Sunday, February 19, 2017

At the Root (Word) of It All

Coming back to face the second half of the school year after two or three weeks of fun and free time can be challenging. Over the holidays, I perused the Internet to see what I could find to get my kids back into the swing of learning. I found what appeared to be a wonderful idea and, when I tried it, I had no need to have control in my classroom. My little angels were working so hard, they forgot to have ANY behavior issues! Not only that, but when they finished early in other subjects, they ask permission to continue working on their project. Are you curious? Do you wonder what they did? Well, let's get to the root of the issue.

The project was Superhero Root Words! We took root words and used them to create unique "superheroes." The first thing we did was use the word "RUPT" to create a collective classroom superhero. We talked about what the definition of the word 'rupt', words that owed their existence to the root word and then we defined those words.  As a group, we created "Eruptor"- the superhero with powers to burst forth or break up things. For example, as an interuptor, we can break up sentences. As an eruptor, we can cause lave to break forth from below the earth...ecetera!

We created a costume. First, we traced a paper plate on a piece of brown construction paper. We cut from the edge to just over the center of the paper. Then we cut a 4 inch rectangle of red paper which was cut into strips that ended one inch from the bottom. We folded it and glued it into the center of the brown circle and stapled it shut to make an erupting hat. Then each child designed his or her own special glasses. Some were simple masks. Others had flames leaping from them. We demonstrated the entire process together.

Placed in groups of two (i.e.-their seatmates as my desks are in groups of two), they chose a Greek or Latin root word. They were required to create a costume with two elements: glasses, gloves, capes or hat. They had to research the root word to find its meaning before discovering words that included the root word. Each group created a lesson, many with a story of how they became a superhero using appropriate words.

Over a two day period, the lessons were shared with the class. The presenters dressed in their costumes and took to the 'stage'-also known as the front of the classroom. The audience had special pages they used to take notes about each root word inclucing its meaning, and examples of words it helped create.

(They used rocks to create their masks.)

Again, the kids were on-task with no words from me. This project will also work after Spring break or, well, it was so much fun, it will work just about any time. For more information, and free downloads, visit Cinnanom's Classroom.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Words to Think By

Be a learner first; become a Master second; and remain a student forever.
Life's Secret Handbook

Quotes have been used in the classroom forever. One of the reason's I like to use them in my classroom is because it gives the kids something to think about and write about. I want to share a list of some that help kids think, but are easy enough for them to figure out. When the quotes are way over their heads, they get frustrated and feel incapable. Try these with your kids and see what you think!

It is what you learn after you know it all that counts.
John Wooden

If you are not happy here and now, you never will be.
Taisen Deshimaru

Only those who dare, truly live.
Ruth P. Freedman

The brighter you are, the more you have to learn.
Don Herold

We can never have enough of nature.
Henry David Thoreau

Is not life a hundred times too short for us to bore ourselves?
Friedrich Nietzsche

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
John Wooden

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.
Charles Dickens

The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read good books.
Mark Twain

Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking.
J.C. Wells

For a free download of the quotes and a Scoot sheet, click here. Simplify the process by copying the sheet on the front and back of a single sheet of paper.

Cooperative work:  Put students in small groups and play scoot. Put the quotes on posters around the room. Have the groups of three or four discuss each quote and write a small statement about the meaning of the quote.

Individual work:  Make a book with one quote for each page. Have students illustrate each quote and write down what the quote means.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Pinterest Memories of the Year!

Looking back over the past year, it is amazing how many of my memories are tied to Pinterest. I was thinking about all the things I have found on Pinterest that made my classroom life better.  Here are some of my favorites:

1)  I bought two three-drawer containers. Using sentence strips from the Dollar Tree, I wrote the names of the week on fice of them and put one in each drawer. This is where I put the papers I have copied for each day. No more, "Where did I put that folder?" and no more laying something on top of papers that I need. It also lets me make the copies days and days in advance. I use the sixth drawer for extras or for items in the future. Click here to see what it looks like, although mine are stacked, not side-by-side.

2)  On the first day of school, I like to do a fun project that allows me to practice some of my classroom rules with the kids. Last year, I found this adorable one-'Can You Save Fred?' The kids had to work together in groups and save a gummy worm named Fred. They loved it! Click here to go to get your copy. It is on TpT and it is absolutely free!

3) I am a Maker at heart and I love to take time out of our lessons to let my kids create and think. When I read about STEM on the Internet, I thought the two would work together wonderfully. I went to Pinterest and found a plethora of items to use. Here is my board. I haven't paid for any of the products on the for-pay links that are on there, but I plan to do so this year.

