Sunday, October 28, 2018

My Favorite Monster Books

I love doing a monster unit for Halloween. Here are some of my favorite read-alouds:

Leonardo is terrible at being a monster. He's not scary at all. A great story by Mo Willems.

Love this book about sorting your emotions.

A re-write of several different fairy tales including Princess and the Pea with monsters.

Love using this book to compare monster families to our families.

Monsters don't say "I love you"-they say "I loathe you". I read this story and then have the kids write about what another creature might say to express their love for one another.

He thinks his teacher is a monster until a very human moment happens when they run into each other outside of school. My students have a hard time with metaphor, so this is a great way to introduce it.

I remember reading this book as a child. I like when I can get excited and do different voices.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Words Matter

I read a book years ago and I wish I could quote it, but I don't remember the title. The author was talking about how our students pick up on our words. There are ways to frame things in a positive manner. One of my pet peeves is how everyone on campus goes around on Fridays saying "thank goodness it's Friday" or "it's finally Friday". That happened today and one of my students asked me why teachers care so much about Fridays. How do I tell this child that it's because they can't wait for the weekend when they don't have to be here. 

Since I'm airing my pet peeves, I'm going to talk about another one that bothers me. Let me preface this by saying I have never been a run out of school at the final bell type of person. I actually do several after school clubs, I volunteer to help out with Literacy Nights or programs in the evenings. And when I do leave shortly after dismissal it's because I have to go to the library before it closes or to the grocery store before it gets busy to get what I need for tomorrow's science experiment. I have had teachers make comments to me like "you are always leaving early" or "oh I didn't think you would still be here". First of all, my leaving at the allowed dismissal time doesn't affect these teachers at all. It's not like they are stuck with my students or something-everyone is gone. And secondly, your implication is that I am not as dedicated as you are because I am leaving before you are. Personally, I'd rather sit on the couch with my puppy and my laptop and work on lesson plans instead of sitting at school on my computer. I also get less distracted that way.

I think we judge each other too much in life and also in a school building. Our words can build people up or it can tear them down. I think we should be setting a positive example for our kiddos.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Ethics and Spider Webs

Our chapter read-aloud right now is Charlotte's Web. We have gotten to the part where Wilbur is a little horrified to find out that Charlotte captures and eats her prey. She goes into a whole explanation of why and how spiders are born knowing how to weave webs to catch their dinner.

I asked my students to think about the concept from Kaplan's Depth and Complexity-Ethics and is it right that spiders catch insects in their webs? And why do you feel that way? Most students actually did say it was right, because they had to survive. Circle of life-right?

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Dios de la Muerte and Shapes

We have been learning about different people and traditions in our Hispanic Heritage unit. We have also been learning about shapes in math. I wanted to do a project that incorporated both. So I cut out various shapes and had the students look at paintings of the skulls done in the Hispanic tradition. Then they made their own. What a fun way to assess what they learned. I just listened to them talk about the different shapes (can you hand me a square? is there a bigger circle?) and I could see who knew them. And we ended up with a project I could hang on the bulletin board.

Here was their finished product:

Sunday, October 14, 2018

The Power of Novelty

My students are already getting a bit bored with their routines. We eat at the same time every day, go to recess and ancillary at the same time every day. We do our reading workshop, writing workshop, math workshop. When we celebrated Dot Day, my kiddos got so excited I decided to try to find more ways we can celebrate this year.

We have been working on a unit about bats this week. When my students arrived on Friday, they were in awe. Who did this? What happened? I decorated our door very primitively and on a Dollar Store budget but they were really excited. We wrote under the tables with clipboards with the "cave" above their heads. We played a game where they were bats and practiced using their ears and sense of smell instead of sight. It was a really fun day!

A little bit of novelty can go a long way to helping students LOVE school and keep them engaged.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Wild Thing Ethics

Where the Wild Things Are is just one of those stories that never goes out of style! It's one of my favorites and one of the few stories I actually know by heart. We read the story and talked about how Max decided to leave the Wild Things. I asked my students to think about the concept of Ethics and decide if it was right or wrong that Max left the Wild Things. Here is what they came up with: