Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Multicultural Day Event

Well, we did it...Multicultural Day was a huge success!  The students did an amazing job on their Multicultural Day celebration.  We used the theme, "Embrace Diversity, Embrace Our World!"  I found that great slogan at NationalDiversityDay (a website celebrating Diversity that will take place on October 4, 2013)  which seemed to apply perfectly to the work my students did.  During this unit the students learned about their cultural heritage, exploring the countries that their ancestors came from.  This was completed through a six week unit in the student's Take Home Book Bags, which parents were asked to be involved answering questions.  They helped by sharing heritage questions, family traditions and holidays, family recipes, and ancestor immigration stories.  These were pieces that were woven into the country book my students wrote.  When I started planning the work, I looked at all the Common Core Writing Standards.  I wanted to include pieces from each standard.  I also looked at the Reading, Speaking and Listening Standards as I was planning this book.  The book was broken into several sections.  The first section of the book was informative text which shared about the country's physical location, government, food, traditions, holidays and flag to name a few.  They completed this research through both books and online text.  They made sure to include a Table of Contents, Glossary, and Bibliography to share components and cite research.  The second section of the book included a country opinion piece, which the students wrote their reviews of why you should visit.  They also included their favorite recipe from their family in this section.  They wrote a review of why you should try the recipe.  The recipe was included in the classroom cookbook also, which each child recieved a copy of.  The last section included a Multicultural Fairy Tale which the students wrote.  They chose their favorite fairy tale which they changed to take place in their country and included elements from this country.  The completed selection was a masterpiece.  On the day of the event, we did a combination of activities.  We started with the song Hello to All the Children of the World shared by Wee Sing.  Several students then shared the back of their books, enticing the audience to want to read their book.  Then the students collectively sang Like Me and You by Raffi.  After reading a few more book backings the student created, we shared a Shel Silverstein poem title Children, Children Everywhere.  After the final group of students read the back of the book we ended the program with It's a Small World from Disney.  Our special event lasted about 30 minutes.  It was so wonderful to have representation from ALL of my students families!  The event day was a wonderful experience for both my students and their families.

Backdrop of Multicultural Day with a stage set up in the classroom and all the students' books ready to be shared with the audience.
Stars were placed on the maps of all the countries we studied.

A view of the front of our classroom including the special touches for families to see.

The backdrop I created using a $1.99 Goodwill sheet and flags and letters created by my students at my school. This was done inexpensively, but students felt very special.
Our welcome table with a sign in sheet, programs, and an evaluation for visitors to fill out.

Definitions discussed during our special morings activities.

With our backdrop discussing diversity, we spent a lot of time discussing what the word diversity means.  Students then each put a definition on this chart paper to display. 

A sample of student created text, along with a unique item that represents the country which was proudly displayed on their desk during the celebration.

A few more examples of completed student work which each child had a chance to share with the class and all the families involved in our celebration.

I loved teaching the multicultural unit and incorporate many strategies into my students instruction.  It was great being able to sing songs, share poetry, and create back covers to convince our audience to read their wonderful created work.  My students completely feel like authors during this occasion and are able to justify the work they complete and share with the classroom and the community!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Me on the Map...and Other Map Activities!

My passion for travel spills over into my classroom in a variety of ways.  I love to teach my students about the world around them and open their eyes to places beyond our Saint Petersburg home.  I think that's why one of my favorite units of the year is teaching map skills to my students.  I love their curiosity and inquisitive nature in exploring the world.  This year, we are completing an extensive unit that started with map skills and will be culminating in a Multicultural Day with presentations of student created country books.  In order to begin preparing my students, I read the book Me on the Map by Joanne Sweeney.  My students completed graphic organizers with the understanding that the world gets bigger starting with their house, street, city, state, country, continent and world.  We read stories about places around the world in reading, studied map skills in Social Studies, and wrote travel adventure stories in Writing that integrated imagination, creativity and facts from different places.  This integrated unit touches upon many Common Core Standards and is exciting for the students.  The students also created maps of an imaginary country which they made up, and had to apply the use of map keys, map scales, and a compass rose.  These activities were all done prior to teaching a multicultural unit that includes a parental involvement piece.  Students have read several stories in their Take Home Book Bag, and for the past 3-4 weeks parents have been involved in this weekly homework with questions about ancestors, heritage, family recipes, and cultural celebrations.  Students then chose one country from their heritage to focus on a book project.  They are researching facts and information and making a country book with 3 sections: Facts and Country Information, a Country Opinion Writing Piece, and a Multicultural Fairy Tale they create using elements of fairy tales and key items from their country.  This project includes most Common Core Standards for both Reading and Writing.  The children are super involved and their is lots of learning and investigating going on daily.  I love to guide my students on their quest for knowledge.  More on this project and our special celebration coming up soon!

