Friday, November 30, 2012

Mabiniti Training Center

Last Wednesday, we went on a field trip to visit the Mabinti Center with Ms. McKillip's class. Mabinit is a training centre for women recovering from fistula surgery. Fistula is an injury that occurs during child-birth. The center takes women in and trains them in sewing, beading and screen printing and then, when the women graduate, Mabinti gives them a starter kit for them to go an start a business of their own in their home village. Click here to learn more information about the center.

Katia and the Mabinti women (and one man- the screen printing teacher) were so welcoming. The students arrived and first sat in the shade of a tree and learned about the center. Katia prepared us for the visit by assigning stations and the kids were off to learn and explore.
My class began with the screen printing. Ms. Katia explained that the center chose screen printing because there is not a lot of supply available in Dar. It is a relatively easy, but "new" art for local crafters. She talked about the materials needed and the process. She even showed us some samples and some new items they are creating for the local holiday markets in Dar over the next few weeks.

Then the kids got to scoop, spread, press and pull the paint through the screens to create an image of their own. They got to choose from a few prints and it was definitely the highlight of the field-trip for many students.

Next we went to the beading station and watched the women make Binti Dolls. The kids were fascinated by the time and effort it takes to complete one doll. The teacher, Helena can make one in an hour and about 5 a day! Imagine the commitment the women must show and the challenge they must face learning to make these tiny dolls.

Next we visited the production room. This is where the goods produced for the shop are made. All of the women training have to graduate to be hired in the production shop. It was nice to see the smiling faces working away on the sewing machines making bags from recycled plastic banners. Cody gave me a bag last year from Mabinti and I did not even know where it came from until months after I received it. 
Then the students got to sit down with a business woman and ask her questions about starting a business. Since they are starting their own businesses now, the questions they asked were so thoughtful, considerate and applicable to their learning.
Lastly, the class got to go inside and learn about the Mabinti business plan from one of their staff members. The kids learned all about business plans, supply and demand, production cost, overhead and profit. The students were so well behaved and asked such great questions. I was impressed. It was one of the best field-trips I have ever been on and I send my gratitude and thanks to everyone at Mabinti.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Writer's Celebration!

This past Monday we had our Writer's Celebration. This was an idea that my fellow team member, Lara, brought to us from Grade 2. She did it last year and it was such a success that we wanted to do it in Grade 3. We were all for it!

About two weeks before the big day, students looked in their writing journals and chose a piece that they wanted to revise, edit and publish. We discussed how it had to be a piece that they really liked because they were going to be working on it for two straight weeks. Once the piece was chosen, they copied it, double spaced, onto a sheet of paper so that it would be easy to make changes to. Then I assigned writing partners and together, we worked through may mini-lessons on various steps of the revising, editing and publishing process. Lara provided us with a list of lessons from a Lucy Calkins resource she had and I added a few mini-lessons of my own from our Write Source materials.

These mini-lessons included:
  • revising the ending
  • writing an interesting lead
  • rereading to make sure your story makes sense
  • including dialogue in your story
  • adding similes
  • adding interesting words
  • omitting extraneous details
  • adding transition words
  • using the 5 senses to make the story come alive
  • editing for capitals, organization, punctuation and spelling (we like to call it "Call the C.O.P.S.")
  • publishing in a polished format
  • adding a full page illustration
It was a wonderful morning and it was so nice to see so many family members listening and learning about the writing process from their child. We even had the vice-principal and the librarian in to visit and see all of the progress. The kids did such a great job! 

Friday, November 23, 2012

What's In a Name?

Today was International Day and I am exhausted!!! I can't even tell that I only taught two periods today. (Yes you heard correctly, only two periods.) The morning was great. I loved participating in the parade. I was fully decked out in U.S.A. gear, with denim jeans, an I Heart U.S.A. t-shirt, ponytail, red white and blue nails, and jewelry too! Pictures from the day will come later.

Sitting and reflecting on the day (or finding anything I can do to avoid writing reports) made me realize that I had not posted the homework I adapted this week. I wanted to share it with everyone so that you can use it as you wish. It would not only be a great activity for International Day, but also for the start of the year too. The assignment was to discuss with their parents where their name came from. The kids were really excited to complete this assignment. Many students learned lots of new information this week.

I can remember way back when I was a child the first moment I heard about where I was named from. It was interesting because I was given such a unique name. My mom named me after a woman who was a second mother to her growing up. This neighbor died in child-birth and my mom wanted to honor her by naming her first born daughter in her memory. We are still very close to the family and her daughters are just like my real and true Aunties. I dedicate this post to anyone who has been lost by their families and friends at too early an age, including my wonderful Aunt Frannie.

P.S. I am so glad I was a girl because if I was a boy my parents were going to name me Jeb.... yikes. No offense, but Rorey fits much better.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Writing Wednesdays! Persuasive Writing

From now until December we will be working in the genre of persuasive writing. I introduced the genre by reading two picture books to the students. The first one is Hey, Little Ant. The books takes the reader through a conversation between a boy and an ant. The boy sees the ant and wants to squish him with his shoe. The ant tries to convince the boy that he should not squish him. It is a cute, creative rhyming book that invites the reader, at the end of the story, to decide if the boy should squish the ant.

