Saturday, June 6, 2015

Bringing Passion into Science

We always wrap up our year in science with informational writing. For four years (the entire time I've been a 5th grade teacher), I have changed the project. Fourth quarter would roll around and I would get the itch to switch things up a bit and make the project more fun and even better

Back in January, I read the book "A More Beautiful Question" and was inspired to structure my informational writing unit around asking an "un-googleable" and more beautiful question. We used the Genius Hour approach to form our research topics and my kids were OFF.  You know you've got your students hooked when they asking to write ALL day.  

I wish I could have bottled that excitement and engagement for writing and sprinkled it throughout the year when we needed a little bit of motivation. Hmm.. maybe I should call Shark Tank?

Fast forward to 4th quarter in science. At this point, we've wrapped up our state testing and my kids were ready for a new project. I used the same approach as earlier in the year and asked the students to focus on a topic (science related) that they were passionate about. 

On day one... I walked through the thinking process myself. I narrowed down my absolute-favorite science subject (solar system) and started thinking aloud to help pinpoint a specific question. Through all of my thinking, I came to the big question: how can humans live on the Moon? Then, I sent my scientists on their merry-thinking way. 

On day two... I introduced our nonfiction magazines. I projected a picture of Sports Illustrated and asked my kids to discuss what kind of information I would be reading in this publication. Hands flew up in the air and everyone told me it was about... sports. I showed a few other magazine covers and had similar discussions. I wanted to illustrate the idea that some magazines are meant for specific audiences. I'm only reading HGTV magazine because I'm super into home improvement right now! You won't find me reading a Sports Illustrated anytime soon.. sorry Scott. Then, I had my students break into small groups based on their passions. These small groups had the task of designing a magazine cover and picking a title. 

From there, students took their passion projects through the writing process and published magazines! 

This may be the project I'll be repeating during year five!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Winner is Crowned!

Congrats Corinne! You're the winner of an Uncommon Goods gift certificate!

Check your email for more information. 

Thanks to everyone who entered to win. Hopefully another contest will pop up on my blog soon!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Uncommon Goods GIVEAWAY!

You may remember this post from a few months ago... 
The company Uncommon Goods made all my dreams come true. 

They made my beloved Chip President of the United States! 

Now, Uncommon Goods is offering a gift certificate to their web site to a reader of the newly named "Half-Full Chronicles".  First, let's chat a little bit about the company Uncommon Goods. Their focus is to, "feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and  without harm to animals or people." Many of their products are made right here in the United States AND the mission of their company is impact the world in a positive way. <--That's fantastic.

While browsing the pages of unique products online, I came across a gratitude kit in the Housewarming section. I was in love! 

As soon as I found the Year of Gratitude Kit in the Home Decor, I knew it would be the perfect complement to our engagement. Scott and I have so much to be grateful for at this time in our lives and why not share that with others? The entire kit revolves around giving thanks for 52 weeks! 

Since Scott and I are homeowners now, we are always hunting to decor items and pieces to fit our new place together. Uncommon Goods has quite the array of Home Decor items you should check out. 

Another fun item making its way into our new home is this Cheese & Crackers Serving Board. I can't wait to fill it with my favorite cheeses - like gouda... yum! -  and crackers for our official housewarming party this summer. Did I mention we'll be husband and wife by then? Oh my! I can't wait. 

Here's a first for the 'ol blog! How about a giveaway?! Uncommon Goods is giving away a gift certificate to their site and YOU could win. 

 Leave a comment below and share what you would buy with a gift certificate! 

The winner will be revealed on FRIDAY! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 8, 2015

I Appreciate YOU!

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I've had my 3 classes write letters of appreciation to their current or former teachers. It's been remarkable to watch as they knew exactly which teacher they wanted to write a heart felt note to. Some even had to sit for awhile and decide on only ONE teacher to write a letter to because they loved so many. 

I've watched as students thanked teachers for helping them read, inspiring them to achieve their dreams, setting examples for siblings, and helping through rocky times in their own lives. Some just simply said, "thank you for being you." 

It's this time of year when things start to get a little shaky, kids get a little goofy, and schedules get a little foggy... but it's also the time of year to cling tight to your students because your days remaining together are so few. 

Sure, I get tired. We all do! I'm worn out on Friday afternoons. My brain goes on overload. I take on too much. I worry too much. I feel like I'm doing too little. With all that in mind, I wouldn't switch my profession for anything.   I'll always remember the advice of my dad who said, "Find a job where you are excited to wake up every morning and go to work." (Side note: this was a time in my life where I couldn't quite find the direction I was headed...")

So, I thank YOU faithful educators who inspired me growing up and for the educators I'm surrounded by each and every day - even in the summer! :) 


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Letting Them Choose

'Tis the end of the school year is upon us in 5th grade. I'm not usually a countdowner (unless we are referring to the wedding.. in THAT case, we have 44 days!) but I can sense the end is near....

