Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Little Encouragement

It's that time of year where the atmosphere at most schools changes drastically.  The students and their teachers are on edge and under a tremendous amount of pressure because of standardized tests that are being administered.  
Our school is no exception and I am just so grateful that I teach 2nd grade and don't have to deal with it directly.  It probably comes as no surprise that I am very much against standardized testing. 
We found out (I found out) yesterday that we were buddied up with a third grade class who is taking the test this year in order to show them support during the  SBA testing period.  So here is what we did.

We decorated these pencil toppers and placed them inside a bucket of eggs. 
Click here for template.

 After we finished them we walked them over to Mrs. Chavez's class and wished them good luck on tomorrow's test.  

Monday, March 21, 2011

Better Together - Fractured Picture Activity

It is "Spirit Week" and we were asked to decorate our doors for the occasion.  
I decided that I wanted to do a Fractured Picture which I learned about from my favorite Professor at UNM, Dr. Elizabeth Nielson.  
This activity is a wonderful community building activity that illustrates the importance of each individual member of the class.


The first time Dr. Nielson did this with our CDP group she chose an illustration from a children's book.  Seeing as this is spirit week I thought I should use a picture that represents our school and community.
As I was not able to find anything I had to create it myself. 
Here is what I did:

I used Print Shop to piece together the picture of our school mascot and several NM items.
After the picture was done I laminated it to protect the pieces from wear and tear (This is also a great idea if you are going to re-use the pieces next year).

I then turned the picture over and divided it up into 20 sections.  This would change if you had a bigger or smaller class of course.  The important part is that you have one for each student. 

Now you are ready to get started with the kids. 
I placed all the picture pieces into a cup and had each student pick one.  I also gave each student a piece of 8 1/2 x 8 1/2 square computer paper.
With Dr. Nielson we used just standard 8 1/2 x 11 but I just wanted to make it a little easier for my kids.
Ask students to turn over their picture piece and record the number that is on the back on the back of their white paper.

There are only 2 rules to this activity that you have to explain.  

#1 - Only use crayons
#2 - color boldly - this keeps the consistency of the picture once it is placed back together
Students then begin to draw their piece of the picture. 

As they complete their individual pieces they help to put the picture back together using
the numbers on the back of the pictures. 

While I see the benefit it keeping the pieces for a future activity I decided to post mine next to our final project as a reference for students and parents.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nine Parent Teacher Conferences in 1 hour!

Much like the rest of the southwest region, Albuquerque had four snow days this school year.  It was decided that instead of making up the snow days at the end of the year we would simply work on the two parent teacher conference days, the Vernal Holiday and ask the state for a pass on the fourth day.  While I thought the idea was crazy and voted instead to extend the school day by 30 minutes, the rest of the city must have disagreed with me.  
So, what do you do when you no longer have the time to meet with parents individually?  I don't know about anyone else, but I threw a little party.  I gave my parents the option of two different days and invited them to come.  Today was session 1 and it was a great success.  The kids and I spent the last half hour of the day cleaning the room and setting up the refreshments table.  I had created a power point to share with parents what the numbers and percentages on their child's report card really means.  With the help of Mrs. Salas, the bilingual teacher/saint, I was able to get some great information into my parents hands.  The kids even filled out a kid friendly report card (you can find it here) and decorated the folder that their important papers were in. 
After the 10 minute presentation I handed out each child's folder and walked around the room to talk to each parent.  I was able to spend time with those parents that had extra questions and just touch base with those that didn't.  Some parents stayed a little longer to talk to neighbors and other parents and some got on their way.  All in all it went really well.  Hopefully tomorrow's session will be just as successful.  

Friday, March 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss!

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose.
 You're on your own. And you know what you know. You are the guy 
who'll decide where to go.” ~ Dr. Seuss

This week we learned more about our Author of the Month, Dr. Seuss.  We have been reading as much Dr. Seuss as we can squeeze in around our scripted curriculum. 

Thursday morning I decided that I wanted to take an hour out of our very structured day and 
have a little fun.  With the help of my mother and Kaye Lynn Robinson we
had Green Eggs and Ham.  
Being a first year teacher I always learn so much.  I think coming from a business 
background I sometimes focus too much on the final
outcome and not enough on the teachable moment.  So thank you to Kaye Lynn for suggesting that I let the kids watch as I turned the eggs green.  It was fun to watch their eyes and see their little minds at work. 
I asked the kids what flavor they thought the eggs would have.  Some answers were apple, pear, lime, moldy cheese and slime.  
 Awesome Mrs. Robinson (Kaye Lynn) was our master chef and most of the class highly approved.  In fact they have been talking about their green eggs and ham all day. My kids love Mrs. Robinson and ask about her when she misses her usual Thursday visit. 
 What do you think?  "Yummy!"  (She later changed her mind when it became apparent that the girls don't like green eggs and ham nearly as much as the boys).  
* I have received  permission to use images of my students on this blog.