The First Day of School
Room 14~Wet All Over!
For our final project in science this year, students illustrated and wrote a report on the water cycle. What better way to present it than on a cloud they could hang over their desks! The raindrops include water definitions and interesting facts students learned about water. Some students also showed off their mad computer skills they learned this year in the report, adding backgrounds, layering effects and clip art and of course touch typing!
Some Very Special Guests!
I was very honored this weekend to host some very special guests Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. My whole family enjoyed spending time with the boys and girls they have been hearing about all year. The boys enjoyed an inflatable hockey stick battle (and to think I actually think they would play hockey with them,) getting completely soaked, having a cookout, visiting the middle school field and going for ice cream. The girls enjoyed decorating cupcakes, painting a sun-catcher, making their own mini pizzas, and getting their nails done all before their ice cream treat. You can see more photos of our day in the photo gallery.
The weather did not cooperate with us on Friday as field day had to be postponed, but our class spirit was alive and well on Monday afternoon. The students had a wonderful time competing against, and cheering on their classmates during our annual field day. Check out photos from this fun, annual event in the photo gallery.
Extra! Extra! Our Historical Newspapers are Finished!
Our class finished their Titanic newspapers last week which highlighted all the non-fiction reading and writing skills we have been working on the past several weeks. To showcase their work, I allowed the class complete autonomy in creating a hallway display! They worked in partnerships or small groups that they signed up for based on their interests. I especially loved the way they grouped themselves because some people were working together who had rarely worked together all year. Each team worked together to plan the backdrop, decide what all the components should be, and even what colors and materials they needed to complete their tasks. When the "sky" and "water" teams handed me a list of materials they needed, and I asked them exactly how many feet of purple and blue roll paper they wanted, jaws may have dropped a little, but they happily headed out to the hall with rulers and calculators to give me the total. The backing came out so wonderfully that I have to admit I hated to cover it with their newspapers! See the complete behind the scenes making of our newspapers in our photo gallery!
Our Hallway, Before and After!
Our Pond Study at the Troy Nature Center
We visited the Lloyd A. Stage Outdoor Education Center on Tuesday afternoon as part of our science unit on Life Cycles. Enthusiasm and curiosity were very high as students dipped their long-handled nets into the pond, then picked through the muck to discover all sorts of creatures, many of which the students had never seen up close before. We found many dragon fly, damsel fly and may fly nymphs, darters, aquatic isopods, snails, snail eggs, baby cray fish, beetles, and even two male water beetles whose shells were covered with eggs--our naturalist said those were a first for her! Watch the video below to see your third graders in action and check out the photo gallery for even more pictures!
Happy Mother's Day
I hope everyone had a lovely Mother's Day and enjoyed their special Mother's Day presents. I will tell you your children had a wonderful time making those beautiful pens for you. Each student picked their own flowers and pens that they thought Mom would like best and made the pens on their own after some brief directions. I should let you know that each mom was to get two pens. Many students were convinced they were making one for Mom and one for themselves!
Our class did an amazing job on their interviews on Wednesday. Everyone took the task at hand very seriously and asked the Titanic "survivors" the questions they
wrote for their interview of a lifetime. These interviews will be part of a mock
front page of a newspaper with a print date the week of April 15, 1912. Students
will also use their newfound knowledge of this disaster to write a summary
article that details the facts from sailing to rescue, a timeline and a list of facts they felt were interesting. It is the culmination of our non-fiction unit which also included research reports on natural disasters. The theme presented throughout this unit was "Whenever a disaster occurs, lessons are learned and changes are made for the better." Pretty much a life lesson I've tried to impress upon the class--whenever something goes wrong, learn from it, make improvements and changes so it doesn't happen again and move on!" There are a few photos below but check out the photo gallery for more pictures from our special day.
We put our tastebuds front and center on Thursday during our pancake breakfast, which is an annual follow-up to our visit to the Troy Nature Center. During our visit to the Nature Center we learned about the role photosynthesis plays in sap production and the process involved in turning sap into syrup. The breakfast was a tasty conclusion to our learning, made even more special by it being pajama day!. Our hungry third graders went through 84 pancakes, 5 pounds of sausage, 36 ounces of pure maple syrup, and a far amount of Mrs. Butterworth's. No one student asked about having snack that morning!