We just wrapped our How Does Exericse Affect Learning PBL project (details to come!) and I wanted to hold onto that student engagement and choice-driven environment that had flourished during the week of our PBL project. 

A fellow 5th grade teacher and I collaborated and created a (in my opinion) totally awesome choice menu for the rest of the year. The menu items feature some writing, some reading, some social studies, fluency, poetry, and even opportunities to be creative.

Monkeyin' Around Visual Aid
As a requirement for class, students must complete seven out of the nine choices. Some of the choices require students to publish through their blog or in their writer's notebook. I have a checklist to manage as students complete various tasks. Students who go above and beyond and complete all nine will be rewarded with ice cream sundaes. 
I mean, c'mon? Who doesn't love an ice cream sundae?

Here are a few of the options:

A few more choices available to students:

Another one of the options involves making a visual aid to represent their favorite book from this year. I had a young man do this project at home the night I introduced the choice menu! 

Fine by me!

How is the rest of your year shaping up? Share with me your "end of the year" activities!

You can access an editable version of the choice menu through Google Docs ------------> HERE.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Paint > Wallpaper

I'm participating in a Starter Stories series by Compass. We all know I've got plenty of stories to share about this home-buying business! Compass is a real estate company that focuses on making renting, buying, and selling a home (in the New York and D.C. area) as easy as pie.

The big question: What did our house need after a good 'ol fashioned wallpaper removal? A fresh coat of paint. See what I a mean? We needed to liven up the place!

While we spent entirely too much of our lives taking down wallpaper, we knew (from the start) we would leave the interior painting to the experts. Now, even though you leave it to the experts... they still expect you to make all the decisions. These decisions are not made for the weak or indecisive. It takes a person with brute strength and quick judgement.  That's why I have Scott. However, I volunteered to go to the paint store and pick out samples. 

This, my friends, was a very complicated day in my life. Let's start from the beginning:

There I was just minding my own business at the paint store. I casually walked in expecting to pick up a yellow here, blue there, toss in a gray for good measure, and then skip off on my merry way. 

As I'm walking around the store, I briefly stopped and checked out the books of wallpaper (because I hear it's back in style...) and then laughed as I threw the book down on the ground and reminded myself, "NEVER AGAIN."

^ Also reminded me of one of my favorite SNL Digital Shorts. 

With my casual attitude in tow, I strolled over to the paint chips and stared in amazement at the rainbow before my eyes. I started to sweat a little bit thinking of the paint possibilities. I pulled a few chips of colors I thought I wanted. I requested a few paint samples and sprinted to my car in the pouring rain. Fact: it was actually pouring down rain that day, I felt like it was reflective of my mood after leaving the paint store for the first time.

I took the jugs of paint back to the house and painted a few blocks on the wall. I took a step back and thought, "Ew. What was I thinking?" I asked Scott what he thought and he didn't say much... but his expression said it all. 

It was back to the paint store I went. 

This time, I did some research. We went with a few suggested colors from our contractor and I turned to Pinterest. Anyone who was following me on Pinterest could tell what my focus was that afternoon. Paint colors, Fixer Upper, and more paint. 

I was growing fond of the color "Sea Salt" (possibly influenced by JoAnna) and became so anxious to throw it on the wall. I rushed back to Sherwin Williams and bought samples of Dover White (for our trim), Front Porch (for our upstairs walls), Sea Salt (master bedroom), and Quietude (for our spare room). By this point, I felt pretty confident in my color selection. I even boasted to the Assistant Manager of the store that I had found a great article online informing me that Sea Salt was the new "chameleon" paint color. She looked at my blankly and said, "All colors are chameleon honey." Then she flipped on a switch and cast light on the paint chips. It was like a million chameleons right before my eyes. I didn't say much after that.

Finally, we made decisions and crossed our fingers the colors would look as great as they did in our heads (and on the little tiny parts of the walls we painted). 

Despite all of the back-and-forth with paint colors, it's been quite the treat to pop in the house each evening and watch the house change and become our home. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Livin' Life Half Full

Good morning! Have we met? I'm Jordon, formally known as "The Messy One". Before I continue, I must confess that just because my blog name is changing does not mean my "messy ways" have gone by the wayside. You can still find me happily living a messy life only with more emphasis on a positive attitude.

I knew my blog was in need of a facelift after chatting with my students about blogging. I was sharing with them my personal blog and felt that the name of my blog should do a better job of reflecting who I really am. 

So, allow myself to introduce... myself. 

My name is Richie Cunningham and this is my wife... Oprah.

I'm Jordon. 
I like to enjoy the positive things in life. 
I like to see each opportunity from a "glass is half full" perspective. 
My blog will (continue to) be a journey through life's adventures in the classroom, home, and kitchen. 

Nice to meet you, dear readers.

Have a wonderful Monday!

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