Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12

I don't have the kids on Christmas Sunday, so the girls and I pretended today was it!!  We dressed up and thanks to photoshop I was able to create a picture for a Christmas Card! Card template is from Becky Higgins.

December 9

Sometimes I think I'm the Grinch, especially when life gets really stressful around the holidays. I have had trouble wanting to decorate until Gracie asked where our tree was. So Thursday evening, with help from Nana and Papa, we put up the tree. It ended up being quite fun. My favorite part was when Gracie asked when Santa was coming and Nana said in 15 days. She waited for a small amount of time and then asked, "Nana has it been 15 days yet?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Documenting Life

I encourage you to document the little things. Last year I participated in Ali Edwards' December Daily.  Then this last summer I took the same approach, but not documenting daily, but periodically.  This December I plan on doing the same, but not stressing over the little things, but truly capturing life. Life tends to not go as a planned so here are Day 1 and Day 4 of my December Daily Album.

You can get the PNG format for the digital photos here at Designer Digitals

Friday, December 3, 2010

Quick Search

So after my students finished their cross curricular project I wanted to see how quickly they could apply what they learned in this two week project.  We reviewed the strategies of researching we learned and applied to our current unit of social studies-Colonization.  Students chose  one of the thirteen colonies.  We decided we needed to know...

  • reason for founding of settlement
  • geography/climate
  • job opportunities
  • government
Some optional additions were
  • important historical figures
  • religion
  • economy

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Goods--the Two Page Spread

Please, please, please I beg of you to reconsider writing a 5 paragraph essay as the final product for research and try this!!  It is called a 2 page spread. Think a magazine layout.  My kids totally got it. They were excited about it too. When they were finished with their research and working on their final drafts the room was SILENT.  Active engagement; automatically differentiated; PRICELESS!!!

We generated a list of Must Haves

  • title
  • author
  • at least 2 paragraphs
  • 2 headings
  • a fact box
  • picture
  • caption
  • neat
  • colorful
  • border 
  • beginning capitalization
  • ending punctuation
  • words spelled correctly

Then we organized a draft on 8 x10 paper. I approved it and they made their large sized spread. This was by far the best research project I've done and I didn't want to pull my hair out while completing it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Taking Note
Note cards? Notebook paper? Organizers? I have tried many different ways through the years to help my students organize notes. I think I have figured out what works for me and my students.



For my students to truly understand what they are researching we had to establish the purpose of our research.  The project at hand was a cross-curricular project so my teaching partner and I were tag teaming lessons.  I taught note taking lessons and she allowed additional time for researching in her room.  This worked out great and allowed us to finish the project in two weeks.

Students generated a list of questions on the planet they were researching.  They understood they needed key facts about their planet, but knew to keep it interesting to their reader.  Majority of students worked on finding out the following information

  • where the planet is location in relation to the earth
  • could the planet sustain life 
  • did the planet have or has water
  • the number of  days/years it take to orbit the sun
  • size in relation to the sun and earth
  • how it was formed
  • if it has rings how they were formed and what purpose they have
  • how old the planet is
Some students took things further and others did less.  It really depended on what they were interested in knowing.  These questions guided their research.  Now it was time for students to learn how to find these answers. I then taught how to skim and and scan. I used a lesson from Read, Write Think and adapted it to fit my topics.  This was huge for the kids. Giving them permission to not read the entire book was such a relief to them.  We did however have to have some practice. Students had to really think about what they were looking for and where to possibly find it by using the Table of Contents and Index.  This was NOT mastered, but I plan on using this same researching outline later on in the school year so students can acquire more experience using this method.