Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fireflies! Visualization Wheel

We ended our month on visualization by touching back on the point that visualization is like a movie in your head when  you read. We found graphic organizers that looked like movie reels, and decided to use a favorite book: Fireflies! This book is filled with gems...can be used for soo much in teaching.

Students listed to the story and looked at the pictures. We then put the book aside and had students summarize the book into eight major events (great preview to the summarization strategy). After writing the events on the board, we passed out the movie reel graphic organizers and instructed students to draw a scene for each of these events based on what they visualized after reading the book. Here is what we got back:

Visualization is so much fun!

This week we are starting our unit on non fiction and main idea and more to come this week!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Connections Help Visualizations/ Visualization Game/ Memoir Partner Editing

It is the end of the quarter, so it has been a busy week in the classroom. We are wrapping up our month on focusing on Visualization. Students have loved this hands on strategy, and have now started to really focus on their senses as they read. They like calling it a "movie in my brain!"

To wrap our unit we had students connect the two strategies they have learned so far (Making Connections was the strategy for September). We gave students a chart that had them make a connection that helped them visualize what they were seeing in the book. Of course, we modeled how to do this with our read aloud Ida B.

Here are some examples:

Sorry they are sideways...couldn't get them to flip.

On Friday we then ended the unit with a game. Students were all given a white board and a dry erase marker. They played this game with their table groups. One person was to draw a picture and describe it to the rest of the group. They were then to draw what they visualized based on the words of his description. When they were done...they all revealed their white boards to compare their visualizations to see if they were close. They loved it...and got excited when they were close. Here are a few: 

Wish I could add more...but still figuring out how to blank out students faces. 

We are finally to the point of publishing our memoirs. Once students were done with their drafts they received this sheet:


Before handing it to a peer editor, they wrote down what they wanted feedback on...they really took this to heart and wrote down things they were unsure about: "not sure if my quotation marks are right," "I don't like my ending, anything else I can do?" "What other words can I use besides "ran"?"

The editor then filled in the paper, gave them feedback...shared their editing with their writer and then handed the paper to us. This gave us a great draft check before we headed into publishing. (A great way to get a few points in for a grade.)

We are now publishing their stories in blank Bare Books. We will put all of their writing from the year in this book. So they are just putting simple decoration around the writing. They don't mind though because they keep flipping to the extra pages in the book....looking forward to filling in the rest of the pages with more writing!

Next week is just a three day week, and we are celebrating everything pumpkin, from writing to a pumpkin drop! Looking forward to posting next week!

Images and Graphic Design

If I had to do it all over, I think I would have put more interest in my passion to draw and create. Thanks to my friend Lisa I am exposed to so many fun graphic designs. She just shared this link on her blog Making Home Homemade.

I love these simple graphic designs for some of my favorite tales:

One of my favorite whimsical artists is Masha Dyans. I am sooo excited about purchasing her 2012 calendar already! 

I also wanted to share one of my favorite songs right now. Our church did this song at a service, and I honestly thought it was something they had written due to the style of the music. Enjoy its message and beautiful will have it in your head for a while. 

Check out more from this artist: Gungor

Next post...Classsroom update!
It's a Saturday of catching up!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Giving Tree and Show, Don't Tell Writing

Teachers love classics to come up with a new idea for students. What we realized with The Giving Tree, is that we may think all students are familiar with it, but we were surprisingly mistaken. Many of our students did not know of the book!

We used the book to visualize character change, and to then describe in writing how both the tree and the boy changed from the beginning to the end of the book. While we read, students described what they saw the tree and the boy looking like for each phase. We created a class visualization map:

In writing we just completed one of my favorite lessons. I write on the board "The teacher was angry." I then go around acting angry at the students. I receive some giggles, and some seriously get concerned. I stop after about a minute. I then ask, what did I do to SHOW that I was angry. I write down what they say. After recording several responses I then repeat the sentence using the details of how I acted angry. You need to emphasis how much better it sounds when you SHOW what the character does, versus just telling what they are feeling. 

We then set up our Writer's Notebooks into six sections, and wrote down six different emotions: sad, happy, sick, surprised, embarrassed,  and having fun. Each table is then assigned an emotion. We go around the room and each table acts out that emotion for five seconds. The rest of the students watch the group, and then write down what they saw. We tell them to notice what they are doing with their face, hands, etc. Then as a class we record all the details we saw. This becomes an anchor chart for our room: 

We are moving into publishing this week...can't wait to share some final products :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Teacher Tube -- getting through the blocks

Just wanted to share a great resource for teachers that I just discovered. Our internet at school is very strictly blocked. I loved using YouTube videos for several of my lessons, but that got blocked too. One of my teacher friends shared that there is now a TeacherTube that is not blocked by school security. All of the videos are censored, but a lot of the videos I love are on there.

One of my favorites recently is this one....great for teachers and everyone:
This connects to YouTube, but you can also find it on Teacher Tube.
What a great way to teach idioms :)

Off to Columbus this hopefully more to post about come Sunday.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Visualizing to Timelines

Today I have to give all the credit to my student teacher :)
It is so refreshing to watch new ideas at work.

