Thursday, June 30, 2011

Music and Math

I'm a huge proponent of integrating projects and activities into all subject areas that play on students' multiple intelligences.  Howard Garner lists 8 intelligences - linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, interpersonal, and intrapersonal.  Recently he has also added naturalist to the list.

I like to incorporate music into my math lessons.  Most of the time this is just through listening to a song that relates to our topic of study.  Most of the time the students also get the lyrics to follow along with and glue in their binder.  Then I will refer back to parts of the song through the year when reviewing concepts ("Slip to the side, and look for a 5." --> part of a song on rounding).  Joe Crone has some of my favorite songs for the upper elementary students.  I use many of his songs because they are found free on KidsKnowIt Network with lyrics found on Songs for Teaching.

This previous year instead of just listening to the song and providing the lyrics we made our own music video for "Geometry Park"!  I broke the class into groups responsible for creating props and acting out their specific verse or chorus.  It took a couple days to gather materials and practice - ideally students wouldn't need the lyrics to sing their part of the song.  This was a great opportunity for students to work in teams and provide repetition on basic geometry vocabulary that they struggled on.
The sound didn't pick up the best on the video but here is the final product...

Try these Joe Crone songs...
Math Songs -
Slip to the Side
Geometry Park
Fraction Rock
Language Arts -
Language Police
Geography -
Punk Rock States
Province Rap 

How do you use music in your classroom??

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Morning Meeting

In the blogging world I find lots of posts on content related projects and materials but what about the other side of teaching...not the academics but the emotional side??  I had never heard about Responsive Classroom or Morning Meeting until I began teaching and now that I have head of these ideas and routines...I couldn't go back.  Responsive Classroom brings the class together as a community of learners.  It helps the students become responsible for their own actions and helps them with their classmates as well.

Morning Meeting is just one component of Responsive Classroom.  Morning Meeting has 4 basic components:
-Students sit in a circle each morning.  They may sit on the floor or in chairs but they must be able to see each other. In smaller classrooms, you might have to move tables back each day...just model and practice.
-Ideally students sit next to different people each day.  I have found that they often need prompting: "Sit next to someone you haven't spoken to yet today." "Sit boy, girl, boy, girl."  This past year my students struggled to mix it up and make good choices.  Morning Meeting took way too long due to constant behavioral came assigned seats.  I hated it but it worked to get us back on track.
-Each student deserves to be recognized by his or her teacher and peers each day.  This is one opportunity.  Each child should be greeted.
-There are many different creative ways - baby voice, accent, ball toss, spiderweb, etc However, it is important to simply start with "Good Morning, so and so." to accompany a nice firm handshake and eye contact.

-At first I thought that show-and-tell was only for the primary students but even my 5th grade students have really enjoyed this part.
-On Mondays, I always do a "round robin" share to allow every student share about their weekend.  Sometimes I let them pass/skip their turn and sometimes I make them respond to a question ("Best thing about the weekend." "Hi Low").
-During the other days I allow 2-3 students to share.  I ask them only to share once during those times to allow everyone to share.  Sometimes students bring in an object, other students share about their families.  Ideally, students feel comfortable to share emotional things in their life - deaths in the family, family separation, sibling rivalry, etc.
-If too many students want to share each day and struggle taking turns, you can have sign ups.  Laminate a chart of a 2 week schedule that students can fill out and then erase for the next set of sign ups.

-I made the mistake and called this "Game" based off a poster that a coworker had.  The students always wanted a game and sometimes put up a stink when I tried to do a team building activity.
-Students can do any activity you want here.  Be creative.  I created a binder ring with different activities on it so that students could take more charge of this time. (I also have a ring of different greetings.)
-You can start easy with the go-to classroom games - silent ball, 4 corners, Heads Up 7 Up, etc.

News and Announcements
-This sets the tone for the day.  Its a time to discuss anything going on in the class and anything different with the schedule.
-It also refers to the Morning Message which greets the students when they walk in the classroom.  Morning Message is a short letter to the students on chart paper/board.  It is normally interactive with students voting and creating graphs or finding spelling patterns/errors, etc.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Someone once said...

