Movies to Get BRAINS Moving! LINKY Party!

I LOVE using movies in the classroom! You can find movies or video clips on just about any topic. I really like using them to front-load information. My classroom is almost 50% ELL, and the visual aspect of using video in instruction is extremely important. (And you know what they say...what works for for many!). It's really true....movies can get brains moving!

I also try to present information in multiple ways: model myself, do a mini-lesson, have kiddos do an activity on computers, and watch a video clip. Multiple means of engagement. My district is big on Universal Design for Learning (UDL). The basic idea is if a lesson is designed with the needs of all of your students in mind, then instruction is accessible by all. Using video or digital clips in the classroom helps make instruction accessible for all of your students.

Which got me to thinking.....I'm diligently planning our next project, which is famous Americans. I am super excited. Each one of my little sweeties will have a historical figure to research. I've been gathering resources and thought I'd share some of the 'movie' resources I've collected.

Check this out! You can find Walt Disney World's Hall of Presidents on Youtube! This brought back some memories! Wouldn't your kiddos get a kick out of this?

Have you ever heard of the animated series "Liberty's Kids"? I love using these in my classroom. It really brings a new level to historical events for kids. And kids love it! This one is about The Boston Tea Party, but you can find 31 other episodes on YouTube covering lots of other events.

There's also a great animated series called Animated Hero Classics which you can find on YouTube too. Here's an awesome one about the Wright brothers.

 and here's one about Alexander Graham Bell...

 Of course, you can't forget about Schoolhouse Rock! Here's one about women's suffrage and Susan B. Anthony.

Do you use movies to get your students' brains moving? I'd love to learn more about them!
Share some of your favorite videos, digital clips, and sources! Please grab the button up on top to add to your post & link back!

A Day Our Way ~ a Schedule Linky!

Who doesn't love checking out others' daily schedules? I'm always looking for ways to maximize my time, and I love looking at how others schedule their day to see how they schedule their day.
Where the Wild Things Learn is hosting A Day Our Way Linky Party, and I'm excited to join in! Here's a look at our day:

Students enter any time between 8:00-8:15 and our announcements are at 8:15. During this time, kiddos complete their Agenda Math, book shop, and do independent reading.

Our day is different than most because I teach a 1, 2, 3 Multi-age, and I actually co-teach with another teacher & another classroom. Think 54 kids...2 teachers. In the morning, I teach 1st/2nd grade reading & writing, & my teamie teaches 2nd/3rd grade reading & writing. So there are lots of kiddos transitioning through the day. See that opening there between our two rooms? We actually refer to the two as ONE room...two sides. My side and my teamie's side. Hang we go.

8:30-- All of my 3rd graders & some 2nd graders line up at the door to go next door for Reading, while firsties & a few 2nd graders are lining up at the opening between our two sides to come over to my side of the room.
We start our day with a read aloud as part of the Reading Focus Lesson, then continue with Reading Workshop until 9:15.

9:15-- I do a quick focus lesson, & then we begin our Workstations. We do two rotations each day (except Friday).

10:00-- We do a grammar focus lesson or activity.

10:15-11:00-- Writing min lesson followed by writing workshop.

11:00-- ALL of my reading kiddos line up at the opening between the two rooms, while the 3rd graders and a few 2nd graders are lining up at the door of the other side to transition to Math. Those who just left my room head out to recess & lunch. While the kiddos coming in to my room get started on Math (are you still with me?)

11:05-11:25-- 3rd grade Math on my side of the room. We start out with some math warm ups, & I do the focus lesson for the day's math activities. At 11:25 all of these kiddos head out for recess & lunch.

12:15-1:00-- Upon return from lunch, we get started with Math Workshop. Most kiddos complete independent work at their seat while a small group comes to me to work. When those doing independent work finish, they either go to their assigned Math Workstation, or make a choice, according to the day's chart.
You can read more about how I use the Workstation/Choice Chart and even grab a FREEBIE of it over on Who's Who & Who's New!

1:00-1:30-- Depending on the day & the current project, we either continue math or transition back to our homerooms for Project. Projects include our Social Studies & Science integrated with the other academic areas. Our current project is Social Studies, & we're using the resources from this stupendous resource bundle currently available on educents. Can't wait to see what my kiddos come up with!

1:30-- We color our day, & get ready to travel to specials.
2:25-- As we return from specials, everyone stops by the coatrack to pick up their backpack & coat and returns to their seat to pack up.
2:35-- Dismissal
Whew!! What a day!
Make sure you click that little button at the top of this post to head over to Where the Wild Things Learn and check out the other daily schedules!

It's Time for Some History!!

Yay! My favorite time of year is upon us! (Well-- my academic favorite time of the year). January/February just seems to be the time to do lots with US history.....we have Martin Luther King, Jr Day, Presidents Day, Black History Month. There are so many activities and projects you can do with American history.

