Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Readers Theater, Blogging and some news

I can't believe that we are in week four of school, it is flying by already! I will FINALLY be done with orientations this week and I feel like the REAL year can start!

I am again working with our 4th grade focus teacher (what our county calls it's gifted classes) on a Readers Theater project as part of her language arts currciulum. Since this is our second year doing this project, we feel like we have a better idea of what our students are capable of and how to pace the lessons. This year we have two big classes (14 and 16 students) so instead of starting off with just one readers theater script for the whole class, we have had to break the class into two groups. We decided to choose scripts that are related to each other so we can also add in some writing exercises to the project and we wanted scripts with a little humor for our first project. We choose to do two adaptations of the three little pigs stories, The Three Litte Pigs by James Marshall and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.

We are on week three of our project. So far we have introduced the concept of Reader's Theater to the students, read them the books from which the reader's theater was adapted from and have given out the scripts. As part of this project we wanted to integrate technology into it. Last we we produced a podcast and a slide share slide show (with the students narrating the slides). This year we wanted to start using technology right off the bat, so we started a blog for each class. I wrote the introduction on the blog and we are choosing 3-4 students each class period (each class meets once a week) to blog. This week our question that they had to answer on the blog was: What do you think of reader's theater so far? Each blog entry will be counted as a language arts grade for this class.

Check out our Tuesday class blog here. Check back on Thursday and our Thursday class blog should have some student entries in it. Only one student really knew what a blog was when we introduced it today, but they all got so excited about it, even at bus call today I had students asking if they could come in at lunch tomorrow and blog!

In in other news, today I was announced as one of three finalists for our schools teacher of the year. The other two finalists are SOO much more deserving than I am and are such FABULOUS teachers, but it is such an honor to be recognized - and my Principal gave me flowers, so it was a great day today!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Off and Running and Where I'm From

What a crazy two weeks it has been, but a good crazy! Lots of orientations (I have almost all the grades done, first grade is this week and Kindergarten next week) and lots of kids checking out books already!

I am teaching a fifth grade special this year. I am splitting the teaching with our technology teacher and I have the first five rotations. The first rotation (we run on a six day schedule) we did my media center orientation (I thought since I had them in here I would get it out of the way.) The second rotation I decided to start a project using our state database system, Galileo. I decided to adapt the lesson plan, Where I'm from in Galileo for my students. Basically, the lesson starts off with us discussing the poem by George Ella Lyon, Where I'm From. Then I introduce them to the Galileo databases and I tell them that we are going to use these databases to find information on the place where we live now and we are going to create a Where I'm From poem and PowerPoint presentation on what we have found in the databases about our town. I show them a sample of a Where I'm from in Galileo PowerPoint (provided in the link above) and I also created a Where I'm From PowerPoint (but I did not use Galileo to find images since I am not from Georgia).

I am planning on this being a 3-4 class project. The first class period I spent explaining the project and showing them examples and then showing them how to save images off the database to their home drives on our server. The next class period will be spent gathering the images for their PowerPoint and writing their poem (the link above also includes a template for their poem). The third and fourth class will be spent creating their PowerPoint.

So far, the biggest obstacle - the kids do not know how to spell the name of the town they live in -Lawrenceville. Now, I can understand if they had just moved to the area, but many of these kids have lived here most of their lives. This was an obstacle I wasn't planning on with fifth graders!

Here is my Where I'm from PowerPoint, hopefully I will be able to share some of my students in a few weeks.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back To School

Was it just me or did summer just FLY by. Well, we are back to school and things are already crazy here in the media center. This year I am co-teaching a 5th grade technology special with the technology teacher here at school and I am really looking forward to it - although the first round of the special is regular old media center orientation, i think it will be exciting for the students to learn some new things in the computer lab.
I created a video again this year as part of my orientation - it saves me from having to repeat the same things 36 times, and it is pretty funny. I had some staff kids (including my own son) star in the video - funny thing was, all the kids wanted to be the "bad" examples (like how you shouldn't RUN in the media center). I am hoping to upload it to TeacherTube - while it really is very specific to MY media center, I am thinking that other people might want to use my ideas to make their own. I will post it if I get it uploaded.

I also started off the year by giving my staff goody bags - they were willed with information about the media center, our databases (Galileo) and some of our other subscription services (like BrainPop). I also included a sweet treat - orange creamcicle cookies - it took awhile to bake enough cookies for the whole staff (I packaged them in packages of 3 cookies) but I think it was worth it.

Here is a little slide show of some images from our first week.