Friday, April 26, 2013

Five for Friday!

I am terrible at taking pictures throughout the week... like TERRIBLE.  I bet if I had that Cannon or Nikon camera I want SO bad, I would be way better.  But, even without my dream camera, I am really trying to get better and this week, I succeeded (more than most weeks!) So I decided I could link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday Linky! Yay. Here are 5 {mostly school related} things from my week.

Our Mondrian inspired collaborative art piece is starting to have more color!  I can't wait until we've gotten all the pieces.  This project is great because we've been able to connect with other kids around the US and Canada, and as pictures come in, we color in our map to see where the pictures are coming from. Check out Project by Jen to join this and other projects to connect with classrooms around the world!

Only a little over a week until we have some chirping hatchlings!  My kids have been busy learning all about life cycles of many different animals and taking care of our chickies!

This week, we learned about the life cycle of insects including Lady Bugs, Fireflies, and of course Butterflies (We're hoping ours will emerge soon!!)  Today we did a little craftivity to show the life cycle of a butterfly.  How cute are they?

Yesterday, on our walk with Kole it was raining... Dollah Bills!  Takin' this one to the store to buy a #winning lottery ticket.

A couple of my kids finished their life cycle craft early. They asked if they could make another one, but they didn't want to just make another Life Cycle Caterpillar, they were making me a present. 
"Ms. Gravelle, we made you a present!  It has 19 circles and one persons name on every circle so that you won't forget us!"   How darn sweet! How could I ever forget my first loves? Laminating this one and keeping forever, for sure! 
Head on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to link up and share 5 things from your week!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Seminar: Setting up the Rules

Quick Post! 

The first thing we always do with students before we do anything is set the ground rules, right?. What do we expect of each other?  What is this going to look like, sound like, feel like?

Before you begin having these discussions with your students, you are going to want to set the ground rules.  For many people, it might not look very different than your normal classroom talk so it won't take a lot of time, but for some others; it will be a brand new thing for your students.  So what are the rules of having this type of discussion?

Background by Teacher Lisa

 Fonts by Kevin & Amanda
Background by Teacher Lisa

They are pretty straight forward, but require a lot of practice!  

We spend 1 day thinking and brainstorming what we would expect from each other and going over my expectations for our discussions.  The next day, we tried it on our own, reflected, and talked about what we needed to do better.  We continue to practice each time we do a seminar and keep building on our abilities.  So that's it, the Rules of Seminar! :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Semi-Wordless Wednesday


Watching The Lorax during Lunch in honor of Earth Day!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Paideia Seminar: Part One

Recently, our school AIG teacher lead an afternoon of Common Core PD.  I have to admit, I was skeptical at first.  When I heard we were learning about "seminar" I thought, "How in the world does this pertain to my kids?" I had never heard of it and knew it was introduced to 5th grade by her earlier on in the year.. All I could think was "I really hope this afternoon is not going to be a waste!"  It definitely wasn't.

For anybody who hasn't heard of Paideia Seminar, it's basically a way to get kids holding conversations about pretty much anything.  It requires kids to listen to what other's are saying and be an active participant by responding to what other participants are talking about (Common core!).  In a perfect world, the facilitator (YOU) would just have to ask some questions and then the kids will lead the way.  In many cases, you may just have to ask an opening question and that will get the kids talking, listening, responding, connecting to a text, to their life, to what others are saying.. They answer the questions you had on your plan without even being asked because they are thinking deeply about the text and building on what others bring to the table. Oh, you just MIGHT have to stop them if you run out of time (Awe shucks)!

We held our first seminar last week (our AIG teacher came in a facilatated for us!).  It was definitely less than perfect but for our first one, I was happy.  First, the kiddos read a short passage and wrote down anything they were thinking. This story was about a horse who really wanted to be a tap dancer.  So she practiced and practiced.  When she thought she was good enough, she held a recital for her friends.  Her friends were less than impressed.  They told her she could not dance, she was just an animal like the rest of them.  The horse didn't let her friends get to her and continued to dance which made her very happy!


We went over rules (Coming to a post soon!) and set up our chairs in the circle so that everyone knew we were all equal contributors to the conversation.

