My students are in the process of writing Narratives. We’ve been working on using quotation marks to indicate when our characters are speaking and my awesome partner in crime (Mr. Edwards – ERF) discovered this awesome website 219 words to use instead of said and I knew I had to share it with my class. We brainstormed our own list of Instead of Said words and I think they came up with an impressive list. We would welcome any of your own suggestions!
Today was the final day before the Christmas Break. If you work in a school or with children then you know that it’s a pretty crazy day. The children are so excited and it’s really difficult to get them to focus on any tasks. I’ve done the movie and popcorn on the last day, free time activities, games day. All which are pretty special things that the students enjoy but I wanted to end our 2013 on a real high. If you ask any of the students in the class what is their favourite thing about school they will likely tell you genius time. So I knew I had to something big with genius time.
My initial plan was to just let them go ahead and make their projects. But my wonderful colleague and husband Phil Young had his students engage in a genius time day and while it was a really positive learning experience for the students a few were left frustrated because they used their material to “practice” on but didn’t have successful results in the way that they wanted. With this in mind I realized that many of my students may not have ever baked, or sewn so that’s when I came up with Genius Trial Day. Basically I would supply the materials and group the students by similar topic. This left me with Bakers, Sewers, Builders, Gamers. I had a small handful of miscellaneous students but I let them join whichever group they wished. The groups had a component of working together (some more than others) and had specific materials and a set of instructions to follow. I expected to be really torn between the groups and frantic as I had raced between helping. But that wasn’t the case at all. The builders and gamers didn’t need me at all. Once I set the bakers up with reading and following a recipe and then how to properly fill a measuring cup and use the mixer they were good. The sewers felt frustrated at first but once they got the technique down they didn’t need me either. Except for the odd rethread. Having Mr. Edwards there was a huge help too. The room was busy, and a bit loud but not out of control loud. The buzz was a happy classroom community of students working together and creating something that they were all very proud of!
Their task was to bake chocolate chip cookies. Their recipe was easy and they organized themselves in an order to make sure they all had a fair share of the process. When it was their recess time they all decided to stay in and help me take their cookies to the staff room to bake and wash up the dishes. I don’t think I’ve even seen a group of 8 year olds so excited to bake. The smell wafting from the oven was amazing and they looked great! They tasted exactly as a chocolate chip cookie should. Right texture, right colour they were delicious. The smile on the Bakers faces was priceless they were so proud of themselves.
Their task was to create a mini stuffy out of a simple shape. I first had the students do practice stitches on scraps of fabric to get the hang of it. I purposely used stripped fabric so they could follow along a strip and told them to make their stitches not larger than 1cm (use their pinky nail as a guide). Once they had finished their practice they had to draw their shape on a newsprint, cut it out, trace it twice with a sharpie onto felt, cut out their felt and begin to sew their pieces together. Their instructions said to leave a thumb sized hole to stuff and then stitch closed. It was tricky for them at first and a bit of frustration but they really got the hang of it. Some of the sewers even made a second project.
They didn’t need me… at all. They split into two groups of 2 and their task was to create a lego maze. They had some initial planning and part of their instructions was to use kidrex (safe search engine powered by google) to search images of lego mazes. At first I asked them to use grid paper to plan out their maze but at the last minute I told them to forget it and just build. I’m so glad I did because they came up with really imaginative complex mazes. One was Zombie Apocalypse maze complete with little red lego zombies. The other had moving parts that could seal of accesses to the maze at any time. One of my students who is usually a reluctant learner was totally focused, engaged and immersed in the task so much that he was disappointed it was recess time. Normally he’s the first to jump up and get to the door when the bell rings. The other students when they had the chance to see what the builders were up to were amazed.
Admittedly I may have ignored the gamers but they REALLY didn’t need me. They had such a blast and they were creating games and sharing their games with one another and laughing and talking and it was lovely. The best part is the group consisted of three boys who are friends but don’t make great choices together and a fourth that doesn’t normally get along with the other 3. I was secretly happy that I could ignore them because they were collaborating beautifully I kind of didn’t want to wreck their momentum. The gamers created games using the iPad mini’s and an app called Sketch Nation. I first instructed them to use simple mode and then go onto advanced. They rocked it. For their actual projects I know they all want to create games and apps but I”m not 100% where to go with it but looking for suggestions for sure!
