Saturday, September 29, 2012

Strategies to engage your kinesthetic learners....

Kinesthetic learners need to move and groove....but they don't have to be disruptive. What are some ways to channel their energy into meaningful activities that will help them learn? I can tell you this...whole group is usually hard for them.  Breaking up the day into short stints works well. 

My teaching colleague, Christina, (who is an expert in working with kinesthetic learners) shared with our team an amazing strategy....take the kids outside and read a readers theater.  Genius! We took our whole grade level outside to practice our readers theater and the kids were engaged, happy and could be as loud as they wanted without driving me insane! (Readers theater practice with more than one group is very loud....)

This got me thinking...I need a checklist of strategies for each subject area to look through when I am planning for the week.  You can download it for free!
I hope you will enjoy it...I know there are more strategies, but I wanted to keep it simple and not too over whelming.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kinesthetic Learners...

Characteristics of Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic learners learn best by moving their bodies, activating their large or small muscles as they learn. These are the "hands-on learners" or the "doers" who actually concentrate better and learn more easily when movement is involved. The following characteristics are often associated with kinesthetic learners.

1. Kinesthetic learners often wiggle, tap their feet, or move their legs when they sit.

2. Kinesthetic learners were often labeled "hyperactive" as children.

3. Because they learn through movement, kinesthetic learners often do well as performers: athletes, actors, or dancers.

4. Kinesthetic learners work well with their hands. They may be good at repairing work, sculpting, art, or working with various tools.

5. Kinesthetic learners are often well coordinated and have a strong sense of timing and body movement.
I have a whole classroom of them this year...literally 20 out of 23 came out as kinesthetic learners on my learning styles inventory. 
What kinds of learning strategies work well with them? Stay tuned...I am working on that myself!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Math Warm Ups...

I have nicknamed my class...the squirrely drummers. In other words, I have 20 out of 23 students who are kinesthetic learners.  They are sweet as all get out, but man do they move, wiggle, drum, bang and squirm.  It's a good think I'm okay with this...just have to add a lot of movement into my already jam packed day.

In the past, I have written warm-ups on the board and students have copied them into their math journals.  This year my team decided to move to a more "study journal" for math reflections and note taking.  So what should we do for warm ups now?

Enter mini-white boards.  Do you have these?  I got some made a few years ago from showerboard at Lowes, but now you can pick these up almost anywhere - Target $1 spot, the dollar store, etc...

We start warm up by passing out a tissue to each child (to be our eraser) and then I write the target number on the board.  How many ways can you make equations that equal 425 using addition?

Students will write the equation on their white board while I post an online timer to count down how much time they have to do it. 

Once they have written down a few equations, I have the students stand behind their chairs.  When time is up, they need to find 4 people to share their equations with. (Hence the movement...kinesthetic learners need!)


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Do pencils drive you crazy???

They drive me crazy too!  Last year I found a system that actually worked.  First when the kids bring in their supplies in the fall, instead of doing a community share system (where 4th graders see the supply as endless thus why take care of them????) I went to an individual storage system. 

The students will put there pencils in a plastic bag with their name labled on it.

Then I store these pencil bags in a crate right next to the pencil sharpener.  It allows for the students to get a new pencil when they need it and sharpen it easily (in the morning before instruction starts).  Also, if they run out -- then I can let their parents know (or grab from the extra supplies if it is a student in financial need). 
Guess what? The kids took better care of them! And pencils lasted all year......
Second tip comes from my team mate Christina.  She found an awesome product on Really Good Stuff. 
It is a pencil holder for the top of their desks!  My students this year are a little squirrely...they are constantly in motion and pencils are all over the place.  This little baby is a life saver.  The kids always have a pencil on their desk in place and not rolling all over the floor.
It is affordable - if you by 3 or more sets they are $3.99 for 12.  So for $8 you can have a class set.  They have an adhesive to stick to the desk for easy installation.
Do you have other ideas to keep you sane???

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Some Recess Tips

Sorry I haven't been here for a while...but, I've been back to school!  I have a lot of ideas in store to share and hope to be on here often over the next few weeks.

I want to share with you something my wonderful team did this year.  Every year our fourth graders play outside at recess at the same time.  We have a HUGE play area.  Let me show you a picture of half of the space....the kickball field....
     We also have to the right of this space a blacktop for basketball and then our huge playground area.(with 3 different play ground structures).

Then we have a space on the side of the school where we also like to play soccer.
It's a LOT of space and there are only 4 of us to police it (monitor it). 
This year we decided to introduce each area with a daily recess chat.  We took all four of our classes into the cafeteria and went over our expectations. We wanted to stress that recess is supposed to be fun - not full of arguing!  Fourth grade is an extremely competitive age and in the past we have spent more time fighting (arguing) than having fun.  We wanted to change that.  In addition to creating these anchor charts with our kids, we also positioned ourselves at specific locations to supervise and monitor what is going on. I have to say has really worked smoothly!  I have enjoyed watching the kids who choose to play soccer.  They are having fun and know that bad sportsmanship is not acceptable and they will have to leave the game if they can not play fairly.
Here are our anchor charts...
 One for each day....
During our recess talks, we asked the kids what it should look like on the equipment.  We also stressed activities that are not allowed because they could be considered DANGEROUS...for example, pushing people off the zipline (#1 way we have broken arms at our school!)
When we introduced Soccer we also introduced where we play it and where the materials are.  I have a basket that includes cones and pennies to wear as teams. Next up... the Black top.  We decided that we needed two sets of rules...because it will look different when the blacktop is wet and when it is dry.

