Sunday, November 20, 2011

Native American Dioramas

Our Native American Unit is coming to a close, but not without one of my favorite activities of the year. We are creating our Native American Region Dioramas!
This week, we finished learning about our last two regions, the Great Plains Indians (which is the most commonly known region) and the Polynesian Indians).
While we learn about each region, the kids summarized the unique attributes about each tribal region in a diagram. Here is an example of the diagrams we have been filling out throughout the unit.

The kids keep these, along with any other handout or activity we do, in their Native American Notebooks
 I am a firm believer that the best way for kids to LEARN about and LOVE history is to make it COME ALIVE for them! This is why you can find me in Goodwill's and garage sales picking up artifacts and costumes of every unit I teach for American History. Lucky for me, I have been a history nerd since childhood and many of my current classroom costumes come from years of accumulation of my sister and I's dress up clothes :)
I have a hands-on history table in my room that changes with each unit, along with a bulletin board. The students are always allowed to check out the stuff on it or read the information. I try and keep books of that topic always available here as well since student interest is often peaked during lessons and this allows for great additional learning.
For each region, I have the students read a short blurb about it in their SS textbooks, then we fill in our diagrams while I show them pictures on a powerpoint (LOTS of pictures really helps kids see the whole picture!). Then I show them artifacts from each region and if I have a costume, I have a couple students demonstrate them for us.

Plains Region:
Polynesian Region:
Handing out Lei's to the rest of the class to wear
Polynesian Dress - native and modern

Although Polynesians are not native to North America, when we study Explorers in the following unit the textbook discusses James Cook and the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands so I like to give them some background. I have unauthentic but still fun artifacts and this lesson is always a huge HIT! My family has roots in Hawaii and I have been blessed to have gone their with my entire extended family many times. Throughout the years, we have collected leis, clothing, instruments, and more. I teach the students a couple of hula dances, show them how to do Poi balls, I also play the ukulele for the students and teach them a couple Hawaiian Songs. 

     My big focus during the Native American unit is adaptation, how each group used their natural resources to adapt their environment, and breaking stereotypes and misconceptions about Indians.
By having a culminating activity of creating a diorama for each of the regions, I feel that the kids are really able to see the differences between each of the regional groups and see how they used the natural resources to survive.  It also helps them break the stereotypes that all Indians lived in Tepees, made totem poles, hunted buffalo, wore animal skin, and kept their hair in long black braids.

After we looked at each region I split them up into groups, assigned them a region and gave them some time to brainstorm ideas that they would like to make in their diorama. I was very impressed by how excited the were about creating these and working together! *teacher's heart is happy*

We will be working on these this coming Monday and Tuesday - I will put pictures up of them as soon as I can :) Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend.

Note: Please be aware that that as a social studies educator, my purpose is to get students excited about learning other cultures as well as their own. I am not perfect in my education of this, though I do try and do a lot of research before teachings cultures and history. Concerning the artifacts used in my room, I try to make them look as authentic as possible from my findings and research but do not claim to be a museum. My artifacts for Native American groups, Polynesian, Mexicans, Explorers, and American History are NOT always authentic, they are not always created by that particular culture, however, by using tangible items it help spur students passion for the cultures and history we study and creates in them a desire to learn and discover more. If there is something that bothers you or have questions on my instruction concerning your culture or any other topic I may teach in my room, please feel free to email me personally to help me gain more understanding. I love learning about others and am always striving to educate my students better. 

Lansing Field Trip and Character Conflict Lesson

     We had a most SUCESSFUL trip to Lansing this past Thursday. I was really impressed with how well this group of kiddos behaved and responded to the trip. They were so interested in EVERYTHING! *happy teacher!* We visited the State Capital Building and the Michigan History Museum.
It was the cutest thing ... I had mentioned to the kids that we would need to be very quite and respectful when we enter buildings on fieldtrips and how we would want to dress up a bit more since we would be going to such a formal place where people work. When we arrived at the Capital, there were lots of people arriving for work, all dressed up, walking by us while we waited for our tour guide. One of my kiddos, with lots of excitement says, "oh look! There are the working people!" *grin*
Government is the first unit I teach since it is sort of a review from 4th grade and we have this field trip so early in the year ... It was fun to see the kids get excited about the legislative rooms, the Supreme Court, and all the other things we have been learning about.
 Looking up into the very tall dome!
Laying on the floor learning about the construction of the dome

