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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Santas Around the World

December is one of the most fun times for me as a primary school teacher.  With so many holiday symbols and themes that can be incorporated into the core subjects, it is truly the most magical time of the year in the classroom!

One of my favorite holiday lessons is teaching Christmas Around the World.  A couple years back, my first grade team and I were brainstorming of teaching and celebrating Christmas Around the World but with a different twist.  We loved having the kids rotate from class to class to learn how different countries celebrate Christmas, but we wanted it to be more relevant and relatable to the kids. Thus, I thought..."What about Santas Around the World?!"

Instead of focusing on Christmas traditions, we would focus on the story of Santa Claus around the World and how he brings joy to children on Christmas! The idea lit my imagination like fire, and I began researching like a mad-teacher. :)

The end result was simply magical!  The students had a wonderful time and were so incredibly engaged, excited, and much more knowledgeable of all the different traditions that make Santa Claus who he is globally.

Below are some facts that I found on Santas Around the World.

Santa in the USA- Santa Claus as he mostly commonly referred to in the States is jolly and generous. He travels in his sleigh on Christmas Eve's night to deliver toys to kids all the around the world with the help of his reindeer.

Santa in Italy- In Italy, La Befuna is a kind witch who travels on a broomstick and delivers gifts to children on January 5th.

Santa in the Netherlands- Santa is referred to as Sinterklaas, rides in a white horse, and delivers toys to children with his helper.

Santa in France- Santa is France is known as St. Nicholas.  He travels with his friend Pere Fouettard.  St. Nicholas leaves toys for children in their shoes by the fire while his friend, Pere Fouettard, spanks children who have been naughty.  (Ouch!)

Santa in Germany- Also known as St. Nicholas, Santa in Germany places gifts and sweets for children in their boots placed outside their door on the evening of December 5th.

Santa in Sweden- A little man known as tomte with a long white beard brings gifts to families as they show their appreciation by leaving out a small bowl of porridge for him.

Santa in Australia- Similar to Santa in the USA, Santa in Australia also places gifts in children's stockings hung by the fireplace and gifts under their trees.  He just does everything except wearing flipflops, since it's summertime in Australia during Christmas.

If you need additional resources on Santas Around the World, feel free to click to the image below.  The resource includes colorful and engaging informational signs and an interactive student booklet.






Additional Resources:

           








Saturday, November 12, 2016

Dear Teachers, Let's Continue to Build Love, Acceptance, and Respect in the Classroom


What an election year it has been and what an election it came out to be.  While us teachers try to resume normalcy in the classroom and continue to do what we know and love, which is to teach our students to the best of our ability, it is hard to ignore the harsh words and feelings that came out of this election year.  The older our students are, the harder it may seem for us to explain what has transpired.

Yet no matter how challenging it is,the best thing that we can do for our students still is to continue to do what we have always done - continue to teach love, acceptance, and respect in the classroom.

We are all teachers because of the love that we have for our students.  Let's continue to teach love in our classrooms and let that still be the fabric of our classroom community.  Regardless of all the changes around us, the basic principle of love for one another should not be changed and will not be changed.  As we step into the holidays and the new year, there are even more opportunities for our students to continue to practice showing love in the classroom and in the community- collect canned goods for food banks, make greeting cards for nursing homes, send care packages to soldiers abroad, adopt an angel as class, and the list goes on.

Let us also continue to celebrate our students' uniqueness by encouraging them to accept one another as they are.  As a primary school teacher, I have had the privilege to witness my young students accept and celebrate each other's uniqueness everyday.  The kids get it, and they love that their friends can be similar, yet different.  Let's continue to celebrate that acceptance going into the holiday season by learning and celebrating our students' holiday traditions as well as people all around the world. We can also connect with classrooms from across the country or the world to become pen pals or simply read a book on friendship together.  

Respect.  What a great time to teach that to our students and show it as adults.  No matter who we feel, respect for our fellow Americans is crucial and it is what makes our country and classrooms great- we respect differences, we respect contrasting ideas, we respect each other, and we respect the democracy that allows us the freedom to experience and teach about elections.  Therefore, continue to teach our students to speak with respect towards each other.  Saying thank you, I'm sorry, and please, being polite, showing empathy, taking turns, and respecting one another even when we have different opinions will never get old and will always be the cornerstone of character education in our classrooms.

After a long year of divisiveness and tension in our country, there is one thing that we as teachers should and continue to build together is love, acceptance, and respect in our classroom for our students, our country's future.



Additional Resources for building a positive and nurturing classroom environment:










Sunday, October 23, 2016

5 Simple Ways to Keep Your Classroom Connected


In the new world of technology, it hasn't been as simple and easy to stay connected with your students and their families than it is NOW!  With so many new ways of sharing news, sending out reminders, and staying connected to increase productivity and effectiveness in the classroom, there really isn't a good reason why all teachers shouldn't use these new avenues.

Here are five simple ways that I have found easy, simple, and effective in staying connected as a educator!

