Monday, April 28, 2014

Nature Hunt

The weather here in Alaska has been awesome and there is so much LIGHT now!  We just had to get outside last week and take advantage of our 'Living Classroom', which is an outdoor classroom complete with a walking trail and benches.  We did a Nature Hunt to reconnect with nature after many months of snow.  This is the freebie I'd love to share with you today via

And check out my guest blogging post on May 1st for Charity Preston of the Organized Classroom Blog!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Peer Teaching

I really didn't teach much today, my students did most of it!

We're taking a break from our Daily 6 reading groups this week but I still wanted to do something, so I thought it would be fun to combine Readers' Theater and science.  I choose 5 oviparous animals and then wrote short scripts about them.  Pairs of students were assigned 1 of those animals to learn about and then teach their peers about.  
Reading their scripts together and then taking notes about what to teach their peers.
The teaching focused on 5 questions: What is the animal?  What are the babies called?  Where are the eggs laid?  When are the eggs laid?   How much time do the babies spend in their eggs?  "Teachers" were also able to tell their "students" other facts they learned from their scripts. It was fun to incorporate 'close reading' which involved students going back to the text to find or make sure of their answers when taking notes. 

The 2 "teachers" teaching their group about turtles and the "students" taking notes. 
I modeled the entire process (learning and teaching) with the help of one of my students.  We read our script about salmon aloud for everyone and then I talked aloud as we were close reading and taking notes.  My student teacher was our "student" and it prepared kids very well!  Here is that script for FREE.

It was so FUN to hand the reigns over to my students today!  The most interesting part was debriefing between each teaching about how it went for the teachers.  Many kids told me it was hard to teach when some of their students were talking too much....boy I know what that feels like!   I think this experience really empowered them and I have a feeling it was the topic of conversation at many dinner tables tonight.

Check out the entire unit:

This is the perfect time of year for Peer Teaching and I can't wait to do more!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Egg Week and a FREEBIE!

I think this week is going to be eggcellent!
I am back in the saddle full time, as my student teacher wrapped up her 4 week solo residency last Friday.  I did enjoy having a break from teaching but am really looking forward to being in charge again.  

I did get to teach a math lesson last week though because it's my FAVORITE thing to teach...and it's not part of the curriculum: TANGRAMS!  I love these 7 little shapes that make so many different pictures.  What I love even more is watching my first graders tackle them, it's so interesting because it's always the kids that you least expect who are fantastic at these tricky puzzles!  I revamped my SmartBoard Tangram lesson and it now has Chinese music infused into it :-)
Since it's
I'm sharing this FREE SmartBoard lesson! Tangrams are so much fun!

So my students need a break from our weekly Daily 6 reading groups and we're switching things up this week by doing something I call "Circle of Experts".  Our theme is EGGS since Easter is just around the corner.
Students will partner up and become an expert on 1 of 5 different oviparous (egg laying) animals: duck, butterfly, crocodile, turtle and snake.  To become experts they will read a Readers' Theater non-fiction partner script about their animal and complete a note taking sheet.  Then pairs will combine to make small groups of 4 and each pair will teach the other one about their animal.  "Teachers" will use their notes to convey information and "Learners" will take notes about what they learn.  The rotation will continue until each pair has learned about all the other animals.  I'm going to break it up so we do 2 rotations on Tuesday, 1 rotation on Wednesday (because we're also going to do an egg art project) and finish on Thursday with the last 2 rotations.

I'm so excited to try this kind of activity and will blog and post pictures about how it goes!  

Students will kick off Egg Week by getting an egg to take care of for the entire week.  When they get their egg, I will tell them what kind of oviparous animal they are (which is also what they will become an expert on).  I was going to give them raw eggs but figured it would be much less messy if I give them hard boiled eggs...but I'm not telling them they're hard boiled!

I hope you all have an 'egg'cellent week!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Do YOU know how crayons are made? Learn with this FREEBIE!

It's Monday!

Everyone has used them and everyone remembers them from childhood. I think it's peaceful and therapeutic to take out some crayons and a blank piece of paper and just color.  It's interesting how these wonderful, simple little things are made.  Take a look:

Creating Readers' Theater scripts is my passion and my focus is now on creating non-fiction scripts that infuse science and social studies.  So take a look at this partner & trio script about how crayons are made:

Have a great week!