Sunday, July 22, 2012

What to do for Open House?

So the first big event of the school year is Open House. Parents come because they want to meet their child's teacher and see where their kids will be located for the year. You tell them a little bit about yourself, what your plans for the school year are, what they can expect their child to learn, you might even talk a little bit about testing (just a little). They might pick up a classroom supply list, ask you what you think is your most essential school tool...But for the most part it's a "Hello-how-are-you?-Who-are you?" meeting.

To spice things up this year, I think I want to throw a theme party for Open House, and the kids can help. I want it to be just like a kid's birthday party with maybe even "Pin-the-Tail on the Donkey" (do they still play that?).

This year, Open House for me is the second day of school. You can see, there's not a lot of time to get the kids involved throwing up their beginning-of-the-year work to display. So I'm going to have them help me throw up decorations, maybe make some "ants on a log." (Our theme is "forest" btw. I haven't decided if it's enchanted or not yet. I think maybe just whimsical.) It'll be just like a kid's birthday party with snacks, drinks, maybe some kids' DIY prizes. IDK. (Oooh, I should bake a cake...or maybe order one.)

But, as I have no kids in the home, I've never really thrown a "kid party" before. I've been to them, just not thrown them; and I know the two roles are WAY different. So, I'm going to ask my AMAZING FOLLOWERS, any advice anyone has to offer is greatly appreciated. I think throwing a party and having the kids help would make for a great team building activity (which I'm a huge fan of. We even call the class "Team Jayne's Class" instead of "Mrs. Jayne's class." It helps reinforce the team idea. The latter makes it sound like the class belongs to me...You can steal that idea if you want.)

Anyway, this party idea is going to take a lot of planning on my part , especially since the kids will all be helping "last minute." (And I have ZERO experience, which will make it all the more fun right?) I'll go Pinterest-surfing for ideas but, again, any ideas from you are greatly appreciated and thanks a million!

Hope your summer is going well!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Birthday Wheel

I needed to get a new sign to post classroom birthdays, but when I looked in the catalogs and at stores, I didn't really see any that caught my eye. I had been using a "birthday wheel" that I had gotten out of an educator's magazine, but it was filled with staple holes, marker stains, and tape remnants. It needed to be replaced.

I took all the things I loved from what I saw of birthday posters, birthday signs, my old "birthday wheel," and things I saw on Pinterest and made what you see. Come the fall, it will get laminated, and I thought I would have the kids get together by month to take a group picture. Then those pictures will get placed in the empty spaces for each month.

I like to use the different "-ology" symbols because:

1. The kids love to look at it and learn what they are.

2. It's great for discussions on symbolism.

3. The kids are reading. There may not be very many words on it, but those are some tough words (especially those flower names), and they are invested in figuring out what they say.

4. It leads to some great discussions and tie-ins when teaching Native Americans and other cultures along with mythology (which is mentioned in the common core).

5. The kids make great connections with the books they read. Those symbols and references to them are found all over literature.

and 6. I just think it's pretty, interesting, and I love making artsy stuff.


Monday, July 9, 2012

For this week's Monday-Made-It, I created new forest-themed book nook materials. (Now there are two themes: forest and ocean. If you're looking for a different theme, let me know and I'll see what I can do.) Go ahead over to the freebie tab to grab and print your copies. =)


Saturday, July 7, 2012

The W.I.P.

The kids will never lose work again!

This idea was actually given to me by a beloved friend and colleague of mine. She is truly one of the greatest people in my life.

W.I.P. stands for "Work In Progress." It's an envelope that you tape to the back of the students' interactive notebooks and wherever else you want to put them. The students keep the work that they are not finished with in their W.I.P.'s. You can also put work that they missed while they were absent in there. I actually have the person who is in charge of the group for the day take care of that for me. It saves me time. The kids always know where to find their work and so do you!

(Word of advice: If you are going to tape the envelope to their notebooks and the notebook has holes in it like the one above, put a piece of tape on the other side of each hole, too, so that there is no dirt collection.)

It also helps to create a W.I.P. for that student who is always forgetting things like homework. Talk with the child about what they always take with them wherever they go no matter what. For one of my students who was a chronic homework-forgetter, she decided that her agenda book is something that she never goes anywhere without. We taped a W.I.P. into the back of the agenda, and she never forgot her homework again. =)

Truly a great idea!


Photovoice Powerpoint Project

Photovoice is designed to be a Powerpoint presentation and personal narrative. I find that when the kids can take a large project and take each section through the writing process, essentially publishing or making a final draft in pieces, it works better. This project is no different. The kids think this project is exciting, and it aligns well with the common core standards, including technology.

