8.01.2014

Blast Off For Planet Kindergarten

Happy August!
Look what I found at Barnes & Noble last night.


It is AdOrAbLe! 
I'm planning to read it to my Kindies on my first visit 
with them our first week ... and I can't wait for liftoff.

Basically, this little superhero blasts off to Planet K where he meets some "aliens" and experiences "zero gravity" ... he seems to be having a blast ... until nap time, that is, when he realizes how much misses his family on Planet Earth. 
I especially love the Failure is not an option NASA page.

Basically, I'm planning to read it aloud
and talk with my newest learners about
what we need to survive and thrive
when we're on a discovery mission away from home.

Click {here} for some GR8 activity suggestions from Chronicle Books.
And, thanks to Jenn Long for her super suggestion below, click {here} to see book trailers and an interview at Watch. Connect. Read.

My husband suggested that I use the I Wanna Be An Airborne Ranger marching cadence to come up with an enrichment ditty.
 Don't you love it when hubbies get involved? Here goes:


Superhero Speech Bubble Source {here}

Challenge your superheroes to try their hand at writing one, too.

Need a meaningful movement break? This CD came in the mail this week from a reader in New York {thanks, Carolyn!} who said that Jared came to their school and did an awesome assembly for her superheroes. Jared's new song - I Wanna Be A SUPERHERO - is upbeat and catchy. The CDs are for sale now for $10 for one, $15 for two and so on {here}. 


He's also got a song simply called Hero.


Our next chapter in the book study happens
next week on Tuesday. We'll visit superheroes 
Jana at Thinking Out Loud and 
Danielle at Crayonbox Learning 
to talk encouragement.



For now, I'm blasting off to create another bulletin board.
Touch back down tomorrow to see how it turned out.
Have a blessed weekend!




7.31.2014

O Is For Obedience

Today we're talking about obedience 
with Katie at Teacher to the Core.


A first-grade teacher out in CA, Katie candidly discusses citizenship in her post about obedience and ... drum roll please ... has a freebie download for us. Thank you, Katie, for your exquisite take on helping nurture an obedient heart in our superheroes.

Before we talk rules here, let's talk bulletin boards. 

Click picture to download lettering from google docs.

If you've been a reader for a while, then you know that I take care of about ten boards at my school, so yesterday I went up there to get my first one put together. I was feeling really good about it, until Mrs. Huckabee came by and asked why I was decorating the new teacher's bulletin board. Sometimes we need to be flexible, don't we. Maybe Fred can just take this one down and swap boards? Yeah, probably not. Fingers crossed the superheroes just happens to be her theme, too. If not, I've already had two Westwood moms offer to help me move this design to another one of my boards. Our Principal said if I do move it, to make sure that it's in a high-visibility area. Isn't that all so super sweet?

Anyway, on to obedience. Superheroes obey the rules. In fact, they fight for justice against those who don't, which is why I felt like it was important to talk about obedience in the book.

At different times and for different reasons, we may want to skirt or stretch the rules. Ever find yourself in the fast check-out at the grocery store with more than twelve items? Ever know anyone who drives with a radar detector in his/her car? Have you ever been tempted to order off the kids' menu for a child who was older than the specified age limit?

Rules are in place to keep us safe, so it's important that we follow them. Ask your superheroes if it's ever okay to question those rules; it'll make for a riveting discussion. There are, in fact, rules that it's appropriate to challenge. 
This would be a good time to pose the question: What rule might you consider a peaceful protest against? It might even be engaging to let students stage a protest. {Just a thought ...}

Use a bubble map to compare and contrast these two books:
What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick
and If Everybody Did by JoAnn Stoval.


How do you teach obedience in your classroom?
And is there room for flexibility, discussion, negotiation? 

And if you'd like to be transparent with your students, answer this with them: What rules do you personally find most difficult to abide by and/or obey? I was the one tempted to order those kids' meals a little longer than we qualified for them ... well, sure, it's says up to age ten, but she only turned eleven eleven days months ago ... O is for obedience.





7.30.2014

Talking In Circles

Today I'm excited because look what came in the mail from my friends at the Josephson Institute of Ethics in CA. It's one of their AmAzInG new products 
that I predict you're going to love.


The best part? They're available for all grades K-12. 
I've got the one for grades 6-8 opened up right now and I'm looking at the September, Week 1 page. Basically, there's a quote or a story (with some activities sprinkled in as well) followed by some open-ended reflection questions to get your superheroes thinking,  kind of like this:


Grade 6: What does the quote mean to you? What makes you happy? How does what you say make others happy?
Grade 7: Give three examples of ways in which you can reframe something you've said to make it more positive, happier. What can you do to change what you're about to say before you say it?
Grade 8: Think of three people who always use uplifting words. What character traits do these people have in common? How do these traits help them succeed?

That's it. Five meaningful minutes. More if you've got the time. Use it with a think, pair, share. Have them think about it silently, then find a partner and swap thoughts. Finally, come back to whole group for highlights and closure, time permitting, of course. They'd work well for writing prompts, too.

Imagine if this were planted in your talking circles each day. 
I'm so grateful to Character Counts! for this positively impactful product. 
Click the picture of the product for purchasing info.

