Friday, April 17, 2015

A Year of Awesome - Week 30

Where did the weekend go?? Today during our art class I thought I'd try out one of Jenny K.'s collaborative murals. We are creating a display for Earth Day! We've done something similar, but I like how this one is a little more directed than the others. The kids were loving them, and they'll be excited to see the pieces put together!

At the beginning of today's Language block, one of my students pointed out something he thought was "really cool" about our new Science books: "Look, Mrs. Beattie! The letters are all the same!"
Loving a "teachable moment" I launched into a lesson about alliteration! Using their first names, I created silly alliterative sentences. Well, if that didn't inspire an AWESOME block of writing... The sentences flowed quickly,
and soon filled entire pages!
There were some great ones! "Maddy makes marble muffins on Mondays." "Brad breaks bowling balls." and "Jack juggles jam jars."

As eager as they were to write, the students were at least as eager to share! I would imagine we'll have several Friday Journal entries about alliteration this week!

We are finally measuring with standard units so today I broke out one of the activities from my Guided Math: Linear Measurement centers - Measure Me! I paired my kiddos up, gave them a measuring tape and recording sheet, and away they went! I did lots of observing to monitor how they're using the measuring devices and recording their answers. Awe. Some!
Let the measuring fun continue!! Today I wanted to have the opportunity to truly observe each and every student in action as they did some measuring, so I pulled out one of my favorite products... my Metric Measurement Scoot Game! The kids always LOVE this Scoot game! I'm sure it is because of the fun pictures on each of the cards!

I'm home sick today, but this graphic isn't entirely true this time... planning is a huge job, but it WAS made a little easier with the 2nd Edition of my Metric Measurement Scoot Game!!
I LOVE knowing that my kiddos were engaged in something authentic that we'd been working on already, and it was really no-prep for me when I'm not feeling well!

Do you ever use Scoot games in your classroom? Tell me all about them in a comment, or link one up below!

Do you have an AWESOME story from your week in the classroom, or an AWESOME Scoot game to share? Link up or leave a comment below! If you add a link, please share with your social media followers!

To link your blog: Grab the button below, add it to your blog post, link it back here, and then add your link at the bottom of this post!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Year of Awesome - Week 29

I LOVE a long weekend, especially when it is FOUR days, but man... short weeks are always the longest...
Today I'm basking in the excitement of a pair of little people who are so eager to work together with me on their literacy skills that they don't even want to do their Daily 5 choices. The thing is, they are still working on early reading skills so we have been doing some pretty intense practicing. I've got tons of fun literacy activities from places like Whimsy Workshop Teaching and the FCRR website, so my kiddos are engaged, having fun and achieving results. They're feeling pride in what is happening during that time, so they are incredibly eager to work with me. I love it. That's what teaching is about. That's awesome!
Today my second graders were working on some new pages from my Science unit on the Growth and Changes in Animals and the activity became a bit of a contest. It was quite fun to watch. Each student was given a page like the following, from one of the six animal groups:
They were challenged to come up with a detail for each of the lines on the page using the accompanying posters from the unit and our animal resources. I had fun watching how the students paired up with others having the same animal group and engaged in some friendly competition. 
I received a new set of resources for my Phys. Ed. program this week! The set of six books come from CIRA Ontario and are excellent! Knowing my kids like I do, I decided to begin with the Invasion and Territory Games.
The kids were having so much fun playing, and I was having so much fun watching them, that we were five minutes late to French class! Now that is awesome!
During Science today I got the Grade 2s busy on some animal life cycles so that I could explore seeds with my Grade 3s. With only three boys and one girl in this grade we set ourselves up at the guided reading table. We looked at some dried beans (that I've been using as counters for YEARS!) and some dried peas and then we compared them to some that had been soaking since yesterday afternoon. The kids made some predictions about what the seeds would be like inside, then we cut them open!
After inspecting the inside and documenting the findings, we prepared a jar for a little bean-growing experiment!
Eagerness is infectious. So is curiosity in learning new things. Every single one of the Grade 3s asked if they could have some of the dry beans and peas to take home to do the same thing! Of course I wouldn't say no to that!!

