Monday, April 29, 2013

GT Frames for Mothers

So I'm an idiot and actually thought Mother's Day was this Sunday. Oops. So we started our activities a little bit early this year.

These frames are based on Kaplan's concepts of Depth and Complexity from the GT curriculum. The objective is for the kiddos to "frame" their knowledge of a subject in this case--moms. I asked them to write from the perspective of a mom --one boy wrote he would not like to be a mom because then he'd be a girl :), another said she'd need a lot of rest! The rules of being a mom-my favorite response: moms are always beautiful. Awwww. The Language of the Disciplines, what do moms always say-it's heart-warming to me that so many said "I love you" although one student did mention that moms can say bad words too. And the Big Idea of moms-they take care of kids seemed to be the overwhelming sentiment.

Please forgive the handwriting. Now that they have learned to write on lined paper when they revert back to unlined they seem to get very confused.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Questions or Answers

Which one do teachers focus on most? Sometimes I think coming up with a question is harder than answering them (ever been in a job interview!).

One of Kaplan's concepts of Depth and Complexity is Unanswered Questions. I like to focus on this with the little ones, although beware--once you get them started, there is no stopping them!

I love to use photos as part of our reading warm-up (MSNBC publishes pics weekly from all around the world-I generally use those, although art works too). I ask the kids to ask questions-what don't they know. I wonder where those people are going? I wonder if they were alright? I wonder where that was taken?

I also do that with stories we read. We read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good Very Bad Day (actually we listened to it-did you know Barnes and Noble has a place for that on their site-some good titles there:   )

Anyway, I asked the kids to write about what they still wondered about. For some reason I don't have a pic of my favorite one, which was "I wonder if he has a bad day every day":

That maybe it was the reason he seemed so grumpy.

I wonder why he was so grouchy.

They thought it was a she because of the hair! :)

I wonder if he didn't want to go to school and stay home and play video games.


I don't usually use this forum to wax philosophical but I had an epiphany the other day and thought I'd share. :)

I was watching Dance Moms the other day (yes, I watch Dance Moms-it's one of the only shows I watch religiously anymore, don't judge). And Abby was talking about attitude. She said something to the effect of: if you see a dancer growing professionally, it's because the dancer next to her is growing. I think that this concept applies to teaching too. If you work with teachers who really raise the bar for their students, you are likely to do this as well.

About 10 years ago, I worked at a different school. It was my first assignment and I was thrilled just to be teaching! They built another school right down the road, we lost half of our enrollment and they had to "let go" of about 10 teachers. Since I was in the last-hired category, that meant me. I am not good at interviewing (I get quiet when I'm nervous, so they think I can't handle the management part of the classroom) and went on several with no response, very discouraging.

Finally I interviewed at my current school and was ecstatic to hear I had gotten the job. When I arrived for our pre-service week, I was so impressed with the caliber of teaching that I was surrounded by. People talked about writing and math with such passion-I still use many of the ideas I learned that week. Over the years I have fought to stave off complacency. I am not satisfied with mediocre in my classroom.

Blogging has really helped with that. I have discovered so many talented people that I learn from every day. I read Twitter feeds (one of the these days I will understand how to actually post). We have unfortunately had some cutbacks in the way of pd, but I was lucky enough to attend some good ones this year. I am always looking for new technology I can implement in the classroom. Considered pursuing a Master's degree, but really just can't afford that right now.

Anyway, just thought I'd share! :)

So how do you fight off complacency?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fun Secretaries' Day Activity

My father always said be nice to the "little" people. It's also my advice for any new teacher. We know who really runs a school! :)

We haven't done this one in a while and we have some new staff in the secretary positions so I thought we'd try this one again. The kids made a list of things the secretaries do when no one is looking. Some of their ideas were just hilarious! I can't wait to share it with them today.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Painting Like Michelangelo

This is one of my favorite activities to do with the kids when it comes to teaching them about art. You can hear audible gasps when I show them a picture of the inside of the Sistine Chapel. I tell them they can paint anything they want to, however, they have to do it while lying on their backs! We tape paper to the underside of each table. They work with a partner who is there to assist with holding the paint upright for them (they thought it was hilarious when I actually went under one of the tables to demonstrate this :). We do use watercolors because I think there's less of a chance of it getting on their clothes, etc.

Maybe not like the Sistine Chapel, but they definitely had fun!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Buddy Postcards

A bit of a crazy week this week! We did our Poetry Celebration for our parents (I had 19/26 families represented-my parents rock!). So it was practicing for that and then performing. We also had our one-on-one testing for TPRI. It's nice to see how much they've grown since the beginning of the year, but the especially the listening comprehension part, where I have to read them a passage and ask them questions---you get really, really, really tired of that story after reading it 26 times!

Well, we did manage to get some work done. I found this story that reminded me of my students. You see, we have "buddies" in our classroom. Mostly they are stuffed animals that I got from Kohl's. They can go home with a student who shows me Superstar behavior for the day.

So we read the book:

It's about a stuffed animal that gets lost, but soon the child starts getting postcards from all his adventures! He comes back a little bit different, but he does return. It's cute.

I asked my kiddos to write a postcard that one of our buddies would write if they got lost and what adventures they would have. I love that they thought of so many different places. Their writing has improved so much since the beginning of the year!

I like that the penguin went to Hawaii to get warm.

I'm originally from Pennsylvania, so this means they actually listen to my stories! :)

Oh and look at the beautiful crown one of my students made me. They said now I can be the Queen! :)