"Free the child's potential, and you will transform him into the world." -Maria Montessori

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Summer Reading

My goal is read a variety of kid and adult books this is what I'm managed so far.  Check back as I read more and continue to update....

Al Capone Does My Shirts
By: Gennifer Choldenko
-I've had this book in my class for a couple years now.  I've always suggested it to my boys as a book they might enjoy (based off of reading the back).  I recently saw on a blog that one of the characters was autistic so I put it on my list of books to read.  The main male character has a sister who while not diagnosed would be considered autistic now.  I really enjoyed it!  I also just found out that there is a sequel -  Al Capone Shines My Shoes.  So that will be on my list to read later this summer.

The Tiger Rising
By: Kate DiCamillo
-While I have several of DiCamillo's books in my classroom I haven't read any of them.  Two of my students read Because of Winn Dixie this year and really enjoyed it.  I decided to read a couple of her books this summer.  The Tiger Rising was first on my list.  This book has a lot of symbolism in it and I think would be a good guided reading book for some of my top readers.  I want to make sure students understand everything the author is conveying.  I'm working on developing some student guides so check back!


Heaven is For Real 
By: Todd Burpo
-My step brother died this past December at the age of 19.  He was an amazing young man and we have all struggled with his death.  When I saw this on the Barnes and Noble shelf I had to grab it up although I am not one to pay full price for books.  It is the true account of a 4 year old boy who "dies for a short time" and comes back sharing details about heaven.  We have faith but this provides a pure and childlike account of Jesus and heaven.  How reassuring that my stepbrother, John, is in a place like this.  I definitely recommend this read. 

The Happiness Project 
By: Gretchen Rubin
-Great read.  Check out my previous post with what I was able to bring away from this book.

A Friend Like Henry: The Remarkable True Story of an Autistic Boy and the Dog that Unlocked His World
By: Nuala Gardner
-I enjoy reading memoirs and books about children and adults on the AU spectrum.  While they are often very powerful stories, they also help my teaching as the past three years I have had students with autism or asperger's.  A coworker passed this book along to me as a book she knew I would enjoy reading and I definitely did.  This book was written by a mother who had a son with autism.  She couldn't break into his world but when they got all began to change as Dale began to learn about the world through his golden retriever - Henry.

Belle Weather: Mostly Sunny with a Chance of Scattered Hissy Fits
By: Celia Rivenbark
-OK...I'll be honest....I didn't exactly read this book but listened to it on audiobook.  With my summer trips, I had a long stretch of driving by myself so I decided to try out the mp3 audiobooks that you can rent from the library.  There wasn't a very extensive selection available immediately as they still have to be checked out like regular books from the library and there were wait lists of 10-14 for most of the books I would have preferred (Help or Room). Belle Weather was read by the author who is actually from NC as well so I enjoyed it.  She has quite a since of humor and enjoys pointing out the finer qualities of southern life :)  While it kept me entertained and awake while driving, it is not on my top list.

One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd
By: Jim Fergus
-This takes a historical event and adds a "what if" twist.  May Dodd along with other white women become part of the government's "Brides of Indians" program.  They are taken across the country to the west to live with the savages with the intention of helping assimilate the Indians into the white culture.  This was a really great book that kept me reading on the beach, by the pool, and late at night. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Outside My Window

XM radio is great.  I'm always hearing new songs that I try and pull into the classroom.  One summer I heard a song - "Outside My Window" by Sarah Buxton.  It made me start to think that it would be great way to get to know my students at the beginning of the school year if they could create a video or collage to show what they would want to see outside THEIR window. 


I created an assignment sheet for students to create a collage to go with the song but students could make their own video and write their own lyrics.  I think this is also a great way to add some student artwork to the walls - especially if you are one of the lucky few classrooms without windows.  Just create your own (not the same but better than nothing)!  Here are the documents I created....FREE :)

If you use this project, let me know how it goes...especially if you choose to do a video or have students write their own lyrics.  I would love to see them!

