Tuesday, November 21, 2017


As we ended our citizenship unit in kindergarten, we transitioned smoothly into communities.  We begun by discussing what we know about neighborhoods.  We learned about the different kinds of neighborhoods, city, suburban, and rural.  We also learned about the different kinds of homes, house, apartment, farm, trailer.  In small groups shared about our own neighborhoods.  We continued to explore further about the people and families in a neighborhood and our neighbors.  The focus was to share how different kinds of people can make up each neighborhood.  We tied in some of our good citizen unit by thinking about how we should treat our neighbors regardless of their differences. 

The next step was to expand our thinking beyond a neighborhood to the community.  A community is the whole area around where you live. It’s not just the homes, but all of the buildings, and stores and places around them. We worked as a team at each table to brainstorm places in a community and the importance of each place.  Students took turns picking up images of the different places we brainstormed and shared with the group why they believed that place was important to the community. 

They did a great job explaining their thinking!  For example, "A police station is important because they help keep us safe, and they keep bad guys there!"  "A sports arena is important because people need to exercise to be healthy."  "A bank is important because we get money from it!"  "A school is important because we get to learn there!"  They did a fantastic job!

Then, each student picked an important place in our community to build a small model in our classroom.  We cut out and colored doors, windows, plants, ads, and signs for each location and glued them to paper bags.  They even created the roads and grass as well as each to connect the community!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Exploration Gallery Walk

The students in my 3rd/4th grade reading class have been studying early explorers throughout the trimester. They have read articles, novels, and researched about explorers to gain a deeper understanding on how exploration has impacted our history and why it is important to the development of our society. These were the key questions the students focused on as they completed activities throughout trimester.

As a culminating project the students had to take on the role of a modern day explorer. The students chose a location of interest and researched the following topics: geography & climate, products & trade, societal values, landmarks & attractions, government, and culture. Then the students chose artifacts to represent their location, and created a slideshow to justify why their artifacts were significant representations.

The first challenge for the students to overcome in this activity was learning how to find important and credible information, as well as putting the facts in their own language. Our LRC director, Mrs. Sayre, came in to teach a fabulous lesson on researching skills. The second hurdle the students had to tackle was learning how to take their researched information and use it to justify why their artifacts were good representations of their location. The students had to analyze their information to create logical explanations.

After the projects were completed the students held an Exploration Gallery Walk. The visitors had to make an inference on what location each student studied based on the slideshows and artifacts he/she shared.

Exploration Gallery Walk 


To conclude our unit on early explorers, the students went back to the two essential questions that were proposed at the beginning of the trimester. In groups they brainstormed thoughts to the questions, and then created a whole group response. It was a nice conclusion to our learning this trimester!

How has exploration impacted history?
Exploration has impacted history in many ways. Long ago during the time of early explorers some challenges the explorers faced were disease and illness. They did not have medicine. By exploring the new world, they discovered plants. They used these plants to make medicine. By coming to the new world the explorers were given new opportunities to better their lives, such as more efficient tools, jobs, and cures for disease. The people who came to the new world became very knowledgeable. The new world provided a new life for people. New governments, new leaders, and a new future of opportunities.

Why is exploration vital to the development of society?
  • As we continue to make new discoveries, we can create better medicine, to help cure diseases that do not yet have a cure.
  • We can improve mankind. For example, the more we discover and learn the more inventions we can create for those in need. What if we could find better solutions to helping people who are physically disabled?
  • The more we discover, the more we learn, the more we can create new things.
  • The more we discover unknown places the more chance we have at possibly overcoming the challenge of world issues, such as global warming.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What's the Matter?

Students in second grade had a great time working on finding out about structures and properties of matter. We have been learning through the scientific method to describe and classify different kinds of materials by their observable properties, testing different materials, making observations, and finding out how matter can be changed! Check out some of the fun we have had!

  Students started out by reading books and watching short clips to introduce them to matter. They then went on a scavenger hunt around the classroom and hallways looking for different types of matter. 

