Saturday, March 31, 2012

NSTA Conference

     Yesterday, I went to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference. I attended several good sessions, which I will write more about later. In the Elementary Extravaganza and the exhibition hall, there were many very interesting lessons, books, and more.

This idea was teaching camouflage by using M&Ms and two different kinds of fabric. It's simple, cheap, and easy to understand as it would be much easier to grab the M&Ms from the fabric on the right. There was another idea which used newspaper to show how butterflies use camouflage. One the newspaper, they glued paper butterflies. Some were pink or yellow, but others blended in because they were cut from other newspaper. The ones cut from newspaper were hard to find, and I didn't even notice them at first.

I also saw these clay insects, which students built and then labeled the parts. This past fall, we studied insects, and they would have loved building it rather than just drawing pictures.

     Another cool idea was teaching the water cycle. We made bracelets with the beads in order to show how it is a cycle. It starts with a yellow bead for the sun. Then there is a clear bead for evaporation. Next, comes a white bead for condensation. Precipitation is represented by a clear blue bead, and the last bead is blue, representing collection.

    I also got a butterfly necklace, which is housing a little larva that I am anxiously waiting to turn into a butterfly. Hopefully, I can bring it with me to school one day so that my fifth grades can also see it. Finally at the NSTA conference, SeaWorld brought in two penguins!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Author Study - Mo Willems

       Last fall, I was in a second grade classroom, and we did a short author study on Mo Willems. The students already knew many of his books, especially the Pigeon books. I introduced them to some they did not know as well like Leonardo the Terrible Monster. We discussed how Mo Willems is also an illustrator but has not illustrated all of his books such as City Dog, Country Frog. If you have never visited Mo Willem's website (, you need to. One of my friends and I also made a bulletin board to go along with this author study.

     The second graders were working on subjects, predicates, and punctuation, so we decided to make the bulletin board interactive (even though it was in the hallway) and give each of the characters have a speech bubbles, where the students could stick different subjects, predicates, and the punctuation on to make sentences. The really enjoyed this, especially since we had some very funny predicates.

     My favorite Mo Willem's books are his Elephant and Piggie books. I have been reading one of these with my 6-year-old cousin each time I see her, and we love them. They are hysterical! My favorite is We Are in a Book!, where Piggie explains to Gerald how they are in a book and can make the readers say things. At the end, they ask the reader to read it again, and my cousin always wants to in order to make them happy. As a beginning reader, my cousin often has a hard time focusing on reading, even though she loves reading, when there are too many words or when she is overwhelmed at the length of the book. I found that these books were perfect for her. There are few words per page, and it repeats the same words throughout the book. It is also nice that there are usually two parts, so she can decide which character she wants to read for, and I can read the other. The text is so engaging we want to read them over and over again. Mo Willems is an author that children definitely love.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Bit About Me

Welcome to my new blog! I am an undergraduate student who is studying elementary education with a concentration in special education. Next fall I will be student teaching. I've been reading other teachers' blogs for a while and finally decided to start my own. I've been learning a lot in my college classes and during my time in various classrooms, but I have many more things to learn. This year, I have been spending two full days every week in a classroom; I was in second grade during the fall and fifth grade this spring. I also spent most of the month of January in a third grade classroom. Through this blog, I hope to share some of what I have been learning and creating, but I also wish to continue to learn from more experienced teachers by occassionally asking for advice.