4) Sharpening pencils is such a hassle. Kids get off-task and the noise is just ugly. (Our sharpener is electric.) Some pencils just keep breaking, lengthening the process and involving the teacher. One day, while perusing the Pinterest, I found the answer to my dilemma. It takes me about five minutes a day to make this happen, but it is so worth it! First, I found one package of pencils (they are really cheap in July) and sharpened one for each child, plus a few more before the first day of school . On the first day of school, I collected everyone's pencil supply-minus special pencils. (Special pencils could only be sharpened before school.) During a short break-as in they were busy and knew what they were doing-I sharpened enough to have one more per child. These were placed in a container on my desk. Beside it was an empty container for dull or broken pencils. I really feel like I gained hours in teaching time doing this all year long. Like I said earlier, sharpening about five minutes after school and the pencil box was ready to go for the next day. You can get free labels here.

5) Simple things in life, that take me hours to make, are now available at my fingertips. For example, prepositions are best taught with a visual aid. Now I don't have to draw it or remember where I put it. I can copy a cool poster here and I am ready to go. Anyone else like to use 'I Have, Who Has?' You have to love this template. I know I do!

6)  One day, realizing my kids needed a lesson on independence, I checked out the videos I had collected on my school videos board. There it was-the escalator video. We watched it and talked about the situation on the broken escalator. Then we talked about what students do (what they do) when they get "stuck." That little video did more in a couple minutes than I could have in a 15-minute talk! The truth is, I often find videos that meet a need in my classroom. Did I mention that I love Pinterest?

7)  I also use Pinterest to organize my ideas. For example, we have a lot of organized fun on the last day of school. I have an end-of-the-year activities where I collect things all year. Then, close to the end of the year, I start a temporary board where I pin the actual things we will be doing that year. At the end, I replace the pins I liked, placing them on my general board. Finally, I delete the temporary board-hence the name! At any rate, this made the last day of school easy to pull together!

8)  The bulletin board background in the picture below is another idea I fell in love with on Pinterest. I like bulletin boards, but I loathe putting up the background. Black material was placed on one (okay, two) of my boards two years ago and they are good to go again this year. The board changes a lot when you change the border and materials. I have yet to have it clash with any of my bulletin board ideas.

I tried the same idea with another background. It is on its last year because paper is not as strong as material and the ocean doesn't harmonize with as many ideas, but I also put up an ocean background when my students were studying the ocean. The next year, I found creative ways to make it work. Next year, the background may be black!

9)  Notebooking has been fairly new to me, but Pinterest has not let me down. I now use notebooking in my math and science classes. A couple of the great pins I found are templates and setting up notebooks. I got mine from Runde's Room. It is a great resource-165 pages long. 

10) Pinterest also allows me to share fabulous activities we do in our classroom. For example, when we studied World War II and made battle scenes like these. Another example is shown below, when they created moving objects from miscellaneous materials-our STEAM day!

I love Pinterest! Almost every day, I go on and find new ideas-some for now and some for later. I even pin some for others-I have a couple of boards just to share. I hope you enjoy what I have shared here!  (Oh, and if you want to follow me on Pinterest, click here.)

Monday, February 15, 2016

Leap Year Fun in the Classroom-----10+ Ideas!

February 29 comes but once every four years. Take advantage of this extra day by planning a special activity or two to make your kids aware of this special date.

Make a leap-year frog! Known for leaping themselves, this adorable frog is a great craft that you can make with your students. It is found on family crafts.

Read The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County written by Mark Twain and found by clicking here. Then, make these adorable oragami frogs and have a jumping contest of your won.

You can also make an origami frog that is simple and colorful. Click here to copy one for each student.

Visited Enchanted Learning and make a frog puppet. Have the kids write their own skits about leap year-or frogs!

Do this simple science experiment. Pair students with a partner. Mark off a starting line. One child from each group stands on the line and leaps as far as it is possible. The partner marks the spot. Then the child takes a running leap and sees how much farther he or she can leap. Try it a third time from a greater distance from the line. Trade places. Have eah student graph his or her own results. Discuss why they were able to leap farther each time.

Scholastic has a few great ideas for a celebration.  Check here for their ideas. Sadly, the singing frogs link no longer works.

Try a Leaping Pepper experiment. Cove the bottom of a small, clear, plastic box with black pepper. Rub the lid of the box (on the inside) with a wool sock. Put the lid on the box and watch the pepper leap to the top of the box.