I for sure got my wish. To end the first part of our 2013 grade 3 year on a high. If you can only imagine the amount of fun AND learning that was going on on the last day of school before Christmas break you’d be totally floored. I can’t wait to see what these guys come up with for their individual projects.
Saturday October 5th was Global Cardboard Challenge which celebrates the anniversary of the flash mob documentary Caine’s Arcade communities globally celebrated child play, creation and innovation.
My students love Caine’s Arcade. I used the video as a method for launching Genius Hour and it’s the one thing that really got them hooked. They couldn’t believe that a kid their age could create something so cool and they loved that he is famous. You should have heard their squeals of delight when they noticed @cainesarcade was following us on Twitter 🙂 very exciting! Anyway when I read about the Global Cardboard Challenge I knew this was something we would have to participate in.
True to grade 3B form my students ROCKED this challenge. It’s funny how when you give kids something creative, hands on and open ended there are zero behaviour issues, zero children feeling frustrated and deflated. You get pairings of kids working together that you would never imagine but authentic collaboration, and discussion happens. Even the next day when I had the students reflect on their experience in their journals not a single student groaned. They really had a blast with the previous day so writing about it was a non-issue.
When I reflect back on the day I feel really proud of them. When I first came across this activity I hesitated participating. School life is busy right now and sometimes I worry with all of the “initiatives” I have going on with my class am I going to fit curriculum in? But the answer is yes. These initiatives support curriculum and they open students minds up to it. They become sponges and willing participants in their learning because they are excited keen to find out what “Ms. L-Y” has planned next.
The massive pile of cardboard in the middle of our carpet. You might not believe it but there was not a single piece left at the end!
Shameala created htis house. She added so many fine little details to it.
Hearing the story that went a long with Timothy’s robot was pretty cool. I’ll have to share his journal entry later
Do you think my apple love is having an influence on my students? Adam made an apple Mac Book!
Such amazing focus
My Grade 3 students are pretty amazing. They are your typical bunch of 23 7-8 year olds. Their ability ranges are diverse, they like Bey Blades, Monster High Dolls, iPods and Angry Birds. When I mention the word “partner” they stop listening and instantly arrange on the carpet who they are going to work with which means they stop listening to the instructions. This is what exactly went down on Thursday during my music lesson. We’ve been studying rhythm and I was modelling how to use the rhythm and Lummi sticks to create their own rhythms and I mentioned they would be doing this with a partner. That’s when then shifty eyes broke out and the points and whispers started. I had to break out the “girls and boys maybe I’m picking your partners” in order to continue the instructions. In the end I DID let them choose their partner and the only instruction was to not leave anyone out. This is where the amazing comes in. They didn’t choose partners that I predicted they would. They didn’t choose their closest friends or best bud since Kindergarten. They made sure that nobody was left behind. It made me realize that math and language aside that they’ve been learning to be kind, caring citizens and that amazes me!
The other amazing thing about that day was their rhythms. WOW give a kid a set of sticks, a pencil and a paper and tell them to create and the things they can come up with! I took a video and posted to my youtube channel so parents if you would like to view it send me a message and I will send you the link.
I am just so proud of these kids!
- What can I expect in my piano lessons? (joythiessenpianostudio.wordpress.com)
Let the fun begin!
I’m teaching grade 3 next year. A straight 3 as far as I know. Things could change once we reorganize in September but for now it’s grade 3. Last year I had a 2/3 but I didn’t start it until February when I returned back to work from maternity leave with my youngest, William. The group I had of 2/3’s were amazing. It says a lot about the teacher who was covering my leave actually. But on their own they were just really caring, kind and enthusiastic. I have many of the 2’s again in my 3 and I’m looking forward to spending the year with them once more.
I taught grade 3 a few years ago and I have to admit it was not my best year. For whatever reason the kids and I did not gel and they did not gel with one another. We lacked cohesion. Don’t get me wrong individually we were all fine but together we just did not fit. That experience unfortunately has left a negative grade 3 impression in my mind so I’m looking forward for this year to change that.
I’m currently working on my long range plans for this year while William sleeps and Keelyn watches Stella and Sam. Luckily my long range plans from before were developed by a great team of grade 3 teachers (there was 6 of us) so I have a good base now I can just infuse the 21st Century skills into it!