Saturday, April 20, 2013

Testing Is Over! And One of My FAVORITE Projects EVER!

This week was testing week all over our district!  Time for our kiddos to show off their stuff.  The hard part of third grade is that this is their first AIMS experience, so they have no idea what to expect.  We spend lots of time prepping and pep talking, but the nerves are still there.  Fear of the unknown.  One of my sweethearts came in Wednesday morning, our first day of testing, wearing this…..
AIMS shirt
She told me that on Friday she planned on taking a Sharpie and crossing out “going to,” and change it to “did!”  Love it.
Each afternoon after testing we worked on one of my all-time favorite projects.  Every year, this project is a huge hit with my classes!  As part of our science curriculum, we have a unit on Ecosystems.  We learn about the different ecosystems and how plants and animals are adapted to live there.  As a culminating project, students must create a creature and then write an encyclopedia entry about their creature.  They have to tell us about their creature’s habitat and how it is adapted to live there.  I show them how to make a mirror image of their name in cursive (also great for reinforcing geometry concepts that we learn) and then they turn their name into their creature.  They had so much fun getting creative and did such an amazing job.
If you look closely, you can find “Jarom’s” name in his rainforest creature.
Donavin’s creature lives in the swamp. 
Emily’s “Sunshine Bug.”
I am not sure who loves this project more, me or the kiddos!  Now they all want to make a name creature for everyone in their family!
Friday was the last day of testing and time for my annual surprise party for my students.  All year, I tell them that if they come to school everyday ready to work hard and do their jobs that AIMS will be a “piece of cake.”  So,  on the last day of testing I bring in a huge cake from Costco that says, “AIMS was a Piece of Cake!” and we eat cake! 
This is now a 10 year tradition and my former students have done a pretty good job of keeping the surprise!
Now that testing is over….finally, I can’t wait to get back to the fun part of teaching!  I love this time of year!  When we return on Monday and get back into our normal routine we are going to start reading Double Fudge.  This is one of my favorite units.  The kids love this story and we get to do several fun things with it.  My favorite part is the end of the unit celebration.  Instead of a boring ‘ol test, we have a Double Fudge Awards show!  Students have to decide on nominees for the different categories and then choose a winner.  They have to support their decision using evidence from the text (Common Core!).  Then we have our awards ceremony and they get to present their awards!  So much better than a test!
My Double Fudge unit is now uploaded to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and is on sale for 15% off this weekend only!  Just click on the picture to check it out!
Double Fudge Unit
Hope everyone has a great weekend. If you are finished state testing, congratulations on surviving and if you are gearing up for it, best of luck to you!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

I Know I’m Getting Older, But Dinosaurs…Really????

I learned many lesson early on in my teaching career.  One of which was to never let third graders try to guess your age.  They have no concept of time.  I was 24 when I first learned this, and pregnant with my first daughter.  A student asked, “How old are you Mrs. Wood?”  I naively replied, “How old do you think I am?”  Never again….she guessed that I was 43, really???  Since that day, I have never made them guess.  They ask the question and I happily give them the answer because, let’s face it, the truth is much kinder than their guess will be!
That brings me to one of the funniest teaching moments I have had this year…maybe even ever.  We are gearing up for our state testing and have been reviewing and hitting some much needed concepts hard.  One thing that they will need to know is the difference between all of the reference materials.  For third grade, they need to know about a dictionary, thesaurus, atlas and an encyclopedia.  The encyclopedia is the hardest for them because in all reality, they will never, ever, ever, use one.  Who needs to with Google at your fingertips.  So, I made a phone call to our school library and had several volumes of the World Book sent down to my room.

We went through the more '”standard,” reference materials using a power point that I have (I will try and make it look better and post it later) and made an anchor chart with useful information. 
anchor chart

Then, I introduced my old friend the encyclopedia.  I. AM. TELLING.YOU….you would have thought that I dug up a dinosaur the way they reacted.  I had to stop my lesson and give them 30 minutes to travel table to table so they could get a look at each of the volumes we had borrowed. 

At one point, one of my guys got tired of crowding around the encyclopedias and opened his chapter book and started reading.  I overheard one of his tablemates talking to him and it was quite honestly one of the funniest remarks I have heard in a while.  He said, “You really need to put that book down and look at these encyclopedias, some day they are going to be extinct just like the dinosaurs, you need to look at them while you still can!” 
So, there you have it.  Yes, I am getting older.  The books that I once loved and used to do all of the research for my fifth grade state report are becoming extinct like the dinosaurs.  They are right up there with the Walkman and car windows that crank.  Children, if you don’t know what those are you can Google them!
Happy Saturday everyone!
Mrs. Wood