Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Creepy Truth Oct. 29

Loving this new little linky hosted by Sunny Days in Second Grade...
I didn't link up on the first one, but read lots of posts.
This one is about Creepy Truths...

Click on the Pic above and Link up your Creepy Truths!
That's all for now...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Genius Hour -Questions Asked, Planning Begins

How GREAT was it to walk into my classroom Friday afternoon (had Prof Devel training in the morning) and have the kids say "Is it time for Genius Hour?"!!!
"How 'bout now, is it time?"
The anticipation was building all day (add to that full moon-itis).
Then the time FINALLY came.
We discussed our anchor chart from the week before... talked about how some of our questions could be answered too quickly... was there a way to tweak the questions to fit our Passion Project?
After much discussion (I actually did this before the actual Genius Hour time of the day)... I went over the planning sheet the kids had to fill out... and turned them loose.
Now, mind you, we were just planning...and boy there were lots of questions! Some kids just weren't getting the concept. They weren't thinking deeply and needed lots of guidance.

As a "newbie" to this whole process, I'm not even sure if *I'M* doing it right!
Some projects are not what I envisioned for Genius Hour... but, I think I'm going to approve all the projects hoping the ideas will grow as the students grow throughout the year. I don't want to sway or crush the very first idea.

Here are some of the ideas the 3rd graders came up with...
The Titanic Sinking (my thoughts were-we already know that it sunk...but the student wants to show what could have been done to prevent sinking using plastic bottles with a gash in them)
How do I make a pop-out solar system?
How is Mac-n-Cheese made?
How does a body grow? (I feel like this will be tricky because puberty--- and these are 3rd graders)
All about cats. (I tried helping this student narrow it down...student didn't get it)
Has my drawing gotten better? (I told this student that of course her drawing would get better, we are not here to judge...so student came up with...) How do I make Fan Art?
What are Mars and Jupiter made of?
How can I make a starburst rubberband bracelet?
How do I draw Luigi?
How are puppies made? (another yikes for 3rd grade)
How was Earth made?
How were planets discovered?
How are diamonds made? (end project is to make a diamond - I WISH)
What was the Earth like 50 billion years ago?
How was Minecraft created?
What is it like on the other side of the world?
How is metal made?
How do I learn to do a handstand?
What was Jackie Robinson like as a kid? (his original question was What is it like to stand on a Professional Baseball field?...WHICH I LOVED because I have some resources I could put to use...but for some reason, he wouldn't go back to it)

We've already hit some bumps...I let them use computers and iPads to do a quick search to see if the questions were too easy to answer in one search...
And You Tube is blocked in our district. Students need You Tube for the bracelet making, handstand, Mac-n-Cheese...etc.

The kids were excited! Some found it difficult to fill out the Planning sheet... Which, in my opinion, is good! That tells me they had to THINK.

Here's the form I had them fill out...
Here are two forms filled out:

My questions for my #Geniushour #PLC
How does blogging in the class work for this?
How do the kids use blogging and why?
Am I on the right track with #Geniushour?
Is there anything I need to change or fix at this point in my journey?
Is there any other advice you can offer me?

I appreciate all your help!

Friday, October 11, 2013


After inspiration from Teach Like A Pirate by Dave Burgess, and participating in my first #tlap chat on Twitter, I decided to take the plunge into Genius Hour!
First of all, I have finally learned what the Twitter hype is for education. And let me tell you...
it is
Your own PLC
After participating in the #tlap chat for an hour, I joined another Twitter chat...#ed (something or other).
At first I just watched the action...then I got brave and answered one of the questions...and How Self-fulfilling it was for me to have people from across the US and other countries like what I said! And people started re-tweeting what *I* said, and people started following me! Including Dave Burgess! And Superintendents of Schools AND other teachers AND other Genius Hour people!
Truly exciting. I felt energized. I couldn't even fall asleep from the excitement after the chats.

The people of my new found PLC (Professional Learning Community OR PLN-Professional Learning Network), were chatting about Genius Hour...Intrigued, I inquired about it. They led me to check out this site GENIUS HOUR and HERE...then I was PUMPED
So I sat on it for a while
And I researched
I looked up all the greatness that has come of it...after all...Google did it...
And I thought
Then I got BRAVE and decided to put my thoughts together and approach my Principal.
After sharing my new found passion, Genius Hour with my Principal, he asked me to type up a proposal on how I can make it work in my THIRD GRADE CLASS (I mean, *most* of genius hour is done at the upper levels). He asked me how it fit with Common Core... He asked what the plan was...What in the curriculum would I have to get rid of...  He asked me alllll kinds of questions...and I am proud to report that I was prepared for his questions!
My Principal even said he was impressed...
So, my next step was to put it all in writing.
I submitted my proposal.
I waited at least a week to hear back.
Then FINALLY...YESTERDAY (Thursday...because it was 1/2 day School Improvement Day on Friday)...
I introduced it to my class.
I'm a very confident teacher.
With that said...I was soooo nervous to tell my class about this new adventure...
Would they be mature enough?
Would they wonder about bigger things?
Would this even take?

