Sunday, April 15, 2018


I hate to sound like an old person :) but kids today are definitely growing up in a completely different world than we did. When we were bored we played board games and did puzzles-many of my students have no experiences with things like this. When I was about 5, my little sister would combine all my puzzles together and make chicken soup. I had to put them all together to sort them out again. I got very good at puzzles. Now I am not a math-minded person, however, I think I trained my brain to learn the spatial reasoning needed to complete them. And I have an app on my phone where I try to complete at least one a day-research says it staves off dementia. 

So I don't really have an objective to justify it, but I put puzzles out with my math workstations. We start with the big piece versions-about 20 pieces. I watch my students just use trial and error to put the puzzle together. I try to guide them to look at the colors and look for the straight sides. Some students really take to this and try to put them together faster and faster.

When we've gotten good at those we try the 60 piece versions. I try to find ones with cute puppies or monster trucks-things they are interested in. At first, they shy away from the challenge-this is too hard. I can't do it. But the more they try, the better they get and I watch them with these proud smiles as they complete it.

This group has an affinity for puzzles. I actually just ordered some 100 piece ones for them to try. I think in addition to teaching them spatial reasoning that I am also teaching them grit. They prove to themselves that with hard work, it can be done.

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Monday, April 9, 2018

Who Inspires Us?

More than anything I want my students to be inspired. I try to show them videos daily of people like the Olympians and Steve Jobs. I read them stories about historical figures-presidents, civil rights leaders. I also read stories about lesser known heroes like Tree Lady and Manfish (about Jacques Cousteau).

For our class book this month, I asked them to write about the person who inspires them. I was hoping to get more Rosa Parks and less unicorns-but they did a great job. 

Here's what they came up with:

Unicorns inspire me because they are beautiful.

My Dad inspires me because he is a good Dad.

This one broke my heart. He is one of my struggling readers. "Readers inspire me because they can read words good".

"A boxer inspires me because my Dad is teaching me how to box".

My sister inspires me because she is in 2nd Grade and I want to be in 2nd Grade.

DJ's inspire me because they make a lot of money.

Artists inspire me because I love to paint.

She is our music teacher. :) 

Baseball players inspire me because you play and catch.

Miss Trayers inspires me because she writes perfectly.

Pizza lady inspires me because she makes good pizza.

Eric Carle inspires me because his books make me happy.

Frida Kahlo inspires me because when she gets sad she paints it out.

Teachers inspire me because they make people smart.

Our art teacher.

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Inventing Insects

We did our insect unit this past week.After reading some fiction and non-fiction stories about different kinds of insects. We identified the "rules"of insects-what is always true-3 body parts, 6 legs, communicate without making any noises, etc. Using these rules I asked my students to invent their own insect and make a sculpture of it using pasta.

 I've done this activity with other classes in the past and it went off without a hitch. But this year was a little bit different. I had about 5 students who claimed they couldn't complete the activity because it was too hard. I think when they started gluing, their sculptures were not turning out the way it looked in their heads. We had to revisit the concept of grit and trying to push through when it's hard, not just give up. These were the finished products of the students who did complete the task:

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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Painting Like Frida

I follow a lot of different teacher groups on Facebook. There are a lot of articles posted about how we are not teaching our students how to be creative; we are not allowing them to have experiences in the arts. And I know that may be the case in some classrooms, but not in mine. Even if I have to stretch my application of the objectives-for example, we will write about something we paint, I incorporate the arts daily. I truly believe that many kids have an innate creativity, but they can be taught to apply that-I consider it an important goal for my students in the 9 months I have them.

We are learning about the different artists and their works. I read the story:

We learned about Frida Kahlo's impact on the art world-incorporating not only her Mexican heritage but also she questioned facts of feminism and beauty. After looking at many of her different self-portraits, I challenged my students to make one of their own. I was so impressed by their creativity and willingness to take risks with what they were painting. I introduced vocabulary like: palette, primary colors, brushstrokes, canvas. My favorite part was overhearing their discoveries. They kept asking me-what color do you get if you mix.....? and my answer was--try it and see. "He made violet on his canvas!" and "I made the darkest color anyone has ever made." Love hearing them sharing in the discovery that is creating art! :)

This is my resident artist. I need a few that she can autograph so I can prove I knew her before she was famous.

This is one of my more challenging students. I LOVE his use of color and pattern here.

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