Image result for remind logo

If you haven't heard of the remind, download it right now!!!  It is a simple way to send quick messages to parents on upcoming events in the classroom to their phone!  Parents can be added by scanning a QR code that takes them directly to your classroom profile or you can invite them by typing in their e-mail addresses or phone numbers.  I usually invite parents immediately after collecting their contact information at the beginning of the year.  It is fast, free, easy, and effective.




Have you ever considered creating a CLOSED Facebook Group for your classroom?  You can accept requests of only students' parents in your classroom, and it is a fast and fun way of sharing pictures!  No longer will you have to burn pictures on a CD-ROM at the end of the year to share.  Now you can share those pictures regularly throughout the year.  Just make sure that parents sign a consent form to allow their child's picture be posted.

Image result for seesaw app

This has to be my favorite new way of communicating with my parents this year!  It is so simple to set up, and I can send student videos and work samples to their parents directly.  It also serves as a blog for our classroom and helps me store students' data safely as I can set strict privacy settings on their files.  If you are required or are thinking of creating a digital data folder for your students, this is the best tool that I have found.  The best part is it's FREE!

Image result for blogger logo

Blogging is great way of putting your students' learning on display!  As a parent, I love seeing and knowing all about my child's learning, so that is why I appreciate and love blogging.  Not only does it showcase your students work and experiences, it also allows parents to be part of the classroom and understand more on how to support it at home. And did I mention?!  It's FREE!

Yes, you guess it!  The Old Fashioned Way of emailing, calling, and meeting in person will never get old.  Having direct communication with parents directly has helped me tremendously throughout the years and have allowed me to build strong relationships to support my students' learning at home.  Through these avenues of communication, I have learned so much about my students from their families and have helped me to  build a strong family and community inside my classroom.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

My Adventures with STEM: First Nine Weeks Design Challenges


It's hard to believe but we are at the end of the first nine weeks, and what FUN and amazing learning it has been for my little engineers and me!  As much as I would love to update my adventures every week, life has made it a design challenge for me to do so. :)  Therefore, I hope that reflecting on all the design challenges the first nine weeks will do for now.  So here is a recap of all the design challenges that we have completed so far!


On our first week of school, we emphasized on the rules of teamwork and collaboration.  While there were some tears along the way, the students learned that being positive and allowing everyone to share without fear of judgement were definitely the key to success as a team.

Below are the quick design challenges:
1. Build a launcher that will catapult a plastic army man the farthest across the room using one cup, an army man, a spoon, six Popsicle sticks, two rubber bands, and two feet of tape and string each. Special thanks to the Ardent Teacher for the wonderful idea! 

2. Save Fred, the gummy worm from drowning by getting a gummy lifesaver from under his boat and onto him using only four small paperclips (one for each member of the team) and a cup. Special thanks to Purdue University!




3. Help Harry, our little puffball friend by building a little perch for him to see the students as he is too short using pom balls, eyes, muffin tins, pipe cleaners, tape, index cards, and foil. Thank you to the Studio Teacher for such a fun design challenge!

4. Popsicle Bridges Challenge is also from the Ardent Teacher and it challenges students to design a bridge that will hold the heaviest amount of weight




5. Crazy Shakes Design Challenge encourages students to create their own team handshake with certain requirements from the teacher (i.e has at least 8 steps, involves all teammates, and can be repeated over and over again).


For our Good Citizenship Design Challenge, our team integrated Humanities into STEM and encouraged the students to create their own Good Citizenship Medal based on a particular trait of being a good citizen, nominate a student in the class for their award, write a speech on why that nominee is fitting of the award, and then presented before the class.  For all the details on this challenge, click to My Adventures with STEM: Week 2 and 3.  Below are some pictures from our challenge!






For our U.S. Symbols Design Challenge, our team looked back into our Humanities lessons for inspiration.  Students spent a week researching on various U.S. symbols, chose one as a group, and created it to the best that they could using Legos.  For more details on the challenge, click to My Adventures with STEM: Week 2 and 3.






On this challenge, we used ETA's Muddy Mats Kits to bring the students' designs to solve real-life problems. Since the challenge requires students to observe and test different types of fabric to create the best mat, we asked a personnel from the local Animal Shelter to visit us.  At the visit, the personnel described to the students the need for a good quality mat for the animals and workers.  Not only does the mat must be able to absorb a good amount of water, it must also not slide easily.



This was hands-down my most favorite design challenge so far!  To kick it off, we invited the Director of our District's daycare to explain that while the kids at the daycare loved playing with playdough, they didn't have any.  Therefore, our students were challenged to study and design high-quality playdough that the kids at the daycare could use!

Using only flour, salt, and water, students learned how different amounts of these ingredients could yield the best non-toxic playdough and then SCAMPERED it for the daycare.






What a busy and fun first nine weeks of learning and STEM!  I can't wait to share more as our year goes on!

If you would like additional resources on STEM, click to the images below! This resource is perfect for a quick introduction on STEM with signs for our classroom, beginning design challenges, and more!