I had been kinda prepping the kids since I turned in my proposal... I told them that I turned in something to the Principal that I was REALLY excited about and hoped that he approved my "thing"...
THAT was peaking their curiosity...
Then Thursday... I said to my class... we really have to stay on task today so we can get to something special this afternoon... (they were like-oh, a party? extra recess? treat?)..... (which made me even more nervous because it was none of those things...it's more work)
So....while they were at PE, I set up the computer/projector to show the Pep Talk by Kid President

They came in and I hit PLAY...
They giggled, laughed, kept looking at me
Then after the video was over, I asked them what they thought....why do you think I showed this to you (to make us laugh? anti-bully? to be on a team?)
THEN one student said it.... TO BE AWESOME? To DO SOMETHING GREAT?
YES!!!! YES!
Then we gathered on the carpet and I revealed my chart tablet/anchor-chart-maker....
It just said "GENIUS HOUR" at the top with a not-so-great-drawing of a lightbulb...
I said to the kids...
Have you ever had a teacher yet who said...Go learn WHATEVER you want?  (noooooo)
Teachers have a set guideline/standards/Common Core that we HAVE to teach you...
Then I said it...
"Boys and Girls...I'm giving you every Friday to work on WHATEVER project you want for 30 minutes" (there was cheering and hollering and confused looks)
Let's brainstorm some of your wonderings...some of the things you just want to learn more about... you're whys and hows...
And I went crazy on the chart paper with questions...
AND of course, kids tried to answer other kids questions with quick answers...
And I said...now is not the time to answer...we are just writing and asking questions...
And the questions got better and better and more betterer! (yes, I am aware of my silliness with my lack of real words)
I stopped mid-way and told them there were just a few "rules" or "expectations"...
The project has to be approved by ME
The wondering/passion project has to be something that can't be answered quickly
There has to be an end project...(they couldn't believe it could be a movie, or photos, or making something, or poster, or dance, or or or)
And we would take until about November to complete the GENIUS HOUR project...
AND that I have it planned to PRESENT our AWESOMENESS to the SCHOOL BOARD!

So here's the TWO pages worth of questions and we HAD to STOP because it was time to go home.

Don't mind the sloppy writing... I was writing speedy lightning fast!
Some teachers have had the students write on Post-Its and bring them up... that might be where I go for the next one... I think this worked perfectly for our first time...
The students were ridiculously energized.
I kept listening to them talk about all their ideas they had.
I sent a letter home to parents explaining Genius Hour.
Went something like this...


Today, I asked my students what parents thought of the Genius Hour idea... All were positive.
They can't wait until Friday to get going!
I'm currently working on the Genius Hour Approval Form for the kiddos to fill out with their sketched plan...

Using Twitter, I'm asking my PLC for ideas, suggestions...I'm even chatting one on one with a 3rd grade teacher in Missouri... It's her first year doing this too!
PLEASE feel free to chat with me about this!

I hope you feel the passion like I do!


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Five For Friday, Currently, Plant Unit

Even though I'm late...I love Five for Friday! It's a quick recap of the week... and when you blog-hop, you get fantastic ideas to use in your classroom!
Here we go...
ONE... Plant Unit!
We've been studying plants in science. Here are some of the activities the students have completed.
Take a Lima Bean, Soak it in water for several hours...let kids dissect and find the parts of the seed... Seed Coat, Food for Seed, Seedling
Students picked a leaf from a tree in their yard. They brought it into school, used various resources to identify the tree it came from, researched the tree, found 5 facts, created a poster, attached real leaf
BIOSWALES- The school where I work has Bioswales. We define Bioswales and study the plants that have been planted in our Bioswales which are Native to Illinois. We go out to the parking-lot to identify the plants and use the iPads to take photos. The students then use those photos to create a pic-collage with their team and write facts about those plants. Students then explain WHY Bioswales are important to our environment and HOW they help clean up the run-off water before it hits the watershed. 

TWO... We went to a fall festival ON A SCHOOL NIGHT--- GASP!
My husband has work hours that don't allow us to do our family activities on the weekends anymore. So, we all snuck out on a school night and enjoyed one of our favorite fall fests!
 And OF COURSE the girls had to win another pet to add to our zoo of a household!
This is Fat Amy. She is a Hermit Crab.

THREE... Kids' Activities
Last weekend was Homecoming. It was Big Kid's first High School Homecoming Dance... Gorgeous.
There was also Mid Kid's Fall Choir Concert. So beautiful. The pic below shows the "grand finale" with all the schools on stage. The whole performance was amazing!

FOUR... Non Fiction Activity
Using the Interactive Reading Notebooks, students located non fiction text feature in leveled readers and noted them with Post-Its. Students then shared with classmates and had to explain WHY non fiction text feature are important in helping us comprehend
 Had to share this little gem! A lovely little girl brought me this happy pumpkin! I love it! I've been pretty spoiled by students this week. I didn't take any pictures of all the FRESH apples I've received from their family trips to apple orchards (apples got eaten before I could take a photo-hahaha)
FIVE...View of my drive...
I was stopped and had to click a few pics of a part of my drive home from work.  These photos don't even do the view justice.
This is my favorite part of my drive to and from work.

It's Currently October?!?!?!
I'm linking up with Farley and her ever-so-popular Currently party!

LISTENING- I got my $301.50 Scholastic order yesterday that earned my class over 10,000 bonus points! I naturally ordered some extra books with bonus points and my youngest reads them before they hit my shelves at school. She started a chapter book last night before bed, and finished it when she woke up. She's so proud of herself.
LOVING- Unless I screwed up somewhere...I have NO PLANS today!!! And I'm stickin' to it!
THINKING- I have several friends, family, and acquaintances who need extra prayers their way. I'm sending prayers to my loves dealing/coping with cancer, my loves just dealing with the flu-bug, my loves who are blessed with pregnancy... Praying for great mental and physical health to all of you!
WANTING- Ok, as much as I LOVE summer, I am ready for a normal fall. This 88 and crazy humid in October is just too much for me. Tomorrow is supposed to drop to the 60's...can't we ease into the nice fall weather?!?!?! And some new shoes would be nice.
NEEDING- I need a color and cut...
TRICK OR TREAT- A trick I use often is screen shot. On my iPhone and iPad I take lots of screen shots of people's ideas I find. They've come in handy for anchor charts I want to make (and need a little guide), ideas I want to use, etc. It's been my GO-TO lately.