Monday, November 25, 2013

October Learning

I love Halloween!  I love Halloween stories. I love Halloween traditions and I love creating Halloween Art. Integrating reading, writing and learning with Halloween is so much fun as a teacher! 

I know that its already halfway through November but I wanted to post some of the fun stuff we worked on in October.

Below are images from our "pumpkin" making project. After reading the story, "Two many pumpkins" by Linda White, we worked on character development. We talked about the character Rebecca Estelle and her part in the story. We also discussed different reading strategies for when we come to a word we don't know. Finally we imagined what we would do if we had that many pumpkins. We wrote down our ideas and then created our own jack-o-lanterns like in the story. The pumpkins turned out really cute.

During October we also spent a lot of time looking at the difference between Nonfiction and Fiction. We read different articles about Spiders and compared them to the story, "Diary of a Spider." Finally we looked at Word families during Phonics. We created Word Family Webs and spiders to hang from them. Below you can see some of the webs we created during our Phonics block. 

 Vowel teams can be extremely tricky to practice. This year I created this Candy Corn Vowel team sort. Students were given a large word bank and asked to identify different vowel teams. It was a great activity to help teach them not only the sounds for different teams but also how to identify them in different words. They absolutely loved working in groups together and creating these candy corn pieces.

Get it here.

Like I mentioned earlier about working with characters, students learned all about characters during the month of October. They especially looked at character descriptions and how authors give their character's characteristics that make them unique and interesting to the story. They had to create the below characters and write about them, making sure to add plenty of details to describe them! 


Finally, we worked on learning how authors use quotations to make stories more interesting. We learned that quotation mark show when the author stops speaking and another character starts. We looked at many different books and identified the quotations as well as how to use them properly in our writing. Finally we created these little Halloween stories. Each child imagined that were entering a Haunted House and that different Halloween creatures jumped out and said things to them! They had to use quotations to tell the reader what the characters said! You can get the project here.

Hope you had a wonderful October! :)

Instead of carving this year... my sister and I painted! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Fun with Math

For the last few years, I've struggled as a teacher to make math fun in the classroom. To be honest... I've been an extremely boring math teacher. I would teach a concept, have the kids work on it with me either in groups or on the board, and then I would give them a worksheet to work on independently (to prove that they got it). The only time I would use manipulatives would be during the initial teacher led lesson and even then, I tended to use virtual manipulatives on the computer, rather than hands-on ones. It was the same thing everyday... monotonous and boring.

As a result, I've made it my goal this year to make math more fun. Not only have I done my best to include math rotations more, so as to better address my students' differing math abilities, but I have used my ipads to integrate technology through the use of math apps like Mathletics, Scootpad, Sushi Monster and Hungry Fish.

I have also included time to work on Mountain Math, which is an amazing program that helps students progress through second grade math concepts that steadily increase in difficulty week to week.

And finally, I have been working on creating performance assessments for each of our math units through what I have been calling "Art" integrated Math. Rather than a boring old math worksheet or a solitary math test, I've been enticing my students to display their learning within art or through activities that show their learning.

Below are just some of the ways so far this year that I have done this.

Place Value Windows
After working with place value and learning about the many different ways that one can write a 3 digit numbers, students were asked to roll a dice 3 times to create a 3 digit number. They then had to create a place value window that depicted their number in four different ways. They had to write it in standard form, in expanded form, in word form and through place value blocks.

Body Graphing
An Expeditionary Learning favorite... create a graph with your body! Not only did we graph skittles and our favorite pizza on giant anchor charts, but we also created graphs with our bodies. First, we chose a topic. Then, we created a tally chart on the whiteboard of our favorite sports or activities. We then pushed all the desks aside and created a life size graph on the floor of the classroom. Students chose a topic and sat on the ground like a rising bar graph or a pictograph. They loved it! I finished the activity by asking the kids lots of questions, analyzing our body graph and had the kids create a drawing of what we had just made, explaining to their parents the results.

Ice Cream Comparing
This was actually an amazing activity that my partner teacher shared with me. Every kid seems to be introduced to greater than or less than signs through the monster or alligator teeth. Why not solidify those signs with ice cream cones!? Obviously you want your ice cream cone to contain more ice cream!

Math Detectives
When learning about Math patterns, students became Math detectives. They were split into groups and given magnifying glasses with "clues" (I used a white board marker to write +3, or +2, or -4 on small plastic magnifying glasses.) They then had to match the clues with the correct mystery pattern.  The next day they had to create their own mystery pattern, and create a paper magnifying glass clue that lifted up to reveal the answer. I wish I had taken pictures of their final projects, but they were so excited to take them home to test their parents that I forgot. 