Sunday, October 2, 2016

To the New Teacher Down the Hall



I remember my first year teaching as if it were yesterday.  After moving across the country to be with my husband and graduating straight out from college, I found myself dropping off my resume from one elementary school to the next hoping and praying that someone would give me a call.

After a long summer of job-hunting and having to pass up on a position because my certifications had not been completely transferred over yet, I finally landed an interview and was offered a position 15 minutes before Meet-the-Teacher Night!

While the nervousness of being a new teacher was quickly forgotten by the excitement of finally having my own classroom, I didn't realize what was ahead of me.  

The truth is, being a new teacher can be wonderful and exciting, yet it can also be frightening and difficult.  From learning the curriculum to the culture of the school to working on a new team to responding to emails to staying after hours to doubting and second-guessing yourself at night and to all the things in between, everything is new and what a learning curve it was!  

Furthermore, being the new teacher also means feeling like everyone's eyes are on you.  Everyone wants to know who you are, how you are, what you do, and what you have to offer as an educator and teammate.  As the year goes on, it does become less overwhelming and you will remind yourself on a daily basis "Next year will be better.  Next year will be better."

So after nine years of teaching for the same district, I moved across town along with my kids and husband, and then I found myself as the new teacher again.

New district, new school, new team, and a new grade.  What a thrill and blessing it is to get out of my comfort zone and go back to a grade level that I once taught and be part of a new school and team who have welcomed me with open arms!  However, the feeling of being the new teacher on campus has reminded me so much of my first year and the lessons that I have learned along the way.



The truth is, your list of to-dos will never be completely checked off as you will add more and more things on it each day.  Do one thing at a time and simply do them the best that you can.  Everyone down the hallway has a long list too.  It's ok to feel frustrated and even cry from time to time because you feel overwhelmed.  Let it out, dry your tears, work hard, and move on.


You got this.  You have worked so completely hard for this position!  You were born to do this! You may not know everything about the curriculum and you're still learning about all the new programs and textbooks, but your students don't know that.  Plan as much as you can and then go out there and teach as a pro!  The more confident you feel as a teacher, the more effective you will be for your students.


Teaching can be isolating.  Reach out  and befriend other teachers and professionals who can help you on your new learning experience.  Some of the best people I know are teachers whom I have worked alongside and are now my friends.  Their experience inspired me, their wisdom humbled me, and their knowledge pushed me to be the teacher that I am today.  

Like all things, this feeling of being new will pass.  So learn from it and grow from it.  You got this.  You were born for this.

   

Sunday, September 11, 2016

My Adventures with STEM: Week 2 & 3


Yay!!!  I made it to Week 3 of STEM teaching, and yes, I still love it...and maybe even more now than I did at Week 1!  First and foremost, the last two weeks since I updated the blog have been a whirlwind, but I'm glad that I have some time today to do some reflection.




On Week 2, our Second Grade team chose to integrate Good Citizenship into all the core subjects, especially STEM.  After learning about what it means to be a good citizen, the students were challenged to create a medal for the following awards that represents good citizenship:

-Cares About the Environment
-Helps Others
-Team Player
-Kindness
-Use Kind Words
-Model Behavior

After the students illustrated what their medal would look like, they were given the following materials: a paper plate, cup, four pipe cleaners, three straws, a roll of masking tape, and two paperclips!  Immediately, the students were quick at work, and I was able to witness their progress as took turns being team players and team leaders to each other.




Upon completion of their medals, students were asked to create a criteria for winning their award and then nominate someone in our classroom who exhibits those traits.  Next, students were asked to compose a short speech to award their nominee after I composed a sample speech along with the class.  Here's an example of one of the completed medals!



When it was time to present, the kids were so excited and giddy!  As they read their speech, all the students' faces lit up with excitement and felt so proud of their friends who won and themselves for completing the design challenge!  And how could I forget to mention?!  Two teams awarded me their medals as I helped save a gecko trapped inside our class to freedom (school parking lot) and for being a good teacher! They were oh so sweet and definitely had me caught off guard!  :)




On Week 3, our team integrated U.S symbols into STEM and had the students research of various symbols using QR codes.  As they learned interesting facts on each symbol, they were asked to write them down on sticky notes inside their U.S Symbols booklet.  After completion, we created an interactive anchor chart/ word wall together using the students' own handwriting and learning.




But the best part of all???!!!  The students were challenged to choose one of the symbols and recreate it using LEGOS!  You should have heard the screaming after I told them they were using Legos! hahah... Nonetheless, they had such a wonderful time working with a partner on this and were so proud to share their design!  The criteria were to have the design be freestanding and be made of only LEGOS.



Below are examples of the kids' designs!


The Lincoln Memorial, Liberty Bell, and Bald Eagle


Our Statues of Liberty




I'm so proud of my little engineers and can't wait for what of the rest of the year will hold!




If you need more resources on Good Citizenship & U.S Symbols, click to resources below!  


  




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