Friday, March 25, 2016

Stools, Standing Desks and Bean Bag Chairs Are Here

They are Here!

After waiting for what seemed like forever, our grant items started coming in today. First off, 'the first' truck was the shipment of stools. As we came back from the lunchroom, the children, who are just as eager as me, volunteered to carry them up individually. As they were coming up to the room, the next truck came with the standing desks, bean bag chairs and tables.

The children were all 'happy' to read during ELA just to know that end result would be using the stools. We quickly removed the chairs and implemented the stools. The children got their testing faze out of the way and were ready to get right back to work. We continued reading Number the Stars on the iPads but now, children were sitting up and not slouching; they appeared more engaged! Test 1 holds true!

Next, the standing desks with rocker bars. Can the children make it through an entire class standing. Truth is, yes, but not preferred. We quickly moved the stools to the desks and had some happy children all around. The next step was to introduce the bean bags. They are for a real purpose. They can use them for reading and research as a reward for making the right choices. The boys and girls got right to their reading in hopes that they would be among the first to read on the bean bags. Even more, the reading was constant and consistent. 

Step one is clearly working out and the experimental stages are quickly making way to new routines. The tables are in the back of the room awaiting stronger, taller legs and wheels with stoppers. The whiteboards will be here soon and hopefully quick to go up. The level of enthusiasm by all the students is high and the energy is positive. Can't wait to see the next faze to come into play!

What Makes an Invertebrate an Invertebrate?

            Create Your Own Invertebrate

Over the past weeks, we've studied classification. We've noticed how kingdoms narrow into animal groups and then specific animals. The children have come to determine it is the structures of the animals that classify them. This has been relatively easy up until this point. The INVERTEBRATES!

Now the children are asked to works backwards to create an invertebrate that could exist. They need to create this animal in a real habitat with real structures. Poisonous animals should be brightly colored. Ocean animals should have dark colored tops and light colored bottoms. Local forest animals should be of darker colors like their surroundings.

Children were reminded of science from the years past. We are looking at habitats, predator/prey relationships, adaptations, ecosystems and more.

So far, I have seen an elephant beetle with a long pointy nose that stabs to protect itself and colorful venomous invertebrates along with animals with suckers, slime and more. Once the animal drawings are complete, the riddles will be written. These riddles then become the lesson for the different types of invertebrates. Who knew learning could be so engaging!

This 'elephant beetle' will make students start off questioning if it is an insect and then more specifically which one with only a riddle to guide the students on their way. Using the clues, the students will be the scientists to classify these new species!

Although this looks like a fish, don't be fooled; its special structures make it a specific invertebrate. Can you figure out which one? Don't give it away. At this point, students are becoming more independent because they don't want to give away their animal secrets. 

This worksheet is just one example of the problem solving that had to be used to work backwards to create a new animal. As the children came to check in, they began to understand the relationship between structures and classification. 

Another fun lesson was that of perspective. If an insect is small, how large must a tree or a leaf be? On the other side of this, students will quickly recognize that this animal must be poisonous because of its bright colors. I wonder how this one will catch its dinner. I hope it's an herbivore. 

The children have almost completed the information page and drawings. Some are working on the riddle cards...and they are all excited to become THE SCIENTISTS!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Kid Blog goes Live

Click on the picture above to get to Kidblog.

After months of writing math directions, script writing, planning and filming, Kidblog is LIVE! 

The process began with the children choosing math topics to teach. From there, they had to come up with problem types of varying degrees of complexity. This led to step by step directions that would work for both the simplest and most challenging problems as well as everything in between. The next step, involved deciding on the three exact problems that would build in difficulty to use for their videos. Finally, script writing time came. The scripts were the most challenging piece with all of the rules I put into place. They could not read the directions but instead they had to sum up, give hints and shortcuts and offer time for the audience to read. Finally, the children used ExplainEverything to bring their individual lessons to life. 

In the end, the videos involved math, presenting, good choices for presentation and fluency. The children worked hard on personal and peer editing using comments and constructive criticism. I will be the first to say that these children are proud of their accomplishments and already eagerly working on their next project: Building a Budget.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Comprehension is Key

Number the Stars

Last week we started Number the Stars, a great piece of historical fiction by Lois Lowry. It's a story about a two young girls growing up in Nazi occupied Denmark. One girl is Jewish and the other is not. As the story unfolds, Annemarie is faced with the difficult question of being brave. 

To help the children familiarize themselves with the history behind the story, we broke up into groups based on random characteristics. Based on the groupings, different students were granted different or even no privileges. This led into a great conversation about this time in history. As we read chapters, we track items that are rationed, follow along on a map and keep track of new vocabulary.

Every week, the students are met with a reading inventory highlighting five vocabulary words they could add to their own writing. They read them over and decide their familiarity with the word. Extra boxes are given for other interesting words they encounter.

These words are given to them as homework. Every student writes sentences that are 10 words long living up to their personalized writing goals. The definitions are one the page and they have the direct link to these words in Quizlet. They can use Quizlet to study, take practice tests and play quiz-like games. 

Throughout the reading, the children are met with their homework words linked directly to their definitions. Highlighted sections of text signal the students to get to work. They are confronted with comprehension questions that ask for understanding, opinions and predictions to give children the real life experience of slowing down to make meaning. These questions are answered directly into this shared document for all classmates to see and discuss. Students are making great progress in higher level thinking and elaboration.

Stay tuned for our chapter reader's theaters that are already in progress!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Nate Solder Celebrates Read Across America at FWS

Nate Solder, offensive lineman for the New England Patriots came in to Francis Wyman to read Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss. 

As he entered the auditorium, the students cheered. His words as he addressed us were clear. BE A READER!

As much as we cheered for the Patriots along with his book, I will cheer for #77 for encouraging reading. 

And finally, a little publicity for us on channel 5's EyeOpener!

It's Electric

I traded in my electricity script for some new ideas. Let the practice be the learning with some online simulations. We built circuits using a simulation website and took that experience to create real circuits to identify materials that will or won't carry electricity: identifying insulators and conductors. The final challenge came next. You will quickly see that the force was with us!
Students were met with this very challenge and they lived up to the test.

Beep, beep, beep. We are interrupting this electricity test for an emergency. We need to use Morse Code to signal S. O. S. for someone to save Mrs. Lynch from the innards of this alligator. Can you use the approved items to create a flashlight so that she can use it to signal for help? The universal code for S. O. S. is three dots, three dashes, three dots. Flash your own handmade flashlight to save her from the powers of the evil swamp alligator. Dots are quick flashes and dashes are longer flashes of light.

You must follow the directions at the top of each list to create a flashlight that uses a complete circuit with a switch. Circle items to complete your shopping list.

Classroom Rewards

After a month of working hard to earn our classroom reward, Room 202 ELA earned the privilege of braiding Mr. Raymond's beard. Here are a few magic moments. 

After earning 150 CARES coupons the students were able to enjoy their first classroom reward. Shhh! Don't tell them that there is a new one in the works.

Many students took part and enjoyed the activity. There were a few surprise braiders. Great work class!

Thank you Mr. Raymond!