Educreations is an amazing iPad app that can be used to assess a student's ability to complete the steps of a math problem. Students create their own videos, where they not only talk through the problem but also solve a problem. My students love creating these videos, and sharing them with the class. 
Learn more at the website...

Mr. Bones loves Addition
Because it's almost Halloween and we've been working diligently on solving three digit addition problems with and without regrouping. I created this fun skeleton project to act as our art integrated math for Addition. Students were given a pre-made template copied on white construction paper of a skeleton. Each of his bones had a different 3 digit addition problem. Students had to solve each problem correctly before they could cut the skeleton out and assemble him. I have never seen kids work so hard at math! They turned out soo cute too! Can't wait to make "Mr. Turkey loves Subtraction!"


All and All I'm doing my best to make Math more fun, more engaging and more meaningful this year! It's just a start, but I know at least I'm having more fun. I'll post more ideas soon! If you have any great ideas, let me know!

Learning about Baptism

One of the greatest things about being a second grade teacher at a Catholic school is getting to teach the kids all about the sacraments. For the last month we've been learning all about Baptism. We've learned the vocabulary, the stories and the symbols. We spent a lot of time learning the different parts of the ceremony and what each symbol represents. 

They then learned all about their own baptisms. They researched the day, the time, the presiding priest, the parish and how they reacted when they were anointed with oil and water. They created baptismal collages and presented their own baptisms to their classmates. Below you can see some of the collages they created. The collages had to include the different symbols they'd learned about. 

To finish up our study of baptism our own school priest offered to hold a teddy bear baptism. Having never attended a teddy bear baptism, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. We followed an example found on teacherspayteachers (Teddy Bear Baptism) and had a wonderful time!

Students brought in either a teddy bear or beloved stuffed animal from home. They gave it a baptismal name and created a candle and a baptismal gown. They even picked suitable godparents for their bears. (I am currently godmother to 7 bears, an alligator and a baby doll.)

Finally, we walked over to the church and our priest explained the different steps of baptism. He used the time to have the kids express what they had learned and share their understanding. He talked about the official words used in baptism and even had the kids sprinkle a little holy water on their bears heads from the baptismal font.

I was extremely impressed by my students ability to not only answer Father's questions, but to also explain what they had learned. A teddy bear baptism, although rather unconventional, was an excellent performance assessment for our study on the sacrament of baptism.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pinwheels for Peace!

        Second grade paired up with their fifth grade buddies to create pinwheels for pinwheel for peace day. They colored, cut and assembled over 60 pinwheels that they placed in the grass in front of the school.  They prayed for peace and discussed ways that they could encourage peace not only in their own school and community, but in their world as well. Many of them stated with such honesty and intensity that they believed that it was important for kids to be leaders for peace. I was so impressed by their want and desire to change the world. Hopefully they won't give up on such a lofty dream. 

It was a beautiful sign of peace in 2nd and 5th grade! I loved helping my kiddos play a role in striving for peace. 

Apples! Apples! Apples!

September is all about APPLES! As any good teacher knows, learning about apples is a primary grade staple. In Kindergarten they count apples and apple seeds, they sort apples and they create lots of apple art. In First grade they learn all about Johnny Appleseed. They discuss folk tales and work on reading and creating graphs in math all about apples.

AND in Second grade we look at the economics behind apple orchards. We discuss how food gets from the farm to the table, and at my school... go on an amazing field trip to an apple farm!

Check out some of our pictures below. It was gorgeous!

How cool is this apple sorting machine!? Not only does it sort by color, and type, it also sorts by size! It literally shoots out the apples that are way too small into bin to be crushed into apple juice or used as compost on the farm! 

Their apple pie was amazing!! Doesn't it look yummy!?

The apple farm was a great way to sum up all their apple learning from Kindergarten and First grade. They were so excited. 

After returning from the apple farm, we made the apples we picked into applesauce. A class mother cut and peeled each and every apple as we discussed the importance of accurate measurement and defined what a unit is. We then as a class measured out the ingredients and placed it in a crock pot all day. 

By the end of the day we had delicious applesauce! I was so surprised at how easy it was to make!

We finally ended our study on apples by focusing on the common core and writing opinion pieces. We discussed the proper way to organize our writing and wrote about how we felt about our field trip to the apple farm. Students made sure to include topic sentences, conclusion sentences, reasons or evidence and details that backed up our topic.
We then used some of the left over apples from our trip to stamp apple trees to add some art to our writing. 

It was a great month and a wonderful study on apples!