The kids were convinced that the new genre was poetry with the rhyming words so I had to read another one. I had two other books with me on my reading chair, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive The Bus and Earrings! I had to make a quick decision and since I love, love, love earrings, it was an easy choice. The second story Earrings! is about a little girl who is trying to convince her parents to get her ears pierced. She has some very good arguments and there is lots of expression in the writing.

After both stories, the kids got into small groups and discussed the similarities between the two books. Many great thoughts were generated and the class was able to list some of the key concepts of persuasive writing including an making an argument and getting someone to give you something you want.

Next we picked up the Write Source text book and read about persuasive writing. The kids were so excited to get started with this type of writing. We brainstormed a list of topics (writing trait: ideas) and made a list of possibilities. Stay tuned for more persuasive writing ideas in the upcoming weeks....

... and if you want more resources, check these links out!
A Quick Guide To Teaching Persuasive Writing, K-2
Persuasion Map
Write Persuasively (Grades 3-5)
Can You Convince Me? Developing Persuasive Writers
Persuasive Writing Pinterest Page (Ms. Rorey Hearts Pinterest)
Persuasive Writing from a fellow Teacher Blogger
Student Writing Models (from Write Source)
Edutopia Article: Persuasive Writing is a Key Focus in Common Core Standards

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Grade 5 Assembly!

Students in 3R were given a choice of writing topics today during Period 2- Writing. One of my students, Yuna, took the time to write about the Grade 5 Assembly. This is an independent action that I wanted to share with the IST community.

The Grade 5 Assembly
We walked as a class to the assembly. I was excited because my brother was in it and because it was about Mikumi. After the assembly I felt happy for the kids because they earned books, T-shirts and toys so they could enjoy them as much as we enjoy them.  It was a very interesting assembly, but that's not all.
They had nice and interesting costumes like a camera, binoculars, monkey costumes and lion costumes too. The grade 5s were really risk-takers. What I mean with risk-takers is they stood up for themselves. This was one of the funniest and best assemblies.
Now, as the teacher I have to not only have pride that she wrote about the assembly, but that she also used many concepts in her writing that we have been teaching in class. These include: details and interesting words, transition words in time ordered writing, using commas in a list of items and the PYP attributes. Way to go Yuna. You made your teacher proud!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

PYP Econimics Unit: Business Fair

The PYP economics unit this year is new for us as a grade and a school.  Therefor, it has been a challenge to find age appropriate resources and books as well as think of ideas for teaching to the central idea and key concepts. 

When we began our planning of the unit, we knew we wanted the kids to start their own businesses for the summative assessment.  As we are about a month into the unit we are on a roll with the businesses and the students have some great ideas. To help with the business plan, I created this document. The idea is for them to plan their business, advertise, and participate in the "business fair" that grade 3 will hold before the December holiday to sell their product or service. At the end of the unit, each class from grade 3 will be collecting their profits and giving a micro-finance loan to a local entrepreneur.

One book that we have used to teach economics and the concept of micro-finance is One Hen. Not only have students learned about micro-finance, but since we live in Tanzania, students have been making really meaningful "text-to-self" connections. Many people within the IST community have provided micro-finance loans to local community members and the students can also relate to the characters. It is a wonderful book.

During the business planning stages, students used this document that I created to help them organize their plans. It has really helped. The final draft of this document will be on display during the business fair so that visitors can see the process that students went through to plan their business.

In addition, I also created this feedback interview document to assist them in the planning stages. Sharing business ideas within the classroom has allowed us to have some interesting discussions on a variety of concepts. For example, some students are realizing that they might have competition within the classroom and others are realizing that people might not want to pay as much for their product or service as they thought. Given the feedback that the students have gotten from their peers, business plans are being modified and adjusted.

 Please feel free to download these (just click on them) and look forward to photos and an update on the business fair in a few weeks!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Writing: Teaching Voice

At IST we use 6-Traits Writing. This year we have already covered concepts in 5 of the writing traits (the easier ones,) but grade 3 is the first time we teach and asses the concept of "voice" and I still had not introduced this skill. This is a difficult concept for children to understand and master in their writing so I wracked my brain to come up with a fun way to teach it.

During planning a few weeks ago, I thought of an exciting way to teach "voice" using character cards (cards with different story characters printed on them.) The focus concepts were:
  • using describing words to tell about a character
  •  using dialogue with proper use of quotation marks
  • different words for the word said 
  • adding "voice" to stories
I chose a character card and out it up on my Smartboard using my document camera. The students and I then put describing words around the character to give them an identity. After that, we wrote 3 sentences using dialogue for what this character would say in a story. After I modeled for them and we did the task together, the students got to draw a character of their own, create describing words for that character, write dialogue for them and then create a story about their character. We used the printable below to complete this task. It turned out to be a successful introduction to the concept of writing with "voice."


Human Body Models

 During our Human Body PYP Unit, the kids worked together to create models of the different body systems in art class. We shared these with families during our PYP Unit share. The kids worked so hard on them and they turned out wonderfully.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Student Action: Class Riddles

 At recess, a few of my girls have been making up riddles for the class. This is a basic, yet really cool student action and I wanted to share some of them on the blog. These relate to our Body Unit from last month. Enjoy!

I am very small. You need water to make me move. What am I?
Answer: blood

What is your sixth sense? It ends with sense.  
Answer: common sense


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stop Motion Animated Body Video

 I am so proud of my kids! They worked together successfully and completed a stop motion animation video that takes you through the circulatory system and explains where blood cells go within the body. Check it out and leave a comment. The kids would love to hear from you!