Wednesday, September 9, 2015

In Love With Inquiry

That's right....I'm in love.  I'm in love with the questions, the connections, the thinking, and the completely engaged 2nd graders!  My school is working towards STEM certification, and there is a huge emphasis on inquiry and integration.  This book by Harvey and Daniels has been a great resource for implementing inquiry in my classroom.  
This book is loaded with great information and great lessons.  You seriously need to get a copy.   I used the small group inquiry model to create an inquiry plan for our grade level.  We wanted an inquiry that we could tie into our standards about the Georgia regions, and after reading this great post from Mrs. Wideen's Blog,  I knew I wanted to model the first inquiry.  You can check out the plan here.  Jen over at The Go To Teacher has some amazing inquiry charts and resources that you MUST check out!
With all these great resources in hand we were ready to investigate!  

We started with wondering and observing.  We noticed the trees around the school had been cut down to build a new neighborhood, and we wondered how this might affect the animals that lived there.  We learned how to read with a question in mind. We asked more questions and conducted research. In the end we decided to focus on frog and toad habitat loss.

We talked to experts,

collaborated and shared our findings on an interactive map,

and came up with a plan to take action by creating a toad habitat in our school garden!

Now we just need some toads to find their new home!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Space Talk

I have quite a chatty class this year.  And by chatty I mean they never stop talking : )  Luckily talking, otherwise known as speaking and listening, is one of the CCSS standards, so we have been working hard on purposeful talk.  We use these great Accountable Talk Posters from Tina's Teaching Treasures to help us frame our conversations, and today we talked about space.

To get my kiddos engaged, we did a See, Think, Wonder activity from Making Thinking Visible.  If you haven't heard of this book you need to check it out!  It's great for promoting higher level thinking.  

I put the image below up on the active board,  and guided my kids through these questions:

SEE -What do you see? What observations can you make about this image?
THINK - What do you think?  What can you infer about the image?  Why do you think that?
WONDER - What do you wonder?  What questions do you have after looking at this picture?

This picture of Buzz Aldrin's moon boot got everyone talking - purposefully!  It was a great way to get our brain ready for an interactive read aloud of Moonshot the story of the flight of Apollo 11.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Techie Tuesday

Conquering the open number line and other math strategies

We have been busy using the open number line to solve our math problems.  The kids are getting the hang of it!  It's amazing to see the depth of their number sense when they apply different addition and subtraction strategies, but it can be tricky, and sometimes confusing for the parents.  

That's why I love Explain Everything!  This app lets your parents see what their kids are learning with one simple click.  In no time at all you can make a quick tutorial to help your students and their parents!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Teacher Nerd Bookshelf

What I'm Reading Right Now

Like any true teacher nerd, I have spent some time looking over Hattie's ranking, and my current obsession, formative assessment, is ranked number 4.  That means that on my nightstand next to my highlighter and my post-it flags, you will find these books.

Here's a highlight:
"Probably the most accurate marker of classrooms where learning targets and criteria are shared effectively is that students can explain, when asked, what it is that they are supposed to do, and why"

High-engagement classroom environments appear to have a significant impact on student when teachers allow students to choose whether to participate or not - for example, by allowing them to raise their hands to show they have an answer - the are actually making the achievement gap worse, because those who are participating are getting smarter, while those avoiding the engagement are forgoing the opportunities to increase their ability.  That is why many teachers now employ a rule of 'no hands up except to ask a question' in their classrooms."

Another way the author suggests to increase engagement is using all-student response systems.  My school is a BYOT school, and when I was in 5th grade, we used 

 on our devices.  With my little guys, I don't have as many devices, so we go old school.  A few years ago I had a shower board cut into 5x6 mini whiteboards, and viola,
Instant feedback!


Let's just say the Home Depot guy may or may not have been super excited about my student response system for formative assessment...


Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Flurry of STEM!

Things are really busy over here!  We have been having tons of fun with our matter unit.  

We observed all three states of matter when we watched the life cycle of our snowman. I saw this great idea over at The Frugal Teacher, and it was  a huge hit!  The kids were so excited when they met our special visitor.  

We made observations, measured, and collected our data all day.

You know how the story ends.  It is not a happy ending, super scientist came to the conclusion that our new friend will always be floating among us - as a gas!  

After observing the three states of matter, we investigated how matter changes with a snow lab.  We talked about physical changes and chemical changes, and then we did some exploring with instasnow

Monday, January 5, 2015

Civil Rights Read Alouds

We have been digging into some great texts during our unit on Civil Rights.  Here are the highlights!

This text is great for focusing on RL3. Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.

As we read we wrote down what we noticed about the main character's traits and supported our thinking with evidence from the text.

 We watched this video to build background knowledge and assess SL2. It's also a great text to teach point of view and character traits.  Click the pics below to download a formative assessment to go with this read aloud, or pull in a primary document by looking at a real Green Book!


This is a great text for RL7 acknowledging differences in the points of view of characters.  This great interactive is perfect for understanding different points of view

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Techie Tuesday

Ten Marks Shout Out

This year I have been working really hard on guided math in my room.  I give quick weekly pre-assessments and make my small groups based on what the kids need.  I also have stations that include games, journals, fluency practice, and technology.  

I recently started using the site Ten Marks for my technology station, and I. Am. In. Love.  

Not only does it allow you to give your students assignments based on the CCSS, and track their progress.  It also has built in video lessons your students can use if they need help!  

I mean I'm just sayin', if there's a teacher that can pop up on the computer and help my kids if they have a question or are confused about a math problem, I'm in.  For sure.

If you haven't heard about his great online program that is free, that's right, F-R-E-E, then you need to check it out right now.

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