Duck into Third Grade

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Fondness for the Fourth of July

What memories of years gone by does the Fourth of July conjure up for you? I remember way back when Jaws was the movie to see and the Bee Gees were Jive Talkin’, my brother decided to put on a fireworks show for the family. Since we lived out in the country this was the only fireworks display we’d be seeing so it was a command performance you might say. Somewhere during the dynamic demonstration a bug flew in my dad’s ear and brought all the fun to a screeching halt. Much to dad’s dismay the insistent insect decided to homestead in his ear and could not be convinced otherwise. We heard the noisy tenant report each morning, “It woke me up at 2:36 and at 4:17, what a night!” This report replayed over and over, kind of like The Groundhog Day movie. Finally, the bug stories became a faint memory, whether it gave up the ship or expired my brother nor I cannot remember but we smile each Fourth of July remembering our crazy connection. My dad passed away years ago but I can still him hear him giving the exact times he was awaken by his unwelcome guest. Memories often are made in less than ideal circumstances.

Yes, the Fourth is much more than my mini memory, it is connecting with our country’s roots and telling stories about the founding fathers that set up a country for the free and about the brave soldiers that paid the supreme price for that freedom. We should not take these blessings for granted.

Time and tide wait for no man. Take a moment to stop and notice the little things. Make a memory, watch a firefly, put a puzzle together with a child, share a book, tell a story or listen to one, try out a new recipe or make one up…then write about your experiences down in several sentences. I use  Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project-one sentence journal which lasts for five years. Check it out. Recently, we reconnected with our grandchildren in Washington and made many memories to treasure. A grand time was had by all.

In the classroom, memories supply the foundation for learning. We must make connections. Students need to know where they come from is important and it will catapult them into  writing like nothing else by making it real. Connecting with students makes the learning authentic and carries on with them throughout life. Learning is ongoing, it is not just from August to June. Teach them well. Model savoring the moments and making learning stick…                  what better gift could we give?


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Practicing Predicting with PURPOSE

How important is it to teach kids to be predictors? Adults often forget that predicting takes time.  It comes more naturally for some students than others.  It is definitely a learned skill that improves with practice. Summer is a time to s-l-o-w down and  b-r-e-a-t-h-e!  Look for examples to try out and teach predicting to those fortunate folks in your nucleus.

I wonder if those are rain clouds because they are…

I think this movie will be good/bad because…

This character is very determined so I predict he will …

If I don’t double check my packing I will probably…

The dry weather is tough on flowers, if I don’t water them they will …

Speaking of flowers, I discovered this red balloon wrapped around my rose bush, I had to do a double take.  It made me smile to think I actually thought it was a flower at first glance. Double takes are vital in life and in the classroom.

Teaching kids to have a second look and giving them time to reflect and check their predictions is huge:

Was I right on the money?

Do I need to tweak my predictions?

Do I need to do a 180 and rethink?

Isn’t this a life skill needed by all?  Practice doesn’t make perfect, it makes permanent.

Summer is the perfect time to practice predicting with pizazz!


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Poetry Pizzazz

“Can I work on my poetry notebook during recess?” No, this is not fictional quote but one recently asked by several students… the week before spring break no less! Poetry packs a powerful  punch! As my third graders handed in their poetry notebooks I was impressed that each one was as unique as the child that completed it. Their personalities really came through!
After reading the fabulous book that totally refocused my classroom thinking, Who’s Doing the Work? by Jan Miller Burkins and Kim Yaris, I don’t go to Teacher’s Pay Teachers and purchase an interactive poetry unit because my thinking now goes down a different avenue. How could my students create/make/apply the information without filling out a cute version made by someone else? TPT has countless adorable goodies… believe me I bought my fair share until Burkins and Yaris bombarded my brain with their powerful message which goes along perfectly with the well-known quote “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.” Confucius

My students have wowed me again and again, doing more than I would have thought possible and the work is 100% original. Would you believe 3rd graders writing bio poems without a worksheet/template? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sitting down with my feet up, sipping tea and watching When Calls the Heart…I am just teaching smarter and guiding the kids to do more of the work themselves which causes their actual involvement to skyrocket.
For example, on the bio poems I had them fold a sheet of notebook paper into eighths and label each sectionI: adjectives, lover of…, wondered about… feared… learned… discovered…made history…Is remembered for…Next, I modeled writing a bio poem on Booker T. Washington (More Than Anything Else and 50 Cents and a Dream) I didn’t even finish my poem because they were so eager to start, I turned them loose…After they  decided who they were going to write their bio poem on they were off…  BAM! It was magical. Groups were formed, books were revisited that we had shared earlier  in the year,  kids were discussing what was most important about their person and justifying their thinking. As I meandered around the room I heard facts about the lives of Louis Braille, Babe Ruth, The Day-Glow Brothers, Wilma Rudolph, Levi Strauss, Nelson Mandela, Mr. Ferris and His Wheel…the room was anything but quiet but the noise made me smile…everyone was on task, passionate about what they were doing (it was heart warming) and proud of their finished products.

The file folders were decorated in classic third grade style from cute puppies to monsters that said FEED ME POETRY : ) The only thing that I did because of time constraints was type out a Table of Contents which they could’ve done themselves if time had permitted. We just did ten different kinds of poems: Acrostic, Bio Poem, Cinquain, Color Poem, Diamante, Free Verse, Haiku, Limerick, Listing Poem, and a Senses Poem. The finished projects were evidence of much deep thinking along with the beginning stages of many being bitten by the poetry bug! Always leave them wanting more!