Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I take it back...

My last post, the one about my students melding, etc...

Never mind.

They returned from the weekend ill-behaved, rude and out of control.

It's usually March or April before I find it necessary to give my "come-to-Jesus" speech.

I gave it today.

Is it Friday yet?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Just another day in paradise...or room 610

We have been back at it for about a month now and I think we are melding as a class. The fusion took longer this year than I am used to, but it's happening.

They are fired up about Egypt, the Nile River, Pharaohs and pyramids.

We're building our word wall with "wondrous words".

They are making good use of spellingcity.com.

Grammar lessons are on hold for a week while we enter the writing phase. First they will write a personal narrative. Then they will make it into a small book. Finally I will spend an entire weekend reading 24 five paragraph essays. Oh boy! For the curious, yes, we did just complete our grammar unit in sentences and time order words were the last part of our lesson.

I think these two boys are mad at each other. They keep building walls...

I'm digging the projector and the huge screen despite the stupid place they hung it. My students were drawing on the white boards we got from our last donorschoose.org project. They were making graphs.

The best thing about my day is this little 5th grader who gets to come have lunch with me. I like that...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Is George Washington still alive?

Asked by a 6th grade girl today. She was serious. She did not know. I'm supposed to teach her world history this year.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Limeades for Learning ~ If you love Sonic

I posted on my other blog Notes from Oklahoma about how you can help me get cameras for my classroom.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

President's Message

Our school district would not allow us to air the President's message to school children. We could show a recorded version with a permission slip signed from their parents. Not surprised by that decision since this is a "red" state, home of that oh so wise (read a$$) Jim Inhoffe. OK, I won't go down that road...

I sent out 24 permission slips and got all of them back. That's a record! Four students were not allowed to watch the speech. I did not get nasty notes or emails like some of my colleagues, but I did get several "Thank you!" notes written on the slips from parents who were allowing their kids to view the speech.

I showed it yesterday afternoon. I have a hard time getting these kids to pay attention for more than ten minutes. They were silent the entire time and hung on every word. I am not kidding! The message was simple "You can succeed. You have something to give to this country. You can accomplish whatever you desire by setting goals." After the speech we set short term goals. We will complete the project Monday by creating visuals (posters) of the path they plan to take to reach their goal.

Sixth graders never fail to surprise me...

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wall Displays

I love displaying my kids' work or their projects for all to see. I always have something on the walls outside our classroom. Above is the display I made for the Marshmallow Project.

Last winter my kids wrote poetry about snow and this was our wall display. I added their poems as snowflakes. I wish I would have taken a final picture.

We studied "Love that Dog" to kick off our figurative language unit and they wrote their own poems in the style of "Love that Boy/Dog" and this is how we shared the work.

Every Fall they write a scary story and we create a pumpkin patch to put the stories in. This takes some work, but they love it!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Marshmallow Project

My class this year is truly a challenge I would never have wished for. But, they are finally beginning to settle in, they are beginning to follow the rules and we are starting to get more and more accomplished. As always, I have those few that are so good, so well behaved, smart and patient with the remainder of the class. I know they will not always be so patient so I work really hard to get all the procedures in place and down pat as soon as possible so I don't lose that group to boredom and repetition. Usually this takes just a few days. With this group it has taken two weeks. As I was beginning to think they would never settle in, they did. It isn't all smooth sailing, but it is getting better.

Yesterday I we did the Marshmallow Project. I use this project to foster team work and cooperation. It also is a good tool to tell me how they will manage science experiments in the near future. I did not have much hope for this group because they have such a hard time following directions and they are so social. There are many in this class that are immature for their age and that doesn't help.

The rules for the Marshmallow Project are simple. Use your tooth picks and mini-marshmallows to build a structure. No talking at all.

They worked in small groups of four.

They had about eight minutes to complete the structure. They would have had 15 minutes but they wasted a lot of time while I was passing out materials and trying to get them organized.

Like I said, I did not think they could handle a project like this. I knew someone would talk. But no one did.

This girl started laughing so hard that I did have to ask her to sit in the hall. She is my giggler!

They surprised me. They really surprised me! They were 100% silent and I saw teamwork I could not imagine coming from this group. I saw kids working together and cooperating that can bare stand sitting next to each other.

They were proud of themselves and their work. I praised them to the moon and back.
It was a wonderful ending to a really difficult week. I like that...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Open House and an "I got it!" moment

Last night was open house at our school. I like these things, though there's little time to do it like I want. I like seeing my kids more relaxed, showing mom and dad around, showing off their work. The parents are relaxed and chatty. I enjoy getting to know my kids better and being able to really connect with their families.

During yesterday's math lesson I got one of those moments that makes everything I do worth it. I was teaching the Order of Operations and going over and over how I wanted them to rewrite the expression each time they solved an operation. Little "smiley" sits up front and just about every time they held up their white boards with their answers hid answer would be incorrect. But we kept going, over and over. Suddenly smiley said "Mrs. H, I get it! It's just like solving a puzzle!" Every answer after that was correct, today he rocked the review. He told me math is now his favorite subject. I'm inspired now to do better at teaching math, I have to keep smiley engaged, make him keep loving math.