Friday, March 4, 2016

Five For Friday March 4, 2016

1)  We started our plant unit!

     We started our Next Generation Science unit focusing on plants.  I created it using the NGSS standards in Structure, Function, and Information Processing.  This is my fourth NGSS unit that I have created and I love it!  For those of you who have looked at those standards they are NOT teacher friendly.  They are not packaged clearly and it took some serious time and research to decipher them, but now that I have, I actually love the standards.  They contain so much life knowledge that kids need to understand. They also build on each other and are built on investigations (although you have to search those out yourself).   I wish I learned science this way.  Luckily, I have the opportunity to bring them to my students. My own kids, ages 14 and 11 (almost 12) watch me and can't believe the first graders are learning and understanding these concepts, but they are!  We don't have curriculum in our district for them so that is why I write my own units.  The unit is a complete literacy and science unit and the kids are loving it.  After researching in our plant information book and doing science doodle vocabulary pictures we predicted what was inside a seed.  We then investigated and recorded what we observed and learned (see above)

Students testing whether we can grow seeds without soil.

Science is so much more fun with safety goggles and aprons.
We placed tiny strips of paper towel inside the straw and then placed a seed inside. 

Fitting everything inside the straw was tricky, but these first graders did it!

We then placed the straws inside small clear cups with water.  A tiny end of the paper towel was sticking out to see if it could deliver enough water to the tiny seed.  We predicted in our Science notebooks whether we though the seed could sprout without soil.  We'll see!

     Here we are conducting an investigation on whether a seed needs soil to grow in its first phase of development (germination).  I love their little faces. . . so happy and focused!  All of the investigations, books, and activities are in the unit.  

See link below if interested.

2)  Dr. Seuss Celebration!

     We had so much fun celebrating Dr. Seuss and his gift of making reading so fun for kids.  We made our own Thing 1 and Thing 2's. I let them decide on colors and they came out adorable.  The kids traced their hands, traced circles for the head, and traced a bow.  Can you tell I had some assessing to do?  Seriously, they had fun and I got to do some running records for report cards!  We also had a fun, family reading afternoon.  This adorable mom had most of the boys in the class surrounding her.  I LOVE to see kids so into reading.

3)  My first Blog series!

      I have a student teacher this year and she was asking me how to start a writing program.  She sees it now, in full swing, but wasn't with us or her other class at the beginning of the year.  She got me thinking and so I decided to write a series of blog posts detailing how I start, run, and revise my writing program through the year.  It is a labor of love and I've had over 20 years of practice.  I am really proud of my program now and I feel like I have developed strong writers who have a love of writing.  
     Greatly influencing my program is the San Diego Area Writing project which is a fantastic training if you are local.  Also embedded are teaching structure, chants, explicitly teaching introductions, conclusions, transitions, text types, and purpose, power writing, writing homework, parent communication, mechanics, revision, feedback, editing, writing walls, writing handbooks, student created graphic organizers,  mentor texts, and mentor sentences.  All of these topics will be addressed in my blog posts.  I'm totally nervous about keeping up on these posts, but hopefully I will and hopefully they will help someone:).

4)  Leprechaun Fun!

     In elementary school both of my kids had all the same teachers.  It was amazing.  It was so important to my son that he had his sissy's teachers.  All of those teachers loved and were amazing to both my kids, even though they are different. One amazing benefit was that my kids could share memories of fun projects that their teachers did with them.  One of the most memorable was the fun Leprechaun traps they made in second grade with their beloved Mrs. Brown.  Since then, I've really wanted to do that project with my firsties, but conferences, testing, report cards, and spring break always seemed to be hurdles I just couldn't clear.  This year, though, I started planning early.  I incorporated the whole project into a 3 week homework and writing sequence incorporating informative, explanatory, and opinion writing.      Kids read two mentor texts about leprechauns, identify text structure, answer questions, and plan and write an informative (expository) piece about leprechauns.  Next, they read two mentor explanatory texts about how to build a leprechaun trap.  From there they work with that text type and write how they would build a trap.  Finally, they build one and write an opinion piece detailing why their trap would catch a leprechaun.  If interested the link for the unit is below.

 5)  Still training and loving it.  

     Even though some days are ridiculously busy, I am completely loving my training.  When I'm not running alongside my little skateboarder or my daughter, I'm running and listening to Podcasts.  I'm addicted to learning how to be a better person while on my long runs.  It is such a calm, peaceful time for me. What is peaceful for you?

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