Friday, March 18, 2011

Book Birdhouses for Sale!

Anticipation for the annual Heart of the Lakes School Carnival is in full swing amongst the classrooms at school! Between the excitement of selling raffle tickets in hopes of being in the top ten sellers, decorating posters to advertise around school and creating classroom baskets for the silent auction, we can hardly wait for April 1st!  I was greatly inspired by a project I came across on facebook a few weeks ago, and decided to give it a go with the second graders.  Preston Eidenschink from Owatonna, MN is the creator/designer of Book2birdhouse.  He was so gracious in mailing us measurements and step by step directions, thank you Preston!  After spending an afternoon with my husband and my talented father-in-law Harry Dahlin, we had 23 birdhouses ready in under 2 hours! Once the kids had their bird houses in hand, they were ready to get the real work started!  They each brought in an old hardcover book that could be ripped apart.   They chose bright colorful pages to measure to fit the sides.  This fit in perfectly with math Unit #9 which just happens to be on measurement!  The kids knew these birdhouses were going to be "marketed" so we had to make them just right!   We used Modge Podge to adhere the pages on the sides.  The finishing touches took place when Gracie Midgarden's dad and my brother, Shane Hoefs, came in with their very cool power tools to drill on the book covers.  These birdhouses will be set out at the silent auction on April 1st.  All money will go to help fund our school in the area of technology and/or equipment for classrooms.  We hope to see you there.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Writing for Change

The last month within our writers workshop, we have been studying and experiencing the power of change through writing.   We took a tour of our school, clipboards in hand and took notes about what could be changed.  As a class, one of the biggest concerns was the lack of sleds available to the kids during recess.  The kids felt that many of the arguments on the playground, were stemming from problems sharing the small number of sleds available.   We decided to write a class letter to Mrs. Yates.  We were careful to use the correct letter format for writing a friendly letter.  We then remembered to state our concern, and carefully lay out our ideas for how we thought the change could happen.  We  were so excited to get this letter in return from Mrs. Yates:

Dear Mrs. Dahlin’s Class,
I have been thinking a lot about your requests for the playground.   Did you know that Mrs. Bormann’s class wrote to me with similar concerns about the sleds?
I agree that it would be good to get more sleds on our playground.  Although we will never have enough for everyone, 20 sleds is not very many for 180 kids.
The Carnival Committee would like to donate $250 for 2nd graders to use to purchase new sleds and other items for the playground.  Also, in the mail today, I received a check for $100 dollars for taking a health survey about our school.  I would like to donate that money to this project as well.  You will need to do the math and split the total amount in half with Mrs. Dahlin’s class.   
Once you figure out how much your class has to spend, you can make a plan to do some shopping in Perham with the money.  Of course the shopping you do will be for ALL of the students at our school, not just your classroom.  However, you will get to make the decisions and do the shopping, since you were the ones to bring the concerns to my attention.
·         I checked at Pamida and they have blue sleds, similar to the ones we already have.  They cost $17.99 each, normally, but Pamida will give us 30% off, which is $5.39 off.  Can you figure out how much one sled will cost after the discount?  How much would 10 sleds cost?
·         Also, at Pamida, they have the roll up sleds, and they cost $4.99 each.  They are easy to carry and last a long time.  You might want to consider some of these as well.
When I meet with the paras on Tuesday morning, I will ask them more about the rules for digging tunnels.  I want everyone to have fun, but one thing I know for sure is that I don’t want anyone to get trapped inside a tunnel.  After I talk to them, I will get back to you with answers to those questions.
Somehow, before going shopping, you will need to COLLABORATE with Mrs. Bormann’s class and consider the decisions they have made about how to spend their money. 
Also, when we add the new equipment,  we will need some kind of a new plan for how to share fairly between 1st and 2nd grade students.  Please work with Mrs. Bormann’s class to come up with a plan for this, and then you can meet with Staci Schmitz and me.  If we think it is a good plan, we will do a trial run at recess and see how it goes.
Good luck!  This is an exciting but important project!
Mrs. Yates

After collaborating with Mrs. Bormann's class, we came up with a specific plan on how to spend the money.  And on a cold Tuesday afternoon, we walked to Pamida and purchased our new sleds!  We decided to share the sleds AND digging tools by rotating them every other day  with the first graders.  What a great way to experience the true power of letter writing! 

