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100th Day of School

The 100th day of school snuck up on me!  Again, my creative teammate Susan Ezzell, put her foot down to the classic 100 day activities (dressing like 100, bringing in 100 things, what would you do with $100) and turned it into a more reflective process (what do you want to be remembered for in 100 years, what have you learned in 100 days, etc).  


We also played this video in which the kids had to jump for 100 seconds.  I told them that if they stopped jumping I'd start over.  Best. Wiggle. Break. Ever.  

 As a first year classroom teacher, these kids have rocked my world in 100 days.  I've never been more excited to come to school- and I've never laughed so hard in my life.  These precious lambs really make me evaluate the good in me and what needs some fine-tuning because heaven knows you can't get away with an inch with these little rascals!

An Island Grows--- a little mayhem

I am in my last semester of grad school (ENTER PRAISE BREAK HERE) for my literacy degree.  I am currently in a class for curriculum integration and our assignment this week was to find an instructional strategy-- demonstrate it in class and then brainstorm the ways it could be used to integrate multiple subjects.

We picked strategies from which has more strategies than pages in the Bible--- don't hold me to that estimation though, because math is not my strongest subject.  

I chose sculpture--simply because I had never done it and it looked fun.

I chose An Island Grows as my anchor text.  The story is about the birth of an island, from the first red-hot glow of magma at the bottom of the ocean, to the flowing lava that hardens and builds up higher and higher until, finally, it breaks through the water′s surface. It has beautiful language and poses as a circular story.  

After I read the text, I passed out a piece of foil to every person in the class.  I asked them, "If you were on an island, what is the one thing you would want to have."  I gave them approximately 5 minutes to form their creations.  When finished they shared them and we sorted them into what were needs/wants.  We had a wide array from chapstick to fire, boats to an iPhone, and of course no island experience is complete without wine.  

I am going to use this strategy with my students because it's interactive, they connect to it, it's not messy, it's cheap, and could be used to respond to a wide variety of texts and purposes.

Here's some ideas of how to use tin foil sculptures:
- visual open/closed sorts
- scale and proportions
- measurement (addition/subtraction/estimation)
- one word summary
- land forms
- building/structure
- art gallery with description
- response to reading (sketch to stretch but 3d)
- shapes (2 and 3 d)

The book is a great spring board for
poetry and quintuplets
one word summary
circular stories
island culture
land forms
rock formations
states of matter
geography of islands
earth core/layers

I'm sure there are more but that is all this hat rack can come up with rigt now!

Happy Sculpting!!!

Chinese New Year

      This Friday is Chinese New Year!  Our class is celebrating by spending the day centered around Chinese New Year activities.  In planning, I have put together a pack, with one of my lovely teammates, of activities centered around China.  You can find our activities here--- together they require little preparation on your part and integrate all of the disciplines together--plus they are cute but not too cutesy!


* Students will create mini-booklets that explore China, their New Year symbol, & Chinese characters
* Math Scoot addition regrouping problems with three levels for differentiation
*A gallery walk with QR codes 
* Chinese symbols cards for an art connection
* Create their own fortune cookies
* Create a Chinese Red Envelope and note for friends and family
* Story fan
* I have Who Has dragon puzzle that includes questions about the New Year and China
* Literature Connections

This pack also includes a book that has the Chinese New Year animal symbols, descriptions and years. 

We hope you enjoy the pack and your students learn so much!

Soldier Bear Book Trailer

Check out this book trailer we made as a class about Soldier Bear!    Together we read the book aloud, created sticky notes, completed a text analysis, chose a theme, wrote the storyboard, downloaded pictures, and put it all together in iMovie.  More details about how to make a book trailer are coming shortly!!!

Students of so many ages--- even my very particular mother--- LOVE THIS BOOK!  The language does a beautiful job ironically describing war and the back that it is a true story about a bear that is a soldier is bound to get anybody's attention.  

Click here to view the trailer--- which will hopefully make you rush to Amazon to purchase the book!

Market Day!

We are in the middle of an economic unit in our second grade classroom.  It amazes me at the standards we have to cover with them--- and I'll be honest I have had to look a few of the terms up.

Today we held a market day in which students buy and sell goods/services that they have created.  Students earned cash throughout the week and used that currency for their business.  Students had to create a business plan and advertisement along with their products.  They did market research by surveying friends on what items they would buy which guided their products.

