Friday, March 16, 2012

Beluga Whale Research

Did you know Beluga Whales are often called the "canaries of the sea?" As a part of our oceans unit, each first grade class chose a different whale to research. Our class chose the Beluga Whale. We used a variety of sources to find interesting facts about the whale but our favorite was PebbleGo because the online source includes actual videos and sound clips of the Beluga Whale. The students used interactive writing to chart their research findings on a Circle Map using our Promethean Board. They then used their finished Circle Map to help them write a shared research paper. Before writing, we discussed that good writing should include a "hook" to get the reader interested followed by the important facts including what the whale looks like, where it lives, what it eats, special adaptations it may have, and any other interesting facts that want to share. Each student took a turn writing a phrase or sentence while the other students provided spelling and grammar support.

Oceans in a Bottle

As a part of our thematic unit on oceans, the students created their own ocean in a bottle during science lab. They first added sand to the bottom of the bottle. They then added water to the bottle followed by vegetable oil. Before adding the oil, they made predictions about if the two liquids would mix together or stay seperate. Once they added the oil and discovered that they did not mix, they added blue food coloring. They then shook the bottles up to disperse the food coloring. Once they settled again, we discussed how the darker part of the ocean is at the bottom (the water in our model) and the lighter part (the oil) is at the top. We then talked about how the oil is actually heavier than the water but because they do not mix, it stays on the top. They then turned the bottles to the side and made waves with them. Following the lab, they completed a lab report to take note of their findings.

Ocean Research

Over the last several weeks the students have been working hard on researching and writing about various ocean animals. They visited the library to learn how to use a variety of sources to research. Mrs. Thornton, our Instructional Media Specialist, taught the students how to use online sources and text sources to find interesting facts and details about their specific animals. One of the sources they used was PebbleGo. Parents, if you need the username and/or password to login to this site at home, please let me know. The students wrote their notes down and later used their notes to write a paper in class. (I will write a post next week sometime with the final drafts of their research papers.)

Playdough Fractions

To help the students visualize fractions, or parts of a set, the students created playdough "cookies" which they had to cut apart to share with their friends. The students first rolled out playdough and then used the container to cut out a circle. I then gave them a variety of scenarios in which they had to share their "cookie" with someone. For example, if I said that two friends wanted to share the "cookie" then they had to divide it into halves. I would ask them how much had been eaten if only one friend ate their piece and they would have to respond with "1 out of 2." We repeated this several times by dividing the "cookies" into thirds and fourths. I would ask the students various questions including how much was left behind if a certain part was eaten.

Bubble Burst: Odd Numbers

Now that we have the Promethean Board in our class, we have been doing a variety of review games from various websites. One of the students' favorite games is Bubble Burst. In this game, the students have to pop all of the bubbles with odd numbers in them. During these mini-reviews, one student gets to be "Board Boss" and choices a student to play who is showing the good behavior characteristics from our Capturing Kids' Hearts Social Contract. I love this game because it is highly engaging for the students without being overwhelming on the graphics side but also because the students have to work together to rationalize quickly which would be odd and which would be even. The students work well together to tell one another which to choose and why.

Playdough 3D Shapes

Kids love playdough! So, if you are looking for a way to keep them engaged in a lesson, give them playdough. While doing a lesson on 3D shapes I wanted the students to have concrete examples of how 3D shapes are similar and different. The students first made a sphere by rolling the playdough into a ball. We talked about how the sphere would roll because it was curved and had not vertices. They then flattened the top and sides a little bit to create a cube. We talked about when the sides were flattened the shape would not longer roll and that vertices and edges had formed. They then counted the number of edges and vertices. The students then flattened the top a little more to make a rectangular prism. They noticed that the edges and vertices remained the same but now the shape was longer. They connected back to prior learning about squares and square rectangles and their similar attributes. they then rolled the rectangular prism like a "snake" to turn it into a cylinder. They discovered that this shape would roll because it was now curved and the edges and vertices were gone. They then rolled just one end of the cylinder into a point to make a cone. They discussed how this shape would roll because it had a circular base but could only roll if it was on its side. They really seemed to understand the attributes of the shapes with this hands on lesson.

Literacy Stations: Creation Station

Each day during Guided Reading, the students have a variety of word work activities that they must complete. Those activities include creating foldables to retell their leveled readers, doing word wall puzzles with sentences, word finds, etc. After completing those mini-lessons based on our whole group word work lessons, they may choose a literacy station. Our main rule for literacy stations is that no matter what station you choose, you must doing some sort of reading and writing. One of the students' favorite stations is Creation Station. In this station there are a variety of art books along with paint, scissors, glue, chalk, etc. There are often thematic props in this station as well to help the students brainstorm story ideas that they can illustrate. Below is an example of a student writing a story about the ocean using various ocean animal toys. He used the toys to act out the story and then wrote about it. He later illustrated it. I love how he started the story with "Once upon a time..."

3D Shape Models

To help the students understand how many faces, edges, and vertices that cubes and rectangular prisms had, the students traced the sides onto construction paper. After they traced a side, they put a colored dot sticker on that side to help them remember they had already traced and counted that side. They had to follow step-by-step instructions on where to trace the sides because once they were finished, they cut out the shapes and taped them together to make the 3D models. We then counted the corners and edges.

How To Bake Cupcakes

This is the writing examples to go along with the "How To" writing lesson I wrote about in the Cake: Long A post. The students used a Circle Map followed by a Flow Map to explain how to bake cupcakes. After writing, the students worked with me in small groups to edit and rewrite their text. While I worked with small groups, the other students created paper cupcakes to go along with their writing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tagxedo: Shaped Word Clouds

While searching for something else online, I came across a site called Tagxedo. Tagxedo is similar to Wordle except that you can choose what shape you want your word cloud to be displayed in along with the colors. I can see so many possibilities for this with my first graders. They could use the word clouds as graphic organizers to brainstorm ideas in a fun and exciting way. They could type adjectives to describe the various shapes such as the animals. They could use the word clouds to create gifts for their families at various holidays such as Christmas, Mother's Day, and Father's Day. They could use them to create beautiful affirmations as a part of Capturing Kids' Hearts. They could use the United States template to list historical characters. So many different things...

Here are two examples from Tagxedo that I created by copying in the URL to Bishop's Blackboard.

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