January 16, 2018

The Best Way to Build Writers: Modeling, Planning Style!

As I travel through this journey of giving up the boxed writing program, there is one thing I will never give up-MODELING!  Teachers frequently ask me what makes my students become the writers that they are, and that's what I tell them-MODELING!  You have heard it over and over from others I'm sure, but I'm here to tell you, modeling is golden!  It is the very key to successful student writers, with one other thing!


Where does this process start-at the very beginning.  I model how to make a plan first.  This is so incredibly important!  Students need a plan to guide their writing, but it is the first thing that teachers drop.  WHY?!  I have heard everything- students don't know what to do, they don't use their plan, it takes too much time, it's too hard!  UGH!  This is NOT about us, the teacher!  It is about students making their way in writing, with a view of where they are going in their sight!  Give them the opportunity to have success through planning.

So, how do you model this?  Super simple!  The first thing you need to do is decide on what form of planner you want to use.  I am a Hamburger Planner girl myself!

I have used this planner for years with every grade from first through fourth!  I find the idea to be very appealing to students and it is easy to make the parts valuable to students.  The buns go together-this is a MUST!  Students must understand that the top bun and the bottom bun are THE SAME THING!  The focus of the writing goes in each bun.  Where do you get the focus-from the prompt, the assigned topic, or their own personal choice of topic.  That's the joy of the hamburger planner!  You can use it for all styles of writing and for any topic!  Just a little tweaking to make it work across all the platforms and you're good to go!

Next, students will move into the hamburger layers.  This is where you can talk about all kinds of organizational issues.  This is where organization starts after all!  That's one of the very reasons to plan!!  Instead of students jumping all over as the write,  this can be fixed before they write!  Take the time to talk about this during the planning stage.  Then, MODEL it!  Get a copy for yourself and fill it out.  You are going to be using this to guide your way, so fill it out before the students, not before class!  Modeling only works well live.  Give up your idea that it has to be fancy and beautiful because that isn't going to work.  Talk through your thoughts and the why behind what you are writing on the page.  The more you verbalize, the more students will see that you believe in what you are doing-and that means it WORKS!

You see, that's half the problem right there.  When we offer students criteria and then don't support it with evidence, we are doing the same thing they are when they don't use text evidence.  "It was in my brain." doesn't work when we want them to provide text evidence,  so why would we want that for writing!  Model this step and it will pay off BIG TIME!

An now, for the next best thing to Build Writers-Have honest conversations about what is on the planner.  Yes, that's right.  Ask kids to share and then have an honest conversation about what is on their page.  The key is to wrap it in that general rule of  one positive comment, one suggestion, and one positive comment so that kids are seeing your suggestions as a positive.  Here's a brief example of how this might work:


Student: My bun is Winter Break.  My reason one is Isle Maurada, my reason number two is Disney Cruise, my reason number three is running a race.  My final bun is Winter Break.
Teacher:  I love that you are focusing on your favorite thing on your break, which is your Disney Cruise.  Do you think that your order of these reasons makes sense in the order they are in?  Think like a story from a book.  You're ideas are strong.  What can you do to make it make better sense?
Student:  I could put the Cruise first!!

Yep-that was a real conversation.  By simply allow students to take a minute to think about their planner fixed a major writing problem-organization-BEFORE their draft was written.

I hope this helps you to build confidence in planning and using this as a modeling tool.  Take the time to try it, and stick to that planner for writing.   I'll be back to discuss this very thing, so you can see the sequence of how to model with the planner during the writing process.  Until then, let me know what you think, what your favorite planner is, or any ideas that you might have for modeling writing with students.  I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Pin for Later!

