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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Teaching Adjectives and a Six Trait lesson all in one

Happy Fall Everyone!

The weather here in Switzerland is turning colder and I am definitely enjoying my favorite season of the year. We have just finished our first five weeks of school and the kids are really starting to settle and get used to all our routines. 

If you've read this blog before you might know that I am a huge fan of centers. I have had such great success with them and so naturally we are using them again this year. I try and teach one grammar, one writing and one handwriting mini lesson a week so that I can then let the kids get to work in their centers. This past week I combined the Grammar and Writing lesson into one and it turned out fantastic.

I use the Six Traits for my writing lessons and we started the year by learning about IDEAS.  Before I prepared the mini lesson for our writing I taught a quick review of Adjectives for the grammar lesson that week. 

We started by working together to come up with examples to fill in on our Anchor Chart. (I got this idea from Pinterest).

We then read the story Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. I asked the kids to listen for the many ideas that the author had and for adjectives that they hear in the story. After reading it we discussed the pattern that Judith Viorst used when she repeated the same line every couple of pages.  The kids discussed with an elbow partner why they thought that helped the story move along.

Our next step was to do a shared writing in the same style about our own experiences with a bad day. The ideas came from the kids and they had a blast discussing them together. 

The kids really enjoyed this lesson and did a great job using their creative ideas and smashing adjectives in their own stories.

Here is an example:

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Place Value

How do you teach place value?
 Do you give it much thought or is it just part of your textbook curriculum?  I ask because until this year I really didn’t give it much thought either.

Like many I spent part of my summer reading Guided Math  by Laney Sammons and have set some goals (hopefully attainable) for myself this academic year.  One of these goals was to use Math Journals with more forethought and execution. With this goal in mind I took the whole first week of instruction and focused on place value and a review of base 10 with my kids.

We did some hands on work with manipulative, some group work and partner work and some great activities with my favorite place value toolthe Arrow Cards.

 For our Math Journals we worked together with sets of base 10 problems. We cut them out, glued them in and answered our investigation questions using them. It was a great review for all of 3rd grade.

 Next I split the class into small groups and gave them each a mixed set of arrow cards. I made sure not to give them the same exact set.  I asked them to find the largest and smallest value they could find. 

 We then had each group present their largest and smallest number to the rest of the class.  The kids really enjoyed this activity and helped them to understand the vocabulary that we were using as well.
Because Arrow Cards are not readily available for all my kids I created my own set and two fun activities to go with them. 

You can find them here: Arrow Cards & Activities
Let me know how you teach place value. We are off to estimation and rounding and I'll be sharing my lessons next week. =)

Happy Teaching!!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fantastic Reading Log

I've posted about this reading log before but I just wanted to repeat it. I've received such amazing positive feedback from teachers using this log.

My student's parents really love this log because it allows them to work with their child to practice these  reading strategies.

The 5 weeks worth of logs include the following topics:
Main Idea and Details
Cause and Effect
Making Connections
Fiction and Non-fiction
Story Map
Talking back to books

Give them a won't be disappointed!

Click on the link below the picture to be taken to my TpT store to get your set.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

So happy to be back to school and classroom photos.

Back to School!
What a fantastic first week.  I love my students already and am so excited for the challenge they will bring me this year. 

My focus this first week was to find out how my new bunch does with directions and how independent they are. As I use both guided reading and guided math it is essential that my students be able to work independently or with small groups.
I started the year with an activity the very first day. The students were given written directions and a check list of stations they had to visit inside the classroom.  They had an activity to complete at each station. It was a great way for me to observe how independent and capable my third graders are.

Here are a few of the stations:

Students picked two pencils and sharpened them for our classroom set.
Say Cheese! Great way to get a picture of each student in class. 

We can't wait to see how much they grow by the end of third grade. 

Estimating is part of our Maths curriculum in 3rd grade. This helped me see who understands that concept. And who doesn't love peanut m&m's. =0)
I asked students to sign there name to our anchor chart. 
At this station students wrote their birthday next to their name. Of course this gave me some insights into who understands how to write a date in format.

The kids had such a great time with this activity. It took less than 30 minutes and I was able to see strengths an ears of needed improvement in my students. And of course the m&m activity was LOVED!!

The winner of the estimation was off by only 6 and received his own little goodie bag of m&m's as a prize.

I've also included pictures of my completed classroom. I should say completed for now. It changes all the time as most learning spaces do.  I am not big into classroom themes. I think they can shift the focus from student centered environment to a teacher's decoration project.  Having said that, I do choose a simple color theme each year. This year I chose primary colors and I like how bright the classroom is looking.  
Enjoy the pictures and see you soon!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Happy Freebie Friday!

