Saturday, May 15, 2010

Some Class

I usually start the year with Charlotte's Web.  It's a great way to incorporate a friendship theme at the start of a new school year.  Plus, there is a big County Fair in our area each fall and they offer free admission for field trips.  

#1 I love free.
#2 I find it entertaining that despite all of the sights and sounds at a County Fair, the main thing that they talk about afterwards is animal poop.

This year I was on maternity leave and it messed with my read aloud sequence.

We have our annual Dog and Pony Show (, I mean Open House) in June.  I like to do a theme for Open House and decided that Charlotte's Web would be perfect.  

And the we decided that it would make a great play. 

So we are Charlotte's Web crazed in 3rd grade right now.  I can't wait to post about all of the projects we're working on.  It really shows me how much progress is made in 3rd grade.  

When I taught Kindergarten and 1st grade their progress was very in your face.  In 3rd grade it's subtle, but yet huge.  I'm doing a lot of the activities I would normally have done in September, but the results are so different.  It's amazing.

Yesterday's lesson brought a tear to my eye.  It was TERRIFIC and I was quite BRILLIANT for coming up with it.  As you probably know, Charlotte weaves words into her web that describe Wilbur.  Inspired by this, I did a lesson on adjectives and synonyms with the main objective being to teach them how to use the thesaurus tool in Microsoft Word.

We went to the computer lab and they had 15 minutes to type a list of adjectives that described themselves.  After they typed a word, they used the thesaurus tool to identify and insert synonyms for those adjectives.  It was an impressive lesson on vocabulary on it's own.

But then the real magic happened.

On a whim, I had them stand up.  I instructed them to silently mingle around the lab and add adjectives to other classmate's lists that they felt described the individual.  I watched as they all followed the directions and began to wander around and peck at keyboards.  It was amazing.

I half expected them to rush to their best buddy's computer and type words like: cool, funny or nice.  But they didn't.  They really took the time to think about each other's attributes and character traits.  It was so touching to see them approach the page of a classmate they don't normally socialize with and list a heartfelt descriptive word that truly described the individual.  They used words like: responsible, hard-working, creative, thoughtful, inquisitive, and dedicated.  The completed lists of words REALLY matched it's owner and the anonymous aspect of it made it even more special.

Kids beamed as they read through their own lists.  The lab was buzzing with phrases like, "someone thinks I'm beautiful" and "people say I'm artistic."

It was really touching.

Back in class we made spider webs using a mixture of paint and glue.  On Monday they will write the one word they think best describes them in glue and we'll glitter them.  This is HUGE for me.  I despise glitter.  So you know this project is special.  We'll finish it off by adding a 3D spider with their picture as the head and they will cut and paste all of the other words they printed in the computer lab around it.


Frau M. said...

That idea is too awesome. I am also reading Charlotte's Web to my class (2nd grade). I hope you don't mind, but I am totally using the 3D spider web.

ChiTown Girl said...

What a wonderful lesson! And the project sounds like it's going to be beautiful.

We did an "ice-breaker" activity a little like this once at a staff meeting. We were put in groups of 6 or 8 teachers (I don't remember exactly, but at the time I worked at a HUGE grade school, K-6, that had over 2,000 students, so there were a lot of teachers!) and each teacher was told to write his/her name at the top of a sheet of paper. These papers were then passed around and each person had to write something positive about the teacher whose paper they had. We switched about every 5 minutes. After everyone wrote on everyone else's paper, we got our own paper back, and it was really touching to read some of the other people's comments.

It's a little "low-tech" compared to how your class did it, but the message is still the same. ;-)

Littlest Learners said...

@Frau M. Absolutely use the idea! I can't wait to take some pictures and share some more ideas. I'm really loving this unit this time around.

@ChiTown Girl: I love the idea of doing something like it at a staff meeting. I couldn't imagine working at a school that large. I worked at an inner city school with 700 students (K-6) and it felt huge. My current school is K-5 and only has <300.

Thanks for taking the time to comment! Enjoy the weekend.

futureflstar said...

This is an awesome idea! Have you used wordle yet? It would take all those awesome words lists they just created and put them all together in a fun way! :)

Littlest Learners said...

@futureflstar I had never seen that site before, but it is awesome. Thanks so much for sharing it with me. My gears are turning now. :)