Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spell it out-- geoblock expectations

Some activities you THINK kids can do and others need explicit expectations. This group, in particular, due to maturity, needs a lot of direct instruction on expectations. When getting out geoblocks, this activity was an absolute MUST.

I put the title (Geoblock Sorting) and two headings on the top of the list (OK and NOT OK). I asked the students to talk in their groups for a couple minutes about what might go under each heading. Here's what they came up with.

Even though, behaviorally, this is a much more challenging group than most, I will continue to use this warm-up with my groups in the future. It was really empowering for students to have made the expectations. It was great for me to be able to refer to the board throughout this lesson and the next couple days.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Fun Video Project

So…I had to get really proficient with iMovie last year when doing my National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and of course I filmed a WHOLE BUNCH of times. I found some interesting templates while I was learning the software and put together this silly little movie trailer. Basically, it was a fill in the blank and select a bunch of video clips. It's not great, but it's an illustration of how cool the software is. Check out the templates and explore! Super fun!

oh ya… and yes

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Getting off to a Good Start

Coming into the classroom seems to be one of those crazy times of day-- always some growing pains when the year begins. I have become big on talking to students about what they think would work best for certain procedures/expectations and making their ideas our norm. I have a low whiteboard easel on casters as you walk into our classroom.

Our morning routine includes me standing at the door and greeting each child by name in the Language of the Day as well as fixing our eyes on this easel for important information right away.

Of course, the signs up top flip over and have Spanish on the back for when Language of the Day is Spanish. Here's the entry sign in Spanish:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Introducing Horton

We all know that just because we have expectations, does not mean they're always followed. I started brainstorming ideas to do some sort of extrinsic motivation. I love the book (and the movie) Horton Hears a Who and I know my students do too! So I went and found a Horton at a second hand store, washed him up, and wrote the following letter.

(I call my students, "Schmidt Sweeties," and my partner teacher is, "Kunkel Cuties."
I teach in a Dual Language school, so I translated it to Spanish too:

The letters are laminated and taped (book tape) onto a journal, which the students write in (at least once) during their time with Horton. On Wednesday, when Horton comes back to school, the student picks one of their journal entries and reads it to the class at the end of the day. They give Horton to me and he and I talk-- of course, I ham this up BIG time. "Horton was calling to me from inside someone's backpack and I had to search and search for him to find out what he wanted to say!" When the student returns Horton, he sits on my LCD projector so he can really be watching and listening for who the best listener is-- that way Horton can tell me who he wants to go home with . Most kids know that Horton doesn't actually speak to me, but they absolutely LOVE the pretending.

One of my daughters was at a birthday party with a couple girls from my class. I just LOVED this one… when I walked in to bring my daughter and visit with the other parents, I saw that Horton was in a little front pack with my listener of the week. She wrote about Horton attending this birthday party. It was a hoot! I wish I would've come up with something like Horton much earlier, but nonetheless, I love it and him!!! Each week, I take a photo of the student with Horton wherever (and whatever pose) they want!

I keep a spreadsheet with my class list in one column and write the date they took Horton home in the second column. Of course, this helps me see who I need to keep an eye out for who's not yet had the chance to see Horton. Some students (after many months) have not yet had him, so I take extra time to work with them and help them do well to be the listener of the week. They're trying so hard. Many weeks it's nearly impossible to choose just ONE.


While I was working on my National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, I taught specific lessons on Listening, Speaking, and Viewing. These were all things I'd said countless times over the years, but never took the time to put into a chart with student input that we could refer to as a class for the year. Of all I learned through the NBPTS process being intentional and specific about Listening, Speaking, and Viewing standards has become part of my classroom NORMAL. I don't know why it took me 16 years to figure it out, but I'm so glad I did.

Basically, for each of the three areas, I asked the students (starting with Listening on day ONE of the school year), "What does it look like when students are LISTENING to the teacher? What about when listening to a peer?" Here's what they came up with.

We've added to this list throughout the year and I made it cute on my computer…

The next day, we talked about how what the teachers shows students to help in learning is called, "Viewing Material." Similar to how we brainstormed how we show we're good listeners, we talked about what we should do when we're viewing something. They were fantastic!

Toward the end of the first week of school, we visited the topic of speaking. Students were completely ready to give their ideas about how to be good speakers. I love that they had such good ideas about how to be a good speaker and many of them used ideas from what we had been discussing and practicing with listening and viewing.

We use the voice levels throughout the building. I made some cute signs as reminders. They're laminated and in a place that I can remind students of expectations by pointing and explaining.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Student Scoring

Our district has used a 4 point rubric for about 13 years. I think this is helpful in many ways (particularly the fact that it correlates with state standardized assessment scoring— parents seeing this is helpful)!

The +, √, - scoring has been around absolutely forever. To make scoring sections of homework go quickly, I use the +, √, -. In order for students (and families) to easily make the correlation between the 4pt scale and the +, √, -, I made the attached chart. I hope you find it helpful!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Sharing Out

Hi Parents and Colleagues (near and far)!

I hope to keep this blog up to share some of what my awesome students and their teacher do to make learning happen in second grade. Of course, you know that is a lofty goal, but I have been inspired by some fantastic blogs I’ve seen lately and I want to take a stab at it. I hope you enjoy!