My students came in with quite a few creative products- scarves, purses, art, cleaning services, salon services, gak--- as well as a market overload of rainbow loom variations.  Some even dressed the part--- in suits, aprons, and dresses.  

Yes--- in a suit and HE SEWED EVERYTHING!!!!  

handmade scarves

To avoid as much chaos as I could students first window shopped and looked at what classmates were selling.  The desks were situated in a round circle and I called tables to shop in rounds until there was nothing left to buy.  

The entire time... we obviously needed a bit of music to groove to so I kept this song by the O'Jays on repeat!  

It was amazing to see how students responded to the shopping.  Some after the window shopping realized that they had a unique product and were able to raise their price substantially.  It was comedic during the sale that the vast vendors of rainbow loom had to change strategy and engaged in some marketing competition. 

Throughout their shopping students kept track of how much they started with and subtracted purchases and added profit.  They totaled up the final about at the end of the sale.   

After there was not an item to be had we gathered at the carpet and students reflected on their experience.  It was amazing to hear how they processed their frustration and realized they had to change something.  Up until this point, I had not introduced any economic terms except goods and service.  It was after they experienced the highs and the lows of the business world, they shared their experience, that we were able to talk about the economy since they had experienced it first hand and put a word label to it.  Supply/demand, capital gain, profit, loss, break even, "in the red/black,"competition, market strategy,etc. were all terms that they were able to identify with an experience.  I threw in a curve ball at the end and allowed them to add any profit they made into their class rewards checkbook--- for the kid that sold $143 there was much rejoicing.

At the end of the lesson I asked them what subjects we covered and why---
Math- counting money, adding/subtracting, re-grouping, market research data
Literacy- advertisement, business plan
Science/Social Studies- economy

They love it when they can identify all of the things we did outside of any sort of worksheet.  I love that they remember what they are learning!!!

At the end of the lesson, they went back to their science/social studies notebooks and wrote about their experience and shared it with their table.  

Days like today (and well most everyday) make this day job sweet-- and just a good time. 

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr.

 We read "Martin's Big Words" and created a character x-ray for Martin Luther King, Jr. From there students brainstormed ideas of how they would keep his dream and legacy alive or "burning" I'm going to give a shout out to my fabulous cubby mate, friend, mentor, and stellar teacher Susan Ezzell for the fabulous idea of making a birthday cake for Dr. King. 

From there I took students pictures of them thinking.  They brainstormed about how what they want to do when they grow up could help others. Students loved the quote from the book that said "I believe in words not fists" and that drove the point that their words have power.  It matters what you write, and when you write your thoughts down they become real.

They are just the sweetest in their responses.  It's easy to do this job when you get to be around these kind of kids all day!

Word Clouds

As a class we just finished the read aloud, Soldier Bear which is a true story based upon a bear that is enlisted as a soldier in the Polish Army during WWII.  Interested?  The kids EAT IT UP!  There will be more activities posted as we respond to our reading!  :)  
When I had previously seen Word Clouds, I thought they were cheesy, with no purpose, a time waster, and I wanted none of it.  My tune has changed a bit! 

Word clouds give students the opportunity to do a close reading of the text while making a visual representation.  This strategy allows students to analyze text and synthesize information into a few words. Students can select words from a number of sources.  We brainstormed first using a Character X-Ray which helped students to use a variety of vocabulary to describe both internal and external traits. ( for instructions check out this blog)
 The possibilities are endless, but for analyzing a text I have them choose 5 words that remind them of the book, character, etc. and the what evidence from the book supports it.  Right now, in 2nd grade I am big on BECAUSE and getting them in a habit of not using general phrases without giving reason.
We made word clouds both online and on our iPads with apps.  For computers I use 
Wordle makes the text bigger based upon how many times the word is entered.  There are lots of ways to manipulate them.
Tagxedo allows you to import a photo into your word cloud.
While I like the online versions, I found the apps to be far more of a pleasant experience.  So far we have tried  Wordsalad (Because it was free) and Phoetic because it was$.99 and you could import photos from your camera roll.  I am not sure quite how I feel about the app ones yet, but will explore the other word cloud apps in future lessons. 

I have students type their words into a word or note document and then copy them over.  This allows edits for spelling and just in case something wonky happens with technology.  
Watch for information about word clouds. 

Students are now making them for other books they have read, themselves, family members, etc.

I like it because it is a visualization and really leads to incredible collaborative conversations that require text evidence.