Friday, January 30, 2015

"No Guff Week"

This week was designated in Falmouth as "No Guff Week". We started the week (before Juno had its say!) with a Community Meeting during which we saw a presentation about the Peacebuilders Pledge, listened to beautiful songs that contained messages of peace and friendship sung by our amazing school choir and watched this amazing video created by Mr. Brian Switzer, one of our talented teachers from Morse Pond School. Watch and see if you recognize any familiar faces! 


When we returned to the classroom, we read and discussed Oliver Button is a Sissy by Tomie dePaola. It is a touching story about a boy who is teased and bullied because he follows his own interests. The children had insightful comments and shared valuable stories and feelings.


We then participated in a Peacebuilder activity that illustrates the importance of using kind words. Using a paper boy, who I dubbed "Fifteen", the children said unkind things to him that they imagined someone might say to a new student or someone who was perceived as different. When they said it to "him", they would tear a piece of him off and crumple it up. This was met with some silliness and giggles until the second part of the lesson began. Each student who said something unkind was asked to go back up and apologize (we talked about appropriate and inappropriate ways of apologizing) and smooth out and re-attach the torn off piece of Fifteen. 


As the lesson suggests, I then pointed out that even though everyone apologized and tried to make amends, it was clear that Fifteen was still not the same as before the unkind words. The hurts were still there on the inside and that those "inside hurts" might never heal. A somber discussion commenced and some of the thoughts that were shared showed that many are wise beyond their years. Fifteen is now hanging in our classroom as a continuing reminder to be kind with your words as well as your actions.


December Happenings

I am quite behind in my blogging and for that, I apologize! As December rolled in and I returned from my absence, Team 202 and I worked diligently on finishing up our Department of Education unit on the Pilgrims and Native Americans. It was a great unit and the class seemed to enjoy it. Their folders containing the collection of work from the unit will be coming home soon. Be sure to check it out! 

After that, I wanted to dive into something different, something that would harness all of that pre-vacation energy and engage them in some activities that would enhance their learning. The answer came in a variety of S.T.E.M. (Science/Technology/Engineering/Math) activities that I found. A special thanks to all of you who donated items so that we could try out these learning activities. We could not have done it without you! 

The first, and I think my favorite, was the "Mystery Bag Challenge" (Thanks Childhood101.com for the idea!). Each team was given a bag containing the same number of toilet paper tubes, index cards, large craft sticks, paper clips, a roll of masking tape and 3 marbles. The task was to create a free standing structure that would allow the marble to travel 40 centimeters after exiting the structure. If they were successful at that, an additional challenge was added. Could your team add three turns and/or two changes in the level of your track and still have the marble travel 40 centimeters upon exiting the structure? They worked together positively and demonstrated: 

  • Creative thinking
  • Planning
  • Problem-solving
  • Measurement
  • Trial and error
  • perseverance                                                                                                                             
 






This is how we roll!


Each team met the marble challenge and went on to try the additional challenge. It was a very engaging activity for the students and I was extremely impressed at how well the groups worked together. 

On other days, the children used the skills listed above (among others) to create free standing gumdrop trees. They were disappointed to learn that this meant you could not use toothpicks stuck in the foam paper plate to stabilize your structure AND that the teacher would not let you eat unlimited gumdrops while you worked. :) 
They seemed to enjoy it anyway!  

They also participated in the "marshmallow flight" activity. During the flight activity, amidst the sometimes hysterical laughter, we tried to discover if a marshmallow (dusted in flour to prevent stickiness) would fly farther if placed at the beginning or end of a short paper tube or the beginning or end of a long paper tube. I will let your child tell you what happened but one thing I can say is, adult teacher lungs made it easier to figure out than awesome student third and forth grade lungs. I say....try this one at home!! 

Gumdrop trees








No marshmallows were harmed in the taking of these photographs!


Be Creative

Every month at Mullen-Hall, the entire school population gets together for a Community Meeting. Each meeting is led by a grade level group and focuses on a particular theme. We have learned about "Whole Body Listening", honesty and many more. This month it was the third grade's turn and OUR focus was BE CREATIVE! So we donned our most creative clothes and surprised the school with THIS!