Good Morning Everyone and happy Freebie Friday!

I’m off to Germany today to get a mani/pedi with one of my closest friends. She and her husband are moving away from Switzerland in a few short weeks and I am trying to get as much time with them as possible. We go to Germany for our pampering because it’s 60% cheaper and as a teacher we all  need to save every penny (or in my case rappen) that we can.

I am busy, busy getting ready for the new year to start in two weeks. I have unloaded one of the two pallets in my room and am making good progress. Here are the before shots and I’ll be sure to post all the after pics once I’m done.

I’ve also included a picture of our new staircase. It looks a bit treacherous right now but I’m hoping that with the rails installed it will look much safer.

I wanted to make some new supply labels for the kids drawers. So that’s my Freebie Friday today. But take a look back and you’ll see three other freebies this week.

Have a great weekend and take some time to pamper yourself as well!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Couple of Cute things for free!

I have to say I feel incredibly productive today. I re-designed my calendar wall (pictures to come), created a new weekly reading log and created my own version of a mini poster that I saw on Pintrest. Feel free to grab the Reading log for yourself if you are interested.

 Click here for your mini-poster!

Click here for the reading log!

I also took a trip to the school today. WOW! There has been a lot of construction going on this summer.  My classroom along with several others had new hardwood floors put in. And the biggest project is a brand new staircase that was put smack dab in the middle of our entryway. I'm posting pictures of all this tomorrow as well. As you can probably guess the place is a huge mess.  Because of the new floor I had to pack up my entire room and place everything on two palates. I now have to move everything back in. While the task is daunting (to say the least), it does give me an opportunity to make changes and re-decorate. Can't wait to show you all the before and after pictures of that project either.

So in the are the resources I created today and feel free to download away. =0)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Re-launch of Chalk & Slate!

It’s been an exciting summer of continuing education, book study, planning, relaxing and traveling. I have tried to fit it all in and I can’t believe that the five weeks are coming to an end.

I promised a while back that I would “re-launch” this blog with a renewed focus on the PYP. There are so many teacher bloggers out there that offer so much wonderful insight and creative products that can be used in the classroom. There is, however, a much smaller group of bloggers that address the IB and even fewer that focus on the PYP. I would like to share my journey with all of you as I learn more about conceptual teaching and guiding students through inquiry. The topics that we will discuss and the tips you will get can be applied universally to your teaching regardless of whether you teach in an IB school or a Title 1 School.  I hope you’ll find value in what you read here and hope that you contribute to the discussions. I am learning so much and continue to learn from other teachers. I am so grateful for bloggers and all the amazing collaborative spirit that they bring to the table.

I spent the last weekend of the school year at an IB training course in Zurich. It was an amazing and enlightening experience. I felt full of great ideas and left with a clearer understanding of what the PYP is all about. While I understood the 5 essential elements before going to the training, I came away with a clearer picture for myself.

I have created a PYP Synopsis that I will be using to pre-plan all six of my units this year. I’m posting it here for you if you would like to use it as well. For those of you not familiar with the elements I will be addressing them for the next 5 weeks on my IB Thursday posts. 

In celebration of this re-launching occasion I am posting a little freebie. It's my Daily Schedule Labels. Just print, laminate and attach a magnet to the back or use it on a bulletin board or a pocket chart. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Most Fascinating Blog...ME?? woo hoo

I have been so busy with two weeks of Spring Break, a new puppy and a trip to Spain. I have been itching to blog and I have found my inspiration!!

I have been nominated for the Most Fascinating Blog of 2012 award!!!  I am so excited and honored just to be nominated.

Accelerated Degree Programs

 It has always been my hope to make this blog about teaching and not about products to sell. I want this to be an open forum for discussion and collaboration.

This nomination has given me renewed commitment to this blog.  So Thank you very much to Matthew Pelletier for the nomination.
Accelerated Degree Programs

So here is the bit...If you read my blog and think it's worth a vote please click on the button below and vote for me.

Thanks so much!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Free is Good!

I haven’t been the best blogger recently but I can say that I’ve been a pretty good teacher. I feel like a juggler all the time and I can’t keep all the balls in the air at once. So while I’ve been working hard at school, I haven’t been working very hard at blogging. I am setting a goal for myself to do better at both (Doesn’t help that I have two other blogs and contribute to a third).

It is Sunday night at 9:40 and I just finished making a quick read to self-summary worksheet. I like to have my kids use different methods for talking about the books that they read during our center time. Sometimes it’s a verbal activity and sometimes it’s written. This week it’s written.
I decided just to put this on google docs for now because I can’t be bothered to put it in my TPT store tonight. If you think you can use itgreat!

