Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Weather & a Freebie! :)

For our last few weeks of school before intersession, my kiddos and I are diving into the world of weather!  We've talked about seasons and how weather changes, including animals hibernating.. Today, we did an experiment on the water cycle and the kids LOVED it! (Actually they pretty much came up with it even though I already planned it haha- I asked them how we could observe the water cycle with the materials we had) So I thought I would share in case people haven't used this experiment before.  

Basically you need the following: 2 Glass Jars, A Plastic baggie, some ice, a rubber band, and hot water-I brought in a crock pot and started heating the water about an hour before.  You might need to heat it longer depending in how much water you are using. Ok, so here's what we did:

*We put hot water in both jars (About halfway full)
*One jar we left completely open
*The other jar, we covered with a plastic baggie filled with some ice- I used the rubber band to hold it in place but if the opening on your jar isn't too big, the bag will probably stay on without the rubber band
*Then we waited... 

They noticed the steam coming out of the uncovered jar, and we identified that as water vapor.  Then I asked what was happening with the water in the covered jar.. why didn't we see the steam? They saw the water condensing towards the top of the jar - which we concluded would be the clouds up in the air ... Then, after about 5-7 minutes, it started to rain (Just a drop or two at a time- but it worked!) They concluded that the raindrops were falling because they were now too heavy to hang onto the bag, so they fell back into the water.   I had them head back to their seats and draw what they noticed in their science journal.  Then, I gave them this cute little sheet I made of the water cycle (Below)  I had them cut out the descriptions and glue them to the correct spot, color the scene, and then we reviewed the water cycle.  Viola!! Experiment and Lesson on the water cycle.  Fun, Engaging, and they really learned!

So, I know many of you have used this experiment before..but maybe some of you haven't. And if you have, here's the water cycle sheet they did for Free!

Hope you guys can use it!  What do you do for your weather unit?  I need some more ideas :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Holidays Around the World

Alright my peeps (All like-17 of you.. YEAH!!)  I'm looking for some help from you talented, experienced, amazing teachers!  I have 3 weeks left before winter intersession.. Can I get a HALLELUJAH?? The last week and a half, I want to take my kids on a "trip" around the world to explore and learn about all the holidays celebrated during this time.  Since this is my first year teaching, I was hoping you could help me..

I was looking for any ideas about activities to do, holidays to include, and books to use during Reading Workshop to help my kids get a really good understanding that Christmas isn't the only holiday celebrate during this time and not everyone celebrates, and of course, have a blast while doing it.  I've been looking on TPT and Pinterest but there are just SO many ideas it's hard to narrow them down. If you have any great ideas- please share!!! I'll share with you all of our fun when we go on intersession and I have some time to post pictures! :) Thanks a bunch!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

Just wanted to wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving full of Turkey, Stuffing, Gravy, Family, Friends, and maybe a little wobbling...

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their break!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Curriculum Mapping & Project Based Learning...

Did anybody say "Ugh" just reading that title?  I said it writing it, so I totally understand if you did.  Boy do I really dislike Curriculum Mapping days.  I feel like I come out of them more frustrated, bogged down, and just plain ole grumpy!  This picture pretty much described me after a day of mapping...

Our ELA team meets about 5 times this school year for a whole day of mapping/creating Common Formative Assessments.  I feel like with so many people on a team for one grade, it's impossible to get much done.  Too many opinions and ideas that it's impossible to agree on one!  How do you guys handle curriculum mapping?  I would rather just be given something to work on, get ideas from others/talk to others and then put it together on my own.  I never seem to get anything done during these meetings.

The one thing that made me laugh was finding out that my substitute today looked like "Scary Santa." Maybe like this   ----------------------------------------------------------------->>>  You think that would've scared some of my kids but apparently, 2 of them had quite a difficult day (Argh!) and were escorted down the room to another teachers room.  I couldn't resist when I was told and just had to say it... cause I knew EVERYONE was thinkin' it.... "He should've just told them he's putting them on the naughty list.." Although I think my kids would say they are not naughty , just "misunderstood" like Santas list here... :) 

This isn't going to be a long post- My last two were RIDICULOUSLY long with like ZERO pictures, and not much fun stuff, I know.. It was hard trying to catch up.  But before I sign off, I was thinking about putting some Project Learning Units together and was wondering if anybody would be interested in them.  Since I teach second, they would  be less open ended and more structured, but I tried a Project-based(ish) apporach with my kids when we were learning about U.S. Symbols and they LOVED it!  And it aligns with CC speaking and listening standards too!  Great way to incorporate that into your day!  I was thinking I could put together my U.S. Symbols one, a weather one, and I was thinking about even possibly doing one for Non-Fiction text features in reading (thought it would be a fun way for the kids to kind of take a break from the typical mini-lesson/reading/closure Reader's Workshop and get them collaborating to teach us the mini-lessons)  What do y'all think?  I appreciate your comments & All of you!

