Sunday, March 31, 2013

Holy Week

Last week was very special because I had the opportunity to teach my 5th graders about Holy Week and the Easter story.  At the Christian school where I teach, every grade level focuses on the Easter story in some way.  For the past few years, I've shown the JESUS film during Holy Week, along with my lessons, and it's been quite powerful. 
The movie is kind of old (1979), but the kids enjoy it and we follow along in the book of Luke as the film is narrated.  The movie is two hours long, so we watched 30 minutes each day and then concluded with an Easter craft on Friday morning (we had a half-day).

Here are snapshots of the lessons I taught throughout the week:

Day 1 Lesson--The Triumphal Entry
  • I reminded students that Palm Sunday celebrates Jesus's arrival into Jerusalem.
  • Scripture focus:  Matthew 21:1-11
  • Essential questions:  "What makes Jesus different from every other religious leader in history?"  "What makes him different from every other human being in history?"

Day 2 Lesson--The Last Supper
  • We focused on the betrayal of Jesus and the last supper He and His disciples shared together.
  • Scripture focus:  Matthew 26:1-30 and John 13:1-20
  • We discussed how, in John 13, Jesus's act of washing the disciples' feet during the supper was a great example of selfless service.  We, as Christians, are to remember this act and humble ourselves, giving generously to (and serving) others.

Day 3 Lesson--The Garden of Gethsemane (Jesus Prays)
  • We read about how Jesus predicted Peter's denial as well as how Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane.
  • Scripture focus:  Matthew 26:31-46
  • Discussion questions:  "In verse 39, is Jesus saying he doesn't want to die?  Why do you think He asked God to 'remove this cup from me'?"  "What does it mean, in verse 39, when Jesus says, 'Yet not as I will, but as you will'?  How is this a good model prayer for us?"

Day 4 Lesson--The Crucifixion
  • We read about Judas's betrayal, Peter's denial, and Jesus's crucifixion.
  • Scripture focus:  Matthew 26:47-27:66
  • We discussed how the crucifixion of Jesus is a difficult thing to imagine.  Even though it makes us sad to think about, we can see from the scripture how much God loves us.  As Jesus died on the cross, He forgave those who were persecuting Him.  As Christians, we should forgive those who hurt us.

Day 5 Lesson--The Resurrection
  • We read the best part of the story--how Jesus rose from the grave!
  • Scripture focus: Matthew 28:1-20; 1 Corinthians 15:12-58
  • We discussed how significant the resurrection is.  In no other religion has a "god" raised himself from the dead.  Jesus triumphed over sin and death and He has the power to take us to be with Him when we die. 

I do a different Easter craft each year and this year it was sand crosses from Oriental Trading.  ;) 
The students really liked this craft and I liked the fact that they could do it on their own with very little assistance from me!  They each turned out differently but they all looked great. 

I hope everyone has a Happy Easter!  He is Risen!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Mystery Skype Update

I wanted to give an update on our Mystery Skype sessions.  You can check out how our first session went by CLICKING HERE.  We have learned a great deal since that first session and have made changes for improvement.  As of now, we've participated in eight Mystery Skype sessions; three of them were in Canada and the rest have been in the U.S. 

I changed my students' roles a little since the first Skype session.  During our second Mystery Skype, I allowed every child to come to the webcam and ask/answer a question--that was just too confusing and I wouldn't recommend it!  During our third Skype call, I designated three inquirers; this ended up being perfect for our group, so we stuck with that for the rest of the sessions.  My three kiddos would rotate and take turns asking questions.  My third inquirer also acted as a "runner."  It has worked well.
Here are our current rules, roles, and routine(s):

