Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer Reading List

I am happy to see this topic on Teaching Happily Ever After's blog as a blog hop!! Just yesterday morning I participated in Littlest Learners's linky party about our summer to-do lists, and just from reading other bloggers lists, it inspired me to add more to mine (maybe that is not a good thing... haha!).

I LOVE reading, so my to-read list is always extensive. Actually, you should be friends with me on Goodreads!! Now that I have my first job for the fall, I am trying to read more professional teaching books so I can get many perspectives and decide what I want to do in my own classroom!

So, without further ado, here is my summer reading list.
  1. The Daily Five - I have peeked in this book, and I have seen the Daily Five in action, but I need to sit down this summer and really read it. I think the structure would suit my crazy multiage reading situation that I will have in the fall.
  2. The Book Whisperer - I read about this in What's the Buzz in 1st's blog a few days ago, and when I looked up some reviews, it really drew me in. I just picked it up from the library yesterday and I can't wait to get started.
  3. Math Work Stations - I'm excited about the book club this summer!
  4. The Foundations of Dual Language Instruction - I forgot to write this in my summer to-do list, but I am taking my first class this summer to earn my ESL certification! This is my textbook. I am really excited to read it and I have already paged through it. The district where I student taught has a very high ESL population and I felt really "called" to teach students such as those who lived in the district. I'm really happy that I can finally start working toward that goal!
  5. The Excellent Eleven - I really enjoyed this author's book, The Essential 55, and when I was at the library yesterday, this caught my eye! I should probably reread The Essential 55 as well.
  6. Readicide - I'm not sure if I will get to this one over the summer, but I definitely would like to! Just like the Book Whisperer, this book deconstructs typical reading instruction and focuses on getting students to really love to read. This is SUPER important to me!
Do you think that's enough to keep me busy over the summer?? :)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Linky Party - Summer To-Do List!

I am so excited to participate in my first linky party!! All the other linky parties I have come across ask questions about your classroom, and since I'll be in my first classroom starting in August, I never had anything to contribute! :( But now, Littlest Learners is hosting a party about our summer to-do lists! I definitely have something to say about that. I even already have a to-do list going!

1. Figure out the classroom theme I want to have. As a new teacher, I don't have anything, so I would need to buy or acquire everything for my theme. I have been leaning towards a beach theme, since we are starting in the middle of August, but I keep looking at other people's classrooms and changing my mind!!
2. Fix a broken overhead projector that I just picked up yesterday. As much as I would LOVE a SmartBoard for my classroom, my school just doesn't have the money for it... as a matter of fact, we don't even have overheads! My lovely sister, who is a librarian in a public school, had a couple of broken overheads and her principal said I could take one of them and try to fix it for myself. So now I have an overheating projector that hopefully someone can fix over the summer...
3. Participate in the Math Work Stations book club! I really need to read this book. I'll have a multiage first/second grade classroom in the fall, and I'll be teaching math to each group separately. While I'm working with the individual grade levels, the other students will definitely need some math work to do. I hope this book helps me out a ton! I am so excited to start. I just got an email yesterday that my book was shipped!!

4. Level my classroom library (and also visit TONS of garage sales to build my library!). Over the past few summers, I've acquired a pretty good number of books, which are all sitting in boxes in my basement waiting for a home! Also, the teacher whose job I'll have next year is retiring and I THINK she is leaving her huge library for me... I will have to verify that this week. The thing is that our reading program doesn't do "leveled books" - but I think I will level them anyway and benchmark test the students. I want them to love reading and have books they know they can be successful with!

5. Read a lot of teaching books, but specifically the Daily Five book that I recently bought. Just like I said in #3 up there, I will need the Daily Five structure to keep my students working independently while I work with the other half of the classroom. I've seen the Daily Five work really well in classrooms, so I am very excited!!
6. Figure out some interventions for a student that I may or may not have next school year. He is a very sweet boy, but he has an extremely difficult time focusing, staying in his seat, listening, and so on. I'm not sure if he has an IEP or has been tested for anything, but regardless, I'd like to find some strategies I can try out in the classroom. Does anyone have experience with a student like mine? I'd love any feedback or ideas that have worked for you!

