Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Religion Website

Often times it's hard to make sure that prayer is a priority in your life. It's even harder to make sure that you're growing in your faith together as a family. As a Catholic school, my school is always working and encouraging their teachers and families to work together in developing a strong sense of faith in our community. Check out the website I created below for our upcoming Religion Night.

Families will be creating Family Faith Covenants together. The website will hopefully act as a resource for families at St. Rose in developing a stronger and more deliberate faith life in their own homes.

Dr. Seuss

So I know that I'm a little behind, but I wanted to make sure that I posted some of the images from our school's March theme centered around Dr. Seuss.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 that I drew for our Reading Night!
Each grade in the school was given a list of Dr. Seuss books that we needed to read to get ready for our School's Reading Night at the end of March. Second grade had to read the titles below. (Though many of my students checked out other Dr. Seuss books from the school library)

1. Horton hears a Who
2. The Butter Battle
3. The Cat and the Hat
4. Gertrude Mcfuzz
5. The Sneetches
6. Green Eggs and Ham
7. Horton hatches an egg
8. Yertle the Turtle
9. The Lorax
10. The Grinch who stole Christmas

It was so much fun checking off the different books and discussing each one! They loved embarking on an author's study and I enjoyed using his various books  as great mentor texts to discuss Author's purpose, making connections and problem and solution with my class as well!

For reading night we had to decorate a poster to hang in the cafeteria to be judged by the school librarians. We Won!! Look at our poster below! I drew the cat and the hat and they colored him and each wrote a short paragraph, giving evidence for their favorite Dr. Seuss book!

Check out that blue ribbon!! 
We also displayed our Lorax wall at Reading Night that showed the Second grade's thinking and analysis of the quote, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful, lot nothing is going to get better. Its not!"

Dr. Seuss is an amazing author to study in the elementary classroom. My students loved learning so much about him and his many books. We even read his biography just before easter during our study on the difference between Biographies and Autobiographies! 

Not going to lie... I'm kind of sad that March is over! Every Month should be Dr. Seuss month!  

All About Snow

Denver's weather is all over the place. It can't seem to decide if it wants to be really warm and sunny or really cold and snowy. Last Tuesday we had a snow day! But by Wednesday it was completely gone and the sun was out. Then yesterday it snowed almost a foot! It can't seem to make up it's mind!

Thanks to the snow though, I made a shocking discovery! 2/3 of my students had no idea that snow was made of water!! They've lived their whole lives here in Denver and yet they've never even thought about what its made of.

As a result, I decided to do a little Science and Language Arts integration day all about snow.
We started by discussing everything we know about snow. We made a giant anchor chart of our prior knowledge. We then read a 3rd grade leveled nonfiction piece pulled from the Scholastic Comprehension book here. We as a class took notes (annotating the piece on the Smartboard) and discussed the main idea, purpose and learning in the piece. We then talked about all the facts that we learned about snowflakes, making a giant list on the board.

One of the things my students found the most interesting was the many different types of snowflakes and the different kinds of snow they made. We pulled up the following photograph to see what Wilson Bentley would have seen when taking photographs of snowflakes.

We then talked about the two most common types of snow that we might experience in Denver. We talked about the light powdery snow that is good for skiing and sledding and the thick heavy snow that is good for snowballs and snowmen. We used our classroom smart board to research snow on the websites that I included below. Together as a class... we made a graph depicting our hypotheses about what kind of snow fell last night when we were sleeping. 

We then took our journals outside to experience the snow. They took observations on the snow, noting its look. They then were allowed to touch it and see if it would make good snowballs or fall apart in our hand and be soft for sledding. 

Lucky for them it was Snowman snow!!
We made a snowman as a class! 
Check it out below. 
He's one cool looking snowman.

After making our snowman, we came back to class and wrote paragraphs all about what we learned about snow that day! We still need to work on editing for spelling and grammar but my kids did an excellent job for the most part of remembering to use the writing process and include an introduction and conclusion sentence. 

And... they gave great quality feedback to their friends when we shared them! Three examples of some of the their first pages are posted below. 

I can't wait until tomorrow for when we learn all about the states of matter and how this helps us understand snow, ice, steam and water. 

We're also going to read the amazing children's book "Snowflake Bentley" as suggested by my fellow teacher and cousin, Kristin. It ties in nicely with our study on autobiographies and biographies! I can't wait! I love when so much learning can be connected and made so meaningful! 

Below are some links to other amazing sites to help with learning about snowflakes.


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hitting the Target

In my classroom I teach every single day, using the workshop model. Expeditionary Learning expects that students are aware of their learning, and that they understand the objectives that they're trying to reach. The workshop model as a result does just that. It hooks or engages them in the learning. It breaks down the objective and instructs the students towards achieving such target. Next it guides them towards success by working towards it together as a class or in small groups. Finally it sets them free to achieve the goal on their own. They are asked to complete the task and prove their own success. Therefore as the lesson comes to a close, they can assess themselves and discusses their understanding.

The Workshop Model

1. Hook
2. Mini Lesson "I do"
3. Guided Practice "We do"
4. Independent Practice "You do"
5. Share/Debrief 

It's an overall wonderful structure for teaching, yet its many parts sometimes make getting to the Share and Debrief portion of the Lesson difficult. I as a result created the following tool. 

When my students are done with their independent work, they turn it in and assess themselves on a large classroom target. They use magnets to place their "Understanding or learning" on the learning objective. They decide if they "Got it,""Need more help or practice" or "have no idea how to reach the target." I use magnets that can be easily moved. My students love being able to show me if they need more help and also watch their magnet move closer and closer to the achieving the target. 

I at first made them on magnetic strips. I later used stronger magnets and glued them to round wooden pieces I bought at hobby lobby.  
On the side of my desk my students store their magnets. 
I still need to get our classroom target laminated, but I love its bright colors!