Saturday, February 22, 2014

Close Reading & Tessellations

This week was...odd. We had school Monday, snow days on Tuesday and Wednesday, then school again on Thursday and Friday. It honestly felt like a week of Monday's. Between rescheduling and moving around lessons, communicating parent conference information (oops just realized as I typed that sentence that I forgot to respond to a parent request) and getting my intern back in the loop about what's going on in sixth grade, I'm glad I made it to the weekend!

Every year I like to do an activity with my math students about tessellations. We don't go as specific as say, M.C. Esher or anything, but they have fun. Here are some examples of the work that they did. Ignore horrible shadows, I'm a bad photograph and it was late when I took these :)

They were required to use 3 shapes and the shapes had to colored in a pattern. We had fun sharing using the document camera (I use an IPEVO) and explaining our work. 

In study Ancient China I thought it would be a good idea to take a break from the 'ancient' and teach them a little modern history so they could get an idea of what more recent life has been like. My intern and I found a challenging article using Britannica and made handouts for each student. We then had them do a close read. They read it once to get a general sense of the article, then they partnered up and went through it more closely, marking new vocabulary words, important points (we call them VIPs), and questions. They discussed it together. Finally they worked independently to create a 3-2-1 worksheet where they listed 3 of their VIPs, 2 new vocabulary words, and 1 wondering. We then had the students sit in a group and share out their thinking.

They loved the strategy! They felt like it was a meaningful way to work through the reading and by seeing it twice they were able to understand it better (this coming from some of our struggling readers!). Success at the end of a hectic week! Woot!

To wrap up the week I have some students who are going to perform on Monday. Yes that's right, perform. They have a made up group called 'California Cows' and they are going to sing and dance. My class makes me laugh, I can't wait to see what they are going to do. Have a wonderful weekend, around here it's a bit busy because at PSU it's Thon weekend (FTK!). If you want to check it out here is the live stream. Pretty amazing stuff happening. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Encouraging educators & Flocabulary

What a crazy morning! It was a frozen wasteland as soon as school was to start (which also happened to be when my dear husband left for work and to take the kiddo to daycare), and now it's gorgeous and the snow is melting. 
a little taste of spring
In order to deal with all of this week's changing schedules I thought it would be a good idea to sit and write a bit. To start, let's talk about the newest session of (in)courage groups. If you were able to sign up for one I hope that you are enjoying it. Participation is a huge way to get the most out of the wonderful leadership in each group. Our group, the (in)couraging Teachers group, is going really well. I have such a heart for these ladies and I think that we are getting into our groove. My favorite thing is checking in and seeing one of the ladies post a link or write a post about what's going on.

This session has been about having a routine. Our routine, which I love, is Monday Prayer/Praise, What Works Wednesday, and Fun Friday. In between we comment on each other's posts and pray as needed. I hope the ladies are enjoying it just as much as I am.

In school related events we recently celebrated Valentine's Day by having an Affirmation Party. Students come in prepared with kind sayings for each of their classmates and we write them on large paper hearts that we hang in the room. There is, of course, also food! 

Finally, during a teacher training I was introduce to the website Can I just tell you how addicted I am? I think my kids are going to be sorry I found this. Everything is made into a rap. Yep, a rap. Maybe I love it so much because  my writing abilities stop at making semi complete sentences, but it's really fun. The students are engaged and the work is meaningful. Check it out if you have a moment (I know, right). In the meantime, stay safe and warm. Spring will be here soon (I hope!).