Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

It's Halloween! One of my absolute favorite holidays (it's basically glorified dress-up, which is a thespian's DREAM). Our school had a really neat Literacy Parade where everyone dressed up as a character from a book and we all had a lot of fun with it! Some ideas from the teachers:

  • Pinkalicious (and purplicious and silverlicious and goldilicious)
  • A Bad Case of the Stripes girl
  • The 7 dwarfs (sneezy, sleepy, grumpy, etc.)
  • The Giving Tree
  • Sleeping child from Polar Express
And, of course, Ginny Weasley from Harry Potter! 
Gotta love mirror shots, right??
I put together this costume two years ago when the 7th movie came out and I used it again today. Here's how I did it if you want your own Harry Potter themed costume without paying an arm and a leg:
  • Start with what you have! I already had the black skirt, black tights, and black shoes. Win!
  • I bought a simple red tie from Walmart and painted yellow stripes on it with whatever paint I had on hand. Look at the characters online and you can see their ties have two thick stripes, then one thin stripe.
Use the pattern on the tie to help you keep lines straight!
  • I bought a child's white button down from Walmart (school uniforms, baby!) for like $7 and ironed on the Gryffindor crest. Just get some special iron-on transfer paper, like the kind here, and follow the instructions after finding the image you want online!
  • The cloak was the most complicated part of this costume because I could NOT find one I liked in stores. I found a great tutorial on If you know how to use a sewing machine at all, you can make this! It was really easy and looks and feels really nice and expensive. I added the Gryffindor crest to this too by using iron-on transfer paper. Make sure you get the type for dark fabrics. I also bought two little buttons and sewed them on near the top so I can actually close the cloak with a ponytail holder! 
The cloak looks awesome when you walk quickly and it flutters behind you.
  • Don't forget the wand! I painted a dowel rod black and added glitter. Lots of glitter. 
TADA!! Putting together costumes is so much more fun than buying one and I had a lot of fun with this one! Happy Halloween!!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Something is Not Right

Hello friends! Don't be alarmed by the title of this post, it's referring to Madeline by Ludwig Bemelman. Do you remember the story? The twelve little girls in two straight lines, the littlest one was Madeline! Why am I talking about Madeline, you ask? Well, one of our little ones had to get his appendix out =[ and ALL I could think about was Madeline. In the story, she gets her appendix out and gets bunches of toys and a cool scar, which makes the other girls want to get theirs out too!
Love using literature to connect real life situations
I told the kids about their friend and then read the book aloud while they made cards at the end of the day Thursday. It was a nice way to end the day and I know our sweet patient will love getting cards from all his classmates.

The book was also a really nice way to introduce surgery to the kids and we then had the opportunity to talk about being under anesthesia, having a scar, getting toys and/or ice cream, and how long until their friend was back in school.

Look how colorful the cards are! Didn't they do a great job?!
Hot topic with the kids: should you draw an appendix on a card or would that upset him?
What does an appendix even look like? They decided NOT to draw the organ, btw.
The kids are probably going to be a bit let down that he won't have a big ol' scar like Madeline did, but times have changed, kiddos! Homemade cards make everything better, though, and I can't wait for our sweet boy to be back with us this week =]

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's the Little Things

Ever have one of those days where everything strikes you as funny?? Today was one of those days and my sweet little fourth graders and I were laughing all day! Here are some fun anecdotes to get you laughing too:

I was at recess and a student needed to go inside for something. As we were walking in, we passed a group of four girls standing in a circle. Each of them held a lizard in one hand and had their other hand up in a pledge as they said (in unison!):

"As a member of the Lizard Club, I solemnly swear to never speak of this to any living being."

After we walked by, I just said "Hmm" and my sweet student said with a completely straight face, "Well that was disturbing!" haha I love how honest they are this age! We had the giggles for a bit after that! I'm gonna keep an eye on the growing coven happening on the playground though, don't you worry.
Run lizards, run for your lives.

