Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!!

Happy Easter!! I hope that you are having a wonderful day celebrating with your family. I know that I am extremely happy and blessed to be back in California celebrating with mine.

Check out the pictures from the Sedar Meal my students and I celebrated this past Thursday during Holy Week! We had to slightly modify the meal but I think my students really enjoyed getting to see what meal Jesus would have been eating at the actual Last Super!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Flat Stanley

So my students have been voraciously reading the Flat Stanley series during their Daily 5 block of free reading. As a result, the art teacher created these adorable Flat Stanley projects with the kids. They're sooo cute! She's having them send them all over the country to different relatives. I can't wait to see if they come back to us!

I think that until they do, we're also going to write our own creative stories about them during our free writing block. Check out how cute they are though!

Check out Flat Ms. Crowley!!!

Making Connections Lesson

So this week... we had our seasonal principal observations as a staff. I was observed during a literacy lesson on making connections. I thought that I'd post my write up. Its a pretty good indicator of a typical literacy lesson in my classroom. (Although the write up is definitely more in depth. I normally shorten my write ups by abbreviating a lot of what I do)

Also if you scroll down to the bottom, you can download the graphic organizer I used for the independent practice portion of the lesson. 

Long-Term Target:
·      I can use reading strategies to help me understand what I’m reading.
Today’s Supporting Target
·      I can make connections when I read.
Today’s Target Assessment  
·       I can record a connection I made while reading onto a graphic organizer.  

Some things I am thinking about: Lately we’ve been working on using different reading strategies to help us comprehend better. This week we learned about how making connections helps us understand. This lesson is going to be a quick review of what we’ve been working on and a chance for my students to prove to me that they know how to make connections. We are going to read the book, “Butter Battle.” Then students will make connections to themselves, to other texts and to the world.

My Plan:

Introduction and Hook
TW introduce the learning target. TW break down the target together. TW remind student of their hand signal for making connections.
Mini Lesson
TW have students reflect back on their learning. They will look over their anchor chart and discuss the reasons its important to make connections, especially how it helps us understand. TW then have students reflect back on the 3 books they read that week to help them make Text to Self, Text to Text and Text to World.
Guided Work
TW then pull out the Sneetches book… She will have students reflect back on that story and together as a class.. TW model making a connection to the story. Then SW help the teacher make Text to Self, Text to Text, and Text to World connections for that book. TW then explain how today they are going to be responsible for making new connections for a new book.

TW read, “The Butter Battle”
Independent Work
TW quickly model how to use the graphic organizer, despite them having used it before… TW give students time to work on the independent work… then SW turn in their independent work and assess themselves on the target. 
Share and Debrief
TW have students meet her on the carpet. SW share some of the connections they made in “The Butter Battle.”

TW ask for volunteers to share why they chose to place their magnet where they did on the assessment target.

TW share next steps with the kids….

Next Steps: During our afternoon literacy block, students are going to make connections to the books they choose to read on their own. Furthermore I used and analyzed their independent work to group them for the afternoon differentiated lessons during our Daily 5 Block.

Over the next few days... we’re going to spend a few days reading different mentor texts and making connections. Finally we’re going to transition from making connections to being able to give an example of a time when making a connection personally helped us understand as a reader better.

Hope you enjoyed a look at direct instruction lesson in my classroom! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We have a new Pope!!

So exciting to be able to experience such an amazing moment with my students today. We had such a great time cheering and learning everything we could about Pope Francis. This photo just makes me so happy. Look how excited they are!!! They joined the crowds at the Vatican in chanting "Viva il Papa!"

This will definitely be a moment I remember for the rest of my life! What a great way to spend a Wednesday! I love being a teacher!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Raider has a new look

Check out Raider's new look. One of my student's grandmas created this Broncos outfit. All he needs now is a motorcycle! 


We've been doing so much in Second Grade lately that I have so many posts to write! Below are the Multiplication Stories we wrote when we finished learning our 2's times tables. We spent a lot of time discussing the language of multiplication and learning how to answer and illustrate multiplication word problems. Therefore, when we finished learning our 2's, we worked on the project below. It was a quick project and only took us a day to complete. 

