Our first real essay was on the Polar Habitats. After learning about the Inuit tribe of the Arctic, we went right into a habitat study. And lets just say, they did amazing. Our final product was a 5 paragraph essay on three elements of what makes the polar habitats unique. We set up the first three paragraphs up together as a class, with lots of modeling, and then I set them free. Now, when setting them free I was almost expecting disaster. Like monumental failure. However, with an exception of just a few, they totally got what they were doing, referencing their graphic organizer and everything. I mean, you have got to be kidding me??? We finished off our final drafts with some beautiful northern lights projects that took a several days to get all of the steps just right. And wow, I will be keeping these kinds of projects in mind for Open House next year because they were super impressive!
Monday, June 28, 2010
Hmmm, I've got a class of 7,8,9, & 10 year olds. What the crap do you teach when it comes to writing? And no, this isn't little house on the prairie, just a very poorly articulated combination class!!! So again, what to do? Especially, when your only real writing experience has been sentence writing in kindergarten, and intense persuasive and expository text in 6th grade. Well, you try to find the middle, but I think it ended up looking way more like 6th grade. However, you push kids, and it is amazing what they can give you.
The last couple weeks of school can get a bit challenging. Testing is done. Text books are packed up. Oh, and the kids KNOW summer is just around the corner. So, what to do? Well, lets just say the library became my best friend. We went head first into some habitat learning which included some forest animal reports. I got a book on just about every kind of forest animal they had. And, clearly the library loves teachers by having a 30 book limit! So, lets just say I had nothing short of 30 books from them each week.
The way to get kids excited about books? Well, apparently it is easy as putting every single one of them on the white board ledge, and let me tell you, the kids were practically dying to get their hands on them. We spent an entire morning just going through and reading about all of the different animals. They were even capable of sharing the books and talking about the animal they just read about with a friend. So, here's the point. I am not going to wait until the end of the year to do this kind of exploring. The kids rocked. Their reports rocked. Oh, and of course, we topped of the project, as we did with every project, with amazing art!
Thursday, June 17, 2010
So yes, I was pretty sure that I would be standing all alone in my perfect classroom on the night of Open House. However, my turnout was amazing (well, my school at least!). Here is what the room looked like pre-families. We had our Dr. King poster, including a timeline of his life, which I thought would be a good idea to put together the day of Open House, but it did look pretty cool. We also had our fantasy stories about an alien friend (which culminated our unit in space:). All of their final writing pieces were on their desk and then all of the February art projects covered the windows.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
One cool thing about 3rd grade - the solar system. And when you are in my 2/3 combo, you also get it in 2nd grade. My kids loved everything about it. We also wrapped up our unit on a trip to the planetarium. Good fun for all. Thanks to Meg for getting me my out of this world mobile. And I'm very thankful for my classroom neighbor, Judy, who lent me every solar systemy thing she had acquired over the past 20 some years.
In February we had fun decorating Valentine's bags and trading sweet treats. The kids were so wired, even without eating any candy in class, I was very glad to send them off for their week of no school for the President's holidays. We also decorated Pysanky eggs, which may look like Easter eggs, but no, they are not. Instead, the Pysanky eggs were a project tied in with our Language Arts story, and no, don't ask me the name at this time.
For the eggs we whipped out the old oil pastels, and when I mean old, they were probably made around the same year I was! The kids loved them and actually didn't destroy much of the class. Then we did some of our first water coloring of the year. This was the first of many painting projects we did in the spring. We also continued on with the water colors when we made our geometric shape art. Both of these projects were up for open house and looked beautiful on the windows.
Well folks, the year is over. However, I missed a lot of blogging due to the amount of stress I was enduring in the last few months of the school year. I have come out with a few helpful hints when teaching.
#1 Do not teach a combo. The schedule itself will make your head spin.
#2 Do not teach a combo that was never articulated to be a combo.
#3 Do not teach a combo that is filled with students who have been administratively transferred, or retained.
#4 Start doing yoga as soon as you think you may need to place a student in an "Emotionally Disturbed" class. I started after several months of this process and I don't think I have still bounced back completely.
#5 Stick to your gut. Think that 8 year olds aren't your thing, well then, you are probably right!
#6 Remember, due to massive budget cuts, no summer school = an actual summer off.
So now I will try to share as many of the projects I did with my kiddos since January. I must say, they did do some pretty amazing things.