Monday, July 13, 2015

Wolf...A Lesson Plan

Mrs. Waters has challenged #Oklaed to share a favorite lesson plan!  Here goes...

These are activities from one of  my favorite 3rd grade units (but I plan to modify for 1st grade)...I know it was supposed to be a lesson plan...but my early-childhood brain thinks in thematic chunks!!  I don't always use all of the activities I'm sharing (and there are others I use but didn't include), it really depends on the amount of time I have, and sometimes activities are stretched out over multiple days.  I incorporated some of the activities into centers/learning stations. (I didn't include vocabulary, spelling...)

Wolf (story is a trade book but can also be found in Treasures third grade reading book)

*Story Elements: Genre, Setting, Character, Problem and Solution
*Compare and Contrast (fiction v nonfiction wolf / comparing storybook wolves)
*Continued writing practice, complete sentences, paragraph form and organization
*The science portion of this unit is a great opportunity to talk about using resource materials

Whole Group:
Read story 
Discuss and identify:
(make an anchor chart with this info (I'm cheap I use butcher paper for anchor charts), students can also make mini version in journal.  We do this with each story so this doesn't take too much time.  The focus for today's independent work will be character, so we will spend additional time talking about descriptive words.)
Create an illustration of Wolf...Write descriptive words (of his character) around him.
(Students will use this same process to describe a character from independent reading/library book, and other assigned reading.) 

Whole Group:
(Practice finding problem and solution)
Read aloud The 3 Little Pigs
identify problem and solution (create anchor chart/giant fold-able)
(I sometimes have students create a mini chart in journal...helps them stay focused.)
Reading Practice:
Independent and Buddy Reading of Wolf (looking for problem and solution)
Small Group/Partner Activity:
Discuss the problem and steps taken to solve the problem in Wolf with your partner.
(It is important to walk the room and be available finding problem and solution can be a challenge..let students know you are an available resource.)
Come together as a large group and share ideas (take notes on board for students reference).
Independent Work:
Create a fold-able sharing the problem, steps taken, and solution .

Whole Group:
Alternate Versions of "The Three Little Pigs"...
(When I need multiple copies of books I borrow from other teachers or get them on iBooks)
Small Group:
Allow students to reread these stories in small groups
And share ideas to compare and contrast (take notes in journal)
Create a compare and contrast fold-able or Venn diagram (My students got confused by the diagram so I switched to a fold-able...just paper folded into thirds)

*Study of wolves, research and gathering information

Whole Group:
Introduce "real" wolves using YouTube video (In The Valley of The Wolves)
(The above link is just an example.  I couldn't find my usual link. We don't watch entire video...I usually find a 3-5  minute clip and use it.  Sometimes clips come from various videos)
Start an example of a Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting real and storybook wolves on the board or make an anchor can add to this throughout the week. (Be prepared...if you're like me...if it can go wrong it will go wrong with video! Have a book ready for back up!!)
Small Groups:
Provide students with books about wolves and teacher created search engine. Research types of wolves, habitats, characteristics, life in the pack...
Organize information (at least 5 facts) and share with large group
(This activity can be spread over several days by assigning specific topics for research each day...habitat, types of wolves, the language of wolves/communication...)
(I sometimes have problems with students not really reading the material just writing down random facts, but students know I will ask them questions about the facts they have written.  This helps to make sure students are actually paying attention to what they are writing.)
1. create a Venn Diagram (or fold-able if students aren't ready for diagram) comparing and contrasting real and storybook wolves (or 2 different types of wolves)
2. Use research for informative paragraph or mini report.

Social Studies
(These are just resources I use not actual lesson plans)
The Legend of 2 Wolves Video
(there are other videos with more animation,but I love the naration in this one!)
The Legend of 2 Wolves written form

Questions for discussion and daily journal:
Identify other main characters in the story.
What are they like?
Why don't they want to be friends with wolf?
Have you ever been in a situation where others didn't want to be your friend? Explain.

