Back when I was a camp counselor a few years ago, I made lots of fun crafts with the children that my fellow counselors taught me. One of them was the Monster Bookmark – it was really fun to teach kids how to fold it up and allow them to be creative with the eyes and teeth. I rediscovered these on Pinterest and reminisced about the fun times at camp 🙂I thought it could also work as a fun craft at the beginning of the year to encourage my students to see the fun in reading. The “monsters” mouths are biting the page that you left off at so it should be exciting to keep reading and see what page he can eat next! The bookmarks could also be related to math since the students have to fold the pages into various shapes (triangles, squares, diamonds). Art should always be incorporated anywhere it can be because it isn’t a subject in many schools nowadays.
Do you ever feel the need to WIGGLE all your stress out?
Well, that’s what I love about dancing! I did dance classes when I was younger and was always into moving around outside. It is important to have some form of exercise that makes you feel calm and energized – for me, that is dancing. I try to do zumba classes once a week, just simply dance to music in my car, or in my living room after I get home. Dancing really gets your endorphins up and you can play songs you like! For the way I do it, it is important to laugh at myself and have fun – sometimes, dancing can be taken too seriously like for competitions or performances. It is exciting at the beginning when you are learning the moves, but after practicing it for what feels like a hundred times, it can be dull. That is not a great way for me to build up my positivity. I enjoy dancing to a routine sometimes though as well as just randomly jumping around.
I think dancing can be a great way for children to exercise as well – dance is a wonderful art form that teaches children about beats as well as music and simple movement of their bodies. My writing teacher last term had a wide repertoire of talents he enlightened us with, and one of them was teaching dancing to students. We learned some ethnic dances like the polka, the promenade mixer, Pata Pata, and Ma Navu (they were great ways to involve everyone and some were partner dances that rotate which helps students mingle with different people). I found a fun poem I wanted to share 🙂
“We dance for laughter,
we dance for tears,
we dance for madness,
we dance for fears,
we dance for hopes,
we dance for screams,
we are the dancers,
we create the dreams.”
I taught a math lesson today using a packet and I could tell the students weren’t very engaged. It was difficult for me because I really want to teach math with exciting activities that allow the students to explore, but the concept was difficult – they were learning how to multiply fractions by whole numbers and there were parts of the packet that my CT needed me to cover for state testing (like various models, and an equation). The students were focused and working the whole time, including when I walked around to check in/help them, BUT I knew it was BORING and didn’t know how to change it up quickly without my CT’s permission. The Skillful Teacher discusses the importance of altering lessons based on the student feedback and constantly gauging their moods. I really want to be a good teacher, but today was definitely a tough reflection on myself It really frustrated me today because with upper level math, it is difficult for me to find hands-on lessons (especially with the area model). I wanted to do something related to a human number line or fraction bar, but it wouldn’t really apply to everything that we needed to teach today. The math class that I took in the master’s program only really discussed the importance of analyzing student’s ways of solving problems and having a few present how they got their answers – this doesn’t relate to the math I’m teaching this week! I found a lesson for tomorrow (multiplication of fraction and fraction) that I hope will be more engaging. This reminds me of the quote at the top of my blog about needing to be involved in order to learn. I want to have more of a discovery-type lesson where I don’t tell the students how to multiply fractions (the equation), but I hope it doesn’t create too much frustration or confusion. Discovering concepts shouldn’t be easy, however, since it isn’t my class, it may be difficult to keep the momentum.
If you know of any great 5th grade level math activities, I would love to hear them! (comment below)
I discovered an activity on Pinterest that involves buckets for each student on the wall that they fill with kind comments every day, and really liked it! I think it is a really great idea to encourage student community and make everyone feel validated. I have thought about some ramifications that could come up though – some students might have tons of comments in their buckets, and others (who are more outsiders) have only a few or comments that aren’t very personal. One way that I have seen a teacher work with students on compliments is by explaining good compliments during morning meetings. She allows the students to start with more superficial compliments about someone’s outfits, personality, etc BUT the goal is to work up to “good” compliments. Good compliments involve actual events that happen with the person or something you noticed that you want to acknowledge. This process could also work with the buckets. I would want to create sample comments that we could analyze together as a class to help them know how to really make someone feel appreciated 🙂 Tactile daily activities like this are very important to me. I want my classroom to feel like a family and the best way to make the students feel close to each other is through something like a compliment bucket – during afternoon meetings, there would be time for students to share some of the things they wrote down to bring us closer together. There are always students who feel left out, but hopefully, if you work on building a community, everyone can be validated. I would be taking place in this activity as well so my students know that I appreciate them every day!
