A glimpse into my classroom...

By: Sarah Dillard

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I thought you may want to see what my students and I are up to this week!

Hatchet Research Project

My students completed research based around our class novel Hatchet. They chose topics that interested them and used Discovery Ed Board Builder to create boards to share their research with the class! They all worked very hard and were excited to share their work. These are only a few since it would be too much to share them all!

Students as Teachers

For these last couple of weeks of school, my students decided that they wanted to take on more of a teaching role within the classroom. We used our data trackers and recent data to pair students up based on their strengths in order to put together review materials for their peers. I embedded all of the projects on my website for all of our classes to use to review. The goal was to share them across the school to help everyone review for the ELA EOG, however, time crept up on us!

What were we doing before EOG review?

Character Trait Study and Analysis

To begin, we will be finishing up a character trait study that we worked on last week. The students were broken up into collaborative teams and each given three different character traits. Together, they had to analyze the traits using a Google Slide adapted from one of Marzano's four square vocabulary activities. Students had to discuss what they thought the trait meant, look it up in the dictionary, explain why it is important, and come up with some examples of how we can exhibit this character trait in our daily lives. When they were done, they had to rank the three character traits according to their importance.

After working on this activity together, they shared their completed document with me. I compiled all of the work from the class and shared it out to all the students so they can see the traits and information completed by their classmates!

Here's an example of a group's work below! They analyzed generosity, discipline, and courage and ranked them in the order below!

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Accountable Talk Anchor Chart

We having been working hard on our interpersonal skills this year. We constantly refer back to this anchor chart when we need to. This has helped my students tremendously while learning to respectfully speak to each other whether they agree or not.

After sharing all of the slides back with my students, they completed a Google Form reflecting on a word they knew, a word they thought they knew, and a new word that they learned! They also left feedback for each other using the comment section of the presentations!

Since we had already worked on character traits and the skill itself isn't too challenging for my students, my focus of this lesson was to ensure that my students have the correct understanding of the traits and their meanings. My students overall did a great job with this activity and stayed engaged. They appreciated the challenge of the review and realized that they didn't know a majority of the traits as well as they thought they did! This was a great way to review character traits and vocabulary for the EOG!

Research Activity with Discovery Ed Board Builder

We are currently enjoying Hatchet by Gary Paulsen as a fun read aloud for the end of the year. It is an highly engaging novel and easy to use to review the various skills that we have already covered so far this year. In the novel, a boy survives a small plane crash after the pilot dies of a heart attack. He ends up alone in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. To learn more about this environment and to tie in Science content, we are researching the Taiga biome, survival skills, bush planes, and various animals that Brian meets in the wilderness.

Students are working in collaborative groups to become experts on one of the above topics. They were allowed to choose one that interested them! At the end of this project, they are going to be teaching their topic to the class using the information they researched and Discovery Ed Board Builder.

To start the project off, last week they brainstormed and created a bubble map in Pages about what interested them about their topic to help guide their research. To research, the students are using Worldbook Online, Discovery Ed, iCurio, and nonfiction books from the school library. For a couple of the topics that are more difficult, I have been working with the students to help them find acceptable and reliable resources to use online.

Here are some pictures of the students working!

After the presentation, we will also be using the boards to practice informational writing. The students will be allowed to choose any of the class' topics to write about and will use the board for part of their research. This will hopefully solidify their new learning while practicing and reviewing writing standards!

Next Steps

This year we have spent a tremendous time studying our data from EOQs and Study Island to zero in on our areas of weakness to build them up stronger. Here is an example of a student data tracker that we have used consistently to analyze and reflect. (All credit for its creation goes to Tara Gander!)
Since we are approaching the end of the year, for a boost of confidence, my students and I are flipping around our focus. We are going to zero in on our STRENGTHS for the next few weeks! Students are going to be split up into "Expert Teams" on the skills we have covered this year and will be responsible for reviewing and reteaching the skill to the class using whatever technology tool they choose (Thinglink, Prezi, Google Doc, Blendspace, etc). We will get this project started during class this week and then we will continue working on it during Eagle time. By this time of the year, I figured that my students would be tired of my voice but would be interested in their classmates! I have already shared with my students that these videos will also be shared across the grade level, with my sister who teaches second grade in Cullowhee, NC, and with my students next year! I don't know who is more excited, me or them!

Other Recent Activities

Here are some other things we have worked on in class the past couple of weeks!

Synonyms and Antonyms Scrumblrs

To help us study our weekly Wordly Wise vocabulary, we collaborative put together these boards of synonyms and antonyms of our words for the week!

Creative Visuals by Students

iPad Poetry using Word Builder App

Students worked together to create fun free verse or acrostic poems!

Capstone Project

Here is a link to the Capstone project I completed for Appalachian State my last semester of graduate school!

Thank you for visiting!

Please feel free to keep checking in to see what we are up to!

About Me

"What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make." Jane Goodall