Sunday, September 29, 2013

Personification Mobiles

Oh how I love to teach my students to be better writers! I love watching them blossom into better writers as the year progresses. I absolutely love taking time to read their wonderful writing.
Since my last post, we have been working on adding some figurative language to our writing to make it more intriguing to our audience. My students never seize to amaze me because they are SO good at it!

On Friday, we introduced the idea of personification. This can be such a fun lesson to teach and my students truly had a strong grasp on it before I taught it! They were already asking me if they could add personification to their writing at the beginning of the week- my little over-achivers.

So when I sat down to lesson plan, I was faced with a challenge. How can I engage the students fully into something they already have a strong grasp on? Then it came to me. I needed to create a little competition. We went to work creating personification mobiles.

We began by talking about personification and creating a brainstorm on our board. I love to play actual storm sounds in the background while we fill our whiteboard with all of our wonderful ideas. After we had many ideas on the board, I passed out a paper plate, a hole punch, and a stack of brightly colored paper. I told them they would  have until lunch to fill their personification mobile with as many personified phrases as they could think of. At lunch, I would tally them up and the winner would be awarded with a homework pass! 

My kiddos went straight to work! Every single one of them was engaged. I loved walking around the classroom and listening to their cooperation and ideas. My winning table got a total of.....*drumroll please*...... 42 personified phrases! Kudos to my creators.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Appetizing Adjectives ( With Printable Freebie!)

In our class we have been working diligently on adding details to our writing. We have talked this week about making sure our writing is crystal clear! We began the week by talking about adding adjectives to our writing. 

I love reading and my kiddos do too! I find that relating what they are learning in writing to what authors use in the books they love to read, really encourages them to challenge themselves. 

For this lesson, I asked the students to pull our their journal. Since it is still early in the year, the students  don't know a ton about me yet. I got them interested by saying, "I want to see if you can guess where I live. I will show you where I live but I would like you to draw it first. I'm going to tell you about my house and I want you to draw it in your journal. After you show me, we will check to see if you were close." I then proceeded with this very vague sentence, "My house sits on top of a hill." With that sentence only, I asked the students to draw my "house" in their journal. After about a minute, I walked around saying, "What! That looks nothing like my house!"

On the projector, I proceeded to pull up a picture of a giant castle.

The students were shocked and replied with, "You didn't tell us that! You just said it was on top of a hill!" This lead to a discussion about how I could have altered my sentence to include more adjectives to make it more vivid for my audience. They agreed that if I used words like, giant, huge, regal, and royal it would have been more evident that I lived in a castle. I even had one sweetie reply with, "Wait, so if you live in a castle, doesn't that make you a princess?" I had to agree with her reasoning.

I had the students try again. This time, I wanted them to draw my breakfast. I said, Coffee steaming, sizzling bacon, and butter melting on top of my three, steaming hot pancakes sat in front of me. The smell in the kitchen told me breakfast was ready."  I then asked the students to draw what I ate!

Again, the students held up what they drew. Their drawings were much more detailed and more accurate. We then discussed how adjectives  helped them to draw a better picture.

I wanted them to show off their skills at this point! In their journal, I had them list five adjectives describing their favorite food. I then passed out the napkin foldable. I created this by printing it two sided. (Word doc. here)

 On the foldable, I had them describe their favorite food without using any of the five adjectives they listed ! The best writers showcase versatility.

On their paper plates, I asked them to illustrate their favorite food. We matted the plates and the napkin foldable on a red piece of construction paper and we put together this adorable bulletin board! The students loved reading their classmates favorite food and guessing what they were. Let me tell you, my amazing authors made me hungry!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Picture books to Teach Writing

This week at school, we began to teach writing! It is always a fun experience to introduce a new subject at the beginning of the year to a new group of students. Every student learns differently and it is important to remember that as a teacher, it is our job to make sure we cater to each child's needs. 

I began by introducing the first of the 6+1 writing traits; ideas. I have worked on this particular trait all week, and I plan on moving on to figurative language this week.
My mind has been hard at work thinking of the best way to introduce things like idioms, similes, and other things that make writing so spectacular! I decided I would use picture books to introduce some components of figurative language.