Tomorrow our book study continues at Teacher To The Core. I can't wait to read what Katie has to say about obedience.






7.29.2014

R Is For Responsibility

Happy Tuesday evening. I hope that things are going well in your corner of the world. My week started Sunday at Camp Lone Star with my family for their annual BBQ fundraiser. It's always so good to all be together, especially in a place whose theme this year is True Peace.


I spent the night in San Antonio and had the pleasure of speaking to a group of music teachers Monday morning. Here's the winner of our character cape.


I spent some relaxing time at my friend Mary's place Monday night, then today on my way home, I met two beautiful teacher bloggers {Cheryl from Crayons and Curls and Lynda from Curls and a Smile} and enjoyed a fantastic luncheon. Life is good.


I came home to a wonderful Chapter 8 post over at 
Hippo Hooray For Second Grade {here}.
Thank you, Angela, for your thoughtful review.


Ah, responsibility, the ability to respond.
This is a great graphic to illustrate that all-important virtue.


These critters live at Mary's little house on the prairie. And her response? She's found a way for them to co-exist. In fact, she doesn't just leave them alone, she feeds them. She's been doing it for five years. It was funny last night, actually, because when Mary didn't get dinner to the mama raccoon in what it thought was a timely manner, that cute coon actually came knocking at the front door. I couldn't believe it. She also feeds the bees, the birds, and the deer. Mary takes responsibility for nature, naturally. It was so much fun to experience.

Anyway, responsibility is about choices and chores. 
Check out this comprehensive chore Pinterest page {here}.
We've designed this CHORE Bingo Board for your chore champs.
Brainstorm a list of at least 30 age-appropriate chores that students could handle. Write them on the white board and ask students to copy their favorite 24 randomly on the Bingo card. While they're writing out their cards, you'll have to write them on a piece of paper and cut it into strips, one chore per slip. Then you'll be ready to play. The first player to get five in a row {or four corners and the middle} is the winner, but in all reality, it's the kids who have chores who are the winners, because they learn early on to take responsibility. 



Oh, and don't forget to talk about stakeholders with your students. A stakeholder is anyone who has a stake in your decisions, anyone who cares about your choices. It's an important concept, and it's never too early to get them thinking about whom their choices are going to affect, either positively or negatively.

After a riveting game of BINGO and a discussion about stakeholders, seal the deal with the song RES-PON-SIBLE.






7.27.2014

#Reach Higher

Today I'm delighted to share the #reachhigher project that I am proud to have joined. How fun to collaborate with over a hundred school counselors 
as we set SMART goals to reach higher with our students. 
A huge thank you goes to Dr. Erin Mason for her 
initiative, leadership and drive



This fits so beautifully with our next chapter,
R is for Responsibility.


Come back here Tuesday to see what Angela, a WI-blogger and teacher, has to say about this critical virtue and how she motivates and influences her second graders to be res-pon-sible.

In the meantime, how will you reach higher on this super Sunday?





7.26.2014

E Is For Enthusiasm

Today finds us on Chapter 7, excited about enthusiasm with Lorraine from Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies. She's already written about the book once 
(a sort of teaser when we first started) here. Lorraine is one of the most enthusiastic teachers I've never met ... but all that's going to change on Monday, because she's offered to come with me to my workshop to help manage book sales. 
That, and it's an excuse for us to finally meet.


Click the banner or {here} to be ignited by her reflections. 
Super Froggy Lorraine writes with such great passion and voice that you're sure to feel a spark that could easily set the world on fire.




I'm going to be honest, this was a difficult chapter to write, because I wasn't even sure I could convince anyone that you really could teach enthusiasm. But I'm pretty sure we're not born with enthusiasm, necessarily, so I gave it a shot. Look what I spotted recently at Really Good Stuff. Thanks, Brandi. 


So where do your passions lie? 
What are you enthusiastic about? 
And how do those connect to make things happen?

In research for this post, I came across some interesting info from Consultant Barbara Glanz about Contagious Enthusiasm. Words that she equates with enthusiasm are spirit, pride, passion, morale, and attitude
{I'd have loved to be in the workshop where she gave out that handout!}

LOVE this from a Tweet Chat this morning: 



This Simple Truths clip that showcases Vince Lombardi uses the word spirit as well, but also throws in two other E words: excellence and effort.



Funny thing is, when we're passionate and enthusiastic,
everybody wins.
Days go by faster and jobs don't feel like work.

Now think about one of the most passionate people you know.
I'm going with Ron Clark.
He exudes enthusiasm from every pore. To the core.
I got to meet him once, back in 2008, and I can still feel it.


He lives his life large, with passion. I admire that.
And, in turn, I want strive to be like that.

Just for fun, I sent him a copy of the book ... and a challenge.


I know he's busy, but anything's possible ...


Dave Burgess' book Teach Like A Pirate is another treasure that challenges teachers to be passionate about what they do. Every day. In it, he wonders aloud whether teachers have lessons that they could sell tickets for. Hmmmmmm. So I sent him a copy of the book, too. Our JH teaching staff read the book over the summer and will set sail with a book study this upcoming year. I can wait to see what its ideals will ignite in them and how it will ultimately transform them. 



E is for enthusiasm. What are you enthusiastic about today?





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