Then of course came the conversation.  We talked about things like how the horse felt.  Had there ever been a time where you felt like that?  How did you handle it?  Did the friends make the right decision when they told her she couldn't dance?  What would you have done?  Would you have told the horse the truth?  Is it ever OK to lie to someone if you are going to hurt their feelings?  
The conversation needed A LOT of prompting from our facilitator.  But our goal is to be able to hold meaningful and purposeful conversations where we are able to link back to the text and are comfortable enough to share our own thoughts and questions.  Hopefully without a lot of prompting from me!  All in all, I am so excited to use this more frequently in my room and only wish I knew about it at the beginning of the year!
Keep a look out for more Seminar posts coming soon  (Rules, A Seminar Plan, Choosing texts, and more) so you can hold a seminar in your room (From grades K-12)!  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

EGG-Citing Experiments!

Our chicks are just 18 days away from hatching!  Today, we learned that the chicks head and heart are beginning to grow.  Then, we learned about the parts of an egg.

First, a 2 days ago we started a fun experiment with an egg and some vinegar! Just drop it in, simple as that!

Today, we observed the egg... We noticed that it was now kind of like jelly & it expanded.  Why was the shell gone?

The acid ate away the shell.  So why didn't the egg explode?  Why did it stay together? It looks yellow, so we think we can see the yolk.. hmmm....

 Because of the membrane!  The vinegar can't dissolve the membrane, so it stayed in the shape of an egg.  It got bigger because some of the vinegar was able to pass through the membrane into the egg.

Then comes the cracking of an egg..

Please excuse the yucky nails, I was painting my house over the weekend &
haven't gotten around to repainting my nails yet!)
See the thin, soft part right above the shell? We determined that was the membrane.  I told them there were actually 2 membranes (inner & outer).  The kiddos were AMAZED!  

Then we looked at the bottom of the egg.  I couldn't get a good picture of this.. but I asked them what they noticed.  Something strange at the bottom that looked like a bubble.  Why would an egg need a spot for air? SO THE CHICKS CAN BREATHE (I only write that in caps because they were seriously excited).. Yep! It's called the air pocket.  

Then we talked about the yolk and the embryo.. They helped me label my pathetic drawing on the smartboard...

They were in disbelief that ALL that could fit into one tiny egg..

And of course, they got to draw their own!! (I forgot to take pictures) :(

LAST- my question... do you think the egg is solid or liquid inside?  A few voted solid but most thought liquid.  "POP IT MS. G, POP IT!"... It exploded a little more than I expected, luckily it didn't get on any kids! :)

What kind of fun experiments do you when you are learning about life cycles?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Animal Experts... Research in a Primary Classroom

How many times do your kids do a research project during the school year?  With the new CC Standards, I think we are going to see more and more research projects being done in classes throughout the country more often.  This year in my room, we've done a number of research projects, including a U.S. Symbols Project, a Black History research project, and currently, an Animal Expert Project (This unit hopefully coming soon).  The kids l.o.v.e. these projects because they get to pick what they learn about.

To start our Animal Experts project, we previewed LOTS of books, this way, the kids don't choose just any ole animal.. Dogs= BORING... Cats=Snooze fest!!.. Porcupines?= Fabulous... Armadillo?=Wonderful!! My kids are researching animals and insects like a bee, an ant, a lady bug, a toucan, arctic fox, polar bear.  They are learning all about some animals they never even knew existed.  Oh, did I mention it goes with our science unit on Animals & Life Cycles??

Then, we used our non-fiction books and the computers to jot important notes about the animals appearance, diet, habitat, predators, life cycle, and fun facts.  Here's a little freebie for you...

To do some internet research, we used PebbleGo.. a seriously awesome website that is perfect for K-2 kiddos!

You need a subscription to use it, but they do offer a free 2 week trial if you want to check it out.  The site has great features, like videos, maps, and a read aloud option.  Here are my kids doing some computer research...


All of this took us just about a week (Choosing an Animal, Researching with Books, Researching Using Internet).. but we also have done a good number of research projects that we dont have to talk about what's important to stop & jot, what I expect etc. 