Borrowing ideas from both Clutter Free Classroom and Sunny Days in 2nd Grade blogs, I loved the idea of having the students create flip books and hold up the world with their little pictures.  Each child posed with their hands in the air for these posters.

A student example of the completed Me on the Map activity!

Me on the Map Writing Activity.  Students chose which place on the world map they would want to visit and shared their adventure in both a story and created Voki character.  Students found maps of the country to include, and researched facts to add into the story.  They loved the creativity involved in this project. 

So much fun with maps, can't wait to teach them more!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Studentreasures Publishing

Have you heard of Studentreasures Publishing Company?  It is a wonderful company where your students can publish books!  Since I teach a primary grade (K-2) they offer a chance to publish a class book.  I have done this with my students for the past three years, and the results have been magnificent. Each year, I choose a theme for my students to write stories about.  We bring these pieces through the writing process, and write a final draft version on the pages sent to us by the company.  We then send our completed pages back to the company one week before our assigned "Press Date" and about 2-3 weeks later, we receive copies of our published book in the mail.  The great thing is there is no pressure to buy the book, they will send you a copy for free, BUT if your families are interested, they may purchase copies of the book.  Each year, I have several families who choose to purchase the book for a treasured memory of second grade.  My former students have come back a year/two years later and shared how it is still one of their prized processions.  My young writers truly feel like published authors when the books get delivered to the classroom. They really understand the Writing Process, and they see the importance of Pre-Writing, Drafting, Editing, Revising, and Publishing!  If you are looking for a wonderful way to publish writing in your classroom, take a look at Studentreasures!

This year our theme was Once Upon a Dream... Stories where we entered a dreamworld and shared the many adventures before waking back up. Last year our theme was Our Imaginary Pets.  I try to choose a theme that allows for creativity and imagination of each of my budding young authors.

An example of the student created story

The day our books came in, all students were engrossed in the treasured book, reading each others stories and sharing in the excitement of publication.

To find out more about the company, check out their website here: www.studentreasures.com.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Informative Text Writing can be FUN!

I love teaching writing in the classroom. All types of writing.  Not only do I enjoy teaching narrative and opinion writing, but I also enjoy explanatory writing.  At the beginning of second grade, it is the perfect time to teach my students how to write informative text.  I start with teaching the elements of paragraph, breaking it down into parts.  We watch video clips, sing songs, and create paragraphs together.  I teach them how to use a topic sentence, three detail sentences, and a concluding statement.  The students get excited for this process.  Once they learn how to form one paragraph, we can stretch it to two, three, and four paragraph essays.  All this in 2nd grade!


                    I teach the Stoplight Method for paragraph writing. Students will learn that Green means GO! Start with a topic sentence.  Yellow means Slow Down and share the important details.  Red means STOP! Make a closing or conclusion sentence that wraps the paragraph up.
The Paragraph Song
Sung to the Tune of Itsy Bitsy Spider
Introduce the topic in a general way.
Next, you add 3 details of what you want to say.
Then you write a closer, put this sentence last.
Now you have completed,
Youre great paragraph!

I feel like this helps my students to grasp onto the concept.  I like to next remind children how to indent by teaching them the thumb rule.  I print out mini thumbs for them to stick on their papers the first time they try this, and remind them of this strategy throughout the year.  It really helps it stick in the minds of my seven and eight year olds. 
After we practice writing paragraphs, I introduce the research report.  I let my students choose between a variety of science concepts to study.  This gives them some choice, but still has focus.  I bring my students through the process of note-taking, a discussion on citing sources and plagiarism, and the important elements of informative text.
Wanting my students to understand many non-fiction text features, I focused on several features for them to include in their research report as well.  My children wrote a 3-4 paragraph essay, then went through and put five important words in bold print for their glossary, where they could define these words.  Next they drew an illustration to match the report, included captions and labels and put on a title. At the end of the project, my students created their bibliography to cite the sources. 
Check out our completed research reports below.
I put this up in the hallway for two reasons.  One, to showcase my students beautiful work giving them pride in their work and an audience. The second purpose was for all other students around the school, putting up a "Can you find these non-fiction text features?" hunt for all children to learn!

                                       Three examples of student work: