Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Thanksgiving Community Building

     In our classroom, we are part of a family. This is a motto that I tried to instill since the first day of school. When you walk through our classroom doors and into our classroom, you are part of a family. What does that mean? Well, that means that we take care of each other. We love each other. We support each other, and we even grow with each other. Like most teachers do, I always front load our first and second week of school with community building activities in efforts to instill, build, and strengthen this family bond.
     As the year progresses, we all make choices on activities that will hopefully strengthen our classroom community. This is an area that I am very passionate about. I could write about it for hours, but I will spare you that. Putting aside all of our appreciation circles, morning meetings, kudos,etc.......I like to take purposeful time during the Thanksgiving season to really show my students how much I appreciate them. Now, I will warn you.... this takes TIME! However, it is well worth it. The pay off is big. The kids can sense and see the appreciation!
     This year, students were asked to decorate a turkey feather that represented his or her family tradition for Thanksgiving. Students then brought this feather into class, and we create a whole class turkey together. During our "thankful luncheon", each student was given a turn to come up to the front of the class to share his/her turkey feather. Students were proud to share their traditions. Other students were then able to ask questions. At the end of the sharing, our turkey looked like this!

After we constructed our class turkey and ate our delicious Thanksgiving lunch together, we then were able to discuss how unique each and every one of us is, but how we come together to form an awesome family at school. This project turned out great, and it certainly served as an awesome activity to continue to enhance our classroom community.

     I also took a chunk of time at home to create these "thankful" cards for my kiddos. I just feel especially blessed this year to have such an amazing room of students. I wanted my kids to truly see how much I appreciate and value their presence in our classroom family!

What are some ways that you continue to build community in your classroom throughout the school year?

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Animal Creations

     I am so excited to share an amazing project that we did in our classroom this week! To start off, I just want to share some background information. Our district strongly promotes the 4C's in instruction and teaching: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication. Being new this year, I really wanted to push myself to design some meaningful project based experiences that would require my third graders to collaborate, thin critically and creatively, and communicate effectively and clearly to peers and adults. With that in mind, I dug into our Social Studies and Science curriculum and looked for opportunities to supplement/enhance student learning with projects.
     With the help of one of my third grade team members and a fabulous parent, we came up with this project. In third grade in Michigan, students are expected to be able to "identify and compare structures in animals used for controlling body temperature, support, movement, food-getting, and protection (for example: fur, wings, teeth, scales). " Instead of simply reading about these different structures and adaptations, I really wanted to push my kids to apply their skills in a a different context. We took a week to go over animal habitats and research different animal adaptations for a given habitat.
     The next week, the students were given a creature card. Students were asked to design a creature to survive on a different planet given specific constraints. Each creature card told the student what their creature ate, what type of habitat they lived in, and how the creature moved from one place to another ( flying, swimming, walking, etc).  Students were then given one science period to plan out their creature. They were able to look at all of the materials that they could possibly use in their design. These were the requirements for their plan: list the materials that will be used, draw a picture of creature with adaptations labelled.

The next day, the students started creating!

The students LOVED this project. Every day, they were so excited for our end of the day science project. Even more importantly, the kids were engaged. Students were given three days to complete their creatures. They then were asked to write about their adaptations to prepare for their presentation. The following day, every student was given a chance to visit other students' creations and ask questions. Each student gave a brief one minute presentation to peers, and then peers asked questions using the following guiding questions.

Here are some of the creatures that my kiddos came up with! They did a fantastic job thinking outside of the box, and they were able to apply their knowledge of habitats and adaptations to design their creature to survive in their environment. They rocked it! Check these out!

 I'm really glad I took the risk and tried out this new project. The kids were able to apply their science skills about animals while being engaged in a fun, hands on project! Great job third graders!

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Ghostly Greetings!

We're exactly one week away from Halloween. With the halloween spirit in mind, I have been trying to keep my kiddos engaged while practicing skills  in our classroom. We just finished drafting and revising/editing our personal narratives. Our Lucy Calkins' unit stressed so many amazing teaching points. One of these teaching points was the idea that students should be showing their story to their readers versus simply telling. We worked very hard to come up with examples to show versus tell. We even picked apart and revised our own personal narratives to change telling sentences to showing sentences. With these efforts, students were using much more dialogue. As wonderful as it was to see their stories come to life, I was quickly noticing that many of my students were having issues with the punctuation that comes along with dialogue in their writing. Our Calkins' unit did teach this punctuation, but we simply needed more practice! I went on a hunt to find an engaging activity that stressed dialogue practice in a festive way!

Then, I found this!! I was sure to mention to my students that each ghost had to be appropriate. Nothing violent was allowed. Check out this amazing post from Halle at Across the Hall in 2nd. I found it to be perfect for my third graders, and we jumped right in! Here is what my students created!

 This one is simply adorable! The students certainly revealed their creativity, while practicing using commas, punctuation, and quotation marks  properly with dialogue!

