Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tori Answers Our Questions

Third graders in Mrs. Ankerson's class created some questions to ask our traveling friend.  Here are the answers from Tori!

Q:  We are having a lot of fun with your challenges!
 A:  I'm so glad you guys are enjoying the challenges!  I am having a great time making them!

Do they celebrate Halloween there?
 They do celebrate Halloween here! It is not a big holiday like it is in America but they do celebrate it!
Do you have plans to go to Spain or Hungary?
I do not have plans to go to Hungary or Spain, I would love to travel there someday but i do nothave enough time!
Do you have plans to visit Richmond E.S.?  (we would love to meet you some day!)
I am hoping to come and meet you all as soon as I get home! When would be a good time for you all?

 What language do they speak where you are?
Some people speak  Welsh here but not that many anymore. I am taking a Welsh class right now where I am learning  a little bit of Welsh! Schwmae (shuh-my)  means Hello!

Is it warm there?
 The leaves are just changing here so it is getting very  cold here!

What is your favorite place you have been?
 My favorite place so far was the London Eye. The views from the ferris wheel were beautiful!

What type of food are you eating?
I have my own kitchen so I have been cooking my own food. I have not been eating a lot of different foods here but I do love the tea biscuits they have!

Do people dress differently?
People dress pretty much the same except you see a lot more school aged children in uniform.

Is the land pretty?  Is it mostly country or city?
The land is very pretty here! I live mostly in the city but have seen some country sides and both are very pretty!
Which country is your favorite?
I love all of the countries that I have been to but Wales is my favorite so far!

Do people have accents? Are you getting an accent?

 Yes, people do have accents here. They have British and Welsh accents
here but I am not getting an accent yet! I hope I have answered all of
your questions and will answer any more that you have! Talk to you

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Dear Tori!

For the past few weeks third graders in Mrs. Ankerson's class have been following Tori as she travels in Europe. We have used her awesome clues to find mystery locations, using maps and our geography skills. This week we learned about Tori's trip to Dublin, Ireland!  We had to look up the flags of countries (did you know there are a lot of flags that are orange, white and green?) and we had to use physical maps that included rivers and capitol cities to locate her!  We are so excited each time we get a new clue!

We also have a lot of questions for Tori, which we will share here and then we plant to post some of her answers in the near future!

The most popular question was : " Where are you going next?"  But we already know that we will have to figure out that mystery! So here are our real questions!

Are you traveling with any friends?
Do they celebrate Halloween there?
Do you have plans to go to Spain or Hungary?
Do you have plans to visit Richmond E.S.?  (we would love to meet you some day!)
We are having a lot of fun with your challenges! What language do they speak where you are?
Is it warm there?
What is your favorite place you have been?
What type of food are you eating?
Do people dress differently?
Is the land pretty?
Is it mostly country or city?
Which country is your favorite?
Do people have accents? Are you getting an accent?
What types of things are you doing when you travel?

Wow! A lot of questions!  We love having a traveling classroom friend! We cannot wait to hear some of the answers!
Grade 3 Enrichment

Circle Seat Challenge!

Since my time with students always feel too short (forty minutes goes by quickly!)  we work really hard to make our transitions as quick and smooth as possible.  One transition is the transition from the hallway into the classroom and seated in a circle.  Because the enrichment space is fluid, and is shared with another teacher, we do not have tape on the floor or fixed circle spots--students have to enter, survey the scene and decide how and where to it is a challenge to come in and make a circle that includes everyone and is the right shape so that everyone can make eye contact with everyone else quickly!

One class does this beautifully and I have given them many compliments! I think they have gained more than fifteen minutes of enrichment time with their efficient teamwork--it is AWESOME!  So this week, I filmed this class.  I will share their skills with the younger grades and challenge the older grades to see if they can match their time!  It will be interesting to see how everyone does....and the end benefit is that we will all have more time to LEARN!

Here is the video! The time to match is 32 seconds from entering the class to ready to learn!  I would be interested to hear if other classes can match these first graders and their mad skills!