I got the idea over a year ago on Pinterest. Unfortunately I didn't actually pin the idea, so thank you so much to whoever pinned this idea originally. It was a great way to solidify the concept of groups in Multiplication and give them a sense of ownership in their learning.   

Book Report

Hey Everyone!

Today was such a wonderful day at school! Not only were my kids super well behaved, but they also presented their Book Flap projects!

We've been spending a lot of time lately on sequencing stories after we read them, and then giving our personal opinions about the stories. We learned about transition words and using evidence to better explain our opinion. We also worked on giving our opinions in a respectful way and making sure that we include all the important aspects of a book in a sequencing piece.

This project as a result was not only a way for me to assess the success of their learning over the past few weeks, but also give them a chance to share their favorite books in class.

Each student picked one of their favorite books and created a "Book Flap." They drew or traced the cover of their book and then gave their personal opinion backed by evidence on the inside cover and a carefully written sequencing piece on the back cover. They used the writing process to create high quality writing and received both peer and teacher help with editing. They then practiced presenting their projects, making sure to use a loud and clear voice and answer questions from their friends with respect.

It took us an extremely long time, but they're done! And... they turned out awesome!

I used the above rubric to assess my students. If you're interested, let me know and I'd be happy to send it your way. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Helping Young Writers

Hey everyone! I attended an assessment conference a few weeks ago and learned all about student engaged assessment. One of the things they discussed the most was helping students assess themselves during writing. I got to observe some super amazing teachers teach writing. As a result, I spent a week updating all of my young writer's criteria and spending extra time teaching my students how to better assess themselves and their peers during the editing and revise portion of the Writing Process. Below is the link to my newly created Young Writer's Help Packet. It includes a checklist, and sight words, transition words and question word lists. It's already made a huge difference in my student's self assessment and overall confidence in writing. I hope that it can be some use to you too!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Native Americans and the American West

Throughout the month of February my students began working on their Famous Americans Expedition. Now that we've learned all about how humans influence the environment around us, its time to look at how humans influence other humans. We became historians, studying the creation of our country, beginning with Native Americans.

Because young children often gain their knowledge of Native Americans through very stereotypical portrayals found in television, toys, Halloween costumes, and Thanksgiving legends,  I designed my instruction to put these misconceptions to rest through integration of literacy sequencing standards, and an introduction to elementary research. 

I began by reading two Native American stories aloud. Students were asked to sequence these two stories through the use of story time statues and a storyboard graphic organizer. We then learned about how sequencing is important not just in understanding history but also in fully understanding literature.

Following these stories, we reflected in our journals on a visual image and I asked them to determine whether or not all Native Americans are the same. Connecting their prior knowledge to the varying depictions of Native Americans from the two stories and the image, we learned that Native Americans are a
broad group of people made up by many different nations. 

Students then spent time researching different Native American nations. They created group posters and presented their understanding to the class. Finally we ended by discussing how white settlement affected all Native Americans. 

Below is an image of the five posters my students created this year. I'm always extremely impressed at how engaged my students are during this study. They go above and beyond their grade level to delve deep into the material and truly learn. 

If you're interested in seeing exactly how I taught this lesson, check out the entire plan, complete with materials, on the Western History Association's website here. I submitted this lesson through one of their contests last year and was awarded the Charles Redd Center Teaching Western History Award for excellent lesson planning in social studies.

Things that make me love teaching...

A fellow teacher once told me to keep a running binder of little notes, pictures and moments that remind you of why you love teaching. She said that because teaching is hard, you will sometimes have those days where you literally feel like your mind is exploding. Having this binder, helps ground you and remind you of the reasons you love what you do. 

Even just after two years, my binder is already bursting from the seams. I have so many drawings, pictures, notes and memories from teaching. I love flipping through it on the hard to handle days where I swear my students were fed only candy for breakfast. It reminds me to laugh, smile and dig deep down and find that extra patience. 

Adding to this binder gives me joy. 

Today we were asked by my principal to write thank you notes to the many donors that make the existence of our school possible. Check out the cards below. I had to snap a few pictures to add to my binder. Sometimes you forget how much you mean to your students. It's nice to get that reminder! :)