Friday, May 27, 2011
First grade students and their families celebrated today a year spent in reading and writing for our students. In the last several weeks students were busily finishing their animal research, fairy tales and their poetry. Animal research started right after spring vacation. Winter the dolphin had been studied in first grade after being brought to the attention of students and teachers by one of our first graders- Cecily. This led to the bottlenose dolphin being the animal that we all started with in our research studies. Students were read various books, articles and watched videos and listened to the sounds of the dolphin on the National Geographic site on the internet for children. We shared that researchers can use these various modalities to learn about their subject. Some students had first hand knowledge of their animals and we acknowledged that primary research was also a powerful way to learn. As students shared some of their background knowledge we checked together to confirm the facts with a book, article or by using one of the internet research site. Students learned the features of nonfiction books that help readers gain knowledge. It was impressive to see students using the table of contents, index and glossary as they conducted their individual research. Each student after our study of the bottlenose dolphin was able to choose the animals that they wanted to study. Students had an opportunity to share their research on a regular basis at the beginning of our lesson. Often other students would become interested in an animal after listening to one of their classmates share. Gwen our librarian, was vital to this project and she gathered a myriad of books about animals. She also led a lesson in alphabetical order in the library. This was useful not only for selecting books but connected to our format for our published book. The information was published an an alphabet book format. Students wrote their final draft, illustrated their information and created a table of contents and cover for their books. After brainstorming possible titles for their book, each student chose one that felt just right.
For our author's celebration, each student shared one page from their research book and one page from their poetry book Students have been writing poetry all year. Catalina inspired the students with her teaching of an acrostic animal poem. First she wrote a group poem in each first grade class. Then each student picked an animal and using the acrostic format started with the animal's name in Spanish. The poems turned out beautifully.
Students practiced reading their selections and doing final editing during the week of the celebration. The day before was our dress rehearsal and all students became comfortable with the format for the morning. Friday morning May 27, we began our celebration with a circle with students and teachers in each class, holding hands and sharing a squeeze. The sharing of research and poetry went beautifully for students and their families. After the formal sharing, students and families ate snacks that related to books read in first grade this year such as Blueberries for Sal. Students had the opportunity to read all of their published books to their families while they shared in a snack. A wonderful celebration of reading, and all aspects of writing was had by all.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Third grade students prepared for their visit to Ellis Island in various ways. I had the opportunity to become involved in two different ways. Students had the opportunity to examine artifacts from Ellis Island and then to choose in small groups a particular artifact to study. It was exciting to see the scrutiny and conversation occurring as students tried to determine the purpose of a particular artifact. Researching different internet sites helped illuminate some artifacts. An example is when a document had a language other than English. The group thought the language might be Russian. Utilizing a translation program helped to confirm their theory.
The book At Ellis Island A History in Many Voices was read in small groups. Discussion was vibrant as students read about the experiences of children traveling to Ellis Island and their observations of their stay there. Some of the students wrote their own guide to Ellis Island to serve as a resource for children who were going through that experience there.