(The following activity was added 7/31/2016)
STEAM things up with this Wolf Setting/Habitat activity  This project will require students to collaborate, problem solve, use math skills (measurement...), physics, art...
Reporting: Students will work with their group to decide what to report on; Wolf story book setting, or the habitat of real wolves.  Information can be recorded in a variety of ways, graphic organizer, essay style, students made get the idea.
Model of Setting or Habitat: 
Students will work in groups to create either the storybook setting or real life habitat for a wolf. Students will be provide with boxes, paper, cardboard, paints... They will work together to plan how the setting should be built, problem solving, and collaborating to achieve the finished product.
Presentation:  Students will choose one or more of the following methods of presentation: give an oral presentation to the class, set up as a visual presentation, or prepare a video.

Other wolf stories:
Little Red Riding Hood (various versions
          Little Red Riding Hood a Prairie Tale
          Ninja Red Riding Hood...
Other Activities
1. Write an original story starring a wolf.
2. Write a continuation of one of the storybooks shared in this unit.
(Writing assignments can be a challenge...I break it into steps and sometime strech the assignment over more than one day)
3. Build a better house for the Little Pigs (can incorporate math and science).
4. What's in Little Red's basket..story problems (math problems can be students created or teacher created).  I have students write the problem and use construction paper & creativity to model the math problem. (This is one of my favorite activities but can be challenging.  Our literacy coach happened to stop by when we were working on this and stayed to help...the additional help was great!)

Sometimes you have to make exceptions:
Most of my students enjoy thematic units and working in groups; however there is always a student or two who prefers to work alone.  I try to accommodate their desire to work alone, but encourage them to do at least some group work (social skills are important too).  There are students who are hesitant to take part in oral participation as well.  I make accommodations based on that students needs..sometime amount to be presented in modified, sometimes they are given an alternate way to share.

Can't wait to see what the rest of #oklaed is sharing!!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Why I Teach (Part 2)

Earlier this week I wrote part one of "Why I Teach"...part one is the beginning of my journey...but as with all good doesn't stop there.

Soon after graduation I took my first job teaching kindergarten...for 2 year I loved on and taught those kindergarten babies with all I had. I laughed and celebrated with my students and their families, but I also cried and mourned with a family in the loss of their precious little boy. I learned very quickly that yes, education is what takes place in the classroom, but it is strengthened by the relationships you build outside.  Families are more supportive, and students are more excited when they see that you are invested in them.

Upon the birth of my first child I took time away from teaching...but not time away from public schools and education.  I believe in and always have believed in public schools and TEACHERS!!  I served on public school committees and was involved with various activities supporting teachers.  Once my oldest started school I became involved in PTA...because education is about more than what happens in the classroom it is about the relationships we build.  I am so blessed to have had these opportunities to be involved in education and support educators.  In these activities I observed success as teachers were invested in students and families...and as parents became invested in the educational process.

During this time I also had the great privilege of being a Girl Scout leader to an amazing group of girls.  Yet another opportunity to build community and relationships...the opportunity to watch as these young girls grew into young women.  One of my most treasured memories was when one of their teachers spoke of our girls commitment to one-another.  Our girls were a very diverse group we had the athletes, the academically gifted, the artistic...but somehow they learned to celebrated those differences...and stood up for each other.  What a blessing to teach and lead these girls...but most of all to learn about commitment and relationships from them.

Two years ago I went back to classroom teaching with the knowledge and deep belief that education is about more that what happens in a at it's best is built on relationships and community. I continue to celebrate with parents and students...and sometimes even cry.  Many of my 3rd graders came from broken homes, or have one or more parents in jail...for these students (really all students) education can not take place unless they feel a sense of community and positive relationship. 

This summer a group of teachers from my school visited the park in the apartment complex where many of our students live...we told stories, made crafts, ate hot dogs.  We met out kiddos in their the summer...when we didn't have to...and they were so happy! I had the opportunity to meat parents that I had never met before, because some of these parents don't come to the school.   Me...I was blessed beyond measure to be with my students in their own environment to watch them, to play with build community and relationship.

I teach because I believe in children and families.  I believe that community and relationships can have a positive effect on education and vice versa.  I will continue to be involved not only in the classroom, but in PTA and other community organizations...because to more effectively reach students...I must reach their families...we must be invested in one another...I guess that is the very definition of community!