Sunday, October 19, 2014

Marvelous Movement

     We all feel better when we get up and move! I try to provide opportunities for the children to move during the school day. This movement provides important benefits to the class. The kids get a chance to move around and have fun but the most important benefit is to the brain function of the students themselves. Dr. John Ratey, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School has said, “Exercise itself doesn’t make you smarter, but it puts the brain of the learners in the optimal position to learn.”1 Dr. Ratey’s research compiles vast amounts of research that indicates that exercise done by students during the school day reduces stress and anxiety and also improves attention.

     Here are some of the activities that we use to get ourselves moving:

     First, we start off our day with SmartMoves. It is an interactive CD. The SmartMoves program, created and distributed by Fablevision, is described as “cognitive calisthenics” that provide a series of body movements that become increasingly more difficult. The movements are modeled on screen and are set to calming music.


     Students also engage in Responsive Classroom Energizers.  The Energizers provide 2-3 minute breaks during which the students engage in fun movement activities accompanied by chants and songs. The purpose of these activities is to provide (depending on the selected activity) movement to help them focus, energize or release stress.

     Additionally, we have a “menu” of in-class movement options that includes neck rolls, bear walking, chair push-ups and a visit to our own heavy work station. This station includes 2 sand-filled bottles for (slow, controlled) lifting and a resistance band for stretching. All activities were modeled and practiced together in class. 


     Finally, the class LOVES GoNoodle! It is a website that has energetic (and entertaining) segments. There are a wide variety of short brain breaks that you can use to calm the classroom or energize your students. The exercise breaks vary in both length of time and in style. Styles include "calm", "energize" and "focus". The students especially loved being able to choose a mascot for the class.  Isn’t movement marvelous?





1-Viadero, Debra, (February 12, 2008). Exercise Seen as Priming the Pump for Students’ Academic Strides. Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.johnratey.com/ 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Welcome Back!

What’s New In Room 202

Our first two weeks together in Room 202 have been excellent! We have all spent time getting to know each other as well as learning about and practicing the routines of our classroom. We worked together to develop classroom rules so that everyone feels safe and happy each day in school. We will continue, over the next few weeks, to develop routines that will help each of the children to maximize his/her learning, comfort and confidence within the classroom.
Thank you for sending a two pocket folder in to school with your child. Your child will be responsible for bringing his/her folder home each night and back to school each morning. It will contain notes, notices, corrected work and homework. Please be sure to check your child’s folder every day.
Also, did you know we have a classroom blog? On our blog you will be able to find important dates, double check homework assignments, check out what we have been doing in class and much more! Check it out at http://whatsnewinroom202.blogspot.com/ and be sure to say hello or leave a comment while you’re there!
I am looking forward to meeting all of you at our Meet the Teacher Night on September 18, 2014 at 6:00 P.M. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me by telephone, by sending in a note or by e-mail.
Finally, a few friendly reminders:
*If you have not already done so, please send in your completed paperwork for the office.
*Please send a water bottle for your child to use each day. No juices or sports drinks are allowed though. This will help keep class work safe & clean in the event of drips or spills. Water is encouraged and several opportunities to refill the bottles are provided throughout the day.
As we head quickly toward the end of September, I am so proud of how well the children are coming together as a class. They are a great group and I am confident that it is going to be a great year!

Sincerely,

Ms. Sawyer

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Fabulous First Day!

Team 202 had a fabulous first day! As our new team joined together for the first time this year, the students were remarkable. We read stories (check out our Shelfari shelf below), brainstormed a list of classroom rules and made signs for the classroom that will be our "home away from home" for the next 179 school days. The children also began to learn and practice our rules and routines. They were AMAZING! They earned NINE tallies on the classroom scoreboard. (Ask your child to tell you about this! Make sure they include a demonstration of the "one second party"!). Each child created a cover for his/her new math journal using the important numerals from his/her own life. We will use these to continue to get to know each other tomorrow. It was a great first day and it is certainly shaping up to be a truly great year!