Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I started my Halloween unit yesterday.  Halloween is not celebrated in Korea, and I wanted to show them what it is all about.  I found some great songs on YouTube, including this one:

We watched the first two stanzas of the song, and then we created some of our own.  We had a lot of fun with this song.  I had never heard it before.  It's a great way to talk about different animals and careers.  Some careers are easier than others.  For example, I couldn't think of one for "lawyer" or "teacher".  Can you think of some more?

Knock knock,
Trick or treat,
Who are you?
I'm a ghost.
I'm a little ghost.

Knock knock,
Trick or treat,
Who are you?
I'm a ghost.
I'm a little ghost.

Repeat with:
Cowboy - "Yee-haw"
Witch - "Hee hee hee"
Policeman - "Stop! You're under arrest."
Doctor - "Say ahhh."
Astronaut - "1, 2, 3...blast off!"
Tiger - "Grrrrr..."
Frog - "Ribbit ribbit"
Dog - "Ruff ruff"
Cat - "Meow meow"
Mouse - "Squeak squeak"
Singer - "La la la la la"
Pig - "Oink oink"

I have also introduced some new ABC activities with some of my classes.  Have you ever heard of Power Towers?  I found out about Power Towers last year from Pinterest and introduced to my classes with HUGE success.  HERE is the original link where I found it.  However, it originally came from Teacher Tipster.  If you have not heard about Teacher Tipster, you totally need to take a look.  He is fantastic.

We used Power Towers to practice multiplication facts.  My students would literally beg to play.  And when you get 5th graders to beg to play a game that practices math facts?  That means you have a winner!

To play Power Towers, you pull a cup out of the Pringles can, say the fact or the word, and then stack the cup making a tower.  The students get really creative with their towers.  I write my facts and words on the bottom of the cup and teach my students to keep the cups face down so they have to flip over the cup to read it.

If they don't know the fact or the word, I teach them to put the cup at the bottom of the stack.  You have to know it to stack it.  Also, if the stack falls down, then you have to start at the beginning.

Now in Korea, I don't have Pringles cans, so I don't use those.  I found small Dixie cups at Daiso, the Korean dollar store, and wrote letters of the alphabet on bottom.  The students turn over the cup, say the letter, and then stack it.  It's a great way to practice math facts, ABC's, phonics, etc.  You could even use Power Towers to practice vocabulary words although you might want to write the words on stickers and then put them on the cup instead of writing directly on the cups.

I was sick last week and ended up staying home for 2 days per the doctor's orders.  In Korea, you go to school NO matter what, whether you are vomiting, have a fever, or are dying.  To show you just how far they take this, here is a funny video to explain what I mean:

While I was home, I worked on my Math Stations pack.  Man, it was a lot of work, but I finally finished it....all 153 pages of it.  I used math stations in my classroom every single day back in Texas, and I would often re-use them for more practice.  My students struggled a lot with place value, multiplication, division, word problems, and problem solving, so I re-used those stations a lot.  There are 72 ready-to-go stations included, along with my station rotations and station groups.
Math Stations

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fall in Korea

Well, it is officially fall in Korea!  The leaves are changing and the weather is getting cooler.  Bring out the winter gear, which by the way I never really need in Texas.  I bought my first wool coat from a girl who had to move back home unexpectedly.  I will also be purchasing my very first pair of winter boots here shortly.  Is it sad that I'm kind of looking forward to the cold weather?  Well...then again, I'm also a little terrified of the cold weather.  It gets to negative 5 degrees.  I've never experienced weather that cold before.  Bring. It. On.

Last week, we had a Harvest Event at school.  The students harvested rice, and then used the rice to make rice cakes and popped rice.  They had a lot of fun.  Here are a couple of pictures:

With the fall weather, it's time for Halloween!  I am completely trying something new in my classroom.  I have been doing mostly ABC activities and early phonics, but it's been difficult.  My students are visually impaired, so I can't do some of the regular fun phonics activities that I have found on Pinterest.  I found one where they put phonics words around the room, and the students try to be the first student to find it.  I think that sounds really fun, but my students can't see that well.  I have tried doing something like with my small groups, but they just don't participate sometimes.

So...I decided to completely revamp things.  My co-teacher wants me to do phonics, so I will spend the first 15 minutes doing phonics and then the next 30 minutes doing thematic unit activities.  Each week will be a new thematic unit.  Some classes I see once a week, and some classes I see 2-3 times a week, so some classes will get more activities than others.

So far, the list of ideas I have are:

  • Halloween
  • Thanksgiving
  • Christmas
  • New Years
  • Olympics
  • Musical instruments
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Soccer
  • Football
  • Butterflies
  • Oceans
  • Rainforests
  • Winter
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Fall
  • Solar system
  • The sun
  • Earth
  • Bones
  • Going to the doctor
  • Going to the dentist
  • Senses
  • Washing hands
  • Homes
  • Transportation
My plan is to show a quick video on the topic, do a couple worksheets with new vocabulary, and do an activity where we act out gestures or sing a song.  I am starting to find some great videos on YouTube and have started playlists on each topic.  If you have any ideas, I would LOVE to hear them!

I have found some great Halloween videos that I wanted to share.  Maybe you can use some of these in your classroom.  I am always on the lookout for fun, catchy videos...especially if there is a fun song.

I have found some great visual ABC cards with actual photographs.  I don't have access to a color printer here in Korea, but I do really like the cards.  You can find them HERE.
This is a sample of the D flashcards.  Aren't they great?

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Making up songs to teach

I sing a lot in my classes.  It doesn't matter if I am teaching English to blind students or 5th grade math in Texas.  I sing and dance...making up songs and actions for the songs to help my students remember and understand what they are learning.

