Monday, May 25, 2015

The California Drought

Across California, regulations have been put in place to help conserve water during our current drought. I was extremely surprised to find that many of my students were not only unaware that we were in the middle of a drought, but were also confused as to what that meant and how we might conserve water. 

A friend of mine from another school shared her easy reader nonfiction article on the drought with us and we began our short study on the California drought and its effect on our state. We watched news segments on the drought and read about water conservation on the internet. We even looked at before and after images of lakes and rivers near ur in California. Below I've posted one of the amazing final products from our study. Students in groups each created a "Shadow Puppet" video informing people about the drought. "Shadow puppet" is one of my new favorite apps to use and I think it worked great for this project! 


Over the last few weeks, we've been working with shapes! Now I'll admit, teaching 2D and 3D shapes was one of those concepts that used to be somewhat tricky for me. I felt like I was one of those beginning  teachers, that unfortunately didn't know what else to do except encourage my students to memorize the different shapes. I'd hold up a shape and say, "So this is a triangle. Got it?" and hope to God that they did get it. 

I didn't have any manipulatives or games, direct instruction or even activities that made learning shapes easier or more enjoyable. I just hoped that my students would catch on eventually. 

Now I still don't have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to shapes, but I'm definitely doing better! I've found some incredible resources and have blog stalked many amazing teachers out there in the world and have borrowed some great ideas from them and come up with a few on my own. 

Here are some of the things I use now!

1. Geoboards: Who doesn't love rubber bands and little peg boards? My kids love love love the geoboards. I use them a lot in center work. I pair them with index cards that guide my students as to what shapes they need to create, so as to keep them focused and on task. 

2. Kinesthetic shape making: We go out to the grassy ground next to the playground and create different shapes using our bodies. We work in groups to create sides and angles. We take pictures by climbing to the top of the playground and using our iPad to snap aerial views. We then use doodle buddy or a drawing app on the iPad to label the sides, angles and vertices of the shapes we made in our pictures. 

3. Shape manipulatives: I printed these amazing pattern block templates from Jessica's Corner of Cyberspace and paired them with my shape blocks for a fun center. I created a name that shape graphic organizer to record their work.

4. The Greedy Triangle: We read the book, "The Greedy Triangle" and use Step into Second grade's awesome shape shifter activity found here. We paired the project she created with the fun app, "Chatterpix" and made the awesome videos below. 


4. Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes: We also read the book, "Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes." We took notes in our math journals and practiced identifying the difference between a vertex, edge and face of a 3D shape.


5. Pic Collage: Then we used the app, "Pic Collage" to create picture collages of our 3D classroom shapes. I love how they turned out! There are some student examples below.

Pic Collage

I'm so glad that I've learned a few tricks. Not only do my students enjoy shapes more, but I definitely enjoy teaching them more too! What are some ways that you teach shapes?