January 9, 2018

I Can't Do This Anymore: Conquering the Current Education System with Christ

Time and time again, I have seen written comments on Facebook that go something like this, "I'm so stressed out!  I just don't think I can do this anymore.", "I love my job, but something has to give.  The hours I put in are ruining my family life, but I have to do it.", or "I want to look for another job BUT the kids, what about the kids?"  Many times they are accompanied with, "Please pray for me.  I know this was what the Lord called me to do, but, I'm not sure anymore!"  If you are a Christian teacher, I know exactly what you are going through.  If you are a Christian teacher, feel free to read on.  If you are not a Christian teacher, feel free to read on, knowing that the following information is being presented as an answer-the ONLY answer as a Christian-is that Jesus is our ONLY answer.  From this we get our every breathe, our every strength, our every answers.  He died for our sins and by accepting Him as our Lord and Savior, we can seek Him out for the very answers within His Word-the Bible.  It is with this true, saving spirit that I proceed in my post-to provide a way from the one and only Way-Jesus!  So, let's go!

First, I'd like to say that I've been there.  I've been in the spot of crying my eyes out daily.  I've been in the spot of HATING my job EVERY SINGLE DAY!  I've been in the spot where I asked my husband if I could quit- just quit-my job!  I've struggled with administration and how to deal with just a plain bad evaluation system that seemed to rob me of everything I am and was! And then THE Lord began to work.  And work He did!  Of course, every person's walk and experience will be different, but I now feel like I'm equipped with some tools that come directly from my Armor of God!  And, when needed, I grab The Armor of God too! But, more on that to come.

So, where did I start.  I started in the pit of defeat, something I never thought I would come out of!  It was in that pit that I began to fight the enemy back.  I would walk the halls in despair, wondering if showing up to a terrible experience every day was even worth it.  Yet, in Church every single Sunday for 7 weeks I had been hearing, "God is Enough!" I would approach the building from afar in dread,  until one day I looked across the empty field, at the building and said out loud, "GOD IS ENOUGH!"  That's when things began to turn inside of me!  GOD IS ENOUGH!  What if, each and every day, we could walk our halls and know that we are walking on Holy Ground because HE is with us, GOD IS ENOUGH!  I spoke it in my classroom when no one was there!  I carried scripture in my pocket to touch and remember GOD IS ENOUGH!  And things began to change!  I began to find JOY again.  No matter what came my way (and there were some VERY bad things that came my way.) Nothing ever job threatening in the fact that I could loose my job, just things that ate at my core as a Christian.  Things that I was technically powerless to do anything about. Yet my JOY returned.  I could smile at these very people who were going out of their way to be evil, and be JOYFUL!  Because, time and time again, I returned to trust the LORD to provide my joy, to make the LORD the focus of my day at my job, and to recognize I was nothing without HIM!  GOD IS ENOUGH!  That's where we all need to start our journey of recovery in a system that is created by the enemy to destroy us.

It wasn't until I started a Bible Study at Church that brought me to the next level of spiritual understanding.  It was ordained that God brought along The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer. (Affiliate Link) At the very beginning of this study, Shirer shared The Enemy's Strategies (here is a beautiful print of these strategies) and almost immediately I saw IT ! I saw IT!  I saw that my job was on his list of things to destroy-and he has been for YEARS!  I saw that I was just small potatoes in the big stew of destruction-and it OPENED MY EYES!  So, take a minute and go check out that beautiful print before reading on!  See if you can see it?  If not, I'll be right here, ready to go with what I saw!

I guess you're back by now!  Did you see IT?  The it I saw was my teaching career ALL OVER THAT PAGE!  My passion, my calling, my focus, my identity, my confidence, my heart, my relationships, my purity, my contentment was ALL OVER THAT PAGE!  Teaching is who we are!  Teaching goes way past the normal job expectations into our very being-and the enemy was right there attacking every part of who I was!  It even crept into my family because I was constantly a hot mess all over my family!  He was manipulating me within the system and I could not escape!  Or could I!

