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Tuesday
Feb102015

Not really something I wanted to do...

Greek Mythology …

What is your first thought?

I have to admit Greek Mythology is not at the top of my favorite things to teach …

Or at least it wasn’t …

At one of the school I started working at in January, there was a Gifted Education group meeting once a week. The students in that group were beginning a Greek Mythology unit. After spending a few weeks building background knowledge, the students were really excited about the mythology project that includes lots of different types of thinking activities as well as group work.

And now I was taking that over …

Eeeeekkkk!

Even though it probably would not have been my first choice of projects to start wtih, I wanted to try to continue and provide some continuity …

And I am having such a great time!!!!

Student excitement and engagement is through the roof!!

I am just the facilitator and provider of supplies …

Learning is taking place and it is student-centered!!!

Yay!!!

One of the activities we did last week may have looked simple first at first but was so much more …

Students in small groups read a portion of the Echo and Narcissus myth. Then students worked together to decide which words from a list could be used to describe each of the two characters listed.

Just from listening to some of the discussions, and even a few disagreements, I could tell students were digging deep and using the myth to justify their reasons!

One group told me that at the beginning of the myth one of the words applied to a character, but then towards the end of the myth, a change happened so the opposite word applied.

Look at the skills and strategies used there!

This type of activity was also a great way to introduce new vocabulary words.  I did not pre-teach the words at the beginning.  If students needed some help with a word, they asked me. I tried to provide examples and connections rather than just providing a definition. 

And you may notice from the picture that students decided to add a few words to the bottom of the list that they felt should be up there …

I have been trying to think of ways I could use an activity like this to introduce, support, and encourage the learning of vocabulary in the future …

While the Greek Mythology unit may have begun as something I was not really sure I wanted to do, I sure am glad to be a part of it now!

Monday
Feb092015

From the school library today ...

Since the beginning of last month, I have been on a reading kick …

A reading kick of books from elementary school libraries!

(You might notice that every once in awhile I stretch outside of the elementary school library and read a book just for me)

Many of the books I have read so far this year have been from the Elementary Battle of the Books list for my school system. Many of my students at the three schools are reading these books, so it helps us form a community of readers.

In another attempt at forming that community of readers, I talk to my students about what I am reading and ask what they are reading. I have even found out the favorite books of my students and tried to read some of those …  

That would be the reason behind my reading of a Geronimo Stilton book!

And the reason I am currently reading a Percy Jackson book!

There is a book on the shelf above that I read because I really thought the cover was neat …

I ended up not really liking the book very much …

There is also a book on the shelf above that I thought about reading and then decided to pass after I read the description on the back of the book.

It was only after hearing the recommendation of a librarian that I decided to give it a try …

And it turns out that I enjoyed it so much that I went out and bought a copy of the book so I can loan it to others!!!

I guess those examples go along with the saying about not being able to judge a book by its cover …

Even though I know the type of book I prefer reading, I am trying to stretch out and explore other possibilities!

Here are the books I checked out from the school library today: 

You may notice an INVENTION theme in my books this week …

My most recent DonorsChoose project is for MakeyMakey Invention Kits for my student: http://www.donorschoose.org/melissa.edwards 

Thursday
Feb052015

My Job is to Make You Think

When a group of students came to my classroom today, they found two problems on the board …

The first one involved a pattern of letters and students needed to figure out the next letter and why it was the next letter.

The second one involved 3 addition problems but the addends where the names of people and the sum was written in number format. Students needed to figure out the age of each person to make the equations work.

My students looked at these problems and then looked at me for help although most of them wanted to just give up before they even got started.

Struggling a little can lead to learning opportunities, so I let students wrestle with these problems for a little while.

I gave a clue to the first one and then students were quickly able to figure it out.

It just takes thinking in a different way!

For the second problem, we brainstormed various problem solving methods.

Then we talked more about the Guess and Check strategy.

Getting familiar with that one might come in handy this year …

I am more concerned journey to the answer than I was with the answer.

