Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Weather and Climate: Meteorology Handbook

I just completed another "labor of love." You know when I say that, I really mean "It was a heck of a lot of work to put this together and finalize it." Alas though, we are in the midst of launching our weather unit and I thought since my Human Body Systems Encyclopedia and my Force and Motion Illustrated Dictionary are such a hit with students, why not put all of our Weather and Climate vocabulary into one handbook. I know students will love the opportunity to create illustrations.

The download includes 10 Handbook pages and the nifty coverpage. What concepts are included? Glad you asked :)

Pg 3: Coverpage
Pg 4: Left intentionally blank
Pg 5: Meteorologist Photograph (students can draw themselves as a meteorologist)
Pg 6: “Introduction to Weather” vocabulary words
Pg 7: “Weather Tools”
Pg 8: “The water Cycle”
Pg 9: “Types of Clouds”
Pg 10: “Introduction to Climate”
Pg 11: “Global wind Patterns”
Pg 12: “Weather Phenomena”
Pg 13: “Types of Fronts”
Pg 14: “Describing Weather”
Pg 15: “Reading a Weather Map”

I hope to check in later this week to share a few more {free}weather resources and ideas with you. Happy teaching!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Social Studies through FREEDOM and OPPRESSION

Are you capitalizing on every opportunity to teach your students about theme? Could conceptual lenses raise the level of the work your students do in social studies and help you meet some of your literacy goals? What is the purpose of a conceptual lens?

A CONCEPTUAL LENS NARROWS THE SCOPE AND PROVIDES DEEPER FOCUSES FOR CURRICULUM. It provides a reciprocal relationship between CONTENT learning and CONCEPTUAL levels of thinking. Conceptual lenses provide direction for the kinds of thinking that will be accomplished during a unit of study.

I got super-excited this year as I began teaching THEMES through my social studies instruction. Teaching through a conceptual lens has been the biggest shift in my social studies instruction this year and I believe it has made a huge difference. As students think about historical events through different lenses, they are learning to recognize patterns and make connections that transfer beyond social studies and that specific time period. In addition, this helps me FOCUS the materials I choose to use during the unit. 

One of the beauties of a theme or lens is that these "big ideas" can also be found as important themes in literature. Therefore, by teaching through a focused lens in social studies, you are providing students with opportunities to access literacy concepts and skills across the curriculum.

To begin my instruction with conceptual lenses, I decided that US History (and surely every other history) boils down to FREEDOM and OPPRESSION, and within that, a struggle for power. I decided that freedom and oppression would be my overarching themes for social studies this year.
These posters are currently hanging on a bulletin board in my classroom to remind students of these themes. 

Here's a basic outline of how I launched our yearlong theme and goal for social studies --thinking through FREEDOM and OPPRESSION:
Another option would be to use a book like Encounter by Jane Yolen and chart examples of freedom and oppression from both the point of view of the Spaniards and the natives.

I decided to think through the larger chunks of US History and come up with themes that are threaded through those time periods that could be used as conceptual lenses. Here's a peak at some of the other themes/conceptual lenses I came up with: 


Not only did I make these theme definitions for bulletin boards or to pull up on smartboards, I also created student journal definition pages. These are 4 to a page, so you can easily copy them and have students glue them into their notebooks. We put our freedom/oppression definitions on the first page so that we could continue to look back and reflect on how our current study relates to freedom and oppression.

I got so excited about conceptual lenses that I decided to also make fold-ables to go with the themes. 

(My conceptual lenses include: freedom, power, oppression, change, causes, effects, compromise, propaganda, conflict, perceptions, relationships, assimilation, revolution, independence, government, democracy, ideals, beliefs, advancement, division, discord, movement, equality, injustice, influence, prosperity, crisis, being responsible, wants, needs, educated decision, innovation, interconnectedness, globalization) You can find both of these products on TPT

Monday, October 14, 2013

~October Currently~Pumpkin Personalities!~

Yes, it is October...actually, we are almost 1/2 way through October. Where did this month go? Anywhoo--I love love love fall. Something about the leaves and the air and all of the pumpkins, but I don't enjoy the lack of daylight or the yucky weather we have been having this past week. We started our 2nd week back from Fall Break today and it has been nothing but wet and dreary. I believe we have had 1 day where we were able to go out for recess. Boo!

I wanted to do currently a couple of times this month, but I never sat down to get to it! Alas!

Listening: I'm sure you have heard this song, but if not:
This song makes me happy! "Even if the sky is falling down, I know that we'll be safe and sound!"

LOOOOOOVING: I broke up with my personal trainer. I had to cut the cord (it's waaaayyyy too expensive.) Last week, I joined the local gym--$27 a month. I can handle that. It's been a struggle to get my butt in the gym and kick my own tail...Today, I got dressed for the gym at school and subconsciously drove RIGHT PAST the road that the gym is on. I was really mad at myself for staying too late at school and not feeling the gym...and then passing it on by. Well, I decided I would punish myself with a run around the neighborhood and made it through a 45 minute run! Success today...

