Sunday, September 20, 2015

Ready to go exploring...starting with the Vikings!

I kick off my explorer unit with a mini study of the Vikings.  The ruthless warriors.

My SS text doesn't cover these people in depth ( paragraph) so I'm always looking for things to supplement.  


I found a GREAT site that I wanted to share.  

First, the Vikings are known for their sagas, or stories, and the kids really get into them.  I used to have this ancient record player I'd drag into class and they'd think it was so cool to play a record....well...I think it's finally died.  Enter this site.  The BBC does such a great job with these sagas, and I've treated my students to one a day (they're about 5 minutes each).  

They are funny and do a great job of modernizing these sagas so the kids can relate and remember them. 

My second site is also a BBC site.  

There's different tabs for the kids to browse.

Each tab has sections that break up the main topic, with pictures and videos.

There's games to play...the kids loved this!

The quiz was also great for the kids who are fast finishers.
I made a 10 question web quest for this site and you can get that for free here.  I also made an answer key so you don't have to go searching for answers.

**public service announcement - the content is no longer updated by BBC, so some of the videos may not work.  I still encourage you to use this site, as there is tons of information on it!***

The kids were engaged..they were learning new content...there was technology involved...WIN WIN!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September Currently

Thanks to Farley for this fun link up!  
Bring on September!!!

Totally vegging out on the couch watching some good ol' Goonies right now...what a classic!

So I haven't gotten a paycheck since early June.  Let's just say that my bank account is VERY happy to see my paycheck again tomorrow!  

This week has been unseasonably hot and humid in CT - several districts have gone home half days this week because it is just sooo hot.  But not us.  We sweat.  It's supposed to be 90 all weekend and I'm so tempted to squeeze in another beach day - why not?!

This summer TV is for the birds.. I need my Scandal and Blacklist back ASAP!  

I need a massage...standing all day does a job on your back.  My niece says I'm  "totes cray cray" for not scheduling one these days.

My three goals are pretty simple, IF I stay on top of it and not let my desk get out of it is already and it's only the 6th day of school.  My plan is to stay late 1 day a week and get most of my grading/organizing/copying/planning done so I can stay current and leave on time to pick up my little one on the other 4 days.  We'll see if this happens.. Also, I'm SO CLOSE to fitting back into all of my pre-pregnancy pants.  I'm technically the same weight as I was before my daughter, but the weight must have shifted because I can't quite fit in everything.  

One thing I did do for myself was schedule a Stitch Fix.  I'm hooked, you guys.  I was on the fence for SO LONG and finally I just did it.  My first box - kept 1 shirt. My second box - kept the whole kit and kaboodle!!  My 3rd is on it's merry way to my house and I can't wait!!  Don't wait around like I did forever--schedule one.  It's so worth it for the sheer joy of seeing the box when you get home!  It's the little things....If you want to, you can use this link to schedule your fix!

Happy September!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Building Classroom Environment

The beginning of school is tough.

For teachers.  For kids. For families.  For me.

It's my job to make my classroom a refuge for those tough days.  I spend the first 20 days of my school year teaching routines and classroom management to build that foundation that lasts for the remainder of the year.  It's not easy!  This year my district is also implementing a guided math AND reading workshop all together.  I'm a little stressed...but that's for another post!

One of my favorite activities is such a great one to do on the first or second (or whatever day!) of school.  I have the students trace their arm and hand on white construction paper.  In their hand, they think about what makes them unique.  I give them brainstorm ideas, such as...

What do you do on the weekend?
What are your hobbies?
What makes you happy?
What's your favorite book?
How do you spend time with your friends?
What is special about your family?
Do you have a special talent or gift?
What are you good at?

They draw and illustrate, using words and pictures, their answers to these questions in their hands.  I stress that they can use words and pictures because not all students are great artists.  They also cannot have any white space, so they use lots of color to fill in those spaces.

When they are done with their hand, they cut it out.  We spend some time sharing our hands, and I let the kids know that they can choose to share their entire hand, or just a few items from them.  It's important to let them share what they are comfortable with to build trust, and I don't want it to be a forced activity! Some students who are reluctant to share at all will want to open up by the end of the discussion and want to add details about their hand.  When everyone has had a chance to share, I bring them to our bulletin board and we arrange their hands into the shape of a flower.  There are millions of pins on Pinterest that have different spins on this idea, and I shaped my lesson from many of these pins (so thank you!)  Here's a picture of how my bulletin board turned out this year.

I leave this up all year.  This board happens to be outside of my classroom, so I am greeted by this happy board each and every day.  Such a nice reminder that we are all different, and even on our toughest days, we can all lean on each other to make it the best day possible.  That's what it's really all about, isn't it?