Second graders listened to The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game. After reading the book, students generated a list of questions they had related to the story.
Students sorted the questions into categories such as sign language, baseball, William Hoy, deafness, and miscellaneous. The categories weren’t always immediately clear, and students discussed and defended their choices.
Pairs of students were given questions to answer. They chose an information source which they thought would mostly likely help them answer their questions.
After finding answers, students shared their knowledge with their classmates. They reflected on their new learning, and of course they have new questions.
Fourth graders read the book One Plastic Bag, by Miranda Paul. This is the true story of a woman in the Gambia who was concerned with the many plastic bags that were littered throughout her village and were killing goats, ruining their gardens, and contributing to malaria outbreaks. She and a group of women began using the bags to crochet into purses. They cleaned up their village and earned money for food, health care, and education. This book is one of the current elementary Nutmeg Nominees.
After listening to the story, the students came up with many different questions.
Students consulted different sources to find answers to their questions. They reread the book and looked at the author's note and a timeline in the back of the book. They looked at the book's website and watched a video showing how the women made the bags into purses.
They searched Pebble Go Next and Britannica Online. We emailed the Connecticut State Library to find out how plastic bags got to the Gambia. A librarian promptly emailed us back with links to oil refineries and plastic bag manufacturers and videos showing plastic bags being manufactured and shipping containers being loaded. We weren't always able to get answers and had to think of different ways to find them.
We tweeted the author, Miranda Paul, to find out how long it took her to write the book. She answered us and invited us to video conference. Each group chose one question and had a chance to talk to the author. It was a real-life opportunity to practice digital citizenship. Ms. Paul was wonderful! She gave us very detailed answers to our questions.
Many of the questions from Mrs. Negrelli's class focused on the goats in the story. To answer their questions, we video conferenced with Amanda Thomson and two of her students from Middletown High's Vocational Agriculture program. We got to conference with the goats, too! What a great book and opportunity for the kids. A student commented, "I learned so much today." Yes!
Students reflected on the experience.
Students are big fans of Steve Jenkins, who has written and illustrated many different books about animals. The unique thing about his books is that he uses beautifully detailed collages to create the illustrations. After reading several of his books, the first graders decided that they wanted to create their own animal book.
We began by looking at Steve Jenkins' website. He includes a narrative and video which explain how he creates his books. One thing we noticed about his books is that the body of the book focuses on one specific topic (superlatives, body parts, color, etc.) with general animal information included in the back. Each class brainstormed a list of possible topics and then voted on their favorite. Next we came up with a list of sources of information and decided to use Pebble Go, a database designed for beginning readers.
First graders practiced taking notes by writing only the most important words in each sentence.
Students used their notes to write the general information for their animal.
Next came almost everyone's favorite part, creating the illustrations! Our art teacher, Mrs. Kaye, gave suggestions about how to create the illustrations and also worked with one of the classes. Students added a sentence about their specific topic to the artwork.
We read the completed books this week. Students loved seeing their work and are proud to be authors and illustrators. Nice work, first grade!
In their regular classrooms, first graders have been studying how other children live in other parts of the world. To supplement this unit, during library class we connected with other students from Athens, Greece; Shanghai, China; and Cuenca, Spain using a website called ePals. After reading a book about kids in other countries, the first graders sat with a partner and came up with questions they had about kids living in other places. Then they chose one and shared it with the class. We emailed these questions to their buddy classrooms.
1K class's questions
1N class's questions
1W clas's questions
The class from Greece told us that they were sending a slide show about their school, so we decided to create our own presentation to share. Students worked with a partner to decide what was important to teach them about our school. Then, each pair of students was responsible for writing details and a closing sentence for their topic.
Students took pictures around the school, and we added it all into Little Bird Tales, a digital publishing tool. Students then read and recorded what they had written. You can watch each presentation below.
In the meantime, some classes received answers to our questions from our buddy classrooms. Our friends in Greece also created a slide show and video for us, which you can find here. The first graders then worked with their partner to answer questions from our buddies, if they sent any. It has been fascinating to learn about the similarities and differences between their schools and ours!
This past month, kindergarten students did a short research project. We wondered what happens to a pumpkin and jack-o-lantern after Halloween. First, students talked with a partner and guessed what would happen to the pumpkins. Many students predicted that they would rot, some said they would shrink or dissolve, and two students guessed that they might turn into a carriage. :) Here are links to each class's predictions:
Mrs. Imai's class
Mrs. Landell's class
Mrs. O'Rourke's class
Every week, when the students came back to class, they looked at the pumpkin and jack-o-lantern to see how they had changed. Students drew and wrote about what they saw.
They also came up with a very interesting question. They wondered if the red stuff on the lid was blood. We talked about how we can use books to find answers to our questions. We read the book Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices by David M. Schwartz and discovered that the red stuff was a type of mold.
Week 4 was a sad week. When we came back to school on Monday, the jack-o-lantern was gone, and the pumpkin was smashed on the sidewalk. The DEEP wildlife expert said that it was mostly likely a human who had smashed the pumpkin. The smashed pumpkin is back at the edge of the woods. We will take a break from our observations for now and see how it looks in the spring. To end the project, students wrote about something they had learned. We are looking forward to seeing how the pumpkin has changed when we check again in the spring!