Sunday, May 8, 2016

Earth Day Inventions!

Hi there!
I am so excited to share a really innovative project that my kiddos did for Earth Day! Here at our school, Earth Day is a really big deal. We teach the kids about ways to help our earth, and we even had a "Zero Trash Day." This year since it was our school's 25th birthday, students donated quarters to fundraise enough money to plant a new tree. On Earth Day, we planted the tree at the front of our school as a whole school. One of our fabulous special education teachers conducted an "Earth Day" that inspired students to try their best to help our earth!

In our classroom, we take the whole day to do some huge thinking. Students were asked to think deeply about different problems that we see around our earth. Students were asked to brainstorm potential problems in the following categories: land, water, air, animals, garbage, and recycling. From there, students were given the choice to find the "problem" that they were most passionate about. Students used their passion and creativity to design an "invention" that could help reduce or diminish this problem. Students were shown the materials, and all the materials were recyclable.

After the students did their brainstorming, they were asked to "plan" out their invention before starting their actual creations. Check out this focus! The students were so engaged, and they LOVED inventing something that they really thought could make our earth better.

After all of the brainstorming, planning, and creating, students were provided a time to share their inventions with our class. I honestly think the share was the kids' favorite part. They loved sharing their passions and inventions, and they also had to share one design change they would make if they continued this invention in the future.

Some of the topics that kids were passionate about include the following: destruction of animal habitats, using too much water, boat pollution, using too much energy, recycling, collecting rain water, etc. 

Overall, the kids loved this experience, and they certainly found meaning in this project. What I loved about this project was the fact that it incorporated creativity to plan and create the invention, critical thinking to think of a workable invention, student choice to discover their passions, and communication by requiring the students to share their inventions with our class. Next year, I would love to expand the communication piece and have students somehow communicate these inventions with an outside "world" audience. For students who finished before others, students were able to post their inventions on "Earthagram". The kids loved that little twist on Instagram. 

Have a great week! 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

March Happenings!

Yes, I know it is April! But, barely! And, we had so much going on in March that I would love to share with you guys! As I'm sure many of us already know, March was Reading month! Wow, I was completely blown away by our fabulous reading month committee. We had an amazing month of reading full of meaningful and FUN activities. I have to start by saying that we just switched our mobile carriers, and right now, all my pictures are "missing." Once I hopefully find them on the cloud, I will upload the pictures I took from March.

Our reading month theme was "Character Matters." All of our activities revolved around Julia Cook's character books. Have you read any of Julia Cook's books? If you haven't you should look her up! Her books are great for families, parents, and teachers. She has many different books that are written in kid friendly language that teach certain character traits. Check out her website! She has so many titles addressing topics such as bullying, health, hygiene, anger, lying, peer pressure, etc. The more books I read of hers, the more I want to buy to read for my kiddos. They are so kid friendly, and the kids really connect with the content. I plan to buy quite a few more for the beginning of next school year. Some of our class favorites are: Soda Pop Head, My Mouth is a Volcano, and But It's not My Fault. During the month of March, each week we had a book of focus. We read the book to our class and had a rich discussion regarding the topic. Depending on the book, we then created a craft or completed an activity that pushed the kids to think deeper with the issue. One of our amazing readnig month reps even got Julia Cook to come give a presentation to our school. She led a parent night, a teacher PD, and two assemblies for our kiddos. The kids loved her and her precious dog. She is quite hilarious and engaging!

Earlier in the month, we also had our "Pajama Camp Read A lot" day. We came to school in our pajamas and read and listened to mystery readers all day. The kids loved cuddling up in their blankets next to our "camp fire" on the projector reading their favorite books. It was also very neat to have parents and grandparents come into our classroom to read their favorite books! It was a lot of fun!

At our school, we also had a reading festival at the end of the month.  This day was SO much fun! Beforehand, the kids were able to sign up for different books that they would like to listen to for ar read aloud. Throughout the day, kids rotated from different classes to hear different books read aloud by different teachers. This was an awesome way to continue to build our school community and trust while listening to rich titles. The kids seemed to really enjoy this day. During the course of the reading festival, the students listened to Julia Cook's presentations. They just couldn't get enough of her!

Stayed tuned for uploaded pictures to go along with our reading month and a post about our last science unit on rocks and minerals! I can't wait to share the details!

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Michigan Maps!

Kids love projects! It is always fun to incorporate projects into our learning in third grade. Our district is big on incorporating the 4 C's ( collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking) into our teaching practice. I love this because I am a firm believe that the 4 C's are crucial to the success of our future learners. These are skills that our kiddos need to master for their future. I am excited to share this fun project that my third graders completed at home. In Social Studies, our big focus is our wonderful state, Michigan. We study Michigan geography, history, economics, and government. We had been learning about Michigan geography and history. To reveal and push their learning, students created Michigan Maps given the follow requirements noted below.

The students did a great job with this project. They really showed their creativity and personalities. After they turned in their projects, I teamed up with one of our other third grade classes to participate in a gallery walk. Students taught the other third grade class about their Michigan maps. It was very empowering to see the students teaching other students with such pride. Here are a few snap shots!

Just a little snippet into our current Social Studies learning!

Have a fabulous week of teaching and learning!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Holiday Happenings

     Yes, the holidays have come and gone, and we are now in a new year. Break was very relaxing and filled with memories. However, our third grade class had SO much fun before we left for winter break. Throughout the whole last week before break, we did many activities continuing to practice our skills in a "holiday" way. The kids had a ball.

     We have been working on writing informational texts for over a month. Students studied many mentor texts and crafted two polished informational books of a topic of their choice. They really rocked out this writing unit. I was so proud of their dedication and end products. During this last week, students were broken into small groups to research a country and how that country celebrated the winter holidays. They used their informational knowledge and research eye to construct a powerpoint or poster of this information. They then presented this information to our class at the end of the week. To guide their research in a kid friendly safe way, we used Kid Rex as our search engine. Kid Rex is a kid friendly safe search engine powered by Google.

At the end of the week, my sister-in-law came in to help us with our gingerbread house project. The kids adored this activity. Check out these smiling faces!

We have such amazing parents, and we got enough donations to let each student make their own. They did a great job! Later that afternoon before our holiday party, the students created a gingerbread man and wrote a piece about how to catch a gingerbread man! That was a wrap up to our Gingerbread Man book study.

Happy New Year! Have a great January friends!