A “Rock”-ing Autobiography

Recently there has been a push to add more writing in all content areas. Being from an ELA background I have welcomed this with open arms. I love writing and being able to see the creativity of my students through their writing.

We just finished a unit over the rock cycle, and to close our unit I created an assignment. My students had to pretend they were a piece of sand at the bottom of a river and write about how they became a rock and went through the rock cycle. They had an option to write a story or create a comic strip. I am very impressed with what they came up with. I had some stories about the sediment floating by SpongeBob’s pineapple and others about the rock being crushed in Super-Mario.

Here are a couple of examples that I thought really displayed their understanding of the rock cycle!

Story Choice

Comic Choice

If you think you would like to use this in your classroom, I made a downloadable product on TeachersPayTeachers. Just click the picture below:

Rocking Autobiography - Rock Cycle Writing Task

 

Police Scanners

I am currently in the midst of UGA graduate school. I was sitting in my room earlier today working on an assignment for class. It brought chills when I read a quote from one of our books. It reminded me so vividly of my granny. Here is what I wrote for my assignment:

The section – A Scene from My Life really spoke to me. The specific part is from page 58 in the book Girls, Social Class, and Literacy by Stephanie Jones. “When the shadows lengthen and darkness falls in my hometown, my grandma makes her way to the bedroom and her beside table where the honeywood surface is neatly occupied by a Bible, a book (Why Bad Things Happen to Good People), a lamp, and a police scanner – the trusty gadget from where the static-filled voices come to keep her informed of the happenings on the street. She goes to bed each night selectively listening for familiar names of people and streets that might signify someone she loves is in trouble and in need of her help.”

This quote brought me back to my childhood where my granny would do the exact same thing. How two people can have this same experience in completely different worlds is awe-inspiring. My street from the quote was called a road because I grew up in a rural agricultural county. The book my granny had was – Two Week Women and God’s Amazing Grace. She wanted to do whatever she could for anybody and she wanted to know everything that was happening. She is the one who inspired me for several reasons.

1. She encouraged me to be better than she was and I became the first one to graduate from college.

2. She taught me to accept everyone no matter the color of their skin or the amount of money in their bank account.

3. Lastly she gave me a sense of pride in being who I was – because after all the only person I could be was ME.

I wish this for all of my students. I hope that they know someone has their back!  I want them to feel loved, supported and cared for – even if it is only for 90 minutes out of each day.

What is a Scientist?

As one of our beginning of the year activities we had students write and draw about their idea of what a scientist is. It is very interesting to see how many students get specific, how many automatically draw a man, and so forth. I really like this activity because it is a glimpse into who my students are and their style of writing/drawing.

Here are two examples from this year:

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I loved that one is a typical mad scientist and that another has a girl as the scientist. If you would like to see what your students come up with download this product from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

What is a Scientist? Writing and Drawing Activity

Where do you grade papers?

With the start of a new year comes many new students for this teacher. I thought about it the other day, and for every year I have been teaching the number of students has went up. In China I started with around 60 students, and that went up to 80 in Mississippi. Then my first year back in Georgia it raised up to 100 students. This year I have almost 150. For me it is a huge learning curve in how to grade, what to grade, when to grade, etc.

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I came home this weekend with two assignments to grade. One was a quiz, which students self-graded in class. Another was a writing assignment about “What is a Scientist?” I am sure most teachers who grade their papers find a comfy place in their home, perhaps around the kitchen table. However, I am not your typical teacher. This week my papers were graded at the drive-in movies under the light of the moon, meteors, and truck lights. I didn’t get them all done there, but it was nice to be productively relaxing.

SO my question to you is – Where do you grade your papers? Do you take them to exotic locales or stick to home/school?

 

 

This Year Has Flown By!!

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Where did the time go? At this time last year I was still ferociously searching for a teaching job and now I have just completed one of the best years of my career as an educator. I work at an extremely supportive school and I cannot say enough about how wonderful it is.