In the past, we've done:
  • Oral reports in which they each dressed up as the famous American they'd researched. I just wish I could share pictures of the little guy who dressed up like George Washington! Complete with white ringlets! Adorable!!
  • American Symbols Museum - small groups learned about different American symbols then worked together to create a display. We even had a couple kindergarten classes come in and tour! So much fun! And they learned so much!!
  • Pocket people - This is my favorite! My kiddos just have so much fun doing them. I love the details they add! Check these out...
    Love FDR's suit & tie! And check out the wheelchair!
    Check out the ruffles on Helen Keller's dress!
Sacajawea - I love the baby peeking over her shoulder!
When we did the Pocket People, my kiddos used them as the visual aid for their oral presentations. Information is written on each card, and the kiddos can pull each card as reference for the presentation. Afterward, we put the Pocket People up all over the school.....and they become interactive learning displays for everyone! How cool is that?!

I try to put in all the support needed for my kiddos to be successful with both their report and their Pocket Person.
Here are a couple of the tools I use to support them and keep them on track. I give each of them the cards you see on the right that have specific, guiding questions on them. The cards can serve as a planner for their well as info cards for an interactive learning display or as reference for oral presentations. Gotta love that!

I also give everyone a planning page for their pocket person. I've labeled it so that kiddos are guided to create their pocket person with correct and appropriate detail. Remember that awesome FDR up there? Sacajawea and her baby peeking over her shoulder? The planning page and the support built in helped these kiddos get there. I also give them a rubric at the beginning of the project so that they know exactly what the expectations are, and how to get the score they want.

If you've been following me recently, you know that I'm all about choice this year. With that in mind, as we gear up for the project this year, I am going to offer my kiddos choice this year. The written report will still be part of the requirements, of course. This year, they're going to get to choose between doing a Pocket Person or creating a persona for a Wax Musuem! Super excited about this!   

We are starting our project tomorrow...and I can't wait to see how my kiddos want to show what they know. I know I'm excited about seeing Pocket People and live performances at a Wax Museum...but they usually come up with the best, most creative ideas! Wonder what it will be........

Offering Choice in the Classroom

A few weeks ago, I posted about empowering students through choice over on Who's Who & Who's New. There was a lot of interest in it, & I got lots of questions, so I thought I'd address the questions & turn it into a little series here on my home blog.

I'd been hearing from lots of teachers about how they offered their students choices during workstations, & even as part of formative or summative assessments. I'm gonna tell you right now that at first I thought the idea was nuts. I envisioned all kinds of craziness happening in my issues, behavior issues, and worst of all....little to no learning occurring! I was 'inspired' to take the leap this year (it's one of the choices on our teacher eval rubric....and it was one of the areas upon I chose to focus this year).

I've been so thrilled with the impact providing choice has had! 
  • Students have a greater sense of control, so they're happier in the classroom & more actively involved in instruction.
  • Student engagement and motivation has increased, so they're paying more attention to their work, and that equals more meaningful learning.
  • Students take more ownership of their learning.
 Those are pretty big positives up there!
Are you ready to get started on providing choice in your classroom? Are you ready to start dabbling in it?
Here's a great way to start: offer choice during your workstations/centers. Now I don't mean provide 6 or 8 activities and then set your kiddos free. You can start by providing 3 or so activities from which students can choose. You don't even have to allow all of your kiddos choice at the same time.
Here's how it's set up in my room during our ELA block.
I'm a very visual person, so I use a visual rotation chart. Over on the right is our Monday Chart. Here's the key:
Blue U = our kidney table
Orange Circle = our orange table
Purple Hex = our purple table
Green C = Choice

You can see that only two of my groups are in choice each rotation. All of the other groups are at a station that either has an adult to monitor/supervise or at a prescribed activity like a game, etc. 

I have a small magnetic dry erase board at the front of the room on which I write the day's choices. I actually draw icons or write the word for each station. I think actually watching me draw/write the choices helps my kiddos attend to the choice options. 

How do you decide what choice activities to offer?
Take a look at what skills you're teaching this week, and which skills your kiddos need more practice doing. I recommend choice activities not be a skill you've introduced that same day or even the day before. They definitely need to be something at which your kiddos can be independent. 
So, for example, this week my class will be working on the following skills, and these are the activities that I'm going to put in as choices...
  • Reading - Independent Reading, Listening Center, & Kindle
  • Sight words - I Spy Sight Words pages & Winter Roll & Write
  • Word Study - Rainbow Writing (my kiddos LOVE it!) & Boggle
  • Helping Verbs - Search the Room & a Verb Sort *I won't put this up at least until Wednesday, and maybe even Thursday, depending on how they do with this concept.
How do you keep track of who has gone to which station?
I really don't track which stations they've gone to. Since each skill has multiple options, it doesn't really matter if Bobby does I Spy Sight Words 2 days in a row. He's getting sight word practice in whether he does I Spy twice, or he chooses I Spy on Monday & Winter Roll & Write on Tuesday. 
I will say that I do completely pull the options for a skill if I see they no longer need that practice. For instance, if they've really got the sight words for the week down, I might pull that one (really, just erase it from my board). In this case, it ends up setting up a scenario where they're more apt to choose reading as one of their choices. Win-win!

 I'd love to hear more about how you provide choice in your classroom! How do you make it work?
Or...better yet....
Are you thinking of starting, but have some more questions about it?
Please comment with your questions below, and I'll address it in a future post!