Wednesday, December 21, 2016

10 Technology Lessons That Are Worth Making Time For

Ten technology lessons that all classroom teachers should take the time to teach. These lessons will enhance learning in all areas of curriculum. Lesson suggestions from Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.


Technology is often referred to by teachers as either an after thought or "one more thing I don't have time for". A few weeks ago, I took part in a fantastic twitter chat on the Hour of Code. During the discussion, one thing that kept coming up was "How do you have time for coding with all of the other standards?" This is a question I get all of the time with technology in general. Over the past 10 years, I have had my students create blogs, videos, online storybooks, prezis, glogs, video games, and a variety of other technology based projects, while still teaching my math, literacy, science and social studies standards. What I have found is that teaching technology skills enhances my students' learning within the "regular curriculum" so much that whatever time I give to technology is time well spent.


Technology skills transfer and spiral. The skills you teach for one technology program can easily be used within another technology program. And within this new program you're going to learn how to do something else you didn't know how to do and that will continue the spiral. Here are some of the technology skills that I have found worth taking the time out of "regular curriculm" to teach:


Ten technology lessons that all classroom teachers should take the time to teach. These lessons will enhance learning in all areas of curriculum. Lesson suggestions from Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.


1.) Logging in and logging out:
Especially with younger students, it is worth your time to spend time at the beginning of the year teaching students to how to log in and log out. Let's be honest some of our students will spend half or all of their computer time just trying to log in. Once kids can successfully log in, they can begin seeing technology as a tool to help them and not an obstacle to overcome. I am also sure to teach students about the importance of actually logging out so that another students doesn't inadvertantly begin working in your account. Like everything else, once students know how to log in and out of one account, they will quickly pick up on logging in and out of various programs and accounts.


Ten technology lessons that all classroom teachers should take the time to teach. These lessons will enhance learning in all areas of curriculum. Lesson suggestions from Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.


2.) Reading the screen: 

My students giggle at me, but I regularly tell them "Those words on the screen aren't decorations!" Teaching students to read the screen seems simple, but it can be one of the biggest struggles, especially with low readers and those with little previous technology experience. This is especially true when an error message pops up and the kids don't even read it, they just come running and calling "Mrs. Raki, there's a problem!" 
So one of the first things I teach my students is to read the screen and think about what it's asking you. If it pops up asking if you want to save your work, you know the answer to that question. If you don't know where the button is for editing, start reading all of the drop down menus. Which do you think makes the most sense? (Hello real life reading skills!)


Ten technology lessons that all classroom teachers should take the time to teach. These lessons will enhance learning in all areas of curriculum. Lesson suggestions from Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.


3.) Troubleshoot:

One of our first technology vocabulary words, that isn't a name of a piece of equipment, is troubleshoot. (For other technology words that are more specifically linked to pieces of equipment and technology techniques, download my Technology Vocabulary Word Wall Cards.) 
Once my students know what the word troubleshoot means, I regulary ask them "Can you troubleshoot that problem?" Can you figure out what is causing the problem or experiment a little to see how to fix the problem? I also teach students common problems and answers, starting with the simplest (Did you plug in the computer? Is your caps lock on?) and working to more complex problems and solutions (Click the refresh button if a website freezes. CTRL-ALT-DEL is a last case scenario that will get you out without hurting the computer too badly.) 
Once you start encouraging students to problem solve their way out of problems, you increase the chance that they'll fix the problem themselves (thereby decreasing the chance that they'll interupt you to fix it). This is also when you start seeing "peer tech support" where students help each other figure out the problem by sharing what has worked for them in the past. (Hello REAL collaboration!)


Ten technology lessons that all classroom teachers should take the time to teach. These lessons will enhance learning in all areas of curriculum. Lesson suggestions from Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.


4.) Using a search engine:
When I spend time teaching students how to properly use Google and other search engines, they quickly become efficient searchers. Then, they can use this knowledge to search up answers in every subject. They can use this knowledge to find videos to help them when they get stuck in math. They can more efficiently find research for projects in science and social studies. They can decide which is a good source to use for their persuasive writing article.
One thing I do is make sure to start out by using my Internet Research Lesson with my students so that they understand what internet research is. Then, I make sure to share with my students the search engines that I want them to use. This old blog post - How to Make Internet Research Work for Students - gives you a few of my favorite. I am also sure to clarify for my students that websites like YouTube also use a similar search engine.


