Week in Lab: Reminding me why I teach…


In this otherwise crazy time, I am still teaching, and for whatever reason (kids worrying about the school reconstitution, the lovely spring weather, etc.)  the students have been about as close to a dream as any teacher could hope. I’ve had a couple behavior problems, but they are much fewer and far between.

In many ways, I feel that these are some of the best executed units that I’ve done. I feel like I’m one track with most of my unit plans, and I’m bringing the learning to a new, higher-level. Let’s take a look at what’s going on…

Second Grade: Fossils

The VoiceThread will not show the progress being made, but I really feel like the kids are getting a pretty good grounding in the key ideas I wanted to get across for this unit, how fossils are made, and the enormous time scale of the Earth and geology. I should start having more comments up on the VoiceThread showing that. In addition I’ve had the kids work with their AmeriCorps tutors at the IWB, doing sorting activities with coins in Kidspiration to help supplement what they are learning in class. I’m proud of this because it gets the kids working with their tutors in a way that is really interactive and effective.

Third Grade: Money

This one you’ll see what they are learning about money. We started out with how money is made, and what it is, but I’m trying to expand their knowledge to more general economic principals. I’m pleased with their basic knowledge of “value” and “worth” in economic terms. This unit is one that I’m feeling pretty good about now.

Fourth Grade: Survival

This one is a little uneven. I was a little ambitious in having kids approach this from an environmental point of view. I’m trying to teach them about biodiversity, webs of life, global warming, and other threats to this. It’s a heavy menu, for a very restive grade-level. Most of their work is on the grade level blog I have for them. I’m having to work with them on their comments a lot to have them go back. Some of this maybe that I’m often having them write about multiple ideas at the same time, and I need to break it down a bit more.

Fifth Grade

This is not going great. The teachers requested that students work on the ILS (integrated learning system) the district has purchased, which requires little input or work on my part, and very little creativity for the kids. There are enough games to keep them happy, but they can’t do it the whole period, and what’s left makes it hard for me to have them do the other thing I wanted them to pick up on, writing comments on other blogs. Part of the problem is that I’ve only seen them about one session a week for a variety of reasons (being out for CUE, CABE, etc.). I am not pleased at all with this and need to do a better job of lesson/session management to get to both lessons.

Six Grade: Music

This unit is going in some directions that I didn’t plan, but in a really good way. First, the kids usually work on reports about a musician. These have been pretty facile in the past, relying heavily on recall, and not much on analysis. Instead I’ve ended up delving into musical genres and having them write about them using compare and contrast, which is a big part of their grade level standards. In addition, the site consultant we have came into do a lesson on figurative language with an India Arie song, and we got some great results, but unfortunately for now, they’re on paper. I’ll try to get them up, maybe on VoiceThread.

On the whole, the kids are making up for the madness that is my adult professional life now. Thanks!

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