Photovoice was first introduced to me during my masters program at Ashland, and I have adapted it to use in the classroom. It gives the kids an opportunity to write about themselves (which they love doing) and learn some good writing skills on how to make a Powerpoint as well as how to write a personal narrative. When it is divided into sections that they can complete independently, it seems like a less daunting task to them rather than trying to complete the whole thing at one time.

I think that it’s important not to give intermediate kids any more than 8 subtopics in any writing project. And then those subtopics are small, consisting, in this case, of only a paragraph. Here are the sections that I used for the Photovoice: introduction, where/when you were born or birthday, your favorite place, school, family, hobbies, favorite toy, home, and pets. I also have a section for work at the end, but the kids don’t really have a job, so we’ll skip that. You can adapt your subtopics any way you see fit. Writing about "favorites" is very popular. For each section, the kids take a picture of an object to symbolize that topic (you’ll have to have a discussion on symbolism with them), and then they write about it.

If you want to take the project further, the kids can make the Powerpoints into movies by saving it as a .PNG file. (Click “save as,” “other formats,” and in the save as type drop down menu click “PNG Portable Network Graphics Format.” Then they can open it up in Windows Movie Maker and add music, narration, and such. Just “Google” for a more detailed summary on how to do that.)

If access to technology is an issue for you, you can also do a paper version, which I have done. For my project, I had the kids make accordion books with pockets (take a 12” x 18” piece of construction paper, fold a long side up about 2 inches, and accordion fold it into 8 sections. Use a couple of staples to hold the fold in place if you need to.). The kids glued the photos on the fronts of the pockets and then put the writing onto little tags to insert into the pockets. (Making a Powerpoint is actually probably a little easier because you don't have to resize the photos and print them out. An alternative might be to have the kids bring in objects that they can glue right to the pockets without taking a pic or draw pictures of the objects. They might not, however, enjoy or be receptive to taking away the actual use of photographs.) They used a lot of art to decorate the pieces and some scrapbook embellishing ideas. This works well, too. It’s a lot more exciting than your plain old paper project or even paper with a decorative border.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Postmodern Literature for Children

  What is Postmodern Literature?

 Postmodern literature is becoming more prevalent in today’s world as new books are published each year and set on shelves in book stores, libraries, and classrooms. These books are a reflection of society, history, and culture and the multiliteracies of today’s 21st century. Authors of postmodern literature step away from traditional forms of literature and begin to experiment with format and style. Readers may no longer take a passive role with these books. They must actively work to comprehend the written and illustrated pages.

 Postmodern books possess many stylistic qualities that most refer to as metafictive characteristics. It is important to understand these stylistic devices that writers use in order to understand the literature they have written. Stories may not follow a linear path, and readers must decide to whether to read here or there. They can be self-referential in nature, drawing the reader’s attention to the actual creation of the book. Readers are forced to fill in the gaps that authors have left out as they read and continually draw connections with the text, themselves, and the world in which they live. Stories are told from multiple points of view and readers must interpret how characters and narrators are related to each other.

 There are seven defining characteristics of postmodern literature. Let's take a look at them:

Nonlinearity (NL)

  •  Multiple stories can coexist within one text.
  •  There may not be a left-to-right orientation.
  •  Readers must decide what to read and when to read it.

 Self-Referentiality (SR)

  • Characters or narrators may use the actual pages as props.
  • Readers must distinguish between fiction and reality as they read.
  • Draws the reader's attention to the creation of the story.

Co-Authoring (C)

  • The reader must make connections and fill in the gaps that the writer has left out.
  • Readers are required to make many more inferences than with traditional literature.
  • There is room for multiple interpretations of plot and characters' intentions.

  Intertextuality (I)

  • There are references to traditional tales.
  • The antagonist of a traditional tale may become the unexpected hero or have more complex motives or personalities.
  • Characters from multiple texts can be incorporated into one story.

Nontraditional Format or Structure (NF)

  • Writers may use characteristics of more than one genre.
  • This is the most recognized trait of postmodern literature.
  • May have an unconventional layout.
  • Several different type faces may be used.

Sarcastic or Mocking Tone (S)

  • There is a level of irony or contradiction throughout the story line. 
  • There is playfulness to the narration or character perspectives.
  •  The author may seek to make fun of the original tale.

Multiple Perspectives (M)

  • Several voices are used creating multiple narrations.
  • These voices may show the perspectives of different characters within the text.
  • Readers must determine the relationships between narrators and characters and the authenticity of each voice. 