“Today you are YOU, that is TRUER than true. There is NO ONE alive who is YOUER than YOU!” ~ Dr. Seuss
In my motivation and management class today, we had a very powerful activity in which we analyzed children’s books and videos on the effects of bullying. It really affected me because I was bullied when I was younger and it is important for children to understand that even simple remarks about someone’s appearance can be hurtful. At the beginning of the term, my CT was teaching a bullying unit that touched on many of these issues. It was about reflecting on who you are and connecting with other people in the class, as well as having deeper conversations. Children need to have discussions about their experiences and how other people reacted when they told them. Bullying is a major cause of suicide and depression – it is a horrible action that people won’t stop doing unless they know the ramifications and full effects. This experience can be very heartwrenching since the students are sharing about personal issues going on. My CT also went through the packet with her responses before the children completed it, which helped build community and allow them to be vulnerable with each other. I found the Dr. Seuss quote a while back and thought it went very well with this post 🙂 It can be difficult when someone is putting who you are down, but you have to remember that you are meant to be an individual and you have a purpose on this Earth as well! People shouldn’t tell you who to be or how to act because they aren’t in charge of your life. With all the cliques out there, it can be hard not to feel the need to alter yourself in order to fit in, BUT children need to understand that changing who you are is actually harder than just being yourself. Do what comes naturally and accept those who accept you 🙂 I also wrote a poem after class because I had to get my reflective thoughts out – click here to read: The Unnoticed
Earlier tonight, I watched the Oscars and it made me think of the impact that quality entertainment has on society and on myself. I didn’t catch all the nominees this time around, but the ones I did were very powerful! Movies are similar to books in the sense that you can get sucked in and attached to the characters if they catch your interest. This year’s films really did that – I nearly cried watching some, was very motivated and excited during others, and just emotionally changed at the end. I think a GREAT way to keep getting through graduate school is to make sure to have a movie night every now and then – it doesn’t need to involve going out to the theater (because I know that we are all quite poor due to debt and using what we have on essentials). Finding something online or watching some of your favorites on DVD can be great ways to forget about the real world and be sucked into the wonder of the movie. At the beginning of grad school, I watched Black Fish and it really made me re-think what I knew about SeaWorld. You can watch movies just for fun of course too! I just recently watched Up again and it put me in such a good mood 🙂 Movies make such an impact on my life because I really focus and try not to make comments – it’s important to me to get the whole experience and story. I hope you enjoy watching movies with friends or by yourself when you can!
“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” – Stacia Tauscher
I found this quote when I was looking for one to put in my sidebar, and it really resonated with me. Education primarily focuses on testing that affects the next year, content that builds on itself, and skills that will be beneficial later in life. It is important to remember that children have things that affect them every day and they live in the moment. I don’t want to force them to live in the NEXT moment – connecting the content to their current state that day and what is going on around them should help keep the focus. Adults are often thinking days ahead with lists and events in the future, which makes it difficult not to teach children with the same mindset. There are also so many things that need to be incorporated into the curriculum in order for them to be successful. You can still tie those in, but don’t make them the whole point of the lesson. They don’t know the later content yet, so why would you bring it up? Take each step in the process as it comes, without talking about how it will help them in the future. I think this was an important topic to discuss because schools are stuck in the mindset of “tomorrow’s child,” and it is up to the teachers to alter this in their individual classes. The teaching style doesn’t need to be changed that much – just the way you explain concepts and connect it to their current lives. Many teachers automatically use the reason that it will be useful later when their students ask why a concept is important. Later doesn’t help them in the moment right now; let’s channel today’s child now and worry about tomorrow’s when it comes.
Since my classroom theme is going to be safari, I have started looking for ideas for how to make it really connected and standout. The Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes website had a great activity on it that I would share. She had a sensory bin with safari creatures, and ground in it for the students to manipulate and explore. I think this idea seems very engaging and a wonderful way for the students to have a mini safari in the room! It wasn’t too difficult to re-create either (I won’t have the authentic African bowls, but other than that, the beans and animals are easy to find). With the younger grades, which I hope to teach, there are so many hands-on activities that I can incorporate to really connect with them in a fun way. There is definitely a standard about different animals and habitats, so I could connect safari terrain to that 🙂 It is important for children to be excited to learn, and since you can’t actually take the class to Africa, you can bring Africa to the room in miniature. With a theme, I think it is beneficial if you can have as many things connect to it as possible in your room so the students really understand that it ties everything together. It is also a fun way for them to organize materials and keep track of the main ideas.
Silly Student Doing #2:
We went on a field trip today in my field placement. The bus ride there and back had some very entertaining students who wanted to “be animals.” On the way to the logging conference, the boy in front of me decided to start honking like a goose all the way there. He was getting in people’s faces and doing it out the window. I made sure he wasn’t invading people’s space, but stopping him from making the noise didn’t turn out very well. He became the honking goose-boy on the bus! The second student who decided to act like an animal was a different boy on the ride back to school. It was a pretty warm day today, so the windows were down in a few seats. The boy behind me pulled his window all the way down and made sure I was looking by saying “Hey, Miss Hannah!” He then proceeded to having his head slightly outside the window with his tongue sticking out, and said “look, I’m a dog!” – ha! This was very funny and he wanted to show everyone around him as well.It is interesting how both of these boys had some inspiration to be a goose or a dog – the dog one made some sense because the window was down and it is common for dogs to put their faces outside, but the goose just must be some thought the boy had in his head. I admire bus drivers for handling loud students like this on a daily basis and with multiple routes!
I read an article recently, entitled “8 ways teachers can talk less and get kids talking more,” about the importance of students talking more than the teacher. Student collaboration and discussions are more beneficial than them being lectured at. I pulled two of the eight ways that stuck out as ones I hadn’t heard before. They are both about altering what the teacher says. One was about turning statements into prompts or questions (i.e. instead of “take a look at #3, it’s wrong,” you would say “how did you get your answer to #3”). This was interesting to me because so many teachers just let the child know they got something wrong, but don’t follow-up for explanation from the student. Having them go through the steps of their thinking process can really help you understand the student better as well as notice the error easier. The second one involved changing the statement, “does that make sense,“ to “can you put that in your own words” – it helps everyone remember content if they hear it again and their peers can summarize it in a simpler way.
My graduate program is very student-centered, so allowing for more discussion than lecturing is a large part of that. There are some things that seem like you need they need to be lectured about, but you can always have the students discuss what they think of the topic and tell you their ideas instead. Discovering the information in a collaborative space is a great way to learn! It doesn’t always need to just be discussions either. They can figure out the process through research, stations, games, etc. Education has a such a strain on testing, but the student can find out information through more exploratory ways.