Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Fiction vs. Non-fiction

For most of this first grade year we have been reading and writing fiction.  We have studied small moments, the fiction of author Kevin Henkes and even tried our hand at writing our own fictional stories.  Now at the halfway point in the school year, we are going to switch, and read and write non-fiction.  As part of the new study we are reorganizing our genre library to include more non-fiction choices.  We have divided our individual books into fiction and non-fiction, packed up some of the fiction and added more non-fiction choices.  We have had some wonderful discussions on how to know if a book is fiction or non-fiction! What we have discovered is there are so many "hybrid" books!

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Crickets are Here!

As so often happens, one of the suggestions in our Science manual is to set up a habitat for crickets to engage and introduce the students to a new unit, Needs of Living Things, but, of course, the supplies that we need are not available. I wonder how many teachers just read the suggestions and move on when they realize that they don't have what they need and sometimes don't even know where to get what they need? Not so in our class! Being a total Science nerd, my co-teacher decided to go to the pet store and buy what we need. She invested about $10 in a terrarium container and live crickets, and we were ready. With the children's help, they added soil, sticks, a water saturated cotton ball and some fruit (apples) and vegetables (lettuce). They identified the crickets need for shelter, water, food and space. The children were all ears as Tracy explained that we couldn't put too many crickets in the environment or they would eat each other, because they wouldn't have enough space! Then came the moment of truth. Tracy dumped the first crickets into the container easily but then one little hyper cricket jumped into the container and jumped right back out onto the carpet! That started the commotion as Tracy tried to catch the cricket and the children either began to scream and head for a safe spot (such as on top of a table!) or ran to help her catch the cricket. As Tracy turned to chase the runaway cricket, she put the box down... and I watched as 5 more crickets escaped from the box! Quickly the classroom was in a total uproar as crickets jumped all over the room to the sound of shrieking children and me laughing!  I just wish I had had a video!

Today as we were writing a class "How to" paper, the children suggested that we write about how to create a cricket environment! What a great idea! And if we had any doubt that our little cricket habitat had thoroughly engaged our children, we were assured as they excitedly added every detail of yesterday's event! They just can't keep their eyes off their new "class pets!"

Friday, January 4, 2013

Safety First

One of the changes at my school after the 26 lost their lives in the Sandy Hook school shooting is that we have to have a way to cover the windows in our doors in case of an emergency intruder.  You can't cover the door ALL the time - in case of fire.  A firemen would have to be able to see inside your room and make sure it was all clear, so-o-o our ever-so-crafty homeroom mom made this adorable roll-up window shade.  Love it! 

Another change has been that I now carry a key to my room around my neck - I guess I'm a latch key teacher!  Doors have to be locked at all times... just in case.  It is a line of defense against an intruder.  We have been teaching the children that they may open the door to someone they do not recognize.  It is a sad sign of the times.