Everyone will certainly miss Eiki as he leaves our class to go back to Japan with his family. Thanks so much to our families who sent in wonderful treats for the class to enjoy as they said good-by to their friend, and to Mrs. Brown for organizing it all. Fortunately with today's technology, Eiki is only as far away as our computers, iPads and smart phones. We are hoping to Skype with Eiki soon!
Best Part of Me and Spring Showcase
Hopefully everyone had a chance to see the Best Part of Me display at showcase. The original inspiration for this project came from Wendy Ewald’s book, The Best Part of Me. For this book, she asked 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students “What is the best part of you?” She took photographs of the part each child chose with black and white film. Next, she had the students write descriptive poems about their favorite part. We did the same in here and the results were wonderful! There are a few photos here, but more can be found in our photo gallery.
Working on the Assembly Line
Students learned about mass production by taking part in an "assembly line" at our imaginary chocolate factory . Each worker had a specialized job in making the candy kisses. The first person measured and cut the paper. The second wrote Hershey's on it. The third person placed the glass gem and the paper on a piece of foil, the fourth person wrapped it up in a kiss shape and the last person on the line acted as an inspector. At the end of their 8 minute shift, everyone agreed that while it was probably easier to have specialized jobs, they felt a lot of pressure to keep the line moving. We related this to the manufacturing of the early 1900's when mass production was first introduced and to modern day manufacturing which is highly automated. And of course, how can you have a candy factory in your room without thinking of the video that follows these pictures.
Mystery Genre Project
The third graders spent the last four weeks learning the language and story structure associated with mysteries. We read long and short mysteries, completing story maps for each. Students became acquainted with the ageless detective Encyclopedia Brown and with some new-found detectives in books of their choosing. Students completed a graphic organizer pack while they read their mysteries which helped them write their jigsaw puzzle report that was on display at Showcase. Visit the photo gallery to see the whole project in pictures.
Buddy Reading with First Grade
Our third graders paid a visit to Mrs. Haboush's room to read aloud to her students and many of her students enjoyed reading back to us. Check out the pictures in the photo gallery to see our third graders with their first grade buddies.
Our third graders were introduced to biographies earlier this year, a genre that is always high interest. Each student chose someone the wanted to learn more about from a list they generated with a focus on February themes~Black History Month and President's Day. After reading at least one short biography on the person of their choice, each student was given a graphic organizer for note-taking The basics of research was taught: locating and using a variety of reference materials, skimming for facts, using headings and performing kid friendly internet searches. We used a simple five paragraph format for the report and put it all together in an almost life sized version of their person. The students had a great deal of fun setting their people around the room which caused quite a few double takes by myself and passersby. Look for the project in pictures in our photo gallery.
March is Reading Month Calendar
Valentine's Day Fun
Oh what a "lovely" week we've been having. Our music program on Tuesday was great, we started our mystery genre unit this week and your children wanted to blog everyday! It's amazing how quickly they pick up on every new application of technology I introduce. We had great fun today admiring all the wonderful Valentine boxes. I was so proud of everyone for the effort they put into their boxes. The vote
for our class awards was close in almost every category. I had to triple count in three categories becausethe numbers were so close!
Thanks so much to Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Knauss and all of our parents who helped out at the party and sent in goodies. The party was a huge hit, and was certainly enjoyed by all. Look for pictures of everyone's boxes and more in our photo gallery.
Third Grade Singing Sensations!
I thought our class did a great job at their music performance Tuesday evening. I
was so proud of them and I'm sure you were too! I hope you enjoyed the performance as much as I did. There is a video clip below for you to enjoy and to share with family and friends who may not have been able to attend. I've also added a few photos from the show including exclusive, never before seen backstage footage!
Geometry Unit in Math
We have started Unit 6 in math and we have been focusing on terms that students need to understand geometry. One of the best ways I've found to help students remember the different terms is to get out of their seats and get their bodies in motion. I jokingly tell them, "Don't just draw the line, BE the line!"
At the very beginning of this unit, it can be quite tricky for students to remember the difference between a line, line segment, and ray. I give them a Disney-related way to remember, shown in the video below, that one former student who is now a senior in high school, told me recently helped her remember the difference all the way into high school!