Someone once said...

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.  ~John Lubbock

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project by: Gretchen Rubin

After a rough year, I found this book on the Barnes and Noble shelf calling my name.  Gretchen Rubin has some great ideas about finding your own happiness in your life.  She embarked on this journey not from a state of unhappiness or depression but with the goal of making the most of all moments in her life.  She didn't travel to other countries but stayed right where she was. She focuses on different components of her happiness each month and comes out with her 12 Commandments and her Secrets of Adulthood.  Here are some of the points I gained from her book and I hope to pass on....

"Act the way I want to feel." - The way we are acting tends to rub off on those around us.  If you are around upset, bitter, negative people, those emotions tend to transfer to you.  Likewise, when I am having a rough day, it transfers to those I am around - whether it be the students in my class, my colleagues, or my friends.  I was recently sitting in a meeting that I did not want to be a part of (for a multitude of reasons) and I tried to put a smile on my face.  Now, I don't know if it effected those around me but I started to feel more at ease.  I wasn't necessarily happy to be there but I didn't feel as negative and down. 

"Spend out." - This just gives you permission to go ahead and make each day special.  Don't save the china plates or the fancy dress for "some other time" go ahead and use it now.  I catch myself doing this in the classroom - hoarding supplies for that next great project.  My students were working on their end of year scrapbooks and I was very tempted to save fancy paper and special stickers - but for what?  Instead, I got it all out and let the students go for it.  It didn't hurt me and the students got so much joy out of all the special supplies.

Money CAN buy happiness. - We choose the way we spend our money and if we choose wisely, it can indeed bring happiness.  Kindle vs. Plane ticket to visit friends? The visit with friends will bring more happiness and money is needed.  Spending money on pedicures brings me happiness.  I value the chance to get away and do nothing.  I take a book and just relax.  When I'm at home I feel like I should be doing something else but while getting a pedicure, I can't go anywhere or do anything else so I don't.  Money well spent.  However, money can also bring unhappiness - well the lack of money.  It is important not to spend on everything all the time - just modest splurges (the Keurig coffee maker brings me lots of happiness!).

"Lighten up." - This was a goal for an entire month and it was devoted to parenthood.  In my case it applies to teaching.  Gretchen's goals were to sing in the morning, acknowledge the reality of people's feelings, be a treasure house of happy memories, and take time for projects.   I would love to focus on the first two.  My greeting each student in the morning we start the say on a good note but it could be better.  On the days when I sing a greeting my mom use to use, I feel happier and the kids (while they laugh) tend to be lifted up - "Then up comes the sun, The dew falls away, Good Morning Good Morning the little birds say."  I found a link to welcome music and want to try it out in my class next year.  Also with responsive classroom, I take time to listen to students feelings however I don't always 100% do it.  I need to listen and reiterate what they said so they know I am listening closely and validate their feelings.  This year I noticed the impact of telling a student: "It's okay to be mad/angry/sad, but it is not okay to yell/punch/hit/grab/(insert inappropriate response)." I then went on to focus on the alternative response they should have...count to 10, take a deep breath, walk away, etc.

“It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.” G. K. Chesterton

"The days are long, but the years are short."

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Someone once said...

"Of all the things that wisdom provides for living one's entire life in happiness, the greatest by far is the possession of friendship." - Epicurus (found in Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Digital Storytelling Projects

"Technology is a word that describes something that doesn't work yet."
— Douglas Adams

Technology decides when it wants to work and when it doesn't.  My project was definitely too dependent on it actually working.  What was I computer lab computers all actually work at the SAME time...CRAZY!! :)  So I have about half of my class finished with their stories and now I'm off on vacation.  Hopefully the other half will finish this week so I can publish them when I return.  Some students chose to type their text and then use a music clip for the background while others decided to narrate their story.  They had that choice..especially since the microphones weren't working on all of the computers.  However, when looking at all of the students' choice of computer images vs hand drawn and narration vs. music, the students' personality and unique style shines through. I've put a few of their projects below.  Enjoy!!