This week was Red Ribbon Week at our school, in celebration of being drug-free. Do you remember doing this every year in elementary school?? Well today we all wore red and one of the students on the afternoon announcements told us why:

"Everyone wore red today to remember to celebrate a life of free drugs" Wait, what?? Free drugs? THAT'S what red ribbon week is all about?? 
Or is he happy he has free drugs??

Haha I got a kick out of that one, but it went WOOSH right over the kids' heads.

So that was my funny day. Hope your day was just as fun!!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Attention Getters

Happy Sunday! The sun is shining, the air is cool, and the Gators are undefeated. A happy, happy Sunday, for sure! Fall is definitely here and we are getting in the mood for Halloween. We are also trying more and more Kagan and WBT strategies, which led to some new attention grabbers!

The first one I tried with the kids was actually from Whole Brain Teaching, which has been described as Kagan on steroids! Haha they've got some really fantastic ideas. My favorite is the "Class-Yes" attention getter. Basically, you say "class" and they say "yes", but you can mix it up however you want and they have to say it the way you said it! Here's how Chris Biffle suggests you introduce it:

This literally took about 45 seconds. Start small, people.

The fun part is changing it up so the kids don't get bored with "Class-Yes" or "Class Class-Yes Yes". I like to do "Oh claaaaaass- Oh yeeeeeeees" or "Hey class- hey yes" Here are some ways to mix it up!

Kids LOVE mirroring you with really silly tones and gestures and speeds!
You can watch more of his video about this here.

And since it's Halloween season, I also introduced one of the attention grabbers I saw in a list on Pinterest! I say "Hocus Pocus" and the kids repeat "Time to focus!" and then get to work on what they should already be doing. I used the "Class-Yes" to get them to freeze and look at me, but the "Hocus Pocus" to get them to refocus on work and stop talking. Check out the list of attention getters below:
Taken from this blog.
Hope you are having a fantastic Sunday! Now go outside and enjoy the weather before the week starts =]

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mission to Space

We had quite an exciting day yesterday- we went to space! I had to teach a lesson for my mentor teacher and my UF supervisor to observe, so I decided to teach math. We're working on geometry and drawing shapes from different perspectives and I wanted to try something creative, so my mentor teacher and I came up with an activity for the kids where they went on a mission to space!! Bear with me, this is a long post, but worth it!

Here's how we did it: I reviewed how to draw perspectives and how to imagine a solid shape when looking at a net, then the kids partnered up and were given a brown paper bag and a ziploc bag of cube legos.
Doesn't that clip art look intense and awesome??
Inside each bag, they had rolled-up instructions and 10 numbered clues. These were their instructions:

  • You are on a mission to space with your shoulder partner! You need to find the planet Perspectiva because it has a special resource called Shapino. The United States needs this resource to replace gasoline and they want you to get it!
  • You'll need the clues found in your "Mission Pack" to help you complete your mission and avoid danger. 
  • You will complete all calculations in the "Mission Log" (your math journal) when answering each of the clues. Be sure to write down the clue number and work in order, beginning with clue #1. 
  • After each clue, you will eat an energy capsule (an M&M), which you will find in your Mission Pack. Use the tools in your bag, along with the cubes to complete your mission. Good luck Space Cadet!

