Thursday, February 23, 2017

Reading Buddies

In our second grade class we have kindergarten reading buddies.  Depending on our schedules we meet once a week for a 20-30 minute block. We start the year off with the older buddy reading to the younger buddy and as the year progresses, both buddies get a chance to read to one another.  Sometimes we change up this time together and do a fun art project, game or other cooperative activity.  There are numerous benefits of buddy reading for both individuals involved (improved fluency, expression, self-confidence, leadership skills, oral abilities, friendships, etc). Teacher Vision has a great article sharing some of the research behind the benefits of Buddy Reading along with the logistics and set up which you can read here: Reading Buddies.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Day 100

How do you celebrate Day 100 in your classroom? 
We made 100 day necklaces using fruit loops and apple jacks. Yum, the classroom sure did smell delicious!  Prior to the activity, as a class we discussed the different ways to group 100 (ex- 5 groups of 20, 10 groups of 10, 4 groups of 25, etc.), then the students decided how they wanted to group their cereal for their individual necklaces.  
In conjunction with Day 100 the second graders also had a homework assignment to bring in a collection of 100 and represent it in any way they would like.  The homework assignment was inspired by the book, Fancy Nancy, The 100th Day of School.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Global School Play Day


February 1st, 2017 is Global School Play Day!  This is an exciting initiative which was started by a small group of educators to bring back the importance and emphasis on unstructured play in children.  After reading more about this initiative, it looked really appealing and I was determined to give this a go in my own classroom.  I would encourage every educator to partake in this fun event! Visit the Global School Play Day website to register your class or school for free. 

Here are some images and student reflections from our fun day of play:


 A quick TED Talk from Professor Peter Gray (researcher at Boston College in children’s play) to teachers about participating in with Global School Play Day:

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!

Gung Hay Fat Choy! Happy Chinese New Year!  This is the year of the Rooster! Roosters are hard working, talented, capable and enjoy a good adventure!  They like to travel and wake up early with the rising sun. 

In our class we celebrate the Chinese New Year by reading some books:


Followed by making lanterns and practicing painting some Chinese symbols:


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mapping

Maps made by my second grade students. 


Me On The Map, is a great read aloud to do as in introduction to this activity.

National Geographic has a really great website all about spatial thinking and map skills for elementary students that we also spend some time exploring during our class computer lab time.



Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pumpkin Math

Fall in New England = All Things Pumpkin

Pumpkin math lends itself to classroom discussions around the ideas of estimation, grouping, skip-counting, collaboration to name a few!  This is also a great time to do some integration across the curriculum and tie in science and language arts; seeds, plants, life cycle, scientific process, science journals...and the list goes on and on.

I start off by passing the pumpkin around in a circle at the rug. I ask the kids to use their senses when it's their turn to hold the pumpkin.  We talk about what they see, hear, smell, taste (later with the cooked seeds) and touch.  We talk about all things pumpkin really! 

Next, I read aloud the book, How Many Seeds In A Pumpkin. Each student makes an estimation of how many seeds they think will be in the pumpkin on a post-it note.  The students then go back to their table groups and count the seeds in their pumpkin.  I cut the tops of the pumpkins prior to the activity and give each group a large metal spoon to scoop out the pumpkin guts. The groups decide how they would like to group their seeds (1, 2, 5, 10, 20). 

We also watch a short video clip about the life cycle of a pumpkin. The students sketch, label and journal in their science journals about their pumpkin before and after the activity.



Thursday, March 19, 2015

Kamishibai

Kamishibai (kah-mee-she-bye) a form of storytelling, is also known as traveling paper theater.  Kamishibai was a well-loved form of entertainment for children in Japan, mainly from the 1930s to the 1950s. As television become more popular in homes, Kamishbai became a thing of the past. Allen Say writes a great book to introduce young learners to this unique form of writing called, Kamishibai Man.


Using Kamishibai in the classroom can be an enriching experience for all learners. Kamishibai can be used to develop writing skills at a variety of levels. Another great aspect of using Kamishbai in the classroom is that it uses oral, visual and print methods of literacy.

We (my 2nd grade students and I) team up with our 4th grade writing buddies to teach this fun writing unit. We meet for as many consecutive days as our schedules allow, usually for 45 minute time blocks. Our 4th grade buddies introduce this unit to the 2nd graders by presenting some real Kamishibai stories (you can purchase these on www.kamishibai.com). The students are divided into groups of 5 or 6 depending on class size. By the end of the unit we usually have 8 to 9 completed stories. The students are exposed to the writing process, from generating ideas, developing setting and characters, using a story mountain graphic organizer, writing and illustrating their rough drafts, to a final typed and illustrated Kamishbai story which they then orally present in front of a large group of students and parents.

practicing how to use the Kamishbai frame

glimpse of rough draft story

rough draft of illustrations/slides

creating the artwork

working on more artwork

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mentor Texts for Six Traits: Voice



Mentor Texts for Six Traits: Voice

A warm up activity to introduce the trait of voice is to have each child write an emotion on an index card. After collecting the cards, we gather at the rug and kids get to choose an emotion to act out. It just gets them thinking of different ways to convey feelings using voice.  A good mentor text for this activity is: Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day, by Jamie Lee Curtis.