The second part of the day we visited the Michigan Historical Museum. It is an AWESOME museum! It has the neatest exhibits and displays! Throughout the Museum, there were docents to share information and talk with the students. Here is a "french fur trapper" discussing the fur trade and Native American/ Colonist interactions

 Another docent sharing with us about the lumber industry
 The kids loved the old fashioned school house - we took a moment and pretended we were doing a normal day at school :)
World War II room 

We have been studying Character and as always, I pulled out one of my trusty Beth Newingham favorites! Her Character Conflict charts and lessons are wonderful! I just ADORE her stuff! 
In this lesson, I had the kids fill in their OWN definitions of what each character conflict was 
Character vs. Character 
Character vs. Self 
Character vs. Nature
Character vs. Society

I believe that it is very important to have students create their own definitions, not just copy down the one that the teacher gives. 
After that, they partnered up and chose on of the books that I had pre-chosen from the library. To find a good list of character conflict books go here
They then read the books aloud together around the room. 

After that, I  brought them together back on the carpet and we shared where we thought our books belonged on the conflict chart. 
The kids really enjoyed this activity and loved reading the books aloud to their partners. During their independent reading time, when they are reading their own books, I had them decide what conflict was occurring in their stories and we recorded this in their notebooks.

Veteran's Day

As always, life has gotten ahead of me! Here are just a couple of activities we did for Veteran's Day ...

Our school does a special Veteran's assembly and invites Veterens in the community to come. Each class does something for the program. This year, the kids made signs to go with the lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner. The students sang the song and held up their signs at their designated verse. It turned out REALLY CUTE! *proud smile*

One of my students has a father who is currently serving over in Afganistan as well as a dear friend of mine from high school. As a class, we wrote Thank You letters to both of these idividuals and their platoons. We talked about what it would be like to be a soldier, how they may be feelings, why their job is so important to all of us. The kids really got into this! I was so proud because I really feel that they understood our military men and woman's sacrifice. I sent half of them with my student to send to her father and I sent the other half to my friend ... the kids really enjoyed this! I put on some patriotic music and they wrote and wrote and WROTE!

Concerning the random Sponge Bob sentence ... I think he is thanking the soldier for protecting the Bill of Rights - one of them is freedom of the press (media) We JUST talked about that ... I think that is where Sponge Bob comes in ... made me laugh!
 We also placed a ribbon outside of school to show that we remember and miss our soldiers!

A couple of my girls wanted to decorate our door to look more "patriotic American" so here is some of their fine artwork :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Teacher Excitements

The littlest things in life make a teacher's job AMAZING!! 

Exciting Special Moment:
Yesterday, while I was out of the room doing Bus duty, I nearly bumped into one of my boys who was making a mad dash out of the classroom.
I walked in to find this taped across the counter ...
Mrs. Bermingham Rocks!  
so sweet :)

Exciting Teaching Moment:
We have been learning about Sequencing in reading and writing (see sequence lesson)
In my partner teachers room, during Math class, she told the students that they needed to use words such as first, next, then, etc. to write a story problem. One of the students announced, "We are sequencing!" to which another student added, "Sequencing is the order in which events happen"
SO PROUD!!!!!!

These are the small moments we live for as teachers!

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Life: Award ... and a little about me.

SHOUT OUT to Lana over at For the Love of Teaching for awarding me with the "Blog on Fire" award! Thank you! Her blog is amazing and I have used many of her creative ideas in my own room!
With this award, I am supposed to tell 7 facts about myself then pass it on to 7 other amazing bloggers

1. I am a Seventh Day Adventist Christian and love my Lord and Savior. He is my life, my passion, and my reason for living!