Thinking: I have been wanting to tell you about my amazing Fall Break vacations. I took two Carolina beach  trips, one to Charleston, SC and one to Nags Head, NC. I had the best company in the world (sweet bf <3) and we had perfect everything--weather, food, moods, sight-seeing, relaxation, no-work-just-enjoying-life. I got to visit Fort Sumter for the first time (pre-govt shutdown) and enjoyed a few art museums. Best of all, 1st vacation together, 4 days alone, no fights. :)

Wanting: shower (stinky from run), dinner (see "hangry" below :), shopping (new season throwing me off), weekend (self-explanatory :)

Needing: This weekend, I decided that the only things I needed in life were 1) food (I eat every 2.5 hours, and if I don't, I start to get a little "hangry."), 2) affection (I love love right now:) 3) sleep. I was feeling a little philosophical, but I think this list prioritizes life pretty well (throw in a little money, and life is good). In addition, more hours in the day would be great. I would love to have MORE time to "fill my potential" AND just be a lazy bum sometimes that floats around enjoying life!
 Trick or Treat: This would be a great treat for your students. Recently, I put together my "Pumpkin Personalities" Character Traits product for TPT. I've done a fun "Pumpkin Personalities" unit in my classroom since my first year. Here's the basic process you go through:

Unfortunately, I can't find any great pictures of our pumpkins, but I was able to find a few that give you an idea of what the project is like.

Happy October everyone! 
I wish you all tons of food, affection, and sleep :) 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

My Article was Published on a National Blog!!! Resiliency in the Classroom!

Wow! I am so super busy, but I wanted to share with you some exciting news. Recently, my principal asked me if I would like to write an article on resiliency for ASCD. ASCD promotes "whole child" education. The organization believes that "Each child, in each school, in each of our communities deserves to be healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. That's what a whole child approach to learning, teaching, and community engagement really is."

I hope you will head over to ASCD to read my article titled "Why Resilience is Critical in a Learning Environment." Right now, it is at the top of the main blog page! I just had to pinch myself!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Word Study Routine and Tips~Words their Way

Words Their Way, check out the foundational text by the same name. To see an example of the developmental spelling inventory, check out this tutorial from Pearsontraining.

In the past few years, I have tried different things, but worked to simplify the process of having too many groups, word lists, and activities for students to complete. I have also worked to find routine activities that remind students of the purpose of word study~that the spelling learning should transfer into our actual writing! I have found that students' spelling deteriorates when word study is dropped from the classroom (maybe students think you don't think spelling is important at that point?) and that if I can get my routines together, students actually have a lot of fun during word study.

Keep in mind that the routines and ideas I describe below are from the upper elementary perspective. Of course, modifications and scaffolding may be necessary for lower grades and weaker spellers.

Tip # 1: Stop planning Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri routines and think of your word study activities as a cycle. Students cycle through all activities for each word list. This shift in thinking helped me tons--our schedule gets interrupted, so teaching students "This is what we do on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday," was really always an issue. Now, I have a seven day cycle of activities for students, including a few whole group days where we work together. How do I keep up with where we are? I have a chart showing each groups' assignment for the day. We move a sticky note that says "We are Here!" each day. This also gives us the freedom to have "off" days where we do something else with our word study time.

Although we might take a week and a half to cycle through the activities for one word list, we value word study more because we know ALL of the routines are going to happen for that word list. When we are almost at the end of a quarter or a long break, I start staggering groups out of word study.

Here's my current word study cycle of activities (and it feels "successful" most of the time):
Day 1} Complete "Blind" Word Search and try to deduce current word sort rule or pattern. If you are familiar with Words Their Way, then you know that a "blind sort" is an activity where students sort the words into categories (and write them down) as they hear them called out. It's called BLIND because they are not looking at the words. By doing this "blind searching" through a word search, students have a fun way of figuring out their word pattern focus for the word study cycle. The word search WORD searching is an engaging, fun way for students to discover some of their words and sharpen their ability to recognize words that are spelled correctly (a major key to spelling improvement). Students also demonstrate their understanding of sorting by sound and/or look when they record the words they have found into categories. (Students have the word searches glued into their notebooks and MUST record the words as they find them by SORTING the words into categories)

Tip # 2: Once you assess students and decide which lists they will start with, make copies of the word searches they will need for the quarter and spend a session helping students glue the word searches into their notebooks. I save 2-3 pages between each word search for word work and for "Meet with the Teacher." Remind students to keep the word searches in order as they glue them!

Tip # 3: You can work with your lower group before they do Word Search day. This gives them exposure to the word patterns they will be working with and hopefully a boost of confidence as they search for their words. If you have younger students and want them to have a copy of the words, just give them the word list from the Word Study books, but I strongly encourage you to consider giving them a few words to get them started and then have them search for the patterns, rather than spoon-feeding them the whole list.

Day 2} Meet with the Teacher (includes sorting words, discussing word patterns/rules and word meanings, etc.)With average/higher groups, I ask what words they found in their word search and we sort them into categories on a white board. Sometimes I will provide them with other words they should have found, but hearing what their group members found gives them clues about what else to look for.

Tip # 4: The lower groups just need practice, practice, practice, and immediate feedback. When these kiddos meet with the teacher, I give them a white board, marker, and eraser and fire off words at them from the list they are on and from previous lists. We often have to focus on short sounds vs long sounds, words with double vowel patterns, and making sure we have represented all of the sounds found in the words.

Tip # 5: For your struggling spellers, try using compound words that still fit the patterns they are studying. This allows them to practice DOUBLE the words and will allow them to feel like they are working on words just as large as other groups in the class.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...