Monday, February 20, 2012

Sharpened and Unsharpened Pencils

Well, I finally had the time to work on my sharpened and unsharpened pencil can project. My old ones were looking pretty bad, so I decided to do a make over. I don't let students sharpen their own pencils. I want keep my sharpener for as long as I can and I have found my method to work pretty well. I have a sharpened can and an unsharpened can and have found that this classroom management strategy works with my second graders. They know to make sure they have 2 sharpened pencils in the mornings. I try to keep the sharpened can as full as possible and when I see the unsharpened can getting full, I know it's time to sharpen again. It's amazing what some spray paint and foam letters will do!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

President's Day Learning

We have had a good time learning about President Lincoln and and Washington. One morning this week, I paired students with a fact sheet I compiled with interesting facts about George Washington and numbered each sentence with a 1 or a 2 and partnered each of my students. This way they practiced fluency as they read to each other. All week we have focused on these two amazing men of our past through literacy centers and other activities. Our centers included picture cards I found at Target while on vacation in Savannah, Georgia. They are awesome with great pictures on the front of each president and facts about each on the back. The kids love them every year. I had the students complete an information sheet after they pick their favorite president. They are often fascinated to find out information about the presidents and see what they look like. It also becomes real clear to them how many presidents we have actually had once they see them. Another presidental center I have is of a map of the United States that I saved from Weekly Reader one year. It shows a picture of each president and which state they are from. On Friday, we started off our day with this neat powerpoint from Youtube that I found on Pinterest. I will use this every year. It has great music and beat that the kids loved! I bet we listened to it 10 times yesterday morning. We also enjoyed doing part of this great free unit I found from Amy Lemons on TPT.

I plan to finish the activities as I go into a patriotic unit next week. Students loved the ABC order activity and President word find. We have been studying money the past two weeks, and we concluded it yesterday with a coin glyph in which they had to choose Washington or Lincoln and answer several questions through things they drew on the coin and how they decorated them.

Our day seemed to fly. After lunch we finished one of my favorite chapter books to read this time of the year, Chocolate Fever. After we finished reading it, students completed a character cube in which they answered questions about Henry, the main character. We also discussed how too much of a good thing can lead to unfortunate circumstances. It is so nice to be at this time of the year, when my second graders can sit and listen to a chapter book and create images in their mind. I have been able to read a couple of chapters each day and have learned to try and finish chapter books in 1 week so that students remember the book better. This has really helped with comprehension.

Second graders also assembled in the library for a NetSmartz program to talk about Internet safety. I was amazed to find out how many of our second graders have computers in their rooms and how many are on Facebook and how many get on the Internet without a parent close by. This really alarms me and tells me that I really need to caution them and help make their parents aware of what a dangerous place the Internet can be if they are not cautious. I have already let them watch a Brainpop video about this, but kids really think nothing bad can happen to them. Some are more mature about it and know not to give out important information about themselves, but I know others are not. It really scares me! We are in a whole new world now. I plan to draft a letter to parents this week explaining some saftey tips for them to use with their children.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Interactive Learning: 14 Ways to Keep Kids Engaged

It's that time of year again when the kids get antsy and can't keep still. So, I've been brainstorming ways to keep the kids engaged. They get so tired of staying inside during this cold weather. So, I've made me a cheat sheet to use during the day to make sure I don't keep them sitting too long and to keep them engaged during lessons.

1. Turn & Talk - Partner students before discussion/read aloud and have them turn and talk when you pose a question. Then you can ease around the room to see what they are thinking. (make notes to clarify, etc)
2. Thumbs up/down: When you pose a quick question, check for understanding with a quick thumbs up or down.
3. Math: Show me with fingers.
4. Tell me on the count of 3: Gives students thinking time
5. 1-2-3 Spelling: 1-Say the word. 2-Spell the word. 3-Say the word again (or write it).
6. Stand/Sit - For quick true/false or yes/no answers
7. Tell me with a whisper voice.
8. Look, lean, whisper: partner discussions/class discussions
9. Act out your answer.
10. Popsicle Sticks (Write numbers/student names on Popsicle sticks and remove when you call on a student. This will ensure you call on students equitably.
11. Spelling: Write 3 times - pencil, maker, crayon
12. Spelling Bee
13. Vocabulary Bee
14. Vocabulary Sticker Tally: Put words you are learning on a large card and each time the word is used in writing, speaking, etc. a sticker is placed on the card and when it is filled, the word is retired.