I went on a bit of a Amazon shopping spree. If you have Amazon prime, it can be a wonderful and affordable way to get great books quickly and for a great price. Today, they came in the mail! I curled up with my Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte and read through them today! I love every single one.

Happy Fall ya'll!

I ordered the following books:

Misery Is a Smell In Your Backpack: This is an adorable book! The author goes through the pages of the book showing many takes on the term "misery". Many of these examples will get your class giggling because they are so relatable! I plan on using this book to teach details. This author does a great job with painting a picture and that is exactly what I plan on using it to teach!

Ralph Tells a Story: This is a book that tells of a problem so many of us have encountered at one time or another in our lives, having nothing to write about! Poor Ralph searches all over for an idea. Little does he know ideas are all around him! I will use this lesson to delve into the 6+1 trait of ideas. It is a wonderful tool.

My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil: This book is great for teaching similes. In this story, a little girl tries to tell her grandma about her day at school but her grandma always asks so many questions! She decides she will make it crystal clear by using similes. This book is not only filled with wonderful similes, but also beautiful illustrations. I truly enjoyed reading this book myself and I can't wait to share it with my kiddos!

My Momma Likes to Say: I love this book for teaching idioms! It's packed full of adorable idioms that every grandma, grandpa, mom, or dad has said at one time or another. I love that every idiom is accompanied by an adorable larger-than-life illustration that depicts the idiom perfectly. Can you guess which idiom the cover depicts?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vista-print Freebie!

I love Vista-print and I absolutely love their wonderful freebies! This idea came from a fellow teacher who is more super creative! Miss Kane came up with the wonderful idea to utilize their "free" business cards as a means of creating super cute homework passes! I'm so lucky to have such creative friends.

Vista-print offers 250 free business cards with specified deigns on their website. They allow you to choose from the designs ( there is actually a ton of them to choose from, so don't worry) and all you need to do is pay the shipping cost. I think all together mine came to around 8 dollars. In my opinion it is completely worth it for such adorable homework passes! I feel like they will last for quite awhile. 

I love the way that Miss Kane worded these homework passes so that the teacher can specify when  the homework passes can be used. We wouldn't want students coming in the classroom with a homework pass stapled to a research project we have worked on all month long. I also really appreciate the idea of homework passes as a reward. I am a firm believer in completing ones work. After all, practice is an imperative step in learning! However, so often we get in the habit of giving our students food- related incentives. It is nice to be able to offer them a break from an assignment every once-and-a-while!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Saving Sam: A Team-Building Activity

In these early weeks of school, it's so important to enforce the idea of teamwork among your classroom. I feel that if you have a classroom that functions as a community, everything runs more smoothly. 

My teacher and I discussed the importance of team-building exercises among the students this week. She told me that she loves to incorporate them into the classroom and that they usually produce wonderful results! I was more than excited to see it with my own eyes.

For our team-building exercise, we "saved Sam". ( idea found on Pinterest)

You will need:
Gummy worms (Sam)
Life-saver Gummies (Life vests)
Clear plastic cup (Boat)
Cocktail stirrers (Oar)
Paper clips

Poor Sam is a worm that has found himself in a rather unfortunate situation. His boat has capsized and his life jacket is trapper underneath it! Poor Sam can't swim! His oar, his only means of movement, has fallen into the rocky waters as well! He now sits perched on top of his capsized boat and he needs our help!

It is the students job to SAVE SAM! they will be responsible for flipping Sam's boat over and getting him back inside. He needs his life jacket ON him this time, and his oar laying horizontally across the top of his boat. 

Here's the catch: You can't touch Sam with your hands. You may only use the two paperclips supplied. Keep in mind we wouldn't want to hurt poor sam by stabbing him or popping his life jacket by stabbing it! Also, we cant let him touch the water (the floor or desk) because he can't swim!

It was so enjoyable to watch the students problem solve! Our little engineers were hard at work. It was interesting to see how they utilized the materials given. Some bent the paperclips into tweezers, while others snapped them in half to create more tools.

