Archive for September, 2011

Here is a lovely little poem to share with your early readers by J. Patrick Lewis. Great rhyme, great rhythm, and lots of humor.

One Cow, Two Moos
J. Patrick Lewis

We used to have a single cow,
We called her Mrs. Rupple.
But she got struck by a lightning bolt,
And now we have a couple.

She’s walking sort of funny now,
Oh pity her poor calf.
Old Mrs. Rupple gives no milk,
She gives us half-and-half.

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Do you have an observation station in your classroom? This is a great station because it can be easily linked to science and social studies standards. Materials can be borrowed from local organizations, such as a high school science lab, children’s or science museum, or even a regional education service center. Ask around to find out what might be available to you and share your ideas with fellow teachers in the comment section!

Below are a few photos from grades 3-6 in Lafayette, IN.

If you open an observation station in your classroom, send us photos and tell us a little about what students are doing and learning in this station. We’d love to see what your class is doing!

A chart of ideas for observation station brainstormed by teachers

A chart of ideas for observation station brainstormed by teachers

Kids observe guinea pig in 3rd grade

Kids observe guinea pig in 3rd grade

Fifth grade observation station in Denver Public Schools at Philips Elementary

Fifth grade observation station in Denver Public Schools at Philips Elementary

Second grade classroom at CMS in Denver has a tarantula (caged) to observe

Second grade classroom at CMS in Denver has a tarantula (caged) to observe

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Poetry Friday: Autumn

Autumn begins today, so I thought it was fitting to pick this short poem by T.E. Hulme. Enjoy this lovely season!

T.E. Hulme

A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.

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I received some great classroom photos recently from Sharon Davis, a teacher in Scranton, PA. She sent these at the beginning of the school year and said that she will continue to make improvements and changes as the year goes on. What changes have you made in your classroom spaces now that you’ve been using them for a few weeks? What’s working? What’s not? Leave a comment or send photos to d.diller@live.com

This is the word wall above the writing station in Sharon's classroom

This is the new library complete with picture labels.Sharon is looking for the right rug.

Sharon made a skirt for the small group area. She loves using this place for small group and store all of her materials behind the table.

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This week’s poem is also math-related, but of course like all poems, it’s about so much more. Enjoy!

Trouble with Math in a One-Room Country School
Jane Kenyon

The others bent their heads and started in.
Confused, I asked my neighbor
to explain—a sturdy, bright-cheeked girl
who brought raw milk to school from her family’s
herd of Holsteins. Ann had a blue bookmark,
and on it Christ revealed his beating heart,
holding the flesh back with His wounded hand.
Ann understood division. . . .Miss Moran sprang from her monumental desk
and led me roughly through the class
without a word. My shame was radical
as she propelled me past the cloakroom
to the furnace closet, where only the boys
were put, only the older ones at that.
The door swung briskly shut.

The warmth, the gloom, the smell
of sweeping compound clinging to the broom
soothed me. I found a bucket, turned it
upside down, and sat, hugging my knees.
I hummed a theme from Haydn that I knew
from my piano lessons. . . .
and hardened my heart against authority.
And then I heard her steps, her fingers
on the latch. She led me, blinking
and changed, back to the class.

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In the past few weeks I received several questions about setting up a newspaper work station. So here is a section from Practice with Purpose that describes a newspaper station. Please feel free to share your ideas and experiences with this station in the comments section!

A portable newspaper station made with the class includes cut-out headlines, graphics, and matching articles along with directions for the station and a sample of work kids should do there.

Two third graders are working in the newspaper station writing news stories for the quarterly class paper. One is writing a want ad; she is searching for a good adventure story, preferably one set in the mountains with interesting characters. Another student is writing an article about the planets, something they are studying in science. They are writing their  articles on preprinted sheets formatted for their news stories as a support.  A chart is posted in the newspaper station; students have signed up on it ahead of time, noting what they want to write about so they don’t duplicate articles. The teacher will help them format the newspaper by using a template in a computer program; they will type their articles on the computer while at the computer station on another day.

In a fourth-grade classroom, two students are working together, reading the Mini Pages, a syndicated newspaper for kids. It is part of the Saturday paper that the teacher collects weekly at home and laminates. Her students choose one of the newspapers, read the articles together and then use a vis-àvis pen to do the puzzles and answer questions on the last page. The kids enjoy the articles, and the teacher likes the simplicity of the station.