In reading today, she read aloud the book Scarecrow by Cynthia Rylant. While students listened they wrote down details that helped them visualize the scarecrow. Things like: birds on arms, button eyes, rough clothing, pumpkins all around, worm at his lapel, and a constant smile. Students were then given time to put their words into color and created a picture of the scarecrow they visualized. They were to then write 2-3 sentences explaining why they drew the scarecrow the way they did. Here is what they produced:



In social studies we focused on transportation time lines and how transportation helped Ohio. Students were given a time line, a series of reading strips, and pictures of the type of transportation. They were to read the reading strip find the picture that went with the reading and put it on the time line according to the date they read in the reading. 

My student teacher wanted them to talk about why that transportation was important, but they didn't :( Therefore we reflected that we should have had them write a quick sentence on the timeline on why that form a transportation was important. While students love to can't force them to.

Tomorrow we are doing more writing with our stay tuned!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Strong Journey Day One - Fill Er' Up

For the next six weeks our church is going through an all church journey called STRONG. How does God spiritually strengthen us?
Week One: Play
It's amazing how wrapped up we are in always trying to be productive. I actually felt bad about being in my pajamas on Saturday until 3pm, only getting some reading done and completing a blog post. I rarely ever do something like that, but it felt really good to just rest. Why can't we be ok doing that every once in a while. Now, I know some of you may have no problem with that...but for us type A's that constantly need to be doing something, we need to focus on this.
I thought it was fabulous then that the first week of our church journey was on PLAY. Our pastor focused on the following points:
1. replenishes power
2. puts me in my place - I am not in control
3. stokes passion
4. purges unhealthy desires
5. pleases God
Taking these into consideration...I don't think I put enough time into play.
Part of the journey is for us to complete five challenge cards. Today's card I chose was to list all the things I like to do to refresh and energize myself. I thought this would be easy...but found my list to be very short. My time has been soo focused on work, I haven't focused on finding the things I love to do beyond work. Now, I'm not totally out of tune. I do love reading a book and grabbing a cup of coffee, but I don't think I do anything that falls underneath "play". I see all the things I do as just relaxing. So I feel like this week I really want to focus on this.
My husband and I took our first step and spent the after noon at the park:

A little sunshine, reading, writing and reflecting led us to a great list of things we can do individually and things we can do together to make sure we take time to play. For example: dancing, going to the park (more often), running together, and reading among other things. 
So what do you do for fun? Do you still play as an adult? If not...think about it!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

A Peak Into My Classroom - Autumn

My classroom is always changing. I have had a total of four classrooms in my teaching career of almost five years and each of them have looked different and provided different opportunities to me as a teacher. For the past two years I have been outside in a double wide modular, with no space for storage and very open to the elements. So when I finally moved indoors...needless to say I was in heaven. I finally have storage, cabinets, a sink and a middle room that connects my classroom to my partner teachers classroom. This provides more hidden storage and it is where we have our five computers that we share.

So anyway...come on in :)
One things I was so excited to finally do was decorate my door. Here is my latest creation for fall. The scarecrow took a while to color. Especially creating the plaid on the patches.

I don't have a picture of everything, but here are a few of my walls. When you first walk in to your right, I have a whiteboard and then I have a resource and supply area.
To the left you see my monthly spelling words. Underneath those you see my green "Writer's Chair" in which my students sit when they are sharing their writing. I could probably do without these two tall bookcases, but they are what I have taken from my numerous classrooms when I had no storage. I mainly use the black one to hold student's writer's notebooks (on the bottom). On the brown shelf are all my social studies text book resources. I am not a text book these only come out when I want them to see a picture or there is a good passage for a lesson. Further to the left is the student supply area.
My favorite piece in this area is my mailbox :) My husband and my father in law made the stand and helped me spray paint it white. I love it for for the love that was put into it and the purpose I use it for. This is where students turn in any notes from home, or if they want to tell me something and I am busy they write me a note about it or just say "can we talk". It has been a great tool for communication. Student's love the fact that it is a real mail box too. 
The storage shelves I purchased from Target, and the storage totes from Walmart. I added numbers to them to coincide with students table numbers. Students store all their coloring supplies in these totes. Which keeps desks sooo much neater. We also have a community tote for all the glue and a another for scissors. Above this you will see our planner which I have all filled out on Monday for the week. 
To the left there is another whiteboard that is attached to my first bulletin board.
This is all devoted to reading. On the right I make anchor posters for all of the reading strategies we learn. I add them as we learn them. On the left you see my CAFE menu based on the The CAFE book. It is a way organizing my reading workshop. Each letter stands for a different type of reading skill : C- Comprehension, A-Accuracy, F-Fluency, E- Expand Vocabulary. When I teach my minilessons we focus on each of these areas. When I teach a new concept we write it on a sentence strip and add it to our menu under the correct category. During their reading, each student has a goal which we have a established through conferencing and hearing themselves read. Student's chose an area they want to focus on in their reading in which they know they need work on. The menu provides them a menu of strategies to use to work on that goal. 
This leads to my reading corner:
This is where my students sit and listen to read aloud and check out books. This summer I took on the project of separating all my books into genres. Each genre is in a separate tub. I also have separate tubs for certain authors. I have noticed that my student are having a lot easier time finding books they like this way. Above my rocking chair I started a vocabulary collection for the month. I teach 10 new vocabulary words a month. If students find those vocabulary words in their reading they write that sentence on a post it note and put it on the word. I also give them a reward sticker for their awesome readers eyes.
Turn around from here and you will see my teachers desk area:
I have read so many sites that teachers should do away with their teacher's desk. So I have tried to utilize it as part of the classroom. I put my kidney table for small group instruction right in front of my computer and document camera. This really helped save space. Above my desk is my calendar to schedule reading conferences, and my "Vocabulary Treasury" box where the "old" vocabulary words go after we introduce the new words for each month. The closet and file cabinet hold all my teacher's materials. The stop sign with buses is our discipline system. Students move their bus up to yellow for a warning, if they get to red it is a write up and they have to miss a part of recess. 

