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Monday, September 6, 2021

Multiple Perspectives-If I Were a Principal

We read several stories about school the first few weeks. Authority figures is a social studies objective so it fits right in with books like:



We also invited our principal to read us a story and were lucky enough to have him come do that.

So I asked the students to imagine they were a principal and to write from that perspective. Here is what they came up with:


















Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Creative Family Trees

So Family Trees have been around a long time and I wanted to give my students an activity to really stretch their creativity. I asked them to come up with a different format for a Family "Tree". 

What else could we put our families on? I demonstrated for them with Family Clouds (and specifically told them they could not use that idea :) ).

My group this year is already impressing me with their ideas!


Family Balloons


Family Body


Family Diamonds


Family Robot


Family Flower









Monday, August 23, 2021

Introducing Multiple Perspectives

The first concept of Depth and Complexity that I like to introduce. I literally stand on top of a table and talk about how my perspective changed. Then I tell the kids to do the same on their chairs (I know *gasp*).

I read the book:


Then I ask the students to write about how our school felt, what it saw on the first day:



















Friday, August 20, 2021

You Be You

Just a reminder that you will get to know your students and know what they need.

Don't worry about the should's-how you think your classroom "should" look. (Believe me, I know how hard this is-I walk past classrooms and get jealous of the organization and creativity all the time). You know me, I don't do "cute". I don't like the focus being on things that are not for the kids.

Don't worry about How prepared you think your students "should" be. We always have students across the spectrum and this will not be any different this year.

 How you "should" teach. Each class has different dynamics and academic needs. Plan for your students. Yes you can collaborate with others, but you don't always have to do what they do.

You give your students what they need. Fight for them. Advocate for them. 

They can throw a bunch of programs and initiatives at you but you know your students.

I have had a lot of anxiety this week as we return for our pre-service activities. Things changing last minute-which is fine, I'm just frankly tired of pivoting :) I'm tired of hearing things like "learning loss" and the focus on data, data, data. Some of the students on my roster have not been in an actual school building in 18 months. There has to be a focus on SEL first. There has to be a focus on routines and I think sometimes that is forgotten.

Anyway, I just wanted to wish everyone a happy and healthy school year! I know no one asked for my opinions but here they are. You be you. Don't forget these kids are relying on you.







Sunday, August 8, 2021

S.C.A.M.P.E.R for Back-to-School Read-Alouds


If you are not familiar with S.C.A.M.P.E.R. it's a way to increase the level of rigor and critical thinking in your classroom. 

It's an acronym that stands for:

S-Substitute
C-Combine
A-adapt
P-Put to another use
E-Eliminate
R-rearrange



I like to use it based on my themes. Terri over at: https://engagetheirminds.com/blog/  just posted some great resources on the subject.

These are some of the activities you can do with the book David Goes to School.




Here are ways to incorporate S.C.A.M.P.E.R. with this story:

1) Substitute another location for David-what would David at the mall look like? the zoo?
2) Adapt a classroom so that it would be an ideal learning space for David-maybe stain-proof carpet.
3) If you were the teacher, how would you have to modify your instruction because of David?
4) Another use for a paper airplane.
5) Rearrange the classroom so it would become David-proof.

So we substituted the mall for school--how would David act knowing what we know about him? These are from my Kinder class.









1) Substitute another accessory for Pete's "school shoes"-Rockin' in my school ________.
2) Adapt Pete's shoes for another occasion other than school.
3) Modify Pete's shoes for different settings-space shoes, desert shoes, wedding shoes, etc.
4) Another use for shoes-you could plant a plant in a shoe, etc. (I would give them shoe cutouts and a blank piece of paper and let them glue the shoe on where they wanted and decorate around it with their idea)



1) Substitute another creature for the raccoons in the story-what changes?
2) What if Chester was going somewhere else other than school, adapt the good-bye technique for antoher setting.
3) Modify that goodbye technique for maybe Dad or brother/sister-someone else in your family or another character from a book. If you read First Day Jitters-what do you think the teacher's technique for the first day would be? What would Pete the Cat's be (probably something very cool! :).



