Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Using Vocabulary to Inspire

Oh, the middle of this time, the honeymoon of a new school year is over, much to the chagrin of teachers everywhere.  Kids have gotten "comfortable" in their classrooms, sometimes a little TOO comfortable, by this point, and I was feeling the need to boost morale (and positive behavior) this past week.  I decided to take a break from our regular vocabulary program and do a themed week with a "Words to Live By" unit.  At the beginning of the week, I chatted with the kids about how I was feeling, and many of them said they had noticed some slip ups as well in the behavior department (don't you just love it when kids "agree" with you on things like this, it always makes me smile inside).  So, we started by brainstorming some superstar student qualities together.  The kids described behaviors that "super students" would demonstrate, and I helped them put "third grade words" to their descriptions, and we came up with a list of four qualities: respect, responsibility, integrity, and perseverance.  Then I got to work (on Pinterest ;) looking for things that went along with our words.  I came across some wonderful ideas from people working with the 7 Habits and The Leader in Me program, as well as short inspirations I had pinned during past explorations.  I particularly liked the way  Jodi Southard from gave descriptions of the 7 Habits, and I adapted her ideas to fit along with our class words.  I also found little poems, sayings, etc. that fit for examples and came up with these cute posters.

Get the documents for the posters here.

Each poster shows the featured word, a short description, and a "saying" that demonstrates the quality.  I introduced one word a day with the poster, and we talked about that quality "in action" in the classroom. We also did some word work, with the students naming a person who they felt demonstrated one of the qualities, explaining why they selected that person, and drawing a sketch of the person showing that quality in action.  The kids really enjoyed this, and I'm hoping the visual reminder of the signs hanging up will help inspire them to stay on track! thanks for stopping by... Erin :)

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Wonders of Wonderopolis!

So, I've been having the most wonderful conversations with our fabulous Literacy Support coach Tracy this year about incorporating inquiry into my classroom, as well as using technology to increase interest and engagement with my "quick to wander away" students.  We've been tossing around several ideas, and one I introduced to my class this week was the website Wonderopolis

This incredible website, from the National Center for Family Literacy and Verizon Thinkfinity, is a great place to inspire kids to be creative and imaginative while also getting in a great dose of nonfiction reading!  I briefly introduced this website to my class and just let them explore the "wonder of the day" and previous wonders.  We started by examining a wonder submitted by Tracy's fourth grade class last year on mood rings.  The kids were so excited to explore and learn from the site, and I can't wait to continue using it this year!  I have some plans to use it in an inquiry workshop setting, and have the kids launch research projects from their own "wonders".  More about this to come... Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend! Erin 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Nerd Herd is born!

Welcome everyone!  I'm so excited to finally be getting started with this, as I've been trying to start since the beginning of the school year. But September has flown away (as many school year beginnings do)!  This year my third grade class is keeping me on my toes.  They arrived at Open House with a bit of a reputation, and well... let's just say that rumors are often founded in facts ;)  They are a sweet and comical bunch, but needed some motivation to get going and get serious about their learning.  I spent some time really trying to think of a fun way to display quality work examples and also have the kiddos buy into it with enthusiasm.  Thus, the Nerd Herd in Third was born!

Here's the whole display!

Close up on the individual signs...

The gold blank spots are where I slide in the work, 
they are plastic sheet protectors taped on with fun duct tape!

Since it's cool to be a "nerd" nowadays (just look at the NBA all-stars wearing dorky black plastic glasses!) the kids jumped on it, and were excited to be Nerd Herd leaders for the week!  The work can come from anywhere, on any assignment, or even discussion in class.  The goal is to recognize and celebrate those "genius moments", and any kid can have them.  It also helps me to keep on the lookout for those special glimpses of brilliance, which can sometimes slip away in the hustle of a busy school day.  Both my class and I have found value in this, and I hope you do too!  By the way, if you don't teach third, you can come up with any name to start your "smart club", I considered the Genius Huddle (with a football theme), the Smartypants Squad (with fun dancing pants!), and the Geek Club.  Hope those help! Thanks so much for visiting, come back soon, Erin