Tuesday, February 28, 2012

February Science Reflections OLW - 2012

As the month ends, and I reflect back I realize that some of the BEST and most EXCITING lessons were in science.  I know a little out of my comfort zone, so enjoy a photo tour of our month. I am lucky enough to team teach everyday with my friend, Sarah. Almost every day before, during or after school, I am thankful to teach with her.  Her gift in writer's workshop always gives me inspiration. All of our conversations about students always help me grow as a teacher.  Thank you Sarah for being such an integral part of life.

The first picture is captioned, "Many hands can light a bulb."  This was one of the best science classes of the year!  We gave each group 3 things (a light bulb, a battery, a one wire) and allowed them time to explore.  I wish you could have heard how excited the students were when they lit the bulb.  It was a "Eureka" kind of day!

Another fun experiment: How can we put out this candle without blowing it out? Some of the predictions included: clapping loudly, singing loudly, yelling loudly, and finally whispering. It was a very LOUD day in science class. Do you see the yellow container in Sarah's hands?  It is a margarine container with a small hole cut out of it.  After trying all of the class predictions, Sarah gently tapped the container right above the flame and the flame went out.  Viola-introduction to sound energy!

Finally science would not be complete without linking it to past Daily wonders  @wonderopolis. The students had weekly Wonder HW in which they connected their learning at school with home by leaving strong comments.  Check out these past wonders for Physical Science.

*Wonder #161 What Makes Sound Louder?
*Wonder #98  What is Static Electricity?
*Wonder #494 Why is Ice Slippery?
*Wonder #312 How Can a Voice Break a Glass?

Our class is still wondering if some possible future wonders might include:
*How do electrons flow in electricity?
*States of matter (solid, liquid and gas) 
*The Design Process in science experiments
*The difference between reflection and refraction in light energy

Does your class have any science wonders???  We are cross posting today on our end of the month reflections. Check out my friend's blogs. 

Barbara @Wondering Through 2012

Tracy @ Thinking Stems 

Tara @ A Teaching Life

Melissa @Technology figuring out how the piecesfit

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dublin Literature Conference

It's so much fun to spend Saturday learning and talking about literacy.  To start the day rocking out with Pete the Cat "I love my white shoes" and then listening to Donalyn Miller's Keynote was amazing. I took so many notes that when I printed them off this morning from my iPad and started highlighting the key ideas-everything was highlighted.  We call that HH in my classroom, and the students know that is not a good thing because not everything can be important but it was!!  Here are a few big ideas that I am reflecting on this morning.
*reading teacher = a teacher who reads and a reader who teaches
*we need to challenge our students more as readers
*reading is the inhale and writing is the exhale
*consider students' seating placement based on their genres that they read

My first session was listening to Ruth Ayres who blogs at Two Writing Teachers. I appreciated her opening and discussing how we need to anchor our teaching to our strong beliefs.  "Every student has a story" and the importance of teaching the writer not the writing. Such a powerful message in this time of testing.  Also the importance of celebrating writing throughout the entire process and not just the end product.  Also through following tweets (#dublit12), I like the analogy of the importance of a class meeting area similar to a coach calling his players to a huddle. 

Mr. Mark and I presented in the second session about the idea of digital toolbox and how it is important for the teacher to learn the new tools and allow students choice in choosing their tool. I talked about how I integrate Wonderopolis throughout all content areas and how powerful wonder homework can be by leaving a strong comment. Finally discussing the idea of flip classroom and how to extend the school day with wikis and downloading videos so the students are ready to come in the next day to discuss the video. 

Finally my last session, I listened to Donalyn Miller talk about books, and I don't mean "these are some great books" - I mean powerful book commercials that hooked me and blew up my Amazon account as I ordered them all.  Fun Day!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We WONDERed How Many Cubes Would Fit?

For those teachers who are right in the middle of teaching solids in math right -I would suggest you take two days and allow your students time to WONDER about volume.  This unit is always hard for me to teach as well as difficult for my students to understand.  My students memorize the formulas for volume but true understanding at a deeper level has not always happened in my classroom.   

I introduced the unit differently this year and went back to Investigation's math program.  For those of you in Dublin, I am sure you are smiling at this comment. I had this question on my board when they entered math class on Tuesday: I WONDER how many cubes will fit in the package?  I passed out the following materials and walked away. A flat (2D) drawing of the box, graph paper, cubes and a pencil. The students predicted how many would fit in the package then they built the package and filled the package with cubes.  None of the students were correct the first time, 5 out of 17 were correct the second time, and 16 out of 17 were correct on the last package they built. 

You can see how they wrote the numbers in the box to help them explore the formulas and if you watch the video carefully notice how they are counting and thinking-exploration math is WONDERful.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Today's Wonder Made me Stop and Pause

Six years ago our family embarked on a journey that will probably never be repeated, and as I read today's Wonder #505 Who's on Mount Rushmore?  I pulled out our family album and all the memories come back to me.  In July of 2006, our family drove out West in our Honda Pilot all loaded up for a 2 week vacation.  At times, a Chevy Chase type of vacation but YES a vacation that I believe all four of us would say was one of the BEST for many reasons.  So travel along with us.........