And finally....Kickball.  This is the game that can be so much fun, or so much trouble.  If you have competitive kids (ummm...if you have kids at your school you have some competitive kids!) then you really have to monitor the game.
It has been fun!  like recess is supposed to be...
  By the way...I am linking up with the Clutter Free Classroom to share a Peek into my Week.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Setting Expectations for Group Work

I am guest blogging today on Engaging Learners and sharing a recent blog that I posted over at my other blog, ScienceGal.  It is about setting expectations for Cooperative Grouping in Science and I thought it was very valuable and I should share it here too! So enjoy the post today...

I know...I have heard me say this a million times. It is important to have groups in science and to have individual jobs while you are working together!

So how do you introduce it the first time????

We begin by Introducing our science groups. Each group has 4 people in it (as best as possible - because I have 22 students I do have two groups with 5 in them).

Each child is assigned a color as you see. Then I have a chart that shows the jobs. I can easily rotate the tiles daily to switch jobs.

We began working as groups by setting expectations. If you are going to work as a group on a task, what do you need to do in order to be successful? And what do the jobs mean?

Then we worked on two simple tasks. The first was to work as a team to build a house of cards.
The next was to work as a team to solve a cup challenge. I love this second challenge! It is one I learned from FOSS several years ago and truly involves team work. You will need 6 solo cups,1 rubber band and 4 strings (cut about 24 inches) for each team. To prep for the activity you will need to tie the string to the rubber band in four this...
Why? It becomes your cup challenge tool. Each person will hold on to one piece of the string and working together will manipulate the rubber band to grasp and move a solo cup. Intrigued????
Get your students into their groups of four and send your Getter 1 to the materials spot to get 6 solo cups and one rubber band tool.
Students will need to make a structure that looks like this:
Have your Starter create this structure.
Then as a team, they will need to move the cups from this structure to a pyramid with three cups on bottom, then two cups then one on top.
These guys are showing you how to manipulate the tool and you can also see the finished product at the side.
When you are finished, have Getter 2 clean up the materials and return them to the materials spot.
And then, once everyone has returned to their seats, the Reporter from each group will share out what they did in their group that day (or in the future read their notebook entry.)
What do you think???

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Read Alouds that engage our students

Are you looking for some good read alouds for the beginning of the year?  We are introducing Main Idea this week in our Mini Lessons as well as the metacognition skill of Asking Questions.
My teammates and I decided it would be a good idea to choose a theme and read five books that were linked to a theme so that we can compare them to each other.
I chose Cinderellla books. 
Another great theme of books is Sports Stories....
By My Brother's Side
The Longest Season

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bathroom and Snack Routines

Over the summer, I spent every day stalking the ClutterFree Classroom blog.  She has so many amazing ideas and tips that I just couldn't wait to see what she would post next...and many of her ideas were FREE for that day only! I, too, like to offer FREEBIES and have included one at the bottom of the blog today.

One idea that I loved was this one for managing the bathroom...

It is a great, simple idea for allowing students to slip out during independent work time to go to the bathroom with out interrupting the teacher AND still knowing who is gone.

I modified it a bit....and developed some guidelines.

First, she suggested copying the student numbers in two colors - one for girls and one for boys.  I was fine with just using one color so I skipped that step.  Second, I had found some cute circle number cut outs from the teacher store and laminated those instead.

I used the front of my filing cabinet as my landing space.  It is front and center in the classroom where I can see it from my small group area and it is magnetic.

When they need to go to the bathroom, they simply move their number over to the slot that says Girls or Boys.
The rest of the numbers are on the side of the cabinet.
I also implemented a Snack Policy...
Being a mother of a fourth grade boy I know that they are HUNGRY all the TIME!!!  Last year, I implemented the "eat when you are hungry" policy.  I love it, because I do not have to stop what I am doing to allow a 15 minute break for snack.  Instead, they eat when they want...while they work.  Kids love it and so do I!

You can download these posters for FREE right here!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A peek into my classroom...

Well, I'm officially back at work. This work week was a whirl wind of meetings, setting up my room, writing names...names...names..., planning with my team, back to school night, meeting the kids and the parents, visiting with old students, and prepping for the first week... Phew, I am exhausted and it hasn't even started! It is a good exhausted, know what it feels like!

I thought I would simply share some photo's of my classroom for those of you who may be curious.

Class door sets the tone...
This is my classroom library and meeting area. This year I have three area rugs for my students to sit on so they won't be on the tile. I have my seat crates there, my question of the day, my smartboard, my schedule and small whiteboard, my rocking chair and cute space curtains! My desk is next to this area (no photo).

Continuing along this wall is my Va. Studies bulletin board and clipboard collection spot. I also have a writing area where I will post anchor charts (thanks ClutterFreeClassroom!) and materials spot.
Next you can see the small group area as well as bulletin board where I will keep reading anchor charts. There is also a student computer and poster cabinet where I keep cubbies on top of it.
Along the back wall are my cabinets. That is where I store my stuff! I also have a spot for the kids to sign in for lunch, get nurse notes and bandaids, post pocket charts with science words and sentence starters and homework. And of course, there is my turtle!
Kiddos come on Monday...hope I am ready!