Each fourth grade class had two chances to Mystery Skype with other classes in the United States. During Mystery Skype, our class video conferences with another class. The classes ask each other yes/no questions to determine the other class’s location. Students use logic to formulate questions and listen to answers carefully. One class was from California, one was from Iowa, and two were from North Carolina. We learned some new questioning ideas from the other classes and improved our own questioning. We loved it!
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!
Students in third through fifth grade are book reviewers! They began this project by looking at examples of book reviews and figuring out what should be included in a good book review. They decided a good book review should include an interesting introduction, a summary of the story but NOT the ending, and a recommendation. Good spelling, punctuation, and grammar are important, too. They chose a book that they wanted to recommend and wrote a draft of the review. When completed, they were able to type the review into Biblionasium, which is a book recommendation site (like Goodreads) for students.
When the reviews were complete, students looked at each others' reviews and found new books that they were eager to read and add to their bookshelves. Students have their own login and password and can use this great website at home.
For the past couple of months, several Lawrence students enjoyed an after school book club. The kids are still enthralled with Ivy and Bean and chose the first book in the series to read with the club. Each meeting was a lot of fun. During snack time, we shared great books we were reading with our club members. We took turns reading aloud from the book. We wrote down questions we had about the story and discussed them together. Readers' theater was a highlight for many club members. For this, we took passages from the book and reenacted them with club members pretending to be different characters. At our last meeting, we created our very first podcast and shared what we liked about the book. To hear it, click on the link below. We were all sad when the club ended and look forward to enjoying more great books together in the future!
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!
In the regular classroom, kindergarten and first grade students are studying animals in different habitats and animal life cycles. During library class, students came up with a list of different sources we could use to find information about animals, such as books, observation, Pebble Go, experts, websites, videos, photos, and our own brains. We read books, looked at Pebble Go, and watched videos, and then made lists of what we learned and what questions we had. We decided to contact an expert to help answer our questions. Things got really exciting then. We were able to set up a video conference with park rangers in California who gave wonderful presentations about salmon, monarch butterflies, and elephant seals. Students then had a chance to talk to the rangers and ask some questions. They loved it and learned so much!
This was our first year participating in a Mock Caldecott unit. Watch the Animoto video to get the highlights!
First graders enjoyed the 2015 Caldecott Medal winner The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, written and illustrated by Dan Santat. After hearing the story, they drew pictures of their own imaginary friends. I uploaded their pictures into Little Bird Tales, a great website that can be used for digital publishing. Students dictated information about their friend to me, I typed it onto their page, and they practiced reading with fluency until they were ready to record it with the microphone. Please enjoy the work of Mrs. Gervais's and Mrs. Weitz's classes. (We had a snow day every Monday in January, so I was unable to do this project with Mrs. Nelson's class.)
During the Hour of Code, students will use critical thinking, logic, persistence, and creativity to complete a task or solve problems, which are all related to AASL Standards for 21st Century Learners. The activities provide an introduction to computer science. If you have a computer or tablet with an Internet connection, you can create accounts for them at home by visiting code.org. This is a very engaging educational activity, and I encourage you to check it out!
The Scholastic Book Fair will be held in the Lawrence School Library from December 1 through 5. There will be many great books available for purchase. Thanks to our wonderful PTA for organizing this important event!
Third grade classes participated in International Dot Day, a world-wide celebration of Peter H. Reynold's book The Dot, which tells the story of a frustrated young artist who is inspired by her art teacher to make her mark in the world. Click on the video (created using Animoto) to see the amazing things they did!