Monday, June 11, 2012

My Big Mess and End of the Year Gift

So, as promised I have just a few pics of my mess. I'm too embarrassed to show the worst ones. Does anyone else feel like messes get bigger before they are organized to perfection?

This is the "leftover" stuff. My basement has an huge pile of my plastic bins FULL of stuff.  As my boyfriend was helping me empty it out of my classroom and take it back to my house, his comment was, "Do you really need all of this stuff? Can't you throw some of it away?"
Uh, NO! I am in no way a hoarder, BUT I do spend a lot of time making nice things to my classroom and there is NO WAY JOSE that I am going to throw it away.

Anyway .. thanks to a WONDERFUL idea from Confessions of a Teaching Junkie I decided to take on another project for the end of the year (and half way into I was wishing I hadn't ...)

It is such a cute idea that extended something I already do with my class. I've always had my class write down words to describe each other as a memory. However, now that Tagul, Tagxedo, Wordle, etc are so popular, a natural next step would be to make word clouds using the words. So, thanks to some Teaching Junkie inspiration, I did that for them this weekend (after packing up and moving my whole classroom and finishing progress reports ... ).

Here is the template I gave to my students: Click on the image to download the PDF. When we began passing around the papers, I outlawed words such as kind, good, nice, fun .. etc. I had them use their character trait lists to come up with thoughtful lists, which seemed to help a lot.

And, by 11:00 PM last night, I had all 54 of my students' papers typed up into nice little word clouds. 

And 1 and a half more days .... it can't come soon enough!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Home Stretch, Being Crafty, and one HUGE MESS!

Ok, so two and half more days to go...
I think I can ... I think I can...
181 days never felt SOOOO long!

So, I'm sure you've all experienced the ridiculousness that is that last few days of school. You don't feel like teaching anything too taxing, and frankly, the kids don't feel like learning and applying themselves any longer. However, my principal is probably not going to allow three days of movies, games, and all around work avoidance. It's that summer itch, and it's a problem. I've been  trying my hardest to keep their interest, but I think the only thing that would at this point is a clown will, red nose, and some fantastic juggling skills (all of which I do not have).

So, what's a teacher to do? I've pulled my resources and decided do a few things that (fingers crossed) will keep them motivated to stay on task and not drive me completely crazy.

First, we're still not quite finished out study on the regions of the United States. The southwest region has pretty much gotten the shaft (sorry to all of my southwest friends). We saved it until last as it has the fewest states, but I still want my students to learn something about that area of our country.
So, I tricked them into read. Yep, I did.
What ten-year-old doesn't love to color? Ok, there are a few, but they all love it when they can do it instead of working. So, yesterday, I had my students read about the canyons and deserts of the southwest. The trick? When they were finished they could create a poster advertising one of the things they read (most picked the Grand Canyon). Of course they all wanted to do the reading so they could get to the creating. AND they had to use some details from the reading to make their poster persuasive and enticing to a traveler (HA getting in those persuasive writing skills we've been working on).

The best part of this is, it is helping me take down my bulletin boards. I am a firm believer that empty walls speed up the kids itch for summer. So, I HATE taking them down too early. That being said, I am moving and have to get all of my stuff packed up before the last day of school. So, I'm using their posters to decorate my boards once I take down my stuff!
Here are some of their creations:

The other really fun thing we're doing thanks to a great idea from Lessons with Laughter is writng Porquoi Tales. She even has a free template for kids to use to organize the elements of the tales. We started my reading some together and mapping them out. We then used that information to write our own. My kiddos looked through some Ranger Rick magazines to get ideas of what animal to pick. I'll post picks of these on Monday because they are doing an AMAZING job! 

As for the mess, I need to go tackle that now. My classroom looks like a bomb exploded. Do you ever feel like when you are getting organized you make a bigger mess in the process. Maybe I'll take some pics of that too. Feeling bittersweet about all of this packing!