Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ancient Rome & Nonfiction

    I wish I would have taken more pictures during my ancient Rome unit.  I feel like at this time of year I am rushing to finish getting everything taught in social studies.  One thing I really enjoyed with ancient Rome was how much I constantly reviewed.  By the end of the unit, my students could tell the whole story of ancient Rome from the ages of the Kings to the fall of the empire.  I would review with vocabulary on whiteboards and also by telling the story of Rome and throwing a ball for a student to catch and fill in the missing word to the story.
    When teaching Julius Ceasar my class did a fun play.  I also showed the horrible history videos.  If you haven't seen those, you should definitely check them out.

    In Language Arts my students turned in their non-fiction book projects this week.  They had to read a non-fiction book and then make a cereal project out of it.  Their cereal had to include a prize on the inside, a summary on the back and a description of the book on the front to turn their book into a cereal.  I had some really creative projects and they really seemed to enjoy sharing their boxes with each other.

   Next up is the Middle Ages in social studies and reviewing for EOG's in language arts! Luckily a much needed Spring Break starts Friday!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

What's working lately

    It is a new rotation at my school and with a new rotation schedule I have started to try some new things in my classroom.  One thing I have done is constant review of key words we are studying.  Every day we start the class period with a whiteboard game.  I call out a definition and they write the word on their whiteboard.  Sometimes we play the first person to 10 words correct wins, or they will just try to beat a peer in the room. I can tell this repetitive review is really helping my students and they look forward to it! 

   Another change this rotation has been what I do during what we call connections time.  This is the last 20  minutes of the school day where we are supposed to do some type of remediation.  I have grouped my students into groups based on what they need the most help with.  There is a group for vocabulary, comprehending non-fiction, comprehending fiction and even a phonics group. I have advanced students helping in each group and I work with the lowest group.  Everyday they know where to sit and what to get out, they begin working and usually do pretty well on their own.  I've found this to be a great way to utilize the mere 20 minutes we get for remediation.  Before I was just playing the news, so I find this much more beneficial. 

   In one of my language arts classes we are reading the novel, Tuck Everlasting.  We read most of it together and then have an activity to do with what we read.  During the activity students have a group to sit with and discuss questions or a mini-project with.  This has been working great because when I say move students know exactly where to sit and what to begin working on. At first I thought the book would be too hard for class but now it almost seems too easy.  It is a great book to use to review fictional story elements.

   Overall what I've learned lately is the importance of structure.  When my students know where to sit, what to get out before I say go they get so much more work done. Even in language arts I've made sure to give students something to look forward while they are doing independent reading.  Just having a consistent routine helps them stay much more focused.  It seems so simple but it's something I wasn't doing as well before now. 

   What has been working well for you lately? It's spring let's think positive! 


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