Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween


I hope your day at school was mostly good and calm, but I doubt it. In the spirit of what can be one of the craziest days of the school year, a laugh for you:
Funny Halloween Ecard: 'I'm so happy Halloween falls on a Wednesday this year!' said no teacher ever.

Have a great day (and sneak some candy from the kids)!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Vote for Somebody!

One week to Election Day! 

One of Awesome Teaching Partner's students found this video today.  Isn't it adorable?!  Fourth grade students at Harlem Prep sang "Vote for Somebody" to the tune of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe."

Hopefully this will inspire YOU to vote and show your students the importance of exercising one of our most important civic rights and responsibilites.  (And it will probably be stuck in your head the rest of the day!)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Character Collages

This week we're launching our next piece of writing, character essays. To help the students brainstorm, we created these collages for each character.

Each student had to think about the internal and external traits of their character and use magazines and drawings to fill in a silhouette. The level of artistic expression varied, but overall we had fun starting to think about ways to describe a character.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thank You!

This week our grant committee will be presenting to the foundation that sponsored Cynthia Lord's visit.  I recruited sweet sister and her mad video skills  to work with me on producing this video for our presentation.  Enjoy the highlights.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Happy Cynthia Lord Day!

{one day belated}

Yesterday and the day before we were blessed with a visit by the real-life Cynthia Lord (author of Rules, Touch Blue, Hot Rod Hamster, and Happy Birthday Hamster) to our very own school!  It was such a lovely day, thanks to the many great teachers and administrators who helped along the way.

Me and my new Newbery buddy
She shared lots of funny stories, insight on the novel, and my favorite, lots of tips for writers (young and old!).  Here are some of my favorite quotes:
The four ways to become an author:  read, write, learn, dream.
You don't have to be perfect when you're an author.
I start to think about all the possibilities, and that is how I decide what to write about.
I was trying to write the book [I] couldn't find.
The story in my head is always so much better than those first draft pages.
From Jame Smiley "Every first draft is perfect, because all the first draft has to do is exist."
Dare not to be perfect.  Dare to keep working on your story despite that little voice in your head that says, 'This is not very good.'
Every story follows a formula: Want, Obstacles, and Win?  What does your character want?  What is in your character's way?   What does he or she do to try to get it?  Does your character get what they want?
Until you tell the reader the "want" and the "obstacle," they don't know what the story is about.
There is no substitute for experience. (in writing sensory details)
Your imagination is actually too perfect.  If you just imagine your entire book totally out of your head, all the people and places in it, you'll often imagine something you've seen on tv.
I pay special attention to anything that surprises me.  The surprises that you couldn't have imagined often become the gold in the description.
I live for that smiley face. (in reference to her editor's marks during revision)
The kids (and teachers) loved it! Thanks, Cynthia!  We can't wait for Loonsong to come out!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pay It Forward

As part of our exciting visit with author Cynthia Lord (I'll tell you more tomorrow) we've been challening our students to "Pay it Forward" for 30 days. 

This started with two awesome teachers last year and has grown to the whole fifth grade this time around. Find our description below:

I was thrilled to be involved this year in expanding that effort.  Part of this has included the creation of business cards for students to distribute as they went out to do acts of kindness. 

Each of these cards includes a link to our Pay it Forward Project Blog.  The most exciting part of all of this is hearing the community response on our blog.  I can't wait to hear more from my students as we wrap up our challenge next week.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Columbus Day!

Another post coming at you compliments of sister...

In honor of Columbus Day, a poem for you:

Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue
Columbus sailed the ocean blue
Back in 1492.
He sailed across and spotted land,
A beach, and people on the sand.

He called them Indians because
He had no idea where he was,
India was just a guess.
When in doubt, declare success.
by Ramon Montaigne
I hope you have a good one!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Nothing Gold Can Stay"

My sweet sister shared this poem on her blog, Presbydestrian (highly recommend you check it out!).  Since I'm the big sister, I didn't think she'd mind if, like a favorite sweater from her closet, I borrowed it from her (well, Rob Frost REALLY).
I am so blessed that she and I share a love of reading and marvel over the words of authors and poets.  We had some amazing writing teachers and wonderful parents that always emphasized that reading is a reward and privilege.  In our home, there was never a threat to make us read for bad behavior, but rather we heard, "No story at bedtime!" and took that prompting to change our behavior (usually!).
Without further ado, in honor of all the beautiful changing leaves, a poem by Robert Frost, Nothing Gold Can Stay:
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Happy fall!

OCSS Conference

I spent a few days this past week at the Ohio Council for Social Studies Convention in Columbus.  The conference delved into the present and future of SS teaching in the state.

Conference Highlights/Sources:  It's a really neat visual representation of geographic and social data at a world level throughout history. This came out of a session on integrating math and science in Social Studies.

National Geographic's Map Machine  really cool maps that can be fully edited to include labels, latitude and logitude, or any other features you want to include or not.  I'll be using this for sure.  This was from a presentation by the Ohio Geography Alliance.

A quote from presenter David Staley, "We can not longer teach with a focus on answers.  We need to focus on thinking."  His analogy about this tech-driven world was, "We're only five years away from Siri and Watson (of Jeopardy super-computer fame) getting married."  School should not be about accessing a data bank of knowledge.  Amen!

Have you heard of the PBS show History Detectives?  I really want to start watching it.  They are doing the work of  making theories, organizing and uncovering evidence, interpreting, writing historical narratives, and engaging in discussion and debate.  This is history "as a verb" as one presenter explained it.

Mostly I realized my district is already doing a lot of things right, which is always a good thing to take away.  All in all, it was a great way to feel up to date with current social studies pedagogy and a good time bonding with a few colleagues who attended.