Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Harvesting Unusual Plants in 3rd Grade

A third grade class presented the powerpoints they made about unusual plants to parents today as part of their harvest festival for Thanksgiving. They followed it up with apple cider and dirt with worms (aka chocolate cookies and pudding with gummy worms). The students did a great job. Here are some pictures from their presentations.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Power Up!

As we move toward the Common Core and Essential Standards, some of the topics we usually teach are changing or being tweaked. We need new sources and there are lots of fun ones out there! Power Up is a game I found at a recent Thinkfinity training. This is a higher level thinking game for students as they learn more about human impact on the environment and different types of energy, both of which seem to be elements in the new standards for several grade levels. To play the game, students begin with a certain amount of funds, and 3 choices of energy to power their city. Each type has different impacts on the environment, cost, and power amounts it produces. The 3 choices change with each turn. The goal is to power the city fully without destroying the environment or running out of money, so critical thinking comes into play as well as a greater knowledge of which types of energy harm the environment the most.

Power Up!

Games Win Kids Over


Kids love games, especially in our age of video games. the key in school in making those games relevant to your curriculum. Dr. Ertzberger at UNC-Wilmington has developed several games that are easy to edit and use with your class. While these games are not as fancy as video games, they are easy to use! Most are in PowerPoint, a few are in Excel or Word. (There are also resources such as downloadable countdown timers that are great for the SMARTboard.) You simply download the templates, edit as needed and play! There is a YouTube video you can see as a tutorial if you need help editing, but most of them are simple to do. Games that mimic shows such as Jeopardy can be found here, but he has changed the name and there is no music so you do not have to worry about copyright infringements that some templates on the web have. I attended a workshop by Dr. Ertzberger a few years ago, and at the time he stated that he has all his templates checked by a copyright expert to be sure there are no infringement issues. Some of the games you edit to add your own questions, but some of the templates are meant to be used with oral questions and teams just move their race car or uncover boxes looking for a treasure with each correct answer. This way you can use them with students for a quick review without having edited it for the current topic you are teaching. Check out the site! Oh, and did I mention - most of it is FREE! He does have some templates on a premium site and a book you can buy, but there are a lot of free templates available too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thanksgiving Field Trips

Have you ever wanted to visit Plimoth Plantation or see what it was like to live as a Pilgrim or Wampanoag? Scholastic has partnered with Plimoth Plantation and created virtual field trips with visits to both Pilgrim and Wampanoag homesites with interpreters to tell you more about what life was like. Student questions from across the country are also answered. Check it out! What a great way to take an inexpensive trip back in time and let students see how things have changed over time. This meets several social studies common core standards involving holidays, diversity, and change over time. There is also a section of the Wampanoag video especially that talks about how they planted the gardens to work symbiotically to get the most out of it. This would also be a great clip for plant units. The videos are usually only available for short periods each year, but you can sign up to get reminders of the webcasts each year when they are released, along with some other items.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reading Sites

If you are looking for some sites for information about books to get kids interested in reading, here are some great ones!

Read Kiddo Read is a site from James Patterson (yes, that James Patterson!) that suggests and gives reviews for books for kids based on age and reading level. They are mostly pretty current releases and the ones I have looked at are all ones that are popular with the kids here at school. There is also a section of broader booklists, lists especially for boys or girls, lists for teachers, and more. This site is definitely worth a look!

open book saying "read"
KidsReads.com is also a great resource for ideas of book titles to get kids interested in reading. In addition to title suggestions and reviews, there is information about forming book clubs, becoming an author, information for teachers and parents, book club guides, information about books that became movies, and more!  Can't get your child to read? Try offering to see the movie after they read the book, then talk about how it was like the book and what they thought was done differently than the book or how they pictured it. Most usually say books are better than the movies!
boy flying with books
Guys Read is a site from Jon Scieszka, author of books such as Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. His goal is to get guys more interested in reading as research shows interest in reading by boys is dropping. He has tons of suggestions for boys (girls might like a lot of them too). There are lists by subjects such as ghosts, mysteries, funny, sports, robots, war, how to build stuff, at least one explosion, and more. What more could a guy want in a good book? You might also be interested in the newest venture, Guys Listen.

