Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Spring Cleaning

Well, spring cleaning has hit me. And it hit me pretty hard today. I knew I needed to get all the papers and clay and trinkets taken away from kids and crayons and broken headphones and envelopes and candy off of my desk. So I did. And I put it on my students' desks. Well, for a little while, that is.

I used Chlorox wipes to sanitize my dusty desk, wiped everything dry and organized everything as if school starts tomorrow. I created a workspace that I can finally use! My desk usually ends up in a dumping ground by the end of the day. And each day I say I'm going to clean it, but there are so many other pressing issues, that it gets pushed aside for "tomorrow".

Since I'm on spring break this week, and my husband gets two days off, I'm taking advantage of his days off to spend with our son while I clean and clean and clean and organize my classroom. Tomorrow is finally today! Thursday will be my planning day. Today I am armed with Chlorox wipes and a determination to feel less anxious about the state of my classroom. So far so good!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Yes and.... (A Partner Building Activity)

I can remember years ago playing a team building activity when I first started teaching. It was called "Yes and...". The object of the activity is to stay positive, support your peers, and to not use the word "no".

We were given the task of creating a new cell phone. Now, back then, smartphones weren't really in use just yet, so I'm guessing some of our ideas for the phone wouldn't be as exciting today. However, I'm going to do my best to show you how the game works.

Person A draws a very basic cell phone. Person B says, "Yes, and ______".  They draw this as they are talking about it. Only one thing gets added at a time. If you play this with a group, everyone must take turns. When Person B says, "Yes and..." they might say something like, "Yes, and the phone could be magnetic so it can stick to the dry erase board so we don't lose it!" Then Person A takes a turn:

"Yes and the phone could have a secret compartment in the back to stash your car keys so you don't lose them either." (In this day and age, you can you use your cell phone to find your keys!)

Person B: "Yes, and the phone has a button you can push to change the color of the phone based on your mood."

This goes on and on as the amazing new and improved cell phone gets drawn.

Today, my students started reading about inventors in their anthologies. This reminded me of the "Yes and..." game. I gave them an example of a desk. Here is a picture of the completed desk:

It has a palm tree lamp, an iPad built into the desk, it has four legs so I can take it anywhere, and a water slide for days when I just feel like kicking back!

Since I didn't want my students copying me, I had the students invent a chair. This activity encourages students to gain trust with their partner, practice their drawing skills, as well as their English. They absolutely loved it. After drawing, they wrote about it. Tomorrow they will present their new inventions. I highly recommend this activity!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Kitten's First Full Moon

Last week my students read the story, "Kitten's First Full Moon" in their anthologies. What a CUTE story! The kitten sees the moon and thinks it's a bowl of milk. He tries again and again to get the bowl of milk to no avail. But in the end, there is a nice bowl of milk waiting for him at home.

Since my school is a magnet school for art, math, science, and technology, I decided to incorporate the science and art portion into the lesson. In our Treasures anthologies and leveled readers, the topic is space. We talked about the moon and read about some astronauts (as well as astronaut food). We talked about how when the moon is with us, the sun is on the other side of Earth. We talked about the different shapes of the moon (a little bit of math there) and what we can/can't do at night.

I gave each student a scratch board. Now, if you aren't familiar with these, they are AMAZING. I've been using them for years and even entered a few pieces in the county fair growing up. Basically, it looks like a giant scratcher lotto ticket. But when you scratch, there is color underneath. I've used some that are white or silver underneath. This particular packet was multicolored.

Since the package only came with six scratch pencils, I improvised and used popsicle sticks. This worked well. It took a little bit for the kids to get used to it. So we started with drawing the moon first.  We then made a cityscape. Here is one student's rendition:

Since we took a field trip to San Francisco a few months back, my students were excited when I mentioned we would also draw a bridge. Many of them said they were drawing the Golden Gate as they reminisced driving over it in the bus:

Overall, it was a fun lesson and the kids were engaged and excited. I still have a package of scratchboard left and can't wait to plan our next lesson using them!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Solids, Liquids, and VEGGIES?!

We did it! We managed to drink our veggies!!! And we managed to talk about turning a solid into a liquid as well as write about it!!! I SCORED!

