Friday, April 11, 2014

Cookin' Up Some Math

Fact: Every lesson is better if it involves food. Students are engaged, motivated, and really well-behaved because they know they don't get to eat said food if they act otherwise! :) I try to find every excuse I can to use food or candy in my teaching, and I've gotten to be quite good at it. My most recent under-taking was making Slow Cooker Brownies for our fractions unit. (I originally called them Crock Pot Brownies, but didn't want to send the wrong message if somehow they were telling their parents about it and forgot the "crock" part.) Since the kids are only in First grade, the fraction knowledge that they have and need to know is still basic.. how to read a fraction, how to write a fraction, and how to compare basic fraction visuals. Since my students are very gifted in Math, I took it a step further and had them adding and simplifying basic fractions (ex: 1/4 + 1/4 = 2/4 = 1/2). Most of them have a really good number sense and know their doubles/halves and were really impressing me with how quickly they picked this up!
To do this activity, I found a slow-cooker brownie recipe on line and then just modified it to add in Math.
Since not all of my students are advanced or at the abstract number level yet, I included blank fraction pictures for visual representation. I made them write all fractions in simplest form and explained that it was easier to only have to measure once instead of twice. Some got it, some didn't, but at least they've been exposed to it for future instruction!
I don't know how to upload a Word Doc or a PDF. If you'd like a copy of this, just let me know and I'll email it to you! 
Once they had done all of the math, we went to the cafeteria to mix up the brownies. I love when they can see Math (or any subjects) being used in "real life" and they had some great student-led discussions about making sure the measuring cups were all the way full, the importance of following the proper sequence, etc. The hardest part was the two hours we had to wait for them to cook! But boy, oh boy, did that cafeteria ever smell yummy!

My crock-pot is pretty small, so they came out a little more cakey than brownie-y, but they were still SUPER tasty! We had no problem finishing off the whole pan... of course, we did share with the whole elementary and all the teachers! :) 
The next week week we learned about measurement and for a review of capacity we made Rice Krispie Treats. It's the end of the 3rd quarter.. don't judge me. :) I'm also responsible for teaching them life long skills, and this is definitely one of those.
Like I said, they're always FULLY engaged when food is involved!
A little taste of home.
Aside from doing these yummy lessons, the best part about teaching 1st grade is that all of the pictures they take come from such a flattering angle. :)  
We demolished those.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

School Spirit Week

One reason I don't think I'll ever be able to give up teaching is Spirit Week. For those of you who are not used to American school craziness, it has nothing to do with the Holy Spirit. The "spirit" we're referring to is School Spirit. Believe it or not, this is a real point of confusion to international families. :)
Our spirit week was the week before Spring Break. This was a perfect time for it because students' brains are typically not right this week anyway, so might as well give them a reason to be crazy. It was also perfect, because Spirit Week is exhausting and it gave us a whole week to recuperate!
I was blown away by the participation we had this year! Usually there's a good portion of kids who forget or are "too cool", but we had almost 100% participation each day! It was so fun!

Monday was Storybook Character Day. I was excited for this because I LOVE storybooks. If you teach elementary for more than a day or two, you will understand. I love reading storybooks aloud to my kids. It's like magic. They're enthralled and silent the whole time... with a few giggles thrown in every now and again. I originally was going to be Little Red Riding Hood because I figured that would be a pretty easy one to throw together. Then I heard my students talking and like half of them said THEY were going to be Little Red, so I decided to get more creative. My next idea was Amelia Bedelia, but without thrift stores in this country, I didn't have the necessary costume parts. I finally decided on Camilla Cream from A Bad Case of the Stripes. All of my students knew instantly who I was because we've read this book more than once, but no one else in the school had any idea. 
The teachers (L to R): Max from Where the Wild Things Are, Viola Swamp from Miss Nelson is Missing, Camilla Cream from A Bad Case of the Stripes, and Leopard from How Leopard Got His Spots
My class did not disappoint! (L to R): Princess Leia, Fancy Nancy, Camilla Cream, Fancy Nancy, Stevie from The Sister's Club, boy from Wacky Wednesday, and Tin Tin

Tuesday was Crazy Hair Day. I wasn't as excited about this one because I figured there's only but so much you could do, but I was pleasantly surprised! Again, my class did not disappoint and there were some crazy hair styles school-wide! Plus, it was a free day to wear jeans, so... win win? In case anyone is wondering or wanting to try my hair style.. all it takes is 2 pens and a bunch of hair ti

One of my boys went ALL in and shaved his hair into a mohawk! LOVE it!
Wednesday was International Day. I had no idea what to do for this one. Although I've lived over 10 years of my life in Asia, we've never really been the kind of family to wear the traditional clothes and so I have none. I looked at the store and considered buying a kimono or an Indian saree, but figured the number of times I would wear it did not justify the time I would spend finding one I liked and/or the cost of it. Then I remembered that I'm REALLY good at being American and so went to work with that. All that was missing were some cowgirl boots to complete the look I was going for.. as my co-worker described it, the look of "America threw up on you". 

South Korea, America x3, Malaysia, Cowboy, Thailand, 'Murica

One of the amazing things about teaching internationally.
Thursday was Superhero Day. If you know anything about me, you obviously know how excited I was for this day to finally arrive. I love superheroes. I love spirit week. I love wearing spandex to work... It was perfect. Since I have more than my fair share of superhero shirts to choose from (it's seriously a little bit overwhelming.. I'm mildly addicted), I had to figure out which one I could turn into a full outfit with the least amount of cost or effort. (Like I said, no thrift stores makes spirit week way more difficult!) I decided on Batman.
My SUPER class (L to R): Catgirl, Spiderman, American Girl, Lasso Girl, Batman, and 2 Super Babies

The SUPER teachers (L to R): Captain America, Ironman, Elastigirl, Batman, and Black Widow

My little bat family. :) 

Friday was Sunbear Spirit Day! We had school t-shirts made and handed them out on Thursday for the kids to wear Friday! 
Such a neat group of students and teachers!

And at 2:30, I bid my kids farewell and began my Spring Break! Another successful Spirit Week in the books and a well-deserved, much-needed vacation ahead of me! 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Valentine's Day

You know you're a little behind in blogging when you blog about Valentine's Day in April. Oops. :) But, seeing as it's one of my favorite holidays (I'm beginning to think I over-use that term "favorite holiday".. but I just love them all!), I couldn't at least give it a little shout out. The day, as expected, was busy, loud, fun, yummy, and full of love and laughter.
We took this picture at snack time... before any sugar had been consumed. I've always said they can smell sugar into their bloodstreams. I think this serves as proof.

Wouldn't be an elementary school Valentine's Day without making "mailboxes". 

Cupcakes, brownies, cookies, candy, soda, and Valentine's Bingo. Pretty much every student's dream come true.
We set up the cafeteria for the joint K-4 party while they were at PE. 
 The noise level got progressively louder throughout the hour long event. 
Real Funfetti cupcakes with real Pillsbury icing. These kids don't even know how lucky/spoiled they are that I share my American goodies with them! 
Sweet little Avagail Grace.  My Valentine. :) 

I ended my day babysitting this sweet thang and then sorting my loot! Yes, that is a FULL bag of real American Valentine's Reeses PB Cups.... And lots of other yumminess that I definitely didn't need. It is hopefully clear to see why Valentine's Day is one of my favorites.