Cheering Everyone On

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I volunteered to coach Girls on the Run at school this year.  I love its message of empowering girls and helping them be active and run!  Since I teach Kindergarten-2nd graders during the day, it’s also nice to meet more students as the girls on the team are in 3rd-5th grade.  The activities by the program are very cute, and I love watching the girls smile and be silly.  The lessons involve themes such as positive self-talk, reducing peer pressure, what beauty means, gaining confidence.  The girls will also develop and execute a service project over the next few weeks before running a 5k in June.

 

While we participate in the various activities each session, we also try to give the girls as much time to run around the block as possible.  It’s hard to stop them as time runs down when they keep saying “one more lap” and “I want to beat my goal” (they set lap goals for each day).  Some of the girls are determined running as much as possible.  Others are content walking, dancing, and doing cartwheels on the sidewalk!

 

Today included an inspirational moment.  As the girls finished their final lap, a couple started cheering the others coming in and holding their hands out for high fives.  You could tell it gave the runners that last burst of energy to finish strong.  Then they added to the line of cheerers.  As the last few ran in, they started chanting the name of the runner as well.  It was a great moment of watching the girls come together and truly support each other.  It truly is a testimony to building a community and girl power.

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Morning Meetings

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As we progressed through the school year, I needed a way to continue building a classroom community. My chatty group of second graders needed an outlet to share with one another, rather than blurt out during activities, and continue practicing being respectful listeners.

I talked with some people who did a morning meeting, used the Morning Meeting Book as a reference, and developed my own twist. I use the Morning Meeting to set up a positive tone to each day and review our classroom expectations.

We start each day either greeting each other “Hello” in another language or sharing a sentence about our favorite activity over the week or one thing we did over the weekend. Then, I go over the schedule for the day, noting any changes. Third, we usually do some type of quick ELA warm up before beginning our reading instruction. Sometimes we get into a bigger discussion about events going on at school or activities we are doing in the classroom.

Since starting Morning Meeting about 2 months ago, I have noticed positive changes in my second graders. They look forward to our meeting to share and talk with one another. The first time we did a “Hello” around the circle, students were laughing because it was silly greeting each other. Students are willing to help each other when different languages are difficult. There are still laughs and excitement when someone is so focused on the greeting that he forgets his friend’s name or someone did something very exciting or similar over the weekend.

Outside of our meeting, students are really improving at working together and supporting each other. When a student was struggling with solving a math problem on his white board, a couple other students went over to explain and help him through the steps. When a student came back to school with a retainer, others came over to her because they wanted to see it and make sure she was okay. They’ve grown so much this year and are really getting better at helping each other and working together to problem solve.

Stepping back and watching these interactions makes teaching this group is so rewarding.

What Are You Saying??

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peanuts_veil-e1274891657170With 15 days of school left, we got a new student in our class.  Not only is it hard moving to a new school so close to the end of the school year, but she also came from Mexico and does not speak English! It’s like being in a Peanuts classroom all day long-all you hear is “wah wah wah wah!”  Luckily we have a couple ELL students who speak fluent Spanish, and one girl quickly became her buddy.

The first day she walked into the classroom, she was shaking with nerves.  All the students were great-very welcoming and friendly.  They greeted her with Hola!  The really wanted to include her and be her friend.  We told them to give her some time to adjust and not overwhelm her; the best thing they could do was to show her with their actions what to be doing in the classroom.  And on the playground, they could definitely all play together!

It has been fun watching her relax and begin to participate.  She can complete some assignments by copying and practicing English words.  She is able to do basic math.  We found a couple Spanish-English apps on the iPad, and she can listen to Spanish books on TumbleBooks.  While she isn’t talking verbally in the classroom (she has spoken to a friend and small group with the ELL teacher), she does smile and want to be included.

This goes to show when you have a strong classroom community, the children are very supportive of each other and their differences.  And that is extremely rewarding to watch.

Creating Community Collages

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The technology specialist wanted to introduce a new app to the first grade students: Pic Collage.  We brainstormed what would be a good subject based on what students were learning.  Remembering that we were discussing communities, I suggested create a collage about things they can find in their community.  We decided that students would have to choose 3 things in their community to create their collage.

As a class, we brainstormed different things that are in our community.  I wanted to make sure students had choices for their pictures, but we wanted some control so they weren’t searching on the open Internet.  We learned it’s important o be prepared and planning takes time because finding pictures for the iPads turned into its own project for me!  In the end, I had to search for and save pictures on one iPad, upload them to Dropbox, and then download them to the other iPads.  I’m not sure if this was the best method, but it worked.

In small groups, the technology specialist and I taught students how to use Pic Collage and it’s different features.  We provided assistance as needed as well as a word wall list.  The students quickly learned how to use the app and became independent workers.  They did a great job and wrote some great sentences describing what’s in their community.

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This is a great app for students to create fun projects showcasing different pictures, even ones they’ve taken.  We are already looking for another way to use this app again in our curriculum!

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