Oh and I'm very thankful for Field trips when not feeling well.. especially when it's a play you get to sit through and watch!  Yay :)

I hope everyone had a very fabulous Thanksgiving filled with lots of Turkey, Family, and Pumpkin Pie!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Non-Fiction Fun and a few Freebies!

Thanks to this handy dandy book....

...I have had a lot of success launching my non-fiction unit this year.  I love Debbie's ideas.. especially the conventions notebook & wonderbox (which my kids have also enjoyed!)

We just started last week on Monday.  This is how our week went last week with our Reader's Statements...

Monday- Reader's know that non-fiction texts are different than fiction texts
Tuesday- Reader's make predictions about what they will learn in non-fiction texts
Wednesday- Reader's know they don't have to read a non-fiction text from front to back.
Thursday- Reader's can compare and contrast fiction & non-fiction texts.
Friday- Reader's can notice and remember new learning from a non-fiction text. (Incorporating Schema, and connecting new learning with what we already knew).

For comparing and contrasting Fiction with Non-Fiction, I asked students to come to the carpet with a fiction book and a non-fiction book.  Then, I actually gave each student a Venn diagram.  We talked about what we use Venn diagrams for and how we would fill this one out.  Then, I asked students to work with their reading budding to search their books to find similarities and differences in both texts.  
Click the picture to get a copy of the venn diagram for students to fill out.
They did a really great job on this!  Probably a little bit due to the fact that I strategically assigned their partners.. Whaaat? Teachers never do that.. do they?

So the thing that they were MOST excited about is our Wonderbox!  We've only done it once, but even on FRIDAY AFTERNOON (Yes, Friday afternoon) when we had only about 3 minutes left before the dismissal bell rings, my kiddos are asking, "Ms. G, do we have enough time to figure out a wonderbox question?" I felt awful saying no :(.  Ok, so our Wonderbox (Thanks to Debbie Milller) is just a box in our classroom where students write questions about things they are wondering.  Here is the handy dandy little slip they fill out...

When they have something they are wondering, they write down the questions and drop it in our Wonderbox.  Then, 2-3 times per week, we pull one question out of the box and see if we can find the answer.  This has taught them to think about.. "Hmm, where will we find the answer to this question?? Oh probably in the weather books in the weather bin!" We have also talked about giving credit to the right person and citing our information by writing the title of the book where we found the information, the author, and the page number.  We will build up to using online sources as well.  We have a "Look what we've learned from our non-fiction books" bulletin board.  Students will make small posters that have the question, the answer, and the citation for each Wonderbox question we complete.  

Now- what happens if we can't find the answer to the questions?  What else than to ask other people?  But we all know that's nearly impossible with our crazy days.  So we put up a bulletin board outside of our classroom that says. "We can't find the answers to these questions, can you help us?- Don't forget to tell us where you found your information! Here's an example.." (Pointing to an example)  We attached markers to the paper with string and will check it everyday to see if anybody was able to answer our hard to find questions!  Wish I had a picture of it, but I forgot to take one!

So the last thing we did this week that y'all might like..  On Friday, when I introduced noticing and remembering new learning, we talked a lot about Schema, thinking about what we already knew about the topic we were going to read about, and then keeping track of our new learning on sticky notes.  I referred to the schema as a "File" in their head that stored all of the information about that topic. I had a big file folder cut out of poster paper.  We put what we already knew about weather on one side of the open folder on sticky notes.  Then, we read a book about weather and kept track of our new learning on a different color sticky note and put it on the opposite side.  Last, we made new schema by connecting what we already knew with what we learned to make it easier to remember.  They really got it!  They put it to good use when they got their own "Schema" Folder (I gave each student a file folder).  They had to do the same thing we had done during our mini-lesson.  They seriously loved it!  They keep their Schema folders in the Book Box so that they can always use this strategy.

So- that's what going on in our world of Non-Fiction!  Hope that maybe you can use some of the freebies.  I'll post sometime during the week about our "Conventions Notebooks."  We are starting those this week!  Hope everyone had a great Monday, I know I did.. I LOVE days off!! :)


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Vocabulary, Social Studies, and Catching up...

