Saturday, April 22, 2017

Teaching Empathy to Young Students

For the past few years, I have been cultivating resources to consciously teach empathy to my Kinder students. I feel like it's something that is often missing in our society today. We are spending our time taking selfies and brutalizing others in comments on social media. I want to make sure my students develop an ability to put themselves in others' shoes and think about how things will make people feel.

I do this in several different ways. I model with stories and often talk about how characters in the story feel. (These are just a few examples-there are tons of choices out there).

The first day of school from the school's point of view. It overhears students saying how much they hate school and it hurts the school's feelings.

                                         Mr. Hatch receives a box of candies and a note saying someone loves him that makes him very happy. However, he discovers it was meant for someone else.

Even though Bear does not like visitors and just wants to be alone, Mouse shows that he cares about him.

A beautiful story about a bus ride into the city and all the different kinds of people they meet along the way.

A little girl and her friends shun a new student because her clothes are hand-me downs and she's different from them. When the little girl ends up moving away the main character regrets the way she treated what could have been a potential friend.

The different colors have different personalities and have to band together stand up to a bully. It's ripe for discussion of how the colors are feeling.

I use videos like this one.

And I think all those discussions are working. We were at the science museum yesterday on a field trip and the students kept remarking that they felt sorry for the dinosaurs, that they were extinct now. They felt sorry for the trees in the rainforest. They will often come tell me when they think one of their classmates feels down or that they may need help with something. I love seeing them thinking about others and that our focus seems to be paying off!

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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Open-Ended Sloths

We are talking about the rainforest this week and get to learn about what I think may be one of the most interesting animals---the sloth! We read Eric Carle's book about the sloth and then set out to make our own. I gave the students half of a paper plate, squares of brown and manila paper and set them off to create their own sloths.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Gratitude Journals

I LOVE using Gratitude Journals! I try to do it even for myself, I write down something every day that I'm grateful for. I love reading through old lists to see how much life has changed.

Usually in class, we just write about what we are thankful for today. But sometimes I give them more directed prompts. This time I asked them to write about what they are grateful for that they cannot see. It was a tough one for many of them. Some students wrote something like a book and when I asked "can't you see a book?" they would say "well, I'll hide it so you can't see it". They just couldn't wrap their heads around what I was asking them.

These were some answers I was very impressed by:

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Reflection and the Interview Process

I have been working at my current school for 13 years. I have grown so much-I look at even my blog posts from when I started writing them and can see a very different voice has evolved. I will be forever grateful for my amazing mentors and leadership over the years that have shaped me into the teacher I am today. It was a very difficult decision for me to make, but I have been searching for a new school to be my new home.

When I first approached this whole process I was a little nervous. I have been on hiring committees before and actually relished asking those tough questions. Now I would be on the other side of that table! As I am wading through the process I actually like it. I feel like it's a great way to reflect on my practice and my contributions to my campus. If I was an administrator I think I would interview all my staff at the end of the year. :) 

I decided to create a digital portfolio and a brochure-so I had to highlight what I was most proud of. I have literally tens of thousands of pictures from my classroom. I printed my brochure through Vistaprint and it came out really cool! Was not very expensive either for the number I needed. I also had prints made of snapshots from both Twitter and Seesaw to show an overview of what I've shared with peers and with parents over the past year.

I haven't been asked any really tough questions yet. What was your biggest challenge? How will you contribute to our campus? How do you teach phonics? What would my principal say about you if I called her for a reference (that one made me giggle a little inside-she would probably use words I shouldn't repeat in an interview :). The hardest part for me is that I'm a very honest, genuine person. I want to make sure that I will be a good fit for them as much as they are for me. 

I haven't made a decision yet. I plan to make this my school for the next 10-20 years so I have to make sure it's right. There's a school where the principal really wants me, that's a nice feeling, to be wanted. It's a tough population but I know I could make a difference there. I could do my book clubs and Student Council groups that are so important to me. I know I will end up where I'm meant to be.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Mysterious Egg Stories

Although I believe in letting students write what they would like to write about during our Writer's Workshop, I also think it's important to give them opportunities to write from a prompt. We read several books about mysterious eggs and then I asked them to write their own story. 

It begins with "One day I was walking in the woods and found an egg....".

I picked it up, put my ear close to it. It cracked a kick, pop pop.

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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Books To Use For An Egg Unit

The egg unit is one of my favorites to do all year! Eggs are such an extraordinary thing-strong enough to protect a growing baby, fragile enough for that baby to break through when it's ready. We balance books on an egg to show how strong it is. We pass one around to use our senses and describe it. And we read several different books about the topic. My favorite are books about when something unexpected hatches from the egg.

The title says it all. A short, fun book about a duck and his Odd Egg with a bit of a surprise ending.

I LOVE this book! Duck and Goose both basically lay a custody grab for the little on inside this ëgg". Only they end up striking up a friendship through their disagreement.

 This is an almost wordless book about friendship despite what kind of egg you come out of.

A non-fiction book about all the different kinds of eggs out there. My students were so impressed with how big and how small eggs can be. They were making connections with this one for days.

My all-time favorite egg book! It's such a fun book to read.

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