Archive for April 2014

Project Based Learning Week {Part 2}

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Three down, two to go!  Today was a madhouse and I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT.  We finished assembling the buildings and then moved onto the painting portion of the morning.

My classroom BEFORE... 

 Tape for days 

 Our palettes 

Painting station! 

I added a little Elmers glue to the paint to thicken it up and help it to last a little longer. 

Here are some snapshots of our works in progress, pre painting 

And then came the paint...

Funny story about ^ this little.  My Assistant Teacher put on a smock to protect his clothes and said to me, "I don't mess around".  This little was standing behind me and he goes, "Ms. Vericker look at me, I DO mess around, hahaha!" and then he did a little dance.  It was the highlight of my week.  We took about a zillion pictures of this.  

Tomorrow is adding the little details such as windows, doors, people, lettering etc.  Lots of pom-poms, stencils, more paint, more glue- fun, fun, fun!  Friday we lay the whole community out and make the streets, transportation, trees, animals- the whole shebang!  Wish us luck! :)  

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Project Based Learning Week {Part 1}

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Happy PBL {Project Based Learning} Week!  I am not going to lie, PBL week is a LOT of work and I go home a zillion times more exhausted than I do on a normal day of school (if that is even possible). And full disclosure: it is totally not my cup of tea given that we throw our whole schedule out the window for a week (no specials aka no preps, no "subjects", no routines- nothin'!) BUT I will say that it is one of those things that after it is done you think, "Wow, that actually did turn out nicely".  In the end, everyone rallies and the kids have a stellar time, which at the end of the day, is all that matters.

At my school, each grade has a different PBL week theme.   This year our First Grade theme is "Community Needs and Wants".  Our culminating project is for each individual class to build/construct/create their own community.

Yesterday was the kick-off day with many activities centered around mapping.  We anchored our conversations around the Dr. Seuss series book, There's a Map on My Lap, which was quite entertaining. Gotta love anything with a good rhyme and Thing One and Thing Two!  We talked about directionality in the morning and played games that had the littles hopping around the classroom to face north, south, east and west.

In the afternoon, I created a fun treasure hunt that marched them around our campus searching for clues to lead them to the buried "treasure".  I had 11 clues in all (one per child) and at the end the treasure was a new sharpened pencil- what's better than that?! It was tricky to get each clue to rhyme but I was determined.  The hardest one was getting a rhyme to go with the tennis courts location (racket, court, tennis... so difficult!).  All the rest were pretty clever, if i do say so myself. ;)

We gave each little a map of our campus and they had to follow the map as we ran from clue to clue. My Assistant Teacher spent hours making the beautiful map below; it is even drawn to scale! 

Today (Tuesday) we began to discuss more specifics of our project.  We kicked off the 'Community Needs and Wants' discussion with the book, Roxaboxen, which was based on a true story and literally written by Alice McLerran for this e.x.a.c.t project.  The theme of the book is a group of children that built their own imaginary community in the desert of Arizona. 

Then came the BOXES. 

... oh yeah, and the building, too. 

We have been collecting boxes upon boxes upon boxes for the past week.  Today, each partnership selected one NEED building and one WANT building off of our anchor chart (pictured above).   They picked boxes that fit their specific requirements and began to tape them together. 

Tomorrow, we paint. Since specials are cancelled and we don't have to worry about fitting in the "usual" subjects (math, ELA, science, social studies etc) so we can devote virtually every minute of our day to these projects.  I have to say, the time does fly.  Two and a half hours on selecting boxes and constructing them sure does fly.  Needless to say, tomorrow I will be wearing my painting clothes!   I will post a PBL Week Part  2 post later on this week. Wish me luck :) 

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Disclaimer: there is a whole lotta bragging about my littles going on in this post.  I love them to bits and pieces! 

Wow.  If you follow me on instagram, then you have already seen the picture I posted from today.  My littles absolutely astounded me.  They planned an entire SURPRISE party for my Assistant Teacher and me.

 Last Thursday I started to hear rumblings of putting on a "surprise show".  There was a few times they asked us to leave the room "just because".  Little did I know how involved and enthusiastic these firsties got!  

They sought out the help of my dear, dear colleague (who happens to also be my best friend!) to help with the logistics of hiding their stuff in her room and using her as a ploy to get us out of the classroom this morning so they could set up.  They also got their moms involved to buy/deliver Baked by Melissa cupcakes (heaven) and balloons, roses, and other assorted goodies they brought in for us such as chocolate bars, handmade cards, loomz bracelets (of course!) tissue paper flowers,- the works!  They really know the way to my heart! 

After the initial SURPRISE, they performed two songs for us replete with coordinated dance moves.  That is when I lost it and began to cry like a baby.  Hearing them sing Rainbow Connection (a song that gets me every time) and seeing all the effort and love they put into this.  I have to tell you- no other job has this kind of rewards.  It was a magical morning, one that I will certainly never forget.  I will go to sleep smiling tonight.  

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