Sunday, February 28, 2016

Fun With Adages

My class has a favorite adage: that's the pot calling the kettle black. They use it all the time particularly when someone is telling on a student for something they did themselves. Like when they get out of their seat to come tell me Johnny is out of his seat. One day a student asked me if there were more sayings like that-so it's something I'm going to start incorporating into our lessons. I found some picture cards at Lakeshore that illustrate the sayings which I can utilize in workstations as well.

So as a kind of pre-test activity, I asked the kids to fill in the rest of some common sayings. Their answers made me smile. In the next few weeks, I will teach them how they really end, but I actually like some of the ones they came up with. The consensus by the way is that you shouldn't count your chickens until night time. :)

Don't count your chickens until they "bawk"
Every cloud has an angel.

to flip

Beauty is in the eye of love.
Don't count your chickens until when they eat.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Performance Assessments

I believe in giving kiddos different ways to apply what they are learning. Everyone is not the same kind of learner, so everyone should not be expected to show what they are learning in the same way. I'm a big believer in performance assessments. It takes a little bit more time to put them together, but I can tell right away who gets it and who needs a little more reteaching.

Since February is Black History Month, we wrote skits portraying the lives of the historical figures we have been studying. I chose 5 team "captains" who then chose their "team". They sat down together and decided who they wanted to write about. And then they decided who would play what role (it took a lot of cooperation) and wrote their lines. This is one example:

MLK-Everyone should have the same rights.
Coretta Scott King-Yes, that is the only way to be fair.
MLK-I am going to do a big speech today, I feel sad that I have to make a speech for equal rights.
Protester-yes, we shouldn’t have to fight for our rights.
Police officer-I will protect you at your speech today Martin.
MLK-thank you, I am grateful that you will protect me.
Coretta Scott King-Good luck in your speech. I’m happy for you.

We performed them for our parents today-a short and sweet little performance. No costumes, no backdrops-just their stories.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Painting Jazz

Our students no longer go to a music teacher for their specials. My school decided that since we were beginning a Dual Language program that they would offer Spanish as the elective instead. I feel like instruction about the arts is really important. So I've tried to pick up the slack a bit in class and still introduce musical concepts. We talked about jazz music this week. 

I love the story of Louis Armstrong and how a police officer gave him a trumpet which started him down a road that would end up making him very successful. It's amazing to me how sometimes one little act of kindness can change someone's whole life. Brainpop has a pretty good video about him and about how jazz is different from other music.

So we listened to some different jazz songs and then I let the music play and asked them to paint what the music made them think of. I got a lot of rainbows and butterflies-but I also got some who I think were very creative in their responses.

"people in the past"

"a calm day and peaceful"-this little girl worked way after everyone else was done putting in all the details.

This one looks like a stained glass cave to me-my favorite painting of the day!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Kindergarten Blues

We are studying different music influenced by African-American artists this month. We read a poem by Langston Hughes called "The Blues":

When the shoe strings break
On both your shoes
And you're in a hurry-
That's the blues.

When you go to buy a candy bar
And you've lost the dime you had-
Slipped through a hole in your pocket somewhere-
That's the blues, too, and bad!

 We listened to examples of blues music. We wrote the Ruby Blues together (that's my dog-she couldn't find her bone, etc.)

 Then I asked them to think as a Kindergartener-what would your blues song be about. Here's what they came up with (you can see we worry about losing things and have a lot of friend drama going on :)

My BFF is not my best friend anymore, a fire drill has happened and the school is on fire...that's the Kindergarten Blues.

When my friends make me mad
When I forget to study by spelling words

When my friends get mad at me and make mad faces
When someone writes on the carpet

The blocks break
The Clorox wipes run out

When the words are too hard to read
When someone knocks my tower down

Getting and F on your test
Getting a sad face

I lost my library book.
I love my lunch money.

If all the math stations were stolen
I wanted to play with the panda blocks but someone got them first

When no one is my best friends
When it is time to clean up

I got lost on the way to lunch
If I couldn't go to my favorite ancillary

If the smartboard did not work
If I dropped my tray at lunch.

When my friend falls down at recess
When I fix the bookshelf and it gets messed up right away

My teaching said no more coding.
We ran out of paper and can't write our sentences.

I lose recess
We had to cancel our party

When my friend is mean to me
When I can't think of an idea

I am sick and can't go to school
I want to go to the new stations but we ran out of time.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

My Latest Reads

Now that I've finally finished reading the books for my student book club, I'm back to reading for fun again! Yay!

Amazing story. A brilliant neurosurgeon, happily married, on a great career trajectory finds out he has a rare form of cancer. It's a short read-he literally ran out of time to get his story down. It's tragic and sad, but also very interesting and uplifting. I'm so glad he was able to get his story published and in our hands.

I think Alice Hoffman is a brilliant storyteller. Sometimes the stories get confusing with so many characters to follow, as this one did at times. But this is actually based on real people and true scandal that rocked their family. It is mostly about the mother of Camille Pissarro who became an influential artist in the Impressionist period. I liked it.

I knew this book was going to be quirky and eccentric and boy, was I right. It's a dystopian story about a hive of bees and one of it's "workers". I think it's a very creative idea and will never look at bees the same way again-however, I do know it wouldn't be for everyone.

This is one of books for my 3rd-5th grade book club. I actually didn't like it at first, but got absorbed into the story. Living in Texas, we actually were told to evacuate for Katrina and loaded a car up with all our pets and valuables, heading for Austin. It didn't end up hitting us at all, but we spent several days watching the drama unfold on the news in Louisiana. I think this story is a great way to make that real for the kids who were too young to remember.

I did not really love this book the way I thought I would. I love mysteries, especially revolving around family secrets and the past, but I couldn't wait for this book to be over (and not in a good way). I just thought the plot was convoluted and then when they reveal whodunit it's so far-fetched. I was disappointed because I had read really good reviews.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Higher Level Bubble Maps

I attended a great training on Thinking Maps several years ago. My favorite part of the training was that it happened in two parts. You had the initial introduction, were told to try out the techniques and come back with the second part to share examples of how you used them. Loved that aspect of collaboration.

Anyway, my pet peeve about thinking maps is that I hear people refer to them all the time as adding higher level thinking to an activity. I think this is misleading. The maps themselves-especially ones like a bubble map or flow map are actually just testing recall for the students. One way to make something like a bubble map more rigorous is to add the concept of multiple perspectives. How would these characters describe this character? My favorite one to do it for is the Lorax. How the Once'ler, trees, fish and the Lorax would describe the Lorax. I also do it with Tacky the Penguin. The students love that story and the characters are plainly described.

I have them write Tacky in the middle. Then they use adjectives to describe Tacky based on the perspective of the hunters, his companions, Tacky himself and the reader. I was actually very impressed with the maps they made.