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Character Education

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Digital Learning

Organization Plan for Rock Star Students

Since so many of you are using my Rock Star Students system for rewarding positive behaviors this year, I thought I would share with you a great system I just thought of to organize the cards and keep track of which cards I have given to each student.
I went to Office Max and purchased some 9-slot trading card page protectors, one for each student. I couldn't resist the metallic gold Wasau cardstock I also found there for printing out the VIP passes.
I'm just getting started using this system with my very own rockin' fourth graders this week! They are so excited about earning those VIP passes and attending our red carpet event at the end of the first trimester.
I came home and printed my cards and passes. I used scissors instead of a paper cutter to cut just beyond the black scalloped border on each card.  I did not cut around each scallop, but you could certainly do it if you like! (Maybe you have more dvr'd shows to catch up on than I had!)
Each student now has a page with his/her 8 cards and that all-important golden ticket waiting in my conferring notebook. I plan to issue the cards at the end of a conference by saying, "I have noticed that you...(behavior goal reached), and YOU ROCK!" (High five or fist bump) and here's your ...(letter of ROCK STAR) card!"
Hope you have a rockin' week!




Remembering 9 11


What Does a Scientist Look Like?

     A high school friend wrote in my yearbook so many years ago, “I hope you will be able to persuade your way through life as you have through Physics.”  I never forgot that (depending on how you view it) inspiring statement as I have happily traveled the journey of an elementary teacher. Hating the study of science as a student, I have embraced it as a teacher once I discovered that science done right is a hands-on, interactive experience. I’ve never crossed paths again with that old friend since high school, but I often think about how he might chuckle at my attitude adjustment once I became a teacher.

     For many years, I worked on science curriculum in my district and presented at science conferences.  I taught all the science for my grade level, no matter what grade I was in at the time because it was fun! I even coauthored a book with a dear friend, filled with science lessons using food.  Unfortunately, many of those lessons included peanut butter. With so many allergic children in our schools right now, our books alas are collecting dust in our spare rooms.

      When I moved to a new building in my district, one of my grade level partners wanted to teach the science, and I stepped aside.  She did an amazing job before resigning this year for reasons totally unrelated to science.  So here I am: back teaching science and so looking forward to it all!

     I decided to try an activity yesterday which I’ve always done first thing just to assess kids’ attitudes about science and scientists. (Thinking if there’s a kid or three like me, maybe the attitude adjustment could begin in fourth grade rather than post-grad!) I asked my students in all three classes to open their science interactive notebooks and devote one page to showing what a scientist looks like and does. I first tried this activity in 1986. When we shared our labeled drawings today, I was amazed at how far we’ve come in the last 27 years!

    Kids in 1986 mostly drew scientists as elderly Caucasian men with unruly grey hair, wearing  goggles and lab coats, and holding up a beaker which was frothing over with an unidentifiable fun substance. Scientists to my students today now look more like each student herself or himself, with just a few Christopher Lloyds sprinkled in. Although most are still shown clad in lab coats and goggles, holding or standing near bubbling beakers and test tubes, enough to raise my hopes forever showed botanists, physicists, zoologists, geologists, archaeologists, biologists, and even two epidemiologists and one marine biologist. 

     My all-time favorite was a sketch of scientist looking exactly like his young creator next to an intricate display of labeled tubing and beakers combining toxic substances with benign ones, traveling through three different stages of mixtures, resulting in the bottom layer in “Mixture X: The Cure for Cancer”. I love my job! I think I’ll go back again tomorrow!  (Pictures of these amazing drawings when I get permission from parents!)
     Happy teaching, friends!                                                     She kinda' looks like me!

A Shiny New Year

First day of school today! Twenty-nine new faces and another chance to come closer to getting it ALL right! I've been doing this for so many years, and yet still have butterflies the night before, and thoroughly enjoy the surprises and adventure of the first days of school.
This week, I'd like to blog about some of our early activities and our room, and then move into some more recurring topics to see if I can be a little more efficient in getting back to the blog! Stay tuned!

Best activity today was "Save Wally the Worm". Thanks to Lorraine from Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies for sharing this idea! (I needed to change the name to Wally from Fred because of a student name!)
I found some adorable square polka dot cups at Target and placed inside: 2 small and 2 large paper clips, a sour gummy worm and a peachy gummy ring. Each group of 4 got one of these, and also a 9 oz. Solo cup (clear). Directions: Save Wally. Move him from dry land (square cup) to his pond (solo cup) using only the paper clips and working together as a team. The most amazing part of this activity was the debriefing, when each group shared the secrets of their success at working as a team. They talked about each other as partners they could trust, people whose ideas they believed in, and leaders they were willing to step aside for. (Teacher heaven!)
We also listened to and sang along with an inspiring song by Lessia Bonn of "I Am Bullyproof Music" called "I've Got Your Back" and talked about how we all need to be there for and look out for each other this year. My room is absolutely packed with people this year, but I'm predicting it's going to be packed with love and fun also!
Just a couple of pics for starters (decided to forget about the "before" ones!)
More to come - I promise!
Have a great year, everyone!