Whether you're a fellow teacher, a curious parent, or a kind reader who who is willing to humor me and at least scroll through all of my posts, here you go, the highlights of Mrs. Winn's Grade 3 class from September 2013.
Art: "Despicable Me" Minions
I got this idea from Pinterest, and since we're a rural school it wasn't too hard for kids to bring in appropriate rocks for this task. As they waited for each coat of paint to dry, I showed a little Minions video from Youtube. The students were very excited to show these to their parents and guardians at our Meet The Teacher BBQ.
The pin that inspired me: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/175288610469770786/
Writing: The Best Part of Me
Of course it's from Pinterest too! This is a great way to start working with my kids on paragraph format (introduction, supporting details, conclusion) and printing the photos out in sepia and putting them on a brown background gives a nice effect. (I had permission from this parent to share the work, in case any of you think I wouldn't be thorough enough to remember that!)
The inspirational pin: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/175288610467315720/
Read-Aloud: Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo and A Light In The Attic by Shel Silverstein
Based on an internet recommendation, I'm starting the year with Winn-Dixie. Funny and moving, I've already had a particularly important teachable moment when one of the characters uses the word "retarded". (Even more important than when Willy Wonka says "ass" in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. That will come later in the year.) And if there just happens to be a feature film to go along with the book, then so be it.
I also like to incorporate poetry all through the year, not just as a distinct unit, and Shel Silverstein's work is very engaging for kids. If you're looking for something to read at bedtime, his anthologies are excellent and very funny.
Other picture books that have great themes for the start of the year are "Jeremiah Learns To Read" by Jo Bogart and "Beautiful Oops" by Barney Saltzberg.
Meet the Teacher Night: Thank You For "Popping" In!
One might argue that this little take-home gift is "cheesy", but I think "buttery" would be a more accurate term! (In fact, I think I went with "Super Buttery"!) I put a package on each desk, and it was easy to see as the evening went on which parents had not yet been in to visit. By the end of the night, I was 21 for 21 in terms of meeting parents, which is fantastic.
Thanks to Jodi from Fun in First Grade for providing the free "Thank you for popping in!" printable here: http://fun-in-first.blogspot.ca/2011/07/thanks-for-popping-in.html
Terry Fox Run
I decided to head up our school's "Leaders Today" and "Student Government" groups this year, in part because I was looking for a way to give back without taking more time away from my own daughters (I'll explain more in a future post). Our first major endeavor of the year was our "Toonies For Terry" collection for the Terry Fox Foundation. We kicked it off with an assembly featuring a couple of videos and our challenge: if we could raise $362 - a toonie per student - the principal would allow us to have a movie morning on the day of the run. If we exceeded that goal and reached $500, he would dye his hair green and allow students to throw whipped cream pies at him. (The things that will motivate kids!)
Our final tally was an incredible $1000, and on Friday September 27th the principal made good on his word, and we enjoyed a fantastic day of movies, hair dyeing, whipped cream pie throwing, and running/walking for Terry.
Parent Involvement: Offer Prizes!
Another goal of mine for the year is to engage parents in a way that doesn't stress them - or me - out. In my September newsletter, I included a secret word for parents to write in their child's planner, and randomly chose one to receive a small Tim Hortons gift card. I did something similar with the first Assessment For Learning update I sent home, putting a very short optional quiz for the grownups at the bottom of the page to be returned and entered into a draw. Neither of these were mandatory, but I truly believe this sort of thing encourages more reluctant parents to get involved.
Of course, that's only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what's been read, written, studied and explored in the Grade 3 classroom this month, but those are a few highlights...with lots more to come in October!