I'm sure as the summer comes, I will think of MANY more things to do! But for now, those are the really big things that I NEED to get done for sure. Yay for linky parties!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Illinois Butterflies Workshop

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend an AWESOME workshop held at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago.
The workshop was called Illinois Butterflies and not only did it teach me about the native butterflies to my area, but the facilitators also gave us fantastic hands-on lesson plans and activities to teach about butterfly adaptations, insect body parts, how insects see things, and so on. The museum also features a Butterfly Haven where you can walk in a humid room filled with beautiful tropical butterflies!
Here is the edible insect I made that can help teach about body parts! You can see the head, thorax, and abdomen, as well as the insect's legs, complex eyes, and antennae!
The other teachers at my table made cool insects, too. The facilitators encouraged us to make our edible insects using any materials we wanted - so many turned out differently. Clearly mine was the most simple...

Later, we got to visit the Butterfly Haven. It was so interesting in there! I think it would be a great place to take students on a field trip. AND! They said if you raise butterflies in your classroom, they encourage you to bring your new butterflies to their haven to release them (instead of releasing them near your school).

After we walked through the Butterfly Haven, we saw the chrysalises that the butterflies come out of. Butterfly farms from a wide variety of tropical regions send chrysalises to the museum. I saw some from Suriname and Malaysia, to name a few places. As soon as they shed their chrysalis, they are released into the Haven!

It was an awesome workshop run by the staff of the nature museum as well as the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. I can't wait for next year so I can teach all about insects!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fancy Fish

Ever since I've been done with my seventh/eighth grade experience, I've been subbing in a few different school districts. I like to take extras of the student's worksheets and look through the "extra" bins for ideas too. Today, the Kindergarten teacher I subbed for had a cute little art-y project that I did with the students, and I snagged some of the materials so I can do it in the future!

The project was based the book Fish Eyes by Lois Ehlert.
It is a very cute and simple counting book. It has a ton of very colorful illustrations and was a good fit for the Kindergarteners. Even though they insisted that they had already read it, they still enjoyed a reread.

After I read the book, I introduced the activity. The students received a tan fish template which they needed to decorate, glue onto a white paper, and finish the pre-written sentence: My fish is __________. We brainstormed different kinds of fish that they could make - fancy, colorful, striped, polka-dotted... they came up with some good ideas! Then they got to working.
This was the teacher's sample picture.
And this is a bad picture of some of the students' work. They did a great job of covering the whole fish with color, and none of their fish looked alike!

The students really enjoyed this activity, and I will definitely be hanging on to the templates if I do an ocean unit in the future!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Last Day AND Good News!!

Today was a great day in my life!

It started out with a party my students threw for me because it was my last day as their long-term sub.
Their teacher had a baby back in March and she will be back tomorrow. I brought doughnuts and orange juice for the kids, and they brought a cake, chips, and cookies for everybody! They also hid in the science lab where they had blown up balloons and written messages to me on the whiteboard. This would have been surprising if I didn't see them sneaking in there as I was walking down the hall... haha!
Here is my ice-cream cake!

One student also brought his Wii with Just Dance and Wii Sports so it was a pretty exciting morning for the kids as they threw balloons at each other and danced like crazy people.

So close to the right spelling... as least they got the 2 Fs in there.

Right after that, they went to Art and I went down to the principal's office to sign my contract for next year!! I am officially going to be the first/second grade teacher in the school! I will probably only have 12 students, so we'll be a close group. :) I'll be piloting a new reading program next year, Superkids, and the principal ordered first and second grade sample kits for me to peruse in my free time! I can't WAIT until they get here!!