This fun exercise really got our students excited to work together. I loved seeing their wheels turn as they asked "are you sure this is possible?". I loved seeing the proud looks on their face when they figured it out!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Numbers in my Life : Open House Wall Display

Well today was open house! It was wonderful to get to meet all of the students parents. We are really lucky to have a great group of parents in our school who are so invested in their children's education. 

With open house comes introductions, classroom tours, Power Point making, and classroom decorating! 

The second day of school, we began a project called "Numbers in my Life". This idea was found on Pinterest and we LOVED it and decided it would be a great fit for our classroom. The project was centered around the idea of numbers surrounding us EVERYDAY! Our world is full of numbers and some are very important to us. 

We discussed numbers that are important in our individual daily lives. For example, I have one sister so the number one might be important to me. Another example might be the number two; the number of bones I've broken. The intriguing thing about this project is everyones numbers turned out so different from one another. One of the boys in our class raised his hand as stated that fifty-three was an important number to him because that is the maximum number of pitches a pitcher can make in a little league game. Fifty- three; a number that would have no significance to me, but to this boy was a big deal!

Here's what mine looked like: 

We had the students write their name on poster board that was supplied. The poster boards were cut all different sizes and were all different colors. It wanted each child's poster to be as unique as them!
I wanted to put something up in our hallway for our parents to see when they came for open house. I decided that the giant blank wall between our two classrooms would be a magnificent place to create a bulletin board! I put a phrase in the center of the board;" Lots of numbers are important, but there is only one me!" It is a floor to ceiling wall display!

I think it turned out great! Its such a pop of color in our hallway and has really grabbed the attention of passerbys' who LOVE to read about each child's unique numbers. The students' are quite proud of their work and so am I!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The First Day of School!

So, today was the big day! I can honestly say I was so very anxious to begin this school year. I have thought about my "first day of school" for so long now it was such a crazy feeling for it to actually happen. I could hardly contain my excitement as I prepared the night before. I felt like I was going to begin high school again! I remember that feeling; that rush of emotion and excitement. That is EXACTLY what I felt last night.

Today when those 30 kiddos started to file in those doors is was as though they had never left. It was so wonderful to see how they had all grown and matured. It was wonderful to hear their exciting summer stories and experiences. It was wonderful to see how excited they were to be there! ( I do love that about elementary school ;) )

Today we went through and did classroom introductions, as well as the usual "getting to know our room" routine. My teacher and I changed ALOT this year so we still have a ton to learn. It's so exciting to see the plans you worked so hard to create in action. It makes my teacher heart warm to hear, "Oooo! Can we do that today?" 

Anyway, I have so much to learn about our new classroom community! All of those new faces come with a unique personality and charestistics. Today, I decided to teach them about myself.

I looked around for a long time for a unique teacher introduction model for the first day of school. In my other field placements, I have created a book, a mystery box, and a Power Point to introduce myself. This year I really wanted to do something interactive. Mt teacher did a awesome Power Point and followed it up with a pop quiz! She really had some of them stumped with her questions. 

For my own introduction, I decided to make a timeline!

I began the timeline activity by posting my birth year. Be prepared for them to show off their math skills by immediately calculating your age. I posted "Now" at the other end of the timeline to represent the present. I created a few pages of pictures of myself at pivotal moments in my life. The students really got a chuckle out of some of my pictures. I hesitated posting some of them because of my own embarrassment, but the students really connected with them. Hey, we all had an awkward stage right? I wrote a little description beneath each picture describing what made that event important or what was going on in that picture. 

For example: a picture of my high school commencement ceremony might say, " I graduated from (insert your high school here )". 

One of my FAVORITE pages that I posted on the timeline was a journal entry that I did in second grade. In my own primary handwriting, I eloquently described how I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up!  Apparently I had my little heart set on that goal very early in my life.

I decided NOT to put dates on any of the pages! What better way to let them get to know you then to let them piece together your life?

I stood at the board and called out the years on the timeline. If a student thought they had an event that corresponded to that particular year, they stood up and walked it up to the board. I took that time to describe that event in a little more detail.

This activity was a big hit! It can be hard to think of creative ways to introduce yourself, but I really enjoyed this one. 

Hope that your first day was just as wonderful! 
Here's to a wonderful year full of learning and inspiring  <3