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Friday, April 18, 2014

Egg Drop Success

I like doing group projects with my kiddos because it's something that they definitely could use some practice with. We decided to do an egg drop competition-I asked parents to send in recycled items like cereal boxes or fabric scraps, etc. I chose 6 team leaders and let them choose their teams (some were very wise and considered what materials those students brought to the table :). Then I turned them loose to work on a blueprint for their model.

The next day I let them begin constructing. About 5 minutes in I texted my GT Coordinator to see if she was busy, because I really wanted to share the "buzz" that was happening in our classroom with someone. They were all cooperating together, discussing why they thought this material should go here, why maybe it shouldn't go here. You heard a lot of statements like "I have an idea".They were testing their prototypes--"I think a pair of scissors weighs the same as an egg-let's try it out with that" and then the outcome "I definitely think we are going to lose!"--"then how do we fix it?"-it was really one of those amazing moments.











I think some kids probably came to school today just to see if it worked! They were bugging me all morning, asking when we were going to test them. A majority of them did work and we debriefed afterward to discuss what they learned from the experiment if it didn't work-what would they do differently next time. I couldn't tell you what objective this pertains to or what part of my evaluation it fulfills, but I really think they learned a lot from the activity-if nothing else how to work on a team, which we all know is an important future skill! :)


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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Classroom Egg Hunt

I have to work tomorrow on Good Friday-probably the only person in the universe (a bit of hyperbole, I know :). Here in Texas we are not used to winter weather, so when we had some freezing rain our school was cancelled twice. And in their infinite wisdom the powers-that-be decided that we should make them up on Good Friday and Memorial Day. So no more days off for us until summer vacation.

Now I know I'm weird, but I don't like when my kiddos miss school. I don't like for them to miss lessons and I also know it effects our school rating when our attendance drops. I know many parents will have off and will probably want to spend the day with their kiddos. So as an incentive we are doing our own classroom egg hunt. I am so excited to fill the eggs with incentives like "take your shoes off" and "sit in the teacher's chair for the day".  I am going to hide them this afternoon and see if anyone notices when they come in tomorrow morning. 
We're doing an egg drop competition too that I'm excited about and will post the boxes they engineer to put them in! :)

I told them I was making them bird nests for snack and they thought I was kidding!


Easiest snack to make ever!


                                                How cute are these are cupcake wrappers! :)
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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Easter Bunny Partners

I love the ideas Terri over at Engage Their Minds comes up with for using SCAMPER (among other things:) . http://engagetheirminds.wordpress.com/2013/03/27/easter-s-c-a-m-p-e-r/

We decided to use her idea and I asked my kiddos to come up with a partner for the Easter Bunny with a logical reason why that person would help out. I love that I only had one answer repeated and both kiddos came up with different reasons why!





Do they know me or what?! I would give them projects to do with the eggs. :)

Gingerbread Man

                                       Santa Clause-he can find the best places to hide the eggs.
                     Peter Pan-he can hide them on top of unexpected places or windows or treehouses.


Barney-because he loves people, he cares for grown-ups and kids and even ducklings.

Me (the student) because I can wake him up early

A jaguar because at night he goes fast and so in the morning all the
children will find eggs.

                                        Peter Pan-he can make magic happen to the eggs.
A hummingbird-he can deliver the eggs real fast.

                                      Flash-he can deliver faster than a cheetah
My cousin-because I know he will be funny to him.



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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Writing Autobiographies

This is an activity I try to do with my students every year. I love to hear them say something like "that's the best thing that happened in my whole life!"--they are only 6 years old. It's actually pretty hard for them to break down the highlights of their life so far. I teach them to look for "small moments"-we go outside and look for something that seems insignificant and they write about it. Last time we did it a student had a ladybug land on her finger, so that's what her text was about.

Then I had them write an outline first. We used the blank hardcover books that Lakeshore sells (they are expensive). But worth it for my little authors!

 I wanted them to come up with a unique title-not just all "Johnny's Life" and "Susie's Life". Here are some of them:


                                            Star of the Show




The King Of Rainbow Cats and Goats

Then I wanted them to start at the begining and talk about anything they knew about their life as a baby, toddler, when they started school and the last page was for their prediction for the future.














They asked if the librarian might put some of them in our school library! :)


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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Why I Think Every Teacher Should Blog!

I was looking back into my archives this past week because I had to put together a little presentation of past projects. I've been blogging for almost 5 years, over 650 posts! I am amazed by that. I can't even remember what made me decide to start blogging one day, but I am so genuinely glad that I did. I love that I can reflect back on past activities and past classes-even with the students' names cropped out I can still remember who wrote what, in many cases. Looking back, I find ideas of my own that I had forgotten about-oh, I have to try that with this class! And my kiddos are quite used to me having to take pics of their work before they go home..."you're not going to take pictures of these"? If I go several days without doing a blog-worthy activity then I am reminded to step up my game as well.

Best of all I think it's been great for collaboration. That's a strand on our evaluations now--and my assessor always laughs at me when I include blogging in my evidence as a form of collaboration; but I think if you do blog, you understand. I find ideas and get feedback on ideas more here than in any other forum including my campus. I follow literally hundreds of blogs and read updates daily, commenting where I feel I can give input. I feel like I actually know some of you guys and am inspired every day by your ideas and opinions.

I think if every teacher had that time to reflect on their practice, to share ideas with others, to get ideas from communicating with other bloggers--they would all benefit from that experience as much as I have! If you don't blog-what's holding you back? Take the plunge-it will definitely be worth it!


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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Staff Appreciation

Every year my Student Council makes something to hang on the doors of everyone that works at our school for our Staff Appreciation Week. It's a pretty daunting task because a) we have over 60 staff and b) I'm not very creative. It's gotten really hard to come up with something different since we do it every year. We have to start early because unfortunately I have a very small group-so it takes us quite a while to get them done. The poor students in my class usually get stuck finishing them up. :)

Yesterday we started putting together what we are going to do this year and I had to share because I think they came out just too cute! I am asking students from the different classes to come up with their Top 10 Things that they love about their teachers. The answers have been great! They've said things like: I like her vibrant smile, she helps kids with hard moments (how insightful is that vocabulary), she loves her job! My favorite is the little ones though-all theirs are about the teachers' fashion style: I love her clothes and her shoes and her jewelry. And everyone is pretty! :)

We needed to put it together into something they could hang on their doors-so they came out like this:





I don't think anyone from my school reads my blog-but I blurred the names anyway, just in case. I want it to be a surprise!




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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Student-Led Conferences

This is an idea I have been wanting to try for a long time and you know this is my year for trying new things and being bold! I scheduled a block of time in the after school for the students to come back with their parents and for them to take the lead in discussing their progress. I made them a guide for their conversations:




I sat down with each child and had them fill out a sheet showing their goals for the year and if they met or surpassed them.




We did a practice run the day before-the students all partnered up with a student they trusted who acted like their parent. I was so proud of them, as partner after partner was picked, they just went with them-no complaints! :)  The student acting as Mom or Dad listened and the student went through their information and then they switched places. So they should all be ready.



And last but not least, since I'm asking them to explain bucket-fillers I had them write one to the person who they thought would come to the meeting.


to his Mom.

I like that the kiddos are taking ownership of their own progress and I'm sure the parents will like that they don't have to listen to me for once! :)

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