Grade 1 – Mrs. Fischer
dentist, happen, protect, begin, rabbit, baby, reuse, unpack, before, been
We took our NWEA math test this week. In math we are working on estimation and will be moving into more work with story problems.
Making bird feeders at Bonanza Environmental Learning Center
***Masters Update Posted…. April 20017***
Journey to earn my MASTERS DEGREE
It is my goal to provide weekly/biweekly updates about what I am learning in my Masters classes and how I am applying this in my classroom. Since beginning these classes in September, I have so much more enthusiasm for what I am teaching and the first graders are always excited to see what we are going to try after I come back from my weekends of classes. These classes are pushing me to think and teach more creatively and really reflect on why I do what I do each day. They truly are changing me as a teacher for the better!
This month has found me very busy. I have picked out my research topic for next fall! I am so excited to be researching the impact scheduled kinesthetic brain breaks will have on student engagement.
I also attended the Learning Community Conference at SMSU and got to see presentations from students who are all finished with their Maters Program this year. It was a great learning experience and will help me so much in preparing for next year. I can not believe I only have one year left and I will have a Masters Degree in Education!
The other exciting thing I did this month was present at the EMS Teaching and Learning Conference in St. Cloud on Friday, April 28. My husband and I presented about Project-Based Learning and how it can be used in the EMS (Emergency Medical Services) classroom. Because of this Masters Program, I was so much more confident in presenting in front of a group of people, other than little kids! I was very happy to share all I have learned about the benefits of Project-Based Learning.
SPEED MEET Activity – this activity can be used as a fun start of the year activity for your students to get to know one another. They get a chance to visit with every student in the class and each one gets a turn to share their answer. Questions can be fun ‘get to know you’ questions. We did this in September and each student was able to come away with something new they did not know about their classmates. It was also so fun to see them so engaged in conversations with each other, some so engaged in conversations with students they would not normally converse with.
The photo I am providing here is from when I used this SPEED MEET activity during a math lesson to practice counting-on to find an unknown partner in an equation. The students loved being able to be out of their seats and away from their desks. They were fully engaged in this activity the whole time. I did not need to redirect anyone! And they were practicing the math skill that was the objective/goal of the lesson and I got a great view of how well they were doing very quickly. We have used this activity a few more times since then to practice math facts and I plan on using it in reading for story discussion as well. It can also be used for spelling review.
Contact me if you want more information on how this activity works.
CUP STACKING ACTIVITY – October
I used this activity first as a spelling review activity. The students had to work in groups to spell their spelling words correctly. They had to make sure every member in their group had the word spelled right without just telling them the letters but by helping them sound it out and find their mistakes. If all students in the group had it spelled correctly they earned 1 cup for each word. If the whole group got all 10 words correct their group earned 2 bonus cups. The students then had to talk together as a group and plan how they would build their cup tower. Once tower building began they were no longer able to talk and had to build their tower silently, working off they plan they came up with. This activity really showed the students how to work together as a group to accomplish a common goal. And we had the best results on the final spelling test (up to this point in the year)! Plus, the students’ true creativity came out and none of the cup towers were the same. Again, this activity had all my students fully engaged the whole time!
The students begged and begged to use this activity again and we have done it again as part of a math lesson. Contact about me if you want more information about how to incorporate this activity into your lessons!
Constructivism Lesson – Nov. 2106
This lesson pushed me way outside my comfort zone! I am very much in the habit of telling my students the learning goal (especially in math and reading) before we start our lesson. My school has been working on the Marzano Method of teaching and learning. My learning goals are posted on my marker board every single day. So, having to start a lesson by just letting my students have to figure out on their own (with the guidance of just the right questions to really make them think from me) what it was I needed them to learn that day was extremely nerve wracking for me. With that being said, it was one of the most fun science lessons I can remember in several years! My students worked together in groups to tell me as much as they possibly could about a fruit they have never tried (some they had never even heard of the fruit their group had). To preface this, we had been learning about the different ways scientists make their discoveries, and one of the ways we focused on was by using their 5 senses. All my students know their 5 senses and this was critical in being able complete this lesson.
