March 7, 2017

Build a Kind Classroom

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In a world where there is so much negativity and hate, it is crucial to remind our students of love. Coming from a Catholic School setting I could teach love and kindness openly. Now in the public school setting I do not have the answer of "because God wants us to", rather now I am teaching because it is the right thing to do.

I first read Wonder 2 years ago. I was so moved by the story that I read each of the follow up books. I thought it was such an amazing book that every child should be exposed to it. I was shocked this school year when I added it to my library and only 2 out of 27 students have read it.

I know so many classrooms that start the year with reading Wonder because it is the perfect read aloud for discussing friendship. Unfortunately, I was so overcome with beginning the year in a new school and new grade that I was unable to plan a read aloud.

I knew that I wanted to read aloud to my 5th graders, but the question was when?  I am not teaching Reading this year but I desperately wanted to read aloud to my students. So, I utilized mentor texts. Which was a fantastic time in our classroom. However, I still wonted to get more in depth with my students.

That's when I discussed the Global Read Aloud with my grade partner. She was very on board! So that is how novel read alouds began in my classroom.

My goal was to begin reading Wonder in the morning before our day officially began.


Here are two fantastic resources to utilize with Wonder
                              Wonder, by R.J. Palacio: Interactive Layered Flip Book                   Choose Kind iPad Activity

Impact On My Students

Recently we have had some poor decisions being made in my classroom, including vandalism. I was frustrated and ready to give up. However, I can't give up on my kids! So instead I fought back. I combated these choices by having heartfelt/real conversations with my students. Rebuulding that respect and trust.

I brought in sticky notes for inspiration.

And I put up a kindess countdown for the end of the school year.

I won't lie. It was hard, but it was the right thing to do. You could see my classroom begin to change. Students were moved to express to me what they were feeling. Others began to see how they were hurting their peers. And slowly we began to come back together again as a class.

My students are coming to see me as an adult they can speak with. I believe in my heart of hearts, that this is a much better way to run a classroom. I do not want my students to fear me, I want there to be a mutual resect. Not all teachers are the same. It is hard for me to deal with that, so it must be hard for my students to process.

Our classroom is a family, and I want it running on kindess. 

Become a Certified Kind Classroom

If you are interested in implementing this in your classroom you can read more here. This was such a wonderful activity to complete with my students. I look forward to next school year when I can begin this year with this!

Image result for when given the choice between being right and being kind choose kind

March 1, 2017

Native American Diorama Projects

A large portion of our 5th grade Social Studies Curriculum is learning about Native Americans. We begin by learning about the first Americans and their journey to North America from Siberia. We then discuss tribes and cultural regions in North and South America. I have also been able to extend their learning in discussions on current events and how pipelines are impacting Native Americans.

Overall this was a great unit for myself and my students. I can not wait to expand it even more for next year.

To conclude our unit I gave my students two weeks to work on a diorama for a native group we learned about. I put all of the groups we focused on in a hat and let them pick.

These projects came back and I was SO IMPRESSED! I really wanted them to use natural resources versus spending money.

Prior to beginning their project I had the students complete a planning page. Check out the rubric and planning page I grabbed here.

Check out some of the projects below.

I am reaching out to our local library to see if I could place a few of them on display.

This one is so creative! They used graham crackers and that is a real cactus!!

The Makahs might be my favorite. It is so cool to see how the students represented their tribes.

Up next we are learning about explorers. Any creative ideas for my students to create!?