Monday, April 28, 2014

Diamondback Day Field Trip

Our final field trip of the year was hot and crowded but lots of fun! We spent most of the day at Salt River Fields for Diamondback Day, a special event for K-4 classrooms.
We broke off into small groups and students had opportunities to pet an alligator, a lizard and a snake, build three dimensional shapes and play a virtual reality baseball game. Some students also watched a 3D movie about ocean life!
Some students participated in homerun derby...
...while others pitched to a giant, inflatable D-Bax catcher.
Later in the day we were lucky to get shaded seats and enjoyed eating lunch while watching various shows on the field including hip-hop dancers, D-Baxter catapulting baseballs, races and a video about the science of baseball. 
Thanks again to our wonderful parent volunteers for making this day of baseball possible! 

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Publishing Our Own Writing Prompts

We have been doing a LOT of writing this year in 1st and 2nd grade! We often use the app Things To Think About for inspiration for a writing prompt or idea. Things To Think About is a free iPad app that offers 100 writing prompts created by students for students. The prompts were created by 2nd through 5th grade students in Jackson County, Michigan. The app itself was built by two high school students in the same county.
My students were very intrigued by this student created project and suggested we might do something similar. Using a Google form each student came up with several writing prompts. We then discussed the prompts and revised them.
When students had finalized their work, they printed their writing prompt and glued it to a piece of paper. Then, they illustrated the paper to match the prompt. 
Once each student had created their own writing prompt, students worked in small groups to photograph the images, crop them, upload them and insert them into a Google Presentation. We made the presentation public so anyone can use our writing prompts! I love doing projects like this with the class because it incorporates traditional skills with 21st Century Learning. Instead of just creating a book of writing prompts for our class, we are now able to share it with an authentic audience - the entire world! Click here to access the class writing prompts! 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

National Writing Contest Winner

A few months ago, the entire class participated in a writing activity. Each student wrote a brief essay about kindness, and then illustrated his or her thoughts. I entered all essays in the Be Kind People Project National Writing Contest and one of our very own students was one of the first place winners! Congratulations to Shyla for this wonderful victory! She will be honored at the PVUSD Governing Board Meeting next Thursday. It was so nice to see the joyful and congratulatory reaction of the class when I announced this big news. We certainly have a kind group of students and I am proud of all of them!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Student Generated Spelling List

The spelling list this week was created by the class!
Last week we took a "field trip" and scoured the hallways looking for appropriate spelling words. 
 Some students took photographs of the words they found and some students wrote them down. 
When we returned to the classroom, each student filled out a Google form, letting me know the words words they thought should appear on our spelling list this week.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Build Your Wild Self Writing Project

Students Pose With the Character They Created To Represent Themselves
After a long week of testing, the class was ready for something fun and creative! 
Students Pose With Their "Wild" Characters

We went to the website Build Your Wild Self and let our imaginations go loose! The site allows you customize a person by using various human features and animal parts. It is fun and intuitive to use, allows for a lot of creativity and it's FREE! First, each student created a character to look like them, and then they created wild characters! 
When they were finished creating characters, they emailed the images to themselves. Then they went into their Google drive and began writing a story incorporating their new characters. Next week we will finish up this project by polishing up our stories and inserting the images into the document to use for illustrations.
At the very end of the day my 2nd grade students reflected on their week of standardized testing. We discussed what was easy, what was a challenge and they gave my 1st grade students advice for next year. The students took the tests very seriously and managed to work quietly at their desks for the majority of the week. I know they were bored and found the test easy, but they did a great job and we are excited to be FINISHED! The results will be mailed to your home during the summer. We took a few minutes to express our joy and excitement in the video below.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Surface Tension With Bubble Windows

We learned about surface tension by creating bubble windows in Science Class!
Students created the bubble solution using dish soap, water and corn syrup and then they worked with a small group to build a tool that would display the window using straws and string. Then each student took turns creating a "window" and recording observations with their group.
We learned that water is made up of lots of tiny molecules. The molecules are attracted to each other and stick together very closely to create a force called surface tension.
When we finished with the bubble window part of the experiment, each student took a turn blowing some traditional bubbles with a wand. We discussed the differences between the two forms of bubbles.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Testing Week

This week will be very different than all our other weeks so I wanted to give everyone an idea of what to expect. 
First of all there will be NO HOMEWORK all week. Yes, you heard me right - no homework!
The desks have been rearranged for the week and students will be sitting in traditional rows. Any "helpful" posters on the wall that explain anything of an academic nature will be covered or taken down.
We will not be starting any new concepts this week. Tomorrow we will continue to review and will also spend some time talking about test-taking strategies and tips. This is the first big standardized test most (if not all) of the students have taken so I want to make sure they are adequately prepared. Already a few students have expressed how nervous and worried they are so I am going to talk about ways to stay calm and put their minds at ease. 
Our testing days are Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. AIMS testing also begins this week so it is important for us to be quiet in the classroom, in the hallway and at lunch. Students will be expected to behave appropriately during SAT 10 testing and there will be little leeway for a student that decides to test the limits. We will discuss this thoroughly in class! Following is a video a class I had a few years ago created with some helpful testing tips.
Tips for home...
*Make sure your student gets a good night of sleep the nights before the tests.
*Make sure your student has a good, hearty breakfast that day. We will still be having our morning snack, so send a good one! Fruit, cheese, something with protein - all excellent choices! 
*Get to school in plenty of time that day. This is not a good day to miss the bus or arrive at school late. If a student arrives after we have started the testing he or she will not be allowed in the classroom until we are finished and will have to make up the test on another day, in a different classroom with another teacher. 
*If your student has a dentist, doctor, etc. appointment on testing days, please reschedule if possible! If a student is dismissed during the day, he or she will not be allowed back in the classroom that day and will have to make up the test. 
*Keep the morning as smooth and stress free as possible. 
I think that's everything! Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. 
Have a super week!