Rolled up instructions and then a stack of numbered clues
After repeating some important instructions (next time I would write these on the board), they got working and had an absolute blast! Using the clues, I had them identify their spaceship, land on a planet, identify another spaceship, find their resource, calculate how much to bring back, and then fly home. They had to turn in their data to mission control (me!) and if it was complete, they were paid (with a mini milky way) haha. I like to think I'm funny ;)  They also had a checklist to assess themselves with, giving themselves 1 point for drawings, 1 point for calculations, 2 points for written responses, and 1 point for working cooperatively. I used this as the rubric for scores out of 5. Here's an example of one of the clues, just to give you an idea.
The biggest thing for this lesson was for them to draw a certain perspective of a solid shape,
 like from the top, front, or side.
Let me tell you, the kids love love LOVED this activity! Their favorite parts were the M&M energy capsules (duh), getting cubes to build the shapes with, and all the different clues. The first clue was to make a shape out of a cube net to create a walkie talkie. I have to share this picture because these boys were using them the whole time! And hey, the more engaged the students are, the fewer behavior management issues you'll have (obviously).
It says Walkie Talkie and has a keypad and an "answer" button! haha
 You could do something like this with any subject or topic! Just make a mission somewhere with individual clues, even incorporate other subjects, like science. My fourth graders LOVED it, which meant my supervisor and mentor teacher LOVED it, which is great news for me!! We'll definitely be doing more missions in the future!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Love & Logic

Happy Wednesday everyone! We get out an hour early on Wednesdays, so that made the day fly by! I wanted to write a post about a book I'm reading right now called Teaching with Love & Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom. Have you heard of it?

Written the year I started Kindergarten.
As I mentioned in my last post, I left the meeting with my principal and mentor teacher with a stack of books and this is the one I was told to start with! The ideas Fay and Funk describe are used by my mentor teacher and the principal and many other teachers at my school. The approach is basically what I believed already, just articulated much better than I ever could have!

The basic approach is not just to love your kids to pieces, but to make sure they know how much you love them. You can't withdraw from a bank account you don't make deposits in, and you can't make demands on someone you haven't built up. These children spend nearly half of their waking hours with us and I have so much influence on whether they have a good day or a bad day. I want to make sure they know without a doubt that they are loved.
One of my favorite teaching quotes-
and my attempt to make it pretty enough to be a printable!
One of my favorite strategies I've read about is giving children choices. Instead of just telling them what to do all day, you give them choices (make sure you're ok with either choice!) These can be little choices, like whether to start with math or reading, or as a form of discipline. I had the opportunity to do this today when the kids were reading their books silently around the room. Some kids were talking and I said in a friendly voice, "Hey boys, you have a choice. You can either read on the bean bags silently, or split up and go back to your desks to read. It's up to you." They chose to stay on the bean bags and stop talking. Such a little change from "Boys, you need to read silently", but it gives them the power! Love it!
Look how quiet and peaceful she is. Bet she doesn't need to be given choices...

That's just a little about that, but if you have some free time and are interested, I definitely recommend this book. For more info, here's their page. They have programs for teachers AND parents! I'm continuing to love my placement and am learning from a MASTER of teaching with love and logic. Things are looking up over here!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Back in the Classroom

People. I'm back in the classroom. I'm waking up at 6 again. Woohoo! Believe it or not, it's actually really nice to be back in an energetic classroom full of life and positivity and watch kids try and succeed.

To recap the week, I went to my new school Tuesday afternoon to meet with my supervisor, mentor teacher, and principal and I just loved getting to talk about new ideas and how they are applying them to the school. They have a big focus on research and being a reflective teacher. I went home with a stack of books and the challenge to start reading!

Starting with Love & Logic! More on that soon...

I started Wednesday and spent the last three days watching my fantastic mentor teacher, getting to know my sweet kids, and chatting with my friendly coworkers (including another intern next door!) Some of the highlights this week include:

  • Watching the kids write their own reader's theater for the Greek story of Demeter and Persephone and then act it out
  • Doing the Cupid Shuffle to "get the wiggles out"
  • Being asked every Gator question imaginable: Do you know any Gator athletes? Have you met Albert and Alberta? Are you going to the LSU game? 
  • Receiving homemade "welcome to the classroom" cards 
  • Answering questions about math during recess because they were so curious about it
How super sweet is this?

To sum it up: I'm in love. Also, bookmark this new page. Cus' now we're snapping for fourth grade!! Keep up people! Time's flying!