Happy October friends!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

October Currently

I am linking up with to share my October currently. I truthfully cannot believe September is already over. Yesterday marked the end of our fourth week together in third grade. We have accomplished so much, and I am excited to see where this year takes us!

Listening- I have to admit it! I cracked and lit our first fire this morning in our house. It has been so much colder than usual, and I needed the warmth! I can't say I'm sad I did it. One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is to wake up without any alarm, drink my warm cup of coffee looking at our mantle and fireplace! It relaxes me, and I can't wait to do it again tomorrow morning!

Loving: I am obsessed with fall right now. We always have a fall candle burning, anything from caramel apple to pumpkin to vanilla. I also have been drinking a ton of cider, especially all warmed up in a beauteous mug. It sure can set the mood for the day OR spruce up a day!

Thinking: Well, I was just reading Kayla Delzer's article about creating a classroom learning space that is student focused rather than teacher centered. I am inspired to try out a few things. I am just thinking and wondering how I can do these things on a budget. If you have any suggestions, let me know:-)

Wanting: Yes, I am about to get up and make myself another cup of warm coffee on this delightful fall morning. Hey, I might even add a splash of the pumpkin creamer that the hubs bought!

Needing: I have been really wrapped up in school with creating projects, grading papers, making power points, and I really NEED and WANT some more quality time with my main man at home and with my parents. Come 6 pm tonight, we will be ready to watch our Wolverines beat Maryland!!

Boo-tiful- I am just blown away by my kiddos this year! They take their learning seriously, and I am impressed by them more each and every day. This week, we did a two day lesson that focused on the scientific method, problem solving skills, and most importantly, team work. My kids were STUNNING! They collaborated, brainstormed, and came up with very creative solutions! It makes me so excited to continue this journey together throughout our school year!

Here a few snapshots of my third graders in collaboration mode!

Happy Fall! 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Open House!!

     We are right in the middle of our fourth week together, and I am loving my job more and more each day. I have such an amazing bunch of sweeties. They work extremely hard, and their personalities mesh well together. I am excited for a great year, and even more excited for all the opportunities that we will have together!

     Just two weeks ago, we had our family open house. Our school actually called it our "Welcome Home" party which I found to be totally adorable. I love that we were welcoming back our littles into our home as a school family. I had all but 2 families show up which was AMAZING!!
( a first for me)

Here are just the few snapshots that I was able to take before the kids and their families arrived.
 Our school provided a sign in sheet that we had to use, but check out this adorable "sign in here" sign. You can find it here!
Aren't these too cute? I found these hands at a local teacher store, but you could easily cut them with a die cut machine. The sign was found from Ashley for FREE

 I used the brown bag teacher's open house kit to organize my night with signs and a cute powerpoint. She really had some great ideas to share with parents, and I just love her attention to detail.

And here is a peek at the scavenger hunt that the kids used to show their parents our classroom. I cannot believe this is still listed as free! It is editable and also comes with volunteer forms!

Overall, open house was a big success. I met and mingled with many families, and I look forward to continue to build relationships over the course of the year.

I'll be back soon to share some of our beginning of the year shenanigans!

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Classroom Reveal!!!!

AHHHH!!! I am beyond excited to show all of you my beautiful new learning space for my 25 third graders. I get to meet my new kiddos on Tuesday, but I finally think our room is ready for the new school year. I did mention this in a previous post, but I got married this summer, moved to a different state (just next door on the border)  and got hired at one of my dream districts. With that, I got a new classroom to decorate!! Here are some pictures of our third grade learning space!

This is just outside our classroom, just some cute birdies:-) 

I am loving the door display. You can find this great freebie here!

Here is the view from the door!
Loving how this turned out... pictures of the students will be placed on top of the birthday month cupcakes.

Oh ya know... the silly old bathroom passes!

Clothespins with student names with be added onto our student job chart.

Here is our math bulletin board and math station. This station holds decks of cards, manipulatives, calculators, dice, etc.

I think this might be my favorite part of our classroom. I cannot wait to praise and display student work on this display right at the center of our classroom. It will be such a great reminder to see amazing work on the walls that they can be proud of!
 Here is our classroom library that I also adore. I love the READ letters!

I am loving Amy's big numbers! They look adorable above our cursive alphabet.

 Here is my teaching area for the year! Note: I don't have a desk! Yay for saving space!!
New DIY crate seats:-)

Additional crate seats by the windows for a small collaborative learning space!

Some of the student book boxes! I splurged this year and bought these from Really Good Stuff. I am looking forward to not replacing the cardboard IKEA ones mid year.
Just a little reminder sign!

 Here is our classroom behavior chart.

As you can see, I was really inspired by Ashley's big bulletin board letters!

 Here are our two technology stations. I AM SO BLESSED this year to have 7 student ipads and 10 google chromebooks for our classroom! Oh the possibilities!

And our mini writing station with supplies! 

I am really looking forward to a great new year with my 25 new smarties! 

Here's to an exciting year full of adventures, risk taking, and innovations with my learners!