We have been in school for over a month now and we wanted to share some of the things we have been doing with you. We made a Google Slides presentation with photos of our activities and collaborated to write descriptions of each picture.
Welcome to the first blog post of our 2016-2017 school year!
This blog started in the fall of 2011, so this is now my sixth school year of blogging with my students. We’ve made so many connections with the people who read and comment on our blog and it’s taught my students much about reading, writing, and digital citizenship!
I wanted to make a shift in the way we use our blog for this year. In the past, students and I brainstormed ideas for posts based on the activities we do in class, then I put the ideas together and wrote the bulk of the blog posts. Although sometimes students wrote guest posts, most of the students’ own writing came in the form of comments. This year, most of my students were introduced to blogging early in their school careers by the fabulous K-4 teachers at our school, so they have some experience with the way blogs are written. I’ve decided I want to make a shift and have students do most of the content creation on the blog. Our goal is to have the students collaboratively write at least one post per month, and have individual student contributors write posts later in the year. I’m looking forward to seeing what the students produce!
If you’d like to see more of the day-to-day activities from our classroom, you can follow our classroom Twitter and Instagram accounts, both with the username @hammanclass.
Our last days of school have been very eventful! Here are some pictures.
We went on a field trip to the local pool to celebrate our graduation from DARE. We swam, dove off the diving board, rode the slide, and had a great pizza lunch. It was a super fun day!
Over the past week we have explored a new interactive game called BreakoutEDU. To play, you are given a scenario with a complicated problem you have to solve. The problem always involves finding clues and unlocking locks, either online or with actual physical locks. There’s always a time limit, which makes solving the clues really challenging! It really tests your thinking skills, and it’s a fun way to learn to work as a team. Here’s a Flipagram of us playing.
On Monday, we had our DARE graduation. We are proud to say that everyone in our fifth grade completed the requirements to graduate from DARE! Here’s a video of us singing “The DARE Song”.
On our last day of school, we another played a game of BreakoutEDU, and exchanged compliments which we had written to our classmates. A group of students (Diana, Kyle, and Elias) organized our classroom awards. Earlier in the week they gave each class member a form to nominate each other for awards. They tabulated the votes and created a custom slide show to announce them to the class.
We had a great year this year, and now we’re ready for summer!
Did you know that exercise helps your brain to work better? It’s true, studies have shown that having an active lifestyle actually helps improve your brain function. Now, what if you could combine exercise and learning into one activity? Our class has been doing just that all year, with The Walking Classroom!
We were fortunate this year to receive a grant of a class set of Walking Classroom WalkKits. Each device is preloaded with over 100 podcasts, on subjects ranging from poetry to science to history. Every week we choose a pace car (a student to set the pace of our walk), and then we go outside to walk. We walk around our school field as we listen to the podcasts. At the end of the walk we discuss what we learned. Usually we listen to the same podcast twice in one week, and at the end of the week we take a test on what we’ve learned.
We have noticed that what the research says about exercise and brain power is true! It’s easy to remember what we learn while we’re walking, even a few weeks later. Last week we finished a three-week unit on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and we noticed at the end of the unit that the details that we heard in the podcast were the easiest ones to remember.
Here are some comments from students about what they like about The Walking Classroom:
I really liked listening to the poetry podcasts. It helped bring the poems to life.
My favorite podcast was the one about Jackie Robinson. It taught me some things I’d never heard before.
When the kids on the podcast talk with their teacher it’s not like a regular lesson. You don’t even realize you’re learning!
It’s a fun change to get to go outside in the middle of the day to walk. I like being able to get out of my seat to work off some energy.
We’re looking forward to learning more from the Walking Classroom in our last few weeks of school! If you want to learn more about The Walking Classroom, you can watch this “Walkumentary”.
What is the best thing about the Walking Classroom?
We were excited to learn that The Imagination Foundation was sponsoring another cardboard challenge this year! We had a great time at our last one. This time, though, there is a specific theme: The 2016 Earth Day Cardboard Challenge. This challenge goes from April 1 to April 22 (Earth Day). Kids are encouraged to use recyclables to make new creations with an environmental theme.
We have some ideas for later in the month (see this old post for a hint!) But to kick off the month, we reused some old materials to solve a very real problem in our classroom. This year we have round collaboration tables instead of desks in our classroom, and they are wonderful for group work and discussions. The only problem with them comes up at test-taking time, when we each need a private space. The privacy dividers we used to use on our desks didn’t fit very well on the new collaboration tables and they were frustrating to use. With our state testing coming up this month, we knew we needed to find a new solution.
The idea came from cardboard project boards. Usually these get used once and then discarded, but they make great privacy partitions if you cut them in half! (If you didn’t have these project boards, you could use three sides of a cardboard box.) You could leave them blank, color them, or write inspirational messages inside. For ours, though, we decided to decorate the insides with pictures from nature. We cut pictures from a stash of old calendars we had in the classroom, and we each chose the pictures we liked the best to glue inside the dividers. Did you know that a recent study showed that looking at images from nature can help with decision making and self-control? We’re curious to see if it helps us concentrate when we’re taking a test! We’ll let you know what we think after we try them out later this week. Here’s a Flipagram showing some of our finished creations.
What types of nature scenes are most relaxing for you?
What else could you do with a cardboard project divider?