2. I live in the gorgeous state of Michigan - grew up in Ohio, but moved back to my parents home state and plan on making this a permanent relocation :) Lake life was meant for me - I don't think I could live without it now!

3. I am a HUGE Green Bay Packer fan - I LOVE football! My husband is a die hard Detroit Lions fan (a house divided) making this upcoming Thanksgiving game EPIC!

4. Teaching is my PASSION! I have always known teaching was for me. In 4th grade, I set up a classroom in my basement and taught my little sister every day after school - best student ever!

5. I am a complete history nerd!! My favorite movies are historically based, my favorite books are historical fiction/nonfiction, I LOVE to dress up in period clothing - its an obsession! On top of my Elementary/Language Arts major I also majored in history. I am currently taking my masters in European Renaissance History - thoughts have wandered to being a history professor in the future, but right now I don't think I could leave my kiddos!

6. I LOVE sports! I still play inter mural soccer and football at my Alma Mater Andrews University each season. I miss my years of touring with my high school and college gymnastic/cheer leading team. I love snowboarding, wake boarding, volleyball, exercising through Pilates and P90X ... and the only reason why we own a television is to watch ESPN.

7. Married by best friend last September and have enjoyed a wonderful first year together! Feels like so much longer since we're going on six years together :) He makes me a better person every day!

Now to pass this award along ...

Cardigans and Curriculum

Runde's Room

Reading is Thinking

Juice Boxes and Crayolas

My Life as a Fifth Grade Teacher

The Teacher's Lane

Oh' Boy Fourth Grade

Thank you all for your incredible ideas! 

My Life: Reminiscent Gymnast

Putting my old leotard and track suit on for our Halloween costume party got me all sentimental .. .. .so i thought i would take a short jaunt down memory lane and share with you a part of my life that is very dear to my heart. 
Throughout both high school and college, my husband and I were apart of touring acrosport gymnastics/cheer teams - those were the days! We traveled around the US performing all over for functions, fundraisers, festivals, etc My favorite were the public schools where we would promote healthful living and an anti - drug lifestyle. The kids energy was INCREDIBLE! Our teams did a combination between acrosport, cheerleading, gymnastic tumbling, and circus moves (mini tramp, teeterboard, russian bar)
Walk down memory lane ... 
High school Team - Great Lakes Adventist Academy Aerokhanas 

 College Team - Andrews University Gymnics
 Tossing pictures can be so ugly since the timing can't be perfect *haha*
Russian Bar - the gentlemen bounce the bar on their shoulders and toss the flier into the air, she does a trick, then lands back on the bar - well, the idea is that they land back on the bar *wink* Yes, that is me on the bar :) 
I am curious, are there any fellow "retired" cheerleaders or gymnasts out there in blog land?? I would love to hear your stories and see your pictures :)


As I am writing this post I am realizing how BEHIND I am with my blogging - I have been faithfully taking pictures of activities yet haven't found the time to post anything! ... and so here I am blogging quickly on my teacher work day ... Sshhhhhhhhh! :)

We are currently learning about "sequencing" in reading ... so here is a sequence of this weeks actives
(notice all the sequencing clue words and phrases *wink* I know I missed a few!) 

As mentioned before, we have been studying "sequencing" in reading.
I started the week off my having the students create sequence story time lines. First I modeled one and we did it as a class, then individually they did it on their own time lines during independent reading time. I definitely had some kids that struggled with this at first and this helped me identify them right away. We discussed how easily we could use these time lines to create a summary.
What does sequencing help a reader to do? (anchor chart)
  • Understand what is happening in the story 
  • Summarize what the story was about
  • Remember what we read
During my guided reading groups (which I am working VERY hard this year to focus more on) each group did sequence activities - example,  in my low group we ordered story event strips correctly with a partner. 
Yesterday, we did one of my favorite lessons. As an intro hook, I read to them "The Butter Battle" by Dr. Seuss (a FAVORITE every year!) and then told them that there was a CORRECT way to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!
 In partners, I have them spread out around the room and list the correct steps to making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 
NOTE: You will need enough bread for each student to have at least one piece!
After that we meet back on the carpet with me standing behind a table and I begin to create their sandwiches based off of their "sequence lists" Of course, there are always the ones who's sound like this "Step 3: Spread the peanut butter" and the kids reaction is priceless as you begin spreading the peanut butter and jelly in your hand! This is a classic (I still remember my 4th grade teacher doing this to teach us "How to" paragraphs!) but still wonderful!
 This one ^^ was definitely one that got spread on my hand :)

