Monday, October 29, 2012

It's a Big World Out There!

Earlier this summer, I made a list of goals that I wanted my students (and myself) to accomplish this year. Recently, I've added a few more goals to that sheet.  One new goal, that I'm particularly passionate about, is exposing my students to this big 'ol world around us. For some, it's not so easy to hop in a car and road trip around the state. It's especially not as easy to travel around the country let alone the globe. Through different projects and activities, my goal is to show students our country and world through technology and communication.  I've found a couple of ways to do so... Take a look!

International Weather Investigation

When prepping for my weather unit, I set out searching for a weather data collection form. I came up short until I saw a link that led me to Skype. I clicked on the link and was reading about an International Weather Investigation based out of Sydney, Australia. I think I screamed out loud. After reading the overview, I KNEW we could participate. Basically, students in Sydney need 3-weeks worth of weather data about our climate. Perfect, right? I added our name to the Google Doc and waited for my email full of information. By 8:00 AM the next morning, my inbox had two brand new emails from Sydney. I could barely contain my excitement. Really - I kind of freaked out.

To start the project, my classes mapped out where other participating schools were located. With world maps in hand, students were using the Google Doc to find countries and schools all over the world. We were marking places in Asia, South America, Russia, America, and so on.  It was incredible! Today, my students collected their first afternoon of data. I didn't even have to remind anyone about the project. I recommend YOU checking out this spectacular climate project here.

Hurricane Sandy

It's hard to fathom what a hurricane might be like in Missouri. We're accustomed to talking about tornadoes and severe thunderstorms. I wanted my students to be aware of what was happening on the other side of the country. Today, I spent a chunk of science time talking to my students about Sandy hammering the east coast. I found video clips to show my students and they asked several questions. We grabbed the maps and figured out who was being hit the hardest and several students asked about our pen pals and I.W.I. friends.

How do you get your students to see the big world that they live in? How do you open their eyes outside of their current residence? Do share!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

What I'm Reading... Thursday

Earlier this year, my book club picked Bill O'Reilly's thriller, "Killing Lincoln" as our monthly book. We were all captivated by the novel! Not only was it historical but riveting at the same time. On October 2, O'Reilly released his lastest historical thriller, "Killing Kennedy" about out beloved former President John F. Kennedy. I'm roughly 50 pages in and I'm HOOKED. I glued my buns to my couch to watch the entire mini series on the Kennedy's... now I can't peel my eyes from this one. Prior to Lincoln's book, I was never a fan of historical literature. I'm a changed woman! Hand 'em over... I want to read about the past!

I highly recommend this one. If you're wondering, yes it talks about everything: Jackie, Marilyn, Cuba, Civil Rights... and on and on. 

In my classroom, we are reading another incredible story. The book is "Out of My Mind" by Sharon Draper. It happens to be a Mark Twain Nominee this year (for you Missouri teachers!) as well. It's about an 11-year old girl with cerebral palsy. The story of Melody is fictional, but as the author says on her website, she represents so many individuals with intelligent brains and uncooperative bodies. While reading yesterday, I could feel the tears forming in my eyes while reading about Melody's obstacles. It's an incredibly phenomenal story. I HIGHLY recommend this as a read aloud. I have had five kids check it out at the library and finish it on their own because they couldn't wait! 

Check out "Out of My Mind" on Sharon Draper's website here

Off I go to tackle my mountain of laundry and feed my growling stomach. It's almost Friday, folks!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Life Lately - Sweet October

October! Eek! It's one of my favorite months of the entire year, but it's definitely one of the all time busiest. With a combination of parent teacher conferences, writing, reading, plants, animals, football games, family, friends, and everything in between... It's hard to manage it all. I can't complain though. I refuse to! Life is too much fun to do that. 

Here's a few of my favorite snapshots from the past couple weeks. 

Chip's Billboard for the Lake

My Sweet 3-Month Old Niece

A Sneaky 3-Year Old & Grandma's Cake

Saturdays Filled with Tailgating!

A Little Pumpkin Patch Does the Body Good

 Life is grand and jam-packed right now. Who can complain about that? That continuously growing to do list... will keep growing... and I'll keep checking things off in a timely manner. I'll keep reminding myself to take my own advice, too. Until then, I'll keep singing Hakuna Matata. 

