Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Who Is Your Hero?

We are doing heroes as a theme this week. We were doing a think-pair-share type activity and I asked the kids to share with their partner who their hero was and why. We were sharing out the answers, when one of the students asked "Miss Trayers, who is your hero?". And I am embarrassed to admit I was stumped. Usually I have an answer to the questions I am asking them to answer. I have an opinion about why Shel Silverstein wrote The Giving Tree. I know what the pattern is in the life cycle. I did not have an answer to that question. After thinking about it, now I think I could answer (I have read a lot of different books about Joan of Arc, I have always admired the chutzpah of Bette Davis. If we are talking education, I could name more than a few). But I wondered if I was the only grown-up who had difficulty or if it was a common thing.

So I gave the kids a homework assignment to ask someone at home who their hero was. They wrote about their choice and their family member's answer and compared the two. What do you notice-are they similar or different? Can we find a trend? In our discussion afterward we decided that many different kinds of people choose family members as their hero.


Friday, April 25, 2014

Our Gratitude Projects

We talk a lot about gratitude throughout the year. Being grateful for not only the big things but small things too. In the beginning, many of their answers were the same; grateful for parents, house, cars, xbox, etc. And there's nothing wrong with that but I wanted to challenge them to start thinking about things they take for granted every day.  I started Gratitude Journals with this group where about once a week I'd give them a prompt like: "what are you grateful for that you can't see" (oxygen, the Tooth Fairy were answers), "what are you grateful for that's not living" (tables, lunch), "what are you grateful for at school" (reading buddies, recess). Sometimes we would take them outside and they would write about something they had a new gratitude for that they walk past every day. We have talked about characters in stories and at Thanksgiving they drew the Winnie-the-Pooh crew around the dinner table and each one was saying what they were thankful for.

I wanted to do a kind of culminating project about gratitude as we are coming to the end of our school year. I was really stumped as to what to do for it. I thought about having them take pictures of things they are grateful for-but we did a similar project to that last year. I thought about them talking about characters' gratitude but couldn't figure out how to put that together with a project.

So here's what I had them do-we took a posterboard and sectioned it off. Then they painted things that represented what gratitude means to them. I LOVED the outcome! I think the fact that they didn't have to think long to come up with things and could totally justify their importance was awesome. It was a multi-step project because they had to write what they were going to say, paint the pictures and then wait for it to dry in order to write their words. I am very proud of what they came up with and couldn't wait to share!

God, crafts (because it makes people smile), breaks, sky (because it lets you know when it's morning), internet (so we can blog :), the Bible (because it tells stories from long ago), Valentine's and her imaginary friend, flowers and art.
The sun, my teacher, my mom, sunsets, school, my BFF, life (because it's an adventure :), space and the Easter Bunny.
 Love, fun, friends, people, beauty, months, teachers (they give us ideas), doing good for others, smartness, parents (they make me smile).
 Earth, God, books (because you can learn on your own), sunshine, love (because Mom and Dad are full of it), Band-aids :), siblings (because you can paint their nails), friendship (it's nice when people like you), rainbows, fairy tales (because it's nice to pretend nice to pretend you are there), trees and crayons.
 Miss Trayers, my heart, sun, Earth, rain, memories ( you don't want to forget that moment), music (because when people say mean stuff we can hear music and feel better), poems (they make love in my heart), hair and for you.
 Nature, little bugs, angels, library books :), friends, waves, sunny days, being happy, everything!
 CCE, backpacks, God, angels, technology, helping, teacher.
 Nature, insects, workstations, my pet, myself (because I help myself), my tree.
 Love (because it inspires me), my parents (because they are loving and sweet), books, my teacher (because she makes me do better), clouds (because they are like art), friends (because they make my day).
 Crayons, memories, books, bees, bucket fillers, friends (they always have my back), the past (because it made a better future), flowers, words (because they make it easy to understand).
 Teacher, life, school, recycling (because the trash will be on teh street and we can't drive), the White House, trees, lotion and your ears and mouth.
 flower, lizards (they are friendly and good pets), books, butterfly, friends, rocks, spiders, smartness.
Love, friends, nature, flowers, butterflies, ladybugs.

Overall, I'd say we were pretty grateful! :)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

"Here's To You" Story

I was introduced to this book by Barbara over at Grade Onederful: As soon as I looked up the book I knew it was perfect for my students, and it goes right along with the gratitude projects were are doing.

So I very informally asked my kids to write their own little saying about something they love in the same rhythm that the author used. Here's what they came up with:

                           The angels-the flying people

                                        Curious kids

                                      To the elephants, the trumpeting people

                                     I wish meetings looked like that! :) Everyone is smiling.

                                    My future technologist!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

If It Was Written By Another Author....

One activity I like to do with often with my kiddos is to have them write about the "rules" that a certain author follows. For example, with Dr. Seuss you find rhyming words, very make-believe characters and often times a message. After that I will ask them what would happen if another author wrote that book-what details would change? It is a challenging way to make them think!

This class has been a big fan of Neil Gaiman. We read Coraline at Halloween and since then we've discovered some new favorites including:

One of my new read-aloud favorites! Could have been a story my Dad would tell. :)

My kids loved reading this book. There is some complaint from reviewers that the ending is a little scary because the girl ends up getting sucked up into his hair-but my kids loved it. When I was little my sister and I spent a week at Girl Scout camp. That whole week my sister never brushed her hair that was long enough to sit on--that is the connection I made with this story. Heaven only knows what you would have found in her hair! :)

Anyway, so we were reading Because of Winn-Dixie and I asked my students to tell me what would change if Neil Gaiman had written this story. I thought the one who got it really got it!

The girl would be the dog and the story would say "Because of the Girl".

Gloria would lie about the things she did wrong.

Some [parts] will be scary and some will be funny.

                                                Gloria with scary eyes
Because a big portal [would open] and all the people will come.

Probably if he wrote it he could write they got lost.

Instead of walking into a store she can walk into a pear.

Now this is my little loquacious writer. Basically the gist is the "ghosts" they hear turn out to be real ghosts and they have to hide in a port-a-potty--they held their breath! :)