National Winners!

So, it has been awhile since my last post. Since getting back to school from Spring Break, it seems like all I have been doing is playing a never ending game of “catch-up.” Between work, tutoring students after school and completing graduate courses, there just isn’t enough time in the day.

On the bright side, when the students and I came back from break, we were welcomed with some exciting news. In our district, we use an online program called Achieve 3000. It is a differentiated program that allows students to read nonfiction articles at their own Lexile level. This program prepares students for College and Career Readiness. It is one of my favorite tools to use in the classroom. My students participated in a contest to get the most points in the school. In order to gain points, students must obtain  75% on their activities (they had to complete 8). Not only were we the winners in the school, but we were also NATIONAL WINNERS! My students were so excited and I clearly was so proud of them.

Check out our neat poster…

  
What are some programs that you have found successful in the classroom? 

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Marshmallow Challenge.. Think You Can Do It?

Way back in October, I had my students engage in a STEM Challenge. (These are honestly a lot of fun!) The one I decided to have them complete was one that I was presented at a workshop. I had tried it out last year with my students but we did not have much success. 

 The Challenge: 

 Students must work in groups to create the highest freestanding structure that can hold the weight of a marshmallow. (Sounds easy right?) Students may only use the materials given to them and have 45 minutes to complete the challenge. 

 Materials:

  • 25 pieces of uncooked spaghetti
  • 1 yard of string
  • 1 yard of masking tape (I gave my students the whole roll as a modification)

I broke the challenge up into two days and used the challenge with our Engineering Process unit in science. After the students learned the process, they were ready for the challenge! 

On the first day, the students independently sketched their own design of their structure. They made sure to include as many details as possible. The other half of the period I had them meet in groups to combine their ideas. 

On the second day, we reviewed the steps of the engineering process and which steps we had already completed. I gave them 10 minutes to discuss their ideas and then I passed out the materials to each group. I gave them exactly 45 minutes to complete the challenge. I did not assist any groups and only answered questions based on the rules. 

My students worked hard and were truly engaged. 

   

   

 Here are some of the end results…       This year, I had a winner! One group was able to complete the challenge. Please excuse the stickers and smiley faces – I must protect my kiddies’ indentities.  Eventually this happened… However, the structure still held the marshmallow and was the tallest structure.  (YAY!)

After the students completed the challenge they answered some questions on a lab sheet. 

  1. What could you have done to make your structure better?
  2. Would you have used any other materials if you were given the opportunity? If so, which materials would you use and why would you use them?

I challenge you to do this with your students or your family (especially if you want a laugh with the adults) and share your results here! I would love to hear about it.

Hello world!

This is my very first blog post. How exciting! I am new to the whole blogging experience, but I am very intrigued by it. I have followed many teaching blogs since I started teaching. I have always wanted to create my own, but never knew where to start and couldn’t find the time to get the jumpstart. Being that my students and I are on Spring Break and it is coming to an end, I figured now would be the perfect time.

I decided to share the experience my students just had reading an amazing novel. We spent a month focusing on it and we finished it right before going on spring break. I truly recommend this novel to everyone, including adults. My students were having a difficult time reading novels. By difficult I do not mean that they could not read them, but instead did not seem to enjoy them. As a bookworm, I am always trying to convince other people to read. I remember reading a beautiful story a few years back and always thinking this would be a great story to share with my students. That is when I introduced my students to The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a story about a china rabbit doll that learns to love more than just himself. His journey is both funny and heartwarming. However, like most books, the ending is the best and left my students wanting more.

Throughout the course of our novel study, my students engaged in numerous actives. Most of the activities I found were not my original ideas. I have to admit I got most of my ideas from Pinterest.  (What did teachers do before the internet?) However, one activity that was my own idea and that my students really responded to and enjoyed was taking home our own “Edward Tulane dolls” and writing their own journeys with them. I searched everywhere for Edward Tulane dolls, but I could not find anything that was reasonably priced. I came across these two rabbit dolls on eBay that portrayed the character perfectly.

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In the story, Edward gets separated from his original owner and gets renamed with each new owner he encounters. He even gets dressed as a girl! So imagine how thrilled I was finding these two! When we concluded with the novel we spent some time doing after novel activities, such as:

1) Writing alternate endings to the story- As great as the novel was, my students got so involved in the story that they had so many unanswered questions. This gave them the opportunity to get creative and have their unanswered questions fulfilled.

2) Writing Letter to the Author – Students drafted letters to the author Kate DiCamillo asking her questions about the story and explaining what their favorite parts in the book were. Once the students come back from spring break, they will be finalizing their letters and sending them to her. (Fingers crossed we get some responses!)

3) Talk Show Skit –  This was definitely a class favorite! Students worked in groups to act out a talk show skit. One student acted as the talk show host, while the others acted as characters from the book. It was amazing to see how creative they got with the questions and responses.

Well… I guess that is all for my first post. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions for me! 🙂