Monday Made It…Live from NYC!

Woo hoo!  It’s Monday Made It time and I’m in NYC!  Holy cow!  Can’t believe it!  Really.  I.  Can’t.  Believe.  It.

I have the fabulous opportunity to learn from the best of the best…Lucy Calkins…at Teachers College.  The August Writer’s Institute looks like it is going to be the bomb-diggity!  I’m looking forward to so much new learning…my head is swimming already!

(In honor of the wonderliscious time that I am sure to have in NYC , I plan on putting out a boatload of ideas that I have for mentor texts.  Do check back throughout August to see what I’ve posted, won’t you?)

Anywho…thought I’d pull all of the stuff I’ve been working on together so that I don’t experience the backup of projects.  I tend to feel that my posts have been a tad overwhelming being that I just shifted gears and am starting to panic about everything…new grade level, new teaching partner, new room, new Writers Workshop Units of Study…everything is just so danged bright, shiny, and new…I’m totally blinded by it all!

So…here’s what I’ve been working on the last few days.

The Customary Catsups and Metric Mustards for my Footlong Measurement Center/Station.  I put these together and a while back.  Click here to see the original post.  I’ve been asked by quite a few folks where I got this idea from.  I can tell you…it’s my idea.  I’ve never seen these before…they were just something that came out of my warped mind.

I put together a few extra to give to my new teaching partner and my “favoritest” teaching buddy, The Wonderful Linda!

A new “Random Facts of Weirdness” for 2013-2014.  My enthusiastic 12-year-old put this baby together for me.  He did, however, spell Weirdness incorrectly.  I took the picture and am posting it, but do rest assured that this is now spelled correctly.  You can find out more about how I use this by checking out my link to last year’s volume here.

I finished up my “Pop Your Top” station with QR codes for Perimeter and Area practice.  The original link to the FREE coaster templates can be found here.

Here’s something new…and either a real low point or a definite high point in my creative life, depending on how you look at things…

SENTENCE KABOBS!

I know…great idea, but your kids are sure to poke their eyes out!  (I’m envisioning Christmas Story dialogue here!)
Well, I am picturing that this will need a great deal of instruction on the front-end as to expectations at a station such as this.  (Note that I am also taking the bamboo skewers and cutting the sharp ends off.)  However, you’re the teacher.  It’s your call.  You don’t need the skewer to make great learning and potential danger happen in your classroom.  This could be done with unsharpened pencils, shoelaces or anything else really.  The sky’s the limit!
It really just started with a few empty Pringles cans and these great foam blocks that have been in my stash for a couple of years.  The blocks came from Michaels and were only a couple of bucks. I covered the cans with some scrapbook paper and these funky labels.  You can access them here:  
RED   BLUE   GREEN
Then I put two bamboo skewers in each can.
Using one of the skewers, I “drilled” holes into each block and used a Sharpie marker to write words on each block.  The red blocks have assorted nouns on them, the yellow blocks have assorted verbs on them and the blue blocks have a combination of adjectives and adverbs on them.  My suggestion is to build your own word list using the words you want your students to access and be accountable for.  (I’m low budget here.  I want to be able to help put an idea in your head by sharing some of my creative process, but I want you to build in what your students need.  I’m funny that way…I don’t want to sell you anything…I just want to give away a little inspiration!)
By throwing a handful of these blocks into the can, my students now have a portable sentence creation station.  I want them to grab a yellow, blue, and red block and then skewer them onto the kabobs in an order that makes sense.  From there, I’d ask students what other words are necessary in order to have their “Sentence Kabob” make sense.  This would be a great opportunity to talk about pronouns, conjunctions, or any other part of speech that is appropriate to your situation.  
I see lots of possibilities here.  How about you?
I’d have the students write these down in their word play notebooks or on a whiteboard…your call.  You know what works best for you!
As always, remember that “Sharing is Caring” and that your willingness to make and give a set of these to a treasured colleague, wonderful teaching partner or “brand-new-fresh-out-of-the-box” teacher is always appreciated!
I’d love to hear what you do with any of these ideas!  
Have a terrific week!
Nikki
Advertisements

Have You Grokked Lately?

What a weird question, right?  If you’ve used instaGrok, then you know the answer to this and you can Grok with the best of them.
If this sounds as foreign to you as Klingon, then you have to join us in the world of instaGrok.
This web delivered app is an AMAZING way to help your students get a clearer view of what their research could/should look like.
CCSS plainly states that we are no longer teaching our students to write long, drawn out research papers.  The focus has now changed to “research on the fly.”  instaGrok supports such standards and provides students with graphic and well-organized ways to pull research together.
instaGrok has “regular” and “classroom” settings available.  Might I suggest that you try these out to see what works best for you? 
All your students need to do is type in their “big idea.”  I chose “cheese.”  Then I hit return and instaGrok did all of the “grokking” for me.  My big idea now became the center of a brilliant graphic organizer that I can work with in…editing as needed.  There is also a nifty little “slider” that allows me to choose the level of difficulty/sophistication that I wish to conduct my research.  The great thing about this slider is that, if one of my students is struggling with way too many choices, a single slide allows the teacher AND student to customize the research.  

instaGrok helps provide plenty of ideas for narrowing research down…cheese has subheading of rennet, cheesemaking, curds, gouda and many others.  For less experienced researchers, this feature makes instaGrok especially appealing!

The Grok also brings up photos, videos and other web-based resources and puts them in an easy-to-use format along the left-hand side of the page.  The student can save his/her Grok and can send the teacher or a parent or classmate a link so as to share what they come up with.

I started using this with 4th and 5th grade students last year and my students loved the ease of use and the format.  Organization of research was never easier!  And, as a classroom teacher, conferring with my researchers was a breeze!  Really!

I’m moving my way to 3rd grade in a couple of weeks and I still believe that instaGrok is the way to go.  I can’t wait to try it out with my new Minions!

Give instaGrok a try this fall!  You won’t be sorry!

Nikki