Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Solar System

Today I wanted my students to read the scholastic series books for Space. I have 6 books at grade 1 reading level. The students had to read the book with a partner, and write one fact on the fact sheet provided with the book. The books are Sun, Moon, Earth, Planets, Starts, Space. I'm sure some of you have them! But since I only had 6 books, that wasn't going to be enough activity for my other students. So then I just gave the other partners some activities.
1-blocks, build a rocket out of blocks
2-draw the solar system, color and label (an example was on the overhead to guide them)
3-write a poem about space, 4 lines (some did great, others needed coaching)
4-write what it would be like if you were traveling in space far away from Earth
5-draw yourself looking at the stars

We will continue this tomorrow for science. I am going to add a few more activities:
6-make an alien out of play dough
7-planet word search

Monday, February 27, 2012

Food Chain Game

Today was PE, and we were outside for cross country skiing. My partner teacher took half the group skiing, and I kept the other half playing games. The first game we played today was Red Rover. Only 2 students had to make it more physical by ramming into each other with too much force.

The other game was the food chain game. It's pretty basic. Take some clothes pins, I had 10 only this time. On 4 of them I wrote "plant", on another 4 I wrote "hare" and the last 2 were "fox".

I handed out the clothes pins by pinning them on the students jackets. Then everyone had to face the same direction at home base (no peeking), so I could release the plants into hiding. The rule is, if you are a plant, you go hide somewhere in the yard, but you cannot move from your spot. Plants can't get up and move.

Then I released the hares. Their job is to go find the plants (no tag necessary) and take the clothes pin off the "plant" student and attach it to their own jacket. Now the hares must hid because the foxes are soon on the loose. Hares can hide and move.

The foxes were then released. When they find a hare, they take both the hare pin and the plant pin, and pin them to their own jacket. Today we played in a small area, but it can be more fun when there are more hiding spots. Once a student has their pin taken from them, they return to home base and wait so the next round can begin.

I then told students to switch pins and choose one they were not before.
I am going to make more of them for my students, so they can play during the recesses.
Here in Finland this is a food chain that exists in our natural environment. Perhaps you can come up with a food chain with animals that would exist in your surroundings! I'd be delighted to hear if you come up with one. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Well there is no huge Hooplah here celebrating Valentine's Day. Our junior high students sell lollipops, so that is about as crazy as it gets! Well us teachers decided that our 1st and 2nd graders would have friendship ice skating to celebrate the day together. It was great! We had the 2nd graders make cards for the 1st graders, and we delivered them. Then at ice skating we gave each child a number. Then we called all 80 kids over to us on the ice, and told them random numbers they had to make from the numbers they were given. Example, 13 (5+5+3). Once they made their number they went around the ice together in that group. We had an 1.5hrs planned for it, but by the time we had all the laces tied and everyone including the teachers on the ice, there was only 40 minutes to skate. The kids had a fun time, and it was nice to see them mingling with each other! Hope your Valentine's Day was great!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Main Idea

My students read one book a week for reading at home. Students then need to write about the story they read. Before they only had to write what they thought about the book, but now they need to tell me about the story as well. This week we worked on Main Idea in small groups. I first read out loud to them the story of The Shoemaker and the Elves. We then brainstormed together what we thought was the main idea. I told them it had to be one sentence, not retell the story. I wrote down what we came up with, and then we wrote what were the other details in the story.
Then I gave pairs a folktale/fairytale book to read together. After reading, they had to then tell me what the main idea was, and then write it themselves on the chart paper.

The students enjoyed reading together these familiar stories.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Serene Classroom

One can wish for serenity in the classroom. 
I went to a training last Wednesday about positive reinforcement in the classroom. I realized that I needed to retrain my 2nd graders with our quiet hand signal. I have been a bit moody lately, and I tried really hard on Thursday and Friday to bite my tongue.
1) Getting them quiet
On Thursday I rearranged the seating order and went through a reminder of how I get their attention, without shouting or waiting too long. I use a hand signal, the quiet coyote. The kids learn it in preschool at our school. Then throughout the day, as I put my hand up, I would quietly speak and say "Now you can see my hand is up and now it is your turn to put your hand up so I know your ready". It worked fine, and the mood was calm. I guess I just have to retrain them. I also use a clap pattern during art and handcraft, because everyone is so spread out through the room. I just need to repeat the clap pattern more than once, so that everyone is participating.
2) Incentives
At this training, they also suggested promoting positive behavior with incentives. I am really not the type of teacher to give out prizes. I did however make a "I'm a Super Star" certificate, and gave one out on Friday to one of my slower workers, since he worked hard to finish his English tasks.
I am a big fan of having students line up/go to recess in a random order I choose. I often call a color, and if any students are wearing that color they go line up/outside for recess. I sometimes do birthday months. But that is about as creative as I have gotten. Any better ideas you want to share?
Transitions are fairly smooth in my classroom. One suggestion given at the training was to use a count down to help them get focused and back to their seats. I have recently used an online timer when cleaning up after handcraft and art. I put 5 minutes on the timer, and they can see it on the board counting down. I only have a few students who would like to scream and run around "OMG we have to clean fast, 2 minutes left!" I calmly discourage their need to panic.

Here are some of my tidbits for you!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Heather's Heart Giveaway

Okay folks, go on over to Heather's Heart and check out her excellent giveaway, A Giveaway from the Heart.
She is giving away a music CD,  a super cute handmade shirt for your grade level and 5 items from her TPT store. Can we say she has a super generous heart?
Hurry over, you have until Feb. 10th to enter!

Thanks Heather!

Brrr....Hot Chocolate

Well this week we had some freezing temperatures, -20C (-4F) without the windchill. I walk everyday to school with my girls, about a 400m (about 0.3mi). It was pretty brutal the last two days. Then today was only a few degrees warmer -15 and snowing which felt sooo much warmer. I have let the students stay in the past couple of days for recess, and they have been very nice and quiet knowing the alternative would be going outside.
Here is a picture from our walk home, the sun setting around 4pm.

I decided to end my week with some hot chocolate writing, inspired by A Cupcake for the Teacher. I decided last night to purchase this lesson, which was my FIRST EVER TPT purchase! Woo hoo!! Watch out world.

My rant for the week:
I am totally upset that my school has purchased Cleverboards. This would be another company that makes interactive boards. The school system here has not done any research about them and continues to give us no support how to use them. It makes me so mad when I see great Smart Board materials made by all you clever teachers. I can't reproduce these type of items for the Cleverboard, and needless to say the two are not compatible. Anyone with some tips for me, I can use PPT to make slides. But is this really the same?