Ten technology lessons that all classroom teachers should take the time to teach. These lessons will enhance learning in all areas of curriculum. Lesson suggestions from Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.


5.) Use basic functions (open, save, cut, copy, paste):
These functions can be used in pretty much EVERY program that students used, whether a stand alone program on a single computer like Microsoft Word or an internet based program like Weebly. Once students understand these basic functions, they can be transfered very easily to any new program I want to throw at them.  


Ten technology lessons that all classroom teachers should take the time to teach. These lessons will enhance learning in all areas of curriculum. Lesson suggestions from Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.


6.) Manipulating images:
Like cutting and pasting, most programs allow you to manipulate an image in a similar way, by taking a corner, stretching it out or by sending it forward or backward in an effort to layer images, etc. etc. By teaching students how to manipulate the images, they are more likely to get in there and play around with images in a large variety of ways. These skills also begin to transfer as students realize that any non-text image (ie. shapes, lines, borders, etc.) often work in a similar fashion in most programs.


Ten technology lessons that all classroom teachers should take the time to teach. These lessons will enhance learning in all areas of curriculum. Lesson suggestions from Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.


7.) Copyright information:
Start out the year with copyright information. Talk about what constitutes plagerism. Talk about public domain images. Students who know better, do better and teaching students about these copyright issues will open their eyes to what can and can't be done with the information that is out there on the internet. This will reduce the amount of essays you recieve that are copied and pasted from the internet and increase the number of citations you recieve from older students.


Ten technology lessons that all classroom teachers should take the time to teach. These lessons will enhance learning in all areas of curriculum. Lesson suggestions from Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.


8.) Internet Safety:
Don't share passwords. Don't give out any information except your first name. Don't participate in cyber bullying. Learning how to use the internet safely is an important skill for all students, even those who don't touch the internet for class, because we know they're using the internet at home. However, by opening our students up to new programs and ways to use the internet at school, they are even more likely to use this internet at home away from our watchful eyes. This makes it that much more important that students know how to use the internet safely. I start out the year with my Internet Safety Power Point and E-Quiz to make sure that this point is expressed clearly to my students from day one.


Ten technology lessons that all classroom teachers should take the time to teach. These lessons will enhance learning in all areas of curriculum. Lesson suggestions from Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.


9.) Website URLs vs. Search Engine Topics:
My students regularly type website URLs into search engines without realizing that there is a distinct difference between the two. Then they don't understand why they have to do so many more clicks. So I always take time to teach students where the address bar is and how to use it. I post the URLs that we use most regularly on a bulletin board or on the white board so that students can get used to typing them in. I stress that URLs should never have capitals or spaces in them. With the way that most internet browsers are set up today, if students add in spaces, the browser will automatically assume that you are try to put your URL through a search engine.


Ten technology lessons that all classroom teachers should take the time to teach. These lessons will enhance learning in all areas of curriculum. Lesson suggestions from Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.


10.) How to Use Your Most Commonly Used Programs: 
There will be certain programs or websites that you will use on a regular basis. Model your expectations on these programs by showing the entire class on a projector before they get onto the computers. For my class this year, I modeled how to use: IXL, Weebly, Storybird and Gaggle (our school's e-mail server). We have used other websites and programs, but these are the ones that are used most and so they are the ones that I deemed important enough to take time out of class to show the entire class how to use the programs. The other programs I use I only show to a few of my top technology students (and quickest finishers) and they in turn show the rest of the class one at a time as "tech support peer tutors". This old blog post - Technology Accounts to Create for Your Students at the Beginning of the Year - gives you some suggestions for websites you may want to introduce to your students whole group.

Teaching students some technology skills will not only help them to succeed in your class, but in their entire school (and real life) career. We must make time for this in our classrooms and realize that we are impacting learning even if these skills are not a part of our "regular curriculum".









Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Fun Alternative to the Vacation Work Packet

Free resource - vacation homework bingo a hands on alternative to the vacation work packet - from Raki's Rad Resources.

