Tuesday, November 29, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

I know it is technically still November, but I am in full Christmas mode.  The turkeys, scarecrows and pumpkins are all put away and it is time for Christmas! I love this time of year in the classroom. We are having a door decorating contest for the Holidays at our school.  Of course, I need mine to be the best. :)

Here is what we have so far!

The students had a blast making the candy gum drops and some of them are still working on their Gingerbread Man or Woman. 

Any ideas out there to help my class wine first place? Have fun decorating for Christmas!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pinnacle Unit- Communities of Today and Long Ago

Third Grade Social Studies in North Carolina could quite possibly be the most boring subject taught in the state. I have really wanted to make Social Studies more exciting for my students by integrating reading, technology, art, and real life. Over the month of November we focused our study on Communities Today and Long Ago.

At the beginning of the unit we begin discussing what makes a community. I created several Smartboard lessons using Smart Response and Discovery Education videos to teach some of the material so we wouldn’t have to spend so much time in the Social Studies Book. Then we began discussing the types of communities (rural, suburban and urban.) The students created a foldable describing the differences among the types of communities (which I found on the greatness that is Pinterest).

Then the students were split into groups and created murals depicting each of the communities.

After they understood what a community was and the different types of communities, we began discussing our community. We used Wallwisher to brainstorm what makes our community special.

The next part of the unit was about Families and Communities Long Ago. To make the learning relevant, the students interviewed a Family Member about their childhood. All of the students completed the assignment! The students interviewed parents, aunts, uncles and grandparents. This part of the unit is not completed. Interview Form

The students are taking the information and creating a script for a news story. They are either going to use Audacity or flip cameras to create their product. This is not going to be done before Thanksgiving Break, but hopefully they will be done before our Pinnacle December Meeting.

To tie in how families live today, we used our Classroom Blog!

Then we moved into studying communities long ago. We did all things Pioneers, Native Americans, & Colonists. We did so much in class, but I’m going to stick to the main activities that we did that integrated technology. I do not love using the Basal Reader, so I try using more nonfiction books and novels in my reading instruction. We used the books If You Lived in Colonial Times to learn more about the colonists. The students were split into pairs and assigned a topic from the book. They wrote a summary of their section and drew a picture to go along with the summary. I was very impressed with some of the summaries I received! Then we created a class Photostory. The volume is pretty awful, but I couldn't get it adjusted on any of the computers I tried.

We also went on a field trip to the Schiele Museum to see their Indian and Pioneer programs. I took pictures while on the trip, then uploaded the pictures onto Voicethread. I was very pleased with the way it turned out!

I also created a Netvibes project for the students to complete the week before Thanksgiving. It was about the Pilgrims, Wampanoag Indians and how they were alike and different. The students enjoyed looking at the information online and didn't mind taking the quizzes since they were online. Netvibes Project
The students really enjoyed this unit, and so did I! We also integrated other reading, math and art activities throughout the month long unit. The students were actually excited when they saw Social Studies written on the schedule. The students were able to explain how communities have changed over time, as well as why they have changed. I am very excited to start our next Social Studies unit after Christmas! Thanks for reading!

Thank you so much to those of you that are evaluating my project, or just reading for fun :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Math....and Technology

I have always found it hard to integrate meaningful technology in my math instruction.  I was inserting a table into Microsoft Word and it hit me, that sure does look like an array.

So, I taught my students how to insert a table into Word, and voila! They were able to show their understanding of a multiplication concept and learn a valuable skill on the computer. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Investigations...Jumping on the Wagon

        I am a math person, I was always great in math while I was in school. Maybe that is why I have always struggled a little more when teaching math. Since it comes so easily to me, it should be that easy for everyone, right?
       Since our county adopted our new Math Textbooks, I have pretty much only used the Envision series. I have found that it moves really quickly and does not allow for much problem solving.  So, I am not the hugest fan,  especially the chapters teaching multiplication.  It does not teach the concept very well, but focuses on pure memorization. With the Common Core Curriculum we will be implementing next year,  3-5 will be primarily focusing on fractions, multiplication and division.  So I want to prepare my third graders for next year, with a solid base of multiplication and division.
      After going to the first few Common Core sessions, I decided to use the Investigations Equal Groups Unit to teach Multiplication and Division. I am about half way through the unit, but I am already sold! I love Investigations! It is definitely more difficult to prepare than the Envision lessons, but I can already see a huge difference in the student's understanding of multiplication than in past years.   My students are becoming great "Math talkers" and that makes me smile!  Here are some pictures of my little ones working in pairs discussing multiples and solving multiplication problems!

So if you are an elementary school teacher and you haven't tried Investigations, you should!! 

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