We then had to work with our shoulder partners to discover the many different properties of matter. They talked about the color, shape, and how it felt. After students had time to explore we created a class anchor chart listing the many different ways we can observe the properties of matter. 

Students worked with partners to compare and contrast two different objects. They used the language we developed to observe and record their findings on a venn diagram. Then they had to compare their results with another set of partners.

During one of the lessons, students worked with their teams to determine how strong different materials are. They first had to determine what we could do with the materials given to them. They talked about the materials. We eventually decided we could use the washers given to them to see how many the objects could hold. We planned how to carry out the investigation by everyone using the ruler to make sure their desk was the same distance apart. They then worked to estimate how many washers each object would hold and state why using the properties they observed. Students played around and analyzed data to see different ways they could place the washers or arrange the materials to make them stronger. At the end we determined that a good definition for strength was hard, solid and not flexible.


Through investing we also found that we could change matter from one state to another. We made butter from cream. We had fun opening the container and watching the cream transform. We also had one group use regular milk. They compared the results and found that the same process did not have the same effect.The 2% milk didn't make butter the same way!  We also found out if we mix warm (not cold) milk with vinegar it will turn hard like plastic and that mixing vinegar and baking soda will create a gas to blow up a balloon.



During our learning, students have been using seesaw to capture their learning and show their parents what they have learned along the way!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thankful Turkeys

At this time of year, we typically take time to stop and think about all that we have to be thankful for. However, this year I feel like it is especially important considering all the nature disasters that have devastated parts of our country. Students at Goodrich School have a lot to be thankful for this year.

To begin the conversation students brainstormed what they are thankful for independently. After some time, students did a Give One, Get One to collect more ideas. Students paired up with other students and each shared an idea of something to be thankful for. If their partner shared something that they didn't have yet they could write it down to add to their ideas. Students paired up with a number of different partners until they all had pretty substantial lists to work with.

Students then looked at their list of things to be thankful for and chose the five that they thought were most important. They took those five things they were thankful for and wrote them on the turkey feathers that they added to their turkey body. We hung all of our turkeys in our classroom to help remind us of all that we have to be thankful for this time of year.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Remembering Our Veterans

On Friday we took time to discuss Veterans Day and the importance of remembering those who have served our country. We first watched a short video explaining what Veterans Day is and how it is celebrated. We then discussed how our country would be a completely different place without the sacrifice of our Armed Forces. After this discussion, students brainstormed adjectives to describe a Veteran. Students shared traits such as brave, confident, heroic, helpful, strong, and fearless.

Students used this knowledge to write letters to Veterans thanking them for their service. Students who have a Veteran in their life took them home to give to them, while the other letters will be mailed to a Veteran organization.

Students were happy to have the opportunity to thank those who have done so much for our country.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Family Reading Night

What happens at your house every night at dinner?  Do you turn off electronics?  Do you enjoy conversations with everyone?  How about after dinner?  Does everyone enjoy reading a book?  Reading together as a family or reading your own book and talking about it can really bring a family together.  As a child my mother enrolled my brother in a book club.  New books would arrive at our house once a month.  We would enjoy reading the books with our parents and talking about them.  On Thursday we hosted a family reading night called Paws for Reading.  We enjoyed a pizza dinner with our Goodrich family.  We read books about dogs and cats and even had some special guests that we read to.  Special thanks to our PTO for providing us with dinner and to The Naperville Area Humane Society for bringing our special guests!  Take some time at home to have a special dinner and read a special book.  Enjoy your own family reading night!

The Power of Praise

As a teacher, one of my jobs is to impart knowledge to children in order to help them grow academically. However, I have worn many hats throughout my educational career other than "teacher." Recently, the hat I find myself wearing the most is "praise guide." 

Praise is a powerful tool in the classroom. It helps to nurture students who need to hear that they are doing well and it gives students who need more social interaction skills a way to do so positively. The more students praise each other for the great answers they are giving, or for the help that they received while solving a complex problem leads to fewer discipline problems and a safer, healthier classroom community. 

