Jan 25, 2013

Fabulous Find Friday: Book Diorama

book diorama

I am in LOVE with this woman's art pieces!  Her name is Su Blackwell and she makes art out of old books, showing scenes from familiar stories.  I thought it would be so fun to show my kids her art, then have them make their own scene as a sort of "book report".  Can you imagine the awesome display of 25 open books showing 25 different scenes from books?  You just wait...I am so going to make this happen...

Su Blackwell 

Jan 23, 2013

Ah, the Great Outdoors...

Did you know the state of Utah will arrange and pay for 4th graders to go on a snowshoe tour...and skiing, for that matter?  Who knew?  Who does that?  State officials not taking 75 kids on these excursions, I would assume.  State officials not buckling 25 pairs of ski boots at 7:45am or struggling to keep 25 pairs of skiis from collapsing domino-style for the third time in five minutes.  State officials not loading 57 pairs of snowshoes into the back of their car at REI on a Tuesday evening.

Nevertheless, the kids had a blast and I got the chance to try a classic Utah winter hobby for free.  And I think 9-yr-olds was a good crowd for a first-timer, non-aggressively outdoorsy person like me to go with.  Our guide pointed out endless animals tracks and talked about what a watershed is and how we protect it.  Did you know snow that falls into the river up Big Cottonwood Canyon is filtered and in the faucets of Salt Lake homes within 24 hours.  Again, who knew?

Would I go again?  Eh.  Being the Arizona girl that I am, accustomed to the ideal outdoor temperature of 82 degrees and sunny, I was of course cold the entire time.  Others, not so much.  So let me ask that one more time.  Would I go again?  Probably not...until next year's fieldtrip.  See you again in a year, REI.

Jan 18, 2013

Fabulous Friday Finds: MLK, Jr. & Civil Rights

This idea comes from a fabulous teacher friend of mine, who creates this board every year when she teaches civil rights leaders.  She posts the pictures of the different leaders at the beginning of the unit.  When the kids learn about each person, she adds the quote spoken by that person and her 2nd graders discuss its meaning. When they're done studying that person, the kids write their own quote for the person - something they think that civil rights leader would say.  By the end of the unit, the board is filled with inspiring people and uplifting quotes!

This book makes me cry every time...

Jan 16, 2013

Quick Assess

    Here's a quick way to assess, and make guided math groups.  Put a math problem on the board - a clock face, addition, subtraction, coins, multiplication, whatever - and have the students write the answer on a post-it note, along with their name.  Collect them, stick them on a piece of cardstock (I used a sheet protector with cardstock inside), and sort them by struggling students...or by certain mistakes.  These were used to determine peer tutors and pair kids up.  Quick - easy - guided math groups...done!   

Jan 11, 2013

Fabulous Finds Friday: Supplies Managment

In full disclaimer, I actually came across this lovely jewel of an idea over a year ago.  It's from Marisa Curtis over at First Grade Glitter and Giggles.  I was slightly doubtful at first, but figured I'd try anything to avoid repeating myself five. billion. times. again.  I made my own using photos from our classroom supplies, and also included areas of the room we gather in, like our class library carpet or the projector area.  But happily, Marisa included copies of her cute polka dot set...for free!  I'm feeling the teacher love!
Anyway, I used this last year with my 2nd graders and became pretty dependent on it.  No repeating - just point.  No transitions - they're sitting in the right place, ready to go, even if I'm held up at the doorway dealing with post-recess drama (you know you've been there!).  Love! 

Jan 10, 2013

A Grateful Class

It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy. LOVE this quote! Free download in several colors. { lilluna.com }

So the geeky, scientific side of me wants to explain all the research that's been done on happiness, and how people that write just 5 things each day that they are grateful for feel more fulfilled in their life and more readily notice the good in their life.  I'd love to quote the statistics showing they complain less and stick to difficult tasks longer.  But I'll refrain because, frankly, I don't think anyone would necessarily care about the specifics.
The point is, all these things I want to be part of our classroom culture so I'm careful to teach, model and develop them in very specific ways.  One way is through our Thankful Books.  Every day, either when they finish their morning starter or while I'm handing out papers at the end of the day, the kids write down 5 specific things they're thankful for.  Then whenever we have a few extra minutes to kill, we like to share some of the things the kids have written down.  
I've noticed the kids that always seem to find everything wrong in life (pet peeve!) or that complain at the least struggle start to change their mindset...or at least I can send them to add more to their Thankful Book when they don't!

Easy peasy - fold some white paper in half, add a construction paper cover and let them go to town!

Jan 8, 2013

To Sum Up

Recognize this?
"So this book was about this one girl and she woke up one day and decided to have pancakes for breakfast and then she went back upstairs and got dressed for school then she went back downstairs to get her backpack then she left the house and went to the bus stop which was on the corner by her best friends house and she waited until the bus came and when it came she got on and went to school and got there right before the bell rang so she ran to class and..."
Five minutes later, I'm still listening to the student 'summarize' the story they just read in play-by-play, sometimes even with instant replay!  On the other hand, some students try to summarize a chapter book in two sentences or less and it's like pulling teeth to get them to include more details.
The kids do a lot better starting out with a structure when I want them to summarize.  I let them in on a super-secret teacher clue: retell = tell every detail in the story; summarize = tell the main details. There's a lot of graphic organizers out there, like this one from the fabulous Jen Runde:
This "Somebody Wanted But So Then" poster can be used as an organizer for students planning their fictional narratives, or as a summarizing tool when studying narratives.  Simply laminate the poster and you can write on the sticky note images with an erasable marker.  Click on the picture to download your own copy.  Enjoy!  I like to keep it simple and just have the kids write one detail from the beginning, two or three from the middle and one from the end.  The kids took that information, made it into a book jacket for their book, and wrote their summary on the inside.  Of course, we read plenty of book jacket summaries before they tackled their own, just to get a really good idea of how authors summarize. And here's the final product:

The book jackets were hung from the ceiling with care...
In hopes that everyone would read them there...
And find a good book to read!

Jan 4, 2013

Fabulous Finds Friday: Class Stationary

I was so excited when I found this adorable class stationary on Pinterest!  I'm thinking of using it for thank you notes to volunteering parents, Specials teachers or places we visit on fieldtrips.
Class stationary! Give each kid a post-it to draw their portrait and then make copies.

There wasn't a link on Pinterest, so if you know whose idea this was, I'd love to give them credit!  They're craftily creative!

Jan 3, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

Oh it's so hard to come back from a relaxing break!  But in the spirit of New Year's, here's a printable we'll be doing to set some New Year's resolutions.  I wasn't particularly wowed by the format, but let that go half-way through The Big Bang Theory last night.  Such has been my planning this week.
P.S. We've had to practice the fine skill of writing goals all year long, as we've done our weekly reading and math goals.  Biggest difficulty: making them specific and measurable.  They have a general idea of what they want to do (ie. read with more expression) but struggle making that into something they can actually do and act on.  So I wrote it into the graphic organizer.