Sunday, March 10, 2019

Put Your Ideas Out There

So I have a confession to make-I feel like I am a complete failure as a teacher at some point every single day. This year has been particularly difficult for me. When my students do something they know better than to do in front of an administrator. When a lesson just completely bombs. When I assess my students and they are not where they should be. When I feel like I am not keeping my students safe from the other students. When we are in a meeting and just hear about all the things we are doing wrong. And I'm an experienced teacher, I can just imagine how new teachers feel.

I say all this because even though I feel that way most days, I also feel like I have ideas that I can share. I started at a new campus last year after working at the same school for 13 years. It is strange to see how priorities are emphasized differently. I came from a campus where higher level thinking skills were the norm, were expected. At my new campus it's more an emphasis on social-emotional skills. So we have an incredible culture at our campus-but I'm not sure the students are being challenged they way they could be. There are a lot of TPT packets and cute cut-and-paste activities.

I was asked by my administrators to present ideas on how to incorporate higher level skills to the various grade levels. It was nerve-racking for me because I didn't know if the teachers would be open to the ideas. But they were. And I had such a great moment this week-I walked past a Pre-K teachers wall and it was covered with activities for critical thinking like the ones I presented. She told me that she was using them in class and could see improvement in her students' thinking. I have a colleague in Kinder that said the same thing. I gave them a tutorial on Depth and Complexity in the beginning of the year and she is using those activities daily with her kids.

All that is to say that I think EVERYONE has something to offer, ideas to share. Whether it's presenting or blogging or even sharing on Twitter--get your ideas out there. You never know who you will inspire. :) 

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Friday, March 8, 2019

If I Lived in a Dr. Seuss Book

I asked my students to think about not only what they learned about Dr. Seuss stories but also to see things from a different perspective. The students painted with watercolor what that world would look like and then completed a sentence in that perspective. What if you woke up one morning in a Dr. Seuss book? How would you feel? What would you see?

Here's what they came up with:

I would feel scared.

I would jump on the bed.

I would feel different.

                                                       I am happy. It is fun.

I would see colorful trees.

I would be jealous because I want to be in a princess book.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Applying Dr. Seuss Rules to a New Story

We have been reading Dr. Seuss books this week. We talked about the "Rules" when it comes to his books-what is always true about them. They are funny, colorful. The characters are make-believe, they have made up names.

My class loves the story Chicka Chicka Boom Boom-so I asked them to tell me how the story would be different if Dr. Seuss wrote it. I know this was challenging for them, but I thought some came up with good answers.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Green Eggs and Ham Persuasion

We did this activity with Green Eggs and Ham. Then I read a tweet that made me think twice about doing it in the future. It talked about how no means no and he told him he didn't want it, they shouldn't keep asking. I don't eat meat and it's exactly how I feel when people ask me to eat something, I say "no thank you" and then it becomes a big deal because I won't eat it. Food for thought (no pun intended). :)

We wrote about how we would persuade someone to eat Green Eggs and Ham. 

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Sunday, March 3, 2019

Ethics and the Rodeo

Ethics is my favorite concept of Kaplan's Depth and Complexity to use with young kiddos! Their sense of right and wrong is still developing and sometimes they believe both which leads us to discussions about gray areas.

We have been reading books about the rodeo this week. My question to them was is it right that we use the animals-wrestling calves to the ground, kids riding sheep, bucking broncos-for our entertainment. This is one of those questions where they are torn. They love animals and don't like the thought of them getting hurt, but they also love going to the rodeo and watching the events. It was an interesting discussion. ( I wrote the sentences that the students dictated for many of them-we just ran out of time. Usually they sound out their words).

We read about the origins of the tradition and it lead back to the cowboys/cowgirls of the past.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

New Uses for Cotton Candy

One of the ways we practice critical thinking in our class is to do activities throughout the year where the students come up with a new use for something. I demonstrate for them with a pencil. A pencil can write-but what else can it do. I can put my hair up with it. I can open a can with it. Then we try it with other objects,

Because this week is the rodeo in Houston, we read the story:

It's a story about a boy who inadvertently distributes cotton candy all over the fair. We discussed how we might solve that problem (many wanted to eat their way out :). And then they wrote about what else we can use cotton candy for-thinking about the color, the texture. Now when we first do these activities it's like pulling teeth. But trust me when I tell you the more you do activities like this, the more creative their thinking becomes.

Here's what they came up with:

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