Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Year, New Adventures!

Getting back into the swing of school can be hard after a nice, long break. Because I want to remain excited about teaching, it is important to me to keep things fresh, new and interesting in my classroom!

I tried my hardest to have everything NEW NEW NEW when we returned from break. I finished up our math unit and read aloud book, but did not have time for everyone to complete their Lenape legend stories to finish our Lenape study and writing unit. So, the first week back we pushed ourselves to finish up our amazing stories and create a watercolor portrait of our Lenape persona (a character that is living in Lenape times that is present in our legends).

To celebrate our success of completing this in-depth Social Studies unit and our beautiful writing, we had a publishing party for families on the first Wednesday back.

We hung up their portraits and legends around the room:

I created a sheet for parents and peers to write comments about their writing that were at each child's table spot:

Each child wrote their name and the title of their writing on the top two lines. Then, the left side has boxes labeled "reader's name(s)" where parents/peers can write their names down. On the right, there is a box for some comments! 

Of course, since it was a party, I was kind enough to provide yummy doughnut holes for the guests! YUM!

Now that our legend writing is complete, we are moving on into another writing topic: persuasive writing! I find this to be a very accessible writing style for kids, because they are always trying to prove their point as to why they should have/do/not do/get something!

We first brainstormed some ideas of where we might see persuasion. The kids came up with a great list, including advertisements, political campaigns, and petitions! Then, the kids thought about some things they would consider wanting to persuade others to agree with and had a debate!

The topics:

Each group had a chunk of time to come up with at least five points to support their opinion that would persuade someone on the other side to agree with them. Then, each side expressed one point. The other side could provide a counter-point. Then there was another round with the other side presenting their point, with the opposing side having the opportunity to give a counter-point!

Finally, we began our newest Social Studies unit, which I am really excited about! We will begin studying the Aztecs! As a Spanish major, I have always been interested in the cultures of Central/South America. There is such a rich cultural history in Mexico that started WAY before the Europeans colonized. There is also such a fantastic connection between the Aztecs and the Lenape, which I'm sure the kids will begin to notice as we dive deeper into our study!

The class has already come up with a list of things they'd like to know more about Mexico and the Aztecs:

And now, for some organization!

Many of the students in my class are great about packing up all of their things and remembering to take their homework home. Yet, there are still plenty who don't! To eliminate forgetfulness, I created a "dismissal checklist" so kids can make sure they have ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING they need before they go home. It may seem a little too detailed, but I think it doesn't hurt to make sure all of the bases are covered!  

Although I enjoyed my vacation, it feels pretty good to be back! Here's to a great first half of 2014! 

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