Today, we identified sequence words on an anchor chart, identified them while we read a mentor text (Legend of Sleeping Bear Dunes by  - especially if you live in the Michigan area, this is a MUST read aloud!) and then identified sequence clue words during their independent reading time and list them in their readers notebooks. They also created sequence strips of an activity along with illustrations. I plan on laminating these when they are done, placing them in baggies, trading with a friend, and putting them in the correct sequence. I may just have to snag a few for next year to use during guided reading groups they turned out so darn cute!)
I am happy to say that after a week of sequencing, those struggling with the concept on Monday had it solid by Friday!! *success* 

To finish off this weeks post ... I thought I would share a random activity my partner teacher and I do every year. She does pumpkin math every year ending with the students carving a face in their pumpkins with geometric shapes ... the next day 5th grade participates in the annual "Pumpkin Chuck!" The principal opens the roof access for us and we climb up, pumpkins and all, onto the roof! Our system of getting  the pumpkins up is pretty ghetto and consists of a rope, hook and circular laundry basket :) We then chuck them off the roof to the waiting cheering/yelling/ jumping kiddos below :0)

Totally random, but it is one of the greatest highlights of the season! Our principal comes out every year just to join in the fun! The kids always do a great job of cleaning up all the pumpkin pieces and the day goes on - just with a little extra pizazz :)

Halloween Recap

Here's a quick recount of Friday's Halloween party (always better to have a party on a Friday!) *grin*

Party = SUCCESS!

In the morning, we rotated through out Halloween stations between my partner teacher and I's rooms. We divide both sets of our students into 8 groups and have 4 stations going in each of our rooms.

In my room we had ...
#1 "Creepy Cafe"
Where the kids had to create a "Creepy foods" menu including lots of icky adjectives and pricing
#2 "Spoooky Bags"
 I fill lunch bags with random items and re-name them "Halloween" names:
Silly string = frog intestines
Lacy straw ribbons = "bat wings"
Shaped silly puddy piece= "lizard tongue"
Gak (my partner teacher makes it out of glue) = "snot" NOTE: this one was GROSS feeling! LOVE IT!
Broken pieces of candy corn (a little lame but it worked) = "toe nails"    *need to figure out a better one*
The kids  have to feel them, write 5 adjectives that describe what they are feeling, take a guess at what the item ACTUALLY is and then create a "potion" with the ingredients - if I could figure out this whole document attachment thing I could give you the worksheet I made for this! If your interested in any of my worksheets just shoot me an email!
I monitor this station otherwise the bags get destroyed, plus it eliminates any temptation to peek!

#3 "Sleepy Hollow"
I have this station set up in my reading corner.
We have been studying Legends for our genre in reading, so I incorporate that into this station. The kids read The Legend of Sleepy Hallow (individually) and then create a summary answering who, what, where, when, how, etc. and write it inside of a bat. They than cut it out and tap it in our "graveyard"
NOTE: This is the quietest station - LOVE IT!
#4 "Haunted House"
At this station there are just large sheets of paper with a haunted house outline - this week, in a writing center, we created haunted house advertisements for the Munsters - so in this station they create the inside floor plan of the house they were trying to sell.

After lunch, we did some fall relay activities with pumpkins
We finished the day eating our caramel apples (which was a station in my partner teachers room), drinking cider, and enjoying a movie :)
Over all, we had a WONDERFUL party!
Oh, and the costumes were great! We even got our picture in the local newspaper :) 
I was a gymnast - complete with my old leotard, high school track suit and LOTS of glitter. It was very reminiscent for me ... I MISS IT! Did acrosport/cheer all through high school and College ...

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