Sunday, December 30, 2012

Then Cindy Lou Who......

I love changing an element of a story and asking the kids to think about what other details would change-it's a challenging task for them. For example: if the book Too Many Tamales took place at Easter, would anything change? What if Cinderella had never lost her shoe-would the ending of that fairy tale have been different?

I tried something new this year when we read the Grinch and asked my Munchkins to change Cindy Lou Who's reaction to catching the Grinch stealing Christmas and see what other details would change. I had them write their ideas first and then we discussed some changes that would happen. I definitely think they understood better after the discussion part, what I was asking them to do, but here's what some of them came up with:

Said "no, I want to have my doll!"

I think he meant like redecorate it.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Joy Jar

Well, I'm adding another resolution! :) I'm going to do this personally and figure out a way for us to do it in the classroom. It's called a Joy Jar and each day you write down something positive that happened that day and if you are having a bad day, you could go back and remember some good things. I'm all about focusing on the positives! We've had a lot of changes to contend with this year and some still looming overhead-so believe me when I say there's been a lot of negativity to dodge.

In our classroom, I think we could use it the same way. As I mentioned before, my kiddos are starting to get a little too comfortable and I feel like I'm wasting a lot of time redirecting or repeating instructions. Getting ready for dismissal is the worst time of day, some kids go to different dismissal points, getting folders passed out (thinking you are done with the folders and then 7 kids remember they never took them out of their backpacks), etc. I want to somehow work it out so they can be ready to go a few minutes early and we can write something positive down for our day and see how many we can collect before the end of the year. Maybe we could even do some kind of project with them at the end. the wheels are turning.

Anyway, I was excited so I thought I'd share! :)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Classroom Resolutions

I know it's early to think about already-but I'm in a reflective mood. I think teachers are on a different calendar than everyone else, our New Year's seems to be in August. It just doesn't seem to be a new year going back to the same class and same munchkins. I do however have some resolutions for myself and how I want to focus my time the last 1/2 of the school year. It was actually kind of a hard task for me to do, to put it in writing:

Linking up with Teaching Maddeness: 
Teaching Maddeness

1) We need to get better at our transitions. I think the kiddos are getting a little too comfortable-thinking about bringing in some Whole Brain Teaching ideas.

2)  Reading groups-between standardized testing, one-on-one testing, progress monitoring testing and the general schedule changes that come along with the looming holiday-I just didn't get to enough of my reading groups for guided reading the last few weeks before vacation. This is a key time to build those fluency and comprehension strategies-so I must get on the ball!

3) Flipped classroom-I still want to try to implement some of these ideas. Still trying to figure out how to do it technologically and also with early childhood kiddos.

4) Do more projects! This group came in a little lower academically than previous groups so it was a big focus on the basics for the 1st few months. Now that they are writing and thinking creatively, I think we're ready for more projects.

5) Planning-I was going to really plan better this year--that has not happened. I still find myself treading water and doing what needs to be done for tomorrow instead of looking more long-term.

There you have goals for the new year. What are some of your resolutions?

Monday, December 24, 2012

My Out-of-the-Box Thinkers

I've posted before about my passion for teaching kiddos to think outside the box. My class can even tell you what that phrase means. We read lots of stories throughout the year about kids who have "unique" ideas. Even characters like Tacky the Penguin can serve as an example of marching to the beat of your own drummer...and how that's ok. Whenever we do any kind of project, I always encourage them to create something different from everyone else, an original.

We made a pictograph the other day and I asked them to draw their favorite pet--along with the usual cats and dogs...the other answers I got were dinosaurs, sharks, penguins. I guess I should have been more specific. :) Needless to say our graph was very long.

The last day before the break I asked the kids to make cards for their parents. Color me stoked---I finally had a reason to break out my glitter paint! :) We made hand-print angels-the kids did the wings with their hands and then painted the face and halo. This is what one of my munchkins created:

Now I know many teachers would have fussed that she didn't follow directions, but I love it! She said it was a Ladybug Angel. Who knows, maybe that's what angels actually look like?

Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday (and their vacations!)!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mystery Reader

I love doing Mystery Readers in the classroom mostly because it's so much fun to see the kids trying to think of who it might be from the clues. Most of our readers this year have been from on campus-our principal, etc. We were actually supposed to have a few of the Texans do it last month, but they ended up having to cancel-must be too much celebrating this season! :) My all-time favorite mystery reader is a tradition we've done with almost every class--MY mother. I think it's so funny the kids don't even realize you have a mother! I gave them a ton of clues and one of them was that she has 2 daughters--when she came in and I introduced her, one of the kids said "you tricked us, you said she has daughters!". Um...she does, I'm one of them! :) She read them a story called Everything But the Horse and made these darling little cupcakes for them. She also shared some pics from when I was their age--nothing too embarrassing! Overall, I think definitely a success.

Gingerbread Houses

I know this a popular activity-but I particularly like it because we invite the parents in for the morning to help construct the houses. Most of the kids loved the activity (I think because they were sneaking frosting and candy decorations). I was very grateful some of the parents volunteered to help some of the kiddos who didn't have family there so I could spend the time monitoring everyone and of course, taking pics. It was messy, but I totally think it was worth it!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Landfill Harmonic

Have you seen this?

It was shared on a teacher forum that I like to go on and I am just amazed! There is a longer version where they talk about how their message is that with creativity and will, anyone can be successful and make a difference and I totally believe that myself.

I shared it with my munchkins today and now they all want to make instruments! :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Snow Substitute

One of my favorite blogs is this one: engagetheirminds

I love a lot of her ideas, but before I read this I hadn't heard of S.C.A.M.P.E.R. before. I think it's a great place to start if you are new at trying to challenge your kiddos.

Anyway, stealing using that idea I asked the kids to come up with something we could use to make snow (other than, you know, snow...which several of the kids really did write). Here's what they came up with:



Not sure he thought that one through....:)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Christmas Tree Ethics

I asked the students to write about whether it was right or wrong that we cut down trees to make Christmas trees every year. Once again, their answers surprised me. It is so funny to me that "right" for them means what they like to do. :)

right-because they make good decorations.

the trees get old sometimes.

It's right because I love Christmas.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Runaway Foods

To extend our fabulous Gingerbread Unit, I always read some books of other runaway foods. There are tons out there (I am obsessed with alternate versions of fairy tales, especially if they show unusual cultures). Here are a few that we read:

Then the kids make up their own story about a runaway food. Some even wrote what that food would say as it ran and ran!

Runaway hot dog




Corn, again-a popular food apparently!