Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You Know What's Awesome?

--New cute shoes that don't hurt

--Leaving before 6.30!!!

--Eating dinner (man, I'm hungry again...)

--My class today

--Dealing with my class without Chatty Chad

Today was a great day! We worked hard, but also had a good time. (Except for some name-calling...but they're elementary kids. I'm working on it, but I doubt that I can eliminate that completely, sadly)

Since there direction/map knowledge seemed to be nil, I did a neat lesson about that today. A few days ago, I put up direction signs on the classroom walls. We talked about what is a compass, and then I asked them to find the one I'd put in the room. I asked them to stand up, and one by one told them to face each direction. (I joked, "This is fun! Maybe I'll just keep spinning you all in circles!") Then they had to face one direction and take a step in a different direction. They totally got it and I was pleased.

Then they had to work with the map of the US, answering direction questions I had written. Things like, What states border Nebraska on the west? Things like that. My questions were a bit too ambitious (they don't know what a coast is!), but part of my reasoning was to force them to look at the state names (which a lot of them had trouble pronouncing, of a lot of states. so we'll practice, and they'll learn!) and start getting to understand directions. As always, a few kids finished all the questions quickly, a few barely started, and the rest fell somewhere in the middle. I think I saw pretty much everyone get the hang of it in general, though. I found a big map that I have posted near the carpet now too, and make use of that to get them used to looking at and understanding maps. (I love maps! I have so many I can show them (love that National Geographic subscription)! but one thing at a time. :D)

Writing workshop was pretty amazing today too. I've been sort of hemming and hawing and not really using my time well, "accidentally." So today I just dove in and figured we'd see how it went. I pretty much bs-ed my way through it. (I say that with five years' experience of doing them, though, so I know my way around it in my head to bs with.) And dude, they ROCKED. At the beginning I said we'll try for ten or fifteen minutes, and they wrote for like half an hour! I just hope we can keep that kind of stamina and interest up.

Also, math continues to go pretty well. I'm not at all making creative lessons, I'm just using the book. But can I say, HALLELUJAH I love having a textbook! What a wonderful treat to have things spelled out in front of you, to pick and choose and use or lose! The kids are keeping up well too, but of course it's all pretty easy review stuff, so a nice way to ease into the year.

Did I mention I left before 6.30? I practically skipped out of there feeling great! I've got stuff ready for tomorrow, and vague things for the next couple days, but I think leaving at that decent hour is so worth it. I made it to the gym later on too, which also felt great. The only problem is getting home and only having an hour or so before it's supposed to be bedtime. Stupid early wake-up.

Anyway, so it was a good day all around. Keep in mind that yesterday, I wanted to throw all of them out the window and I was fed up with myself too. It's funny how it seems to be all or nothing, huh?

Cross your fingers that I haven't angered the gods and someone does something completely crazy tomorrow. :)


Schoolgal said...

You sound happy!! Good for you. May your good days outnumber the bad.

Here is an inquiry game that goes with your lesson.

You can also put a simple grid on the board BEFORE you start teaching coordinates starting with zero,zero of course, and on a piece of paper plot a secret coordinate like (3,6). That will be the place where a small invisible creature lives. The kids will have to find it. You call on them individually and someone gives you a coordinate (you just ask them for 2 numbers) and you list it on the board for example (5,3) and then place the coordinate (dot) on your grid (MAKE SURE YOU COUNT ALOUD AS YOU PLOT SO THE KIDS CAN SEE YOU USING THE X,Y SEQUENCE). Then you say the creature is "Northwest of that coordinate". (Do NOT tell them what a coordinate is). You can write NW next to the guess on your list. Continue with this until the class starts to understand the concept and finds the creature. If they give you a coordinate that is off your grid, still plot is aloud and say "that coordinate is not on the grid". (As you continue to play more games, tell them that if a coordinate is NOT on the grid, that person loses a turn.) And you can have a giant compass on the board with North facing up so kids can refer to it when they try to find the creature. Explain for the game they are using the compass picture for directions and North really doesn't face up.

I would tell my class that they have to remain quiet and will call on them one at a time starting with the first table. No one can help another person. You can place them in teams--rows, tables, boys, girls etc. and the first team that finds the creature gets a point. Start a new game. The team that gets 5 points wins the game.
Then introduce what a coordinate is and ask them to explain how they are plotted. They should be able to tell you the horizontal the vertical pattern.

This game integrates math and SS. It's inquiry rather than chalk and talk. Your aim would be "How to use compass directions to find the creature?" just in case an admin walks in on this. And your objective is to learn how to plot and find a simple coordinate using compass directions as a guide. You can also make up grids with a compass on it for handouts and have them play the game in groups to see if they are understanding the concepts.
Your follow up lessons will be learning coordinates in math and latitude and longitude in SS.
Questions on coordinates are always on the state math test. Directions as well as latitude and longitude are on the 5th-grade SS test. (I think you said you were teaching 5th grade. But it's an important concept for all grades.)

I also hope you do your Harry Potter spelling words with them. I think they will love it.

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

It's beginning to sound as though elementary school agrees with you. Fantastic!