Friday, April 19, 2013

Bookmaking, Rainbows, Games, Fairies

In kindergarten enrichment students have been busy sharing ideas and creating centers! At the beginning of last trimester we had a few weeks where students had not signed up for a day. Now the list of ideas will take us through the end of the year and we will be double loading some days!

One center last week focused on students making books. The center leader thought that students would enjoy making their very own books about a topic of their choice. And he was right! Students designed, created and WROTE!

This week we have had students making rainbow magnets and drawing rainbows as they talk about light and their special experiences seeing rainbows. One student created a game in which they hid colored circles, and then friends searched for them. Once the circles were found students created animal or people faces on their circles! Another center had students creating fairies and then using several toys in the room to create a fairy land!

In addition to these great student led centers, students have also been building and creating! The arrival of some new building materials led to almost as much excitement about the cardboard boxes as the items themselves. The enrichment room now has a horse stable which students can explore and use --all from a simple box.

Spring Break Celebrations

The arrival of spring break is welcome, and seems to be greeted with a lot of enthusiasm. As I wish everyone a happy break, I also wanted to share two things that have made me particularly grateful for school this week.

Today, I had one of the most genuine and fun moments I have had as a teacher yet! A group of first graders entered my classroom ready to learn. One student came and sat next to me where I was waiting in the circle for the class. She gave me a hug and said she was glad to be there! I replied that I was excited to see her and her class and that I really valued her hug and kind words....that they felt great to me as a teacher ( which they did!) What happened next was that the other students who had entered started to hug me too! And before I knew it we were having a spontaneous class group hug! Students were smiling and I was in the center of a happy group of kids showing their support for our community of learners and for me as a teacher. What a moment!!!

The past several weeks second graders have been blogging in the enrichment classroom. This week I thought we would take a break from this activity. What I found was that students wanted to blog! A student approached me and told me about his efforts in math. He was so proud that he wanted to share them on our blog! This was a great affirmation for me of the positive power that blogging can have in a classroom. Blogging can give students a voice....and I loved seeing the truth of that statement come alive in my classroom.

Student Leaders

This week in third grade enrichment classes students continued to impress me with creative ways to teach geography skills. On Monday students created a scavenger hunt in which students had to use directions to find clues, and in the end build a map. On Wednesday one group had students perform skits to show how different places might farm for food. Another group of student leaders had their class watch a music video to reinforce the location of states and then created a bar graph of where people in our class have visited or lived!

When I began the process of having students teach these lessons, I have to admit that I was nervous about whether or not the content would be conveyed. After three weeks of these classes, that is no longer a I just find myself wishing that I could share what some students are doing in one class with the other classes ---because their ideas are so great!

'Building' Teamwork

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to spend a day at a Boston Mass school for professional development. The experience was a great learning event for me, which will influence my teaching in many ways. One specific outcome was that I saw the benefit of having more and bigger building materials in my classroom. On my visit I saw amazing block structures that were worked on for days and were part of classroom spaces. I came home and began researching some materials that might work in my space. I found a great set of materials and used my FOCUS funds (thanks FOCUS and RES families that support this effort) to purchase them!

This week the materials arrived and many classes have had a chance to try them out. The structures that students have built in twenty minutes are amazing! We have felt like it is our classroom birthday with this awesome new gift!

But the building is just a part of what these materials offer to students. The larger scale of materials means that students must work together. They collaborate on what to build, how to support a structure, and what to do when it will not stand. They all celebrate when they achieve success! Even students not directly involved in the building are supportive with words of encouragement and praise.

I once heard a remark that each day a teacher should ask what their students made that day. The tangible act of making something is an awesome learning vehicle and students remember their achievement. I hope you enjoy checking out these creations as much as students enjoyed creating them!

Magic multiplication master

Hi, my name is Dylan and I am doing multiplication in second grade.

Monday, April 15, 2013

2nd grade likes to work with continents

People love to learn about continents so we are doing lots of activities in enrichment!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Solar System in Kindergarten

A student in kindergarten this week led a great center on the solar system. He came up with a variety of activities that had students engaged through the entire class period. Thanks to a set of planets and posters lent to the enrichment room by Mrs. Ayer, students used a poster of the solar system to line up planets in their orbitals. Students independently read the planet names and worked together to create the orbitals! Students also spent time in the classroom library looking at books and learning about space rovers. At another table students were using pictures of the planets to draw their own planets using pastels. As a culminating activity the student had created his own paper planets which he used to play a game of hide and seek in the classroom.

I continue to be amazed at the great work that kindergarteners share each week and I can hardly wait for the next class to see what everyone will learn!

Greek Mythology I Block Group

For the last six weeks I have been working with a small group of third and fourth graders during their I-block. Although I only meet with students once a week, they continue to work independently on a variety of tasks between our meetings. This I Block group has been focused on having great book discussions. We are reading the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan as our main text. We are also supporting our reading with the use of several great Greek mythology resources from the library. This book and the accompanying texts has led to great discussions. We can make many connections between traditional stories and our book, and we have enjoyed sharing observations and ideas as we read.

As a culminating activity our group decided to create shields or portraits that represented a Greek god of their choice. We read specific stories about our selected god, and will use that to write a small supporting paper about our creation. Students have been highly engaged as they create and extend their connections to the text. The paint is drying and we hope to display these projects soon!

Student Led Geography Lessons Continue

In third grade enrichment students are working through our geography skills lessons with student led activities. This week one group had students explore using Google Earth to understand the difference between maps and satellite images. In another class students developed a game in which they challenged students to travel around a Vermont state map using both cardinal and intermediate directions. In another class students put on a puppet show to teach the class about their location in the world (starting with their town and then working all the way up to the Earth!)

Students are using creativity to develop their lesson plans and their classmates are engaged and supportive of their efforts.

Volunteers Support Students in Grade 4

Last week I happily reported that fourth grade capstone projects are well underway in our enrichment/library class. Students are taking notes, planning their end projects and searching for resources that help them to answer their questions. We have been very lucky to have support from a variety of people in our school community.
This week we had a student talk with the general manager of the Lake Monsters (thanks to help from Mrs. Riell), Mr. Berry spend time cartooning with a student, parents supporting student questions, and community members sitting with students as they decoded complicated articles. As a teacher it has been great to see enthusiasm shared across our school for student interest-based learning!