Monday, June 4, 2012

What can I say, it was a reaaaaal Monday

Well, at least I got about half of my AMC testing done.  And snuck in a more appropriate pre-test of their ruler skills.  Went over the happenings from Friday and found that the sub hadn't really done what I'd asked.  Which sort of makes me feel like "why do I have to write these plans then?" But oh well.  And I keep discovering more and more things on my schedule that are affecting my overall plan for doing this measurement unit.  I am beginning to dispair.

Luckily for me my ESOL co-teacher Anna came in and did an activity using the book Actual Size  by Steve Jenkins.  She had cards made up with facts about the different animals with the actual measurements on them, and the children went outside to create a line the actual length of the animal using sidewalk chalk.  They really enjoyed it.  I was inside giving tests though, so missed out on pictures.  But, if you'd like to see how it played out in another classroom, check out Karen at Flamingo Fabulous.  She took some great pictures of her kids doing the activity.

I am happy though that as I tested for this AMC post test, that I took a moment for the kids to measure 4 lines for me.  I gave them two rulers, one of which was broken off at either end to prevent a clean starting point.  I drew four lines on a paper and made sure I wrote down the measurements before we began.  I'd ask them to measure two of the lines with the regular ruler, once in inches and the other time in centimeters, and then measure the other two with the broken ruler in inches and then in centimeters.  Found out a lot more about what they knew than the standardized quiz I gave them.  Found out A LOT of them start by lining up the ruler on the number 1.  So far, NONE of them know that when using  broken ruler to count the spaces- all but one of them just read the number that hit the end of the line.  The one that did not- counted how many numbers and not the spaces.  But at least I know she's thinking.  Maybe only a handful knew the difference between inches in centimeters to the point of recognizing the two sides of the ruler.  Based on my standardized data- I would have had a lot of these kids in a group where I expected that they KNEW how to use a ruler- and clearly they don't.  I know I don't have time to do a real pre-test for mass and volume, so I'll create groups based on ruler knowledge and just try to use them for the other two as well.  Looking at scheduling though, I don't think I'm going to be able to do as much center rotation work for the unit as I wanted to- which is a bummer- so I'm just going to pick out the crafts I liked the most, have to do some whole group get it started stuff, and pull as I can.

I did happen to remember a measurment center I used years ago that I had forgotten about- and I think I might be able to work it into my plan.  I always called it Playdoh Snakes.  I know, not fancy at all.  To do this activity, they needed a ruler with both inches and centimeters, playdoh, measuring spoons, and a timer.  Starting with the smallest measureing spoon, measure out that much playdoh.  Set the timer to 15 seconds (or whatever you prefer) and roll the dough into a snake for that amount of time.  Then measure and record both inches and centimeters for the snake.  Then use next size measuring spoon and repeat.  When they do it with a partner or group, they can take turns, and "compete" against each other to see who can make the longest snake in the set amount of time.  It's good practice, and they really check each other's measurements to prevent "cheating". And you know what?  I could even put a balance scale over there and have them decide how many paper clips their snake weighs.  Then it sort of does all of the measurement requirements doesn't it?  Genuis! On a mediocre level anyway.

On a happy note, I came into glorious possession of about 40 big books this evening that were being discarded.  ARE YOU NUTS, people? These things are like, $30 a pop, and you don't want to USE them?  Besides thinking them a novelty and therefore reading them just to be "Seen" reading a big book- my kids find them easier to share with a buddy.  And all the things you can do with them! Hunt for sight words, look for spelling patterns, locate parts of speech, compound words, mood words, text features, and punctuation.  Also, because the pictures are so large, kids are more confident trying to copy that particular style of illustration, plus they make it easier for me to make patterns for retelling center.  And then, once you put it in the retelling center- they really like holding the big book up when they are the narrator.  Anybody else have good ideas for big books?  I remember teaching 5th grade and the kids loved them even at that age- because, like I said- novelty.  Most folks love their kindergarten memories, so being able to hold on to a piece of that with a big book brings back that feeling of enjoyment.  And yes, this Jan Brett book was being discarded, as well as Tomie DePaola and Eric Carle, and plenty of other good ones- nutty.  Hey, their loss, right?  And since these beauties are coming home to me today- why not use my handy microphone gadget with them?  I can't carry forty big books in one go.  Might as well record a few and take them in as I get them done.  Then kids can even use them at the listening center.  Another genius moment.

Tomorrow, picnic.  Loss of a whole class period.  I shouldn't be upset by this.  I should be happy that the weather is going to be fabulous and we'll have a nice break.  Next day, all day planning.  Have to write subplans.  Feels like a loss of a teaching day- but I should be happy that I'm going to be wearing jeans and palling around with the best girls to work with ever.  I suppose cake pop baking is in order.  How does chocolate covered red velvet cake sound? Mmmmmm, sounds goooood.

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