We drove straight through not our original plan.

One of  my favorite picture taken between two cracks in a rock.

Traffic jam in Yellowstone National Park.    

Riding in Cody, Wyoming. 
There are many pictures in the album that bring back so many memories, the conversations, the places we visited and most important just the time we spent together.  As life continues to change now that Anna and Marcus are in college, remember to take the time to create those special family memories. Sometimes you just need a wonder of the day to make you stop and think.  Thanks Wonderopolis!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Digital Showcase in Rm. 228

Every trimester, we celebrate our writing and just last week we invited the parents into our classroom.  The students had to present their persuasive presentations to their parents.  It was exciting to see their Sonic Pic commercials on our "big screen." This was our culminating activity for the students choosing from the digital toolbox, and I was thrilled with the results.  I was nervous about having my students choose their tool for their final project.  The class divided down the middle choosing Sonic Pic or Keynote. Some students even chose to do a voice over with key note which was exciting because in essence those students wrote two scripts. One for the text of the key note and the other one to explain the pictures as they showed on the "big screen."  In addition, over half of my class chose their topic from past wonders @wonderopolis.  Here are some past wonders that hooked my class:
*Where do Recycled Items Go?  Wonder #43
*How Does a Species Become Endangered?  Wonder #152
*How are Dolphins and Porpoises Different?  Wonder #248

Finally look at the picture above, Jillian created this final slide with a wide variety of animal pictures to show the importance of endangered animals and spelled the word HELP.  I was so impressed with how she created this.  Look closely---amazing!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Collecting and Modeling Wonders #2

 As the students shared their wonder index cards that they saved for a whole week, we had a great discussion about their wonders.  Conversations that I never considered, I knew we would discuss the why it was important? But I never thought about how most of their wonders connected with a previous lesson they had learned about in school and just wanted to learn more.  Some of the students wondered about questions that their siblings had asked them which was exciting because of the home school connection.  In addition, a few students said they never had the chance to just wonder about something they cared about. Isn't that what wondering is all about?

Fast forward to today, I created my own WONDER in a keynote and had this on the screen when they came back in from lunch.  I said nothing and there was a hush in the room. Finally one student said, "Why isn't the Wonder of the Day up Mrs. Caplin?" I still said nothing, Finally one student said, "Maybe this is what Mrs. Caplin wonders about?" YAHOO! Could you hear me screaming in Montana, Jon?  They got it.  

We looked at my wonder, and we discussed how my WONDER is similar to Wonderopolis and now they have a digital mentor text to begin to think about their own wonder.The light bulb represents an exciting NEW fact that I was surprised to learning. Did you know that a panda has an extra thumb to help hold bamboo?  I didn't know that. The text in the middle on the bottom has a link to the Kids Video National Geographic website. After sharing my wonder, many of the students were ready to start on their own wonder. Can't wait until next Wed. to see what they learn about stars, languages, weather, lemurs, and possibly the most interesting one:  Why isn't the letter "e" part of the grading scale? Do you know-me neither!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Extending Wonder Over the Weekend

So many times in teaching we are driven to complete our lesson plans, making sure we have graded the diagnostics as well as keep the pacing on track.  But I stopped for a moment when three of my students came up to me Friday afternoon and told me their weekend plans.  The girls had decided to get together this weekend and build their own word jars.  I was so excited when they told me, and I asked them what made them decide to do this.  All three girls said with a smile, we just want to have our own word jar because we have had so much fun wondering about words this year!  I asked them to send me some pictures over the weekend.  To my surprise as I was spending my weekend in Bowling Green with our daughter for our last "Mom's Day."  I was thrilled to see these photos arrive throughout the day on Saturday.  I am so excited to see their jars at school this week.  I think I will share the wonder #127:  How Do Words Get Added to the Dictionary? I wonder if they used the same criteria for their word jars?

Collecting words.
Excited to be finished!

Building their jars.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Valentine's Day is Approaching

What is the first thing you think of when someone mentions Valentine's Day?  If you're a teacher typically it is not flowers, chocolates or a card, you think of the "party" that you will be having in your classroom this Tuesday.  I know that I am posting early, but I thought I might bring some heartful cheer with some fun lesson plan ideas.  Every year, I purchase candy hearts with words on them, and we spend Feb. 14 having fun with words.  Typically we start in math class and multiply the vowels times the consonants, find the range of the vowels and create math problems.  For example  heart (5) x fun (3) x hug (3) = 45.  Then in word study, we build phrases or sentences with our words trying to build long detailed sentences while discussing different parts of speech. Some years, students have written their own poems gluing the candies on the poem. For reading this year, I am going to share Wonderopolis with my students. We are going to look at last year's Feb. 14 Wonder #134 Is There Love at First Sight?  I know you have to be thinking, really in fifth grade but YES!  Just look at the amazing vocabulary words and there is a direct connection to Life Science.  
Finally right before the party when the students are passing out their Valentines I will pose the question, "What's your favorite kind of chocolate?" I wonder what chocolate is made up besides sugar and cocoa? I wonder what the #1 candy bar is among fifth graders? So I will ask them to write their answer on a sticky note and write 2 supportive details on why that is their favorite chocolate. After all, every lesson needs a little textual support even chocolate!  Happy Valentine's Day a little early.  