It means, no worries for the rest of your days. :)


Monday, October 15, 2012

Exploring the New World!

Look! It's Magellan and Henry Hudson! 

In social studies, we're continuing our exploration of American History. After discussing the Early Native American regions, we jumped into the time period where new cultures met for the first time. Miraculously, my lesson plans happened to coincide with Columbus Day. That was not planned, but very fortunate for our social studies unit. In Missouri, there is little emphasis on early explorers in our grade level expectations. I still felt that it was important that we discuss the impact these men and groups of people had on the world. To do this, the students created Explorer Trading Cards. Now, this is not a revolutionary idea by any means. I found several webquests online to support this idea! In a nutshell, students drew the name of a famous explorer out of a hat .... or ziplock baggie (hat sounds better). Next, we discussed what a trading card was and its features. Then, I sent the students on their merry way to collect research on their explorer. I found SEVERAL websites with information. Here are a few that we used:

Which brings me to this site: All About Explorers. Seriously, click the link! The site is AMAZING. FULL of information, but it's all bogus. It's a website FULL of INCORRECT information. It was created for the sole purpose to teach students (and teachers!!) about the internet. Their "about" section explains it here. Thankfully, during one of my eMINTS sessions last year we talked about this site. In fact, this site tricked me! I thought it was an excellent and student friendly resource. I was wrongo-bongo. I was a little weary when I read that Columbus was born in 1951.... in Australia. Anyway, I show you this site because it's an excellent teaching tool. Thanks to Merrie and eMINTS, I know about it too! 

You can download my lesson plan on Scribd. If the link doesn't work, email me and I'll send you another copy. []

Chapter 3 the Age of Exploration

Vasco da Gama & Cortez

Today, as the project concluded we had some wrapping up to do. I handed back the trading cards and we had a discussion about timelines. The class had to create a human timeline with their explorer. Their goal was to line up in order from earliest explorer to most recent. If you consider the year 1700 recent. :)

Then, The students hung their explorer on our interactive timeline in the hallway. I managed to find a neat ship to hang up too. The kids were disappointed when I said the ship I put in the hallway was fake. Sometimes, their faith in me is incredible!

Come Explore With Us!

Exploration Was Hoppin' in 1450. 
After all of the explorers were hung, we marched back out in the hallway. I asked the simple question, "What did we create?" A student replied, "a TIMELINE!" Ahh yes, little one. Next, I took it a step further and asked, "How did we organize our explorers?" One student said, "Youngest to oldest!" Which brought up a great discussion.... because we had actually organized them by year of exploration. Great moment in timeline discussion!

The front of the trading card had to include their name and illustration. On the back, the students compiled their information and some even included a map! 

Now, we're moving right along into the establishment of colonies and eventually the American Revolution. I've always loved history, but I'm loving it even more now. 

Happy Monday! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ten Commandments

Sometimes things show in my mailbox and I don't have a valid explanation for it.  I'm sure many of you can relate to junk mail, but I've had some magazines pop up in my mailbox that don't make any sense. Oh well, that's another blog post. One magazine that shows up frequently is my S&C: School and Community magazine. It's the magazine for Missouri educators (that's me!). I'm 98% sure it's in my hands right now because of my membership to MSTA. 

This issue had several articles that stuck out to me. First, an article about the Common Core State Standards. Has your state adopted them? According to the mag, 43 states have officially adopted the standards. The article started with a statistic from the Missouri Teachers Association Leadership Symposium this year: 41% of attendees felt that they were familiar with the basic idea of CCSS, but did not feel confident in the specifics of the standards. Eeek! I feel the same! I am barely getting used to the grade level expectations. Now, we're talking alignment!? Whew. I need to sit down and let me brain soak it all in. On an extremely positive note, I'm excited to be involved in this incredible process of creating career and college ready individuals. This quote sums it up, "Common Core streamlines your curriculum and allows you to move deeper with learning. [...] We will experience greater success with students when we simplify."  
Tell me your thoughts! Have you started preparing for the Common Core?