My students this year need to use tactile as much as possible since they are blind.  I have been struggling this year with what exactly to teach my students and how to teach them.  Many of them are very low and are working on learning their ABCs and phonics.  However, they also need to learn basic English conversation.  So I made up some songs about some simple early English conversations.

The first song is sung to the tune of "London Bridge".

Hello, hello, how are you? - wave hello and then hand out gesturing "how are you"
How are you? How are you?
Hello, hello, how are you?
I'm fine thank you. - put hand on your chest

My name is Angela (they of course say their own name and not my name), - put hand on your chest
Angela, Angela, Angela,
My name is Angela,
Nice to meet you. - shake hands with your friend or partner

With my students, they didn't understand not to say my name and say their name instead.  So we went around the room and sang each student's name.  They loved it when it was time to sing their name.  They would smile really big and get to shake my hand.  It was so cute.

The next song I made up is sung to the tune of "Are You Sleeping".

How are you? How are you?
I am hungry. - rub stomach as if you're hungry
I am hungry.
I am hungry.

Repeat with:
I am cold. - shiver
I am hot. - fan yourself
I am tired. - sleepy hands next to face
I am happy. - happy face
I am sad. - sad face
I am good. - thumbs up
I am great. - hands up in the air
I am OK. - give the OK signal

I am hungry

I am cold.

I am tired.

I am happy.

I am great.

I am good.

I am OK.

He loved the songs....much more than I thought he would.  Now I get to think of more songs to create!

Do you use songs in your classroom?  Do you even make up songs to use in your classroom?  I'd love for you to share them!

I have added several products to my TPT Store!  Check them out and let me know what you think!

My first product to share with you is my Math Choice Boards.  I used these last year when I taught 5th grade math.  It was so difficult to work with small groups when the rest of the class wasn't on task.  So I created some fun projects for them to work on, projects where they were able to show what they know in activities that they got to choose.  They LOVED being able to choose which project they would work on.  Some of them loved to create games, so they got to choose "create a game".  Some of them were really great at computer projects, so they were excited about being able to be creative using the computer.  My students stayed on task, they were into what they were doing, and they really were able to show what they learned about each objective.  It was a win-win.  Click HERE to download Math Choice Boards.

I also added the project, Costa's House of Questions.  I went to a workshop last year and learned about Costa's House of Questions.  It's another way to look at the Bloom's Taxonomy, and I absolutely loved it.  Bloom's has 6 levels and is sometimes hard to distinguish between the 6 levels.  If it's hard for me, then I know it must be hard for my students.  Costa's House of Questions only has 3 levels, with the 3rd level being the highest level.  It was SO much easier for my students to understand.  I created a huge bulletin board in my classroom for us to use in our lessons.  Click HERE to download.

The last product I added was my Collection of Checklists.  I'm one of those teachers who strives to be super organized.  Now it doesn't always turn out that way, but I do strive for it.  One of the things I use to stay organized is checklists.  I use a checklist for anything I can think of.  I included several checklists in the collection and even several blank ones for you to use however you want. Click HERE to download.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tactile learning

Since my students are visually impaired, they need as much tactile learning as possible.  I've never had to think about this before, but I am enjoying the challenge.

I went to a big stationery store last week here in Daejeon and found these colorful balls.  I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them, but I knew I should get them.  So I did.

Several of my students are working on their letters, so I thought it would be fun to make the letters using the balls.  They really enjoyed it.

We watched our favorite ABC song from YouTube.  Here is the link again: A is for Apple ABC song

I paused the video at each letter and had the students make that letter.

They enjoy anything tactile and anything they can actually make or create.  I will definitely be doing this again.  I'm thinking of creating some ready-made letters for my lower students to fill in with the balls.

I have also been revamping my products in my Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) store.  These are two products I just finished and added.  I used "Say Something" pretty much every single day when I was teaching in Texas.  My students loved it, and it really did help them to have the thinking sentence stems.

I used "Say Something" in reading, writing, science, and social studies.  I used it in whole class lessons, small groups, and with partner and individual work.  There are so many possibilities.  I would always model it first, and then let them practice.  After several practice sessions, they became pros at it!
Say Something
Last year, I taught 5th grade math, and I used "Say Something" but made it a little bit different.  It really did help my students to understand and verbalize what they were learning and doing in math.  It's so important for students to be able to explain it so that they internalize it.  It was invaluable in my classroom.
Say Something in Math

Friday, October 4, 2013

Fruit loops

Who knew that middle school boys would do anything for Fruit Loops?

I had tried to think of something to motivate my students.  Stickers weren't working for most of them because they can't see the sticker well.  I had brought some Fruit Loops for a snack to keep at my desk...just for me.  I hadn't planned on giving any to my students.  However, on a whim, I went and got them and gave them a Fruit Loop for getting an answer right.  They loved it!  I was shocked.  Surprised.  Flabbergasted.  Excited.  I found something that they liked!

So on this activity, I found some phonics flashcards online, printed them, and cut them out.

Have you ever used this website?  They have some great stuff on it, from flash cards to reading comprehension worksheets.

I gave them a card with a word and its picture on it.  Each student had their own set of magnetic letters.  The first student who spelled the word correctly got 2 Fruit Loops, and the other student got 1 Fruit Loop when he spelled it correctly.

Here are some of the words that we used.

I am constantly looking for new activities to use with my middle school students.  Although they are on a Kindergarten/1st grade level, they like to feel like they are in middle school.  Do you have any ideas?  I'd LOVE to hear them!