Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

As I sit curled up on the couch with my family,  I wanted to send out a short post wishing everyone out there in the blog world, a very Merry Christmas! I hope that everyone is enjoying a wonderful and relaxing Holiday!

Here you can see the adorable Christmas plates that my students created for their parent gifts! We used cheap plates from the dollar store and my collection of colored sharpies. I created a simple directed drawing for them to follow and my aide and I baked them in the oven for 30 minutes at 450 degrees! I hope that my students' parents enjoyed unwrapping them this morning, as much as we enjoyed creating them!

Now to sneak a Christmas cookie and read a little of my brand new, Ron Clark's "Move your Bus!" book before getting dressed for Christmas dinner!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Nonfiction with Native Americans

Every year during November, my class studies nonfiction. I've found some incredible resources for teaching nonfiction and I love using all of them, BUT one of my favorite ways to START teaching nonfiction is to simply let them explore and discover it on their own!

I do this by splitting my students into research groups. I lay out numbered folders on a table and let each group choose a folder! I ahead of time prepare the folders to contain a set of questions, pictures, a project rubric, a map of the US and a nonfiction book about a Native American tribe. It may sound complicated but I've been compiling stuff for a few years and just have it saved as a pdf on my computer to print and throw in the folders now. It makes it way easier! lol

The questions directly relate to the nonfiction book each group has in their folder. If you haven't discovered "True Books!" yet, then boy have you been missing out! I first found them at my local public library, but have since slowly been purchasing them used on Amazon.

Each group's goal is to find the answers to their questions somewhere within their nonfiction book and to then create a presentation and a poster about what they've learned! I explain that they don't need to fully read the entire book but that they need to do their best to fully understand each aspect that they are looking for in order to present effectively to their classmates. We go over the rubric and I encourage them to start by familiarizing themselves with the questions, but I offer no other guidance then that. I then just sit back and watch them work. I love watching their brains start working!

Typically, almost every single group begins by reading the book line by line. It's time consuming and can be pretty boring at first. Eventually, as all second graders do, they get squirmy. They start flipping through the book and suddenly see a picture of corn or clothes or something that could answer one of their questions. They start noticing the captions, diagrams, images, the table of contents and even the index!

I love when the first group discovers the index or the glossary! They usually lean over to another group and share what they learned! By searching for the answers within their books, my students don't only begin to discover the elements of nonfiction on their own but they also discover its use and importance! It becomes far more meaningful for them and they can likewise apply it much quicker to new and more difficult material later.

At the end of the first day, we gather as a whole class and discuss what we learned and how we used our resources. Then begins my direct instruction. We talk about each element that we discovered and add it to a running list of parts of a nonfiction book that help a reader learn and understand. Each day during the project, we reference this list and add to it. After the first day, I walk around the classroom, helping the groups refer back to the list, so as to continue to find their answers!

They then use their answers and what they've learned to write a script for their presentation and to create a poster to show their classmates. In year's past, we've then video taped their presentation on the iPad or have used the app, "Videolicious" to record their scripts and to display their posters.

This year however, I decided to give my students even more choice and ownership over their project! I let them choose the apps or technology they wanted to use from a list of all the apps, we'd used so far this year.

Most groups started with the most recent app we've been using, "Canvastic" to illustrate something they learned about their tribe. They then used various apps other apps to create a video or poster to go along with their presentation. Here are some of the short videos they created below!  :)