Also truly Awesome is the fact that I reached my 2000 Follower milestone on Teachers Pay Teachers! I'm thrilled and saying "Thank You!" to all my followers with a special 2000 Follower Freebie! Be sure to pop over to my store to grab it!

Do you have an AWESOME story from your week in the classroom? Link up or leave a comment below! If you add a link, please share with your social media followers!

To link your blog: Grab the button below, add it to your blog post, link it back here, and then add your link at the bottom of this post!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A Year of Awesome - Week 28

Today I introduced a new feature in our Daily 5 time. I needed a little change in routine to get the kids excited about writing creatively and thought it was time to introduce QR codes, so I have begun creating a "Writing Prompt of the Week"!
Students have to use an iPad to scan the code in order to get the fun prompt, and they've been sworn to secrecy... they may not show or tell anyone else in the class what the prompt says, thus building the suspense and the eagerness to write! Awesome!! Watch for this one to appear in my Teachers Pay Teachers store in the coming weeks - I'm working on an entire year's worth of fun writing prompts using QR codes! Head over and follow my store so you're sure to get the email notification when it is posted!
Today our Grade 3s were invited to participate in a Mathletes program with the rest of our Grades 3-8 students, so I got to have the Grade 2s all to myself! I decided that we'd spend some quality time working on a Growth and Changes in Animals unit in Science. We played some "Guess My Rule" with some animal pictures to introduce some of the physical characteristics that we can consider when observing animals. I thought this would be far more fun than just giving them a list, and I was right... they came up with some really cool sorts!
After we'd played a few rounds we settled with an observation sheet and one of the new National Geographic books that I mentioned last week. Boy, am I LOVING these! I wish I could grab another set with more animals!!
After the kids finished these we returned to the carpet to compare our findings. We were able to group the animals based on some of the similar characteristics we found, and voila.... we have our six animal groups - mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish and insects. I made posters with the main characteristics of the animal groups, so we read these and chatted about how the animals we'd just investigated showed these characteristics.

Finally, we used the posters and some Venn diagrams to compare and contrast two animal groups. I've made several different pages so that the kiddos weren't doing the exact same thing. I am still amazed at how into this unit these kids are. It was awesome to watch them with the posters, talking about the things that were the same or different, and mentioning some of the animals they'd just been reading about! AWESOME!

Happy April Fool's Day! I am NOT one to get too into the silliness of this day, but I have a couple of little pranksters who have been talking about April Fool's Day for a while now and I just knew I had to get them. So... Tuesday night I prepared some brownies for them:
I brought the foil-covered pan into the classroom and at morning snack time told them that since it was a special day (we were supposed to have a new student joining us today) we were going to break our healthy eating rule today to have a treat. Of course the kids were very excited and when someone asked my what it was I told them brownies. I said I was going to wait for all the books to be put away and for everyone to be sitting quietly before I started handing them out. When everyone was settled I began distributing the brown Es. The room was absolutely silent. I made it to all 20 of them with nothing - no comments, no noises. Someone said, "I thought we were having brownies!" to which I replied, "Yes, brown Es is exactly what we're having!" Well, all of a sudden you could hear the light bulbs turning on across the classroom and the noise grew into a roar. I'd done it!! Got them! Awesome!
Today was a REALLY Awesome day!! I pulled out an activity that I last did with my fifth grade class two years ago (This idea was inspired by a blog post that seems to no longer exist. I originally posted about the idea HERE.) but thought my current class would love - and did they ever! I prepped eggs for everyone last night... full of candy of course, and labeled with their names!
During our first recess break today I hid all the eggs in various locations throughout the classroom. They were all in places that were visible without opening or moving anything, but hidden enough that it was a challenge for the students to find them. 