Examples of Postmodern Literature

These examples might not list all of their postmodern characteristics, but they list the most prevalent.
Picture Books
  • Beware of the Story Book Wolves by Lauren Child (I, SR, NF, S)
  • The Secret Knowledge or Grown Ups by David Wisniewski ( NF, SR, S, I, NL, C)
  • A Story with Pictures by Barbara Kanninen (SR, S, NF, C)
  • Black and White by David Macauley (All)
  • The Three Pigs by David Weisner (SR, C, I, NF, S)
Intermediate Books (Chapter Books)
  • A House Called Awful End by Philip Ardagh (NL, S, M, SR)  
  • Cinderella (As If You Didn't Already Know the Story) by Barbara Ensor (I, N, NF, M, S)
  •  Please Write In This Book by Mary Amato (SR, M, C, S, NF)
  • The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls by Elise Primavera (I, M, SR, NF, C)
  •  The World According to Kaley by Dian Curtis Regan (NF, SR, M, S)
 Middle School
  • Diamond Willow by Helen Frost (NF, M, C, NL)
  • Old Magic by Marianne Curley (M, S)
  • The Prophecy of the Stones by Flavia Bujor (NL, SR, C)
High School
  • Blue Bloods by Melissa De la Cruz (I, NL, M, C, NF)
  • Deadly Little Secrets by Laurie Faria Stolarz (M, NF, C)
  • Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles (M, I)
  • Wake by Lisa McMann (NF, C) 
References for Further Reading 
Anstey, M. (2002). “It’s not all black and white”: Postmodern picture books and new literacies. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 45(6), 444-457.
Goldstone, B. (2004, January). The postmodern picture book: A new subgenre. Language Arts, 81(3), 196-204.
Knickerbocker, J.L. & Brueggeman, M.A. (2008). Making room on the shelf: The place of postmodern young adult novels in the curriculum. American Secondary Education, 37(1), 65-79.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

The "Date Night" Jar

So here we have the “Date Night” jar, my latest DIY.

Like with most couples, when my husband and I find time for each other we have the age-old conversation:

“What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know. What do you want to do?”

“I don’t know. What do you want to do?”…

So, we decided to try out the “Date Night” jar. It's not a new idea, but it's a good one. The goal is to pick something from the jar to do at least once per week with some all-weekenders put in there, too. Once something’s picked, there’s no turning back (unless, of course, it’s a seasonal activity).

For a list of all our ideas, move on to my DIY page. =)

Funny, when I was making it, my hubby commented on me making it like an elementary teacher would. Go figure. (Of course, I do have something similar for my classroom with the kids names on it. I use it when I want to put them in groups or call on random kids to answer questions. I use it religiously. It helps to keep them focused and paying attention. It also eliminates the idea that I have "favorites" that I call on all the time.)
To commemorate our 11th anniversary this weekend, we chose to start picking from “the jar.” Our first pick… “Play pool, foosball, or ping-pong.” I’ll keep you updated =)…

If you have any ideas for great date ideas, let me know, and I'll add them to the jar. Have a great weekend!


First Blog Award!

I've received my first blog award from Amanda over at Surviving the First Year and also from Emily at I Love My Classroom. Thank you so much, ladies! They have both nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award.
 The Liebster Blog Award is a special award for blogs with less than 200 followers that deserve more recognition. There are a few rules and here they are:

1. Copy and paste the award onto your blog. 
2. Thank the giver and link back to them. 
3. Nominate five other bloggers and let them know by commenting on their blogs.

Here are my five blog picks for this award:

Fourth Grade Fanatics

Peacocks and Penguins - 4th grade

The High Tech Teacher


Great ideas and great blogs! =)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Decorative Clipboards That Get Used A LOT

I added a new DIY project. We've all probably seen those decorative clipboards with the scrapbook paper and the Mod Podge. I tried making those for the upcoming school year, but I didn't really like them. I thought they were too sticky feeling, which makes sense since Mod Podge is really just a glorified glue. In fact, I was working on them in my Florida room in this summer heat, and I had stacked them when I had finished. Big mistake. They ended up getting stuck together, and when I tried to get them apart, of course, I ripped the paper.

So, I thought--this is not going to work. We never know what the temperature in the room is going to be. Some days it is unbearably hot and other days it's a freezing meat locker. Plus, I thought, just holding it in my hands (which I'm always seen with a clipboard) might make it melt just from body heat.

I really liked the DIY clipboards though, so I came up with my own solution. I decided to use stickers instead of scrapbook paper and no finish. You can get a more instructional look at them from my "DIY tab." I thought it was a good solution. Take a look: