Sunday, September 15, 2013

We Are All Experts

Yet another post from my classroom blog that I wanted to share here because it relates to some of the thinking we did during #cyberpd this summer.

We Are All Experts
One of my goals as a teacher is to help each child find the things that they are passionate about and to know their own strengths. To get us started thinking about this we talked about the words “passionate” and “expert” during a recent morning meeting. Then we thought for a couple of days about what our passions and strengths might be. Finally, we created the charts shown here. We use these charts to help us remember that we are all good at something. This helps on those days when something might seem particularly challenging. We also use them to get to know our crew members better. We know who to ask if we need help or have a question about something. We can also use the charts to help us recommend good books that we find to others. They are also great conversation starters and have led to some wonderful sharing. We are all really starting to appreciate our differences and similarities and how these change over time. It is so exciting to me to see the crew really show a deeper understanding of each other and our strengths. Click on the picture to see a larger version of it.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Fall Voyage

I seem to be using posts from my classroom blog here a lot lately. I need to get back to doing more reflective posts, too. In the meantime, here is another post that I had on my classroom blog today.

Our Fall Voyage was a big success and lots of fun for all. Below is a slideshow of photos from our trip. You can either just hit play and watch this slide show or you can use the arrows at the bottom of the pictures to move more quickly or to go backward and forwards. Have your child watch it with you so they can tell you all about each picture. Below the slideshow are some facts, stories, etc. about our trip.


Why do we have a Fall Voyage?

We have a Fall Voyage for many reasons.
  • We take voyages to push students just a little bit out of their comfort zone. Real learning occurs when you are pushed out of your comfort zone and are challenged to try things you have not done before. For some first graders the biggest challenge is simply being away from home for a night and learning that they can trust other adults and themselves. For others the challenge is being responsible for themselves and their gear instead of counting on mom or dad to keep track of everything. Most are challenged in some way by the activities of the voyage. They must learn to work together, show perseverance when trying to find solutions to challenging problems, push themselves physically, and start to show independence in an age-appropriate manner.
  • I love the voyages because I get to see the students in a completely different environment and see other strengths that they have that might not show up in a classroom.
  • The voyages are also a great place for the students to practice the character traits that we have been working so hard to learn in class. Students also bring back some of the confidence and new skills that they learned on the trip and are able to apply them to academic learning.
  • We also all form tight bonds as a crew and are able to work very well together for the rest of the school year.

What did we do at Camp Elim?

In addition to eating, sleeping, packing, unpacking and taking care of ourselves, we also had time for some learning and some fun. Listed below are the activities we did along with a very short description.

Initiatives (Problem Solving Challenges)
Bag It – This activity had us feeling objects in bags to try to figure out what they were or finding the object we put in the bag without looking. We learned to use other senses rather than simply rely on sight to gather clues and make decisions.

Camouflage Hide and Seek - A unique version of hide and seek that can be played in a wooded area.

Nature Hunt at the Lake - This was a beautiful walk around a lake. We were challenged to really look at, listen to and smell what was around us. We had a list of things to look for and check off as we found them.

Web of Life - During this activity, we learned about how plants and animals depend on each other. We all chose an animal and then made a web (with string) to show how they are all related and what happens to the whole web when one animal is removed.

Recreational Activities

Alphabet Hike - At the beginning of this hike, we were all given a card with a letter of the alphabet on it. During the hike we had to look for things that started with that letter of the alphabet.

Obstacle Course – There were several physical challenges at this station.

Solo Hike – This was a short walk with a stop for a little solo time to reflect on the voyage. The kids chose spots within a set boundary and they sat by themselves just thinking and reflecting about the Voyage.

Chapel Games - There were several fun running and very active games that were played in the large chapel.

Other Items

We had a big campfire with skits and lots of laughter. This was a big hit for most of the crew. I am sure that they will tell you all about the spitting contest between two of the counselors to put out the fire.

The meals were very good. For dinner we had spaghetti, green beans, salad and garlic bread with a cupcake for dessert. For breakfast we had pancakes and sausage. There was also a breakfast bar with fruit, granola, oatmeal and hard boiled eggs. Then for lunch we had pizza, salad and grapes with ice cream bars for dessert.

It really was a wonderful trip. Thanks again to all of the chaperones who gave so generously of their time. Chaperoning is just like parenting or teaching – the toughest job you will ever love.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How We Celebrate Birthdays

The following post was also posted on my classroom blog. I thought it was time for a non-technology post on this blog so I am posting it here, too. I didn't want to give the impression that I am all about technology (if you ask my crew of 1st graders they would say that I am all about reading).

Wow! We have had so much fun with birthday treats this year. We started off with a great treat from Gabriel of two mechanical pencils - a big deal with first graders. Then today we had two birthday treats in one afternoon. Allison brought in goody bags with dry erase crayons, a notebook and a pencil. She has also invited the entire crew to her pool party at the Rec Center. Joseph ended our day with his birthday treat of a science experiment. We "blew" up balloons using the chemical reaction of vinegar and baking soda. The crew absolutely loved it! Each child brought home a balloon and instructions to do the experiment again at home.

I truly love how these treats are healthy and include all of the members of our crew (regardless of allergies and food intolerances). Thanks to those parents who have started us off so well with our birthday celebrations.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Our New Twitter Friends

This post was posted earlier in the week on my classroom blog. I thought it might be of interest to readers of this blog, too.

 We have made some new friends through our crew Twitter account this year and we are already learning so much from them. We are only in the getting to know you stage of our friendship and we hope to learn more and maybe collaborate on some projects in the future.

The first friends we made were Mrs. Price's class from Victoria, Australia. In just a few short days, we have already learned so much about Australia, time zones, weather and more. Below are a few short snippets of our Twitter conversations with them but these are always followed by more discussion and map viewing in our classroom. Enjoy the snippets and feel free to check out our crew Twitter account @MsJillsCrew for more of the conversation. They have sent us more questions tonight that we will answer and discuss tomorrow.

We have also started conversations with two classes from Ohio, Mrs. Mere's class and Mrs. Frazier's class. Here are the beginnings of those conversations.

We can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring.  Be sure to ask your child about this and maybe follow along with us on Twitter.