Students also used partners to demonstrate parallel and intersecting lines, along with right angles and triangles. More geometry in action will be coming up as we "move" through the unit.
Valentine Boxes due February 14
Here's your chance to make an awesome Valentine box for your classmates to put your Valentine cards in. Remember there are a few special rules, the box shouldn't be larger that 12 inches in any direction--height, width, or depth, and you must have fun making it! Everyone who brings one in will get a prize and there will be certificates for the boxes your classmates think are the most creative, coolest, most Valentiney, prettiest, have the neatest work and best box overall. I can hardly wait to see what you come up with!!
Leo the Leopard is Coming for a Visit!
Leo, our resident Leopard has decided to leave the confines of Room 14 to go out and experience the world. Of course Leo wants to remember his adventures, so he is making sure his watchful guardians, your third graders, write all about his stay at your homes.
The class was very excited when I introduced the idea of Leo (whose name was voted upon by our class!) visiting their house. Each third grader will get to bring Leo home for a few days. During this time, they will write a minimum of two entries in Leo's journal telling all about what they did with our stuffed friend. One of the entries should be from your child's point of view and the second should be as Leo sees it, from his point of view. The boys and girls will share their journal entries with the class and tell us what they did with Leo while he visited. I know on his first home visit this weekend, Leo was busy baking and doing yoga!
The information on Leo, including the schedule for when he will be visiting your house is below. Everything you need to know about Leo is in the binder that will come home with him and your child. Because Leo is on a pretty tight schedule, please make sure he returns to school on time so he can go home with the next third grader. I can hardly wait to read about all of the fun Leo has at your homes!
Crayfish and Giant Hissing Madagascar Cockroaches Pay a Visit
It's not often people get excited about discovering they have been invaded by giant cockroaches and crustaceans, but that's exactly what happened in Room 14 last week. I'm sure you have heard by now of our visiting crustaceans and insects. They arrived the first week of January as part of our Structures of Life unit. Students have completed diagrams of the crayfish body structures and had the opportunity to do some observations of how both react to touch, light, dark, noise and changes in their environment. We also monitor their habitats for proper water levels and food. This week we will be doing a four part writing piece about the crayfish lifecycle. Check out the photos below. FYI: The pencil was being used to check the crayfish reaction to touch on their backs, tails and antennaes.
2012 Comes to an End in Style
Our last week of the school in 2012 was certainly busy! Lots of smiles abounded at the end of the week with our Holiday Party, gift giving, gift making and the annual Holiday Sing Along. Thanks so much to Mrs. Brown, our room mother, and all the other parents who helped make the class party a memorable experience. You'll find lots of pictures to commemorate the week's events in our photo gallery. I hope everyone has a joyous and restful holiday season with their family.
Third Grade Chocolatiers!
As a follow-up to our trip to the Morley Candy Factory, our third graders tried their hand at making their own tasty confections. They dipped long pretzel rods into melted chocolate and then sprinkled them with candy toppings of their choice. It seems the hardest part was wrapping them up to take home. They wanted to eat them on the spot! There are just a few pictures below--I have to admit it was tricky helping them dip their pretzels while trying to take photos! Afterwards, many students expressed how they wanted to make these at home now so you can thank me later for that!!
Holiday Secret Pals: Let the Niceness Begin
Tis the season for giving and caring! Students have picked the name of a classmate who will be their secret pal for the next two weeks. (Boys picked boys and girls picked girls.)To be a secret pal all a third grader has to do is show they care by doing three nice things (more if they like!) for that person before Thursday, December 20 and make a small gift for them.
The best gifts come from the heart, not Walmart! The three nice things must be “acts of kindness.” We talked about lots of examples in class like inviting your pal to eat lunch with you or play at recess, taking down their chair, getting their boots or lunchbox, giving them a really great compliment. Students can also draw a picture or do a simple paper craft as one of their acts of kindness. We also said that picking up a
classmate's pencil when they drop it is not considered a "going out of your way act of kindness" but the simple decent thing to do so little things like that don't toward your three. Students were also told to keep thier identity a secret, they should do lots of nice things for others in the room, just to "throw them off."
