Monday, February 21, 2011

Classroom Activities Inspired by Dr. Seuss

I love Dr. Seuss.  I love his endless imagination.  His use of rhyme.  His illustrations.  Some of my favorite classroom ideas have been inspired by his books.  In recognition on of his upcoming birthday on March 2, I would like to share some of them with you.
  • Create a unit on the five senses or the human body using The Ear Book, The Eye Book, The Foot Book, The Tooth Book, and Horton Hears a Hoo.
  • Read There's a Wocket in my Pocket and encourage students to write and illustrate their own silly rhyming pairs like 'there's a smed on my bed' or 'there's a wanket on my blanket.'
  • Explore the association between colors and emotions by reading My Many Colored Days (which is perhaps my favorite Seuss book of all).  After reading, ask students to 'act out' the colors.  I am always surprised  at the emotions evoked by the color green.
  • Make some oobleck (a.k.a. goop) after reading Bartholomew and the Oobleck.  This is an awesome activity to use when discussing matter, solids, and liquids.
  • Cook (and chow down on) Green Eggs and Ham after reading the book.  Particularly fun to do on St. Patrick's Day.
  • Read If I Ran the Zoo and then put students to work in small groups to create their own collections of imaginary animals.
  • Use Ten Apples on Top to practice writing and sequencing numbers.  Ask students to draw a portrait of themselves with  ten apples on top of their head and the numbers one to ten written inside each apple.
  • Read Oh the Places You'll Go during the last week of the school year.  Ask students to write and draw about their plans for the future (or at least summer break).
Check out these amazing websites devoted to Dr. Seuss:

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'm Stylin? WOW!

My blog is stylin' and I didn't even know it! 

Many happy thanks to Shannon at for recognizing me with the Stylish Blogger Award!

Here are the rules for receiving this award:

1. Thank and link back to the person who awarded you this award
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Award 15 recently discovered great bloggers
4. Contact these bloggers and tell them about the award

7 things about me:

1. Teaching is actually my 2nd career and I started at age 35.  I spent 14 years working at Florida State University. 
2.  I love to shop for teaching supplies on EBay.
3. Two things on my teacher "bucket list"......Attend the National Kindergarten Teachers Conference and record my own album of classroom tunes.
4.  My family are avid Florida State Seminole fans.  Go 'Noles!
5.  My favorite teacher quote:  "It's the process where true learning can be seen...not the product."
6. The very best science lesson I ever taught used only a pipe cleaner (chenille stem).
7.  I still get butterflies in my stomach every year on the 1st day of school.

15 amazing bloggers who are getting this award next:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Heavy Lifting

This past week was very different for me as a teacher.  First and foremost, I was not in the classroom very much.  Secondly, when I was in the classroom I sat back and watched as my student intern took the helm and taught everything.  Third, I spent the greater part of my week at a conference on Lesson Studies where I spent alot time thinking about teaching and learning.  I thought about it so much that my brain actually hurt.

Talk about reflection.  My entire week was spent reflecting on what effective teaching looks like.  What meaningful learning looks like.  What motivates both to successfully happen.  And that its all about the heavy lifiting.

Definitions of heavy lifting I found on Google range from "difficult work" to "actively working toward making or doing something."  I think heavy lifting in teaching is a combination of both.

We know as educators that teaching in America right now is difficult work.  We deal with time constraints, funding contraints, constraints from constant new governmental mandates and initiatives, and constraints felt from the lack of parental support.  But despite these we teach.   We persevere.  And we do it for the kids. 

As a relatively new teacher (this is my 8th year) I didn't know what it was like to teach without these challenges.  This is the only teaching reality that I know.  I signed up for it knowing that it was going to be like this.  And I never regret doing so.  I want to make a difference in my students' lives.  I want to make the most of the challenges.. 

This brings me to the second definition of heavy lifting.  Active work that is intentional, meaningful and perpetual.  As educators we learn to teach and teach to learn.  This is our science.  Our schools are our laboratories.  We should feel empowered to know that we are foremost scientists in the study of teaching and learning.

But do we do the heavy lifting ALL of the time?  I don't think so.  I heavy lift for my colleagues every time I offer a strategy, help them take care of a challenging student, assist them in preparing cumbersome paperwork, sit in on a parent conference, or lend a listening ear.  And I let them heavy lift for me.  I couldn't work any other way.

When do our students do the heavy lifting?  This is the magical part.  Knowing how best our students learn, being aware of their needs, and teaching them with the best strategies we can find.  Teaching them to problem solve, and to know that the process of solving a problem is even more important than the actual solution.  Encouraging them to take risks and scaffold their learning so that they feel empowered (just like we do) to guide their own learning whenever possible.  And to help others to learn too.

Heavy lifting is pretty heavy stuff.  And worth every single daily workout.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Is it Elvis? The Beatles? Nooo It's.....Jack Hartmann!

This morning we were getting our wiggles out on the learning rug before beginning reading activities.  As we routinely do, we started out with a few selections from one of my favorite performers of children's music, Jack Hartmann (who - by the way- is a fellow Floridian).  The kids loved singing and dancing to "Freeze It" and "Hip Hop to the Alphabet" and "Is It a Word Or Not" from his Hip Hop Alpha Bop cd and immediately wanted to hear more.

As I searched for yet another cool selection to play, a conversation began on the rug that centered around Mr. Hartmann's music. Various song titles were recalled, including "Hip Hop Tooty Ta" and "The Silly Pirate Song."  Then one of my friends announced, "I like ALL those songs." 

What was said next can only be compared to the degree of adoration displayed by devoted fans of Elvis,  The Beatles, or The Eagles.

T, as matter of factly as could be, replied to the friend by saying, "Well yeah!  It IS Jack Hartmann."

I think an official Jack Hartmann fan club is in the making.  And I'm gonna sign up, too.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Oh The Things They Will Say.....Picture It

Yesterday, during Reading on the rug, I was talking with my Kinders about the magic of our mind and how fun it is to picture something in our brain and even spell its word.  This is a pretty abstract concept so we needed to practice.  First we used the object of a cat.  I set the scene...."Picture in your brain a cat.  What does the cat look like?  What color is he?  "Is he big or little? What does he sound like? How does he move?  Now see the letters in the word cat as you say the sounds." 

Almost immediately I began to hear a few ooohs and aaahs in the group and some friends even started to describe the cat they imagined out loud.  But one friend was having a little trouble.  He just couldn't see a cat in his mind.  He said he had no picture frame.  And he was starting to get frustrated.  Friends began to help him.  "Come can do it....see the cat....c-a-t....see the letters?

 I. just knew she had a solution to our friend's dilemma and she announced, "It's easy.  Just roll your eyes backwards in your head and you can see it!"

That's when my lesson on Imagery turned into something I had not expected.  And we spent the next five minutes trying to roll our eyes backwards in our head. 

Now that was a sight.  I'll bet you can picture it.