Receive all updates via Facebook. Just Click the Like Button Below

Powered By | Blog Gadgets Via Blogger Widgets

Thursday, March 15, 2012

No Pink Slips!

Hooray!  I am super swamped with report cards and all that come along with them, so I'll be back sometime next week.  Happy, happy!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Building Background Knowledge - Charlotte's Web

Earlier this week, my students participated in a Building Background Knowledge (BBK) activity for Charlotte's Web. I learned about this type of activity at the SCCOE Curriculum Leadership Council seminars that I have been attending all year. The main purpose for this type of activity is to enable the students to be successful in reading more complex texts. This experience creates a natural and safe environment for students to use their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. This type of experience also provides multiple opportunities for students to interact with the new content knowledge. This is extremely important for my students (85% ELs) because it allows them to have different exposures to the content besides listening to me ramble.

Here is how it went...

Step 1: Mystery Picture
Each group is given one picture to get their juices flowing. They are to carefully look at the picture and discuss with their group what they think it might be.

I also included a spider glyph to get students' initial ideas about spiders. 

Step 2: Collection of Artifacts
For this step, I put together all types of artifacts including photos of farm animals, spiders, and friendship items, drawings, a farm animal matching game, a friendship spelling list, non-fiction pieces on spiders and farm animals. The students spread everything out and silently viewed all of the artifacts and wrote down any questions that they had about the artifacts.  

Step 3: Common Text
Each student received the same non-fiction text about spiders and insects. They all read the text on their own, answered 3 questions, and drew a picture of an insect and a spider and labeled each drawing.

Step 4: Expert Texts Jigsaw
For this step, each student read a different texts to read on their own. I had four different levels in each group and they were each assigned a color prior to this step. They then shared out what they read with the rest of their group.

We then created a class chart of their ideas about what our subject or themes might be based on their BBK experience. They came up with farm life, spiders, and friendship. Pretty good, huh? It was exactly what they needed to build schema and to get them excited to read Charlotte's Web!

And I am so excited... tomorrow is Friday and I survived my first field trip! Yay!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Currently and BBK

I love when Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade hosts her Currently linky party. It was one of my very first blog posts back in January. So here goes...

I am also working on a post about our Building Background Knowledge activity we did in my classroom today for Charlotte's Web.  My kids had a blast and are super pumped about the book, but more on that tomorrow!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Two Awards and a Facebook link...

I am so honored to have been chosen by two wonderful bloggers to receive the One Lovely Blog Award. Lots of love to Julie at Lighting a Fire in Third Grade and Andrea at One Teacher's Take... Thank you, thank you! I am loving the teacher blog community and the love and support that I have received over the past two months.

The rules:
1. Link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Pass the award on to 15 other lovely bloggers.
3. Follow the person (people) who sent it to you.

I have a hard time with rules, so I'm gonna break one of them... I'm only going to pass it on to 5. Two out of three isn't bad, right?

Here goes:
Ann Marie at Innovative Connections
Jen at Runde's Room (Check out her Math Journal Sunday posts... I LOVE THEM!)

I finally got my Facebook page up and running, so if you have a chance, hit the like button on the right hand side of this page or follow the link and give me a like!

Happy Sunday,

Saturday, March 3, 2012

DIY Abacus

I love abaci (abacuses?). They can be used for so many things. My only problem with abaci is that they are pretty expensive, especially for a first-year teacher. I have five wooden abaci in my class and have tried to have the kids use them in groups and it just wasn't working.  I had to figure out a way to get one in every students' hands.  One trip to RAFT later, I figured it out.

 What you need:
1 Sheet of Corrugated Plastic
10 Pipe Cleaners
10 Drink Stirrers
100 Pony Beads

Start off by putting the pipe cleaners in the middle of the drink stirrers.

  Put one end of the stirrer/cleaner combo into the corrugated plastic and bend at a 90 degree angle.
 Thread 10 beads on the drink stirrer and bend the other end.
This part can be a little tricky, but put the other end of the pipe cleaner into the other side of the corrugated plastic. Make sure to hold the end that is already in and not to pull too hard.
 Front view. 
Side view.
Repeat until you have 10 rows. 

I made two different sizes:
 5.75" x 7"
 5.75" x 3.5"

I think I'm leaning towards the smaller version.  What do you think?

Oh, and you all have my permission to pin anything from my site, as long as you provide a link.  Thanks!

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!