Have a great week ya'll and happy teaching and learning!
Miss Pam

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Just a quick post and a new maths game

I spent a little time the past two days creating a new multiplication game for my third graders. I have had so much success using games to differentiate that I am always looking to make new ones.  I find that as soon as I add one I need to start making something new because my amazing kids can't get enough. It also allows me to target each child's individual needs. I can create practice games for those kids that have special needs that the other don't require help with. 

You can purchase the product here...
I hope you all have a lovely Easter and enjoy your time with friends and family!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Read my quick post on Global Teacher Connect

I recently joined a group of teacher bloggers from around the world on a great new blog.  I will be posting to the site from time to time and tonight is my first blog post.

You should really check out Global Teachers Connect and take a look at the amazing teachers from around the world that will contribute to this fantastic forum and help us all feel a little more closely connected.

Click below to get to Global Teacher Connect 


Click below to see my post.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

IB Thursday - What Inquiry cycle do you use?

I've been slacking a little with my IB Thursday posts but am happy to find myself back on track tonight.  I've had some opportunities in the past few weeks to really think about the process of inquiry in the classroom.  I know that for those of you who teach in a standards based curriculum the thought of inquiry might seem a bit ridiculous, especially if you have to stick to a scripted program.  I say that because that's how I felt teaching from subscribed programs like Treasures and Everyday Math.
What I didn't know then is that inquiry is the foundation upon which learning is based.  If we don't access our student's interests, if we don't prompt their curiosity then the learning which does happen is superficial.

This is exactly what John Dewey's child-centered learning was about.  His model started with concrete experience.  This is the interaction between the student and his or her environment, subject or teacher.
The cycle moves on to reflective observation.  This is where the action is considered through observation or discussion. The next step according to Dewey is the abstract conceptualization. Basically this is when the student derives some meaning or knowing from the experience. The last step in this cycle is the active experimentation. This is where the student takes his or her new knowledge and applies it to new experiences.

Dewey believed that reflection is an integral part of the learning that takes place from experience. He believed that reflective thought started when students had an experience that created some form of conflict or dilemma within them. Dewey felt that this conflict stirred the learner into asking further questions and asking what is really going on.  From there the learner experiments with possible solutions either literally or in thought, and lastly he or she will determine if the solution was effective.  This entire process, according to Dewey is how all concrete learning happens.

There have been many inquiry cycles developed since Dewey's time.  Here are some of my favorites and lastly I'll show you the one I use in my class.

This model based on Dewey is commonly used in classrooms today.  

This model by Kathy Short really helped me to better understand the inquiry cycle.  She starts with Invitation.  It is this invitation that starts the learner on the journey to something new.  It is on this path that the tension or the conflict is discovered.  From there the students goes on to investigate, demonstrate, re-vise, represent and take action.

A standard inquiry model for the IB PYP is this:

This is the model that I use in my class.  While it is a wheel and connects from one phase to the next I like to think of it as fluid.  No matter what part of the cycle you are in you can always go back, start over or skip ahead.  

I can tell you from personal experience that the process of inquiry works.  It works because it is based on connecting a child's experiences to his or her knowledge.  When working at my school last year we often said that we were working with our hands tied behind our backs.  We thought this because our student population came with so little experience to build on that they were ill prepared to understand texts and topics in our state mandated texts.  

What I realize now, that I didn't then is that Tuning In and creating Tension happen because we present our students with that opportunity.  The first week or even two should be spent immersing the students in experiences.  Hands on learning and exploration are key. The difference between last year and this year is not that my students come with more experience, all be it they do, but that we (my students and I) take the time to discover and investigate new concepts before we ever learn about the facts.  This is what makes the learning personal. This is what makes it stick!!

So...which model of inquiry do you use when designing your lessons?  I'd love to know and have you share with me.  Please leave me a comment and tell me what you think about inquiry and Dewey.

Miss Pam

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wordle anyone?

Thanks to my amazing friend and colleague Flick Trimming for introducing me to Wordle.  Have you heard of it?
Wordle is a website where you can enter text or a website address and randomize the words from the text you selected.  What’s great is that the more a word is used the bigger it appears.

Here is the wordle that I created by entering the address for this blog. 
 Wordle allows you to customize the color scheme, layout, font and even language. 
Flick used this with her class of first graders to create wordles about their current unit of light. Their results were amazing.  

Today in class I had my third graders write a short essay about Technology.  After they wrote it in word I showed them and off they went. 
Here are some of their amazing results. 

What I love most about these Wordles is that my kids can see their ideas expressed in a non-traditional format. I think they turned out fabulous and gives me a real indication of what they have pieced together through this unit.

Give it a try...You'll love it too! =

Happy Teaching!

Miss Pam