Monday, January 7, 2019

Accomplishments so far - and a look ahead!

As we soar into a new nine weeks and semester, I am pleased with all we have accomplished so far and look forward with anticipation to all that the remainder of the year will hold. 
Here is an update:

First Grade M25-The students have traveled to Geoland in their study of geometry, learning the "language," including much study of angles. Coming up, the students will meet and create "angle aliens" as well as learn coordinate points in order to travel safely back to earth.

Second Grade M25-Weather has been the topic of each Friday's lesson, as the students have kept weather data charts and have learned about "ingredients" and instruments to measure these. Students conducted a temperature experiment as well as made a cloud in a jar after learning about the three main types of clouds. We will soon conclude this study with a lesson on air pressure and then, do a final group project in which the students prepare and deliver their own weather forecast based on collected data.

Third Grade M25-We have praised God as we have learned about His amazing creation. The students have focused most of their study on human biology, learning systems, organs and cells. Experiments in regular and Extra M25 have helped to illustrate how systems and organ function.
Coming up, the students will conduct a bacteria experiment to find out where the most bacteria grows in our school and will end the unit with insect projects.

Fourth Grade M25-The marvel of constellations have captured our focus recently, as students have researched several constellations God names in the Bible. Students are in the process of creating original constellations and accompanying myths. We will end our unit learning Bloxels, a great coding app that will allow students to bring their myths to the video world!

LAX 5-We LOVED reading Across Five Aprils and are now embarking on reading choice novels this nine weeks. The students did wonderful projects to accompany the novel and studied much vocabulary and grammar over the last nine weeks. We will continue with writing practice; grammar and Wordly Wise vocabulary this nine weeks. The students are currently finding out who "dunnit" in The Great Chocolate Caper!

LAX 6-The students created stunning and thoughtful projects after reading A Long Way From Chicago. We laughed at the antics of Grandma as we read and found out, in the end, that she really does have a soft heart. We wrote persuasive research essays and will now use that research as students investigate oral debate. This is the perfect pursuit for this gregarious group! We will continue with writing, grammar and vocabulary as well this nine weeks.

7th and 8th graders have completed an "artifact box" of clues about our geographic location. This has been a critical thinking challenge, as the clues can only divulge a certain amount of information and should point someone to research in order to fully understand the clue. Our next endeavor is a math and science challenge, The Barbie Bungee Project.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Blessed by an anonymous donor...

In my quest to raise money for a new white board in my classroom, I was blessed to receive a very generous donation from an anonymous donor. I was stunned, humbled and very grateful! Thank you so much.

I am keeping the donation campaign going, as more is still needed to replace the board I currently have with the correct size and good quality.

Thank you for your support.

Gift Giving Ideas

What to Give Your Children for Christmas? 
Here are some educational toys, games and books compiled by a gifted specialist I follow. Merry Christmas!!

I have not necessarily checked out all of the recommendations on this page, but I think they look great. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

(video) Differentiating Instruction: It’s Not as Hard as You Think

From EdWeek: When some teachers think of differentiation, they imagine having to create a different lesson for every student in the room. In this video, teacher and author Larry Ferlazzo explains that differentiating instruction is really about getting to know your students and making decisions, often in the moment, based on what they need. He offers some low-lift strategies he’s learned over the years for making activities accessible for students with all types of gifts and challenges.

Watch this video to find out more:

Larry's Website

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Extra M25 Explorations

During the first two Extra M25 sessions of the nine weeks, I read the students a funny and interesting story called Woolbur Goes to School. They thought it was as funny as I do; however, some of the students could identify with be a "Woolbur." You see, Woolbur doesn't always do things like everyone else does. He is creative and comfortable with the talents he has. We had a good discussion about each of us being who God made us to be and appreciating the talents we each have. In order to help the students also recognize the talents God has given others, they had to "interview" someone else in the group and create an illustration showing all about that person. Then, the students "introduced" one another. This collage of precious pictures will remain on the wall outside my classroom throughout the year!

Are You A Square? The next sessions brought measuring activities in which the students predicted the relationship of their wing span to their height. They proved to either be squares, long rectangles or wide rectangles. Can you predict which one most of the students were? We made a graph to show it!

5th and 6th graders explored the art of Claude Monet during one session. As we have talked a lot about cycles and cyclic patterns of change in LAX, small groups of students were assigned a particular series of Monet's paintings and were asked to identify cycles and patterns in them. They recorded these on the board, and we were able to compare. Finally, the students voted on which series was their favorite.

