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!!?