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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Normal Park- Great Start Program

I was lucky enough to be one of the chosen teachers from Clifton Hills to visit Normal Park school to check out their Great Start program. This is a program like summer school, used to encourage struggling students, and induct new transfer students into the world that is Normal Park Museum Magnet school.

The school is divided into two buildings, and the program is held in the upper level school. (grades 4-8)

I attended with Ms. Roach, who is our newest addition to the 3rd grade team.

Together, we observed Mrs. Hassler who taught a group of up-and-coming 3rd grade students.

I won't bore you with all the notes I took. I'll go straight to what I'm taking back to the Hills with me.

The Daily 5
This is not a program adopted by CHES, but I have heard about it from other educators, and of course from the mighty Pinterest. Today I was able to witness what all the fuss was about. 
Here are the posters Mrs. Hassler uses in her room.

These are 4 of the Daily 5 topics. The last topic is Listening, but Mrs. Hassler informed us that she didn't feel that was a good use of her time. These are used in place of typical "centers" or "literacy stations" that students complete during small group reading time.

They look easy enough, and I plan on including some aspects of the Daily 5 into my classroom. What I loves the most was their notebook. (I forgot to get a picture. Dang it!) It was divided into the different categories of the day. (Daily 5, writing, math, module) I like this idea, and will implement something like it and use it as a portfolio for each student.

I admit that I'm a little shaky on the particulars, but as far as I could tell a module is what they call their science/ social studies time. It is based on a unit of study and the culminating activity includes showcasing, or exhibiting, their final projects. A module will cover a variety of topics, all related to one central theme, and lasts around 9 weeks. (one grading period) 

For the Great Start program, students researched a topic for 3 weeks, and their exhibit is tomorrow. Ms. Roach and I were lucky to be around for the trial run today! The class we observed studied Swamp Habitats for 3 weeks. The students were kind enough to allow me to take some pictures. :)

Each student was to take an aspect of swamp life, do extra research, create a visual to match, and write a brief summary of their findings. 

 Here is an alligator

 Picture and summary of why keeping the swamp clean is important.


 Swamp diagrams describing the water and forestry found in the swamp. 

 Alligator snapping turtle

 Cypress tree

 Red tailed hawk

Lily pads

I love this idea! Units of study are my favorite way to teach, and I think that the Common Core standards that are coming down the pike lend themselves well to unit study.

Here are some other exhibits that can be found around the school.

Study of India- and poetry!
(Pictures were taken with my phone, so they aren't the best quality. Sorry!)

Students studied the aspects and genres of poetry, and combined their knowledge with their study of India. Students took pictures from Indian culture, and created poems about them. Students were allowed to choose the form of poetry the best suited them, but they also had to type a short explanation as to why they chose their particular form. Pictures and poems (cut up) were glued to a canvas and displayed proudly!

This is a 6th grade project and presentation, but can you see me doing something like this with my class of 3rd graders on the topic of Chattanooga? ME TOO! It's going to be epic. 

These are the writings about the importance of poetry.

Going Green with the Lorax

A 4th grade study of conservation, life/ water cycles, and habitats. Visual projects and written explanations of each project.

 Metamorphosis of a bee

 Metamorphosis of a dragonfly

 Food chain of an owl

Metamorphosis of a ladybug

Persuasive writing with 8th grade

I like this idea for teaching the different styles of writing. Their creativity was most impressive!

Civil War with 8th grade

I did not get as many pictures of this exhibit as I should have. I apologize. My eyes were drawn to the battle scenes. I have no doubt that the scenes were placed on order, but the pictures won't be.


 ???? (can't read the plaque)

Bull Run 


 Fort Sumter


A quilt of Influential People of the Civil War

6th grade Energy Pyramid

I apologize for not getting any closer shots. Each level of the pyramid is full of clay animals, created and painted by students, along with a typed description of each animal. 


It's going to take a while to process all the ideas I'm bringing home with me. It's nice to be able to visit other schools to glean the wisdom of fellow educators. 

Thank you, Mr. Evans for allowing me to get out of my house!

Thank you, Normal Park and Mrs. Hassler for sharing your amazing style!

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