Next week we have the week off for Thanksgiving. While I am excited to have the time off, I worry about my students losing all of the momentum that we have built. In order to help them keep their momentum, I am assigning Thanksgiving homework. However, I didn't want to send home a bunch of worksheets. Instead, I want my students to do fun, yet educational things. Basically I wanted them to have a better alternative than watching Cartoon Network and playing Call of Duty on the XBox the whole week. So I created this Vacation Homework Bingo for my students.

Using this Vacation Homework Bingo, I am able to encourage my students to read, write and do math. I am also able to introduce them to educational t.v. shows like Cyber Chase and educational websites like Code.org. The hope is that the students enjoy some of these things enough to do them simply for fun, allowing them to learn and have fun at the same time. The Vacation Homework Bingo also encourages kids to do things with their family, like visiting a zoo or talking to a grandparent. If you'd like to use this Vacation Homework Bingo with your kiddos, it is a free download from my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I hope it works well for my class and yours!


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Birthday Present Giveaway

Today is my birthday. I turn 34 today. One of the things in my life that makes me happiest (outside of my family) is being able to help teachers with quality resources that save them time and help their students. For the past 5 years, I have celebrated my birthday by giving a present of these resources to my followers. 


Free resources for everybody in my birthday giveaway at Raki's Rad Resources.


It's a very simple giveaway. All you have to do is explore my Teachers Pay Teachers store, choose one item that you would like to me to e-mail you. (The only restriction is that my e-mail service will not let me e-mail .zip folders, so please check the file type before you ask for a present.) Then go ahead and post a comment on this blog post with two things:

          1.) the link of the one resource from my Teachers Pay Teachers store that you would like me to e-mail you
          
           2.) an e-mail address that I can use to send that resource to you. I will not send you anything else, no newsletters (unless you want to sign up for my newsletter here), no advertisements, just your present 

I'm going to White Sands National Park with my family to celebrate my birthday this weekend. I will leave on Friday at 3:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time. At that time I will close the comments and send out the presents. Until then, feel free to leave me a request and feel free to spread the word so that all of the teachers you know can also get their present.





Saturday, November 5, 2016

Five Strategies for Teaching Informational Texts to Students with Little Background Knowledge

Informational text is one of the hardest types of texts for many students to comprehend. This is particularly challenging for students like mine, in title one schools, who lack in background knowledge. These students struggle with informational text often simply because they lack background knowledge. These students do not visit museums, watch documentaries or have access to as many educational toys. These students do not look at newspapers or watch the news on t.v. 

Five strategies for teaching informational texts to students with little background knowledge. Suggestions from Raki's Rad Resources.

So when you start reading a book about glaciers with kids who live in the desert and have never seen more than 1/4 inch of snow or reading a book about flightless birds who have never been to a zoo or even a farm, the students have no background knowledge on the topic to connect with. Without these connections, students who read the words are not understanding the words. So how do we help these students to better understand informational text? Here are 5 strategies I use:


1.) Bring in background knowledge BEFORE you read. Most of the time we can read a book and know if your students will have background knowledge on a topic. If you are unsure, a simple K-W-L chart will help you know if your students will have the background knowledge to understand the book you're going to read. 
Once you know what your students are lacking, you can fill in those gaps with videos like the Magic School Bus, field trips, experiments or even real world experience like baking bread. (This blog post talks about how my class baked bread earlier this year to help my students understand what yeast does.)


2.) Pre-teach important vocabulary words. Especially with English Langage Learners or limited English learners (who often are native English speakers that have only had experience with a single non-standard English dialect), preteaching vocabulary is very important. Students can often sound out words in books and have no idea what that word means. Because they don't want to sound "stupid" and ask what that word means, they just won't ask and thereby won't understand what they read. To stop this phenomenom, I ALWAYS pre-teach vocabulary words. I choose key words from the text that will help students to understand what they are going to read. Then we brainstorm what the meaning of these words are using a variety of word strategies, including cognates, parts of speech, and context clues. Sometimes the students stumble on to the correct definition of the word. Other times, I have to give them the definition. Either way, students have thought about and discussed these words BEFORE they read. This primes their brains, builds additional background knowledge and gives them the vocabulary they need in order to understand the text they will be reading. 

word wall - vocabulary words from all the books we read as a class - pictures from Raki's Rad Resources

Once I have finished pre-teaching this vocabulary, I post all of the words onto my word wall for students to reference at any time while they are reading this book (or any other book).