There is so much awesome writing taking place within our school, to see what is happening in other classrooms, check out Mrs. Yates blog,

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recap of our Christmas Festivities....

With all the craziness that Christmas brings..I apologize for my lack of updates!  We had a wonderful Christmas season together in our classroom.   Starting with our amazing performance of Rudolph at the Christmas Program.

In our classroom, we truly got into the spirit of Christmas by having our very own gift exchange.  As a teacher, this can always be a slightly nerve-racking activity.  I was so impressed by the show of gratitude the children showed towards eachother.  There were shouts of "Thank You!"  and hugs all around!

The Top Ten Reasons Why We LOVE our Smartboard!

Last year our school was very lucky to recieve Smartboards through a technology grant funded by the federal government.  Words cannot describe how the smartboards have enhanced the learning process and aided me in reaching the variety of learning styles within my classroom.  And best of all, the kids love it!  Here are ten reasons why we love having a smartboard in our classroom.  Feel free to stop in and play around with it,  your child would love to be your teacher!

10. The smartboard is a colorful and interactive hands-on tool. Research indicates that students respond to displays where color is employed and learn most by doing.

9. Anything you can do on a computer, you can do on the smartboard!  Your hand acts as the mouse.  This means the possibilities of what we can do together as a large group is endless!

8. The smartboard is neat.  You write with a computerized pen, and erase with a marker.  Check out this video of Julia demonstrating a math problem on the whiteboard.

7.  It is almost indestructible!  One of our sight word review games lets the children actually throw balls at the board to reveal the answers.

6. The smartboard creates the teachers lesson a two-sided experience.  Instead of just listening to the teacher talk, the students are up, moving and interacting with the concepts through the board.  Below is an example of some students showing their classmates how to make .64 cents.

5. Through a website called smart exchange, the teacher is offered thousands of interactive lessons that meet the K-12 standards across all subjects.  Talk about optomizing a students experience in the classroom!

4. This thing is a kid magnet.  It is not rare for every hand to shoot up in the room when asked for a volunteer to demonstrate a concept on the board.

3. SMARTboards are becoming the classroom of tommorow.  While textbooks have to be replaced, the SMARTboards can be continually updated to change with time.

2. New research shows that kids learn more through animation, something the smartboard is full of!

1.  Smartboards help get kids excited about learning! The games and activities available are endless.
It has been awhile since our last post!  With all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, blogging got pushed to the shelf for awhile.  But we are back in full swing, ready for the new year!   Here is a peek at what we have been up to:

We started a unit on Geometry.  We learned about 3-D shapes and symmetry.   This is a perfect time of year to learn about symmetry with all the snowflakes around.  Here are some second graders working hard at creating a symmetrical snowflake:

Second graders are super excited about our letter writing unit.  We have a post office center set up in our classroom, complete with stationary, enevelopes and stamps.  We learned all about the proper way to write a friendly letter and how to address an enevelope.  The best part of our letter writing unit is.......our pen pals!  We wrote to second graders at Miltona School in Carlos, MN. 

We have also started one of my most favorite teaching units: persuasive writing.   As a class, we have immersed ourselves in text where the author is seeking to change the audiences view point by writing a "message" within the story.  The students have each been brainstorming about things in their own life and the world around them, that they want changed.  Stay tuned for some great updates on this unit!
Here are some of the kids writing about changes, and then sharing their ideas with friends...

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Four W's

In writing we have been focusing on the importance of identifying the who, what, when and where in the beginning of your story.   This helps the reader get a better understanding of what is happening, and it helps the writer to organize his or her thoughts.  This week the students chose two books  from their book box.  They studied the books to identify the four w's.

Poetry is in the Air!

With all of the holiday cheer in the air, the month of December is always a fun time to start our poetry unit.  The kids are always ready with poem topics, from their christmas wish list, santa's elves or those very missed summer days.  Over the next few weeks, I will be posting student poems.  Last week we learned about Acrostic poems.  If you can't remember what an acrostic poem is, check out the samples below and see if you can figure out what is special about them!  Also, be sure to check out some of our favorite poet's websites listed under "reading sites" on the side bar.