Saturday, June 30, 2012

10 Things to do without worksheets for Sarah, Plain and Tall

I am learning about how to use the Teachers Pay Teachers website and today I put up my first product. It is free is you want to check it out. I would love to hear any feedback, both positive or negative particularly if you ideas for making this better. I produced an activity guide called 10 Things to do without worksheets for Sarah, Plain and Tall that teachers can use for creative type activities that do not involve worksheets. I dislike worksheets! It is for the book Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. There are 10 simple and fun ideas in the book, although I have to warn all teachers NOT to attempt one of the ideas! There are a lot of great teacher created resources on Teachers Pay Teachers website and many of them are free. I learned two things over the course of creating this resource. It is much easier to create a file like this in Powerpoint than in Microsoft word. I also learned how easy it is to turn a Powerpoint file into a PDF. You can sign up to promote your own lessons and products here.

3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th - Poetry, Reading, Arithmetic -

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Lessons from an ice cream bowl

Here are some pictures of an end-of-year thank-you gift from one of my students this year. He made me this super large "ice-cream" bowl so that I can enjoy my favorite food. I love how he chose lessons from the school year to personalize the bowl and commemorate the year.

The center of the bowl is the Kenyan flag. Of course, I went on a trip to Kenya last summer and I shared so much of what I saw and experienced with my class.  That was such a big part of my year and what I learned and saw in Kenya was certainly important to my teaching this year. As a personal note to Nathan, I am surprised that the word "stuff" is not included on the bowl. The class and I had laughs all year over how I described elephants raising their trunks while on safari (youtube moment here, full safari video here). This from a teacher who asks that student's learn to use precise words!

He also placed the names of the two Brian Selznick books that I read aloud to the class early in the year. The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Wonderstruck. I loved sharing these books with the class and the class thoroughly enjoyed delving into all sorts of topics related to both books.

The exterior of the bowl has pictures of ice cream cones. Ice cream is not only my favorite food, but our class won an ice-cream party at the end of the year. Ice cream rules!

Then there is the poem, "The Red Wheelbarrow" printed on the bowl. We do a lot of poetry writing and a lot of the poems we write are inspired by the poetry of William Carlos Williams. The class also learned how to use Animoto to create digital poetry and showcase their own creativity.

Finally, there is an Ironman symbol. I am not sure if this was placed on the bowl because I completed 5 Ironman distance triathlons back in the 1980s (1983 and 1984 through 1987) or if it is because of the times I talk to the class about difficult situations and how they can handle them. I talk about Ironman John Blais who died of Lou Gehrig's disease and who teaches us to "roll through" difficult situations or about Ironman Jullie Moss, who teaches us to "crawl through" difficult times.

I absolutely love this gift. Well done, Nathan! What I appreciate as a teacher is that he chose important lessons from throughout the year that had nothing to do with the official school curriculum. As a teacher, you have to bring your own interests and personality into your classroom, for it seems that these are the times that you can make the biggest impression on a student. When you can tie your interests into the curriculum, then you deserve a big heaping bowl of your favorite ice cream, but this bowl is too nice for any amount of ice cream!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Kids Should See This

I love this website as it comes in handy at odd times during the day and my students and I get introduced to all sorts of fascinating subjects. The Kids Should See This is a growing collection of kid-friendly videos.
There's just so much science, nature, music, art, technology, storytelling and assorted good stuff out there that my kids (and maybe your kids) haven't seen. It's most likely not stuff that was made for them...
But we don't underestimate kids around here.
Kid-friendly not-made-for-kids videos for all! Collected by Rion Nakaya and her four year old co-collector.
 I like to show these at the end of the day when the kids are waiting for their buses to be called. I just go to the website and show a video up on the Eno board. Some are hits and some are not, but many times we get a discussion going before they head out the door about something exciting in the world that may not be a part of our normal curriculum. The Kids Should See This is also great when you have a few open minutes and want to do something interesting. I also just like to watch the videos myself to see where I can tie them into the curriculum or to just learn something new.