If you have a leap-year "baby" in your class, celebrate their day. If not (or even if) read them the book-It's My Birthday Finally! A Leap Year Story TeachersPayTeachers has a free (as of the writing of this article) download with an activity for Leap Day. Click here to download it.

This link will lead you to a site called Bunting, Books & Bright Ideas. She has a link to a free flip book about Leap Year. When you click here you should know that you have to sign up before you can download, but it might be worth it to you!

There are a lot of ideas on the Internet. I hope this list helps you leap into fun this year on Monday, February 29!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Off to a Good Start

I decided to do something different this year. I did not put name tags on desks. When the students entered the room, I asked them to find a desk that fit them well, one they were comfortable with all day. Once they chose their desk, I approved it or suggested what they will need look for something taller/shorter, etc.

Once they had chosen the right desk, I gave them a name tag that I had saved on my back-to-school Pinterest board and had them make it. I really liked the tent-like name tag (gets yours free here) because it is easy for the other students to read. I put one on my desk, too. Because I know my students well, I already had a seating arrangement made up. I put it on the board and had my students put their desks in the correct location. They really seemed to like starting the day this way and it gave the early kids something to do.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

5 Great Apps for the Classroom

Because we added iPads to our classroom technology (replacing ancient computers that worked when they wanted to) I have been searching for apps that work well for my room. These particular apps have either been wonderful or are apps that I know will be wonderful during the next school year.

Socrative: This is a free app that, believe it or not, my kids loved. In fact, they never once complained on a day when they had a quiz, test or activity on this site. Sign up for free and then, create a quiz. You can make it private or public. The answers can be true/false, short answer or multiple choice. They can be random or ordered the way you want them. The best thing is, most of the test is graded for you and you can see the answers immediately or you can print them out in a couple of different ways. Short answers are best done by the teacher because the answers have to match exactly to be counted correct.

Tests can be put on the teacher's page at any time. This year, I will make up all my quizzes for books we read and have them ready to go. The students can only see them when I say so.

Games can also be used to encourage the kids to improve their learning. The thing my kids really loved was that they also get immediate feedback when they do the quizzes.

Quizalize: Write your own quiz or use one on the site. Quizalize looks to be an resource much like Socrative. This allows me to do the same thing with new twists. It can be used on a computer, tablet or Smartphone. It has a tracking feature that allows the teacher to track the kids over time. I can't wait to see my kids reaction to this new resource when the year starts.

Skoolbo: I signed up for this site before the end of the year, but I was so busy, I was unable to get started with it. To make up for this, I figured it all out and played with it this summer. The games are fun and the kids will be entertained while they learn. The programs on Skoolbo are created to help kids improve their reading and math. Like the other two resources, this one is free.

IXL: Truly, this is a great site, although a bit pricey. Unfortunately, it is geared toward learning (my kids would just play if I would let them) and many of my kids groaned when it was IXL time. Because I teach in a multi-grade classroom, this program gave me an opportunity to start kids on worthwhile learning assignments while I worked more closely with other, therefore I rotated the times they used it.

Spelling City: Another great app, I loved this one because I could put my own lists into the program and they create games for my kids based on my words and their definitions. I could even choose the definitions I wanted if I didn't like the one the site chose. Spelling City has a free version as well as a premium version. I have never used the free version, but I know people who have and they liked it. Obviously, the premium account gives you more options.

I am still searching for more apps. We have iMovie because it was free, but it not costs $4.95. This year, I am going to spend time looking for science apps. If you have any that you think are great, I would love to hear from you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Book Report Fun

I remember having to write book reports. I hated it! Finding the right words-and enough of them to satisfy my teacher was all it amounted to...they were never seen by anyone else. I wanted my students to have a different experience...and so they did. They made mini-books (one page) to share their books

First, of course, they chose a book they had read that they loved. Each child had a large piece of paper-11 x 17. To make the books, the paper was folded in a hamburger fold and the seam was placed on the left side, just like a book. Using lots of color. they drew pictures, depicting one of their favorite scenes from their book. This became the cover page for their books.

Once the covers were done, they opened their book and, on the right side, they each wrote why they loved their books and why someone else should read the book they chose.

When they finished, I put the reports on the bulletin board where other students could read their classmate's review. I have to say that I had some of the best art work and writing that they had done all year. (This was third quarter.)

Here are pictures of some of the art work:

Alice in Wonderland
The Berenstain Bears and the Truth

To keep from overwhelming the students, we changed the reports on the board so that only four or five at a time were on display. The kids openly admired the work of their fellow students.