Thursday, March 27, 2014

Revisiting my Time Machine or Reformation Visitors

If you have followed my blog for long, you may recall that when I taught second and third grade, I told my kids I owned a time machine and then used it to send my friend Fritz the Frog to Ancient Egypt. (Ok, so you probably won't recall that, but it did happen--true story.) I'm the 4th and 5th grade history teacher, and this class happened to be those 2nd and 3rd graders (plus some newbies).

In history we have been studying the Reformation, and a CISP 4th and 5th tradition during this unit is having different speakers come in for each reformer. We've had visit from Martin Luther, Ulrich Zwingli, John Calvin, and John Knox. So, when my kiddos began to question how Martin Luther could show up in our classroom (looking strangely like the secondary history teacher), I could just tell them I brought him to visit in our time machine. :D

It's been a fun unit (even teaching Calvin, since I am by no means a Calvinist), and I'll confess here that I have enjoyed not having to prepare lessons for Thursdays. (It really has cut down on lesson planning time.) It's also been a great refresher in church history for me, as well as a great introduction to someone I had never heard of before--Ulrich Zwingli. So, here is just a glimpse into what my classroom had looked like on Thursday afternoons:

Martin Luther began by trying to nail his 95 Theses to our classroom door

A rousing game of "Soldier, Priest, Gun" ( think "Rock, Paper, Scissors" or "Gorilla, Man, Gun")

Ulrich Zwingli even brought snack for our class.

John Calvin and his impressive beard came to visit.

John Knox was willing to sign autographs.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

What Will You Be Doing in 10 Years?

It's CISP's tenth year, so we've been doing a lot of celebrating all year. On the 10th of each month, we have a Dress Nice Day (actually, they call it dress up day, but my kids thought at first that meant a dress in costumes day, so to clear up the confusion, I call it Dress Nice Day). There are plans in the works for our 10 Year Celebration Weekend in June. The staff have been sampling different cakes for the end of the year (most of the have been absolutely delicious!). And every class has been taking a turn decorating the bulletin board just outside our main office.

March is 4th grade's turn to do this. Since all my kiddos are 1) already 10 or 2) will be turning 10 this year, I thought it would be fun for them to think about what they will be doing in 10 years.

I knew this project would take a bit of work. I did not, however, imagine it would take the entire morning. Alas, I soon discovered that when you're ten, it is very hard to imagine what life might be like in a decade. Then again, it's not very surprising either. At this point, a decade IS a lifetime to them. They are also quite the indecisive bunch. One student complained, "Miss Miller, I'm just TOO imaginative! I don't know what I want to do! There are so many choices."

As they've worked on this project, I've noticed two things: 1) They are very creative and 2) They don't seem to realize that a majority of the next 10 years will be spent finishing their elementary and secondary educations. But aside from that minor detail, like I said, they are certainly creative. So, here are just a few of 4th grade's 10 year aspirations:

In 2024, I will be 19 years old. I will be a soccer player and in the army, but I'm going to be really old at that time. I might be a dancer like mhmhmmhmmhmmmm Michael Jackson auo! or a film character like James Bond or a rock star ta tou ga tu di!!!  

(I asked about the colorful teeth, and with an expression that clearly said that it was obvious and my question was ridiculous, student answered, "It's a mouth guard, Miss Miller." You must read this story out loud, with the sound effects, while also acting it out. Do it. I dare you.)

In 10 years I will be 20 years old. When I'm 20 years old, I will be in the army, or I will be a hockey player. 

(I'm fairly certain they don't allow Mohawks in the army, but maybe they'll change that policy in ten years.)

In 2024, I will be a hockey player. I might also be a soccer player.

(This student was very insistent that he would be playing hockey for the Czech Republic in 10 years. I feel obligated to mention that none of my boys are actually Czech.)

Somehow, I didn't get a picture of the illustration for the next story. However, it is probably my favorite. It's a good one. Read and enjoy. :)

In 2024, I will be 20 years old (I was born on the same year as CISP started). I will be running my megafarm. A megafarm has fields of wheat, barley, yeast, corn, hay, beets, cucumbers, lettuce, tomatoes, sugar cane, bamboo, and cocoa beans.. I would have a zoo with every animal that isn't in a farm.
I would have 100 henhouses with 150 chickens per house, 200 acres of pasture for my 200,000 cows, 199 acres for my 2,000 horses, and a 60-square-yard pen for my 150 pigs.
I would also have a forest and a mine. My megafarm can make anything that has been invented (not to mention inventions I would be working on). My megafarm could do almost anything. 

I love their creativeness and inventiveness. I love their crazy imaginations and sometimes wild ideas. I love the fact that at one point yesterday I had to step out of my classroom to regain my composure because they were just so funny. I love that I get to teach these kids. They are a pretty awesome group.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Iditarod Fun

I was browsing Pinterest a few weeks ago, as I often do, and noticed that many of the teacher boards I follow were pinning ideas about the Iditarod. Now, who doesn't love the story of Balto (historical accuracy aside, of course)? So, I decided to look up the starting date. When I realized that it started the first weekend of March and there fore hadn't started yet, I immediately knew that this was something my students would follow this year.

I presented them with what the race was, had them choose a Musher (racer) to follow, and they ate it up. We've also successfully tied this into Language Arts, as they have practiced reading comprehension skills, researching skills, biography writing (after researching their musher), comparing and contrasting (comparing and contrasting two different mushers), and now friendly letters (to the third graders about what they have learned about the Iditarod). One of my favorites was the banners they made to cheer on their mushers.

So, here is a glimpse of fourth grade's Iditarod Unit (which is still on going, since the Mushers are still racing):

One of the banners

Every morning we check on their mushers.

Musher Biographies and Pictures

Iditarod Inspired Reading