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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spring Break Update

    Ahhh, breathe, relax, rejuvenate... grade papers and plan for next week! I think it's true what they say, teachers look forward to Spring Break more than the students. However, I think it's for different reasons. I can't even begin to describe the piles of papers that need grading, the books that need to be read and have reading units created, and then there should be some relaxation in there, right?!

    But with Spring Break comes a fresh start and fresh ideas as well. Here are some of the things my class has been working on that I'm excited to share with the blog world!
                                          Novel Study: Number the Stars
    The first is our recent novel study on the book Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. My students have been working for a few weeks now to read, comprehend, discuss, and pick apart the story of two best friends who are torn apart by World War II.
   We had the special opportunity last year to have Holocaust survivor Alter Wiener visit our school and give his first hand account of his experiences in the work and concentration camps, as well as being liberated and having to adjust to life outside of the camps. My students were deeply moved by his speech and many have gone on to read his autobiography, From a Name to a Number.

      Building off this background we dove into the book and the kids just devoured it and couldn't help but read ahead of our class discussions. If you are looking for some ideas to implement this lesson about world history and acceptance in your classroom, look no further, here are some ideas!

   I have created an extensive comprehension packet to accompany the reading of the book which includes factual, inferential, opinion, character development, plot, and central idea questions, as well as vocabulary, writing prompts, social studies links, a final test, and ideas for final projects. We just finished our study using this packet, and the discussions we were able to get into through these questions were extremely deep and took my students' understanding to another level. Be sure to check out the preview of this product here: Number the Stars Preview Packet . If you like it, be sure to purchase the whole product, and please leave me some feedback on how it worked with your students. :)

Number the Stars Comprehension Packet

  I always try to incorporate technology into my lessons, so for this unit we used the free iPad app Tellagami (which I have mentioned in my post Technology is the Future). We got both 6th grade classes together and had pairs summarize either the beginning, middle, or end of a chapter using the app. Every group was tasked with presenting their chapter from a different point of view. The point of view of Annemarie, Ellen, Kirsti, Mrs. Johansen, and Uncle Henrik were all represented. To demonstrate their understanding they had to also design the character, from their hair color to their expression, based on what they have read in the story thus far. They then each needed to choose a background based on the setting of their chapter, and then they had to type their own summary, citing evidence from the text. Looking at their work in this format truly allowed me to gauge their level of understanding because there were so many components involved. The kids did extremely well with this, and at the end of the lesson we played them all in sequential order to make a "mini movie" of the book. The following video is our summary of chapters 1-8. 

March Madness
   As we headed into Spring Break the kids were a little restless, but the solution to that problem was a little March Madness fun. We did everything from find winning percentages and ratios, to mapping skills, college research, and vocabulary. Plus, what fun would it be without filling out our own brackets? (I can't believe how many kids picked Dayton and have way better brackets than I do!) 


    The kids had a great time learning about "basketball", but it was really a great math review and highly engaging as well. How could I be a coach and not include basketball somehow?! 
     When we get back I plan on showing this great PBS video and incorporating a little basketball science before the championship game. 

Basketball Science

                                                        New Facebook Page
     Last but not least, I have launched my new Facebook page: Coach and Teach 24/7. Please head over and like my page to keep up on my most recent blog posts, daily teaching tips, ideas, and a place to collaborate with other teachers. Remember, my goal is to "lighten the load"- we all know we could use that! 

    When I reach 100 likes I will have a giveaway- you just need to be a follower to be entered! :) Spread the word to other teachers as well by sharing this page. 

Spring Break Fun
Well it was Spring Break, so I'll leave you with a picture from our Spring Break.  

  Instagram: Coachandteach247

Please leave a comment about what you did during Spring Break and what units you are currently teaching this Spring! I love new ideas! :) 

                               Mrs. Dessert 




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