1) Substitute something else for her dot-how would the story have changed if she had made a different mark on her paper.
2) Combine her dot and the little boy's line at the end-what could they make together?
3) Adapt-adapt her dot for other people-what would Santa Claus' dot look like, a giant's, the principal's, etc.
4) Modify-the dot for different settings-a dot in the Arctic, underwater, etc.
5) What is another use for the dot? Again I'd give them a cutout and let them design around it-it could be the bottom of an exclamation point, etc.






Thursday, July 22, 2021

Our Curriculum Is Under Fire

I have lived in Texas for 20 years. I have seen some pretty crazy legislation get passed but this bill that passed the Senate removing any mention of the Civil Rights Movement, Native American History, The Suffragettes, Chicano History, etc. from our curriculum...I just do not understand what they are thinking. The reasoning is that we are only to teach positive things from our history and therefore create more people with "patriotic" thinking. They will not require anyone to teach current events and if they do teach them they are required to teach both sides-so both sides of slavery-the pros and the cons?! This is just a screenshot of part of the list of things being removed.





So what can someone like me do. Believe me, I will continue to teach the history of social justice to my 1st Graders. I will read them stories and do activities with them to ensure they have a foundation in history. And if our new principal lets us we will certainly still do our Social Justice themed Wax Museum.

Some of my favorite books:




This story almost makes me cry when I read it to my students. It's about how we can come together as a community-despite our differences for a common good. Wish this was more of a focus in our society.


Girls in Cuba were not allowed to play the drums. She had a natural born talent and fought to fight that rule.


Did you know Ruth even dissented when they tried to prevent her from writing with her left hand? I love when I read this story to my kids and they use the phrase "I dissent" in our daily lives.


John Lewis is such a fascinating figure. I wonder if the fact that he is not longer with us is influencing the montrous policy changes. 


Malala's story is a hard one for our littles to understand-this book tells that story on their level.


I never learned this part of history. I LOVE when I read a book with my kiddos and learn something new. Mother Jones and her protests led to the labor laws we have today preventing young children from working.


We need more of this in our curriculum. Looking at different countries and the way they do things-what is similar what is different?


Silva Mendez' family was told Mexicans had to attend a different school. Her family stood up, took them to courts and changed the laws. This is the history our government does not want us to teach-teach it anyway.


When my students leave me, they know how to stand up for what they believe in. I was supposed to loop up with my class this upcoming year but we got a new principal who does not believe in looping. When I told my students one of them wrote him a letter-he said "I have a voice and I'm going to use it". I could not have been prouder.


Another story from our history that I did know. Dr. King wanted to hold a protest but everyone got arrested. This time they thought they would fill the jails with young people and then the adults could effectively do their protest. Through fear, these kids stood up for what they believed in.

Don't let them muzzle you! Don't let them whitewash our history. Our students need to know about these movements and changes so they can learn from them. Our future depends on it.





Friday, July 16, 2021

Unique First Week Read-Alouds

It is important to me that my students have new experiences in their new class. I want to introduce them to new authors, new characters. There are some amazing books out there that are popular with teachers-First Day Jitters, Kissing Hand, David, etc. But I want to do something different.



Told from the school's perspective, a student says how much she hates school and it hurts the school's feelings. It tells about routines kids have that it just doesn't understand. A great way to introduce empathy and multiple perspectives.


Don't we all! :) We have discussions about what school spirit is and how we can show that spirit.


We read several books about names. I like to do this because our names are part of our identity. Alma has several names and she learns about her family history through hers.


Penguin wants to fly and I use this book to introduce grit to my students. He works hard to figure out a way. 



In this story the student likens Kindergarten to his royal court. 


A story about how important it is to learn people's names and pronounce them correctly. This is something I consciously teach my students-both about their names and the names they use for others.


This is a fun story about a bit of playground rivalry and some rulers who let it go to their heads.