This past week our delivery of "Harvest of the Month" was broccoli. Sounds gross, I'm not a fan of raw broccoli, but I played it off pretty well. They brought a cutting board, a knife, and a two heads of fresh broccoli! I told the kids that the next day we would be turning some solids into liquids and drinking our veggies. They were skeptical, but some donated some fresh fruit and veggies for the occasion.

The next day I brought my juicer, Dixie cups, some red and green apples, a bag of carrots, some celery, green beans, beets, and oranges. We juiced all of the above to much joy and amazement at the ever-changing color of the juice. Even my most skeptical students buckled down and drank a swig of the bright red juice. Most were okay with it. I didn't put very much broccoli or green beans in it, but I could taste them.

Since there were quite a few apples and oranges left over, I told them I'd make them some apple and orange juice. I threw in a few carrots, while somehow managing to convince my most disappointed customer that he wouldn't even be able to taste them. He finally agreed and slurped down his cup!

I felt like the most accomplished teacher EVER! The kids ate the raw broccoli, then wrote about it. They drank their juice, then wrote about it. (It lent itself perfectly to learn about adjectives and our senses.)

And got fresh veggies in their systems!? I'm one happy teacher. They wanted to know when the next round of juicing it. I may have to schedule another one when we visit the farmer's market in a few months.

Monday, March 18, 2013

That "New Class" Feeling

Ever feel like you have so much to say that you can't say anything? Yeah...me neither. I usually have so much to say, so I just end up saying it. This doesn't really have anything to do with anything, I was just thinking about how many blog posts have been slowly taking up space in my mind and I'm finally getting around to posting them. HOORAY!

Although procrastination has always been my strong suit, I am finding that at times it can be a hinderance. Like when I procrastinate on doing laundry, it only makes a larger pile of laundry for me to get to. And when I procrastinate on paying the garbage bill, it only adds to the bill...until I remember to pay it...and can't find it...and then find it...and remember I'm on direct pay, so it doesn't really matter anyway.

So yeah...my life is feeling a little hectic these days.

I remember back in August when my classroom was clean, the desks were straight, the bookshelves were organized, and the pencils were all sharp waiting for students to come get them. I could breathe deeply and not worry about what was on the agenda for the week or when I'd find time to grade the tests, or change my focus wall...or walls. I didn't worry about whose parents I'd have to call to talk about what their student chose to do instead of using the restroom, or how I was going to clean glue off the floor while the guest teacher was visiting. I could just sit in the silence of a sunny summer afternoon and daydream about how perfect my future class was going to be.

*sigh* Those were the days.

And they will be here again soon. The sandals weather I have been experiencing for the past week reminds me...so does all the tattling and boy/girl issues. I am counting down the days. I can't wait for summer. I can't wait for that "new class" feeling all over again. It never gets old.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Solids, Liquids, and Gases

Having never taught first grade science before, I've come across the most challenging unit yet...Matter. I've found a few things on TPT about solids and liquids, but gases are a WHOLE OTHER STORY! 

Here's a little experiment my kiddos did today:

I had them fill out a chart for what they saw, what they predict, and what happened. They drew it, they wrote it....and they were super excited. They were even MORE excited to see that their teacher forgot that the sparkling water had fallen upon entering the classroom. Yeah...the foaming over was quite a sight to see, but also a teachable moment.

We also played a game yesterday. I put signs on four of my P.E. cones. I spread them out on the playground far enough where they would have to run between them. I called out a word and they had to run to the cone that they felt best described it. If there were kids at more than one cone, I'd ask them to explain WHY they chose that form of matter. Some of their answers were quite entertaining. The question mark was there for when they aren't sure. I gave an example of "kumquat". If they weren't sure what it was, they could go to that cone and I'd give them a clue. I told them, "A kumquat is a type of fruit." This helped them in their decision.

I did throw in a few to really get their brains going. Most kids picked blood as a liquid. Then I threw this one at them..."What is Mrs. Magallano?" Several kids picked solid, while the rest picked liquid. One kid picked gas and I secretly laughed. 

One of the students who picked liquid rationalized by saying, "Well, you said blood was a liquid, and there's blood inside you, so I think you're a liquid too!"

I love those moments!

In a few weeks we will be studying how these forms of matter can interact with each other. I can't wait to change some solids into liquids. I plan on bringing my juicer and letting the kids taste some veggie/fruit juice! OH I CAN'T WAIT!!!

If you have any great ideas about how to teach solids, liquids, and gases, please let me know! I'm always looking for good ideas!