As I walked through that study I began to peel off the layer upon layer of beat down I was taking and could see, clearly, that God had a different plan for me!  This is NOT the part where I tell you I quit my job and am doing something even better.  This is the part where I tell you that I still walk into that same building every day, with JOY!  That God is ENOUGH every single day and that victory is had through this each time I choose to let God be ENOUGH and put on my armor!  Yes, this system is broken and defeated, yet God still has me here, teaching my students!  The difference is, I'm no longer a slave to it!  I can honestly say, I have been set free from the slavery of the education system, yet I am still inside it!  It is so difficult to explain because it is spiritual freedom, and that's from within.  Word upon Word upon Word flowed from the wisdom in this study that broke down the walls and caused me to be FREE because I repositioned myself to be in line with God, and not with the broke system.  I stopped being angry at people, and started calling out the enemy who was behind the plans to begin with!  Now, this is not perfect, I am still human after all!  But I am FREE!  I can walk within the plan that God has for my life-to teach children who need love and caring and great teachers-and feel peace and joy.  I can be who He needs me to be-focused on Him and not my circumstances!

Honestly, if you take one thing away from this post I hope upon hope that it is that God is ENOUGH!  That we are part of system but the LORD is the ONLY solutions to this system-for it is already defeated!  We just have to walk in it, in victory, with Jesus!  That's the Good News of how we, the Christian teachers, battle the current system with Christ!

Let me know what you think!  Let me know what victories you have had in this system by following Christ!  And, above all, PRAY!  In another great study I did, I grabbed this little nugget-Pray is not emotional-it is PRE-WORK!  So, get your pre-work on!  And, wear that Armor God gave you!

Pin for Later

January 2, 2018

STEM Mistakes that I Made

It is important to know that in STEM activities, you can frequently make mistakes that you are not counting on.  Here are some STEM errors that I made that can help you out in your experiences with STEM!  

  Underestimating the Science 

Data from New Year's Noisemaker STEM showing that changing the groupings made less noise than preplanning the groupings.  

HOLY COW!  Can I honestly tell you this was a HUGE error that I made with STEM!  I had no idea when I started that there was way more science hidden in these than the surface level activities that I designed to do.  Suddenly, right in front of me, there was science I did not imagine within these activities.  For instance, when I was creating the New Year's Noisemakers, I obviously hit the science of sound.  However, suddenly, out of nowhere, comes VARIABLES!  I wasn't even thinking about this science at all-and it's actually one of the harder things for kids to see in experiments!  Not in STEM!  We were suddenly creating new groups and discovering new things about groupings of students and their noisemakers!  By doing this, we exposed that by changing the groupings, we flatlined on noise making.  The variable of similar groupings did not produce the sound vibrations that were produced in the differentiation of design that the original groups did!  And that was just the beginning of missed sciences!  So, lesson to learn-be prepared to pick out science features that you can cover with students as they are engineering and while you are testing their products.  It is there-you just have to look!  

Crafting instead of STEM

This STEM was fun and had lots of science, BUT it was a little too much for one teacher to handle!

In my Snowman Skiing STEM, I quickly discovered that the crafting overwhelmed the STEM process.  It's not that the snowmen weren't needed-they were!  However, I didn't need to put as much time into creating them as I did.  Next time, I'd get parent volunteers in to help with the entire process if I used hot glue again-or even better, I'd just get the right glue!  Then the kids could do it all!  Make sure you truly examine how much crafting is present because it can get in the way of what you planned for in your STEM.  You want their minds to be focused there, not so much on the craft of it all! 

Providing a Model 

This works both ways.  It is key that you examine the STEM you are working with and decide if a model is a good idea.  For instance, I really thought a basic model in the New Year's Noisemakers would not be needed.  However, I got a lot of similar ideas, many of which ended up being cup shakers and rain stick "style" noisemakers.  When I do this again next year, I will share some "models".  I will simply show them musical instruments during the planning stage as well as the video.  This way, it will broaden their "model" view and allow for more variety.  It is very important to weigh the model idea.  Giving too much information in our model presentation can also guide them too much.  So, be careful-but think it through too! 

Ignoring a Kid Solution

Open space at the bottom allowed the snowmen to ski correctly.

