Thursday, October 19, 2017

We are excited to become pen pals!

Fourth grade is embarking on a service project! Our students are going to be pen pals with residents from a local senior living community. The kids are so excited and their excitement is really energizing the classes.
This week, we talked about exactly “what is a pen pal?” I explained who they were going to communicate with. We then brainstormed what we wanted to say in the first letter. The kids decided to share things like age, pets, grade, sports, hobbies, music, family, friends, where they grew up, food, school subjects (and stuff that happens in school), favorite book, movie, dream job, and on.

Then the students decided on information they would like to know about their pen pal such as what was school like when you were my age, favorite color, do you still have any friends from fourth grade, any pets, favorite book when you were my age, first job, where did you grow up, what toys did you play with when you were my age, favorite movie when you were my age, favorite subject and more.

Fourth grade is in the midst of letter creation. Ms. Bator and I will then take the letters to the senior center, and the awaiting pen pals will pick one from the batch.We are looking forward to our return letters, and continuing the communication over Thanksgiving and the following holidays. 
The big culmination of our project will be a visit to the center around Valentine’s Day to meet our pen pals in person. The kids can’t wait!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Our Goodrich Team Works Together!

The Know-it-All assembly

Today we were able to have an in-school assembly for all of Goodrich School! Assemblies are always something that stand out in my mind when I think back to my elementary school days. Sometimes they were educational; sometimes it was a music performance, a talent show, or a contest. No matter the content, it was fun to head into the gym to see what was in store for us. The same excitement was buzzing in my classroom today before the show!

 Today we saw the Know-it-all assembly where each grade level was able to participate in a round of educational questions, and even sometimes a physical challenge.

At one point, the third grade group received a challenge with a tissue box and a garbage can. They were to take turns taking the tissues out of the box, and one volunteer was picking up the tissues and placing them in a waste basket. The idea was to see which team could complete this task the quickest. When the challenge was over, ALL of the game participants began picking up the tissues, even if that wasn’t their assigned job. The hosts were so impressed by this act of teamwork; they paused the show and said that they had never seen a group work together like this at ANY show they have performed. What a remarkable moment for Goodrich School! I was sure proud to be a Goodrich Gator, and I hope the students felt that, too!
At the end of the performance we were awarded with a sign to let us know that we worked hard and worked together to become "Know-it-alls" ourselves!

We are a team! 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Mapping Skills using Breakout Boxes

In Social Studies second graders have been learning all about maps: how to locate places on a map, how to use a map grid, a map key, and a compass rose to follow cardinal directions. To support the learning in the classroom, Mrs. Sayre created a Breakout Box activity for the students to put their newly learned skills to work.

Students were told that a local dentist, Dr. Pearly E. White, believes that Halloween candy is ruining kids teeth. He got 500 residents of Woodridge to sign a petition stating that trick-or-treat candy should be replaced with toothbrushes. In order to stop this new law from going in effect, students had to successfully open the Breakout box containing the petitions. To open the box, which had a directional lock for North, East, South, and West, students had to use a map of Woodridge and determine the cardinal directions that would take them from Goodrich to the Village Hall. Once they opened the box there was a puzzle with a secret message waiting inside. The message was a clue that helped students locate the key that unlocked a box containing a special surprise. In order to locate the key, students needed a compass rose which pointed them in the right direction. After finding the key, students then opened the last Breakout box and were rewarded with a nice surprise, extra DoJo points for demonstrating their mapping skills!

In addition to applying their mapping skills students had to work together as a team, read the clues carefully and use their critical thinking skills to help them on the journey to keep the tradition of receiving Halloween candy alive!

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Small, Great Things

We all have a bad day sometimes. And, unfortunately, some of us might have more bad days than others. I would like to share a story about a simple yet amazing gesture that helped a student when he was having a bad day this week as a reminder of how great our Goodrich students and community are when others are in need.

In the lunchroom this week there was a student who was having a bad day. His morning had not gone as planned and upon reaching the lunchroom, he discovered that his friend was already sitting with someone else. He proceeded to find a spot to sit and was not having much success. He showed up in front of me in tears. Once we were able to calm down enough to talk, we devised a plan for finding a seat. As we walked around the lunchroom, the student decided to sit in an open spot next to others he did not know. He didn’t seem very excited to be around new kids, and I could tell he was nervous. As I walked him over and before I could introduce him to the other students, one of the boys at the table simply looked at him and smiled. The smiling student proceeded to introduce himself and the other kids at the table and told the little boy that he could sit with them. The little boy immediately smiled and relaxed. I could tell that all of his worries had disappeared in that moment and that his day was no longer a “bad” one.

