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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Parent Questionnaire

As I have done this for a while, I have taken more seriously the importance of input from all stakeholders in the success of our students.  I like to hear what my parents and students think so that I can tweak things in the future. 

I have an evaluation that students complete for me each year which gives me good feedback on their experiences in our classroom.  This really helps me to know what my students really enjoyed, and where I need to make changes.

The last couple years I have gone to making parent questionnaires at the end of the year.  These questionnaires focus on a specific topic that I am considering for changes.  I then make my questionnaire, and ask parents to respond.  The information I get really helps me with my planning, and, I hope, helps the parents of future students.  A couple years ago, I asked for parent input about my website as I was preparing to revamp it.  They helped me by letting me know how often they used it, what information on it they found important, and what elements they thought were missing.  This information really helped to give me direction for my website changes.

Last year, I asked parents to evaluate the communication in our classroom.  Their input helped me to keep many of the things I had in place as well as to develop a Google Group for more instantaneous contact.

I spend a lot of time thinking about homework and its ?importance?.  I am lucky to work at a school where most students complete their homework, but I know that many of them are having a lot of parent help, and so then it makes it tough for me to gauge the student's abilities.  Besides that, I do not take grades on homework, and this is hard for parents to understand.  I could go on and on about my thoughts and questions about homework.  I can see its benefits, but I also question its effectiveness.  So, with that in mind, I made this MY QUESTIONNAIRE for the year.  I think I sent it home a week too late because I only got about a third of my parents to respond, but I still found some valuable information as I consider things for next year. 

What are your thoughts on homework?  How much do you give?  Do you give online homework?  I would love to know what you think, too! Click HERE for access to the questionnaire I used this year.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Professional Reading

While I spend A LOT of my summer reading kiddy lit, I also do some professional reading. A couple of books I am going to read and think about this summer are Readicide by Kelly Gallagher and Number Talks by Sherry Parrish.

Readicide by Kelly Gallagher (2009, Paperback)

I am also looking for some books to continue the development of my math workshop.  Do you have any recommendations?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Recipe for our Classroom

As one of our end of the year writing activities, my students wrote a "recipe" that I will hang outside of the classroom at the beginning of the school year.

I divided the kids into groups of 5, and they had to determine four ingredients that they were an important part of our classroom.  We took the generated list and then discussed wording and additions.  We had to vote on whether we wanted the recipe's measurements to be cups and teaspoons, or more real for our classroom.  The kids decided on hours, and then they worked to figure out pretty accurate amounts of time for each thing.  We used 180 school days even though the kids aren't in attendance 180 days.

Here's how it turned out.  I think it will be a great welcome for my new students and parents.  :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'm alive and well, and ready for the LAST DAYS OF SCHOOL!

My break from my blog was somewhat planned, but certainly not for so long!  I came back from spring break ready to attack my final units, but I was tired.  We had a great end of the year, but I took a break from my voracious reading and my blog.  What was planned as just a couple of weeks off now leads me to today, when I have only 3 days left of school.  :)  I am excited to catch up this summer.  I already have some ideas for next year. 

Anyway, I am back.  Here are some quick things we did in April/May.

We ended the year with our space unit.  The unit first begins with information on  our sky, and above is our culmination of that learning.  On the sky, students wrote information that they learned in their research about the moons, sun, and stars.  The yellow papers are accompanied by a picture of a starry sky where the students created a constellation, named it, and told of its meaning.

During our targeted instruction time each day, I teach 35-40 3rd graders who exceed in reading.  We did a variety of things during this time (Greek mythology, Shakespeare, Holocaust), but this is the final part of our reading/discussion of discrimination/civil rights.  We read a bunch of books like The Other Side by Jacqueline Woodson, Jackie's Bat by Marybeth Lorbiecki, A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson, When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan, and Sister Anne's Hands by Marybeth LorbieckiThe collages were inspired by Sister Anne's Hands.  We brainstormed words, and then the students created the images.

We studied the economy in April and May.  As a final project, students brought in items to "sell" to classmates.  Some brought food, others brought used stuffed animals, bookmarks they had made...They had a great time doing this!  After the simulation, students wrote a report for me about the experience using the vocabulary of the unit..producer, consumer, supply, demand, human resources, raw materials, profit. 


Every year, I give my students a list with all of their classmates names on it.  They then use a brainstormed list to write one word to describe each classmate.  I then compile the words and present each student with the list of words that their classmates said about them.  This year, I am taking the compiled list and turning it into a Wordle for each child.  With Wordle, the words that are used the most often will be the largest showing the student what words their classmates most think about them.

Thanks for coming back.  I'll post some more end of year activities in the next week or two.