***Product note: Suggested vocabulary for pre-teaching can be found in all of the Novel Studies available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. There is also a section in my Self Selected Informational Book Studies for pre-teaching vocabulary.


3.) Teach students to use informational text features. "Mrs. Raki, do I have to read this?" is something I often have to hear while students point to captions or charts provided in informational books we read. We need to teach students about these text features. They need to know that not only do they need to read them, but that each different kind of text feature will provide them with different information. My class recently went on a "scavenger hunt" for text features through a variety of old Science Weekly magazines I had. Students worked together to find different examples of each text feature and glued them onto chart paper to make text feature posters.

Now, every time we read an informational book, I ask them "What text feature is this?" If they don't remember, we refer back to our posters. Then we talk about what that feature will do for us as a reader. 


4.) Use informational text as read alouds. It's easy to get into our favorite novels and picture books for read alouds. However, informational texts can be just as successful as a read aloud. This is particularly true if you use the book as a "think a loud". "Oh I see the caption for this picture says..." or "This diagram shows us more details about how..." Use informational read a louds as a way to model for your students how to read and understand informational books. Additionally, informational texts as read alouds build background knowledge, vocabulary and pull in students who are not interested in "storybook reading". Of course this isn't to say we never use novels or picture books for read aloud. Instead, it would be great to read a fiction and a non-fiction back to back. For example read Mr. Popper's Penguins and then read a National Geographic book about Penguins.


5.) Find topics that students do have background knowledge about. Even students will limited background knowledge have interests in non-fiction topics. Find out what topics intrigue your students and find books on them. Often students love books on weird, icky topics like "Why do people burp?" or "What are boogers made of?" Students might also love to hear a read aloud on a book about the making of their favorite t.v. show or video game cheats. The point is to draw in their attention and stretch their background knowledge and vocabulary.

Whatever strategies you use, it's evident that teaching informational text is important for our students. Reading informational text is the type of text that we read 75% of the time "in real life" so it needs to be a larger part of what we read in the classroom too.





Sunday, October 16, 2016

Ten Ways to Meet the Needs of Your High Achieving Students

10 strategies to help teachers differentiate for high achieiving students - provided by Heidi Raki of Raki's Rad Resources.

Differentiation is a key part of teaching, no matter what type of school you teach in. Normally when we discuss differentiation, we discuss ways to meet the needs of our low achieving students who have deficits or gaps that need to be met. The high achieving students, who are doing well already, are rarely differentiated for unless they become a behavior issue due to boredom. Unfortunately this often means that students who are doing well often never meet their full potential. This is particularly true in lower income or lower achieving schools or classrooms where there are more low achieving students than high achieving ones. 

Every student in your classroom has a right to be pushed to their full potential, no matter their level. As a teacher though, there are only so many hours in a day, so how do we differentiate for our highest achieving students? Here are ten strategies to help you meet those students' needs:

1.) Allow students time to work on their individual deficits, even if they aren't academic. High achieving students are NOT great at everything. Even your best student will have weaker areas. For some students it is handwriting or spelling. For other students it is social skills or athletic ability. When they have finished their work, give them additional time to work on these weaker areas. Students might be given additional time to practice cursive writing or they may use the internet to research different ways to stay physically fit. Allow students to weigh in on where they are weak and encourage them to to use their time to help fill in these gaps for themselves.

2.) Let students expand out instead of up. If a student is doing very well on 2nd grade standards, it is often the case that we go ahead and give them 3rd grade standards. While this is an okay strategy, often there is more that can be done within their own standards if we allow students to dig deeper. 

For example, it is tempting to move students who have mastered addition with regrouping problems into multiplication. But is there more they can do with addition with regrouping? Can they develop their own word problems with this skill? Can they complete error analysis on problems completed incorrectly? (Some error analysis problems like this can be found in my Addition with Regrouping Tiered Activities at the Fix it Level.) Can they create a video teaching others how to solve problems like this? (You can find a Video Creation Planning Sheet and Rubric at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.)

