Ruck's Rodeo

Mrs. Ruck's Second Grade Class

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Changes for Ms. Patterson

I am thrilled to announce that over the past few months I have had many positive changes!

In the month of May I married the love of my life and we had a beautiful Marine Corps Wedding on a ranch in Alachua, Florida.  Ms. Patterson is now Mrs. Ruck!

Then, I moved to PENSACOLA into our cute little home.

Shortly after moving in, we rescued a pup from the Humane Society and he has become our little baby. We named him Gunny (inspired by the many Gunnery Sergeants that influenced my hubby's career).

And lastly, becoming an East Milton Elementary Roadrunner!  I'm teaching Second Grade again so stay tuned for a blog makeover!  Saying goodbye to my Terwilliger family was extremely sad but I am so excited about this new chapter.  Goodbye Patterson's Partners and hello Ruck's Rodeo!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I Heart Workstations!

Oh, workstations...where do I even begin?! My love for workstations began throughout my student teaching.  There was something purely magical about meeting with differentiated small groups in peace while the rest of the class remained fully engaged without constant interruptions.

As a student teacher I developed 'centers.'  This was a giant headache as it required digging for new ideas every week and staying after hours on Friday (crazy! I know!).  Looking back I realize that the concept of 'centers' was great but the overall product was silly.

Thank my lucky stars for Debbie Diller, the author of Literacy Workstations and Making the Most of Small Group Instruction. Every single last page of my copies have highlighted lines and notes in the margin.  Once you read her books, you will realize the simple distinction between the age old 'centers' and the newly evolved 'literacy workstations.'

Here are some of my students in action!

At the ABC/Word Study Station these students are completing an activity related to the reading curriculum story about space.  The activity involves reading long/short o sounds, sorting them on the correct word mat and recording the answers.  Even science is integrated into reading with the activity relating to space! LOVE IT!

This Pocket Chart Station reviews fact and opinion.  The students read each moon phrase and place them in pockets under the correct category while recording answers.  Notice how I have students paired.  This is so they can help each other stay on task or figure things out if they are confused.
Pocket Chart Station

The Writing Station can involve so many activities.  Here, one student is creating a simile book about the moon while the other is practicing his spelling words with rainbow colors.  So simple...yet so effective.

The Big Book Station is a class favorite.  Students take turns using funky pointers (this is a fly swatter from the Dollar Tree) to read each line or page of the story.  Throughout the year we practiced reading stories with funny voices, asking partners questions at the end, and even sharing a favorite part to the class.

Read the Room Station is so easy because it is portable and can be placed ANYWHERE with some clipboards and a basket.  This student is finding words with soft/hard g and c sounds.

Not pictured are my Library Station, Buddy Reading Station, Computer Station, Smartboard Station, iPad Station, Listening Station, and Nonfiction Station.  The options are truly endless.

I found these particular activities on Teachers Pay Teacher, which is a GOLD MINE if you are looking for inexpensive pre-made activities and lessons.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pumpkin Day (EEEKK!)

Dressed up among my characters as Junie B. Jones! 
I seriously count down the days until fall festivities can take place in my classroom! Without a doubt, October is one of my favorite months.   As soon as the first of the month rolls around, I dig up every pumpkin book and fill the room with candy corn and various colors of fall.  I try to integrate the season wherever I can (teams, decor, calendar, literacy workstations, library, etc).

So let me now introduce you to PUMPKIN DAY! This was a unit developed by one of my favorite teachers, Cara Carroll at The First Grade Parade.

I began the day with a pumpkin investigation that involved various workstations.  Students worked in teams (of course!) to practice estimation, making predictions, measuring, and counting.

The most challenging part of our day was getting our hands dirty.  I was so baffled by the looks of pure disgust and shock as I told each team to reach in and grab the seeds with their hands.  Needless to say, we got over that really quick!

They were simply shocked at how many seeds a
 pumpkin could hold.
Check out that independence!

Teamwork at its best...everyone is lending a helping (slimy) hand.

The next activity involved writing similes (one of their favs!).  This is a great book by Loreen Leedy...

We wrote down our scientific observations while focusing on using our five senses. As a whole group the class provided various adjectives to describe their pumpkin.