This year was not without its stresses and craziness. For the first time in two years I was able to teach science and truly fall in love with that content all over again. It was a challenge getting back into that mindset. Another challenge was having two classrooms, teaching two grade levels on two different halls. Through all the bumps, twists and turns I made it through.

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I taught 8th Grade Physical Science during the afternoon and I had planning with the eighth grade team. They are a spectacular group of people. I was able to experience a field trip with them to Calloway Plantation and The Kettle Creek Battlegrounds. I was also able to experience an OCMS tradition – the 8th grade lock-in. Yes, I stayed up ALL NIGHT with a group of 8th graders. I had more fun than I thought I would despite being very tired for a few days afterward.

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My year would not have been complete without my precious 6th graders. I truly adore sixth grade. They are still new to the middle school and are working hard to figure out what it means to be a middle school student. In the sixth grade I taught ELA. We completed many activitites, but my favorite was an oldie – the body biography project. We created character projects for the novel The Cay by Theodore Taylor. As our end of the year project, students wrote scripts for Asian Stories, created puppets and performed puppet shows. Both projects were lots of fun and thought provoking for my students!

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What a wonderful year! I cannot wait for next year after a much needed summer break🙂

 

 

Deja Vu

I am currently teaching night school at my old high school. I teach all of the HS Science classes there, and yes it can be a bit overwhelming. However, being in my old high school is surreal. Since I have graduated high school (over 10 years ago – yikes), they have built a new building and now rent out the old building. That being said I now teach in the very place that I was in all those years ago. Each night I pass my old locker and can’t help but think about all the people who walked those halls with me.

I had an awesome experience in high school. Those were the days when the CRCT was in its infancy and high stakes tests were just beginning to be the popular thing. I don’t remember taking a lot of tests in school and I guess that is a blessing. I want my students to have the same great experiences I had, but sometimes I worry that all they are going to remember is the test they took. I know I am probably not alone in this – it is just a fact that has been wearing on me for a few weeks now.

Okay, Okay enough with my walk down memory lane and my soap box. I have some good news to add. TpT is having a sale starting on January 20th and ending on the 21st. My entire store will be on sale along with several of my favorite teacher authors. I have even added a new product in the mix!! Happy Shopping!!🙂

Chun Jie Kuai Le!

I was so excited to celebrate the Chinese New Year with my students this past week. Of course Chinese New Year doesn’t start until February 8th this year, but being in the states we talked about it a bit early.

My PLC started a “Camp Fire” program every two weeks. It is an opportunity for us to meet our listening and speaking standards in a fun way. Students can audition and share journals, create skits or do book talks all on this day. We have themes for each Camp Fire that are focused around our unit plans. The students love it and don’t even realize we are actually learning during the camp fire. Other than student share time we also review standards and have teacher lead activities and stories. My counter-part came up with the name CAMP SHINE (Stories Here Igniting Neighborly Exchanges). It has definitely become a highlight for each unit even though it is A LOT of work!

So, our first Camp Shine of the new year was focused on Chun Jie or Chinese New Year. I got to share with the students some of the customs that come from Chinese New Year. I mean did you know it is tradition to wear red underwear for good luck during your animal year? We played games like catch the dragon tail and an honor balance game I learned while in China. Before the students came in I decorated the room with red banners. I set up my kid chinese dishes (and during the camp fire challenged students to the chop stick challenge!).

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Here is the ppt that I used for our camp fire:

Chun Jie Kuai Le

I made handouts for the students and taught them a Chinese song. The song is on the ppt. The handout came from Scholastic if you search Chinese New Year on their site.

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I think that the camp fire really resonated with several students. I received various drawings from students and even some traditional ramen noodles straight from China! It is moments like this that I live for as an educator!!🙂

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If you are interested in other resources regarding Chinese New Year – I have the following product available on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and did I mention it was FREE!!

Chinese New Year Activities Pack