Monday, March 11, 2019

Tried & True Bookmaking: Raffia Sewing Book

Next up in our bookmaking series! I love bringing in my electric drill and watching my students' eyes light up! LOL
Don't let the drill scare you; it's actually easy to use (and I'm not all that handy) and makes for stunning books! Materials needed:

  • electric drill 
  • drill bit (experiment a bit; it needs to drill a hole large enough to thread your raffia or yarn through)
  • 2 pieces of stiff paper or cardstock for the cover
  • raffia or yarn
  • scissors

The cover for this book below was two sheets of manila tag, covered with ripped pieces of tissue paper and starch. It gives it a very artsy look (and easy for all kids to do!) Add the raffia to bind the book and they are gorgeous!
The book below was so much fun to make! Instead of two separate covers for front and back, we took one sheet of corrugated cardstock (double the length of of the inside papers plus about 2-3 inches extra). We wrapped the corrugated cardstock around the papers, then folded the extra as a flap. After drilling the holes on the left and hand-sewing the yarn to bind it,  kids sewed a large button and elastic to hook the cover closed. 
 Have you tried having your students sew books by hand? Give the drill a try;  I felt like Rosie the Riveter!

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Building Student Empowerment

It was my first year of teaching and I was a little nervous and very excited about my first parent-teacher conferences. 3 parents out of my 27 students showed up. Three. Other experienced teachers at my school said that wasn’t unusual. What?! Something was wrong. 30+ years later. . . I have 100% parent participation.
How to get 100% parent attendance and participation? A slight shift in the traditional conference: conferences run by students instead of teachers. “When students must report to their families what they're learning—what skills and understandings they have, what areas still challenge them, and where they hope to get to—they must understand their own learning and progress. They take pride in what they can do and take responsibility for what they need to work on. Education stops being something done to them and begins being something that they are leading.” (Educational Leadership, Vol. 71, No. 6)

Although students are initially shy about leading their conference, they develop their leadership skills, build critical thinking and reflection skills. Their families are more connected to the growth of their child and students have more buy-in to their own learning.
My students take charge of their learning through the use of portfolios. They are continuously examining and reflecting on their work, comparing the quality of it to the standards. How to select learning goals and develop a plan of action is explicitly modeled and taught. Their portfolios reflect their progress toward their self-selected goals with tangible evidence such as student work, photographs, and even letters signed by classmates (if they were working on a goal such as teamwork or sportsmanship). It is so exciting to watch and listen to fourth graders lead their parent conferences; sharing their self-report card and proudly discussing their growth! Areas of need are shared as goals, as child, parents, and teacher also give input. Kids are usually brutally honest about their progress (often much harder on themselves than I am!), yet they take pride in all that they have accomplished. Although I allot a few minutes at the end of each conference if parents want to speak to me privately, but they usually do not have questions about grades after their child has shared. Parents always leave the conference impressed with their child’s honest self-evaluation. It is so heartwarming to see each student shine!

As students learn about setting goals, we use this acrostic GOALS sheet and put into the back cover of their portfolios. To grab a copy of this GOALS sheet in color and B & W, click on the image below or click HERE
To read more in-depth "how to" initiate student-led conferences, click on the links below.
For the complete Student Learning Portfolios resource, click HERE or on the image below.
Visit the blogs below for more terrific teaching ideas!

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Celebrate Reading Month!

March kicks off National Reading Month, and as a voracious reader myself, it is always one of my favorite times of the year! Rather than celebrate using Dr. Seuss books, I love the shift in focus on reading ALL kinds of books, to represent ALL our students. Hurray for diversity in literature!
The National Education Association features a different theme with corresponding book each month. Finding Your Voice is the theme for March, highlighting the beautiful picture book, Malala's Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai. There is also chapter book for middle grades:  Malala: My Story of Standing Up for Girls' Rights with Patricia McCormick.  After reading Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed during The Global Read Aloud last fall, my kids were enamored by reading more about Pakistani culture and girls fighting for education. (And if you have not yet signed up for The Global Read Aloud 2019, click HERE now!)
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"So please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install a lovely bookshelf on the wall." – Roald Dahl
We discuss our "reading lives" throughout the year. In March, students take a "shelfie"; a photo of their bookshelf. It's fun to try and match the shelfie with the student by browsing the book titles and the organization (or not) of the bookshelves.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Give me Some Grammar!

Grammar? Boring! But when I asked my students for their favorite Walking Classroom podcast?  They almost unanimously chose the podcast on Interjections! Since when do you hear kids cheering and begging for parts of speech practice?!
What are some creative ways you teach grammar or parts of speech? I'm blogging over at The Walking Classroom today. Walk on over to read more HERE.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Teacher Fashion Through the Years

The year was 1987 and I was starting my first teaching position. No more college sweatshirts and sweatpants for me; I was ready to be a professional!  I replaced my scrunchie with a rather large bow (hot glue-gunned onto a barrette) clipped onto my long hair with giant, teased bangs. I donned my new white boots with a mini-skirt and long sweater, complete with shoulder pads.
I shudder now to think about that! LOL. Another favorite outfit in the early 90's was a linen lime green shorts suit (not a pantsuit, but a matching double-breasted top & SHORTS), complete with large shoulder pads that I wore with black pumps!! Huh?! I quickly learned that one does NOT teach primary grades wearing high heels! I think I must have been dressing "fancy" for Picture Day! I can think of no other explanation. . .
One year I had a sweet student whose father manufactured "teacher jewelry". What is teacher jewelry, you may ask? Think LARGE plastic school supply shapes strung together with beads. For every holiday, this child gave me themed jewelry, apple necklaces, pencil earrings, crayon bracelets, you name it! I was decked out!
Back in the 80's and 90's, the bigger and gaudier the jewelry, the better! A friend and I had the brilliant idea to make some money by drilling a hole in our pattern blocks, threading them with ribbon and selling them as necklaces at a math conference. They were a success (never mind how impractical and heavy hanging wood blocks around your neck was. . .)
The 90's brought out the creativity in me. I finally learned (admittedly the hard way) that teachers need to dress comfortably, especially since I was teaching first and second grades! I was always sitting on the floor and needing to move. No more pumps or high heels. In came cute flats and white Keds.  I started designing matching t-shirt and stretchy pants (this was pre-stirrup pants and pre-leggings days) with "modern" designs, many of them a la Jackson Pollock. I custom made them for all the teachers at my school!
In the late 90's, early 2000's, I began giving a lot of presentations at conferences and teaching "teacher classes".  I thought I had better look more "grown up".  I bought suits in every color (skirts and pants, bu not shorts anymore, thank goodness) . . . but still complete with shoulder pads. When did shoulder pads go out of style anyway?! And big hair was gone by then. 
And true story, but it was only two years ago that I "thanked" all those suits I hadn't worn in 15 years and finally donated them. Although I have nightmares of teenagers finding them in a thrift shop, laughing and wearing them to a vintage or retro party.

If you're in the mood for a good laugh, be sure to check out our podcast as we take a trip down teacher fashion memory lane! This week's episode is all about teacher fashions throughout the years. We laughed until we cried recording it! Click HERE or on the image below to listen to our latest podcast!
Be sure to check out my podcast besties' teacher fashion blog posts below! Tracy, Retta & Deann will keep you smiling!
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