Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Student Helpers

Sometimes you just have those aha moments that you wonder why you didn't think of them before. Yesterday, I was working with a third grade class. They were finishing up a powerpoint to present in our next session, and I had 3 sets of partners done while the rest still had a ways to go. I told the ones that were done they could be my helpers and circulate to answer and assist with the things they knew but to refer questions they didn't know the answer to back to me. It made things so much easier! Kids didn't have to wait for me to get to them when the students could answer simple questions like how to insert a picture and change the background because they already did it. I know it seems a simple enough thing I should have thought of long ago, but I will definitely be using this strategy again. It might even encourage students to focus and finish faster so they can be a helper.

What do you do when some students finish earlier than others?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Bee-Ware of a Fun Project

I did a Super 3 bee lesson with my Kindergarteners right before book fair last week, and it actually worked out playing into the pumpkin lesson I am doing now. (More on that one later!)

I wanted to introduce the Super 3 Research Process to them, and used bees as an example of an animal that gets ready for winter during the fall. (They make extra honey to store.) I like to use the Super 3 as a backbone for lots of lessons throughout the year so the kids get used to hearing it, how to follow the process, and can kind of know what to expect from a lot of lessons, though the topics and end products change.

We brainstormed questions we had about bees, where to find the information, and how we could show information. Then, we read a non fiction book about bees and made observations from some bee photographs. The kids drew a picture of a bee using the things we observed and tried to write something they had learned about bees if they could. They turned out well and some added some good details to the pictures like the honeycomb cells or bees on flowers getting nectar. Here are some of their pictures.

She wrote 'Queen bees lay eggs.'
Bees have 6 legs and 2 wings.
A bee getting nectar.
A bee in the hive

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Everywhere

I have been working with Kindergarten and First Graders on the pumpkin life cycle this week using the Super 3 process. We talked about where we could find more information about pumpkins and several were thoughtful enough to include pumpkin farmers along with the usual books, computer, smart phone, etc. We looked at photos of different stages of the pumpkin life cycle and watched a short clip of a pumpkin growing. I like to also read the book Pumpkin Jack, but it was already checked out this year when I looked for it.

We talked about the steps and how a cycle repeats. It also helped to explain why the pumpkins are green for a while by comparing them with tomatoes and bananas that are green before they are ripe. 

I had the Kindergarteners shorten the cycle to 4 steps of the life cycle and their end products looked something like these.

For the first graders, we talked a little more about what cycle means and that it repeats. We added the step of the green pumpkin into the life cycle also. Here are some of their products.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Book Fair is Coming!

Our Fall Book Fair is almost here! We will have Book Fair Oct 15th-19th. We will be open daily from 8:15-3:45 and on Oct. 19th during the school Croctoberfest Fall Festival as well. Please come and shop! A portion of the proceeds comes back to our school to help us buy more books for the library. We also need volunteers if you are available!

If you cannot come and shop or have family out of town that would like to buy a book, be sure to visit our book fair webpage. This is also a great way to get books for your child for Christmas without them knowing! You can order books online for the same price as in the fair and they will be delivered to the school with NO shipping charges. These purchases still count toward our school. You can also shop longer online - the online fair is open Oct. 8th - Oct. 27th. All books will be delivered to the school shortly afterwards and I will deliver them to the kids as soon as they arrive. If you want them to be a Christmas present surprise, just email me and let me know how to contact you to pick them up.

Additionally, for all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans out there, the 7th DWK book is coming out Nov. 13th, but you can preorder it at our book fair. Then, when it is released, they will be shipped here and delivered to your classroom by me! In the past, the book fair paperback is usually cheaper than the hardback that will be released elsewhere and it helps our school. The book is $8.49 plus tax if you wish to preorder, you will pay at the book fair and we have a short order form for it.

Remember to check our book fair webpage! You can order books that we sell out of or ask family if they would like to purchase a book from your child's wish list. Don't forget to order a book for your student's teacher as well - they make great Christmas presents.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Presidential Advertising

Image Source
With all the talk of Big Bird ads these days, I thought this was interesting and could start many different discussions in the classroom at any level. On the Library of Congress blog today, they mentioned a collection of Presidential Campaign Posters. Looking through them, there are some interesting ones that show signs of the times and the progression from simple to much more like current advertising. I could see many discussions ranging from who the ads are meant to target, what they reflect about the time period, changes over time, and more. The LoC is a great resource for primary source material such as this, so don't forget to check it when you are working on projects for audio, graphic, written, photographic, or other materials to make your lessons even more personal. 
 How have you used the Library of Congress or primary sources?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012



I was lucky enough to be able to attend the NCSLMA 2012 Conference. This is a wonderful time to be able to recharge, get excited about what I do, and find lots of great new ideas! I will be posting about many of the ideas I got at some point or another, either over the next few weeks, or as I use some of them in my own lessons, so you get to have some of the ideas too. I highly recommend going to at least one state conference (or national if you can) each year if you can make it. It is a great way to connect with other colleagues, find new ideas, and just stop to think about the direction of your own program. I will be posting some of the ideas as I said, but I want to hear from you - let's have a virtual conference! 

What are some of your favorite sites, lessons, and resources?

You Never Know...

Just a quick post - my husband saw this article last night and showed it to me. It just goes to show that you never know what a student can really do! I have since seen several other articles about John Gurdon, but he has won the Nobel Prize for Medicine. However, he was apparently told in school that "His work has been far from satisfactory," the teacher wrote. "If he can't learn simple biological facts he would have no chance of doing the work of a specialist, and it would be sheer waste of time, both on his part, and of those who have to teach him." according to the AP News article. This is a good reminder that even if students are not showing interest or skill in area, that doesn't mean they never will and we should continue to work with them and encourage their dreams.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rick Riordan Fans!

 I admit I am a big Rick Riordan fan. I finished Mark of Athena  this weekend already and now have to wait a whole year for the next one! I love that some of my kids are big fans of his also though. A group of them have checked out all of his books and love to get them at book fair. I was beyond excited for them when Bookmarks emailed me to ask if we might want 4 free student tickets to give away for a Rick Riordan event at Wake Forest University last Friday night.

Yes, please! 

Some of the winning submissions
I talked to our fifth grade teachers and curriculum coordinator to decide how to give away the tickets. We settled on having the interested students write a letter about why they wanted to win the ticket. I chose 4 students and it was the highlight of my day to tell them they won! They were so excited and I passed out the tickets. One student's dad was kind enough to send me a couple of pictures from the event. I was hoping they would get to meet Mr. Riordan, but he had pre-signed the books. They did get to submit questions and enjoyed his talk though.

Getting ready to get started
Thank you Bookmarks!! What a great event and the students were so excited to win the tickets!
Rick Riordan during the event
With their signed books!