Sunday, October 31, 2010

Celebrating Halloween with GT Concepts

I have really high expectations for my kids. Call me a Grinch, but my kiddos can't just get away with having a simple Halloween party.  I try to incorporate some sort of educational activity into anything they do. Our students were allowed to dress up for Halloween, so I had them dress up as literary characters. They chose a character, wrote a few sentences from their Perspective (my favorite was Charlotte from Charlotte's web who saw the world differently because she had 8 eyes and it was harder to walk because she had 8 legs, and oh yeah, she wanted less babies :).  Then they used Unanswered Questions to come up with a few things they still wondered about the story character.  Parents were invited to come watch and the kids had an opportunity to practice their public speaking skills. It's amazing how quiet and shy some students appear standing in front of people, when we know they are not quiet and shy on a regular basis!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


My kids love ethics! I think it's partly because it makes them feel older to discuss such "heavy" concepts. I try to guide them in discussions almost daily that pertain to this topic. It's easy to relate to characters in a story. We read a cute, little story called The Fox and The Falling Leaves about a fox who is just incredibly disturbed that his favorite tree is losing all its leaves. He tries to save them, but to no avail. There is one adorable illustration with the leaf tucked into the bed next to him as he slept. The ending is kind of abrupt and not at all what I expected, but the children enjoyed it.

After reading the story I asked the kids to write about whether or not it is "right" or "wrong" that the leaves fall off the trees. I got several really insightful answers: Right- because it lets new leaves grow, it makes things more beautiful. Wrong-because it gives us more leaves to rake or makes the trees look uglier-were just a few responses.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Giving Creativity a Chance

This month we talk about all the creepy crawlies out there. Do you know what sends shivers down my spine? Walking past a classroom and hearing a teacher stamp out their student creativity. I still remember my mentor teacher instructing me that I need to be more explicit in my directions of how to make a turkey; because some of my students didn't color theirs brown-I had purples and reds. For me, there was nothing wrong with that; this teacher couldn't believe I would hang up such monstrosities. The kids get so used to a teacher telling them how to do it, what colors to use-they lose that sense of creating the image they have in their minds.

Unless we're doing a science activity, where we are recording the details of something real; my kids have free reign over their work. When they ask me what color to use to make the bat, my answer is always "you are the artist, you decide." It might be kind of selfish on my part because I really just love to see the different things they can come up with. After studying bats for a week, they wrote some bat poems and made a very simple paper plate bat cave and construction paper bat. Look at all the different ways they came up with to do it though! How boring the world would be if everyone did everything the same way. I encourage my kids to create something original, something unlike any other project in the room. I get funny looks from other teachers, but at least I let my students' artistic voices come through and if it can come through on a project-imagine in their writing, or when they come up with a new way to do math. These are our future designers, architects, teachers-they should have some originality up their sleeves.