Now, we are beginning to write and this time I decided to give them the freedom to write their expert book in anyway they choose, as long as they included nonfiction text features, and some type of organization (which of course, I model, model, model)  I'm scared of what some kids may do, but others are already off to a great start..I'll just have to steer those other ones in the right direction.

When we're all done with our expert books, we are going to create and present powerpoint presentations about our animal!  They are so excited.  Keep a look out for that post coming in the next few weeks!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Connecting Globally with Projects by Jen

Let's face it.. getting kids to realize that there is a lot more in this world than their own little town can be a tough task, especially for the little ones.  The whole world revolves around them, and trying to build cultural and global awareness can be difficult to achieve, especially when it doesn't align to the standards.  Ok, yes culture is embedded into the CC with reading... but I want my kids to do more than just read about the cultures, countries, and different people that live around the world.  That doesn't stick.  So how do you get kids to latch onto the fact that there are different people and cultures in the world?  Today, I 'm bringing you a wonderful site that will connect you and your students with classrooms around the country and world, all while linking to the standards.  The works already done for you, what's better than that? Oh yea, its Free (Except for maybe a few dollars to participate in certain projects or stamping letters..) 

At the beginning of this school year, I was lucky to stumble across a wonderful sight that hosts global projects to bring to the classroom.  Projects by Jen holds multiple projects throughout the school year that connects you with other classrooms across the globe (Yes- the whole ENTIRE globe!) all while linking to some super important standards and allowing some unforgettable learning opportunities!
This year, we participated in 2 projects.  First, the Holiday card project where we got to make and receieve snow globe holiday cards all while learning about different schools, and cities across the globe; including the average weather at that time of year. PERFECT for when we were learning about weather.
Currently, we are participating in the Picture It! project and I seriously LOVE this project! This year, the theme is Mondrian with a twist.  To save time & reading, I won't explain the project here, just click on the link to read more about it & consider joining next year! (This is still a fun art project to do if you have some extra time without the global addition- Psshht extra time? I know what was I thinking...)  Here's what we've been up to with our Picture It! project!
First, we learned about Mondrian, the type of art he did, and how he influenced many people...
(Click on one of the photos to take you to google docs to download the smartboard file)
Then.. we reviewed vertical and horizontal lines, squares, and rectangles.  We used our rulers to draw & connect vertical and horizontal lines. (Sorry, no pictures of this).  Then we even found the perimeter of the largest square & smallest square on our papers and compared to other kids at our table. 
The next day came the fun... PAINTING!
Of course, we were sure to only use blue, red, yellow, and leave some white so that it was truly Mondrian!
They had SO much fun!
(BTW this is not a project requirement, I just decided to extend it and add my own little fun learning opportunities!)
We let the paint dry and drew thick black lines between the paint & here is what they looked like...
How fabulous are they?!
We hung them in the hallway underneath our Collaborative artwork bulletin board.  For this project, each classroom is given one section of a piece of art to color.  Each classroom sends 1 of their section to each classroom in their group and by the end, you have one collaborative piece of art! 

This is when our board wasn't so decorated.  As we receive each section we will add the colored piece on top of the B/W piece, write what state they come from, and add the "About Us" sheet that each classroom must fill out to send with their section.  This way everyone can see our similarities and differences with other classes around the world!
We've only received one section but are expecting them to start pouring in very soon!
Oh, did I mention that stuffing & addressing the envelopes was fantastic practice for my kiddos?  I know most of the teachers do it themselves by printing out labels, but I love putting the kids in charge.. and they TOTALLY ROCKED IT!

We have had a blast with this project so far and it will be even more exciting when we see the finished piece!  You will not regret joining in on this or any other project hosted by Projects by Jen, so you should definitely consider joining!! :)

Oh and before I go...

We got these little babies yesterday.  21 days til we have some chickies!