Performance Arts through Flynn Workshops

This week students in kindergarten were treated to a very special workshop.  An artist and teacher from the Flynn worked with students to make connections to their upcoming trip to the Flynn Theater to see 'Step Afrika!'.  Each class participated in a forty minute workshop in which they learned and created, listened to music, and danced!  This workshop was funded by a grant from the Champlain Valley Educator Development Center.  We are grateful to be the recipients of this funding!
Students were able to build connections which will deepen their understanding and joy in their upcoming theater experience!

The trips to the Flynn Theater are an excellent way to view the performing arts and engage different learning styles for our students.  We hope that this experience will awaken a passion in some students, and create an appreciation of the arts in all!  

A special thanks goes to the K teachers, Mrs. Redford for use of the library space, and the Flynn artist and workshop coordinator for making this experience possible.  If you are interested in learning more about workshop opportunities for future performances (the cost to fund a workshop is one hundred dollars per class), please contact me.  Below are the future performances that students will attend this year.

 Grade 1:
Performance:            "Swimmy, Frederick, & Inch"
Performance Date:       Mar 10 2014 12:00PM

Performance:            "Seussical" the Musical
Performance Date:       Apr 16 2014  9:30AM
Grade 2:
Performance:            "Dream Carver" (with Senora Harris)
Performance Date:       Jan 22 2014  9:30AM

Performance:            "Stuart Little"
Performance Date:       May  7 2014  9:30AM
Grade 3:
Performance:            "At Nightfall"
Performance Date:       Mar 25 2014  9:30AM

Sharing: Second Grade Reading Posters!

 Students in second grade have spent the last few weeks in the enrichment classroom working on reading posters.  You can read about the idea behind this project here:

The posters are complete and are on display in the Richmond Free Library in downtown Richmond!  I hope you will take some time to stop by and check out the posters for yourself! And if you cannot make it to the library, here is a video of our process and their work!

 If these posters have encouraged you to read, or if you are using this video to encourage others to read, please share your thoughts in the blog comments!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Differentiating Reading Instruction--RAZ Kids

Several years ago a classroom teacher shared a program with me that was being used by a colleague in a different school.  After reviewing the details of the program, we did a pilot in which we purchased RAZ Kids for her grade level and utilized it over the course of a year.  This pilot led to the purchase of RAZ Kids licenses last year and this year for Grades K,1 and 2.  

RAZ Kids has appeal because it allows for the classroom teacher to use the data they have about their students as readers to select appropriate books for each student.  Each time students use the program, the teacher knows that they are reading books that are at their just right level!  It is differentiated for each student!  RAZ Kids also gives students the ability to choose their own books from a selection that is set for their reading level--thus allowing choice and student interest.  Each level of readers also contains a selection of fiction and nonfiction texts-- many of which can be tied to our curricular units in science and social studies.  The program also has a feature in which students can listen to the books before they independently read them...thus supporting decoding of unknown words and helping them to be successful.  After each book, students are also asked to take a quiz.  These quizzes are set up to look at reading comprehension as well as sequencing and other important reading skills.  Quiz results are recorded and the teacher can review reports to see which skills their students are mastering, or which skills might require lessons and practice in class.

In addition to benefits at school, RAZ Kids is great because it also allows students to log in at home.  Now families can support students in their reading growth....and have a clear way of determining which books would be great for their children to read to them at their independent reading level.  New this year RAZ Kids is supported on tablets too!  

I realize as I write this that it sounds a little like an advertisement for this software...which was not the intention of this post.  I am really trying to clarify how with the right pieces of technology in our school environment we can have powerful differentiated opportunities for students.  I was excited to be a part of the pilot of this software and I am even more thrilled to watch as students effortlessly go on line to find just right books!  As the enrichment teacher, part of my role is helping to figure out how all students can be challenged---meeting them where they are and GROWING!  Technology is a powerful tool that supports teachers in this effort, and I hope to continue to be part of the RES conversation about technology implementation.

