Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Our Reading Book Club

This post was originally posted on my classroom blog for parents.

Our Reading Book Club
We have turned into avid readers. Our classroom has built a culture of reading. What this means exactly is spelled out in the list below. I love this time of year and this feeling that the crew always gets about how wonderful it is to be able to read.
  • The crew begs to be read to by myself or Wendy. They love to listen to a good book and then be able to discuss it as a crew.
  • Many of the crew beg for extra independent reading time.
  • Students bring in books from home to share with the crew. They know what kind of books our crew enjoys.
  • One day I was reading aloud one of these books that was brought in to share and some of the crew gasped. I asked what was up and they said that it looked like the book I was reading about Mr. Magee was illustrated by the same person who illustrated Mercy Watson. We dug around and found an Mercy Watson book and they were right. They are learning so much about favorite authors and illustrators.
  • In the morning before school starts some of the crew give me little updates about what they read at home the night before. Sometimes this is simply a number of pages or chapters and sometimes it is a retell of what they read.
  • Sometimes in the middle of independent reading someone will ask if they can go show what they just read to another crew member because they know that the other child will enjoy it or should read this book, too.
  • They make great connections between books as we read. At the beginning of the year the connections they made were very basic "I know someone with that name (the name of the main character)" and now their connections are related to their own experiences or to other books.
  • One connection that was made between books was the use of the phrase "hit the road". It came up in an Amelia Bedelia book and in a Mr. Magee. The crew liked that because they had heard that phrase before they knew what it meant and did not make the same mistake that Amelia Bedelia did and think it meant to actually hit the road. 
  • One day during independent reading I heard some soft whispering going on. I was guessing that two students were sharing a funny part of a book but it turns out that they were buddy reading. One child read a page and then the other child read a page.
  • The crew can talk about authors, illustrators and their own favorite series. They love to share new finds with the rest of the crew. They function just like a book club.
 Being able to read is something that we as adults often take for granted. Kids at this age do not. They are so happy to finally be able to read after waiting for this moment for so long.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Art in Our School

This post was originally posted on my classroom blog for parents. I thought you might enjoy looking at this artwork, too.

I love to walk the halls of our school. The artwork displayed there is incredible. We are so fortunate to have Ms. Pam as our Art teacher. Enjoy the photos below of some of the artwork around our school right now. If you get this post by email, you will need to go directly to the blog to view the Haiku Deck.

If you would like to know more about Art at our school, please visit Ms. Pam's blog, Renaissance Art: The Practice and Ponders of an Art Teacher. If you would like detailed information about some of the projects shown here click on the Pages link at the top of her blog and then on the specific grade level you are interested in.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Learning and Collaborating

This post was originally posted on my classroom blog for parents. I thought it might be of interest to readers of this blog, too. 

On Friday one of our math activities was to create a graph of the number of letters in our first names. I decided to use this as an opportunity to reinforce my lesson that we are all always learning and that we can all figure things out. To do this, I decided to have us create the graph using the graphing feature of Haiku Deck. I told the crew that I did not know how to do this yet but that together we would figure it out. We began by gathering our data (number of letters in our first names) and then set out to figure out how to create a graph in Haiku Deck. We had to experiment with several of the buttons or features to figure out how they work. We had to start over at one point when we decided that our graph would work better with a different orientation. Lots of math was involved in our discussion because we had to find the minimum and maximum values of our data as well as how big the intervals would be. But we did figure it out. The only thing we couldn't do was add labels to each axis of our graph. (I think this is because this is presentation software and they try to limit the amount of text on a slide.)

At this point someone in the crew suggested that we put our graph picture on the camera roll of the iPad and then import it into ShowMe and add the labels there. This was a great idea but I showed them that Haiku Deck didn't have import to camera roll as an option. They all just looked at me wondering why I couldn't figure this out. They said again, just put it in the camera roll and I still didn't understand what they meant. Finally someone remembered that the language they were looking for was to take a screen shot. Brilliant. They were absolutely correct and were connecting our prior learning about taking screen shots to this lesson. We took a screen shot and it was instantly added to our camera roll. (This is when we lost our internet access so I went in later and added the labels to our graph. I used Skitch - which they know how to use, too - instead of ShowMe to add the labels because I wanted to show them how professional it can look with the labels typed instead of handwritten.) Below are pictures of the two graphs - with and without labels.

The best part of this whole lesson is that they saw that I was still learning and that we all worked together to figure out how to create the graph we wanted. I want them to become life-long learners who are willing to jump in and try to figure things out. This lesson was a great example of using all of our 4Cs - creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication. These are the lessons that make my day.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Lesson by Reese

The following post was originally posted on my classroom blog. I am cross-posting it here in case some of you might find it interesting, too.

A Lesson by Reese
Last week, Reese figured out how to make multiple page ShowMes. The crew was very excited to learn how she did this. So on Friday, Reese taught the crew how she figured it out. We decided to video tape it for future reference. Trey was our camera person since he had the best angle to see Reese and the screen from his desk. Below are the videos (there are two short videos that are less than one minute each - we had a bit of a technical issue with plugs and cords and had to stop and start again) and the ShowMe that Reese created that inspired all of this learning. Her voice is very soft so turn up the sound on your computer. If you get this post by email, you will need to go directly to the blog to view the videos. Enjoy!

We are also very excited about this new learning because now we can "publish" the books we write to our blogs and read them aloud to our audience. Sophia was the first to try (others are now getting theirs up, too, but it will take a while to get all of them up). Below is Sophia's All About book. Be sure to continue to check our Kidblog page frequently to read/hear more books as they are added.