Monday, April 15, 2013

Thoughts to Boston

I'm sitting here, watching the news, staring in disbelief.  I'm racking my brain trying to even fathom why in the world anybody would want to hurt so many innocent people.  It's sad, it's scary.. The world we live in just keeps getting worse... more violent, evil, unpredictable.  If only we could put a little more good into this world, we would be so much better off.   I think that's what we're, as teachers, trying to do every single day.  Unfortuantely, we are outnumbered by violent tv, video games, movies, etc that glorify murder, beating, and other acts of violence.  It's truly saddening and quite frankly horrifying.  Who knows what is next.  In honor of the lives lost and the the many who were injured, critically or not, I will take a night off from my normal blogging and ask that you pray for the families and the victims.  Teachers, please keep doing what you do everyday and teach your kids peace, acceptance, and how to promote the good to change the world.  Without us, I'm not sure where we would be today.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

I'm Baaaaaaack!

Whoop, Whoop.  You never realize how lucky you are to have some things, until you have to go without them.  Seriously, I was going crazy without internet.  How am I supposed to plan? Thanks to time Warner who came out today, I am back to normal.  Hallelujah! AND there has been so much going on in my classroom for just the first week back.  Animal Research, Collaborative Worldwide projects, Painting (In school and in my new home).. Phew, I'm getting re-tired just thinking about it.  It will take me a little while to catch up but I plan to tell you about everything we've been up to!

For tonight, I'll leave you with some news that broke my heart.  One of my little girls last day was Friday (which I found out Friday morning).  She was one of my most challenging kids...but one of my most wonderful.  Her smile always lit up the room and she had a true heart of GOLD.  She loved everyone.  I can picture her now doing a little tap dance while the morning news was getting ready to start, laughing and smiling.  She belongs in some acting & dancing classes.  No matter how many times I may have had to ask her to sit down and finish her work, she always tried her hardest (even though it was so difficult for her).   She never gave up!   I am truly going to miss this little one and am not so much looking forward to not seeing her smiling face tomorrow.  I just hope that she is in the right place for her and that her new surroundings won't let her slip through the cracks because she has the potential to do amazing things, if the adults around her just help her believe.

Monday, April 8, 2013

A Lirpaloof Hunt!

Who says you can't have some April fools fun on April 8th?  Nobody!! and since it's not April Fools day anymore, the kids totally were NOT expecting it.  We weren't in school on April Fools day (Oh darn!) but I wanted to pull a trick on my kiddos anyway.  Denise over at Sunny Days in Second Grade (One of my fav blogs!) had this adorable idea to send the kids on a Lirpaloof hunt!  A Lirpaloof is a very elusive bird that only comes around during the beginning of April (of course).  

First we read about the Lirpaloof, learned what it looked like, what it ate, and how to be sure we could catch a glimpse of this little guy using this...

(Thanks Denise!)

Here's what it looked like...

Then... since we didn't have any carrots, we decided to make our own (We thought maybe we could trick that lirpaloof into thinking it really was one!)

Then, we headed outside to sing that beautiful Lirpaloofs name!


"You know what kiddos, I think I read online that there is a trick with it's name and if you unscramble it, you'll be able to figure out how to spot the bird!"

I handed them all chalk and they were off.  Then, one sorta got it...

They all came running over.  Fool april.. fool april hmm.. "Heeeey"


Oh the looks on those little faces was priceless.

"I can't believe you got us Ms. G! That was a good one"

Did any of you pull a prank on your kiddos this year? 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Technology in the Classroom {A Guest Post!}

Hi Guys!

Justin & I are busy busy settling into our new home and getting ready to go back to school tomorrow.  After 3 weeks off, you'd think I was refreshed and ready to head back, but truthfully, I'm a bit exhausted.  Well, only 9 weeks left of the school year and I will chug along with my little loves!  Anywho.. today I'm bringing you Blair, an education student who contacted me interested in writing a post about some great {free} tech tools she's found.  So without further ado..

When you first get your teaching certificate you often think you’re going to be the best, more innovative teacher in school. Then there are “those days.” Some days it’s hard to keep up with your students in the technology department others it’s just hard to come up with a new way to present the same old material. Below is a list of a few sites that may help you with “those days.”

1.       Scoot & Doodle
Scoot & Doodle is a free, real-time Google Hangout application that gets up to 9 kids (or teachers) together to brainstorm or problem solve. Whether you want to have them learn about visual storytelling or brainstorm about a project with classmates from home – this app will help out. It will save all of their work for later use and has great features like stamping for the not-so-artistic student.

