Friday, February 22, 2013

Five for Friday and my First Freebie!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday again! I love looking back on my week and finding great ideas from inspirational teachers. 

1. I spent Presidents' Day afternoon at the Contemporary Jewish Museum wandering around the Ezra Jack Keats exhibit. No pictures were allowed inside the gallery, but let me tell you - it was AMAZING! Did you know Ezra Jack Keats paved the way for African American protagonists in children's literature? The Snowy Day was published at the height of the 1960s civil rights movement and it was the first book of its kind. This book about a young child enjoying the snow changed children's literature forever. Several letters written to Keats and his publishing house were on display, including a letter from poet Langston Hughes. It was inspiring to see his original artwork for his children's books on display. 

2. I spent one night this week with a group of entrepreneurs, investors and fellow educators at an Ed Tech Meet Up. The purpose of the Meet Up was to bridge the gap between technologists and educators. I met several incredible people in both the tech and education world. Some exciting things are happening in education and I'm excited to be in the midst of it all. I was able to interact with representatives from The Minerva Project, Ed Surge, Citizen Schools, Caliber Schools, IXL (a great math website), Learn Sprout, University Now and a few others. Check out the view from our meeting place. Have I mentioned how much I love San Francisco? 

3. Okay, maybe  I should tell you about my week inside my actual classroom. My students have been working hard on their circle stories (in the style of Laura Numeroff) during writing workshop time. Look at all those proofreading marks on the left! And, skipping lines to make room for revisions! I love it. Look at the notebook on the right, "If You Give Miss Schneider Some Starbucks!" Hilarious. We'll publish them next week on fancy paper after spending some time revising and proofreading with partners.

4. Inflectional endings are tricky. When do you just add -ing? When do you only add -ed? When do you drop the final e? When do you double the last consonant? What if the base word has a short vowel sound? So many possibilities! We went on an inflectional endings scavenger hunt to seek out some of these examples in our everyday reading. Students were instructed to look in books and magazines to find verbs with -ing and -ed inflectional endings. I uploaded the simple template we used to Teachers Pay Teachers. Feel free to downloaded it for free here! Be sure to leave me some feedback if you use it with your class. I hope to have more resources up on TPT in the future. 

5. We are studying the miracles of Jesus in religion right now. We learned about Jesus healing a blind man this week. We learned that there are many resources to help blind people in today's modern world. They had so much fun taking a field trip around the school to "read" some Braille. When we returned to the classroom, each student received a Braille alphabet and made up his/her own message for a friend to translate. 


Can I leave you with one more picture? This is what I was greeted by at the end of one of my runs this week - a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean. I'm spoiled! 

Don't forget to link up with Doodle Bugs and tell us what you did in your classroom this week.  

Have a great weekend, 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Books I Love - Show and Tell Tuesday!

I'm linking up with Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade for Show and Tell Tuesday

Today's topic - BOOKS! If you click on each picture, it will take you directly to Amazon where you can purchase each book. That is (of course) if you can't find these books at your local bookstore first! 

Here's a quick look at some of my favorite education books -

The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner focuses on seven survival skills students need to succeed in the 21st Century. The survival skills are - Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence, Agility and Adaptability, Initiative and Entrepreneurialism, Effective Oral and Written Communication, Accessing and Analyzing Information and Curiosity and Imagination. I whole heartedly recommend this book to any educator who is determined to prepare his or her students for success in today's rapidly changing world. The world is changing and education has to change along with it.

You'll have to pick up a copy for yourself to understand the title. I read this book a few years ago, but still reference it and look back at everything I highlighted. Esquith (2007) writes, " the end we must measure a child's reading ability by the amount of laughter exhaled and tears shed as the written word is devoured. Laughter and tears may not be listed in the state curriculum of reading objectives, but they are the standard in Room 56. These kids read for life" (44). 

Lighting Their Fires is the follow up to Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire. Esquith (2009) touches on project based learning, "In an era when everything is sped up, teachers and parents might consider slowing things down. Take extra time working on a project at home, producing a play, preparing for a concert, or painting a school mural. Involve children in activities where the end is not even in sight at the beginning of the project" (186). 

Here are some of my favorite children's books to use in the classroom - 

Who doesn't love The Giving Tree? Shel Silverstein is one of my favorite authors. I love to read his poetry books to my students during our poetry unit.

I read this book to my class every year during our snow unit in science. You really can't go wrong with any Caldecott Medal book. I was able to visit the Contemporary Jewish Museum yesterday (no school on Presidents' Day!) and view a lot of Ezra Jack Keats original (!) artwork for his popular children's books. The visit in itself deserves a separate blog post! 

Laura Numeroff's books are excellent for teaching cause and effect. We are currently in the middle of a Laura Numeroff author study in writing workshop. My students are working hard on writing original circle stories in the style of Laura Numeroff. 

Any of the Skippyjon Jones books by Judy Schachner are great read alouds. Be sure to read these books in your very best Spanish accent

I could go on for hours with reviews of my favorite children's books, but I think this post is getting long enough. What are some of your favorite books? Tell me about your favorites in the comments section or link up with Sunny Days in Second Grade! Click on the button below to discover even more book reviews. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Camouflaged Chameleons

We have been learning all about animals for the past few weeks. As I was perusing pinterest, I found an excellent idea for teaching the concept of animal adaptation and camouflage.The author of this blog used butterflies, but I decided to use chameleons for the project in my classroom. 

I read Leo Lionni's A Color of His Own to the class. It's a delightful tale about a chameleon who wants to have a color of his own and becomes upset when he is constantly changing to blend in with his environment. He's green on a leaf and yellow on a lemon. He does not have a color of his own!
I gave all of the students their own chameleon when I finished reading the book. (I traced the chameleon from the front cover and made enough copies for each student.)

Each student was instructed to cut out his or her chameleon and hide it somewhere in the  classroom where it was completely visible. The students then colored their chameleons so they were completely camouflaged with their environment. 

Can you spot three chameleons in the picture below? 

A closer look:

I love that this student made the chameleon's eye the "o" on the non-fiction label on my book bin. It was so well camouflaged! After all of the chameleons were camouflaged in our classroom environment, we invited one of the first grade classes to come and find them all. Some of them were camouflaged so well that my 2nd grade students had to give the 1st graders a few hints!

We've spent the past few weeks learning about animal life cycles, adaptations, offspring, traits inherited from parents, etc. One of my students was so excited this week when she was reading another book and found the word "offspring" in it. She ran up to me right away and said, "Miss Schneider! Miss Schneider! Look, it's offspring! We're learning about that in science and I found it in this book too." Don't you just love when they make those text-to-self connections? 

As the culminating project for our animal unit, my students are conducting their own research for an animal of their choice. I have students researching bunnies, cheetahs, pandas, snakes, sharks, dolphins, kittens, dogs, seals, gorillas, etc. As you can see below I often take advantage of the 50 book limit at the public library. My students are loving the animal research project and can't wait to get started on it every day. They will present their findings to the class next week. They've already learned some really interesting facts!