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Sometimes it is fun to dream....

What a great interactive game for the classroom.

I would love to do this with a door in my classroom!

Enough said- I LOVE words!

Perfect staircase with even better book titles!

A few Saturdays ago,  I was eating breakfast with Franki and Mary Lee @ A Year of Reading and Cathy @ Read & Reflect. We were discussing several issues and pinterest came up.  Mary Lee and I looked at each other and said almost at the same time we can't do one more thing on the internet.  I commented that once I look at it I would have to understand how it works, and I have just held back from searching it out until this past weekend.  Our daughter came home from college to celebrate her  birthday, and she started talking about the site and of course I had to look-oh my!!!  It's clip art heaven and in my humble opinion the pictures are where dreams can begin. Thanks Anna for sharing this site-now if you just keep sending me these amazing pictures I will be able to share them on my blog.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Allowing Students Time to Wonder #1

Wonder families at Louisville Slugger.
This is a going to be a series of posts about sharing how my students are going to be creating a class wonder calendar. We have celebrated Wonder Wednesday since the first Wed. of the school year. My students LOVE Wednesday because they know after lunch we will look at the day's wonder and then spend time discussing a wonder that connects with our curriculum. Last Wednesday,we shifted our focus, and my class was nervous.  Instead of the Wonder of the Day up on the Smart Board, they found an index card on their desk. I asked my students to write down what they wonder about. One student said, "But Mrs. Caplin, we need to know what the wonder of the day is first before I can wonder."  Wow, how could I have waited so long to reinforce the idea that there is wonder everywhere not just on Wednesdays. They looked a little bewildered, so I shared with them about my Wonder weekend in Louisville and many of the pictures that I took and how my family was encouraged to wonder everywhere we visited. After this conversation, they were feeling a little better, so I asked them to record everything they wonder about in the upcoming week on their index card. I told them we will share their wonders next Wednesday. They were ok with that but still wanted me to pull the wonder of the day up on the Smart Board, so of course we did!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Full Circle Reflection-OLW

I am going to take a break from posting about technology, literacy, and professional development.  Last Saturday, I had a full circle moment, and it was one of those moments in my career that I just stopped when I got home and told my husband, "I made it."   I joined the Central OH Bloggers for breakfast at North Star Cafe and then we went to a local bookstore to enjoy some new books.

As I write this post, and I look at our picture, I am thankful for so many friends in this picture. One of the friendships goes back to my college years at BGSU and many of them are my colleagues in Dublin and yet others are new friends that I now know personally instead of just reading their amazing blogs.  As we ate breakfast and talked there were common themes: technology is important in our classrooms, one key to success in all classrooms is a strong literacy program and finally the best professional conversations can happen over a bowl of granola and a fresh squeezed class of orange juice.  Thinking about my growth with NCFL and how my blogging community is growing because of Wonder Year 2012 I guess I have come full circle!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Confessions on Digital Learning Day

I am trying to be more involved in cross posting with my colleagues on blogging.  I have had such success with 10 for 10 Pictures Books, Poetry Friday, and currently I have committed to One Little Word (OLW) for the year.  These communities have introduced me to many new bloggers and connected me with my friends who already blog.  I was very excited to read  Kevin's post about Digital Learning Day. If truth be known,  every time I read Kevin's post about how he incorporate digital tools into his classroom I am constantly amazed.  I have always enjoyed his comics and also how he uses gaming in his classroom.

I am not going to focus on one tool today - I am going to focus on the concept of a digital tool box.  As Mark and I prepare for the Dublin Literacy Conference Feb. 18, we were discussing our presentation.  For the past two years my class has always created a digital piece on their iPods and  all the students always used the same app.  I did this for several reasons most of all because it is easier to teach one new app and also the students could help each other with problems.  And to be totally honest it was easier for me to learn one new app and help 23 students with only one app. So with my confession out of the box,

Mark and I introduced the students to a digital tool box for their persuasive writing.  The tool box included: Sonic Pic, Story Kit, iMovie, Green screen, and Keynote. The students are so excited to choose their tool and be able to create on their iPod, our new iPad, and some are working on our lap tops.  It was a jump of faith to allow choice in the tools, but I would not trade my decision for anything   I am so proud of their work - check back later for updates or come see us at the Dubln Lit. Conference.

Want to jump with me?