This is also true with reading. Often we push students to read harder and harder books because they can. While reading new books is wonderful, students often run into books with more grown up situations than they are ready for. Students can learn about new vocabulary and new ideas from reading additional books on their own grade level as well, or by digging deeper into the books the entire class is reading. Perhaps that student can do an author study and read additional books from the author of the book you are reading in class. Perhaps that students can be a topic and read multiple books about that topic. Students might be encouraged to do a self-guided novel study using my Student Selected Novel Study Packet on a novel that is really interesting to them.

3.) Allow students a chance to teach. Some students really enjoy being peer tutors. Others do not. However giving students a chance to teach others will expand their own thinking and memory of a topic. We remember 95% of what we teach. For students who do not want to be a peer tutor in person, they can easily create video tutorials, using my Video Creation Planning Sheet. Either way the process of teaching will help students further process their learning.

4.) Give early finishers ongoing projects to work on. Often high achieving students become the "I'm done." students. They finish work quickly and then become bored. Or because they know they will finish early, they become distracted and socialize instead of putting forth their best effort. Alternatively, some will rush through things because they are used to being done early and having time to chill. Having ongoing projects can help alleviate these behaviors by making sure students are always busy with quality activities. Some projects from my Teachers Pay Teachers store that work well for this are:

 - Mystery Book Reports
 - Informational Trade Book - Book Reports
 - Country Study Reports
 - Math Projects
 - Biography Projects
 - Self Selected Book Studies - Fiction or Non-fiction

5.) Use technology to develop a PLC for students. Just like teachers need to connect with other teachers, students need to connect with other students. High achieiving students often have few peers in their school who are on the same level as them. As a teacher, you can allow students to connect with other high achieving students around the world using websites like Edmodo. Students may also connect with adults in a field of interest for them. For example a student who is very interested in science, may contact a scientist at the local college. Once students have made an initial connection, they may write penpal letters or e-mails with these people, giving them a chance to interact with someone who will push their brain to new levels.

6.) Provide puzzles and brain teasers. Higher achieving students often enjoy solving a puzzle that seems unsolveable. Puzzles and brain teasers challenge their brains to process at a higher level than normal school activities. Of course puzzles and brain teasers are great for all students, so I usually call them "early finisher activities", leaving these activities open to everyone, but accessed mainly by my high achieving students. Some of my favorite puzzles are my Math Tiling Puzzles, which work on basic math standards, but take it to a higher level of understanding.

7.) Allow time for community outreach. Social skills are often one of the hardest skills for our highest achieving students. One of the best ways to encourage social skills like empathy and compassion is to encourage students to work in the community. Within the classroom, this could be as simple as a letter writing campaign to soldiers or children who are in the hospital. Or students could leave larger community outreach projects like food and clothing drives for the needy.

8.) Give time for individual interest projects. Genius projects or passion projects are a great way to allow students to truly pursue their own interests while still building on their literacy skills. While these projects are great for all students, high achieving students will be able to dig the deepest. These students may also use these projects as an "early finisher" activity. The great part about individual interest projects is that they can be completely individualized. Students can learn another language. They can learn how to design a YouTube channel. They can study fashion design. They can literally study any topic that is interesting to them. 

9.) Keep expectations high, but achievable. Be careful when working with your high achieving students to not set the bar too high. While we want to stretch students, we sometimes forget that high achieving kids are still kids. They don't want a bunch of extra work. They want to be interested. And they still don't have the same understandings as adults. So keep your expectations high, but still make them kid appropriate and achievable for your students.

10.) Provide time for creative thinking. For some reason we often stretch our high achieving students in standard school subjects, but we forget about the arts. Art, design, music, dance, drama and programming all use different parts of the brain. Giving students a chance to be creative also feels more fun to students, which makes them less resistant to extra work.

No matter which of these strategies works best for your students, the important thing is to be sure to differentiate your instruction for these highest achieving students just as we do for our lowest achieving students.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

4,000 Follower Giveaway!!