On the morning of December 20, Secret Pals will be unveiled when each student presents their pal with a small homemade gift. The idea here is for students to give their time and effort for someone else. It might seem more fun to play xBox or watch TV for an hour but hopefully students will feel the joy that comes with using that time instead to work hard to make something for someone else. I told students to make something they would like to receive themselves! We discussed the homemade gift should be made out of items you already have at home. Do not buy anything!! I don't want anyone having to run to the store at this busy time of year. Ideas we talked about for gifts include ornaments, bookmarks, decorations, jewelry or even anything from craft kits you may already have at home and haven’t used yet. I have lots of craft materials and paper here, so third graders can ask me for anything them might need! If I have it, you can have it! Make something you would like to get! Gifts should be wrapped or in a bag with a card on it that we will make in class.
Holiday Raffle: For a little extra motivation, everytime a student does something nice for a classmate, they get to fill out a ticket describing their deed that acts like a raffle ticket for a drawing we will have right before the Sing Along on Dec. 21. Hope your students have fun with being Secret Pals of Niceness! One last thing...If you know of any great sites for easy to make crafts that kids could do, post it in the comment section of our where I've put a few craft sites for you to look at with your kids. Good for Secret Pals, snow days, etc!
A Deliciously Educational Field Trip
The class thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Morley's Candy Factory and Sweet Shop. We started our tour by heading upstairs to watch a film on the history of chocolate and got a delicious taste of their chocolate cream candy. The third graders were surprised to learn that chocolate was first enjoyed over 2,000 years ago! In discussion after the trip students seemed most surprised that the chocolate started with the seeds of a plant and underwent an extensive journey before making it to the factory to made into candy. They also drew on recently acquired geography information when they found out cacao beans can only be grown twenty degrees north and south of the equator. Next we visited the factory where students were impressed that 60 people work at the factory in ten hour shifts. They use 20,000 pounds of chocolate a day and make 6,000 jars of Sander's chocolate sauces every single day. Also very interesting,(to me anyway,) Morley's makes Kirkland candy for Costco, display case candy for Macy's, candy bars for the Disney World Resort shops, and Maud Borup Candy for Target and Walmart! They use the exact same chocolate in each, so fascinating how the price can be so different for the exact same candy depending on where they are sold! We ended with a visit to the store where students did a scavenger hunt looking for the many different things that Morley creates.Check out photos from our trip in our photo gallery!
Autographed Books Just for our Class
Last weekend I was fortunate to be able to attend the National Conference for Teachers of English where I met many delightful teachers and authors from around the country. One of my favorite children's authors, Jon Scieszka, whose fractured fairy tale books, The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, are classroom favorites was there. While talking to him I discovered he was born and raised in Michigan and he was very familiar with our area because his in-laws lived in Michigan. Below are pictures of the books he autographed for our class!
Learning About Perimeter and Area
Every year, students seem to have some difficulty grasping the idea of perimeter and area. Perimeter is the measurement around a polygon (a closed two-dimensional figure with sides and corners.) Area is the measurement inside the shape, always recorded in square units. To help them get a hands-on feel for perimeter and area, they found it in many ways. We did the work with pencil and paper of course, then found perimeter of things around the room such as our desks, cabinet doors, rugs, etc. We also found perimeter and area of our names on graph paper, math cubes, using Cheese-its and Rice Chex, and of shapes that happened to appear on our carpet. After several days, everyone seemed to be doing much better with these measurement concepts.
I was so proud of our thirteen boys and girls who made posters and gave speeches to be our class representatives. This was an election that truly had no losers; everyone who ran was a winner just for trying! This year Rebecca and Sophia will be representing our class at morning Council Meetings. Below are some pictures of our candidates with their posters.
The class had a wonderful time at our Halloween parade and parties. Thanks so much to our Room Mom, Mrs. Brown, and all of our parents who contributed to make this one of the nicest Halloween parties Room 14 has ever seen. See more pictures from our fun-filled afternoon in the photo gallery.
Name Brand Skeletons
Our third graders created these skeletons by painting their name in cursive, then folding the paper in half to create their very own personalized skeleton body. They are writing narratives right now to go with their creations.
Guess Who's Running for President???