Do you have a technology tool that you believe we should consider for classrooms at RES?  Please share your ideas. Do you have questions about RAZ Kids? Please contact myself or your classroom teacher.

Traveling with Tori: Challenge 2

Students in grade 3 have received their next clue from our traveling friend, Tori.
Check out her note, and check back here soon to see if students solved the clues! I also look forwad to hearing what questions students have!  
Do you know where she is?

Hello Grade 3 Enrichment!

I hope all is well with you guys! I thought I would send over the next challenge that I made from my trip last weekend! Sorry this one took me a little bit to make. I am ready to answer questions for you guys as well! Can't wait to hear from you all soon! 

I am the capitol city
Of a country that’s pretty.
The colors of my flag,
are green white and orange.
There is a holiday from my country
Where mostly green is worn.
I am home to the River Liffey
But my weather is sometimes very iffey.
My people have lots of luck to spare,
Not to mention there are four leaf clovers everywhere!
What and where am I? 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Differentiating Math Instruction

This summer my professional development as an educator included a week long course on math differentiation.  Although our discourse included philosophical discussions about education and math, we spent the majority of our time focused on how to use a math menu approach to teaching and learning.  The main idea behind a math menu is allowing some of your classroom math time to be devoted to intentionally differentiated student math tasks through the use of a menu. Students work through a menu of options, and teachers gear their menus towards successful learning outcomes for all.  Although the set up and execution of math menu varies by classroom and is based on learner needs, it is one excellent option for meeting math learners where they are and growing their skills and knowledge.  

I was privileged to attend this course with many classroom teachers at RES.  Although I am not directly responsible for math instruction, one of my roles as the enrichment teacher is to support efforts that lead to classroom differentiation.  I am excited that educators at RES are constantly striving to  meet the needs of all of our students, and I feel lucky to work to support teachers and our students in meaningful approaches to learning!  Our educators have jumped into developing models for math instruction that support our curriculum but also provide students with choice and differentiated tasks.  In addition this menu model allows for the teacher to have time with individual students or small groups to reinforce topics AND provide extensions and challenges!  

As a result of our teacher collaboration in the summer class, I am spending time in second grade classes three times a week during their math menu. Menu routines are becoming established and I am looking forward to learning with students in small groups and leveraging the menu format to support and challenge students during math.

This week I arrived in a class and was able to capture a snapshot of what menu time looks like.  I was so excited to see all students working independently, utilizing each other as a resource, and time and space for the classroom teacher to meet with an individual student and puzzle together over a problem.   I also loved to see students working all over the classroom.  I had the sense that math menu allowed them to make physical choices that supported their learning styles!  Student engagement is key to all great learning and I think math menu offers this to all students.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Falling Leaves

In kindergarten this week we read the book Fletcher and the Falling Leaves by Rawlinson.   Students loved the story of Fletcher the fox and how he learned about autumn. After we shared this great book, we continued to explore classroom materials with the use of centers. Our new center addition this week was watercolor painting.  Students enjoyed painting and trying to capture some of the images they had viewed in our read aloud book.  

Friday, October 11, 2013

Garden Exploration and Scientific Observation

This week first grade enrichment classes took place in the RES Community Garden.  After we discussed how to respect our garden environment, each class was presented with a scavenger hunt challenge.  As we will be studying plants and scientific observation techniques this year in enrichment, we took this garden opportunity to test our ability to match the leaves of various herbs.  Once students found the herbs on their clue cards they had to cut samples.  We will be drying our cuttings and presenting them to the kindergarten students to use in their five senses unit!  

Students had to use their keen sense of observation to find the correct leaves.  As students looked for their matches, they had a chance to explore the garden!  We had beautiful fall weather as we observed   and  learned in our amazing outside classroom. We also got a chance to taste some veggies!

I am very thankful to the volunteers who helped us  this week!  If you are interested in sharing our learning about plants this year, please let me know...we will be doing a lot more great learning!