Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Jimmy Cracked Corn

During our Early Settlements unit, the kids found all the different jobs that children had to do fascinating. Early on, it is assumed that there will be comments about them being over worked ..."treated like slaves, being worked too hard by their parents, The Cinderella story," etc. However, as we dive deeper in to our study, I am always happy to discover the change in my student's understanding what up Synthesizing!! :P
One important lesson that really helps drive this understanding home is a reading inference lesson on Sarah Morten's Day. I am sure many of your are familiar with this book as a teacher favorite around Thanksgiving. 
I start the lesson by reading the story as a good old fashioned read aloud. By this time, students have a pretty good understanding of Jamestown and Plymouth so they can make some good connections to the text. 
I then work through the inference sheet I have created modeling my thinking with the first text, the second two they complete by sharing their thinking with their partner and than writing down, the last two should be accomplished individually, however, you may need to model more if this is a new skill. 
At the end, students have an opportunity to share their reflection on what life was like for children during early settlements. After diving deeper into the text's meaning, students can form a more accurate assessment of childhood. 
Student Observations: 
  • They probably had to work harder because if they didn't their family could struggle for food during the winter. 
  • Everyone had to help out to help the family survive - pull their own weight.
  • They were very respectful of adults and their parents.
  • They enjoyed games like we do.
  • Parents had to be strict because life was harder and they were focused on survival.
  • Parents loved their children and children loved their parents, just like today.
As a fun sponge activity, we also practiced grinding corn. I had the students fill out a planning sheet before our activity which can be found at my TPT store. They REALLY enjoyed this activity. 
Materials Needed: 
Planning/Reflection sheet for each group
24 medium sized rocks 
One 10lb bag of squirrel corn (whole cob) 
Container to carry corn and corn meal 

Students had a great time pounding corn - many of them were surprised at how long it took to get down to corn meal. They also discovered many different methods that helped the process, such as grinding the kernels with the rock instead of slamming the rock down, keeping the kernels together to crush instead of spreading them out, etc. 

Overall, I think this activity, along with the inference lesson, really helped the kids recognized the importance of children's work in early settlements and the manual labor it took. 

Monday, April 25, 2016

"So get Back, Back, Back to ...Native Americans"

Yes, this is totally a Sugarcult reference! "back, back, back to where we lasted..."
Since this is my life...
and yours, I'm sure. 
I just want you to know, all of you who find time to blog ... you are my heroes! 
I am playing blog catch up!
So come back, back, back with me to our Native American Unit: 
Before studying each Native American Region, I try to present artifacts that I have collected over the years in different ways to help engage the kiddos in inquiry. 

For the Great Plains, since it is our first region, I show then the items, and break down the inquiry thought process (really it is to model where I want their thinking to go when they do the activity later independently). 
For the Southwest, students observed the items as groups and discussed together their uses, what they would have been made from, etc. and which region we were about to study. 
For the Eastern Woodland the kids completed museum inquiry sheets as they walked our "museum" of artifacts. They were not allowed to touch the artifacts this time - observing like it was a museum. 
For the Northwest Coast, I had the students do a picture thought walk of the different artifacts. I placed them in the middle of large posters and they students walked around jotting down their thinking on each item. 

For the Southeast, we pretended to be Archaeologists who had uncovered artifacts in the ground pertaining to daily life. We had learned that Archaeologists take detailed notes about the items they discover and often add a labeled sketch in their notebooks. The students practiced describing the item, sketching the item and, like good historians, predicted what they thought the item would have been used for. 

For the Arctic, they look at the items and come up with inquiry questions of their own as if they were creating a test/assessment as a teacher. 
Overall, using artifacts and pictures in the classroom has proved to be a great way to help students develop good thinking skills, get them excited about learning and the new unit, and it gives them something tangible to connect with and discover. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Point of View and Wordless Picture Books

While studying Point of View, my small enrichment reading group worked on creating stories for wordless picture books. I had previously checked out all of the wordless books we had in the library. It was fun to watch their misconceptions change through the activity. 
A) Most of them hadn't read the books, being higher readers, at least not in years.
B) They initially felt that the activity was babyish because of the "books" and though I was crazy. 
C) They teased me when I said they were to "read" them, considering the books did not have any words. 