I find that things like this happen at Goodrich everyday but that we don’t always get the chance to see it firsthand. And although it was a small gesture of kindness, it went a long way in helping this little boy. I am proud to work in a school where small yet great things happen everyday and can’t wait to see their effects throughout the year and years to come.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Genius Hour

Passion - a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object, or concept

In creating a classroom environment where students are safe and have a sense of security, teachers are able to identify students passion. In my class I can easily state who loves musical theater, wood cutting, basketball, Mexican heritage, make-up, or coding. However, when given a curriculum to follow, how can I incorporate the student’s passions. The obvious answer in which I aim to do is I can pull articles that we read on these topics, however this is only pleasing one-two students. How can I address each individual's passion? Thankfully, we are in a district which understands and provides us with an hour a week where we can have a hour designated to just this, diving into student’s passions.

In Sixth Grade, we call it Genius Hour. These first few weeks have been an introduction to  investigate what passion is and to brainstorm potential ideas. Students are now reaching the point where they are able to make a decision on what they would like their project to be. We are using an application on the computer called SeeSaw to help with tracking their progress along the way. The students are able to upload videos and pictures into a digital journal where parents, students, and teachers can communicate and provide feedback. We are very excited to engage our students in their passion and to have them share this with their peers and parents.

Adding and responding in comments
Wonder Walls
Watching peers videos on their potential passion

Writing one question per passion
Wonder Wall on scooter racing for charity

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Perseverance Pays Off

Perseverance (n) - steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.  

In fifth grade, perseverance has been a recurring theme throughout the school year. We have talked about the importance of having a growth mindset and not allowing ourselves to give up when presented with a challenge.  I have witnessed countless examples of my students persevering through an academic problem or task, but it was not until we went to Covenant Harbor that I saw this practice apply to physical challenges as well.

While on our outdoor education trip, the students had an opportunity to experience situations that they never have before.  They learned to shoot a bow and arrow, determine the skills most necessary to survive, and climb various structures with the end goal unique to each student.  While in the rock climbing room, I saw students mentally and physically stretched to their limits.  One student chose to attempt the most difficult rock climbing wall.  After three attempts that ended at the same spot on the wall, the student listened to the advice of others and pushed herself one more time.  She found a way to get past that spot.  She chose to fight through the struggle, rather than to give up.  

As a teacher, nothing makes me prouder than to see the emphasis INSIDE our classroom show up OUTSIDE the four walls of our classroom, too!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Becoming Thoughtful, Attentive Readers Through the Use of Signposts

One of my main focus points and/or goals as a teacher, especially this year is to provide my students opportunities to engage in accountable talk with their classmates about the text we read as a class. When the students interact with each other about the text they grasp a better understanding of the meaning at a higher level, because they are able to build explanations and interpretations, reason with evidence, make connections, consider different viewpoints and perspectives, and form conclusions. At the start of the year I began implementing a close reading strategy called, signposts. This strategy comes from the book titled, Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading by Kylene Beers & Robert E. Probst. 

The strategy is called signposts, because similar to signposts you might see on the road, signposts in reading are points in the text that emerge as very important parts in the story.  Identifying and analyzing signposts help readers become more thoughtful and attentive by raising questions about literary elements in the story. Signposts can be used with a majority of text, including nonfiction! 

The students have been introduced to the first three signposts in the book: Contrasts & Contradictions, Aha Moments, Tough Questions. When the students notice these points in their reading they highlight and engage in discussion with a partner or their table mates.

Contrasts & Contradictions: The students stop, notice, and note points in their reading when a character says or does something that is opposite (contradicts) what he/she has been saying or doing all the way.

Aha MomentThe students stop, notice, and note points in their reading when suddenly the character realizes, understands, or finally figures something out.

