transformed my classroom.  I am thrilled that I came across the WBT website and look forward to continued progress with my kiddos.

Now... for some fun stuff! Like many of you out there, I did many Dr. Seuss themed activities this week to celebrate the wonderful, wonderful man's birthday.  I decided to focus my lessons on The Lorax. With the movie coming out today, and the fact that many of them will being going to see it this weekend, I wanted to make sure they experience the book before their little brains were full of movie images. Sometimes I hate that there are movies for all of the really great books.  It seems to take some of the magic out of reading. The kids don't need to use their imaginations to create mental images and it irks me (can you tell??)  But... back to The Lorax!  We read the book together and charted the elements of the story including characters, setting, and plot. I totally forgot to take a picture of our chart, but I'll add it as soon as I take one. We talked about the events in the story and the kiddos identified nine events, put them on Truffula treetops, ordered them, and mounted them.  (I used resources from Rachel at Sub Hub and Mel D over at Seusstastic Classroom Inspiration.) In math, we created Truffula treetop patterns and the kids had a blast.

The kiddos each got their pictures taken with the wonderful moustache (also from Rachel at Sub Hub) and they turned out amazing!
They did some marble art to be added to our writing assignment.

Today we discussed the main idea of the book and what Dr. Seuss' purpose was in writing the book. We watched some BrainPop Jr. about conservation and the kiddos completed a writing assignment finishing the thought, "If I were The Lorax, I would help the Earth by..." They came up with some amazing ideas.  I'll add some pictures when they are all put together.

On another note, I work after school two days a week with a student that does not participate at all during class.  He reads at a first and a half level and has a good conceptual grasp on math concepts and facts, but refuses to do things in class unless I am sitting right there with him. Today, he was really excited to show some students his new giant Pokemon card and I decided to harness that excitement into our after-school activity. I asked him if he would show me his cards and when he pulled all of his cards out of his backpack I was shocked. There were so many!  I then asked him if we could sort the cards together and he wanted to sort by power type (??) so we did. We talked all about the points values and he decided he wanted to put them in order least to greatest.  Sounded wonderful to me!  He ran into a problem when some cards had the same value and I suggested he put them in alphabetical order after point value and he knew exactly what to do.  Here is what he did:

I was so proud of him that I nearly burst into tears.  We spent 40 minutes sorting and ordering and he did an amazing job. During our time together today, he was able to talk me through exactly what he was doing and why he was placing certain cards where. I asked if he would share his thoughts with his guardian, but when she came to pick him up, he froze.  He would barely speak a word, but with some careful questioning, he gave her the gist of what he was doing. I am working on building his confidence so that he can share his thinking and participate more in class.  What would you do in my situation? Have you ever had one of these students?

Oh my gosh, that was long!  If you're still hangin' in there with me, you deserve this picture:

I love this!  Especially the box-head guy and the people shuffling on the cars!  My kids are awesome.

Happy Friday!

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