Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Race Car Trophies & Strawberry Yoohoo

When I began as the LMS at West, I was asked to help revive the Accelerated Reader program for our second through sixth grade students. Some teachers already had incentives and a working program in place, but we needed something consistent.

A fellow teacher was moving, and her husband had been a driver at the local Batesville race track. She posted on Facebook about giving trophies away. I jumped at the opportunity for FREE trophies. After all, if it's for free, it's for me!

We began the AR Race to the Top (sadly, the name is oh-so-close to our current national academic "race"). Each grade level has two trophies that their classroom has the opportunity to win. One trophy is for the best test average (number of quizzes passed/number of quizzes taken). The other is for the class who reads the most words.

As part of my PGP, I wanted to increase nonfiction circulation; so I used the mac-daddy of the trophies for the classroom with the highest average of nonfiction quizzes taken.

Here's the catch...for any classroom to win, EVERY student in the class has to take at least one AR quiz. The trophies are awarded each nine weeks. So...when a class wins, they can only keep the trophy for one quarter before having to return it to the library. There is some serious competition among some of the grade levels!

Which brings me to the Strawberry Yoohoo part of my story. Some classrooms do not like to give up their trophy, so I have to confiscate it. On this particular confiscation trip (I feel like a bounty hunter at times) a fellow teacher had some Strawberry Yoohoo remaining from a party and gave it to me to put in my fridge for after school. Here I am carrying six cartons of Strawberry Yoohoo and four race car trophies. Not my brightest idea ever, but our campus is large and I was trying to make it a one-trip trip to that side of the building. Luckily, a sixth grade student was not too far away when a Yoohoo started to slip. I yelled, "I'm losing a Yoohoo! Help!!!" She came running to the rescue, but not before asking if that was all I was losing. Gotta love 'em!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

National Poetry Month: Part 2

The first part of this project, students wrote their poems. For the second part I wanted to somehow incorporate Poem in Your Pocket Day. I've always loved the idea of this day and sharing poetry with students. Poem in Your Pocket Day began in 2002 in New York City and was adopted by the American Academy of Poets in 2008 as a national event. Throughout the day, you carry a poem in your pocket to share with others.

To celebrate Poem in Your Pocket Day at West, students took the poems they had typed the previous week and illustrated them. The students were encouraged to think like an illustrator and be creative!

Kindergarten illustrated by drawing their favorite thing about school. 
We asked "what makes West best?"

Before illustrating, the soccer ball shape was difficult to see.

After students finished illustrating, they created a pocket for their poem. Kindergarten and first graders used an envelope glued to a sheet that stated what National Poem in Your Pocket day was. BIG THANKS to my Tutors, Inc. students for gluing 200 envelopes to paper for me! Students also illustrated thier pocket to match their poem.

After the students were done, they folded their poem and placed it in their pocket. While students were working I asked them think of someone they would share their poem with and tell their table friends. 

Students in second through sixth grades folded a paper in half to creat their pocket for their poem. Fifth and sixth graders asked to hang their pocket poems on their lockers to share with friends.

I absolutely *LOVED* this student's creativity with his poem! All of his classmates asked to read his and talked about how cool it was on his locker! 

Second through fourth grade students took their poem home. Some fourth graders did display their poems around their classroom for a few days to share with each other. Next year, I will make arrangements with their teachers for students to display their work in the hallway. I don't have a bulletin board or much wall space to display student work. 

Several sixth grade students asked to rework their poems before they illustrated because they thought of "better" words to describe their object.
Overall, this project was a success, and the students really enjoyed being able to illustrate...which is our fancy word for "color" around here. We like to illustrate!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

National Poetry Month: Part 1

First of all, I LOVE co-teaching classes with the computer lab teacher. It makes projects like these run so much more smoothly.

For National Poetry Month, I wanted to incorporate Poem In Your Pocket Day and have students write their own poems. Our students have been working very hard this year on keyboarding skills: using home row typing and for younger grades, letter identification on the keyboard. We took all students to the computer lab for this part of the activity since I only have 12 student computers in the library.

Kindergarten students typed our school motto with a little added flair (mostly because it rhymed). After students completed the short poem, they were allowed to change the font! This was a huge incentive for students to work hard so that they would finish. They *love* getting to use "pretty" or "cursive" typing.

West is Best,
Better than the rest!
Each first grade class typed a nursery rhyme. Again, after they finished typing, they were allowed to change the font style and size.
For second graders, they have progressed a little further in their typing and spelling skills, so they created a Monster Poem using an online generator. We discussed adjectives and similes. The website provides examples next to the generator. When printed, there was a grayish box behind the poem. We decided to copy/paste the poem into a Word Document, and then students were able to change the font style and size.

Third and fourth graders worked within their Google account to create an acrostic poem. They utilized thesauruses and dictionaries to help them find describing words. Many used one word per line, but some students got creative and used rhyming phrases!

For fifth and sixth grades, we used Tagxedo, an online word cloud creator. Our tech club has also used Tagxedo to create a "digital footprint" and online safety posters. For National Poetry Month, students chose a shape and typed 10 adjectives or phrases that would describe their shape. There were so many creative and thoughtful concrete poems! I was truly amazed at what the students created.

Abe Lincoln

Coffee (he knows me too well)

Big Foot


 The lightning bolt took me a minute to figure out. 
 The Flash

 Chess Piece


Rubber Ducky
This was one of my favorites.
This shape was difficult to see once printed, but after the student illustrated, it looked amazing!

I always ask students if they enjoy our lessons. Every student with whom I spoke said that it was one of their favorites.

Be sure to follow up in a few days for Part 2 of this project!