WOW! How long as it been since I posted on here? Like, weeks right?! It has been crazy over here on my side of the world.  I feel like I haven't been able to get anything done, just starting things here and there.  Ever feel that way?  Being a new teacher, I'm finding it hard to have the time to do anything that I enjoy.. *cough cough* Blogging!  I have SO much to do, it's insane (but who doesn't have so much to do, I mean we are teachers.. our to do list is growing at a rate twice as fast as we can cross things off). Between being on the district ELA committee, and School-based Common Core planning team, participating in a university study, Incredible years, and my Beginning teacher requirements (yes this include reading assignments where we actually have to respond on Moodle through a Moodle Course, as if Beginning teachers don't already have enough to do).. I'm feeling VERY behind.  

On to the classroom!  We have been having a lot of fun in second grade.  I didn't think I would like second grade so much, but I'm really enjoying it... Even my kids who drive me BONKERS!!  Last week, we were finishing up realistic fiction writing and a majority of my kids were finished.  I had a few students come up to me and ask if they could work in a group to write a story together.  I pondered for a minute, fearing the arguments I would have to break up and disagreements I would have to help solve, but decided to let them have the option of writing a story in a group, or by themselves.  Well- let me tell you.. they were doing a FABULOUS job working in their writing groups.  Groups were working collaboratively to decide on what the story would be about, and how to fill the details.  On Thursday, as I looked around the room while I was helping one of my kiddos finish his story, I saw one group of 3 quietly acting out their story so they didn't miss any details...and another using book they've read to search diligently for the best descriptive words to add to their stories.  It just made me smile from ear to ear!! 

In social studies, we just finished up learning about Government and U.S. Symbols.  For this project, I decided to put my kiddos into groups of 3 to "research" and put together a poster and presentation on 1 U.S. Symbol.  These came out so unbelievably wonderful, I was so happy with what they came up with.  Basically, what I did for this was decide on which U.S. symbols I wanted them to really learn about- I decided on the Statue of Liberty, The Bald Eagle, The Flag, the Pledge of Allegiance, Mount Rushmore, and the Liberty Bell.  I printed out kid friendly pages off of the internet that they could use for their project, and got books from the library on each symbol.. I also looked up some videos on BrainPopJr, discovery education, and you tube.  Then I made question sheets for things they needed to include in their presentation.  I was fearful of going this because a lot of my kids don't seem to get along very much and tend to argue, but they worked SO WELL together!  One of my groups created "Group Norms" that included "Don't be annoying, work together, share the work".  It was so cute and I was so proud that they have learned to create expectations amongst themselves and it doesn't have to be whole class.  After our project was done, they even asked if we could do something that like again!! I love it!

So I'll post again tomorrow to let you know all the cool things we're doing in Reading Workshop.  We just started Non-fiction and my kids are enjoying everything they are learning.  I love to see them excited about what we are doing.  But to end this post... I just finished typing the posters up for my Vocabulary Word a Day last night.  There are 144 Words, for 36 weeks of instruction (introducing 4 words a week with a review day on Friday).  These come from Evan-Moor's a Word a Day for grade 2.  The book includes a review sheet and quick assessment for each set of 4 words.  If you're interested in those, I would definitely suggest buying it.  You can buy a new one from amazon for around $12.00.  So each day, Monday-Thursday during morning meeting, I introduce one new Vocabulary Word.  As a class, we think about synonyms and antonyms of the word, act it out if we can and then I give them the word in a sentence.  Last, I ask them to think of their own sentence and then I ask them to tell their sentence to their neighbor.  I can tell just from 4 words of implementing this in our room that my kiddos vocabulary is building, and it is also building on their comprehension.  Click the link on the picture below to head over to my TPT store and purchase this vocabulary pack good for the whole school year!  If you would like a colored border, please just let me know and I'll do my best to get it to you asap. Since I can't print in color at school, I tend to make things black and white and print on colored paper.  For these, I have them printed on Green/Blue/Pink alternating colors and the words are displayed over my smartboard :)

Ok Here it is...

Alright- so since we have tomorrow of, I should be able to update you guys on all of our Non-Fiction Fun!!  My kids have loved what we are doing and I'm sure you're would love it to.  Hopefully I'll be posting a freebie tomorrow too, so make sure to stop by tomorrow night and check in!

Happy Birthday to Me on Tuesday!! Halfway to 50, ah that's scary.

TTFN Y'all! :)