Another article that grabbed my attention was about stress. Sometimes I feel like a magnet that attracts stress wherever I go. I find myself worrying about situations out of my control and stressing to no end. My To Do list tends to grow as I check off another item and I can never squeeze it all in one day. Now as I sit here stressing about my high levels of stress, I can find comfort in these commandments:

Ten Commandments for Reducing Stress
The Joy Project
1. Thou shalt not be perfect nor even try to be. 

2. Thou shalt not try to be all things to all people and spread thyself too thin. 

3. Thou shalt leave things undone that ought to be done. 

4. Thou shalt not criticize thyself for decisions that were made without the benefit of hindsight. 

5. Thou shalt learn to say ‘No’. 

6. Thou shalt schedule time for thyself and thy supportive network. 

7. Thou shalt switch off and do nothing regularly. 

8. Thou shalt be boring, untidy, inelegant, and unattractive at times. 

9. Thou shalt not even feel guilty. 

10. Especially, thou shalt not be thine own worst enemy, but be thy best friend.

I think I will tackle one commandment at a time. I'll start with number eight. It seems to be the easiest and requires the least amount of change for the time being. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pumpkin, Oh Pumpkin!

The season of Fall makes my heart skip a beat. I think it's a combination of warm scarves, football, hot chocolate, and pumpkins that make me so happy. You can substitute any other Fall staples in that equation above and I would still be happy.  Lately, I've been soaking up all things pumpkin! 

My bf and I visited a local pumpkin farm over the weekend. I snapped several photos of the massive amounts of pumpkins overflowing the farm! 

The farm was full of... pumpkins. Loads of them. 

Yes, I Took One Home! 

Last week I got a little crafty (or attempted to) with pumpkins. Instead of carving, which is an impossible task on my end, I decided to PAINT! One of my painted pumpkins was a birthday gift for my sweet grandma. I painted a pumpkin white and polished it off with an "F" made of thumbtacks. Now, by the time I got to my hometown to deliver my gift..... the pumpkin was flaking!! It did have a bit of a vintagey feel at first, but I'm positive that no white paint remains on that pumpkin. Oh well, my Grandma still has a lovely monogrammed pumpkin on her front porch. :) Needless to say, she loved it! Grandmas are the best for that kind of thing. 

Grandma's a Cutie!
I had a grand vision of painting a striped pumpkin to sit neatly on my table..... Well, it's more of patches the pumpkin. It does kind of have a spooky affect though, right? I need a step by step guide for striping pumpkins!

Keep Calm & Learn How to Stripe.

My last pumpkin got a fresh coat of chalkboard paint!! I wish I could paint everything in chalkboard paint, but that would be a little weird. Actually, it would be really weird. I'll stick to only chalkboarding a few things. Right now, my chalkboard pumpkin is rooting for the Cardinals in the post season! 

Beat the Nationals!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Am I the Only One?

Am I the only one that notices a cute quote on the internet and automatically connects it to my life? I sure hope not. With the right script and color combination a cute print can make its way into my life very easily.  Here are a few examples of clever and cute prints that have made their way into my heart (and somehow have applied to my life):

You're right poster! There ARE 25 more letters. I'll keep trying!
Abe Lincoln? Well if he said it... it HAS to be good advice. 

Holy smokes. Why didn't I think of that? I love my birthday... why not act like everyday is my day?

In addition to connecting every uplifting and motivational print on the internet to my life....I have a slightly terrible habit of hanging onto everything. Well, let me rephrase that: I have a slightly terrible habit of hanging onto everything that has sentimental value. Ask me for a pair of socks and I can't help you. Ask me for a ticket stub from the MU/KU football game - I'm your gal. 

Thanks to little site named Pinterest (I'm sure you've never heard of it), I found a way to preserve those extra special momentos. All I needed was: 1 shadow box, 1 uplifting quote (optional of course), and special thingy-mabobs that hold a place in your little heart. From my posters above, I'm sure you can assume that it took me awhile to narrow down a print that REALLY stole the show. I spent more time finding my uplifting quote than I did making the craft.

Fancy, eh?

Now... Go! Embrace this current season!

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