This happened during my Snowman Skiing STEM.  I couldn't figure out how to get those snowmen to ski onto the "snow" surface at the bottom.  They just kept falling over.  However, it never dawned on me until days later, during Winter Break, that the students had already solved this problem-in the pre-testing stage!  Over and over their snowmen simply skied down their slopes.  I literally woke up in the night with the realization that they had a solution to MY problem-that was really THEIR problem to solve-IF I HAD JUST ASKED!  I need to be asking students during the testing stage rather than dictating the things we are doing.  A deep thought to ponder!   

My plan caused the snowmen to fall over!  

Not Providing Time to Reflect

I had ever intention of reflecting on my STEMS.  I even built this into my products.  But intentions are not always matched.  You see, it was before break...yadah, yadah, yadah...  Why did I even listen to my own excuses!  This is so vital to their growth in this system, and yet, I talked myself out of it!  Reflecting allows students, just like us, the adults, to grow.  However, it comes natural to us.  Not so much for them!  I skipped this vital opportunity for students to grow and change.  So, I hear by pledge unto myself that I won't do this again!  Let them have that time!  It's key!  

I hope this will help guide you in not making the mistakes I have made so far.  I will say, it truly is an amazing process to engage in within your classroom setting.  There is usually little set-up and take down. Plus, the kids are so involved in it that they will think of things you never have and create things you've never imagined within these activities in your classroom!  I am currently awaiting the arrival of this book:

(Affiliate Link http://amzn.to/2C8Oknl )

I'm super excited to see what's inside.  Once I get going, I'll post a good review!  I'd love to hear what mistakes you have made of what books you use for STEM!  Drop me a comment to let me know!  

Pin for Later    

December 26, 2017

Giving Up The Writing Program: What I'm Doing Instead

Throughout your teaching life, you will have moments of discovery-about who you are and what you truly believe as a teacher.  I've had a number of those through my career.  The first one was that I would switch from the traditional method of reading and become a more "Balanced" Literacy Instructor.  Not in the sense that is today's "Balanced" Literacy (Which is a farce-but that's another blog post!) Another was when I discovered that I was truly a great writing instructor-because I loved to write and I learned from the very best!  Karen Padgett-may your retired teacher time be the VERY BEST, wherever you are!  Yes, I learned from a very wise and knowledgable peer!  Not some crazy writing program that everyone hates-but REAL teaching!  REAL TEACHING!  

So, when I found myself saying this, I was completely SHOCKED- "I don't know how to teach writing anymore!"  Yes, I said that-because I didn't.  You see, I've been bogged down in writing programs-Lucy Calkins, Write Traits, Top Score, Making Meaning Writing-you name it, it's come my way.  In that moment I realized I needed to STOP THE MADNESS and go back to the Karen Padgett way of life-write every week with a purpose!  Just Write! (Oh, wait, that was ANOTHER program I tried!)  

Here's how this breaks down day by day:

On Monday you introduce the prompt and plan.  That's it.  The key to this method is in the simplicity of each day.  When students get overwhelmed, they don't produce the writing you expect.  That is what I have learned over the years of teaching writing-small chunks for small kids produced the best results.  And so does planning!  So many people skip this part but it is the KEY to excellent results.  It takes the ideas for writing from higher order thinking to the knowledge level.  (Read more about it here!)  So, planning is KEY!

Tuesday is modeling day for the teacher and writing day for the kids.  Again, I take this in small chunks.  I start with proposing a grabber, or introduction, statement.  Here is something to keep in mind-kids WILL copy you.  That's what modeling is-the opportunity to show a technique.  If they copy it, so what!  Really, I mean that!  They will eventually venture off into something different-I PROMISE!  What you are doing is loading their tool kits with ideas.  You just have to remember that your introduction statement is no different than a list of ideas you would put in a writer's notebook.  Once I get the introduction started, I form my three ideas and add those to my paragraph.  I finish with a strong closing-again, a modeling technique that allows kids to grow their tool kits.  Then, I give students the time to write their introduction-and that's it!  And, yes, I do this week after week!  

