Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Bunny Partners

I love the ideas Terri over at Engage Their Minds comes up with for using SCAMPER (among other things:) .

We decided to use her idea and I asked my kiddos to come up with a partner for the Easter Bunny with a logical reason why that person would help out. I love that I only had one answer repeated and both kiddos came up with different reasons why!

Do they know me or what?! I would give them projects to do with the eggs. :)

Gingerbread Man

                                       Santa Clause-he can find the best places to hide the eggs.
                     Peter Pan-he can hide them on top of unexpected places or windows or treehouses.

Barney-because he loves people, he cares for grown-ups and kids and even ducklings.

Me (the student) because I can wake him up early

A jaguar because at night he goes fast and so in the morning all the
children will find eggs.

                                        Peter Pan-he can make magic happen to the eggs.
A hummingbird-he can deliver the eggs real fast.

                                      Flash-he can deliver faster than a cheetah
My cousin-because I know he will be funny to him.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Writing Autobiographies

This is an activity I try to do with my students every year. I love to hear them say something like "that's the best thing that happened in my whole life!"--they are only 6 years old. It's actually pretty hard for them to break down the highlights of their life so far. I teach them to look for "small moments"-we go outside and look for something that seems insignificant and they write about it. Last time we did it a student had a ladybug land on her finger, so that's what her text was about.

Then I had them write an outline first. We used the blank hardcover books that Lakeshore sells (they are expensive). But worth it for my little authors!

 I wanted them to come up with a unique title-not just all "Johnny's Life" and "Susie's Life". Here are some of them:

                                            Star of the Show

The King Of Rainbow Cats and Goats

Then I wanted them to start at the begining and talk about anything they knew about their life as a baby, toddler, when they started school and the last page was for their prediction for the future.

They asked if the librarian might put some of them in our school library! :)

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Why I Think Every Teacher Should Blog!

I was looking back into my archives this past week because I had to put together a little presentation of past projects. I've been blogging for almost 5 years, over 650 posts! I am amazed by that. I can't even remember what made me decide to start blogging one day, but I am so genuinely glad that I did. I love that I can reflect back on past activities and past classes-even with the students' names cropped out I can still remember who wrote what, in many cases. Looking back, I find ideas of my own that I had forgotten about-oh, I have to try that with this class! And my kiddos are quite used to me having to take pics of their work before they go home..."you're not going to take pictures of these"? If I go several days without doing a blog-worthy activity then I am reminded to step up my game as well.

Best of all I think it's been great for collaboration. That's a strand on our evaluations now--and my assessor always laughs at me when I include blogging in my evidence as a form of collaboration; but I think if you do blog, you understand. I find ideas and get feedback on ideas more here than in any other forum including my campus. I follow literally hundreds of blogs and read updates daily, commenting where I feel I can give input. I feel like I actually know some of you guys and am inspired every day by your ideas and opinions.

I think if every teacher had that time to reflect on their practice, to share ideas with others, to get ideas from communicating with other bloggers--they would all benefit from that experience as much as I have! If you don't blog-what's holding you back? Take the plunge-it will definitely be worth it!

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Staff Appreciation

Every year my Student Council makes something to hang on the doors of everyone that works at our school for our Staff Appreciation Week. It's a pretty daunting task because a) we have over 60 staff and b) I'm not very creative. It's gotten really hard to come up with something different since we do it every year. We have to start early because unfortunately I have a very small group-so it takes us quite a while to get them done. The poor students in my class usually get stuck finishing them up. :)

Yesterday we started putting together what we are going to do this year and I had to share because I think they came out just too cute! I am asking students from the different classes to come up with their Top 10 Things that they love about their teachers. The answers have been great! They've said things like: I like her vibrant smile, she helps kids with hard moments (how insightful is that vocabulary), she loves her job! My favorite is the little ones though-all theirs are about the teachers' fashion style: I love her clothes and her shoes and her jewelry. And everyone is pretty! :)

We needed to put it together into something they could hang on their doors-so they came out like this:

I don't think anyone from my school reads my blog-but I blurred the names anyway, just in case. I want it to be a surprise!

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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Student-Led Conferences

This is an idea I have been wanting to try for a long time and you know this is my year for trying new things and being bold! I scheduled a block of time in the after school for the students to come back with their parents and for them to take the lead in discussing their progress. I made them a guide for their conversations:

I sat down with each child and had them fill out a sheet showing their goals for the year and if they met or surpassed them.

We did a practice run the day before-the students all partnered up with a student they trusted who acted like their parent. I was so proud of them, as partner after partner was picked, they just went with them-no complaints! :)  The student acting as Mom or Dad listened and the student went through their information and then they switched places. So they should all be ready.

And last but not least, since I'm asking them to explain bucket-fillers I had them write one to the person who they thought would come to the meeting.

to his Mom.

I like that the kiddos are taking ownership of their own progress and I'm sure the parents will like that they don't have to listen to me for once! :)

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Just Let Them Read

I've written before about how much I was inspired by reading Donalyn Miller's the Book Whisperer (both personally and professionally-I'm a reader again myself because of that book). I read it a few summers ago and immediately made time in our schedule with my Summer School class for them to just read. They loved it. I had a student who was notorious for both his behavior and how far behind he was academically. That child asked me if he could take a book home and trying not to reveal the suprise in my eyes, of course I said "yes!" Another teacher saw him with it at dismissal and accused him of stealing it. I explained that he was borrowing it for the night and my colleague said "you'll never see that book again". My response was "oh well" -he was in 2nd Grade and that was the first interest he ever showed in reading, you better believe it was worth the cost of that book!

We use workstations and guided reading groups at my school. My assessor likes rotation charts and structure. If you read my blog regularly you know I'm a bit of a rebel when it comes to doing what's best for my students. So we have tossed out our rotation and instead I'm just allowing them to choose what activity they want to do. And if that means just reading for 20 minutes, then that's what they do. No questions to answer (other than the optional AR quiz if they want to take it), no worksheets to do-just reading.

I go to the library every other weekend and check out books for them.

You would think I was Santa Claus and that was his sack of goodies for them! They get so excited to walk in and see all those new titles! I really spend time thinking about their varied reading levels and interests. This week they have Dinosaurs Love Underpants (the sequel to Aliens Love Underpants-a big hit), Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman (one of our favorite authors) and Hank Finds an Egg (a wordless book-a new discovery for them this year). One weekend I literally forgot to go on Saturday with all the other errands I was running and our libraries are not open on Sunday, so Monday they were out of luck. I have never seen such sullen faces. Summoning their best puppy dog eyes they asked "well, can you go after school today?"-how can you deny a request like that?!

I truly believe you have to feed that love of reading. If an administrator walks in and sees them all over the room reading and asks why I'm not doing the hour of test prep a day my colleagues are doing-I definitely will be able to justify my reasoning! Just look at these kiddos-they are all engaged, practicing vital skills of fluency and comprehension and best of all, they are enjoying reading!


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Which Came First...?

We've been talking about logic in our class and we started our egg unit. So it seemed like a good idea to ask that age-old question "what came first, the chicken or the egg?" and I expected a logical reason why they believe that way. Here's what they came up with:

my future scientist-there was a proto-chicken that the gene was changed making a chick.

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