2.       ClassDojo
Wanting to figure out a new “point system” in your class for behavior or having trouble getting kids back into learning mode after recess? ClassDojo can help with that. You can log on through your web browser and set up your class for free. At the end of the day you can display all of the positive behaviors on a projector or just keep it to yourself for grades later. It’s a great way to keep your data there and saves a lot of money on stickers or other supplies for “good behavior” boards.

Another great attendance and behavior service is “Class Charts.” It’s free and shareable with students and parents come conference time.

3.       Google World Wonders Project
Everyone wants to take their kids on a tour of the White House or show them the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef when we’re teaching a lesson but as we know that’s not always possible. The Google World Wonders Project gives you the ability to tour places you’d never be able to get to whether it’s because of budget cuts or because the top of Mount Everest would be more than a day trip. It’s free and can take you and your students all over the world making your lessons a bit more fun for the kids.

4.       History Buff
History Buff also virtually takes you out of the classroom but this time it’s to one of 15 historically significant sites. It includes a narrated panoramic tour at each site so you can watch and learn about Davy Crockett’s childhood home right along with your class.

5.       Poetry Idea Engine
Tired of getting the same “roses are red” poems from your students? Well, Poetry Idea Engine can help with that. It helps students create four different types of poetry by giving them information about the formation of that particular type of poetry and them helping them through it. Poetry can be a hard lesson to teach and a subject that many kids will never get into. This site will make it a little less painful for all of you.

That was just a short list but definitely included the apps and sites that can be integrated easily into your classroom (for free!!!). Are there any other apps that you use on a regular basis or do you have used any of these in your classroom with great success? Let me know by commenting below or tweeting to me @blair_crawford! Have a great last quarter!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Shout Outs! (Closing Day!)

Closing day!  Yahoo.  Since I'll be out of blogging commission for the next few days (With maybe a guest post!), I thought I'd give you a few blogs to check out.. So I'm linking up with Growing Firsties! :)  (A blog that I L.O.V.E.) I missed this linky in February and March and I want to to kick myself in the butt because there are so many lovely bloggers that I want to name, but I'm gonna try super hard to not forget from now on!
First, I want to shout out Laura over at Love to Teach.
I know Laura personally because we went to the same college and she was in my fiancee's block (Last semester of classes for teaching majors- I don't know if anyone else calls it that?)   She is SUPER sweet and puts her heart into everything.  Seriously, you will love her, trust me.. just head on over to her blog.  Did you? Do you love her?  See.. Told ya!
Next, I'm going to shout out my lovely , crazy no I'll still with lovely (For my sake) fiancee, Justin over at Classroom Game Plan.
He just started blogging and is trying to figure out how to do this whole bloggy thing.  He recently started a weekly post called "Tech it to the Max." Every Tuesday, he's going to feature a fab online tool for classroom use.  Last week he featured Scribble, this week.. it's Kidblog!.  Head on over to read about them!  And encourage him to do some more blogging...Maybe he'll listen to y'all! :)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Let's Get Acquanited: Favorites Survey

This week is going to be chalk full of fun linky's, which is good for me because I'm still on break, (3rd week, yeah! :)) so there's nothing going on in the land of second grade for me.  This weeks topic is: drum roooooll *A Favorites Survey*!
Favorite Place to Stop
Hands down...
but I also loooove
Especially for their jeans.  My fav! (Plus, they fit me and my shortness)
Favorite TV Show
I think there are too many to name, so here's a few...
If you don't like this show, you are crazy.
Anything Chef Ramsay is pure awesomeness.  I haven't missed a season of Hell's Kitchen.  Love it!
If I'm in need of a good laugh, this show it my go to.  These guys absolutely crack me up. 
I just recently started watching this how.  I love watching the house transformations and getting ideas for my own house!
I think that's enough TV Shows.
Favorite Sweet Treat
Delish! Basically anything chocolate is my weakness!
Favorite Food
Love me some spaghetti and meatballs!  Yum, yum, yum
Favorite Restaurant
 Back home in NY is my favorite Mom & Pop restaurant.. Publik House
They have the best wings & pizza!!
Here in NC, I think I'd have to say..
Now it's your turn... have you linked up?  If not, head on over to Flying into First Grade to join in on the fun!