Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Marshmallow Challenge for 6th Graders...TEAMWORK, SUPPORT, COLLABORATION

The last day before break can be a bit tricky...for both students and teachers, that is!  We are all excited about the impending break from school, work, routine, the daily grind, etc.  I know that I really look forward to this time to focus on family, friends, and FUN!

Rather than a traditional end of day celebration with goodies, a craft, and a holiday movie, upon some Pinteresting I found the Marshmallow Challenge.  Check it out here:

Each group of students that arrives in August is a different crew than the one before.  We quickly realized this with this group.  While they possess some amazing attributes-teamwork, supporting one another, and collaboration are qualities that we are working to instill in them before they embark on the middle school.  For this reason, we decided to tackle the Marshmallow Challenge.

While we tweaked the true challenge a bit to fit the needs of our students, in a nutshell the students partnered up and given 50 minutes, teams needed to build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needed to be on top. 

We incorporated math into the task by requiring students to figure out costs of the needed materials including sales tax and then write a check to purchase their supplies.  This extended the time a bit, but made them participate in a life skill as well.

Before arriving in the cafeteria where we brought the entire 6th grade group to participate, I organized the bags of supplies to minimize having to count pieces of spaghetti, marshmallows, and measure tape and string.  Once we were settled, our team gave quick directions and the students were off to compute and create.  While I would have loved for them to have a reflection component, time flew by-so I will add that when we take on this project with next year's crew.

Take a look at the fun the students and my teammates had...clearly teamwork, supporting one another, and collaboration were in full effect!

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our visit to the Newport Aquarium

Today was a blast!  A day that our students needed to get out of the school learning environment and enjoy the opportunity to explore some new territory.  The Newport Aquarium was the perfect place.

We were greeted with the Penguin Parade as soon as we arrived.  We then quickly got into our groups, grabbed and read through our scavenger hunt questions, and we were off in many directions. 

While I have been here with my own kiddos a bazillion times, when you are seeking out specific information about the various critters, it is a tremendously valuable learning experience that goes far beyond just "viewing"...thanks for all of your hardwork scavenging and organizing, Mrs. Burns.

Here are some of the tidbits we learned...
  1. Cave Fish don't have eyes.  They don't need them because it is too dark for them to see anyway.
  2. A Giant Pacific Octopus lays up to 100,000 eggs at a time.  She has to, only a few survive into adulthood.
  3. Jelly Fish are made up of: 96% water, 2% protein, 2% salt.
  4. Sharks can go through as many as 1,000 teeth a year-up to 30,000 in a lifetime.
  5. Horseshoe Crabs have bluish/green blood.
  6. The most species of penguins live in Australia.
Check out our pics-what a blast!

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A special thanks to our awesome parent/chaperones: Mrs. Daniels, Mrs. Dunker, Mrs. Mellinger, and Mrs. Parsons.  We can't thank you enough for sharing the day with us!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Day of Silence for Sandy Hook

Holiday Classroom Craft-Candy Cane Reindeer

What a week!  While I have taught for 15 years, I don't think any school shooting has hit me quite as hard as the shooting in Connecticut on Friday.  As I drove home listening to AM radio to get more details, my heart was broken.  I am not a crier, but I wept for those moms and dads that did not have the opportunity to head home like I was, able to grab my kiddos and give them endless hugs and kisses. 

The shooting is not something I have chosen to talk about with my 6-year old, first grade son.  This is not in his realm of understanding, so I have made the choice to avoid all news stories with him around.  If questions arise, I will answer them, but I don't believe he is capable of understanding such ugliness and horror.  As a 36-year old, I struggle.  School is supposed to be a safe place with safe people!

So our weekend has been filled with playtime, basketball, shopping, and CRAFTING.  I am finding it hard to believe how quickly Christmas has come, and how much I have to do to prepare.  I will share that I do have a different perspective after the events of the week...the "perfect present" is no longer the worry or concern-time together is!

With a craft for my son's holiday party in question, we took to Pinterest.  We found a clever reindeer candy cane craft that he thought would be fun.  I headed out with my daughter to buy supplies and tweaked it a bit to make it as first grader friendly as possible.  I will be constructing these with my 6th graders, also.  They love to create and craft...

Materials: candy canes, brown pipe cleaner, red pom pom, a glue dot, adhesive googly-eyes, and a piece of tape.


Candy Cane Reindeer

As all of the craft bags were getting prepared, my kiddos took to gingerbread house making. Rather than one big battle or house, I opted for the four house village.  They had a blast with icing, constructing, and decorations, and they each get two to create.  Here are the first two, we will tackle the rest today!

Brennan's triangular creation!

Lilah's snow-covered cabin!
As you finish up your final school days before the holidays with your students, enjoy that time.  I know I will try to stress a bit less, and focus on the joy of our time together!  Happy Holidays and God Bless!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Context Clue FREEBIE and Hunger Games Music in the Classroom-A MUST SHOW video

This is the second year I have read the Hunger Games with my is a favorite.  Today was the day we got to the part of the feast.  Clove scared the pants off of everyone, and Thresh is a new favorite character...

I LOVE that my students just want to read "one more page, one more paragraph, one more sentence?!"  Even better, they BEG to take the book to their next class.   Sorry teaching teammates! 

Our learning target this week is using context clues.  We have been focusing on that concept/skill since day one, but this book offers a ton of opportunities for students to use context clues to determine meanings of unknown words.  Today we came to words like scant, incoherence, tethered, plummeting, poised, etc.  My students were using context clue strategies like crazy.  It was exciting to observe.

Here is the interactive flap we used and I included the notes we recorded below...

With a day full of "context cluing" I thought it might be fun to share some songs from the movie that they could continue to practice their strategies with.  While this song doesn't possess many words that require using context clues, I thought it was a really cool video that my students will enjoy. 

With only five chapters to go-three after tomorrow, my students will have the perfect tool to introduce them to a theme of the novel...

Last year we had the opportunity to take the students to see the movie after completing the novel in the theater the day after opening day.  We were a bit bent on giving this year's crew the same learning opportunity as one aspect of common core is comparing and contrasting a print and nonprint text.

This year a local theater is giving us the opportunity to rent out one of their theater rooms so that the students have the chance to see the movie in the theater setting at a fairly low cost-PRETTY COOL!  Don't ever be afraid to ask...people love to help out teachers!

I will post pictures of our end of novel projects as well as our journey to the theater.  Stay tuned!  Lots to come before winter break!

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