Monday, November 28, 2011

Totally Didn't Feel Like a Monday

So usually after a long break my students come back hyper and out of control. I typically spend most of the day saying things like, 'stop talking' 'please get on task' and 'please wake up'. Today wasn't like that at all! I started using the Reading and Writing Workshop models without using reading stations or an anthology reading book. I.Loved.It. My students' behavior was phenomenal! I didn't have to ask them to stop talking until 2:20pm. This was amazing!

At 2:10pm one of my students looked at the clock and said, "Mrs. Haywood is it really 2:10?" I said, "yes it is, why?". He continued on by saying that he couldn't believe it was already time to go home and that he felt like we hadn't done any work today because we had fun all day. That is the kind of learning I want to be known for, the kind that doesn't even feel like learning! I love seeing my students so excited about their learning.

Oh and a bonus is it was Monday Taco night!!!! We had 2 newbies join us last night, and I'm pretty sure they'll be back next week. Who can beat $1 tacos?????


Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pinnacle Unit - Communities Around the World

This summer when I found out I would have to create a unit to enhance a topic I already taught, I immediately knew that I wanted to do mine on a social studies concept. History has always interested me and I love learning about things that happened in the past, but social studies has always been the subject that was so horrible to teach. The curriculum is a little boring and our text is less than thrilling. This unit began with a study of where in the world do we live. It never fails, every year my students get our state, country, and city confused. I wanted them to be able to tell me for certain what our state and city were. I started with our universe and worked all the way into each students' actual street address. I used the SMART board to create interactive instruction and some clips from Discovery Education to get their prior knowledge going. My students also responded to a blog post about which continent they would most like to live in at the end of our unit.

Below is a video of our culminating celebration

Next we moved into talking about each specific type of community. We watched 3 short videos from Discovery Education about each type of community. We then created classroom charts listing the things that would be found in that type of community. Students then took what they had learned from the videos and their peers and created a community foldable (thanks Pinterst!).

I then broke the students up into cooperative learning groups and assigned each group one of the community types: urban, suburban, or rural. As a group, they completed a Netvibes reading and answered questions about what they had learned.

Sorry its so small, I can't figure out how to make the images bigger!

Each group took what they had learned and created a diorama to represent their community.

We never once cracked our text book, and I feel that both my students and I learned so much more then when I force them to read the text book and worry about taking a test to get a grade. I can't wait to plan more units to increase their excitement of social studies and hopefully help some of my students pick up my love of history in the process!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Workshop Frenzy!!!!

With common core making an appearance next year, every teacher I know is already gearing up for the transition. My team is no exception. Last week we had the privilege of visiting another school in our state that is already doing common core based lessons and see how we can begin moving into that type of teaching.
We have always had a reading anthology that we were expected to instruct our students from. You know the type, everyone reads the same boring story and you do activities based on the story. BORING!!!! We have had the same reading text book for over 6 years and the stories in there are in much need of a rest. For the past 5 years I have been using the reading workshop model for teaching reading skills and meeting with my guided reading groups. I love the workshop approach and wouldn't give it up for anything. After spending a little over an hour in reading workshop I would then subject my students to 45 minutes of the reading text book. In my classroom we have been spending around 2 hours on reading!!! There isn't anything wrong with that if they were already good at all other subjects, but sadly they need to have instruction in those areas too!
After the school visit, my team and I decided to approach our principal about ditching the reading text book and teaching core reading skills within the reading workshop approach. She was all for this. Now that we have an extra hour of instructional time in our day by dumping our reading text, we are also adding in Writing Workshop. I have always loved this approach to teaching writing, but have never had the time in the day to do it correctly. I am now in the planning phases for both of these workshops and the excitement is contagious! I am so excited about this new phase of instruction and can't wait to see what kind of growth my students are going to make from now until the end of the year.
Our first minilesson for our "new" reading workshop is going to be on stamina. We are going to expect our students to eventually read silently for 40 minutes. I know what your thinking, "your crazy! My kids can't read that long!" I don't know about your state end of year assessments, but here in NC, our kids are expected to read 8 passages in about 2 1/2 hours. I feel that if I don't get them practicing this early on, I am failing them as a teacher. Check back next week for the progress on our stamina lessons and on how the writing workshop is going.

Check out this stamina poster I created to use to introduce this during our minilesson

Visit my Teachers pay teacher store to pick up a free poster!


Friday, November 18, 2011

First Week of Investigations Is In the Books!!!

Our county adopted the Envision mathematics series about 3 years ago with the hopes that we would move into Investigations by this point. Too bad that we are STILL working with Envision!!!! And here's a shocker... it sucks! I am not a great mathematician by any means, but I have NEVER had such low test scores as I have had with Envision. The questioning is weird and the overall approach doesn't match with the way kids think.
We got new instructional specialists this school year (who are AMAZING!) who came and met with our 3-5 teachers back in September and suggested that we make a move to doing only Investigations. No other school in our county is doing this. We had always been told to use 2 of the units and the rest was covered in Envision. We have been creating our curriculum map to plan out the rest of the year, gathering countless manipulatives to construct our math toolkits, and copying games and flashcards.
Well our planning and hard work is paying off! This week was our first full week of Investigations and while it is hard work and a different way of thinking and teaching math, my kids love it! They call our math block "fun math" now! I see their little lightbulbs going off everyday. I will keep you posted on what happens as we move through the other units, but for now, its great and we love "fun math"!!!!!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Photo Card

I know I usually post "teaching" stuff, but I HAD to post this awesome Christmas card I made to pass out this year. If you follow my blog, you know I have twin girls who are the light of my life. They are already 10 months and while last Christmas was technically their first (their bday is the 22nd) we are pretending that this is the first. We had minimal decorations last year with labor expected any day and we both knew neither of us would feel like taking down a whole bunch of stuff with newborn twins here.

Neadless to say, we have all survived the first year (almost!) and are all alive and doing well. My whole family is looking forward to celebrating Christmas and their 1st birthday this year and I'm sure that my house will look like ToysRUs threw up in my living room! I'm sure as I take more holiday pics, I'll post here. Who would mind looking at 2 cuties though!?!?!?!?

Candy Canes Frame Christmas

Personalize your Christmas card at Shutterfly.

View the entire collection of cards.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Election Day = AWESOME!

I am the student council adviser at my school and we decided it would be neat to have our student council election on the actual election day. For the past few weeks I have had students creating posters and speeches and "getting their name out". Today was the culmination of all their hard work. I videotaped each candidate and loaded them on our school webpage and then the voting began.

Over the weekend, my teammate found on Pinterest (isn't it everyone's new fav?) the sweet voting booth. As soon as I saw it, I had to have it! We called our local Lowe's Hardware and requested a freezer box. We covered it with bulletin board paper and cut a door in it. I had a cute ballot box from a previous unit that we used inside our booth. I knew my third graders would love it but I was very surprised at how many fifth graders kept getting inside my booth.
While the voting booth wasn't necessary, it definitely helped increase their excitement!! Overall, I feel that my students have a better understanding of what an election is and how much hard work it takes to be a candidate. They also really thought about which candidates would do the most for the student body.
Look for the Voting Booth to making another appearance during my government unit in a few months!

My students and I in front of our voting booth

Making sure she voted for the best candidate!


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