In fact I had a student name the correct letter for the first problem but he was able to tell me WHY he thought that was the answer …

And the WHY is what I am after!

I work with students who are in the Gifted Education program and ones that are almost there. Most of them are used to automatically knowing the answers to questions and knowing what to do to solve equations without having to think very much …

That’s got to change …

These students need to be challenged and need to have to think …

And that is MY job!!!!!!

Using Problem-Based Learning and Open Ended Math Challenges keep things interesting for both me and my students.

And I can’t wait to see where the THINKING will take us!!

 

Wednesday
Feb042015

I think I have my head above water ...

Yayyyy!!!

I know it has been awhile since I last posted on the blog, but I am here now!

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t thought about what would be good to write about ….

I find myself thinking, “This would be a good thing to share on my blog”

So today, I am going to start … or restart!

So while I have been trying to keep my head above water the last month, I am not sure what I would have done without the ideas and resources I have been able to find both on pinterest and teacherspayteachers!

It almost makes me wonder what I did years ago when I was a classroom teacher without those things! :)

I have quickly become a big fan of Shari Bithell and her Criminal Character Products!

Today my students got to be professional sketch artists who took notes while listening to an eyewitness account and then created a picture to help catch the criminal!

We were able to work on listening skills as well as determining needed information. I was able to informally asses the note-taking and visualization skills of my students too!

(Next week, I will do the other part of the lesson which involves rewriting a scenario from a different point-of-view since I am only at that school once a week.)

I was pleased with how the lesson was going …

So I decided to throw in something else …

Although not originally planning to use technology in my lesson today, I decided to see what might happen if I introduced YAKiT Kids to a few students …

With only one ipad mini in the classroom, one students and I worked together to take a picture of her wanted poster creation using YAKit and then create the mouth before recording. After saving the creation to the camera roll, I invited that first student to help the second student create using YAKit. Even though I was close by so I could help if needed, I was quite impressed with how quickly my students caught on and were able to help each other.

Yay!!!

Even though the technology part of our lesson did not really add much to the content knowledge, I think introducing YAKiT Kids to my students could really open some doors of possibility in the future!

 

 

photo credit: Reese Learning to Float via photopin (license)

 

Tuesday
Jan132015

Right now it is the math that somewhat scares me ...

So going back into elementary school as an Gifted Education teacher right after Christmas after being away from it for almost 5 years …

Has felt a bit like jumping in the deep end of the pool with my swim floaties only half inflated …

And I am loving it!!!

I am keeping my head above water

By doing a lot of kicking and splashing

And having a great time!!

In the past, I have often written about the benefits of reading blog posts

No matter how you find them

Over the last few days, I can attest to that!!!

My new position is split between three Title 1 schools

At each of the schools, there is a need to increase their population of identified gifted students

Students are gifted in many ways

Not all them can be measured on a test

My goal is to support and encourage higher order thinking skills 

I am so excited about the possibilities for creative and critical thinking!

Right now the plan is for me to work with students from the 2nd grade through the 5th grade

Some identified and some who need some nurturing and that little extra push

My background in writing, reading, and literacy will serve me well …

Right now it is the math that somewhat scares me …

Maybe scares me is not the best way to describe my feeling, but this uncomfortable feeling is kinda scary for me …

But I know that I have written about how it is OK to be uncomfortable …

It is in that uncomfortableness that learning has great potential …

And I am talking about learning for ME

In order to better prepare me for helping students!

So when looking for ideas, I started with Pinterest

While I know that might now be the best place …

It is the truth …

I found a pin that took me to a blog …

A wonderful blog …

That I read and read and read …

I am sure that I had a big smile across my face as I read post after post finding lots of great ideas!!

Here are a few of my favorite posts so far:

Her blog took me to her Twitter account and her TeachersPayTeachers store where she has some great problem solving activities!

Where are other places I should look for math ideas and resources?

 

 

 

top photo credit: Janaviemae via photopin cc