Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Schema? What's your Schema?

Before Christmas, we wrapped up our comprehension unit on Schema. I cannot claim many of the ideas on this post because they mostly came from the i talk about too much fabulous book Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor. In her book, Tanny stresses the importance of making connections with our prior knowledge and experiences {Schema} while reading so that students are able to remember, make meaning (understand), and enjoy what they are reading.

Whoa. Major run-on sentence going on there.

Anyways! Here is a little about our SCHEMA ....
I talked a lot about making connections with our schema ... we discussed the different thinking stems we could use to help develop our thinking ... to see more about what I do with my paper chain connections go {here} The only difference is that I chose a different book this year -  a great, new book titled "One Cool Friend"! It worked really well with our explorer unit we are studying since the characters are named after Captain Cook and Ferdinand Magellan :)
{One my favorite Rockwell paintings ... and very relatable to 5th graders! he he} 
We did an "ART Museum" activity with Norman Rockwell paintings to help us practice our schema ... I posted large paintings around the room, then gave the students a sheet of paper with a thumbprint size picture. We pretended we were in a real ART MUSEUM. Complete, as they insisted, with serious stares and contemplative frowns as we "studied" each picture (teacher grin!) As they did this, they were to be making a schema connection in the section next to the painting. They really did well with this activity and enjoyed it. It was truly amazing to have 24 kids wandering around the room, clip boards in hand, seriously looking at "art", making connections ... and doing all of this COMPLETELY SILENT. Eerie! But totally fine by me!
{This just made me smile ... we were in the middle of "visiting the MUSEUM" when the lunch bell rang ... it's like the school version of the secret rapture! ha!}
On a completely un-schema-related topic, I GOT A NEW KIDNEY TABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I cannot even express to all of you HOW EXCITED I was about this! Over Christmas break my principal emailed a few of us teachers who are really trying to incorporate guided reading in our classrooms sharing that he had ordered kidney tables for all of us.
Best. Christmas. Present. EVER!
So here she is ... isn't she a beauty??
and yes, since you asked. I named her Gladys. Because she makes me, and my kiddos very very glad!
She makes such a wonderful addition to our room :) 
And in honor of our newest classroom member ... some guided reading shots of our schema practice ...

Monday, January 14, 2013

1/2 year in review ...

So ... considering the lack of posts for the previous semester here is the "catch up" on what we have been working on .. ... if you have questions on any of the activities feel free to comment :)

Student Council Elections .. .. conveniently conducted during our Government unit ;)
Homecoming FUN!

Haunted House Descriptive Writing (Pinterest find):
For Halloween, we took a cultural trip to Mexico and celebrated Day of the Dead, complete with crazy costumes and fun crafts! 
I used Josefina from the American Girl Collection as my costume inspiration :) 
Grandparents Day (creating Native American pinch pots, coil pots, or totem poles):

Beautiful birthday cards from my kiddos ...
Rockin my Christmas Present with my kiddos!
Fun random snack for the kiddos .. . . another fabulous Pinterest find (I cannot seem to locate the website for the template, but I will!)

Sadly, we had a snow day on our Christmas Party so I do not have any party pictures this year. 
So, there it is, a semester in review!

Native American Unit Activities

In November, we completed our Native American Indian Unit.
This is always one of mine, and my kiddos, FAVORITE units! This year I had kids seriously UPSET that we were finished when we got to the eighth region ... {teacher heart FULL} 

I started each region "study" by having the kids analyze "artifacts" that would have been part of the region we were looking at. Most of these are things I have collected from garage sales, Goodwills, and my own collection of stuff from my childhood playing (yes, I am truly a history dork!). 
For the first one I shared the artifacts with the kids while I shared a power point ... for the second region I had the kids share and discuss the artifacts in groups and decide together, for the rest of them, I did different things ... go through a region "museum" (not allowed to touch this time), individually fill in a sheet where they had to describe the artifact and guess what they think it would be used for, act like archaeologists and "uncover" the artifacts, etc. Tried to change it up for each lesson and region. 

While it may not sound terribly exciting or original, the way I share about each of the eight Native American Regions and their cultures is by showing a power point ... it only has pictures on it.  Surprisingly the kids LOVE these lessons, I share a lot of stories and unique aspects of each culture which I think makes something "boring" into something they really look forward too! We first look at the environment and guess what their natural resources might be ... then we look at what they actually were ... they we look at their clothing, their shelter, and unique aspects of their culture and share how their natural resources and environments affected all of it. The kids take notes in their SS notebooks for each region.

This year, we created a Pinterest find - bow and arrows out of popsicle sticks, dental floss, and q-tips. These were harder than I expected, but we managed :) The kids really enjoyed these! They even started their own competitions while I was helping students make their bows. This group is so neat like that, they entertain themselves so well and get along amazingly! {happy teacher heart!} 
As we learned about each cultural region, we added artifacts and information to our board ... 
Eastern Woodland 
Great Plains 
Our culminating project assessment for this unit is creating group region dioramas. .. every year the kids really enjoy this opportunity to show off what they have learned about the regions and as always, this years turned out GREAT! So proud. 
Grandparents day always falls during this unit which makes for a fun hands-on project for the kids to do with their grandparents if they come, and enjoy doing alone if no one is able to come for them. The kids can choose to make a salt dough coil pot, pinch pot, or totem pole. I have had many compliments from grandparents over the years on this interactive project that they can do with their grandkid. 
To see what I have done for Native Americans in the past visit THISTHIS, or THIS post. 
To find more exciting ideas for Native Americans, visit the link below! 
Native Americans Linky
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. 
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