2nd, 3rd and 4th graders did their own measuring activity with bears! They not only predicted and measured stuffed bears, but they also measure each other using the bears as the unit! This was a really fun estimating and data collection activity.

M25 Schedule

The Latest M25 Schedule...

1st Grade, Wednesdays, 10:30-11:15AM
2nd Grade, Fridays, 8:30-9:20AM
3rd Grade, Thursdays, 12:30-1:30PM
4th Grade, Wednesdays, 1:00-2:00PM
5th Grade, 9:20-10:20AM
6th Grade, 11:25AM-12:25PM
7th and 8th Grades, Fridays, 10:20-11:15AM

Extra M25:
1st and 3rd Grades, every other Friday, 1:30-2:15PM
2nd and 4th Grades, every other Friday, 1:45-2:30PM
5th and 6th Grades, every other Friday, 1:00-1:45PM

Working and Learning As Unto the Lord...

Working and Learning As Unto the Lord...

What an exciting first nine weeks! I look back and marvel at all that God allowed us to learn and accomplish.

We all loved staring the year with "M and M writing," an activity in which students selected an M & M of a certain color from their M & M butterfly. Then, they wrote something about themselves that corresponded with the color. They thought it was fun, and I always enjoy learning some new things about the children.

7th and 8th graders made light work of creating their own design company and planning a roadway through the simulated Rainbow Bay community. They worked collaboratively to develop a company name, logo and motto. Their task was to create a proposal for a roadway system through the newly developed community, taking into consideration cost and environmental factors. The students did a superb job of working together and using each student's talents advantageously.

5th and 6th LAX has been such a blessing for me and is a class that I hope is challenging for the students. We have learned and put to use many new vocabulary words, and I sense that the students really enjoyed the choice novels they read. I loved reading their responses to the literature.
We read some challenging poetry; thought deep thoughts; and used cool graphic organizers to analyze literature and vocabulary. I LOVE it, and the curriculum, as well as the students, keep me on my toes. God is showing us spiritual lessons through the material as well.

4th graders have used very cool hands on materials to explore spatial relationships, including dimensions, symmetry, spatial transformations and using 2-D pictures to create 3-D models. At times, the activities have proved challenging and have required perseverance. I am happy to report that these 4th graders exhibit much patience and perseverance! I love that we are taking something they have a basic knowledge of to the next level.

3rd and 2nd grades solved a fun mystery, "Who Borrowed Mr. Bear?" It was serious business as we learned about what detectives and forensic scientists do as they "processed" a simulated crime scene and performed ten experiments on the evidence. We learned how to analyze and deduce information to figure out who the culprit was. The children wrote about their theories and used evidence to explain. After successfully sleuthing the case, the students wrote original mystery adventures for Mr. Bear. This was beneficial writing practice as well as creative fun!

1st graders have recently begun M25 and have written bio poems about themselves. I guided the students into writing words, phrases and sentences to tell about themselves. The results were precious. Check them out on my work line outside of my classroom.

I am praying expectantly for the new nine weeks and am eager to see what God will help us to do and learn next!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Differentiation Tips for Teachers at the Beginning of a New School Year

I love this time of year when it feels like a reset button has been pushed and a year of new possibilities lies ahead.
When your students walk into the classroom, you know what a wide range of personalities, experiences and abilities they will represent. And you know they have a variety of learning needs. So, let’s get a step ahead!

In planning to differentiate for your high ability learners, here are a few tips to get started.

My first tip is to assess. If your curriculum does not include pretests, use the posttest and revise it (or use it as is...gasp!). This is a way to be certain about what your students already know and don’t know so that you can devise a plan to meet their instructional needs. If a student shows mastery of the material at 80% or greater, do not, I repeat, DO NOT make them sit through lessons and do given assignments to learn and practice the material. If there are clearly some gaps, according to the assessment, then pull students in on those lessons only. Likely, they will master the concepts or skills quickly. Instead, plan a meaningful alternative learning experience for the student. This can be done somewhat easily from a management perspective through task cards or independent projects.

Task cards: cards, such as index size cards, that have various creative and critical thinking activities on them. The activities may or may not necessarily relate to the area of study. For management purposes, number the cards. Have a separate notebook and/or folder set aside for the student in which to do the work from the task card. Have students put the number of the task card on their corresponding work in the notebook. Be sure to give the student feedback; grade it;  and perhaps allot bonus points for such work. I might suggest setting aside a time intermittently when all of your students can work on such activities. You can locate such activities in your teacher files (usually the things you never “get to” or “have time for”); the internet; teacher manuals in the “enrichment” sections...

