Mexican Restaurants-Student Initiative

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Kids never cease to surprise and amaze me.  One of the favorite projects of the summer in my Around the World class is visiting Mexico and designing their own restaurant.  Students love coming up with a name, creating a menu, and designing the restaurant by drawing it or building a 3-d  model.  This is my fourth year doing this project, yet the first where the students have created interactive restaurants.

A group of students asked if they could move desks to create their restaurant, and I said “sure”.  Then they started creating “food” and money.  The other group worked on creating multiple menus.  As the day wound down, the restaurants were still being built and were closed for business.  I told them we could continue the next day.

As the students arrived the next day off the bus, they got started right away to set up their restaurants-before class officially began!  Students who had created other restaurants joined forces with the main groups.  They got set up and opened for business.  They each had specific jobs-manager, chef, cashier-and visited each other’s restaurants to eat.  I had the pleasure of being served at both Expreso, where I ate nachos and a quesadilla, and El Espana Buffet, where I had chips and salsa and a taco.  Some students switched their employment and they all worked together.  These students are in different grades (most entering 2nd-3rd) and go to different schools (there are 4 elementary schools in the district) but have found new friendships this summer.

I sat back and enjoyed watching them create and have fun.  I also wonder how I can bring the same amount of energy and excitement to the school year.  What do you do in your classroom that gives students the opportunity to explore and learn?

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New Year’s Resolutions in the Classroom

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Coming back to school from Winter Break was a bit adventurous since we had an extra two days off due to extremely cold temperatures.  We decided to start the New Year off on the right foot and have the students write resolutions.  Not only are resolutions important for students to think about, but this also gave them the chance to write complete sentences using details.

First we read Squirrel’s New Year’s Resolution and a New Year’s poem to discuss what is a resolution and brainstorm some ideas.  Resolutions are a hard concept to understand, and we emphasized that they are something you want to do better, not something you do already.

Then, students were given 4 Post-it notes to write 4 resolutions.  I helped some students brainstorm ideas if they were having trouble; knowing about the students academically and their personal interests helped me think of ideas that targeted their needs.  When they finished, we edited the resolutions for grammar and spelling, so students could neatly rewrite and create their final product.  They loved adding glitter as a finishing touch!

The students did a great job creating resolutions.  Some were school-related: I resolve to read chapter books better, I promise to turn in my homework, I want to always try my best.  Others were related to home: I want to eat healthy food, I resolve to clean my room, I promise to help my mom and dad.  I was proud of the students’ work, and we have a great bulletin board to start off the year.  Hopefully the students will be reminded and encouraged to work on their resolutions the rest of the school year!

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