Wednesday arrives with a little more writing.  I will often model my opening of the second paragraph.  Then I continue to write while students write their second and, many times, third paragraphs.  This is where I should take a moment and talk about the end of each writing period.  Students are always sharing throughout this process, in the form of the last 5 minutes of the writing period.  During this time I provide specific feedback as to what students have done correct in their writing.  I also provide ways to boost their writing.  This is the specifics of paint a picture with your words, using figurative language, boosting strong verbs, and any other opportunities that present themselves.  I always phrase these things in positives, such as, "One way to strengthen your writing would be...".  This allows students the opportunity to change their writing and for others to apply this same idea.  Many times, I open the writing period with this same technique.  

Thursday arrives as a time to complete any of the remaining body of the essay.  Again, I start with a quick modeling of what I am working on within my own writing.  Do not underestimate this part!  The more we model writing, the better it is for students.  And, it actually improves our own writing!  If we can grow as writers, we can help students grow!  Depending on the process we are at in writing, I may even model my conclusion.  This is where it gets tricky.  You don't want to jump into the conclusion until you are sure that you have modeled it time and again.  But, if we are on a short week, or Friday is heavy, then I will model this process at this stage.  

And, finally, FRIDAY!  As I just said above, on Friday we work to complete the conclusion.  This should always include a restate of the topic, followed by a reminder of the information inside for an expository or informational and an opinion piece.  For narrative, you are looking for a wrap of the ideas, the solution, and a lesson learned.  Model, model, model these ideas!  In addition to this, it is very important for students to then edit their work.  They need to read it out loud to others and check for spelling and grammar throughout the week.  

I am actually super excited to be going back to this method and seeing what my students can do.  Yes, by the end of all of this we will be moving into how to add information from readings into our work to get ready for fourth grade! But, this is where we are going to go  from where we have been!  No more programs, no more jumping around with ideas or things that are taught.  Just modeling, embedding instruction in real learning, and letting kids learn how to REALLY write!  Here's where I'm starting!  

You can find this in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and it will soon be part of my January Writing Prompt Bundle!  I hope you join me in this simplification of writing program, because it WORKS!  Let me know what works for you!  I'd love to hear your ideas!  

Pin for later! 

December 20, 2017

New Year's STEM: Exploring SOUND Energy!

Happy New Year everyone, even if it is a little early!  Or, you may be joining me for a look at this STEM based off a duplicate product found in my store!  Either way, be prepared for some FUN with STEM and Sound Energy! 

In this STEM you will find the following steps:  Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, and Improve.  I have also included a chance to Reflect on this STEM though a quote provided to inspire deeper thinking about this activity.  It is important to know that while STEMS come with a variety of step models, each of these models cover the same principles within STEM.  The key is that students apply the principals of creativity and engineering.  Students should be developing systems and ideas based on what they see as the best form of applying their personal skills and the concept presented to them in the challenge at hand.  That means you are as hands off as possible.  The only thing I really did in this STEM was to manage supplies, cut the duct tape (because it is REALLY sticky), mark the results, and vacuum after the clean-up (More on how to avoid this from my lesson learned to come!)  So, here we go!

First, students were able to apply their understanding of sound energy from their schema from our lessons in class and from the video suggested in the product found here.  This is the ASK stage!

In the product, you will find an open note taking page and a guided notes page.  With my third graders I use the guided page.  I also let them watch the video once through without taking any notes.  Then, I stopped it at spots so they could write down what they learned because she talks REALLY fast!  You could always swap out this video with another, as the Powerpoint allows you to embed any video you choose (directions are included).

Once my students worked through the ASK stage, they moved to Imagine.  This is where students had to think about the Criteria and Constraints involved in this activity.  In other words, what the could and could not do.  These are established to keep students within a boundary so that they are not getting off task and wasting time going down bunny trails or even socializing.  In this STEM, one of the Criteria is that they must have different designs for each team member's noisemakers.  This was key, as one team got off target because, during create, they decided they liked another noisemaker better.  They all wanted it and headed down that bunny trail.  I was able to redirect back to the criteria to get those students back on their PLAN!

