Monday, January 26, 2015

Writing Like a Scientist

You may wonder what we need all of these materials for?  Well, we decided to write like scientists and think about the world around us.  In doing so, we read a book about penguins.  I love doing arctic animals this time of year.  I find them so fascinating, and of course my kids love learning about them!

After we read our book about penguins, we made an anchor chart that shared all the fun facts we learned.

We then started asking questions about the world around us.  We thought about things penguins are exposed to daily that we might not be exposed to.  We also compared things we have in common.  We wanted to write like a scientist and the first step is to ask a question.

We finally came up with a question we wanted learn more about.  

What material will cause ice to melt the fastest?

What a great question!  We then came up with different materials we wanted to test.  The kids chose warm water and salt.  I added sugar and rock salt.  We had four items to test and we learned about the fancy word control.  This is when you have one item that is not tested with anything.  This way we can compare our results.

We started writing our science experiment as a lab report.  We wrote our question, made a hypothesis, and then wrote out the procedure of how we would test the experiment.  Students were so eager to test the ice!

So, I gathered up all the materials and brought them into school.  We all huddled around the table and watched the ice cubes in each container.  We placed the same amount of materials on each ice cube and watched how the materials affected the ice.  

As we watched, every 3-4 minutes we wrote down our observations.  However, our first observation was after 30 seconds.  

The students did a great job writing down what they noticed and how the ice changed over time.  It took 20 minutes and 30 seconds for one of the ice cubes to melt.  The ice cube in warm water melted the fastest.  The rock salt came in second.

We then talked about why the warm water was first and the rock salt was second.  We also discussed why we use rock salt outside to melt the ice instead of warm water.  The students had a great discussion and also noticed that the rock salt almost absorbs the water from the ice making it more efficient outside when trying to get rid of ice and water.  

Isn't it fun combining writing and science?  We were able to cover so many second grade standards in one lesson!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

New Year, New Goals

It's a brand new year!  Can you believe it is 2015 already?  Time has flown by.  In my classroom, we talked about the New Year celebration and what we celebrate on this holiday.  Students made goals at the beginning of the year.  So, I had students look at their goals in their data notebooks.  Then, I had the students revise their goals or make new goals to help them reach their end of the year goal.  We used goal sheets from Create-Abilities and you can find it for free by clicking here.


We also made the fun New Year craft where they cut out the face and hat.  We also used a thin strip of paper to make a party blower.  Be sure to roll the paper up and glue one end of the paper to the mouth.  This way it looks like the person is blowing the party blower.

We also set classroom goals each month.  We follow our school motto - Learn Lead Love.  So, we have a category for learning - focuses on academic, a category for lead - focuses on how to be a better person following the 7 Habits, and a category for love - focuses on our service learning project.

We gather around the table, and my students inform me what they want the goals to be for the month. We made a reading and math goal this month.  Then, for our leadership goal we decided to focus on being nice to others because sadly, my class has been struggling in this area.  Our love goal was to become experts in learning about our topic for our service learning project, which is ducks!  We want to help save ducks in the world and raise awareness.

Each week we also set a Big Rock goal, which is something more specific we want to work on.  It could go with our monthly goals or be something different.  

We review our goals at the end of each week, and if we worked toward our goal then we earn a shoe. I also change what we earn each month.  Last month we earned bubblegum and when we earned 12 pieces, we got to chew gum for a day.  This month, if we earn 12 shoes, then we get to have a no shoe day!

Students set personal goals each month as well.  They make a goal sheet and fill out their goal for the month.  Then, they write down the steps they will take to reach that goal.  Then, they place it in their data notebook. 

 I meet with them to discuss their goal, and I record notes in my notebook.  I use a three ring binder and separate each student by tabs.  Each tab is numbered and that matches their student number.  

We also place their goal in the front of their reading notebook to help remind them what they are focusing on each day when they read.  Then, they record in their notebook notes that follow their goal.  I meet with them at least once a week and discuss their goal and how they have worked to achieve it.  I also periodically check their reading journals at night.  If they have been working hard, they receive a note and get to grab a prize from the treasure chest!  

You can find my papers by clicking here! Enjoy. :]

Each child has their own data notebook where they track certain things each week.  Every Friday, students get out their notebooks and record their progress.  You can find my data notebook materials by clicking on the picture below.  There are also class tracking sheets where we keep track of our weekly progress as a class based on our class goals.  I love it and my students are able to use them independently!

We separate our notebooks by Who Am I, Data Tracking, Evidence, and Celebrations.  

The Who Am I? section is where students place their personal inventory, family projects, personal mission statement, class mission statement, etc. 

The Data Tracking section is focused primarily on academics.  Students track how many pages they read at home each week, their spelling tests, reading tests, math tests, timed tests, fluency phrases, etc.  They may also track their behavior and attendance in this section.  There are a variety of tracking sheets!

The Evidence section contains their tests or assignments they want to include in their binder that show how they have worked towards their goals. 

The Celebrations section has their rewards or certificates they receive.  They may also contain an activity or event that praises them for their hard work!

Do you set goals in your classroom?  How do you track your goals?

Christmas Around the World

Christmas Around the World was a huge unit that taught the students so many things.  They learned how to read nonfiction text, as well as facts about Christmas in other countries.  This was our Reading Workshop unit and you can find this unit in my TpT store by clicking on the picture below.

The unit starts by introducing nonfiction text to the students.  They learn how to read a nonfiction text and how it is different from fiction books.  We made a T chart on the Smart board and discussed the difference between the two types of books.  I think it is important for them to see how they are different because they read and think differently when reading these two types of books.

Students also learned how to find the table of contents, headings, subheadings, glossary and index.  They discussed the importance of each and what their purpose is in a nonfiction book.

The first week, I modeled reading nonfiction text by reading a book about Christmas in Germany.  We looked at all the text features and discussed how the layout of the book was different than a fiction book.  We also learned how to pause while we read because it helps us remember and understand what we read.  The first week consisted of learning how to read nonfiction text and understanding how they are different from fiction.  We learned the five finger rule to help use retell what we learned.

The second week, I modeled reading nonfiction by reading a book about Christmas in Sweden.  We read a book that had many pictures because we focused on using pictures to help us understand nonfiction text.  We looked at captions and labels to help us understand what we were reading.  We also discussed asking questions while we read and look for the answers to the questions within the text.

 Students wrote what they learned about the pictures in the text on their St. Lucia hats!

They used the pictures to ask questions, analyze, and learn what was happening in the text. 

The third week, I modeled reading nonfiction by reading about Christmas in America.  We read 3 different types books and used those books to compare different nonfiction text.  It is important to read several resources on one topic when learning something new.  We learned that you want to compare different texts and use that information to decide what is true and what might not be true every time.  We used Venn Diagrams to help us compare and contrast.  Students also had to support their thoughts with text evidence.

 Students sharing what they learned.

During the three weeks, I met with small groups and we read different nonfiction books at their level about Christmas in another country.  There were four small groups and the countries were Italy, Mexico, Australia, and Poland.  They learned about their culture and what they do at Christmas.  You can find these books in my TpT store by clicking on the picture below.

The students read the books, and then made posters to present to the class about their country.  We also had other classes visit our classroom.  We gave them a passport and they used the passport to go to each country.  When they learned about the country, they received a stamp in their book.  I did it as rotations and gave the students about 2-3 minutes at each country, and when the timer went off they moved to the next country.  

My students did a phenomenal job teaching about their country.  It was a great way for them to apply what they learned.  Also, teaching is a great way to remember what you learn!

I loved this unit and cannot wait to do it again next year!