We Are In A Book! by Mo Willems- This is a book about 2 best friends, Gerald and Piggie, who find themselves in a book! They just can’t believe this new adventure and use some great “voice”. The book is composed of back and forth dialogue along with great simple pictures.  Once I read this book to the class, we talk about the different emotions the characters displayed and how the reader knew this. Many respond with things like, because of the speech bubbles, the punctuation-exclamation points, expressions on Gerald and Piggy’s face.  All of these ideas the students generate, I then link back to the trait of “voice” and tell the children that they are going to write their own comic. We brainstorm ways that authors show voice and then the students try to incorporate some aspects of voice into their own comic strips.

Dear Mrs. La Rue:Letters From Obedience School by Mark Teague- This is a great book to teach about using your own voice in letter writing.  After reading the book, we discuss ways in which we could tell how a character was feeling by reading the letters.  I then link this to my own students’ letter writing. I ask them to write a letter to Santa convincing him why they would be the best elf for the job! They have to create an elf character, with a name and a personality and convey all of this in a convincing letter to Santa. The kids love this and it’s amazing what ideas they come up with. I think my favorite line so far from one of my students was, “not only can I become invisible but I am also a trained reindeer tamer.”

Professional Learning Communities



Do you participate in PLC's in your district?

Last year, my colleagues and I wanted to learn how to become better writing teachers.  Our question which we would use to drive our learning was:  How can teachers as writers promote and strengthen writing instruction?  We decided that we would use our own personal writing linked to our students writing process and go from there. Although it made us a bit uneasy to share in front of our colleagues, in the end it made us have empathy towards our students and realize all of the tools writers need to be successful, from the environment to the actual nitty gritty details that writing can demand.

We decided as a group that voice was our hardest trait to teach so we all decided to write a piece about the first day of school. We each chose to write from a different perspective. Some of the perspectives were: bus driver, teacher, student, principal and the school itself. To our surprise this was a pretty fun piece to write and one that we could not only use in our PLC but also with our students.  I’ve found that my students just LOVE when I share my own writing with them, from the brainstorming, to the rough draft, to the final completed piece.

Here was my feeble attempt to write using the voice of a student on the first day of school. 

Voice: Student

I could see the flashing lights approaching in the distance.  The sound of the school bus coming to a stop and the opening of the bus door is one that you never forget.  Ms. Jackie, as we called her, was alright as a bus driver.  She was for lack of a better term, typical.  The bus ride was fine, nothing out of the ordinary.  I climbed up the stairs chose my usual area of the bus to sit and reserved the spot next to me for my best friend, who would be joining us in exactly three more stops. (I thought to myself, I wonder if the other kids I just walked by noticed my new cool coat and backpack?). Things were going well.

Soon we were there. The school smelled, well, like a school should; erasers, Elmer’s glue and old or should I say loved books.  It was just as I had expected.  As I walked down the hall I could see my teacher smiling. I had the nicest teacher in the school this year and to top it all off, ALL of my best friends were in my class. Wow, I thought to myself, could this year get any better?!

I took out my perfectly labeled purple polka dotted sparkly folder, matching journal, crayons, markers, colored pencils and neatly piled them on my desk.

Beep…Beep…Beep! What was that sound? It was then I realized my alarm clock was going off. I was going to be late for the first day of school! My great start to the school year was about to go downhill fast if I didn’t run to catch the bus! Some dream that was!

How do you successfully teach the craft of writing to your students?

Friday, November 8, 2013

Pumpkin Observations
 
The holidays can be an exciting time for kids...especially Halloween! This holiday doesn't have to be all costumes and candy in the classroom so I tied in a fun pumpkin exploration activity for the kids. Pumpkins / Jack-o-lanterns, there's enough of a link, right?!
 
Science- life cycle- seed to pumpkin
Art- sketch
Word study- descriptive words
Math- seed estimation and counting with arrays, circumfrence, hight in base ten blocks
Reading- How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin, by Margaret McNamara and Brian Karas
Writing- story starter: "3 little pumpkinds were rolling down a hill..."
 