After each reading one, we discussed the early elementary skill of "reading pictures" and how much thinking one actually has to do when reading a wordless book. We agreed there is a lot of drawing conclusions happening, prediction, processing what they author means by certain drawings and events etc. They grew a new appreciation for picture books, which was fun to experience. 

The skill we applied was Point of View. While our standard states they must "identify" author's point of view, I had them practice the skill by applying it in writing. 

Each of them chose a book, read it, then wrote the story in either first, third omniscient, third limited.

Once they completed the book, they then read another book and wrote in a new point of view. In total, each student ended up reading three wordless books and writing a first person, third limited, and third omniscient story. 
They were really proud of these at the end. Our librarian shared that she would love to read some so we took them down to here and displayed them in the library next to the books. 
Overall, it was good skill practice for the kids, but it also gave them a new appreciation for a genre they rarely read as higher readers. 

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Educational Fantasy Football Draft

Our group this is very boy heavy which has challenged me to think outside of the box concerning engagement. This particular group of boys is VERY into sports, so that has been a constant theme for many activities throughout the year. 
This fun football inspired activity that will really engage BOYS and could be used year round for test review or as a fun Super Bowl/homecoming activity! 
I found THIS awesome post by Hands On Math a few years ago. I had been brewing this idea for a while and put it into action for our Fall Football Homecoming Celebration.
I will admit, this activity took QUITE a bit of preparation, however, it was totally Worth. It. and how I have it for future groups :)
Using ESPN fantasy rankings, I created cards with a players picture, his ranking #, name, and team. I chose 24 players for each position needed on a fantasy football team. Normally, you would pick more than one of certain positions, but for this activity, students will need only one of each position, with a total of six. 
For each position, we assigned a subject. 
Quarterback - social studies
Running Back - math 
Wide Receiver - reading  
Tight End - science
Kicker - ELA
Defensive Team - math 
My partner teacher came up with the questions for math and science and I did the others. For each position, we created one or two questions for students to answer. These we printed on envelop labels and placed them upside down on the back of each player. 
We created a fantasy draft order with our table groups. Students were dismissed in increments of 30 seconds to roam independently between the two classrooms choosing players. 
In order to keep their player, they needed to remove the player from the wall, find a desk, and answer the question. Only after answering, were they allowed to continue "drafting". 
 They had SO. MUCH. FUN. reviewing different standards in each subject. I honestly do not think I have ever seen a group of boys more excited about answering questions on their learning. It was an excellent activity for our football homecoming celebration! This idea could also be used for test prep review or as a testing celebration. 
Some fun shots from homecoming earlier this year!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Aztec vs. Spanish Points of View

In reading, we have been focusing heavily on Point of View (first person, second person, third person-objective, limited, omniscient). I am always trying to integrate social studies into every subject and this particular standard blends perfectly! 

ELA: RL. 5.6 Describe how a narrator's or speaker's point of view influences how events are described.
Social Studies (MI): 5: 4.1 Describes the convergence of Europeans and American Indians in the Americas after 1492 from the perspective of each group. 
After learning about the reading skill through our reading program, we read two different accounts on the early interactions of Cortez and the Aztec empire. Using the pronouns, students identified whether the accounts were first, second, third (objective, limited, omniscient). 

We than did a CLOSE reading on an article that shared the misconceptions and cultural differences between the two groups. Students shared their thinking notes that they had jotted down with their table groups. 
Next, they worked on creating three different points of view from either an Aztec or a Spaniard. I required them to write a minimum of two sentences per point of view. Since fifth grade really only needs to know first and third person, I added a bonus where they could practice second person and third person limited - some did! 
Finally, they added their sentences to our class chart depending on who's POV they chose. 
 First Person POV - Spaniards
 Third Person limited POV - Spaniard
 Third Person Omniscient POV - Aztec and Spaniard perspective
In the end, it was really good for them to actually write in the different points of view and it really helped them be able to articulate "How a narrators point of view change how events are described." 
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