Ideas for the Work Station
This work station is a great way to incorporate current events and nonfiction reading. It’s a great tie-in for social studies and science. There are several ways to set it up. One way is to cut out newspaper articles of interest for your kids. Mount the headline, graphics, and article separately on three different pieces of card stock, and cut to size. Repeat this process for four to five articles. You might include one from the sports section, another from the food section, one from the front page, and another from the editorials for variety. Be sure to include articles your students will be able to read and understand on their own. Then put all the headlines in a zippered plastic bag, all the graphics in another bag, and the articles in a third bag. Have kids match them, read, and discuss them.

Another idea is to use a file folder box to collect newspaper articles. Fill it with file folders that kids label with categories such as “Community Events,” “Heroes,” “Political Cartoons,” “Mistakes in Newspapers,” “Sports,” “Vocabulary,” Cartoons,” and “Weather.” On the front of each folder glue a sample of that type of article. Again, have students contribute to the files. Include colored construction paper, scissors, and glue sticks so students can affix each article to a “card” to be added to the file. You might have each kind of article glued to a certain color to make filing easier. For example, all sports stories are glued onto blue paper, which is then put in the corresponding file folder where “Sports” is written in blue letters. Include generic question cards for kids to answer about the articles.

A third way to set up this station is to use a commercially available newspaper for kids, such as the Mini Pages, Time for Kids, or Scholastic News. (These can be found online also.) Simply laminate the weekly newspaper, hole-punch it in the upper left-hand corner, and add a 1-inch metal book ring. Hang the newspapers on a hook and you have an instant newspaper station.

There are many things students might choose to do at the newspaper station, including some of the following that might be posted on your “I Can” list there:
I Can . . .
■ Write a news article for our class newspaper.
■ Read a newspaper written for kids.
■ Use a newspaper station task card.
■ Add a news article to the appropriate folder in the news file box.
■ Read two articles from different news sources on the same topic, then compare and contrast
■ Read a news article with a partner. Underline facts in blue. Circle opinions in red.

How the Newspaper Work Station Supports Student Performance on State Tests
Reading and writing news articles gives your students practice with one type of nonfiction used in the real world. Many state tests include articles as a genre students must be able to comprehend in the upper grades. Sometimes there are test questions about parts of a news article, such as headlines and captions. Working with features of news articles at work stations gives students lots of opportunities to become comfortable with this genre. In addition, it gives them knowledge of real-world events, which expands their background knowledge and prepares them for distinguishing between fact and

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Poetry Friday: A math poem

I have a math poem this week that will help students form their numerals. I like to use this poetry chart, with a rhyme that helps children remember how to make each numeral. Have students write the number in a variety of ways — in the air, on the carpet, on your hand, on a dry erase board, on paper with chalk, markets, or crayons, and so on. Most activities you use for teaching children how to write letters can be used to help them practice writing numerals.

0- Make a circle like an O, then you have a zero!

1-  Number one is like a stick, a straight line down that’s very quick!

2-   Half a heart will never do.  Slide to the right to make a two.

3- Around and around, just like a bee, that’s the way to make a three!

4-  Make an L, but wait there’s more, add a stickman to make a four.

5-  Make his hat, make his back.  Make his tummy round and fat!

6-  Start at the top, slide down so quick, loop back around to make a six!

7- Across the sky, straight down from heaven, that’s the way to make a seven.

8- Make an S, like a snake.  Loop back up to make an eight.

9-  Make a balloon that’s just fine, add a stickman to make a nine.

10- Stickman, Stickman, you’re my friend, add a zero to make a ten.

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Recipe for a Summer Afternoon Short Story.

by Gayle K. Hobbs

Take a bowl full of words and phrases
Stir until sentences form.

Drop in a couple of interesting characters
Add a few descriptive details and shake delicately

While the story firms up, pepper in a few shavings of intrigue and mystery.
Simmer in the summer afternoon shade.

Right before the story is completely done, add a tablespoon of humor and a dash of irony.
This will complete your vacation short story.

Serve with a tall glass of ice tea and

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