When the students returned from break I ushered them to the carpet insisting that nobody spoke (because I KNEW some of them would spot an egg, or the fact that the basket was now empty!) and we started to discuss prepositions. As soon as I explained what they were and gave a few examples the kids came up with tons quite easily!
After laying a few ground rules (like not telling anyone where they found an egg, particularly their egg) I distributed the worksheets and sent them off. I insisted on checking the first sentences written to be sure the kiddos were writing complete sentences using the prepositions and not making errors on any "right there" words. Motivation to write was not an issue...
Can you spot the eggs? Of course some of the students were determined to find absolutely every single hidden egg, while others moved along to Daily 5 activities after some time, but I'm thrilled with how much I got out of every single one of my kids. Awesome! 

Later in the afternoon, we created these fun Easter eggs/bunnies. 
They were inspired by a post I found on Facebook this week. If I could find it again I'd give it the credit that it is due. If you know where the original idea is from please let me know so that I might send others their way!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Year of Awesome - Week 27

I'm all rested up and ready to take on the final three months! A week in Jamaica was JUST what I needed!

Today we began several new units across the curriculum. In Science we are studying growth and changes in animals in Grade 2 and in plants in Grade 3. We began by thinking about all the ways that plants and animals are alike and different. The kids LOVE making Venn diagrams, and when you combine that with using sticky notes the ideas and engagement are Awesome!
#notcutebutfunctional #kidslovestickies
We've also begun a new unit in Math - Linear Measurement. Yesterday we started with a problem - how to measure the width of our classroom using shoes. We had a FABULOUS discussion about estimating and measuring this distance and the kids were able to explain to me many of the important rules to remember when measuring - straight line, no gaps or overlapping, consistent units, how the different shoe sizes would affect the result - then they were very eager to actually try it out. Each group chose two students and their shoes were used to measure across the classroom. This was a perfect way to get the kids excited about this new unit.

Today we reviewed what we'd learned and began one of the activities from my Guided Math: Linear Measurement package. (We did this one as a whole group - many of my Guided Math resources lend themselves to large- or small-group completion!)
Students are using linking cubes to first estimate, then measure, the height of different objects around the classroom with a partner. Everyone will measure the height of their desk and chair and then they have free choice for five other objects in the classroom. This will give me the opportunity to circulate and chat with kids about what they understand and find out what misconceptions they may have.

Today I launched a Wonder Wall in our classroom! I've wanted to do this for some time, but haven't had the space, but now that we have iPads and Boggle-like apps to use I don't need our Boggle Board up on the wall. My students are SO excited to be learning about plants and animals and have tons of questions that they are excited to find the answer to. I think the excitement stems from my class being SO boy-heavy and they are definitely the typical sort of "boy" readers (loving non-fiction)! I also pulled out the "fancy" stickies and gave them their choice of shape and color - what more could one ask for?!
We will be adding to this and changing it as the unit progresses. I can already see that the kids are motivated to find some answers to their wonderings... Awesome!

This week during The Daily 5 I have been meeting with a small group of kiddos who are requiring some intense extra support with consolidating their understanding of short vowel sounds. We've completed some worksheet activities that they enjoyed, but were they ever having fun with these Roll and Read pages by Whimsy Workshop Teaching today!! I think they'd be happy to spend their entire literacy block playing with these with a partner! Thanks so much for a great resource, Susanna! They are PERFECT for practice and remediation! :)
I was having such fun watching them and supporting that I didn't even think to take photos. Next time...!
We started a unit on non-fiction text features this week as well and have been focusing on the Table of Contents for the past couple of days. Today the kids got to practice using the table of contents in some amazing National Geographic Readers I purchased from the Scholastic book order and my "Good Readers" Text Features Mini Books.

My students absolutely LOVE using mini books! They're just the right size to be super-cute, and they decorate the covers when they've finished with the activities. I love the engagement. Check it out:
Want to try these out in your own classroom? You can grab a FREE sample of this package by clicking the image below. Don't forget to leave me some nice feedback! :)

Do you have an AWESOME story from your week in the classroom, or an AWESOME math resource to share? Link up or leave a comment below! If you add a link, please share with your social media followers!

To link your blog: Grab the button below, add it to your blog post, link it back here, and then add your link at the bottom of this post!