Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Granddaddy of all Weeks!

   Here it is the Granddaddy of all weeks if you are a primary grade teacher.  All in one week we celebrate 100s Day, hope that the groundhog doesn't see his shadow and say hello to February; the month that is jam packed with awesome opportunities for learning.  I don't know if I'll be able to sleep tonight my head is so full of ideas and excitement for the coming week.
   The internet has opened the world up for me!  When I left my first grade job twenty years ago on a very long maternity leave, I had a computer in my classroom but rarely used it myself.  Early finishers might play an educational game, and I might have done some word processing, but that's it.  Being able to share ideas with other teachers...okay the sharing has been pretty one way... is amazing to me.  I wish I could start all over again, but than again I might not have the appreciation I have now for the limitless ability to surf the web for one great idea after another.
Synonyms for volunteered:  coerced, begged,
   Thank you bloggers, pinners and sharers.  I appreciate and am inspired by your talent and desire to make learning fun and meaningful. Here's my first picture of our 100's Day celebration!  My son "volunteered" to dress up as Zero the Hero and bring his zero treat in person!  I'm not allowed to put this on facebook for fear of being tagged!  What a trooper he is for putting up with my silly antics!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Liberal Bird Agenda

"Pushing your liberal bird agenda on a captive audience under the guise of education again!!!"  This was said of me recently by a dear friend after she read a post on facebook about my unit on penguins!  We are still friends and their probably is some truth in the statement.  My students know that I am a total bird-brain.  I love the adventure of being out in the woods looking for gems in the spring called warblers. The excitement of seeing them in my backyard as they travel south in the fall is something that only a fellow birder would understand.  Standing outside in gale force winds and below zero temperatures is something my family has just come to see as normal if it means I might catch a glimpse of a Western Grebe or some unusual gull.  Most family vacation pictures have more than one picture of me behind a pair of binoculars.  I've been accused of feeding the birds better food than my family, by my family,  and my children have claimed I love birds more than I love them...Not true...Most days!
Can you find the Little Blue Penguin?  It is the smallest of all penguins!
Don't you love inventive spellings?  The author on the left "licks"
   Now you know why I couldn't leave penguins quite yet. These birds captured my students attention and they wanted to know more.  I sent each student home with a different breed of penguin to research.  They had to draw a full size replica and write three sentences about their bird.  The results were very entertaining.  I was brought to tears by their wonderful art work and knowledge of these amazing birds. They taught me a thing or two about penguins.  We were able to order them from tallest to shortest, measure them with Unifix cubes and inches.  We were able to compare and contrast, too!  They have drawn a nice flock of admirers and my favorite thing to hear is the fifth and sixth graders say they wish they could be in first grade!  I'm so glad I went to college for four years so I can stay in first grade for a very long time!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rory the Penguin


I assured Rory that Polar Bears stay in the Arctic Circle....He seemed a little nervous!
   We had a special visitor this week!  An Emperor Penguin showed up and surprised us all.  At 48 inches tall, we first graders are all taller than Rory.  He certainly sparked a flurry of interest in penguins.  We used our new friend to predict how many of the kindergartners would be taller than Rory.  We tallied and graphed our data!  Rory brought a bucket of snowballs when he came that we used to predict and tally.  We predicted how many snowballs we could get in the bucket when we stood 48 inches away.  We could even find the difference between how many made it and how many didn't.
    There are so many great books about penguins.  We read nonfiction and fiction.  We voted on our favorite penguin book and the winner was 365 Penguins by Jean Luc-Fromental.
A great book that I caught a couple of students reading during freetime! We really liked the part when they found out they would get to keep the penguin with blue feet as a pet.
Rory felt right at home with first graders.
     After making our own penguins with our footprints,  we'll use different items from our math tubs next week to measure our own penguins and chart our results.
   When I found Rory in the kitchen drinking coffee I knew he might be feeling a little to comfortable at our school!  It might be time for him to go home.

   The best response I heard all week was, "It's too bad Jessica isn't  in school.  She's missing all the fun."  Jessica is in Disney World!!

I made the penguin with the help of a computer projector and a daughter!  Using foam board we projected the image on the foam board traced and then colored.  We had to move the projector to just the right position to get our penguin to the right size!

