Friday, September 28, 2012

Apple Day

I have to give my co-teacher credit for this...I didn't think of it at all. And it worked out great for two reasons. 
First, for the past two years, we've had a school wide behavior plan, and students that met expectations were able to attend a fun event at the end of every month. Those that didn't - well, they went to sad times (writing about their bad behavior).
But this year, the school wide behavior was turned over to the classroom teachers - by grade level. So we needed to think of something for that. 
And 2nd - well, it was just a fun day :)
So we (or should I say, She - my co-teacher) planned an apple day. We had apple races, wore Johnny Appleseed hats (pots), and did a couple other fun outside activities.
Then we headed inside for some more apple activities. First, we tasted Granny Smith, Red Delicious and Gala apples. Then we graphed which they liked. Most students like Granny Smith - What? Those are SO tart. Well, whatever. 

Next they got a cup of apple juice and one of apple cider. After they tried both of those, we graphed which one they liked best. We had apple juice, apple cider or both. Both won. 

(OK, ours didn't look all fancy like this :)

Then they got to try some dried apples and some applesauce. Those silly heads scarfed that down. Ok, that makes me think some of them are just really hungry. (And then I think about how I act when I'm really hungry - hmm.)

It was a fun day. Better than I thought it might turn out. Of course, we had some extra help that cut apples up for us - Thank You! And for the first time in a couple years, I actually had parents come. Thank You! 

At the end of the day, a parent caught me to talk about some behavior concerns. Yeah - she was Very Supportive. But it got me to thinking. I need to send notes - before conferences - to some other parents. So they aren't surprised. And I don't mean in a good way. 

Happy Friday - it was! Happy Weekend to you! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Math Fact

Today went well. Yep, my life is a series of ups and downs. Today was our PE day - no sub. So I just took my kiddos outside and I took my math book to try to do some thinking and planning.

Then this afternoon... to back up a bit, last week I tried to get all my kids going on xtra math. Ha! Logging in was a chore! First of all, the kids have to log in using my school email address. Needless to say, that's long! So most of them didn't get much done.

So for some reason (I don't understand why, but I'm smiling about it.) the sysop at our school asked if I wanted a cart of laptops. Of course I said YES! So today, I got all my kids either on a desktop or a laptop and told them to try again. I went around and helped {I always start these crazy sessions by asking, how many of me are there? One, they answer. How many of you are there? 21, they answer. So hopefully they will be a little bit patient.}

As we were finishing up our time, I went to my own computer to check out how they did and for about 5 of them, it showed no activity. So I made those 5 get back on. Obviously still trial and error, but I am hoping, hoping, hoping that this will help them get their math facts down pat!

To that end, I also made a simple center activity. I made little cards that have matching math facts. In the past I've done a matching activity with the math fact and the answer. This time they match 2 different math facts. For example 2+2 (=4 but the answer isn't on the card) and 3+1 (also =4, but again, the answer isn't on the card. Click here to a link to this (I hope, I'm just too tired to do all the double checking). Very simple, but print it on pretty paper and there you go :)

We have a central make-it-take-it center, so sometimes I just laminate paper and use die cuts for this type of thing. Sometimes I type them up and cut out rectangles. Just depends on me :)

Anyway, little idea I thought I'd throw out there. Hope your Monday went well!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Friday Flashback (on Saturday)

Well, it isn't Friday :) and I'm not sure this counts, but I'm linking up with Amanda at Teaching Maddness for:

Since school started, we have been talking about different ocean creatures. You can see my post about some of them here.
The first two full weeks of school, we were able to do lots of reading and learning about ocean animals. This week, not so much, because we started our reading series. So for a wrap up to the unit and a nice Friday afternoon activity, we drew and painted pictures of ocean animals. No photos - maybe I can add those Monday. I have to laugh, though. I asked the kids, "Do we see words written in the ocean?" Of course, they answered, "No." So I told them, "Don't put words in your drawing." Had at least one that did. Another of them colored her octopus in purple crayon. When I asked her why, she told me because she couldn't paint an octopus that good. Oh, well, mixed media.
Why do I think this activity is worth mentioning? Creativity! When my daughter was little, even up through and past 2nd grade, she had play dough, markers, colored pencils, crayons, scissors, paints, finger paints... etc, etc, etc. Now, she isn't afraid to try things, she gets cool ideas and thinks about finding answers from a different perspective.
I want to give my students a little bit of that. I'm pretty sure that there are some (or a lot) of them that don't even have crayons at home.
An open ended project like painting ocean creatures gives my students the chance to think and hopefully dream a little bit.