We really emphasize students uniqueness to our team and acceptance of each other. At the beginning of the year we had them create self portraits, which we hung around this corner of the classroom. This really gives them a sense of belonging...that this is their space too for the year. They also saw how they had some connections with their fellow classmates. We loved how creative they were:

Take another step to your left and you find our middle room door and my writing center:
I have coloring supplies and paper set up for student use as they go through the writing process. I post all of anchor charts from our writing units on this it is always evolving. Our latest unit is "Memoirs". 
After looking at examples of memoirs, students made these observations about what they should put in their own narratives. Our mini lessons have focused on these.
Another thing we like to do is award students for the amazing character. Each we we do a mini lesson on a character virtue to stress good character practices. Students then nominate a student they think has shown that virtue during the week. They then receive a star on our board and are invited to our Star Lunch, which is held every other month. 

My room is always changing depending on what is going on during the year. I hope to include that here :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Remembering Steve Jobs

Amazing how many of us don't know about the life of someone until they leave this world. As I watch NBC Nightly News, I am amazed by the person Steve Jobs was. His work ethic was so admirable: "my family is the most important...not all these technological advances I have invested in." He said we should never dwell in one achievement, but use it to keep moving forward. What an amazing guy to have given us such things such as the ipod, ipod, iphone, macbook...all things we now depend on.

Speaking of which, as a reward for all his hard work, my husband recieved an ipad2 today! Amazing way to appreciate Apple today. We are now exploring the amazing things the ipad has. Thanks Matt!

The first thing that my husband pulls up...a baseball video with a squirrel Nutty time at the game and of his mother son dance at our wedding..."Go Ninja!"Ninja Rap Mother Son Surprise Dance

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"I don't know what to write...oh wait...I do!"

Today was a day that made me excited to be a teacher. My student teacher is control of everything now, from plans to grading, so I have been able to be the observer of how my kids are comprehending the information we are trying to teach them. I have also been able to take some pictures of them in action which I rarely remember to to do.

Right now we are working on visualization in reading. We have presented it as making "movies" in your brain as you read. Not only is it the picture, but it is also hearing, feeling, smelling, tasting. Today we used the book A Night in the Country to help students with this skill. We read the whole book, without showing students the pictures. Then we passed out typed out passages from the book to the students. Students were instructed to be the illustrators, and draw what they visualized after they read the passage.
Here is what we saw:

After students were finished drawing, we grouped them together with others that had their same passage to compare their visualizations. They loved seeing how different they were:

We then showed them the actual picture that was in the book. They were especially excited when they included any small detail that was in the "real" picture.

That really got the creative juices flowing for later on the day for Writing Workshop. Students are working on their "memoirs" or personal narratives. They like calling it "memoir" though, and make a very grand arm sweep saying it. We have been using a lot of Patricia Polocco books to help us know what a memoir looks like and give us ideas for our own stories. For the past week, students have been brainstorming ideas...which is hard to do as a fourth grader. They haven't experienced much yet, and it is hard to remember what they have experience, or see it as important to write about. 

Many have latched onto an idea, but we hear "but where do I start?" There fore we presented the Heart Line. Some call this "Bed to Bed" story. My student teacher led this fabulously. She modeled how she took her idea for her story (going skydiving) and write down on a timeline every detail she remembered from the day and wrote it down:

We then showed how you pick out what your "most important" detail is..."what is the heart of your story?" Students put a heart around this detail, and then decided where they wanted to start and end around that "heart". We also reviewed that section and marked out any unneeded details, and added details we forgot. Students loved that they could write down everything they could remember without worrying about writing complete sentences. They made their timelines quickly and picked out their hearts in a "heartbeat"  :) What was hard was choosing where they wanted to start and end. One student even said, "I didn't even realize that I had that many details!" 

Some immediately wanted to get to writing after they had found their heart. Even my most reluctant writers produced a I took a picture :)

What a fabulous day!