Tough QuestionsThe students stop, notice, and note points in their reading when the character asks himself a really difficult question.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Kindergarten and 6th Grade Learning Buddies

Some of my favorite experiences for my students to have in kindergarten are our Learning Buddies activities.  We first introduced our buddies to each other last Friday.  They spent their first day getting to know each other with a interview.  The 6th graders brought their Chromebooks and asked their kindergarten buddy some questions.  The kindergartner then asked their buddy the same questions.  The 6th grader recorded their responses and will add the pictures we took of them with their buddies into the google doc.  The first day was a great success!

Usually, the next time we meet our buddies we go outside for some team building activities.  Today, the rain prevented us from going outside for team building, so we created a fall craft instead.  I was amazed at what a great job they did!  The 6th graders are so thoughtful and caring toward their kindergarten buddy and the kindergartners adore their buddies!  

For our fall craft, we started by having the 6th graders trace the kindergartners' arm and hand onto a white construction paper.  Then, the kindergartner painted the arm brown and the 6th grader painted in the hand.  This was the start of our fall tree.  

Next, the kindergartner dipped the eraser of their pencil into different autumn colors to make dots around the tree branches for leaves.  

The 6th graders were so patient and helpful by giving suggestions to the kindergartner.  The kindergartners were so creative in their choices and even had some leaves fall to the ground around the base of the tree.

The buddies have created wonderful connections already, we can't wait to see their relationships build throughout the year.  We are excited for some team building with our buddies next week!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Using talk moves to increase our thinking

Last week we started our measurement module in Math. Students have been building on their knowledge through exploring, connecting, and using talk moves to deepen their understanding.

Talk moves have been proven to help aid students understanding. Students are held accountable not only for their learning, but also for others. Students have to be actively listening in order to help discover, clarify or change their thinking. We have been working hard the past few weeks learning how to use talk moves. We have been practicing how to use talk moves to hold more meaningful conversations.

Students exploring centimeter cubes.
Talking to their shoulder partner about what they notice. 
Students discussing measurement
and why it is important.
Students being active listeners!

Students using a hand signal to show they agree with their partners, team, or class thinking.
They can then add on or clarify what the person just said. We are learning some sentence
stems to help us have more meaningful conversations.
"I can add on...." "I agree with you because..." " I agree with that idea, and I'd like to add..." 

I heard students say: " Good job! You didn't add any extra space!"
                                  " Wow! I agree with you! I like how you measured it correctly!"
                                  "Amazing! I noticed you took your time."

When we disagree we help our partner. We can 
say what we are thinking our ask questions to help
us understand why they thought that way.  

During this time I heard students say:
" Hmmm. I have to disagree because you did a messy
job. How are we supposed to mark when we have only
one cube?" 

"I have to disagree with your estimate. When we looked 
at the last object it was 9 cm long. This one is shorter. 
So how can it be a bigger number?"

" I don't think that is correct because when we are measuring
an object we should start where?" 

While we are just beginning to incorporate talk moves into our 
learning, I am already seeing students engaged more and 
producing higher quality thinking! 

Sometimes we don't always agree
with our partner. We have been learning
that it is ok to respectfully disagree.

"I disagree with you because..."
" I really don't agree with that. I'm thinking.."
"Wait, but I was thinking..."

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Exploring the U.S.

In fourth grade we have been studying the regions of the United States. We’ve broken down our country into five regions and studied each region separately. While studying each region, we “visited” different important places and learned more about the economy of each region. As an initial wrap-up activity, students wrote a postcard to a relative from one of the places we visited in the region. Students got very creative with the design of their postcards and included great details in their letters. However, I wanted more from my students and wanted them to show me what they learned in a different way.
After a meeting with our LRC director and all around technology guru, Mrs. Sayre, an idea sparked. She was telling us about an iPad app called SeeSaw and I immediately thought about how I could use this app to enhance my postcard idea. SeeSaw would allow my students to create a more interactive postcard that they could draw and record their voice over. Even better than that, I would be able to share my students’ work with their parents. I could print off a QR code to send home with students for their parents to scan and hear their postcard.
I was completely blown away with what my students were able to produce! It was amazing to see my students so focused and engaged. Some students were very hard on themselves while recording and wanted it to be perfect. My students liked writing the postcards on construction paper, but absolutely loved creating their postcards with SeeSaw! I can’t wait to find other ways to use SeeSaw throughout the school year.     

Click the link below to hear and see Emma's postcard!