Monday, March 21, 2016

Will The Real Eugenia Please Stand Up

Making connections with characters and understanding character traits is a big part of my work with first graders and Ms. Witt's Strand Students. We read several books in a series and one of the series is Kate DiCamillo's Mercy Watson Books. There are many different goals and objectives when selecting the series books I use but lets just focus on the character of Eugenia. Eugenia is just plain cranky and does not like living next door to a pig! Her loving sister, Baby tries to reason with her, but in a perfect Eugenia moment as she dials the phone we read "I know exactly what I'm doing," said Eugenia "I am kissing that pig good-bye." The students roar with laughter.  I ask, "Is she really going to kiss the pig?" "No! She wants to get rid of the pig!" Everyone wants to be Eugenia and call the police!

2nd Graders Use Their Words

How do you make learning to use a dictionary and expanding your vocabulary fun and engaging? Try making Word Jars and typing your own stories using words that begin with the first letter of your name! After reading three books about characters that collect words and it's ohhhh so fun students can't wait to try their own hand at collecting words. Please note that using an "old fashioned" dictionary was modeled during the reading of Donavan's Word Jar, Max's Words and The Boy Who Loved Words. Next up, learning to use the online dictionary and tabbing between their word document and the online dictionary... the fun never stops!!!

Making NOVEL Connections

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Curious about Ziggy's 7 Smooth Stones and the power they may hold we investigate a couple other books about rocks. These lessons build on the Collections Unit that we did in 2nd grade, fact vs. fiction texts and underscore ways to research and explore topics of interest.
In EVERYBODY NEEDS A ROCK we talk about the ten rules for finding the right rock. Not just any rock - a special rock requires special rules. What do you think about the rules? Does anyone have any other rules to add? 
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We then read If You Find a Rock and are challenged to think of all the different kinds of rocks there are...skipping rocks, splashing rocks and chalk rocks. We think of other types of rocks that the book does not name, "My D.R. Rock" was one of my favorites this year.  A student shared they kept this rock from their home country as a memory rock. We circle back to Ziggy's 7 Smooth Stones and discuss how his grandmother from Jamaica had given him these stones and how we could study rocks for what they symbolize and/or their scientific properties. We also discuss how something like a stone or rock could be part of a story or the whole story.

On Task and On Time!

The 8th Grade Yearbook Elective Team has less than 12 classes until the yearbook is sent to the printer! Every page is checked for design elements, correct spelling, proper identification of people in the picture and interesting captions...can we do it? Yes, we can!

The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood

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For Letter Q we celebrate by reading about all the different types of quiet. One of our favorites is "Right before you yell "SURPRISE!"quiet -- and yes, we do all practice "yelling SURPRISE!" in the library several times!
As a reinforcement and to check for understanding students then draw a place they like to be quiet; "sleeping quiet," "watching TV quiet," and "don't wake the baby quiet" are some of their responses.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Ziggy Simulation Helps Us Make Connections to Text

My third graders and I have explored the mystery and adventure of our Ziggy story through simulated activities.

We passed Ms. M's 7 Smooth Stones in a ceremony to celebrate positive thinking and felt the warm energy of Sun Spirit after reading Chapter 8.

We also had a blast crawling through the "library tunnel" but realized that Ziggy and his friends made a dangerous choice to crawl through the dirt tunnel underneath their school.

Elephant and Piggie Return!

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Mo Willems has written an amazing Elephant and Piggie Series that are great for beginning readers. More information about them as well as other Willems books can be found here. For Letter O we read Are You Ready to Play Outside? With spring right around the corner we make lots of connections with this story and see how friends can make the best of all types of weather. For Letter P we read Pigs Make Me Sneeze. Poor Gerald thinks that he is allergic to his best friend Piggie. Poor Piggie goes flying every time Gerald sneezes. We also have a blast pretending that we are elephant and piggie when we put on the amazing hats that Nurse Sue made for us to use in the Library. Thanks Nurse Sue!