Over the past week we have had some whirlwind campaigning going on in our classroom. To help learn about the American Presidential Election process our students have all become campaign managers. The candidates? Favorite book characters. Following up on our study of character traits, students identified a list of traits they felt a president should have. Next they nominated a long list of their favorite book characters they felt had the qualities of a good leader. Next they broke into groups, made campaign posters, then wrote and presented a persuasive speech. Following the speeches we had a primary election that whittled our field of nominees. Those who did not move forward in the primary became vice-presidential candidates. The presidential and vice-presidential candidates interviewed each other (think speed-dating!) and running mates were matched. Next week we will have town hall debates all headed towards the final election late next week. The absolute best part of this multi-faceted project is watching how well the students are working together toward their common purpose. See photos of our project in action in the photo gallery.
It's all About Character
Over the past few weeks as part of our reading and writing curriculum, students have been learning about character traits. In reading, recognizing a character's personality can help you understand why a character acts the way they do and how they may change throughout the story. In writing, we are developing characters in our narratives, giving them distinct personalities through our words, actions and dialogue. During our literacy centers, students combined what we were learning in language arts with our study of shadows to create silhouettes of themselves that listed ten character traits they thought best described them. See our silhouettes below, or better yet, stop by and see them in person!
MEAP Testing is over!
The mystique of the "big kids' test" is over! Our students did a great job on their very first standardized state tests given to all third, fourth and fifth graders in our building. They received new pencils, snacks and extra long recess on the three testing days, so what wasn't to like? Afterwards, many said they were nervous at first, but the once they started taking the test, they realized they weren't that bad.
Only the Shadow Knows
On Friday we furthered our scientific study of light and shadows by becoming human sundials. Students went outside five times during the day, and with a partner traced their shadows on the blacktop. They measured their shadows and recorded the time, length of shadow and position of the sun. Next they wrote observations and made predictions of what the next trip outside would bring. Students discovered that their shadows moved in a circular, clockwise direction, and in a direct line with the sun's position. Shadows were longest early in the morning, shortest when the sun was directly overhead and began to lengthen again in the afternoon. Towards the end of the day we watched a short clip on how sundials worked and students were amazed to discover they had become human sundials. Interactive science at it's best!
The Relatives Came Read Along~Sept. 14, 2012
Thank you so much to all of our relatives who came for our surprise event today. I'm so happy the weather cooperated with us so all the third graders could enjoy a few good book and a few good treats with their family and friends. The boys and girls used the Cynthia Rylant book, The Relatives Came, this week as mentor text for a personal narrative they wrote. Everyone began publishing their narrative in a comic strip format this morning. They should be finished next week and ready to display for you. If you would like to see more photos from our Read Along, please be sure to visit the photo gallery.
It was very nice seeing so many of you at Curriculum Night this evening. I have attached the presentation below if you weren't able to attend and would like to see it, (or if you would love to watch it again!) If you did not have a chance to sign up for conferences, please do so when you are here on Friday for the Read Along. You can find information about curriculum under the Curriculum tab on the menu bar and classroom procedures are under The Basics.
Our First Day of Third Grade!
What a wonderful morning we had today. Most likely caused by a wonderful class! We began our day with a Who's in Room 14 Word Search, next we read the short story The Kingdom With No Rules, No Laws and No King which led to a class discussion on why we might want a few rules and laws (procedures) in our classroom. Students came up with a pretty good list of things that would help make our room run smoothly. Turns out, we decided, rules aren't created by mean teachers looking for new ways to get students--they are there for two good reasons, safety and respect. Next, we watched a short video clip of Nemo's first day of school before we discussing feelings of excitement and nervousness we may have had on our first day. Then of course, being the teacher that I am, I made them write about it! To complete our day, we dusted off some math skills, did an all class icebreaker activity, and unpacked all of our supplies. Tomorrow we will jump into our curriculum and we'll read a couple more back-to-school books, The Teacher from the Black Lagoon and First Day Jitters. Hopefully your boys and girls had a wonderful first day too!
The Countdown is Over!
I'm so happy to have the opportunity to be sharing some of the things I do in my classroom on Scholastic's Top Teaching Blogs. I hope you will join me and several other teachers as we share our ideas weekly.