Independent projects: an activity that focuses on having students use higher level thinking skills to do something with the related content they have already mastered. When using the term “project,” some may think of this as a week or two long task. It doesn’t have to be. Create the project to be the amount of time you want it to take based on the time you will be teaching content to students who still need to master it. The “project” may only require one or two class periods. Finally, be sure to plan something that is able to be done independently by the student. You will have to set a protocol and train your students in order for this to occur.

So, plan ahead and think about how you will meet the needs of your advanced learners. Try adding one new idea!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Announcement: LAX - Advanced Language Arts

I am excited that God continually leads us and opens doors to provide even better instruction and opportunities for our students at PCA. Mrs. Dixon and Dr. Frase have approved an expansion of the M25 program for rising 5th and 6th grade students.

Starting in the 2018-2019 school year, I will offer an advanced, interdisciplinary language arts program, which will replace the regular language arts curriculum for identified M25 students. Because students identified for M25 services typically learn at a faster pace and need advanced content, this program will more appropriately meet their learning needs in the language arts area. The curriculum will be comprised of literature, writing, vocabulary, grammar (taught in the context of the literature and writing), and independent and small group projects. A large portion of the curriculum will be a unit written for high ability learners by The College of William and Mary Center for Gifted Education and published by Kendall Hunt. Parents will be responsible for purchasing a Wordly Wise vocabulary book and a student workbook that accompanies the unit (each book costs approximately $20). I will ensure students are covering skills and concepts taught in the regular curriculum by working with the language arts teacher to include these in my curriculum or show that students have already mastered them. Additionally, as with a regular class, students will be assigned homework.

5th and 6th graders will come in their same grade level group DURING their regularly scheduled language arts time on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays for approximately an hour.

I will assign reading, vocabulary and other relevant work for students to do independently on Mondays and Tuesdays in their regular class during the language arts period.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

LAX Materials

1. Wordly Wise 3000 4th Edition Grade 5 Student Book (print form, not digital)
Check out these sites:

Buy here at Wordly Wise

Buy here at Amazon

Buy here at Christian Book

2. Patterns of Change Student Guide
Buy here at Kendall Hunt

3. 1 spiral notebook

4. 1 composition book


1. Wordly Wise 3000 4th Edition Grade 6 Student Book (print form, not digital)
Check out these sites: 

Buy here at Wordly Wise

Buy here at Amazon

Buy here at Christian Book

2. Patterns of Change Student Guide
Buy here at Kendall Hunt

3. 1 spiral notebook

4. 1 composition book

Monday, July 23, 2018

Help me with classroom improvements

From my page:
I am teacher in a small private school. Striving to provide a high quality atmosphere and education for my students, I am always seeking ways to obtain materials, as teachers at our school must generally fund their own projects and classroom materials. My current whiteboard is difficult for the students to read, as it is old and will not come clean. I even refinished it, to no avail. Please help me purchase a new white board to assist the students in my classroom!
Click Here

Sunday, July 22, 2018

M25 Progress Reports

At the end of each nine weeks, I complete individual progress reports for M25 students. These are EMAILED to you around the same time report cards are sent home. Here are the criteria I use as our learning goals! Remember that the students are works in progress! (See the sample progress report)
  • enthusiasm and involvement in learning
  • responsibility for and independence in their learning
  • asking curious questions
  • depth of understanding
  • creation of high quality products
  • pursuit of challenging activities
  • willingness to tackle open-ended, complex tasks and problems
  • ability to see patterns and connections
  • personal decision-making and behavior that contributes to a positive, productive learning environment

Monday, June 18, 2018

Making the Most of M25

Tips to make the most of your child’s learning in M25...
  • visit my website at least once a nine weeks to discover what your child is learning--this leads to great conversations
  • review the progress reports and help your child set learning goals
  • discover what your child is interested in and find ways for them to develop the talents God has given them--I am happy to help with ideas!
  • help your child by fostering a positive attitude about school and learning
  • encourage independent reading
  • volunteer--what is your occupation/area of expertise?--share it with the students during Extra M25 time 
How can you get involved in helping out students? 
I am always looking for guest speakers for 2017-2018 who would introduce the children to their area of expertise or teach them something new. Would you volunteer or do you know someone who would? Please let me know!**