Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Active Learning Ideas!

This time of year we can capitalize on our student's independence, understanding, and academic maturity!  With all that greatness comes a little too much familiarity of routine for some.  We are always on the search for new and exciting ways to infuse novelty into our daily routine!  Here are some ways to get students actively learning in writing, science, and math!

One of my all time favorite ways to get students interested in a new topic is to conduct a museum walk.  If you've been reading this blog awhile, you may have heard me share about it before.   The idea is that I set out pictures or artifacts about our new topic of study.

This time, I set out pictures of living things and non-living things.  I don't tell students much except that they will museum walk around the room while the music is playing.  (Hands behind back and no talking)  When the music stops they can stop at any table and use any marker to write a statement and a question about a picture of choice.

Most students start looking for connections or a reason all of these particular pictures are out together.  Some just enjoy it and write what they see without any further thought, but all of them are engaged in the task and responsible for participating in their own way!

Interactive writing is such a powerful way for students to communicate and learn from each other.  Students still refer to things that classmates wrote because they remember being a part of the process together. 

Our next step was to realize that some of the items on the tables were living things and some of the items were non-living.  This discovery happens naturally and causes a bit of buzz.  Students that didn't initially make the connection start thinking about what they saw and confirming if this is true.

We take it further by writing what makes something a living thing.
My students were stuck at first after naming only one trait of living things.  We watched a short video and then all hands were up and the kids were begging to get in on the writing.

Next I introduced our living and non-living interactive book.  My students cheered because it has been awhile since we have done one of these.   The last one we did was our interactive weather book in January!

Underneath the human's needs picture one little sweetie simply wrote, "sleep".  It's rough returning from spring break!  We were all ready to take a nap! 

In the world of math we are always excited about hands on or game style activities.  These two activities are just what the mathematicians ordered to get students up and excited about solving addition and subtraction problems!

This game in the picture below is called chip clip.  I have a stack of "bags of chips" with both addition and subtraction on them.  I also have 4 chip clips with the sums and differences.  Students race the timer to take a bag of chips and solve by placing it under the chip clip that has the correct answer.  I mix not only addition and subtraction, but easy and difficulty.
What I love about this activity is that you can watch what strategies your students naturally use to solve the math problems. 

Best. Thinkers. Ever.

After students finish racing the timer and declare their victory, we check the answers.  When an entire stack was correct we clipped it to the answer.  This comes from my picnic pals unit.

Another game just like this one in simplicity and fun is from my MATH STICKS unit.  It is called Popsicle stick!

I wrote a variety of addition and subtraction problems on sticks and students had to race the timer to solve.  They place the popsicle stick on the correct mat like a finished ice cream.  They begged to do this game over and over!  It will definitely be going in a math tub next week!

What fun things do you use to keep your students excited and actively learning? 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Peek at My Week March 23

My spring break has come to a close so I am back with a peek at my week!  The basic flow to this post will be objective followed by the resource I will use to cover the topic.  I hope it is of help to you in your planning!

First up, phonics!
 Every week we use all the activities in these phonics units.  I like to say this particular sound by tilting my head to the side and pretending I just saw the sweetest thing.  "awwwww"

 Our reading comprehension focus for the week
 As you will see, we are beginning our studies on living and non-living, so Sylvester and the Magic Pebble makes a great story to discuss how he is a living thing, then a rock (non-living) and back to a donkey (living) This book study also covers plot with a cute rock organizer so it's a perfect fit.

While I am teaching my guided reading groups...
 One new thing that I was able to create during spring break, is the newest of the story starters: April. These will go on my writing center table starting next week.

 For guided math, we will be diving back into graphs with a deeper knowledge this time around!

I created this graph pack during vacation for a well rounded, student centered, unit to help us meet our objectives!

 In science, we are working on living and non-living this week.

I just finished this 3 dimensional book of interactive activities to help us with all our studies!
 In writing, we will practice opinion writing.
 Thankfully I pulled out this beauty to help us!
 We will make an interactive writing piece first in the pocket chart and then students will be able to choose from 20 different opinion cards and get after it!
Well it sure is a FULL week of objectives!  I'll check back with you on how we cover all this!  How's your week shaping up?  Have you gotten your break yet?  Have a great week!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Howdy Partners! Come Take A Tour of our Texas Studies!

With the help of my teamie, Cheryl Martin, we saddled up and took a week long learning tour of Texas!  I first taught this unit last year when I joined Cheryl's team and fell head over heels for it!

  First, we kicked off our Texas studies with a Texas Symbols power point!
Here's just a few of the slides we watched together. 

After we watched the slideshow, students created their very own Symbols of Texas booklet.  It was a terrific way to include note taking too!  They begged to watch the slideshow every single day.  This book was done together at first and then independently once they understood the procedure. 

We also took a tour of Texas and as we traveled around the state, we colored and glued the Texas symbols, crops, and resources along the way!   The book, Tumbleweed Tom on the Texas Trail, is a perfect fit for this lesson!

 We took one day to learn about the Alamo and showcase our state footwear, small mammal, insect, and flower in a fabulous Alamo foldable.

To say that the students were proud of their work is an understatement! 
 We also learned more about our Texas flag by comparing it to the U.S. flag that we know and love.

This flag activity is a freebie!  You can get it by clicking the cover below! It will take you to Cheryl's store!  Be sure to follow her and leave feedback!
 We ended our week with the Tastes of Texas when we indulged in frito pie, grapefruit, and Dr. Pepper!  You better believe I was called the best teacher ever more than once when I handed them a sip of soda during class.   Thanks Cheryl!!!
 Thursday evening we had our First Grade Program which was All About Texas! 
 If you are a Texas teacher and want these activities plus many more I didn't even show you, you have to check out Cheryl's new store! 

Texas Trinkets is the integrated unit with many activities all about Texas
 Symbols of Texas is the Texas Symbols slide show and student booklet

You can get both of these units for a bundled discount if you purchase the Texas Duet!
Happy trails to you and your students!