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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In Defense of the Grinch

How the Grinch Stole Christmas is one of my favorite holiday stories. I'm a sucker for characters who change their behavior and become good. :) There are so many activities you can do with this story, one of my favorites is to have the students think like a lawyer and defend the Grinch. My students were not familiar with the vocabulary of a judge, jury, courtroom, lawyers. So we looked at pictures from the courtroom and watched a court case in action.

Then the students finished the sentence--"The Grinch should not go to jail because....". I know it's easy to talk about why what he did was wrong, but defending his actions take a little more thinking.




 






















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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Gingerbread Ethics

I was doing training for my colleagues last week on Depth and Complexity and I told them Ethics is by far my favorite D&C concept to teach! (Yes, I know it makes me a total nerd that I have a favorite. :)  Ethics is all about taking a side and developing reasoning for that argument. Is it right or wrong? Are you pro/con? When my students first come to me it is very important for them to give me the "right" answer-what does she want me to say? After doing these activities throughout the year, they end up students who are capable of having an opinion and making an argument for it. I don't know if their parents particularly like that I'm making them better arguers :) but maybe there will be a future litigator in the bunch.

We read Gingerbread stories and I asked the students to write whether it was right or wrong that the Gingerbread cookie ran away? The little old lady and the little old man were sad and the Gingerbread Man certainly didn't get very far after he met the fox. Was it the right thing to do? Many of the students did say that it was "right". When this happens sometimes I even assign them a side like they do on debate teams-this half of the room say how it was "right" this half "wrong".



 





 



Now I do get these answers in the beginning. It's almost as if they are thinking it's a true/false question instead of right/wrong. It was right because that is what happened.









Gingerbread Self-Defense argument :) 




I love that she took the other side of the argument. She said if she was hungry she would not want her cookie to run away.














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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors

So I discovered this hilarious book by the author of the Day the Crayons Quit:

This man truly understands what makes kids laugh. The story begins in the Realm of the Backyard where Rock is looking for a formidable foe. There is a pattern to the story that makes it interactive and there is talk of underwear and how the apricot looks like a butt which you know makes kids sit up and pay attention. I LOVE reading books like this where I can be silly and do different voices.

So I asked the students to come up with a new foe for either Rock, Paper or Scissors and to write who would win. It always cracks me up to see them play this with each other because inevitably one will say "volcano" and that beats everything so they win. I expected them to come up with things like that but it was the 1st day back after a week-long break so I did get some Rock vs. Scissors, etc.


















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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Gratitude

I believe in being grateful 365 days a year. I will often be driving to work in the morning and think about how thankful I am to be able to see the sunrise every day. Or think I lost my phone and be so thankful that I ended up finding it. Sometimes it's the little things. :) 

I wanted to write today about things I am thankful for professionally. I have not kept secret how unhappy I was last year at my previous school. I am in such a better place now (literally and figuratively). Here is my list of things I am grateful for:

1) I now work for an administration that is supportive and open-minded to trying new things. My principal is letting me do a graphic novel club this year that I am so excited about, he's letting me try things like project-based learning. Everyone in our administration is so present on our campus. I could not ask to work for a better leadership team.

2) I am grateful to new colleagues who have embraced me (and my big mouth :). The culture at my new school is very positive and I truly appreciate that.

3) I am grateful for my new students. I work in a school that is not in a very good area-100% of our students qualify for free lunch. But they come to school wanting to learn. I ask a lot from them, they don't back down from those challenges.

4) I am grateful for having had the opportunity to present my ideas this year. I presented in San Antonio (about 300 miles from where I live in Houston), I presented at an Early Childhood Conference and I presented to my colleagues at school. I love sharing ideas and have learned so much from others in that collaboration. 5 years ago I don't think I would have had the courage to do any of those things.

5) I am grateful for my public library system. I put books on hold every single week and every time I go in those books are there waiting for me. I have been able to share so many amazing titles with my students because of that access.

6) I am grateful to my colleagues who share their ideas, their and their opinions on social media free of charge!

I thank you for reading this little ole blog!

What are you grateful for this year?




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Monday, November 20, 2017

Comparing Past and Present

"The Past" is a very difficult concept for my little ones to grasp. They cannot even envision a world without cell phones or ipads much less one without cable tv and microwaves. Even though I often bring up the good ole days (when I was growing up we didn't have....) they just can't imagine it.

The day before our Thanksgiving break began I decided we would have our own little "feast". We put cream in a jar and passed it around our circle shaking it into butter. I have always wanted to do that with a class and was thrilled when we opened it and it had actually worked!


Then I read them this book: 


This is a story about different generations of people and how they made whipped cream. 300 years ago with a whisk, then the beaters that you grind, then with an electric mixer. (Disclaimer: in googling the image for this book I discovered that there is actually a bit of controversy surrounding the depiction of happy slaves in the story. I did not even think twice about that when I shared it with my students, but I can see how that might be considered controversial).

So we made whipped cream the old-fashioned way. Everyone had a turn-one pair of girls was very clever and thought they would try turning the bowl as the other was whisking to make it firm up faster. In the end I took the bowl and just channeled all those Top Chef episodes I have streamed to whisk it up fast. The students were all chanting "Go Miss Trayers"-it was pretty cool!





In the end we had biscuits with butter made by our own hands and some whipped cream on fresh strawberries. It was a really fun and eye-opening afternoon!







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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Making Native American Pottery

We listened to the Legend of the Indian Paintbrush on a Reading Rainbow clip.


It's the story of a young Native American boy who sets out to find the colors of the sunset in his paintings. The clip that followed showed a tradition of making pottery. Watching the women take clay from the earth and turn it into a beautiful etched vase or pot was really incredible. My students asked if they could make some. My first response was no-we didn't have clay, we didn't have access to a kiln. But then a student raised her hand and said "we have Play-Doh". Who could say no to that?

So using only our hands to roll the dough, the students made their own Native American inspired pots.
















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