Sunday, September 22, 2013

Roller Coaster Unit is in the Books...

After 3 weeks of hard work, our roller coaster learning unit is complete! If you LOVE thematic teaching as much as I do, you have to try this out. We used the theme of roller coasters to teach the scientific concept of speed, direction and motion of an object. In Georgia, our second graders must learn about the changes of speed on an object. Since this was our first science unit this year, I decided to use this opportunity to teach the features of nonfiction text as well. These are the features we learned:

The nonfiction features were taught daily during our reader's workshop minilesson. The kids then went to independent reading time and guided reading groups. In guided reading groups we read nonfiction books to practice the skills of using our nonfiction text features. 

To integrate the knowledge of roller coasters into our vocabulary instruction, the kids used pic collage to create posters that explained the meaning of our roller coaster science words. If you are interested in how you can use pic collage to integrate vocab instruction, click to read another blog post here.

Here are the science words we learned in this unit:

Each day we would learn a new science word and complete a science/math experiment to make meaning of the words. The math skill of measurement was used greatly during this unit. 
After learning all about roller coasters and nonfiction text features the kids created a nonfiction book all about roller coasters. The books were published and binded for our roller coaster presentations to our parents. 
On the last day of the unit, our parents came in to see our "roller coasters". We used insulation piping, tape and marbles to create roller coasters in groups of 2 kids. The students were required to use what they have learned to make a coaster that had enough speed and momentum to make 1 loop without the marble falling off. The nonfiction books were sitting out for parents to see and our pic collage vocabulary creations were on a slide show on the smartboard. To top it all off, I borrowed a cotton candy maker to really give off the Amusement Park feel! The Coaster unit was a huge success!

If you are interested in using this thematic unit, you can check it out here!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Teaching Nonfiction Text Features

As many of us know, nonfiction reading has become a significant part of the primary classroom. Students must learn to navigate through the features of nonfiction text to learn to comprehend their reading as well as broaden vocabulary and background knowledge about our world.

Using anchor charts and text features posters, I will tackle a new feature of nonfiction each day in my classroom. Here are a few examples of those posters:

Students will be given opportunities to read nonfiction text during reading workshop, but to ensure their understanding of the features of nonfiction, I will meet with each of them in guided reading groups based on their instructional reading level daily. 

To end the unit on nonfiction text features the children will create their very own nonfiction books using the features that were taught in the nonfiction unit. Since I choose to teach thematically, the students will make a nonfiction book all about roller coasters. 

I will post about our roller coaster unit this week, but in the meantime, if you are interested in a thematic unit that teaches nonfiction text features as well as the science standards of push/pull, then check out this unit: Coasting Through Nonfiction Text Features!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

It's Giveaway Time!

Enter to Win a $25 Teacher's Pay Teachers Gift Certificate! All you have to do is like my FB page and follow my blog! Good Luck! I know there are so many things I could buy on TPT with 25 bucks!
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Deepening Vocabulary Understanding with PicCollage

According to Marzano's research, teaching vocabulary in context and using picture representations deepens understanding. Pair that with using a 21st Century Skill and you have a powerful learning tool! 

This week we will use the FREE app (yes... free!) called pic collage. 
With this app, you can download pictures from the Internet or use your own pictures to create a collage. Since my class is learning about push/pulls through the theme of roller coasters, their job will be to use a roller coaster picture to explain the meaning of one of our 6 vocabulary words. 
The most important part of this activity is that the kids generate their own meaning for the word. Simply copying from the teacher or dictionary does not show understanding, it shows great copying skills! The student's meaning should come from their own lives and experiences. That is why the pic collage will take place after all the activities for each word. 
For this particular activity, my students will make a gravity circle map, read a gravity book, and do a gravity experiment before creating their gravity pic collage.
If you are interested in an integrated learning unit that teaches nonfiction text features, writing informational and the physical science push/pulls standards, check it out here:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I was featured on "New Teacher Tuesday"!

I'm soooooo excited to announce that I was featured on new teacher Tuesday! Click the picture to check out the link!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Currently September!

I'm linking up with Farley at "Oh Boy Fourth Grade" for this months CURRENTLY! 

I'm excited to have taken in part in my very first "Currently"!