Wow, just wow! I opened my Teachers Pay Teachers store today to find that I have exactly 4,000 followers! To celebrate, I am making my 4 most recently posted resources free for the next 4 days! So if you're a follower, please stop by and download these normally priced items for free until midnight on September 27, 2016:

Free for 4 days only! 4,000 follower giveaway at Raki's Rad Resources! - Mystery book report with 8 unique report options.

Free for 4 days only! 4,000 follower giveaway at Raki's Rad Resources! - Time machine power point for the year 1520


Free for 4 days only! 4,000 follower giveaway at Raki's Rad Resources! - Tiered math assignment

Free for 4 days only! 4,000 follower giveaway at Raki's Rad Resources! - Novel study for Vacation under a Volcano.



Student Created Map Project Presentations

For the past two years as a homeschool parent, I have done a country study with my children. We studied China, Russia, the United Kingdom and Germany. (You can read about what we did in this old blog post.) This year I am back in a classroom, but I was determined to complete country study projects with my students. I wasn't sure how I would balance studying 34 different countries, but my co-teacher and I sat down, looked at it and found a way to make it work. We teach our core subjects, math, reading, writing and grammar Monday through Thursday. Then on Friday, we apply all of what we have learned about reading for information and written communication, add in Social Studies and Science and do research for our country study.

Country study project - a year long project to teach 3rd graders about the countries of the world. Our first unit is geography and climate and our first project is to create a map. Brought to you by Raki's Rad Resources.

The students are studying a wide range of countries, from Japan to Greece to Brazil to Tonga. For this first month, we used atlases, trade books and internet research to learn about the cities, the bordering countries, the landforms and the average temperature of our countries. Then, the students created maps of their countries.

This Friday the students "presented" their maps to their classmates and parents using a museum technique. The students whose countries were in a specific continent stood at their maps while the others rotated around. Students who were at their maps told the visitors about their country and their map. Visiting students asked questions. Then after ten minutes, we switched to a new continent and there were new presenter. The students were engaged all day and everyone learned a lot! Here are a few of their maps:

Country study project - a year long project to teach 3rd graders about the countries of the world. Our first unit is geography and climate and our first project is to create a map. Brought to you by Raki's Rad Resources.

Country study project - a year long project to teach 3rd graders about the countries of the world. Our first unit is geography and climate and our first project is to create a map. Brought to you by Raki's Rad Resources.

Country study project - a year long project to teach 3rd graders about the countries of the world. Our first unit is geography and climate and our first project is to create a map. Brought to you by Raki's Rad Resources.


Country study project - a year long project to teach 3rd graders about the countries of the world. Our first unit is geography and climate and our first project is to create a map. Brought to you by Raki's Rad Resources.

Country study project - a year long project to teach 3rd graders about the countries of the world. Our first unit is geography and climate and our first project is to create a map. Brought to you by Raki's Rad Resources.

The majority of my students have never traveled out of the United States, or learned about other countries, so this project is a perfect way to expand their understanding of the world. In addition to guiding my students through research, I have been using our blog as a way to reach out to people who live or have lived in various countries.  I have asked friends that live or have lived outside of the USA to stop by our 3rd grade blog and leave us a comment about what it is like to live in a country other than the USA. If you know anyone that would be interested in leaving us a comment, please feel free to stop by our 3rd grade blog.

Next Friday we will begin researching the plants, animals and habitats of our countries. We will be creating food webs for our projects. I can't wait to see what the students learn.

If you'd like to do a country study project with your class, you can find my entire Year Long Country Study Project available for purchase at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.



Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Best Lessons are Unplanned

My class is reading The Case of the Gasping Garbage by Michele Torrey. This book is very cute and engaging, but it's also quite challenging for my students. A few weeks ago we read the first 2 chapters which included a mystery where yeast and flour combine to make a "monster" in the garbage can. Unfortunately, most of my students had no idea what yeast was. So they didn't understand how it could bubble and burp. The next day I threw my lesson plans out the window to correct that. I brought in the ingredients to make bread and made sure that all of my students knew what yeast did.


Unplanned lessons are often better than what is on the lesson plans - why I made bread with my class to help them learn what yeast did and understand the Case of the Gasping Garbage.

First we combined 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of yeast and watched it make bubbles.
Unplanned lessons are often better than what is on the lesson plans - why I made bread with my class to help them learn what yeast did and understand the Case of the Gasping Garbage.

