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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Artbotics: Starting to come together

Students have spent the past few weeks studying different forms of portrait styles. Now they get to start their final projects- turning a portrait into a 3-D piece of brilliance!

Here's the example they were shown:

From the portrait, Ms. Ashley cut out 3 pieces that she wanted to motorize. (This is where the robots come in!)
Here's a view from the back:
Using the robotics programming we learned in the fall, students will make pieces of their portraits move! 3 of our students were on the Robotics Team in the fall. The other 3 students will get a quick lesson on programming in the next session.

Here's what Ms. Ashley's product is able to do!

Cool, huh?! The kids certainly thought so.
Students were told to think about which parts of their portraits they wanted to motorize. Students were also told to think of why those pieces were significant. As part of their final presentation, students will have to write an Artist's Statement about their piece. We really want to encourage the kids to go deeper than "I just wanted my eyes to spin."

Here is what we managed to get done on their pieces so far. Pieces were redrawn, cut out, glued on extra board, and cut out from the board.



 Eyebrows and mouth

Hair and eyes

Next week: PROGRAMMING!!

President Research Projects: Brochures

Last week we worked on completing our lapbooks on our chosen president. Now we are transferring our lapbook information into a brochure. My students are really having fun with this because they now get to add pictures.
Some of my students that went above and beyond researching the required information are now getting to share their extra information in their brochures. For example, my students who studied Lincoln are very excited to share information they found on his ghost. :)

Here are some pictures of them transferring information from their "sloppy copy" to their finished product.

I told them that they had to use rulers to make their lines for their information and their boxes for their pictures.

Here is the finished presentation! Lapbooks and brochures together!

To see previous posts on this topic, click on the links below!

President Research Projects: Research

President Research Projects: Lapbooks

They had a blast!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mastering the Jan Plan

For those of my readers who are also in the educational field, you probably already know the name Jan Richardson. She is the Small Group Reading guru. She has literally written the book on guided reading lessons and strategies for students of all levels. You can find her book {HERE}

Trust me when I say that Jan's book is the equivalent of the Bible when it comes to getting students to excel in their reading.

Jan Richardson was kind enough to come to the Hills and give the teachers a 2 hour professional development where we watched a sample Transitional Lesson, reviewed expectations for Emergent and Early readers, and had a Q & A session.
Here are some of the notes I took from the PD this afternoon.
  • Spelling sight words in Emergent and Early reading levels should be limited to 2 new words per week
  • Transitional and Fluent reading groups should be using a wide variety of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry (Yes, poetry!)
  • Vocabulary should be taught all day long, and across all subjects
  • Vocabulary in small group should be limited to no more than 5 new words per book. When choosing vocabulary, pick words that students can't use picture or context clues to figure out the definition. Pick words that are essential to understanding the book. Introduce the word, teach the definition, and move on.
  • Chapter 7 of Jan's book is all about what to do when students just aren't moving in their level. It's full of If-Then strategies
  • How to begin the year:
  •  When planning for Emergent- Fluent readers:
  •  Jan's book is full of multilevel comprehension questions, but when all else fails, simply ask students, "What are you thinking about what you just read?"
  • For LOTS more prompts for guided reading, check out p.295 in her book!
Emergent Readers

Early Readers

Transitional Readers

If you're looking for some strategies and quick helps, check out Jan's Website. It's full of resources and video clips. I've pretty much downloaded her entire site. Best hour and a half of my life. ;)

Jan, thank you so much for visiting us at the Hills! We hope to see you again! (hint-hint) 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Project- Creating Paleontologist Field Journals

Last week we studied fossils in science, along with animals that are endangered, extinct, threatened, and thriving. We studied how plants and animals compete for resources and how habitats are changing. Honestly, we have been on this topic of study for some weeks and my students were really getting into it. So, this week I decided to see just how much my students have retained.

Each student was given their choice of scrapbook paper and we created mini-booklets. Each student was to title their journal the same: My Paleontologist Field Journal.

We were going to pretend that we were on dig sites all over the world. We reviewed continents, landforms, and bodies of water, and each student was to choose where they wanted their dig to be located. Then we started writing about just what was happening at our different dig sites. Here is one student's journal- she had an exciting trip.

Day 1- students were to tell where they were leading their team of paleontologists stating their continent and at least 3 landforms or bodies of water that can be found. At the bottom, they were to illustrate themselves with their team.

Day 2 part 1- Students were to describe their night at their camp. Some students said they were scared of the sounds of wild animals. Other students said it was peaceful and quiet. One student complained that someone on his team snored all night and passed gas. My students are seriously creative!
Then they had to tell where they were headed that day, and the equipment they packed in their backpacks- with illustrations!

Day 2 part 2- How was the hike? What did you find? Was it a bone or imprint? With illustrations!
This student said she found a brand new species of prehistoric fish. (while in a canyon in Australia) This is an impressive find!

Day 3- Research day. What type of animal was found? Based on the fossils, what can you tell about the size and species of the animal? What type of eater do you think it was?

Day 4- Packing up to go home. What did you find overall? What have you learned from this dig? What do you plan on ding with the fossils you have found? (She is donating hers to a university lab for further research)

Last, but not least, based on your findings, what do you think your animal might have looked like thousands of years ago?

At the end, students were given Play-doh and were told to create the fossils or imprints that they had found on their adventures. Again, I was totally impressed with their creativity. Here is the imprint she found of this new fish species.

I was so impressed with her work! In fact, all of my students did extremely well. Here are some more things my students found while on their different dig sites:


Fossilized human bones

Dinosaur/ Dragon

Leaf imprint

Fossilized dinosaur eggs
(this is identical to her picture in her journal!)

Fossilized jaguar bones

Dinosaur footprints

The kids had a blast with this! I can't wait to put these on display in the hallway!

If you'd like a copy of the journal, you can find it {HERE}!