Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas is coming!

I have so many little things to post about what we're working on for Christmas, but those will have to wait! I thought instead that I would post the scripts for the Readers Theater shows that my students are currently working on. I adapted them from various online plot summaries and links about each story. Readers Theater is such a valuable way to work on Fluency and accuracy. I can't wait to see their performances!

I will post the elf writing activity and Christmas ornaments that we're working on soon!
Hope you're having a wonderful Christmas season so far!

Teaching the Ten Commandments

As a second grade teacher, teaching at a Catholic school, I am in charge of preparing my students and all the other elementary students who have yet to receive for the Sacraments of Reconciliation and First Communion. I have found that it is surprisingly difficult at times to find materials to teach the Ten Commandments. Explaining what Adultery and coveting a neighbor's wife or goods to seven and eight year olds has its moments of extreme confusion!

I can't even begin to express the amount of times, my students have looked at me with those confused eyes or just thrown up their hands, yelling, "I don't get it!"  After looking into it for awhile and asking others for advice, I concluded that the only way to truly explain the ten commandments to such a young crowd is to put into a second grade meaning.

However, this second grade understanding can be hard to phrase correctly. As a result I thought that I would share the translations a former teacher at my school left me with.

I have inputed them into the following graphic organizers.

My second graders spend a week learning two commandments a day. We look at the actual commandment and attempt to understand what it means to us by using the second grade translation. We then use the graphic organizer to create a classroom set. We illustrate each commandment with an image that represents our understanding of it. I hang them on the wall next to  index cards where the students each write "why they think that its important to follow the commandments."

I attached the link below. I hope this resource can help second grade teachers in other places too!

All About Me

Sorry everyone for the lack of posts these last few weeks. My house had a little set back with Internet and its been a little difficult getting everything done at Starbucks. But I'm back! and I'm posting about an amazing activity my second graders did at the beginning of the school year.

This past August I had a whole group of brand new kids enter both my class and the school. They hadn't been part of the 1st grade community and as a result my class had some difficulty getting along at first. What better way to learn about each other than to start with a writing project?! I seriously wish I had done this last year. They turned out so cute! and they really helped build a new and stronger classroom community.

My All about Me project had students write all about themselves and then present their work to their class. I used it as our introductory unit to both each other and to the Writing Process. I also used it as a way to work on following directions.

We started the project by learning to divide a pre-made head and shoulders, up using lines to create the symmetry of a face. I instructed them on where and how to draw cartoon looking eyes and where a nose, eyebrows and mouth would appear when dividing a face. This gave them structure to their drawings, while at the same time allowing for creativity as to exactly how they chose to color and draw each facial feature. Approaching the art this way offered me a great way to immediately assess who struggled with following simple directions.

The students were taught about what it means to brainstorm. We brainstormed all about what others might want to learn about ourselves. We then worked on Pre-writing, Revising, Rewriting and Publishing. It took us over a week to create their writings, but they turned out really good for a beginning of the year project.

After writing we held a classroom gallery walk and then the students presented their work to their classmates during our weekly class meeting.

Following the presentations, students were grouped in fours to play a game. With a timer and a simple four square foldable, groups had to write as much as they could remember from the presentations about about the individuals from a different group within 5 minutes. We played the game a few times, switching groups. My students loved it! They learned so much about each other. (and I learned so much about them too!)

Here are some of the finished pieces. I had a super hard time choosing which ones to post. I loved them all!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! A big thanks to my wonderful family, friends, staff and students for making this past year such a wonderful year! 
I cannot wait to see what this next year brings me! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Me on the Map

Hey everyone! Check out these amazing Me on the Map projects that my students created during their unit on maps. Me on the Map is an amazing children's book written by Joan Sweeney. It helps kids determine the difference between house, neighborhood, city, state, country, continent and planet by breaking it down slowly through the use of maps! A lot of teachers use this book to hit different geography and literacy standards. Students learn all about their place in this world and then recreate Joan Sweeney's book for where they live. My own students spent a whole week, working on this project. They loved it though. 
There are so many different ways of doing this project and so many templates out on the web. Some of the best templates can be found at I edited the wonderful template here for our own state, and then used the adorable cover I found here. I love Teachers pay Teachers! Both these templates were free! 

Friday, November 9, 2012

BBK the Primary Way

Why are Maps Important? How do they help us in every day life?  And what can they tell us about the world around us?

Just recently my second graders finished learning about Maps. We spent 9 weeks looking at how maps are read, how they are used, their key components, whether or not they are effective, and how to correctly identify different types. We also looked at the breakdown of the world and how countries, continents, states and cities are all different from each other. One of my students told me she had no idea that maps were so interesting! :) 

If you look below, you can see one of the many anchor charts we used to map out our thinking. We created a classroom brain... we learned all about what it means to have a schema and to build upon such schema. We started by putting all of our initial knowledge about maps inside the picture of the brain. Then we spent a week, reading about maps and creating a list of things that we wanted to learn about them. The anchor chart was a great visual way of showing my kids what they were learning and how all this new information was building upon their original knowledge. 

My students completed their own simple BBK graphic organizer, as well. They filled in two things they had known about maps prior to learning on the inside of the head and then added two things they learned on the outside. It was such an awesome assessment.

I can't wait to use it on our next topic!!!
Download the organizer here for free

Halloween Character Project

So, I know that Halloween was a week ago, but its one of my favorite holidays and I wanted to share with you all the wonderful Halloween characters my students created. 

We've recently been working on two different targets in Language Arts.

LT: I can identify the beginning, middle and end of a story.
LT: I can identify where the author describes the character.

Therefore for Halloween, we created our own characters! We started by reading a bunch of different Halloween stories, including "The Big Pumpkin" by Erica Silverman, "Skeleton Hiccups" by Margery Cuyler and my personal favorite, "Room on the Broom" by Julia Donaldson. We used these stories to help get our minds buzzing about Halloween.
We then made a giant classroom list of all the potential Halloween characters we could write about. 

After each child picked a Halloween character, students were given a black piece of construction paper, scissors, a glue stick and 3 Halloween foam stickers. I emptied my bin of scrap paper on the back table and told students that they were only allowed to use the scissors and glue to create their scary halloween character. NO markers, crayons or pencils....
Then the mess! and what a mess! There was paper scraps everywhere!!! My classroom has never looked that messy! But boy was it worth it.... they turned out amazing! Take a look for yourself! 

 After making these characters, we spent a few days learning about how to describe a character and how to develop a beginning, middle and end of a story. Then we began the writing process to create stories for our characters. Students met with me, and did peer revisions with a partner. Finally, they were complete! We hung them in the hallway for all the parents to see during our Halloween school parade!

Here is the Rubric I used to grade the finished drafts. You can download it for free here!

Can't wait for Halloween next year!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Halloween Bats

So, I normally don't teach art class, but last week our school's art teacher was sick. Suddenly, I had an hour unplanned and 25 kiddos staring at me. Lucky for me, my Thursday volunteer was able to suggest this amazing project! We made bats by tracing our hands on black paper. She found the project here.

How cute are these!!?