Here is a video of two third grade girls giving each other some great praise. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Learning through Games

When you walk by the social work office, it may look like we are playing games all the time and no your not wrong.  A lot of what I do in my classroom is game based.  It seems that every board game you could imagine can be turned into a opportunity to teach.   I use them for 2 main reasons.

  1. Board games are a great way to practice many important social skills.  In a board game you have to take turns, deal with winning, losing, learn how to encourage others, use patience, and conversation skills. ( A trick I use for my friends who cannot deal with losing a game is I sabotage the game so that I win.  This allows the student to struggle through the anger in a structured setting and learn in the moment.)
  2. I turn the games into a therapy game.  Adding social emotional questions or targeted questions to the game can easily change any game into a therapy game.   

Some example of this are:
·         Jenga- I have questions that the kids must answer on each of the pieces. When they pick  a Jenga piece, they have  to answer the question
·         Uno- I give each color a feeling and when they play that color card, they have to share a time they felt that way or a time they saw someone else feeling that way.
·         Don’t Break the Ice- This is a great game for kids that need to slow down!  I also have various coping skills on each of the ice cubes.  As the kids knock out an ice cube, they must demonstrate the coping skills.
·         Guess Who- I have replaced the characters with behaviors (good and bad)and have the kids play by describing  the various behavior (if they are good/bad, what consequences could be, why someone would have that behavior, ect…)
·         Candyland- Every time they pick a card, they must also pick a question to answer.  If they get the question correct, they can move their game piece.  Questions can be targeted to any area I am working on (problem solving, how would you feel,  ect…).

There are so many other games that can be added to the list, but these are my favorites.  Have fun trying some of these games at home :) 

Monday, November 6, 2017

What Do You Do With Leftover....Spiders?

Well, if you are a first grader, you do a team building activity with your leftover plastic spiders from Halloween!

Supplies needed:  A straw and a plastic spider and elbow partners and a happy attitude.  The object of the game is to blow your spider across the table until it falls off and loudly cheer your table mates on!

 Everyone was a winner because we got to keep the spiders (in their backpacks right away)!

That was such a fun experience, so why not turn it into a narrative writing story?  We are approaching our on demand final narrative writing piece, so I gave the students a graphic organizer to capture the beginning, middle, and end of our spider race experience.

Many students chose to write about this experience because it was fresh, but several wrote about trick or treating and their Halloween night...because it involved candy and dressing up-who wouldn't want to write about that too?!!!.

No matter what we wrote about, we had a lively experience that showed us how to have fun and be a good sport with our teammates.

What shall we do with leftover turkeys???????  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Service Learning Project

Service - The action of helping or doing work for someone.

Service Learning - When students work on a project together for their community or communities far away.

This year Goodrich School is focusing on Service Learning. The sixth grade students participated in their first project of the year Wednesday. They teamed up with the Woodridge Park District to clean up two Woodridge Parks (63rd Street Park and the Splash Pad Park). Bundled up in their winter clothes, the students were armed with gloves and trash bags to do their best cleaning of the parks. 

There are many reasons Service Learning is good for kids of all age levels.

*They develop a richer perspective on the world they live in. The kids can see that they make an impact.

*Service Learning connects what we are doing academically to the real world. We are connecting the park clean-up project to the third trimester Science topic of Earth and Human Activity: Conserving Resources. Because of the connection, students are more interested in the academics and perform better.

*They are becoming "well-rounded" students. Colleges are not only asking for GPA's anymore. Instead they are looking for the "well-rounded" student...a student that not only does well in school, but gives back to the community. As teachers, our job is much bigger than raising test scores. We have to help build that "well-rounded" student.

What I like about Service Learning is that the whole process from beginning to end is a great learning experience for students. So many skills are developed...empathy, leadership, problem solving, collaborating, and communication are just a few.

Students are becoming active members of their community. They understand they are important to the community they live in. Our hope is that through these projects students will want to give back, not only now, but for years to come.