Saturday, October 26, 2013

What a week!

Rubik's cubes, wearing plants, and using sticks to make sentences?!  What a week, indeed!

Trying new things (again!) and making learning tangible, can add a bit of planning and preparation, but wow, the wonder and motivation in these faces reminds me that the effort is worth it.

Hmmm....what do 2 time limits, a rubik's cube and a magic trick have to do with learning? These are photos from our small groups working on our latest project...It's currently in production phase, so it's still a secret, but we're including photos and a mention here to hold ourselves accountable. Suffice it to say, there's been some serious brainstorming going on.
Learning to work in small groups. (Watching the leaders come out!)
Learning to use turn-taking and listening skills, and yes, down
in the right hand corner, a little visual notetaking going on!
Sharing so many ideas. Wonder how their group is going to
include the "magic trick" and "rubik's cube"...
This group was totally in sync with each other--they divvied up
jobs, and got right down to business. They're definitely ones
to watch as this project unfolds.
When kids are enjoying learning, and doing a bang up job of
working together, this is what it looks like. :)

Engaged and listening. Love it. 

The thinking is almost palpable. Whew--it's getting hot in here!

YES! WE WEAR PLANTS!!
The next group of photos was taken on wacky hair day for our Red Ribbon week, and the kids wanted me to make sure I included that little fact with their pictures. Just so you know. ;)

Looking at our clothing labels to find clues. 
Yes, even boys wear plants. (And btw, the blue sweatshirt was this
boy's wacky long hair today. Wishful thinking.)
Pulling apart some cotton, the good ol' fashioned way. 
"Seriously? This is what our shirts are made of?!"
Making connections, addressing the senses, and piquing curiosity
are just some of the strategies that help make learning stick.
Not to mention, way more fun!
Ah-ha! NOW, I get it!! That's the same as this plant we just
pulled apart, smelled, played with, and explored today! And
the same plant one student has planted the seeds of to extend her
own learning. 
USING STICKS TO MAKE SENTENCES?!
Dusting off my cuisenaire rods to make language learning and parts of speech more tangible. With each color/ length of rod representing a specific part of speech, the kids are learning how to create simple sentences using articles, nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Each sentence has to include 4-5 rods, and in the correct order. Much more challenging than it sounds, but it helps them become visually aware of word order and the necessary elements within a sentence.

Coming up with sentences with a partner. 
Sharing their sentence out loud, and pointing to each element
of their awesome sentence to demonstrate understanding. 
This pair tried a few combinations before getting the sentence
they wanted. 

All in all, it's been a busy week. Parents and kids, please leave comments--tell us what your favorite part of the week was, some things you learned, and things you'd like to see or do next as we continue our learning journey!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Best "I CAN" Statement Ever

We use "I Can..." statements in our classrooms for our students to understand what they're expected to do/ learn. These statements are then referred to throughout the class, as the students approach expectations or as a final check at the end of class to see what was achieved.
I was adding an "I CAN..." statement on the board today, and one of my students chimed right in, anticipating what I was about to write.

His was the best "I CAN..." statement ever.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Honoring Malala

So, I woke up today hoping to hear that Malala had won the Nobel Peace Prize for her courage, advocacy, and persistence in promoting education for girls. (and boys!) Alas, it was not to be, but she is one of the few contemporary teenagers whose voice has inspired change in the world.

Although her story is a complex one, I felt it was more than timely to include in our discussions on people who have impacted their communities. Her work continued today in our small town, changing perspectives of even more students, and hopefully inspiring them through her examples.

After reading and discussing the article "Malala Yousafzai Attends Her First Day Back at School" , the kids impressed me with their eagerness to understand, and they asked many questions.
It's hard to explain why girls are banned from education. It's also hard to explain why sometimes people in charge aren't thinking of "how dumb the girls will be if they don't get to learn anything". (quote from one student) It's even more complex to explain why the girls can't "just run quick, if they're covered up, no one will know who it is"(quote from another student)...but yet, they were intrigued by this glimpse into another world.

Indeed what we take for granted can be another's luxury.

And so, after talking about courage, risk, and different beliefs, when asked what my students would risk their lives for, their answers ran quite the gamut.

We challenge you to ask yourself the same question. Then read their responses. They are compiled below.
How would you answer the question? What would you risk your life for? Why?
Or would you risk it at all?  Only one student said she wouldn't risk her life for "nothing", but
then changed her mind when she realized she was the only one. 

Close up of their thoughts.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

We Matter! (And so do you!)

You know, sometimes it's just plain fun to see what's going on with our kids and their thinking, and it's always eye-opening to learn what they feel is important.

Especially what matters to them, and how they see their value in the world.

Taking a cue from Angela Maiers' "You Matter" manifesto, with our own little twist or two, here is how some of my 3rd grade wonders completed the following sentences:

"I am a genius because..." 
"The world needs me because..."

You're going to like what they say, and be pleasantly surprised. Personally, I enjoyed their variety of ideas, and I hope you do, too! I think it's an incredible responsibility for us to make sure that we let people know that yes, they matter, while remembering that each of us does, too.


I am a genius because I know a lot about dogs [and] birds.
The world needs me because I am handsome. 
I am a genius because I do math and I rock my math facts!
The world needs me because I help others and I help
take care of my baby brother.
I am a genius because I can make a robot that it can clean the house, the car, and the yard.
The world needs me because I want to go to Africa to help [people] that are sick.
I am a genius because school makes me learn to pass my level.
The world needs me because I will be a scientist. I will be a scientist.
I will make a machine that makes money and food.
I am a genius because I can do my homework, and eat and watch TV and jump on my bed.
(Yes, he meant all at once!)
The world needs me because I share my money. I will give 11,200,100,10.50$ to my city.
I'm a genius because I can help people in math. I'm also a genius because
I can draw and decorate the cakes very good.
The world needs me because I can be there superhero if the city needs me.
I would shoot lava out of my hands and be the queen of the ocean!

These are just some of our group's responses. We would love to know why YOU are a genius and why the world needs YOU. 

And hey, don't forget that...
but guess what?....

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Seed-spittin' : All In A Day's Work

Let the government shut down!! Learning is taking place regardless of their ability to synergize. As one of my students said today during a chat about the "shutdown" (in 3rd grade speak)--they need to learn about how to synergize and then they can come spit with us!!

Wait--"spit" with us?

Absolutely.

What better way to introduce the concept of comparatives and superlatives than with a seed-spitting contest? Thanks to my neighbor's watermelon donations (thanks, Max), we had a lovely supply of seeds with which to learn about the terms "farther than/ the farthest/ good/ better than/ the best". And, ahem, "more spit than/ the most spit"--and I'll just let you imagine the rationale behind the need for those phrases...
Waiting for the action to begin!

Excited to track the seeds. 
Spittin' with panache--unearthing some
new skills and talents!
Not sure which teacher eval standards my
participation addresses, but, you know
I had to showcase my skills, too. :)

Encouraging even the most reticent to try. 




Marking and measuring whose seed went farther
than the others and whose went the farthest.
Much more fun than a worksheet!


Whose seed do you think went the farthest?
There were a few whose seeds went farther than mine, so I guess I have some work to do!