Each group was given 1 fruit – kiwi, pomegranate, persimmon, mango. They were told that in their groups they had to figure out how they could tell me as much information as possible about their fruit. They all had a piece of paper to write down their information. I walked around and questioned them very carefully, not to give away the learning goal and to keep them thinking about more ways to tell information about their fruit. For example: Student – “Our fruit is red on the outside.” I would question them – “How do you know it is red?” Student -” I can see it.” I would question them – “Oh so you see that it is red. How do you see it? What did you use to see that it was red?” Student – “I used my eyes to see that it is red.” I would respond – “Oh, so you used your eyes to see that it was red. Hmm, what else can you tell me about your fruit?” And the questioning continued and the students were able discover on their own what the learning goal was. The students were able to tell me that the goal was for them to use their 5 senses and more so, realizing how we use our 5 senses everyday to learn about the world around us.
This lesson showed me what great thinkers my students can be. It showed me that I can lead them through a path of discovery and they can figure out the learning goal without it just being told to them. This lesson helped me really think about the types of question I ask my students everyday and how to ask questions that truly make them think! In great thinking comes great learning!
This book has been so motivational for me as a teacher. If you are looking for something to rejuvenate your teaching, I highly recommend this book. This book reminded me that it is ok to bring my passions outside of school into my classroom and share them with my students. During the month of November, I teach my students about the very first Thanksgiving. Along with this, we always make homemade butter and I usually make bread in my bread machine. This year, instead of bread in a bread machine, I brought in my passion for cooking and baking and we made pumpkin pancakes. So, we made homemade butter, which the students learned just how much work it really was long ago, and we enjoyed delicious pancakes. Sorry, so busy enjoying this time with my students that I did not get pictures.
Ok…so this month I put a few things into practice. Man, this program is really pushing me to challenge myself and my students! This month I again used Speed Meet to practice the counting-on strategy in math. My students love this activity and it is such a good way to get everyone practicing the skill for the day.
The week before Christmas break, our schedule was a bit crazy. Only a 4 day week and concert practice everyday. Plus, with the excitement of Christmas and needing time to finish projects we made for our parents, I decided we would not do a full week in our reading curriculum. Instead, we read different versions of the “Gingerbread Man”. We read the classic version and “The Ninjabread Man” and “Gingerbread Friends”. The students then thought and had to write/draw about if they were a gingerbread person, what would they look like, who would they run away from, and what would their gingerbread house look like. Then, I gave them a gingerbread shape to cut out of brown construction paper and I gave them free range to most of the art supplies I had and told them to be creative and create their own gingerbread person. Oh my goodness, did I see true creativity come out in my students! They loved not being told what their project had to look like and they absolutely loved being able to choose the materials for their projects. Did they make a mess? Yes! A year ago, this might have driven me crazy…now however I use these as opportunities to let their true creativity and self shine! And they knew they had to clean up the mess and they gladly did! Within no time they had the room back in tip top shape, and they had gingerbread people that they were extremely proud of. Reading the book “Cultivating Curiosity” had helped me relinquish some of this control I thought I had to have, and give some of that control back to my students. It has really made me look for more opportunities to spark their curiosity and creativity.
Brrrr!! It has been so cold this first week back at school. What did I put into practice this first week back? Well, we did use Speed Meet again in math to practice understanding groups of tens and ones in 2-digit numbers. I know I use this activity quite a bit now, but it is a great one to see how all my students are doing rather quickly, and it gives the kids a chance to get out of their chairs (which they really needed this week because we could not go outside for recess due to the cold temperatures).