Also, when I looked in the room I'll have for next year, I noticed that the current first/second grade teacher doesn't have a "carpet" area where I've seen teachers do whole-group instruction and read-alouds. I'd really like to rearrange to room to account for a carpet area, and I was really wanting a whiteboard easel to write on and display big books and such. Today, when I mentioned this to the teacher next door, she graciously offered me her whiteboard easel that is just taking up space in her room!!

So, all in all, it was a fabulous day! I will really miss those seventh and eighth graders though!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Solar Cookers and Mother's Day

I only have one more day left of my seventh/eighth grade experience. :(

To wrap up our science chapter, the students designed and built their own solar cookers! This first stemmed from our lesson on alternatives to fossil fuels. Solar energy was one of the many alternatives we studied. To introduce this project, I showed the students a video about the Kyoto Box. Before watching the video, the students thought that the benefits of solar energy were the inexpensiveness and the renewable nature of the sun. But after watching the video, we learned that solar energy can be used in underdeveloped countries because of their lack of electricity, the abundance of sunlight, and the increase in safety of the people.

Today the students brought in their cookers, and we tested them by making s'mores.
One eighth grader used a magnifying glass to increase the effect of the sun and a mirror to reflect it back.
Another eighth grader made a bowl-like top to focus the sun on her s'more. 
A seventh grader put a pan inside of his and used black paper on the bottom to absorb the sun.

I was so impressed by their hard work and unique designs! We invited the other classrooms in the building to come out and see our cookers. The students had prepared short presentations to explain, especially to the younger students, why we made the cookers, what purpose they serve, and how they work to cook food.

This eighth grader even got onto the ground with the first and second graders to show them how his magnifying glass helped the marshmallow cook faster.

Overall, it was a huge success! The marshmallows cooked, everyone enjoyed their delicious s'mores, and I was so happy that the students worked so hard and were so proud of their own work.

While we were outside babysitting our cookers, we made Mother's Day gifts. Each of the students made magazine marble magnets and gave their moms two tea bags. A friend of my mom's has a die-cut machine and cut us these cute little boxes.
It was a great Friday filled with projects and crafts! For the end of Teacher Appreciation Week, the PTP made us a great teacher luncheon, and they took over our classes for the afternoon so all of the teachers left at noon. What a nice way to feel appreciated. :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo

Today was Cinco de Mayo, and in my inner-first-grade-teacher fashion, I decided to forego the Social Studies book for today and focus on the Battle of Puebla instead.

After we talked about the purpose of the celebration today, we viewed and learned about the woodcarvings of unique animals and creatures made in the state of Oaxaca, in Mexico. The students created their own pictures reminiscent of the very colorful folk art.

Our flowers that we planted on Earth Day are growing amazingly! We just planted them two weeks ago today.
And we got more things for Teacher Appreciation Week! The PTP ordered special A+ cookies for us, and gave us glass containers (that have our school's name on it and a cute teacher quote) filled with kisses!
(I got a little hungry on my way up the stairs... haha!)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Comic Strip Summaries

Over the weekend, I was looking at our upcoming Social Studies section and realizing that it was over ten pages long with a TON of information in it. I knew that if I had the students read the section alone and answer questions, there was no way they were going to take it all in or remember it at all! So I decided to take a different route - which also allowed me to incorporate an important reading strategy!

I split the class into three groups, assigned each group a subsection, and asked them to read it together. Afterwards, they summarized the section in the four most important events and created a four-panel comic strip illustrating their subsection.
This worked out really well. None of the students had more than three or four pages to read, and they were able to find the important pieces and illustrate them. When they were finished, we attached them to the side chalkboard and they presented their comic strips. We'll leave the strips up through the test so that the students can review the section quickly and easily!

Also this week is Teacher Appreciation Week! I got this pretty card from our school secretary and a bag of fun teacher-y stuff from our Parent Teacher Partnership.
That made me smile today. :)
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