Yes, that's the next step, PLAN!  In Imagine, students are simply brainstorming all of the possibilities that they have.  This PLANning stage allows them to square up the actual plan they have.  In this case, this is where students developed a specific system to make noise and decided on what supplies they needed.  I supplied them with beans, rice, cereal, duct tape (needed but STICKY), paper towel rolls, gift wrap rolls (A parent brought them in!), paper plates, jingle bells, fabric, embroidery hoops, cups, tongue depressors, staplers, regular tape, and glue.  Then I opened my classroom cabinets to them with the understanding that it couldn't be anything that I needed back from them!  Many of these things were already in my room.  I did utilize parents for some of the things that needed to be purchased (beans, rice, cereal, jingle bells).  I gave them a good amount of time to plan.  They did a very good job of planning and knew what they needed when we moved onto CREATE!

CREATE is the time that they will actually BUILD their noisemaker.  I provide a half hour for this step.  This seems to be a fair amount of time for all groups to be able to be ready, based on the STEMS that I have completed so far.  This did not include the time I used to pass out supplies.  I did this pre-CREATE.  I had student team members come to a table area and pick up supplies such as the rice, beans, and cereal.  This is where I didn't think!  Before they started CREATE,  I should have laid down large pieces of bulletin board paper.  We had a little bit of a mess from kids not knowing how to pour the materials.  I was able to show them how to make paper funnels after I discovered that pouring didn't work so well.  I would definitely suggest this for your classroom before you begin!  I haven't vacuumed in years, as we have wood floors at home and I sweep!  It was an experience for sure!  Anyways, students went fully into CREATE mode and were able to complete this step within the half hour provided!

STEM, Noisemakers, Student-Led Learning 

Now it was time to test their systems!  Included in the product is a fun slide in the Powerpoint just for this!  It includes a website specifically designed for detecting sound levels in the classroom with a fun graphic-Bouncy Balls!  I used this and set the bouncy balls on the lowest amount available.  Then I explained we would use the large bouncy balls, as these are the hardest to move!  I also explained to students that they were not to make ANY noise with their voices (unless they made a horn type of noisemaker) because 1.  they could be helping another team win or 2.  they would be getting a false read on their noisemakers.  Then I stood at the board and marked the three highest bouncy balls that each team achieved!  This is how we judged the assigned group winners!

What we did next was even more fun, and this is also where we got into some serious science application!  I allowed kids to group randomly and we tried it again!  And we got totally weird results.  Weird in the fact that we were able to see how variables affect an experiment.  When students were randomly grouped, meaning they were with similar equipment made by other students, our data flatlined!  They were not able to create sound higher than the original groups of differently designed noise makers.  More importantly, they got a hands-on experience with variables!  I love that we could apply that science term and skill in this very minute!  Real life application!

Next, we headed to IMPROVE!  Students were able to look at all the different noisemakers and discuss and plan for even better noisemakers.  Also included in this was an opportunity to reflect.  IMPROVE doesn't always have to be about the STEM.  It should also be about how they could be better as students-with each other and within creating and growing.  Right now I'm getting a lot of "we worked good as a team" instead of those deeper reflections as a cooperative group.  That is going to be one of my goals as we get more and more into learning about how we work together in STEM and how this connects to us working as a team in other areas of our classroom.

I'm totally excited to add STEM to my growing knowledge of the Student-Led Classroom.  I can honestly say, I can see this being key in the development of how students lead in a classroom setting.  If you'd like to learn more about Student-Led Classrooms, jump over to my general post called Just the Place to Start.   Are you interested in checking out my growing STEM products?  Check them out over at my store, The Best Days!

More importantly, thanks for stopping by.  I'm super excited you did and would love to hear any feedback you have about STEM or this idea, in general.  I'm still learning and would love ideas, suggestions, and even improvement ideas you may have!