Skype Rules:
  • Listen carefully.  Whisper only.  Do NOT talk while the other class is talking or while someone from our class is asking a question.
  • Stay in your designated area and work on your specified assignment.
  • Keep track of clues.
  • Create possible questions.
  • Be polite when speaking to each other and the other class.  Always reflect Christ.
Skype Roles:
  • Greeter
  • Scribe (will write information/clues on the dry erase board)
  • Inquirers (will ask questions of the other class)
  • Photographer
  • Think Tank (will use maps/atlases)
  • Google Mappers (will use iPads or BYOD)
  • Computer Mappers (will use the classroom computer)
  • Closer (will end the call politely)
  • Mathematician (will use MapQuest to find distance between our locations)
Skype Routine:
  • Find the country/state or province/city of the other classroom by asking only YES/NO questions.  A "YES" answer allows the class to ask a follow-up YES/NO question.  A "NO" answer gives the opposing group the chance to ask a question.  (FYI, sometimes we didn't use the follow-up question format...the students would decide on that when the call began).
  • The runner could clearly see guesses and possible questions; no one was calling out. 
Cute picture we snapped from @KatyGartside's class!
We loved the idea so much, we used a "We Are Thinking" sign in our next Mystery Skype call. 
Possible Questions/Clues:
The students came up with these and we just posted them on the board during our Skype calls.
Finally, here are my goals for the students, along with a list of pre-requisites for Mystery Skype.  Also, I'll include a list of post-call activities. 
Mystery Skype Goals:
  • Practice geography skills (authentic experiences bring learning to life for students)
  • Improve communication skills
  • Develop good questions
  • Work together to accomplish a goal
  • Make connections with other students across the globe (overcome geographic boundaries)
  • Practice computer search skills
  • Collect data and use deductive reasoning
  • Become reflective
  • Students will need to know facts about their state/city/school and be able to answer questions on those topics
  • Students will need to know how to read a map/atlas
  • Students will need to know how to conduct online searches and be able to assess a website for credibility
  • Students need to be able to use Google Maps and Google Earth
  • Students need to know how to conduct themselves in a group (e.g. etiquette/tact, listening skills, communication skills, etc.)
  • Students will formulate questions to ask of the other class
  • Students will need to be able to conduct an interview
  • Students will need to be able to use a digital camera to make image or video recordings
  • Students will need to have taken part in a simulated Mystery Skype with the classroom teacher
Post-call Activities:
  • Informal assessment--debrief by asking questions such as, "What worked well during the call?  What did not work well during the call?  What did you like the most/least?  What surprised you?  How can we improve for the next call?  What do you know now that you didn't know before the Skype call?  How is asking a question or being asked a question via Skype different from asking a question/being asked in the classroom?"
  • Write reflective blog posts/journal entries
  • Have students take a survey about their learning from the Mystery Skype session
  • Create a video recording of the debriefing session
  • Create a slideshow of the images collected during the call
  • Create an iMovie short film from the video clips taken during the call
  • For the teacher: host a parent/faculty presentation session about the activity

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Week

We have a wonderful PSO at our school that works hard each year to treat all the teachers to a special week--Teacher Appreciation Week.  It's not celebrated around National Teacher Appreciation Day in May.  Instead, we celebrate it in February/March each year because it works better with our calendar.  Anyway, each day is assigned its own theme.  This year...

Monday was prayer day and the teachers were treated to popcorn and smoothies:
Tuesday was school supply day:
Some of my students forgot to bring in supplies on this day (it's totally optional, by the way!) but they brought them in the next day and I ended up with more supplies than what is shown.  Crazy!
On Wednesday, we were treated to an incredible breakfast and then cookies and milk at the end of the day:
Thursday was gift card day:  (And we got strawberry plants)
On Friday, we were treated to lunch and a special surprise:
Several PSO members crashed my classroom around 1:15 p.m., dressed in camo, and delivered my "Survival Kit" full of goodies, gift certificates, and coupons for free stuff at local vendors.
I had a great Teacher Appreciation Week!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

All About Pi

Since today is March 14 (3/14--Pi Day), we decided to celebrate by learning more about this mathematical constant.  After watching a BrainPop video on pi, listening to a Flocabulary clip on pi, and reading the book, Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi by Cindy Neuschwander, we enjoyed a blueberry pie at snack time and prepared for our afternoon activity with the high school students.

The 9th/10th grade geometry teacher and I decided to have our students collaborate on an activity that would require them to create various circles and then measure the diameter and circumference of each in order to calculate to find pi.

We met on the field, where the students gathered ropes and tied one (at a time) to a secure pole in the ground. 
The rope was pulled taut and measured (this was the radius).  We then secured the loose end of the rope to a distance measuring wheel and walked around in a giant circle.
The students took the circumference and divided it by the diameter (2 times the radius) and should have ended up with pi (3.14).   
It was a little difficult for my 5th graders to keep the rope pulled tight as they walked around in a huge circle, so we got close, but no pi.  We were very close at 3.12 and 3.13--and a few other numbers that I can't remember.
The students had a blast with this activity and were so excited to see who could "get the closest to pi."

P.S.  One of my girls got the closest, which made my boys jealous.  Everything's a competition, don'tcha know.

Happy Pi Day!