 
 



 

Personal Narrative Writing

How do you teach Personal Narrative writing?
I have found that kids write their best stories after a lot of modeling and exposure to mentor texts. My go to author to demonstrate personal narrative writing has always been, Patricia Polacco.
Below is one of the graphic organizers I made to use with my students this year to help them generate ideas for their personal narrative. I ask them to think about a time when they felt, sad, hurt, angry or worried. They write down one idea for each box, then pair-shared (adding in some detail words to each event/box).
We spend about a week reading and doing different graphic organizers to generate ideas- small/true moments from our life. After each student has a wealth of topics to choose from, they decide which event they want to turn into their very own personal narrative story, like Patricia Polacco's stories.
I can't wait to see how their personal narratives turn out this year!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

C'est L'Halloween Chanson (It's Halloween Song)

Here are the lyrics to the French song mentioned in my previous post.

Adventures in Grade 2 French Exposure

Adventures in Grade 2 French Exposure
 

I wish the title read: Adventures in Grade 2 French Immersion, but for now exposure will have to do.  As educators, we all know our school day is beyond packed with curricula.  Despite the cramped school day, I decided to add one more thing (how many of us have said that phrase before?)! However, I truly believe that learning a foreign language as a child is so important! Kids are like little sponges and another great benefit is that they have perfect accents!

So this school year, I have set off to expose children to the beautiful language of française.  I am attempting to do this by integrating French into my morning work and morning meeting time.  The kids really seem to be enjoying this so far! I recently dug up an old french CD for children and it was perfect for the upcoming holiday. Is anyone familiar with the french song, C'est l'Halloween? You may remember this song from your high school french class! You can watch the video and hear the song here:


Needless to say my kids love the song...unfortunately they got in trouble for singing it at computer time! I am going to have to remind them when it is appropriate to sing!

À la prochaine!
(Until next time)

Friday, August 16, 2013

Almost done with my classroom set up! Then again, what teacher is ever actually DONE?! 





Wednesday, June 19, 2013

End of Year Gifts for Students

 Every teacher wants their students to continue READING over the summer, so why not give each child a book or two at the end of the school year...the cost right? Well I found this great website called, Book Sale Finder, that lists local library sales. You just search for your state on the website and it lists the dates the public libraries will be having their book sales.  What a cute idea it would be to give each child a few books in a beach pail as they head off for summer vacation! You can usually find the beach pails at your local Dollar Store or Target in the dollar section. I thought this was such a cute and inexpensive way to give each student a gift, I just had to share!



Baby Natalie


I can't believe I haven't posted since October....well actually, I can! We have a new addition to our family! Our daughter Natalie was born this April and has been keeping us very busy! So in between her naps and feedings I'm going to try and get caught up on this past school year! Thanks for sticking with me and still following my blog!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Halloween Craft Ideas

How do you celebrate Halloween in your classroom?  We are one of the lucky schools where we are still allowed to celebrate this fun holiday with the kids!  We have a school wide parade around the neighborhood with the kids all dressed up in their costumes! I also have great parent volunteers that typically run a craft day in my classroom!  Of course, like many of you, I get most of my classroom craft ideas from Pinterest!  Here's a few cute ones I found:


Thursday, August 16, 2012

Classroom Set-Up

It's that time of year again! BACK TO SCHOOL! I've been in my classroom this week getting things ready to go for another fun and exciting school year! These photos aren't that great because I took them with my Ipad!

Classroom view from the door.  Our meeting area is over by the whiteboard, I just haven't gotten around to unraveling the rug.



Calendar Math! I add in the various components of Calendar Math as we go along. I don't want to overwhelm the kids right off the bat! In a few weeks I add in the time and place value parts, then later in the year I will add in more.

Who doesn't love a Dr. Seuss quote?!

Really cool gear clock from Kikkerland.  You can watch all of the gears in the clock move around.

Classroom library...still need to organize some of the books!

Mailboxes and writing area.  I decided to color code the mailboxes a few years ago by girls and boys.  We were always getting stuff from the office about camps, etc for girls and boys so I found this way easier.

Math resource area. 

Word Wall Board. This is where kids put their individualized spelling lists.  The area that has the chart paper is where I write the weekly word study principle.  For a more detailed description of how I teach spelling please see earlier word study post.

Today's Number!

Today's Number I am trying to think of ways to have the kids do more meaningful morning work. I think I am going to make little booklets of these to use as morning work when the kids arrive and then I will incorporate the number of the day into my morning message / calendar math. This way the kids can try it on their own first and then as a class we can go over the answers during morning meeting.



Freebie Fridays

Sunday, August 12, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

While enjoying summer vacation, I came back to see that I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award from two different people! :o) A huge thank you goes out to Ashley at Inspire, Dream, & Create and Laura at Oh, How Pintearesting!.

For this award, here are the rules:  
1. Follow the person who gave me the award. 

2. Link back to the person that gave me the award.

3. Pass to 15 new bloggers and then let them know they have received the award. 
Here are the awesome blogs I'm passing this award on to:
  Finding 15 blogs that don't already have this award are a bit tough...but here is what I have so far!