There are lots of tremendous resources out there, these are just a few to get you started. Have fun exploring and let me know if I can help.
funnel for books

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Primary Source Sets from the LoC

Everyone is talking about the new Common Core Standards. They include more standards that coincide with our  information and technology essential standards. One area in particular that is included more is using primary sources. It can be difficult to find and use primary sources sometimes, so it was like finding a treasure chest when I found out about the Primary Source sets for Teachers from the Library of Congress. These include many topics including the Wright Brothers, Jamestown, the Harlem Renaissance, Abraham Lincoln, and so many more. There is even a set for Thanksgiving that includes things like paintings of the First Thanksgiving, Abe Lincoln and George Washington's proclamations for Thanksgiving, and Sarah Hale's letter to Lincoln discussing a national day of Thanksgiving.

The first Thanksgiving 1621

  • Title: The first Thanksgiving 1621 / J.L.G. Ferris.
  • Creator(s): Ferris, Jean Leon Gerome, 1863-1930, artist
  • Date Created/Published: Cleveland, Ohio : The Foundation Press, Inc., c1932.
  • Medium: 1 photomechanical print : halftone, color.
So check it out and get some great additions to lessons!



I attended a workshop on Thinkfinity recently and found a resource that teachers only dream of! I hope to be able to conduct some workshops on it for teachers and other media coordinators soon, but in the meantime I can post some great sources here! One I have found and love is iCivics. This site has a lot of games that look a lot like regular video games, but each teaches things like how to run for president, working with a national budget, our rights according to the constitution, creating bills and laws, and so much more. It takes kids through the processes in a fun way and is not boring. I have to say I HAD to try out all the games to see what they are like. (Of course it was not because they are just fun to play!) So, check it out! It is a great way to teach 5th grade government.

Plants With A Cool Factor

3rd grade has been working on plants and reading about Venus Fly Traps, so we thought it was a perfect time for a plant research project to get the kids reacquainted with research since summer break. Working with partners, they each drew the name of an interesting plant, did the research, then created a powerpoint. A simple project, but they really got excited about designing the powerpoints, color schemes, and so forth. Main goals for the kids included paraphrasing and citing sources. Students really struggle with taking notes in short phrases, so I modeled it first. They did a pretty good job! Here are some of the notes they ended up with.

After the note taking, they used their notes to write out what they wanted the powerpoints to say. This way they were sure to use their own words and practice using notes.

Once they had their sentences, they created their powerpoints. Then, the fun started. After entering all their information and citations, they could get creative and play with fonts, colors, backgrounds, and pictures. We talked about representing their plants, so not using backgrounds of things like fireworks. I also showed the students using an example how certain colors won't show up very well and certain fonts work fine for titles, but not for large blocks of text. They did a good job and got creative. Here are a few slide sets that resulted. 

We are all so proud of all our students!

Rock Star in the Library

Beaux Foy with  CCES Students
We were lucky to have a visit from Beaux Foy, lead singer of Airiel Down, at CCES today. He is the State Library's spokesperson for the Smartest Card campaign for public libraries. During his visit, he talked to the kids about finding books about gorillas, his favorite animal, in the library when he was young. Those books led to a lifelong passion for gorillas and work to help protect them. He also talked about a friend who met someone while reading about snowboarding who turned out to be a snowboarding instructor and led to a friendship and learning to snowboard. It was fun to see the kids guess how much they thought library cards cost - the top guess being $100! Luckily they are free, so head to the Kernersville or Winston Salem libraries soon if you haven't already.
Beaux Foy of Airiel Down talking to students about getting library cards
Talking about learning about gorillas in the library when he was a kid
He also just received an award from North Carolina's USO (Heart of a Patriot award) for doing so much for the troops - so much more fitting even that it is Veteran's Day! This is the same award that Gary Sinise (from Forest Gump and CSI New York) received from a different chapter. This is the first time NC has given the award, so it is a great honor.
Mrs. Martin and Mrs. DuBois with Beaux
(Thanks for sharing your space in the gym Mrs. Martin!)
Edited to say: After school we got a phone call from a parent whose child was excited about seeing a rock star at school! They wanted more information about the band. I wonder how many kids went home talking about rock stars? I hope they all love libraries as much as Beaux.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

What would you do with a ______ like this?

Fourth graders have been working on animal adaptations in their media classes. We each researched a different animal to find out an adaptation of that animal. Then, following in the style of the Steve Jenkins book What Would You Do With a Tail Like This?, we created powerpoint slides of our animals. Most students were able to find pictures of their animal on Pics 4 Learning also! Here are a few sample slides from some of the students.

Beavers Blabber

The 4th grade AG group is working on researching different aspects of beavers as they Sign of the Beaver. Here is our first Blabberize from their research. Thanks Connor for letting us share it!