Then we added 6 cups of flour (plus a little) and a tablespoon of salt. I kneaded the bread in front of the class so they could see it come together. ("Ooooh, my grandma does that when she makes tortillas!" said one of my students.)
Unplanned lessons are often better than what is on the lesson plans - why I made bread with my class to help them learn what yeast did and understand the Case of the Gasping Garbage.

We put the bread into an oiled bowl and covered it. The story talked about keeping it in a warm place. Unfortunately, the air conditioning in my room runs at full blast and there are no windows. But, we improvised and wrapped it up with the extra sweater that I keep in my classroom. ("Like a baby" one of my students said.)
Unplanned lessons are often better than what is on the lesson plans - why I made bread with my class to help them learn what yeast did and understand the Case of the Gasping Garbage.

While we did grammar and had lunch, our yeast worked it's magic and by mid-day we had a big bowl full of dough, which I promptly punched down, making it "burp" like the dough in the story. Next the students each tried their hand at kneading their own small ball of dough and flattening it into a pita shaped piece of bread. They put their bread onto a piece of wax paper with their name on it to rise for the second time while we worked on answering the questions on this very chapter of The Case of the Gasping Garbage.
Unplanned lessons are often better than what is on the lesson plans - why I made bread with my class to help them learn what yeast did and understand the Case of the Gasping Garbage.


Finally, just before the end of the day the students flattened their dough one more time and I fried it up on my electric skillet so that we ended up with a fried flat bread. (It was very reminecent of the Moroccan batbout that I miss so much!)
Unplanned lessons are often better than what is on the lesson plans - why I made bread with my class to help them learn what yeast did and understand the Case of the Gasping Garbage.

At the end of the day the kids could all explain that flour and yeast mix and make gas bubbles that form inside bread. So I guess that means that missing out on a few of the things that were originally on the lesson plan in order to improvise this lesson was completely worth it. We didn't read the next chapter like I had planned to. We didn't do our Nancy Drew read aloud. We didn't even get to conjugating verbs. But, at the end of the day I'd rather they understand something very well and build background knowledge they can use later than stay strictly on schedule. 



Thursday, August 18, 2016

My First Week Back

Our first week of school accomplishments - what really happened during the first week of school in my 3rd grade classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources

Last week was my first week back in the classroom, so I'm in exhaustion mode. This is particularly proven by the fact that I wrote this post four days ago and haven't found the time to upload pictures to it until today. Isn't it funny how we always forget how exhausting the first week of school can be? I'm lucky to have taught more than half of my students last year when I supplied for a teacher on maternity leave. Even though I knew my students, it is different for the students to walk into a classroom that is "mine". In addition, we are doing flexible leveled groups with the students, which was a major procedural change to teach to the kids. But overall, it was a great week. Here are a few of the highlights from the week:

On Monday we created lists of the books that we were interested in reading during this school year.
Our first week of school accomplishments - what really happened during the first week of school in my 3rd grade classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources


On Tuesday we saved Fred! This is a great problem solving and cooperative learning activity where students try to put a gummy worm (Fred) into a gummy life saver (his life preserver) without using their hands. This is an activity I learned about at a conference last year. You can download the free graphic organizer sheet from Perdue University.
Our first week of school accomplishments - what really happened during the first week of school in my 3rd grade classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources


On Wednesday we began using our Calendar Books and put together our Interactive Math Notebooks.
Our first week of school accomplishments - what really happened during the first week of school in my 3rd grade classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources


On Thursday we created made up characters for the first realistic fiction stories we are going to write.
Our first week of school accomplishments - what really happened during the first week of school in my 3rd grade classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources


On Friday we chose the countries that we will be using for our Year Long Country Study.
Our first week of school accomplishments - what really happened during the first week of school in my 3rd grade classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources


Of course we also worked on classroom expectations, which are centered around the four levels of respect with this anchor chart:
Our first week of school accomplishments - what really happened during the first week of school in my 3rd grade classroom - from Raki's Rad Resources


And we learned procedures for lining up, transitioning, using supplies and working in groups. I hope that your first week was (or will be) calm and productive.