My other little thing I did this week involved our reading series. Our first story is the first Henry and Mudge story. My schedule has changed this year, and it has taken some getting used to. It feels like our reading block is just crunched. We come back from specials and have to start right away and lunch is on the other end, so we have to quit right away. Anyway, didn't get to the story as early this week as I was hoping. So we finished the story on Friday, and I didn't have time to do a paper and pencil graphic organizer, like I usually do. What's a teacher to do? I had them talk to their shoulder buddy about the Sequence of Events. I would tell them what page in the book to look at, and then have them discuss what main event happened on that page. Then I would say something like, "Hopefully you thought... was the main event." I think it worked good, and when they have to retell for their DRA, they have to do it orally, so good practice.
I'm glad that Amanda is doing this. It seems that I tend to remember what didn't go right :( instead of ALL the things that went OK.
Happy Weekend to you! The cooler temperatures we are experiencing is Great! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Testing, testing, testing. I started mine today. Our district just started using Aimsweb this year. The reading was actually not bad. My students read 3 passages and I was able to do the running record part of that on the computer. (I hope nobody is saying, oh brother, that's so old.) To me, kinda cool. So as soon as they were done reading the passages, I had a score for them.
Oh, my poor little sweeties. Five of them are below average - way below.
Were any of you like this in your first year? A student looks confident, acts confident and has coping skills that make it look like they can read, so (poor newbie teacher) Mrs. S. thinks they can.
Well, now with this, I'm know which students need help - intensive help. They can try to fool me, but now I know.
Math is next week - not sure it will be as cool. It's a paper/pencil test that I'll have to score and then enter.
So I brought all my guided reading stuff home tonight to work on - didn't get to it. 
But tomorrow's Friday!!    

Monday, September 3, 2012

What did you do, Mrs. S.?

The first 8 days of school are done, 166 to go :)
In our district, we have a reading series that we have to follow (HM's Journeys), but we aren't starting that for another week. This time is to teach procedures, but I need some content to go with that. So I bought Deanna Jump's Ocean theme.
Ocean Animals Math and Literacy Fun

Ha, I don't think I've used any of it - but trust me, it is good (of course, it's Deanna!) - I've just been doing other things.

So what have I done?
During our first, short week, I read this: What's It Like to Be a Fish?
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It is quite interesting, really. It showed lots of different fish with labels and it talked about the different fins and what they do, what fish eat, how fish breath. When we got done, we did a chart about what fish Can, Have and Eat. I adapted this from Deanna's unit. It was surprising what the kids remembered - and Who Remembered.

On Monday, we read Surprising Sharks.
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Do I even need to tell you that it was good? And that the kids enjoyed it? And everyone had something to add? And one kiddo told me he knew "everything about sharks?" I found this very cool video of a whale shark (they are HUGE!) and showed it to the kids. It is great for showing how big the sharks really are, because there is a man swimming beside the shark and he looks SO small. (Shark video website
I also had a craft activity - crayon resist drawing/painting - but we just didn't get to that. I'm debating whether to go ahead and do it still. We did a Can, Have, and Eat for sharks, too.

I think the Sharks took more than one day - I can't remember for sure now. Next I read Gentle Giant Octopus.
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Another winner. These octopus lay an amazing amount of eggs - like in the 10,000s (can't remember the number for sure now) but only 2-3 of the eggs make it to adulthood. Yummy treats for other marine animals. I had another cool video I showed - it is on Discovery Education, if you have a subscription to that, under Biomes, Coastlines and Seas. The octopus 1) gets into a soda bottle and 2) gets a crab out of a screw top jar. Wow! We did a Can, Have and Eat here, too.

Next up were Whales:
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I have to admit, this book was a little so-so. It did have some corny jokes - which I preface before I read by saying, "This is a dorky joke." It did give information, but it wasn't the best read aloud. After we read it, we looked at some pictures from a Whale Watching blog I had found. I had a whale origami thing I was going to do with the kids, but you know the story - we ran out of time. I can't remember, but I meant to do a Can, Have and Eat on whales. I hope we did it :)

On Friday, just because the teacher needed it :)  we watched a Magic School Bus video - I think it was called Takes a Dive. It was about Mussels. Then I had them do a take-off on a Kagan strategy - we wander around the front of the room - then when I say "High Five" they give a light high five to a friend standing nearby and then they each told their buddy something from the video (they are NOT called movies in my class :)

I also read Sneakers, the Seaside Cat (I kept calling him Snickers, but whatever!)
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and Hello Ocean! The illustrations in this book are so good, at first I thought they were photographs.
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We read these during our Reading Block and did some comprehension activities with them.

When I made my plans, I didn't know when we would start our reading series. It's really a good thing that we aren't starting for another week, because I still have Jellyfish, Dolphins, and Shells to talk about during our 4 day week.

If anyone else has done an ocean unit and has any good ideas to add - please leave a comment. I'd love to hear from you.
Happy Labor Day,