Living on the Edge – of a Volcano

Long ago – during the first semester – my GT 3rd graders decided that they wanted to do their Genius Hour project on volcanoes.  (My 3rd grade class is only 3 students this year, so they are doing their project together.)  To narrow things down, we decided to learn more about shield volcanoes.  Specifically, Kilauea.

You can probably see where this is going.  After months of research, writing a script for a newscast, dealing with many device issues and lost footage, we finally had everything together.

Then Kilauea erupted.

Actually, of course, Kilauea has been erupting.  For years.  But in the last few weeks it has been more insistent on being noticed.  A neighborhood needed to be evacuated because lava flowed into it, and the toxic fumes aren’t too hospitable either.  In addition, more violent eruptions may happen in the near future.

Our video needed to be rewritten and re-filmed.  Again.  The students, of course, wanted to keep all of their “humorous” sections.  I wanted to make sure it didn’t look like we were making light of a serious situation that has caused Hawaii’s governor to declare a State of Emergency.

I think we balanced things out.

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Click here to see our Kilauea video!

 

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You Just Won a Trip to Turkey!

I finally got around to trying this Mother’s Day idea this year – with a bit of green screen magic mixed in.  My GT first graders have been researching different countries, so they each made a Mother’s Day video for their moms incorporating some of their research.  After talking about perspective, and what they thought their moms would like to see in each country, they selected some highlights from their library books.  Then they made short videos “congratulating” their moms on winning trips to their respective countries.  We used some Creative Commons images and videos from Pixabay and Discovery Ed to create their final “Winning” montages.  You can click on the link below to see an example.  (Note: The video quality is a bit off because the young lady was wearing a bluish-green shirt that day – a little difficult to balance with our green screen program without making her a talking head!)

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Click here to see Olivia’s great video!

Jimmy Fallon Loves Teachers

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week in the U.S., and Jimmy Fallon loves teachers.  In their honor, his Tuesday night audience this week was composed of 200 New York City teachers.  You can see Jimmy’s heartfelt introduction to the show here.

Jimmy’s story about the teacher who gave him a hall pass to go outside, reminded me of a story my daughter told me about one of her middle school classmates, also a former student of mine.  Apparently, he exasperated one teacher enough that she asked him to step outside into the hall for a moment.  The door had a glass pane in it.  A few minutes after leaving the room, the student pressed his face against the pane, and sang, “Hello from the other side…” by Adele.  Fortunately, like Jimmy Fallon’s teacher, my daughter’s teacher also had a sense of humor!

Another segment of the same Fallon episode involved the musical group, The Roots, doing some musical improv with information from some of the educator audience members.

Happy Teacher Appreciation to all of you wonderful teachers out there!

30 Things I Believe

My 5th graders spend the last semester examining their own beliefs, developing manifestos, and researching a Dream Team of people who exemplify what they stand for.  We use some of the “This I Believe” curriculum to help them identify their values.  Yesterday, my students and I listened to one of the short radio essays archived on the website for the podcast.  It is called, “30 Things I Believe.”  In this particular episode, a first grader, Tarak McLain, reflects on his Kindergarten 100th Day Project.  While most students bring collections of 100 objects, Tarak brought in 100 things he believes.  For the podcast, Tarak shares 30 of those beliefs.  My students and I enjoyed listening to his earnestly read list, and talked about what they agreed/disagreed with.  We also discussed which of Tarak’s beliefs might change as he grows up.

Tarak would be about 16 years old now.  I wonder what his thoughts are on the manifesto created by his 7-year-old self.

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Mom’s Dream Home Cards

Most of my 2nd graders finished up their Mother’s Day Cards yesterday.  You may remember that I posted the idea of asking the students to design floorplans for Dream Homes for their moms.  I wasn’t sure exactly how they would be presented when I wrote that post, so this is the design we ended up with.  It is basically two pieces of cardstock folded “hamburger” style.  For the inside one, we cut a tab to make a pop-up card.  The pop-up was the design for the outside of the home.  The top flap of this card was glued to the inside of the top flap of the other card.  Then we glued the floor plans to the back of the inside card and the inside of the back card.

Okay, that sounds confusing.  Maybe pics will help?  Here are examples of 2 different student cards (Student 1 chose to make up her own haiku after learning about them earlier this year!):

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Top of Card 1 (I printed out the short poem for everyone to glue to their cards.)
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Pages 1 & 2 inside Card 1
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Pages 3 &4 inside Card 1
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Top of Card 2
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Pages 1 & 2 of Card 2
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Pages 3 & 4 of Card 2

This is How We Do It

My gifted and talented first graders study geography and choose different countries to research.  @storymamas recently tweeted about a book called, This is How We Do It, by Matt Lamothe, and I thought it would be a good resource to use with this class.  Children like to see the differences and similarities of places around the world.  A few years ago, I sent out a Twitter plea for people from other countries to add pictures of their playgrounds to this slide show, and my students enjoy comparing the sites to our own and finding the locations on a map.

Lamothe went much further than collecting images on a slideshow for his book.  You can read about his writing process for This is How We Do It here.  He created all of the illustrations in his book based on photographs shared with him by families in seven different countries.  My students were fascinated with everything from how the featured children got to school to how they slept.  They were surprised by uncanny resemblances to our own culture (they have a Smarboard in their classroom, too!) as well as unimaginable contrasts (an entire family sleeping in one bed!)

You can download a free activity kit to accompany the book here.

Here’s to the Lives That You’re Gonna Change

It’s the season of graduations, and Jason Mraz just released the perfect song to accompany every single one of them.  I played it yesterday as my 4th graders were working on mandalas, and they left the classroom singing the chorus in unison on the way to lunch.

The song, “Have it All,” is one of those catchy tunes that you don’t have to be a music producer to predict will be an instant hit.  It will lift your heart even more when you watch the video.  Students from Binford Middle School in Richmond, VA, (where Mraz has mentored since last year) appear in segments of this uplifting short film. The custodian gets a starring role, too!

Jason Mraz is a master of lyrics, and your students may enjoy analyzing such lines as, “May you be as fascinating as the slap bracelet.”  My favorite is the one I used to title this blog post.

For more inspiration for the students who are embarking on new chapters in their lives, you may want to check out this collection of videos I posted last year.  I also have a list of books that make great graduation gifts.

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