Friday, June 29, 2012

Summer School Brainstorming

I'm starting to come up with ideas for the two summer school classes I'm teaching next month. Summer school is a fun setup at my school and I have the freedom to do whatever I want. Each camp is 5 hours a day for 5 days. This is equal parts fun and challenging. My students range from 5-9 years old with a wide range of abilities/disabilities. It's always a challenge to find things the kids can do together and keep all of their interest.

Week 1 will be Kids Camp. I try to run this like a regular summer camp and use theme days to stay organized.
Themes I've come up with so far:
  • Arts and Crafts Day
  • Game Day
  • Sports Day
  • I still need 2 more themes....???
Week 2 will be Science Camp. I like to do all the science experiments I never have time to set up during the school year. I ordered a Scholastic book of hands-on science activities that I plan on using. Below are a few of the activities I was thinking of doing.
  • Water science (ice/melting/evaporation, sinking/floating, etc)
  • Volcanoes
  • Magnets (I have fun activity where you make a magnetic puppet theater that the kids have really loved to do in the past.)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Last Day of School and Summer Plan

Today was the last full day in our classroom. This is this first time in 3 years that my entire group is moving up to a new class in the fall. In the world of special education and three grade levels in my classroom, there has always been at least 2 students who will continue on with me during the next school year. In celebration of this rare event, I held a mini Lower El graduation with my class today as my little surprise to them this afternoon. I found adorable little hats and cute cardboard diplomas at the dollar store. I announced they were all officially "big kids" moving on to Middle El. My super awesome teammate brought her Middle El class outside to watch my kids graduate. Her big guys were so excited and welcomed them into the world of being a Middle El kid. My favorite part was a former student of mine that came up to congratulate his little sister and told her how proud he is that she's big kid now and they can be in the same class together next year. Too cute!

Now it's time to get prepared for my new bundle of kids. In my head I keep thinking of the list of things I'd like to do this summer. Some are "must do" things, and others are "wishful thinking." I'm bound to forget them, so here's what I have so far.
  • Organize!! I have closet that is a disaster (partly my own doing, partly junk from the teacher before me). I also have a ton of files, but no file cabinet or place to put one, so time to move the files into binders.
  • Create a kindergarten plan! I have a pretty solid routine and curriculum plan for 1st and 2nd, but this is the first year where I'm going to have genuine kindergarten students. My last kindergarten student was super motivated and always did everything my first graders did. I never needed to do ABC centers, so those will probably be my big project.
  • Create a content goal checklists for kindergarten subjects
  • Create easier to use kindergarten assessments
  • Make chair pockets to create more storage in my tiny room
That's what I've got so far, I'm sure this list is bound to grow...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Theme Pockets

This school year I really embraced the use of theme pockets in my classroom. We learn a lot from our science and social studies text books, but it doesn't have the same impact as hands-on projects. A while back I fell in love with the Famous Americans Theme Pocket book and I've used it many times. This year I have used several others including St. Patrick's Day, Community, and Dinosaurs (my latest). The dinosaurs unit was an end of the year project since we've completed all of the necessary science standards (my kids LOVE science and we breeze through the concepts). All of these pockets we made by Evan-Moor but I'm thinking next year I might try to make some of my own, especially my kindergarten kids. I was thinking of making a theme pocket book for letters, perhaps a "Vowel Book" and a few other categories. Here are a few pictures of the Dinosaur pocket book that my kids just finished. I love the way this student turned the "i" in "dinosaurs" into a volcano!
Sorry this is sideways, I tried to turn it 3 times. Looks like my dinosaurs like to be crooked :)

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