Another way that I have been pushing outside my comfort zone, is really encouraging more open-ended art projects to really allow for creativity in my students (thanks to the books, “Cultivating Curiosity” and “Teach Like a Pirate”). This week for art, we did winter scene drawings with chalk. Most of the students had never used chalk before and I was able to teach them how to rub the chalk to make it look like it was foggy or snowing. I allowed them to draw their own winter scene. In past years I have always had the kids cut out circles and make a snowman all in the same way. This year they drew everything by hand, and only put a snowman in their picture if they chose to. All of the drawings were so different. There was so much laughter happening during the project and the students really took time to think about creating a winter scene. They enjoyed rubbing the chalk and how it made their picture appear. They asked if we were going to get to use chalk again this year, because it is not something they are used to using and it was fun!
Starting in January and into this month we have been hard at work on a project-based learning unit in Social Studies. Actually, it ties in Social Studies, Reading, Writing and Art. That is the great thing about Project-Based Learning – it ties in many different subject areas! We started with a big question – How Does Location Affect How People Live? And we have been so busy learning that we are able to create an alphabet book as a class of things/ways A-Z about how location affects how people live. We can not wait to share our book with an audience! Stay tuned for when we have a finished product!
The other thing we have done so far this month is have a ‘snowball’ fight! What?? Yes, we had a ‘snowball’ fight! Well, paper snowballs anyway. We used the snowball fight activity in math this week. We were reviewing how to use the make-a-ten strategy in both addition and subtraction problems with teen numbers. The students had to work with a partner. One partner wrote an addition equation with a teen total and an unknown partner (example 9+_=15) on a piece of white paper. The other partner had to make the drawing using the make-a-ten strategy showing how to solve the equation (but they could not include the equation in their drawing).
Then I told the students to crumple up their papers. Their eyes almost popped out of their heads! We don’t usually get to crumple our work up so some looked at me sort of worried. I explained we would use our crumpled papers to have a ‘snowball’ fight. They would throw the ‘snowballs’ for two minutes. Those 2 minutes were filled with laughter and giggles! It is one of the happiest sounds as a teacher…I love to hear my students laughing together!
After two minutes was up I told the students to FREEZE! Using whispering voices only, they had to pick up one snowball and open it up. Then they had to find their matching partner, either their matching equation or their matching drawing, depending on the paper they picked up. The students did so good using their whispering voices, carefully searching for their correct partner. Once they found their partner, they had to come to me and show me their equation and drawing and verbally explain why the two went together.
After this, I told the students to sit down for Speed Meet. The students have become so familiar with this activity that I did not have to help them at all this time. They came up to the rug, organized themselves into two rows facing each other and were ready to go in no time. We used Speed Meet to then practice the make-a-ten strategy for subtraction problems with teen numbers. The students were very well engaged and on task. They were practicing the skill, talking each other through the problem if they got stuck or confused. I love these moments when I see my students helping each other learn and encouraging one another!
This month has found us very quickly and we have been so busy! We presented to our Project-Based Learning book on Thursday, March 8. We were so nervous and so excited to share all that we have learned! We might be even more excited to finally get our book published so we all can have our own copy. With that being said, here is what my awesome first graders came up with for the driving question “How Does Location Affect How People Live?”
ABC’s of How Location affects how people live
A – animals, air
B – beliefs
C – clothing, community, culture
D – directions (Cardinal), doctors
E – equator, environment (physical)
F – foods, fishing
G – get places, globe
H – homes, holidays
I – ice fishing
J – Jobs
K – Kids
L – language
M – Minnesota, money, maps
N – names
O – ocean
P – people, population
Q – Question – How does location affect how people live?
R – recreation, resources
T – transportation
U – use resources
W- water, weather
X – X marks the spot
Y – Yes! I can find my location on the map.
Z – zoos
The students wrote about each letter and words they come up with and how it all tied into our driving question. The students we so curious and so creative through this process. We touched on 3 Social Studies Standards with this project as well as several writing and reading standards. This pushed me to think outside the textbook and let my students take some control over what they wanted to learn about. They pushed me to find information that they wanted to learn more about. It was awesome! Photos will be added soon!