Monday, April 30, 2012

The Weeks AFTER State Testing

Our state testing is a week earlier this year leaving us with four full weeks to remain academically engaged after our state testing (or as one teacher pointed out this morning - only four more Mondays!)

Some teachers teach mini units that they weren't able to get to during the year (I know one teacher is teaching a unit about the context of Social Studies and ELA...and another is doing a science mystery unit where students have to lift fingerprints, test the context of scientific inquiry)

I personally liked to do four weeks of projects where children can work at their own pace (as long as at the end of the month they completed the projects). I did it while I was in the classroom and enjoyed the self paced atmosphere of the classroom and the fact that everyone knew what they had to do. I basically served as a facilitator and occasional "task master." I usually played my Kidz Bop CD's while they worked and on Friday I declared it "educational TV" day where students could bring in snacks and drinks and we would watch "Plant Earth" videos, "World's Best" videos (on Streamline), or I would tape something interesting on Animal Planet and we would watch it.

All students started with the first project together (ABC book within their notebook) then they moved through the others (at their own pace). The projects can be anything you want them to be (finished people can work in pairs with some of the other projects):

- Design and put up a hallway display depicting one of the units we studied
- Using magazines create a science collage on the front of your notebook
- Create a unit review using one of the online game review sites
- Design an interactive poster depicting a scene in history
- Rewrite a popular song with educational lyrics, film it, and edit it using Movie Maker Live
- Using recycled materials create an animal and make a museum display box for it with an informational card.

It is nice to give students a choice board so that they can pick what kind of project they want to do. As the tech coach I am working with a fifth grade class who will be doing something similar after their state test. As children work through their projects they will come to me in the computer lab and create an Animoto of a person they had to do research on (sample Animoto can be found above). The main teacher will stay in the classroom and supervise the students who are not at the computer stage while I take the students who are ready to move on.

Testing Video

This is a fun video supporting our end of year testing that I helped make at both of the schools I go between (I would like to claim the idea but it came from our Literacy Coach a couple of years ago.)

The music is "Do Your Best on the Test" by Marla Lewis. I took pictures of all the state testing grades and teachers and put the video together using Movie Maker Live.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Reading Tables/Graphs Practice

I happen to be in the computer lab and saw our awesome media specialist teaching a third grade class how to read tables and charts (while at the same time introducing students to the website - a child friend research site).

She had the children pull up First in US Cities from the site and gave them a series of questions that could be answered by reading the table.

It was a fun lesson and gave students some good practice reading tables and charts prior to their state testing.

I went through the science section of the almanac and under weather there were several tables and charts from  wind chill to lightning deaths that could be used as part of a science classroom which would easily allow the integration of technology and math (especially if you have children compare the data).

ELA - Book Project

This idea was complete stolen from Pinterest (you can click on the original idea - HERE). We did it with the fifth grade prior to an inspection team coming into the school. Almost the entire fifth grade hallway was covered in these displays. It is quite eye popping when you step into the hall (probably because of the bright yellow background and 3D book covers).

It could easily be adapted for a science class particularly if students are reading nonfiction books about a topic you are studying (animals, planets, etc.),

Here are some thoughts about this project:

- It used up a lot of ink. I had to get permission from the principal to print all the students heads (80 of them at 8 1/2 x 10). I don't think he would have so agreeable if hadn't been for the inspection team :)
- I helped the teacher by taking all the pictures, printing, and cutting out. I worked with a parent volunteer after school to get the displays up. If you plan on doing on a larger scale it might be helpful to get help.

I have seen a similar project (also on Pinterest - see second picture above from where the students created paper displays of themselves reading that might a cheaper alternative to printing pictures of students. If you work in a collaborative school you might get your art teacher to help do that part of the project.

Everyone was very pleased with the finished results and even the inspection team complimented the displays!

Pull Outs - Social Studies

I was working with a couple of teachers coming up with end of year project ideas (after our state testing is through mid-May). I wanted someone to try the pull out tab project I wrote about earlier in another post so I put together a sample of a fifth grade project using poster board and the axis powers. I think the fifth grade teacher I showed it to will try it with her groups. I also showed it to a fourth grade social studies teacher and he has a G/T group that is ahead of the others and thought this would make a good enrichment project for them so he had the group pick a person and create their pull tabs. He said it went well with the group although he had to do some "tab surgery" with some of the smaller pictures.