Here are a few examples of pumpkin similes that were created.  Their creativity just tickled me to death!
Don't worry...he assured me that he was
referringto the character from the movie :)

The yarn looks like the stringy insides!
To end our fun filled day we used the help of several classroom volunteers to carve our team pumpkins.  Don't worry parents, we did this with EXTREME adult supervision and used those tiny tools that you can buy in a home kit.  But first, we had to talk about the purpose of voting because it definitely wouldn't have been fair for Ms. Patterson to choose how they carved their pumpkin!  The BrainpopJr. Video called Rights and Responsibilities was a great introduction to the concept of voting.

Voting Ballot
Voting Options

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Guess My Habitat

'I hear, I forget...I see, I remember...I do, I understand' (Old Chinese Proverb)

Now isn't that the truth? Keeping this simple, yet powerful teaching motto in mind, I try to find many opportunities for my kiddos to get up, move around, and get their brain juices flowing.  At the end of our science unit on Habitats I decided to check their understanding by having them show me what they had learned.

Keeping a secret can be so much fun!
It was a very simple lesson that involved drawing a picture.  Now, when I say that they drew a picture, I'm not referring to a pencil and paper sketch with stick figures and scribbles.  I'm talking about a vivid illustration that is full of details.

Before we began the assignment we discussed how to draw an illustration.  This may seem silly but I really wanted to assess their learning and could only do so by taking a peek into their minds through their depictions on paper.

Each team was assigned a different habitat (desert, ocean, pond/lake, forest).  Once the objections and expectations of the lesson had been discussed, I turned on some classical music jams and set the timer to  fifteen minutes.

As the students finished, I secretly taped each masterpiece onto their backs, which seemed to trigger a room full of giggles.  Once the timer buzzed each team was directed to stand up-hand up-pair up (a snazzy Kagan strategy that we had been practicing).  The remainder of the lesson continued with students providing clues to their partners, in order for the other to guess their habitat.

I, on the other hand, received the pleasure of floating around the room and feeling overjoyed as I heard so many phenomenal examples of higher order thinking questions.

Who would have thought that learning could be so fun?!

Desert Illustration

Forest Illustration

Ocean Illustration

Once students guessed the correct habitat, they gave their partner a high
five and put their hand up to find another available partner.

Me in a Bag

Every teammate was fully engaged with this little guy.
He spoke loudly with expression as he shared his items.
Character building is a pretty big deal in my classroom.  Every year my students desks are formed into groups of three to four teammates.  After being trained in Kagan Cooperative Learning Strategies, I guess you could say that I was never quite the same.  Integrating group strategies and teambuilding into every aspect of our day was a lot of work but paid off in the end.

My little partners LOVED 'Me in a Bag.'  It was their first official homework assignment, which was taken home within the first few days of school.  Each child was instructed to bring a few items from home that would tell their team a little bit about themselves.  The only had to fit in the brown paper bag.

This activity also provided a fabulous opportunity to teach taking turns, listening, sharing, being polite, and when its appropriate to ask questions.

Notice the Kagan Mat in the center...each student had a number and would
keep track of taking turns with this simple resource.

We discussed always making eye contact with someone when
they are speaking to you.

This young man was asking a question pertaining to his partner's
item (practicing active listening!).

Meet the Teacher

Nothing gets me more excited than "Meet the Teacher Day!"  The thrill of finally finishing the initial set up of the classroom to meet each eager student that walks into the door is something that I look forward to each year.  Last year, I tried to bump it up a notch since I had two years of experience under my belt.  

As parents and little cowboys and cowgirls entered the room I directed them towards a desk loaded with goodies.  Among my favorites were the Back to School Magic Confetti and the nifty little welcome packet that I modified for parents to take home.  The parent envelope contained a classroom brochure (which listed every ounce of class info), second grade expectations, our schedule, a letter from yours truly, and a breakdown of what their child would be learning throughout the year.  

Any additional papers that needed to be completed and returned were also included.  I have to say thanks to Cara Carroll for sharing this idea because it was definitely a huge hit.  Instead of sending parents out the door with tons of different colored papers falling out of their hands, I was able to take more time with introductions rather than "fill this out...and put this here...and don't forget this too!"

Welcome to Second Grade!

Information table 

I was so excited to show off our classroom Blog as parents took a seat and browsed
through the previous class' pictures!

Smartboard Greeting...Howdy Partners!