November 21, 2017

Gobbling up Some STEM Experiences!

One way to enjoy a holiday is through STEM activities.  I am just venturing into STEM and it seems like a perfect fit for Student-Led Learning.  While I was thinking about what to do with the two days before Thanksgiving, STEM came to mind!  Why not?!  The students' brains would not be able to do much, they would loose whatever learning we were doing over the long weekend, and, well, I would be just to tired to teach-period!  Also, I have viewed STEM as a fun adventure-up until creating and implementing one!  

I knew I wanted to think of my very own idea!  The way I learn how to create something new is by developing something from start to finish.  I have always been this way.  It allows my brain to cycle through a cycle.  I know that's a lot of cycles, but that is truly what it does.  Suddenly, the Turkey Hotline popped into my head and that's where I went-turkey thawing!  Yep, but HOW?!  How do I implement such a crazy thing for kids!  

Here's how it went down!  First, I shared the basic concept with my students. I designed the pages in the Holiday STEM:  Thaw a Turkey to be both printable pages and a PowerPoint presentation. 

Then they dove into the process.  I designed this with the idea that they would complete the activity in two days.  The first day, students worked through the Ask, Imagine, Plan, and Create stages.  This took very little time actually.  In less than an hour students had worked through these stages and created their thawing devices.  Here they are! 

So, where were the "turkeys"?  My school has a freezer in the office.  Once I got permission, I started the freezing process there.  Then, the second morning, I sent students to the "grocery store" to pick up the "turkeys"!  They all wanted to go!  Once the turkeys arrived, we took off the "wrapping" and got started!  

There were some interesting designs for SURE!  This group actually defrosted their turkey in 45 minutes.  This equaled an uncookable turkey!  Yep-they better have a different plan! 

This group finished in about two hours.  Out of nowhere their turkey exited the ice!  Yep-uncookable!  

These two groups didn't make it but their turkeys thawed within 15 minutes of "time".  We talked about how they would have a dinner, but they would have unhappy guests because the meal would be late!  

And this teams took an additional hour to thaw!  They would have very unhappy guests, because their turkey would not have been able to be cooked!  

Overall, they had an AWESOME time with this STEM.  We had just finished learning about states of matter and freezing points, so that is all they had to go with scientifically.  Our next unit is energy, including heat energy and insulators.  We will finish right before the Holiday Break!  Guess what we will be trying again!  Yep!  Students completed the  Imagine stage at the end of our STEM.  I am keeping their papers and will give them back with their new found knowledge and give it a go again!  I can't wait to see what they come up with!  

You can grab the Holiday Stem: Thaw a Turkey in my store, The Best Days.  I'd love for you to try it out!  And, feel free to share what kinds of STEM have you tried in your classroom.  I'd love to hear all about it!  Leave a note in the comments and have an AWESOME Thanksgiving!  

August 4, 2017

Student-Led Learning: Classroom Design and Open Seating

Have you heard of Open Seating?  I hadn't and my first reaction was that it was just another name for Flexible Seating.  Was I surprised when I read that it was not!  Was I even more surprised when I decided it was just right for me!

Open seating, classroom design, student-led learning, student centered, classroom climate

I was tooling around the Net when I happened upon THIS ARTICLE from Scholastic.  The idea intrigued me, but, to be honest, I thought htis lady was NUTS!  Letting kids pick their own seats!  Well, the more my Professional Learning Community discussed this, the more it seemed to fit into the Student-Led Learning model.  We wisely began to look closer at this model and we decided to incorporate one more idea into this.  REFLECTION!  If kids really thought about what worked for them in seating, if kids really thought about location and issues with others around them, could they actually do this?  Could we trust them with this wisdom!  So, we made a decision!  We are trying it out!

With this came the idea that came the fact that students needed a way to be guided and to reflect upon the seats they were in.  Open Seating Posters and Reflection was built upon that idea.  Here is a little video explaining how I set up my classroom and how Open Seating will be used.  Sorry about the VERY quick change over! I'm still learning video!