We were starting to feel a little dizzy from the pen fumes, so we  used a fan to move the air around!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Let There Be Peace

Product Details
We read this book in class today.  The students enjoyed it and it was a great conversation starter.
     Martin Luther King Jr. has always been a favorite day of mine.  No presents, no gimmicks.  It's just a day to commemorate a great man who was not afraid to stand up for what was and still is right. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter," said Dr. King.  His birthday is a great day to talk about the things that mattered to Dr. King.  Peace, and brotherly love were our topics today.
   Following our discussion of what peace looks like we made a chart recording our ideas about peace.  We shared the pen to write ing, ed, and s endings.  Then each student wrote about what they thought peace was while I worked with small groups to make doves, a symbol of peace.  I was pleased that most students did not copy the chart!  They came up with even more ideas on their own.  Here are a couple of their thoughts:

Peace is a quiet house. (Isn't that true...I like that kind of peace.  Although there's sometimes something
                                        suspicious about it!)
Peace is relaxing on my bed.
Peace is not being mean.
Peace is not calling people fat.
Peace is a happy heart.

   Here is a sample by one of my students who is a peace loving child!  Writing has not always come easily for him, so I was especially happy when he did the whole assignment without using the word "can't"!
Peace is a quiet room laying down and relaxing and a loving heart being nice not mean.  It is not yelling , not fighting, not hurting.  It is using kind words.

Finally I have to close with my favorite MLK quote:
“We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers.”

The hand print idea came from The Mailbox Organize January Now!

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Love to Talk!

   I love to talk!  I have always loved to talk.  As a child my parents diagnosed me, on more then one occasion, of having verbal diarrhea.  The prognosis isn't very good.  I'm afraid there is no pill or therapy that will cure this disease.  Luckily I chose a profession where talking is rather important!
   Most of my students like to talk.  They like to talk about where they went last night for supper, how their dog poops right by the door or what they're going to be for Halloween...in the middle of math.  Nothing drives me crazier than to have a student raise their hand during a read aloud to tell me they have found a piece of fuzz on the floor.  I really get into my read alouds....different voices, facial expressions and hand gestures.  They think finding a piece of fuzz or math manipulative on the floor will make me cheer with delight.  It doesn't!
   What to do.  What to do.  Talking Tickets!  It works.  I pass out tickets and let them know that if they have something to say that does not pertain to the lesson they must turn their ticket in.  Fuzz on the floor....Turn in your ticket.  Is it time for lunch?  Turn in your ticket.  My birthday is coming up.  Your birthday is in five months....turn in your ticket!  I do this in a playful way and call it a game.  When a predetermined time is up and they still have their ticket they turn it in for a Skittle or a sticker.  It works well.
   I do have some students who...Are you sitting down...Don't like to talk!  Gasp!  They would be perfectly happy with me if I never called on them.  They are happy to look for fuzz on the carpet and keep it all to themselves.  I caught some of them collecting the stuff in their desks.  I can use Talking Tickets then, too.  During class discussions they must use their ticket to talk and once given up have to wait and listen to the non-talkers who are learning that talking is actually not s awful.  Then everyone who turns in their ticket is rewarded with an H, H, or H (hug, handshake or high-five...their choice)
   The up side of all this is it helps me stay on task as the teacher, too!  I find I can easily be led into a conversation about dog poop, what's for lunch and Halloween costumes.  One thing leads to another and soon I'm talking about an interesting thing an owl can do.  We do still make time for talking about the things that important to six year-olds, but we are learning strategies for staying on task, too!  Is it lunchtime? 

Friday, January 13, 2012

It Could Have Been a Snow Day!

It could have been a snow day today.  Everyone went home from school yesterday sure that it would be.  Part of me would have liked staying in my cozy bed a few extra hours and rising to drink coffee and play with fabric and paper.  I even went to Joann's last night to make sure my craft supplies were well stocked!  No phone calls. No posts about school cancellations for MY school.
     It was a day filled with great moments.  After a week of learning how to take notes from nonfiction, we wrote our first paragraphs.  Even my lowest achieving student was able to complete the task without a tear or the words "I can't".  Their excitement at realizing they had "Paragraph Power" was unreal.  It was a day that confirmed to me that yes this is what I was meant to do.  It seemed like a good day to start posting!

     We made our chart....I'll post pictures later....with three headings:  Can, Have Are. After reading books about polar bears we would fill in new information that we learned that started with the words can, have or are.  Then, when it was time to write paragraphs, we used those same words to begin each of our supporting sentences.  Writing the opening and closing sentences was easy!  Polar bears are pretty amazing, but I like first graders even more!