Friday, April 29, 2016

15 Sappy End of the Year Slideshow Songs

Every once in a great while, you have a class of kids that when you think about them...or see photos of them while you are hearing just the right song, that singular, solitary tear leaks out of your eye.  Welp....this is my year! :) Totally in love with my littles and I can't wait to put together the perfect end of the year 'sapfest'.  If you are in the mood to reminisce about an amazing year with some phenominal kids...if you're in the mood to create a slideshow with music guaranteed to have all your parents crying 'happy tears' while they watch images of their amazing learners this year, try a few of these songs out.  
Note: A few tears *may* have been shed while getting the videos together for this post. #imjustsayin
15. Home by Philip Phillips
14. Hall of Fame by The Script
13. Here's to the Night by Eve 6
12.You'll Be In My Heart by Phil Collins
11. A Moment Like This by Kelly ClarksonSee You Again Wiz Khalifa Featuring Charlie Puth
10. When You Believe by Mariah Carey
9. It's So Hard to Say Goodbye by Boyz to Men
8. Forever Young
7. I Will Remember You by Sarah MacLachlan
6. See You Again by Wiz Khalifa featuring Charlie Puth
5. Gone, Gone, Gone -Phillip Phillips
4. Roots Before Branches by Glee
3. A Thousand Years by Christina Perri
2. Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift
1. When We Were Young by Adele
In my last weeks with my students we'll be creating some cute memory satchels to remind ourselves of some of the great adventures we had together this year! :)
Want this for your class?  Click HERE for the pack on TPT.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

STEAM in the Primary Classroom: Making Bubbles


I love integrating science into my reading block.  A unit on bubbles is a great way to finish out the year. 
Since we're a STEAM school, we have to have several STEAM activities throughout the year.  In first grade, each classroom does a special experiment and creates a science fair board to present their information.  Last year, our experiments we decided to create our own bubble solution.  It was a ton of fun to experiment with creating that...but then also extending our understanding with other science experiments, texts and activities that created deeper understanding of the content and objectives for the reading, math and science.

Any STEAM unit will have activities that focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math.  I tied the activities in with other books on bubbles so that I could build background knowledge on the actual science behind bubbles.  We did lots of different types of experiments too! :) We did sink and float experiments, along with some density experiments too! :) For the Technology component, I had my students use virtual geoboards to explore two dimensional shapes.  They LOVED it! :) Since a bubble is a sphere, it was an easy tie in to first grade geometry standards for sure.
We were able to use foam three dimensional shapes to create towers.  This completed our Engineering requirement. For the Art, we created paintings with bubble solution and paint!  It was a ton of fun and the art was so distinctive.  The kids had a blast with that for sure!  As I mentioned earlier, the math was mostly based on standards that we could cover in geometry.  Kids can always use additional support with data analysis, and so, I added a few graphing sheets based on survey questions the kids could ask in class. The science experiment sheets walk students through the scientific method.  There are even bubble fluency sheets and a literacy center too! :) It has a little bit of everything and was a huge hit! 

 Our science lab was all about creating the best bubbles!  After we created the solutions, tested them and recorded our results, I put together this science fair board for my students to use.  All of the pieces of it are in the pack as well.  They are empty, so you'll have to type in your own results, but you can have all the pieces of the layout that I made.
The board came out great and the kids had a blast helping me put together the information.  I hope you'll be able to use a few of the ideas to craft your own unit.  If you just want to use the one I created, check it out HERE.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Breaking Down the Standards with Primary Learners

One of the things that I have become more passionate about over the years is digging into the standards. I've always been a standards based teacher, but in the last six years, I think I've worked on taking what I already do to a new level.  My old grade chair left our school two years ago to become a personalized learning specialist. She came back mid year to become our Curriculum Resource Teacher (CRT).  Basically, her job is to help teachers create lessons that are rooted in the standards and highly engaging. I am so excited about getting to work with her! Her old school was big into personalized learning and she's sharing some of that knowledge with our staff now too.  I didn't think I'd be all that good at it, but...after watching a few videos and a few encouraging chats with my CRT, I was ready to give a few things a try! :)  The first thing that I started to do with my kids was break down the standards.  Now, I've already DONE this work for myself...and frankly, I was a bit skeptical about what six year olds would be able to do with this...but...my kids are INTO IT.  #bigtime
I would say that in some primary classrooms, it might be best to start with the I Can statement and break that apart for deeper understanding.  In Kindergarten, I might model this most of the year with I Can statements and have them move towards independence on this in the fourth quarter.
Want to use this with your learners?  Click HERE for a copy of this for your class.
We use a lot of rubrics in my room and we talk about the levels of the rubrics often.  I tied that language into what I wanted to use with my students for digging into the standards.
Here's what I did to implement this in my room.

1.) Review the standard ahead of time to see if it needs to be broken down into parts, or if it is short enough that a unit of study will be enough to teach it to mastery.
2.) Have the students write down the part of the standard you're teaching, or print it on a label for them to use.
3.) Pull out the nouns and verbs for reflection.
4.) Have students develop their own I Can statements based on their understanding of the standard.

I don't have unlimited copies, and so it was more practical to have the students write in their composition books for this.  I made a cuter sheet for presentations and the occasional observation, but.....most of the time, I just have my students write like what you see in the example.
I just use one small part of the standard at a time, based on what I am teaching.  So, for example, with what I put here, I'd start with making my main goal for instruction to be introducing a topic in an opinion piece.  Later on in the year I will add more of the standard and add to the goals. I have had students write the standard, but I've also typed it up on labels and stuck them on there too! :) After we discuss the standard, then we pull out the verbs and nouns.  I go over the definitions of what the words mean and then help them to come up with an I Can Statement.  If you want to bump up the progress monitoring aspect, have them write 0,1,2,3,4 at the bottom of the page and circle where they are at the beginning of the lesson and then circle where they are at the end of the lesson or series of lessons to accomplish the goal.
My students have really enjoyed digging into the standards with me, and several of them are telling me that they want to be teachers!  When they have play time, some of them are practicing breaking down their own versions of the standards.  It's pretty precious! :) I have firsties, and they are able to do it...so, I think this strategy would even be more impactful with bigger kids...and especially kids who are at risk in their academics.  Try it in your classroom and let me know how it goes! :)