Sunday, March 30, 2014

What Does the Fox Say? State Testing Motivation

    In addition to Kid President, another craze this year has been the infamous "What Does the Fox Say?" song with silly lyrics and a techno beat. If you must, you can watch the video here. :)

I decided I needed to have a theme for the test-prep lessons and materials that I provided to our 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students. Much to others' dismay, it just so happens that "say" and "PSSA" rhyme. We have to get their attention somehow, right? So why not use something that they enjoy to help motivate them to put effort into something that they aren't looking forward to?

Below is a simple bulletin board that I put up at one of my buildings to reinforce the test-taking strategies that I was reviewing with students:

The speech bubbles are filled with simple strategies that I modified from reading the "Be A Super Test-Taker" book that's been released by Scholastic. Overall, a solid resource for both teachers and students. You can find it on Amazon here.

During test-prep lessons, I also provided students with a blank, lined speech bubble to write their own "What does the Fox Say?" test prep advice. If time permitted, students shared some of their advice to the class. I wrapped up by playing the song for students and gave them a short "pep-talk". :) 

This theme may seem silly or a lot of extra work when I could have just gone in and reminded students of the usual "Get enough sleep, eat a good breakfast, sharpen your pencils, yada yada...". But as I mentioned earlier, if we want to show students that we value their time and effort on these tests, why not put a little extra effort in on our part to make it fun and motivational?? Check out this AWESOME video by Spicer Elementary students in Texas! So awesome! They're definitely motivated! :)

Good luck to everyone during testing season!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

We LOVE you, Kid President!!

   I have been utilizing Kid President videos at various times throughout this school year because I LOVE him and the messages he shares. Through his videos, he provides a variety of "pep-talks" with themes that sometimes resemble the "pep-talks" we give to our students: don't be a bully, be more awesome, getting your "learn' on, etc! Needless to say, I have gotten many of my students hooked as well. I have shared these videos:
             - In e-mails to staff
             -As a motivation tool prior to state testing
             -As part of classroom guidance lessons
             -At the beginning of group sessions

Here are a few of my favorite videos:

I also found this AWESOME Kid President Writing Activity via the Owl-ways Be Inspired Blog. The link to her post can be found here. She is AMAZING for offering this for FREE!

Through the pages of this book, students have the opportunity to be their own "Kid President" and give advice to a variety of community members including teachers, moms, babies, waiters, etc! There are 25 different options to utilize-OR you can choose just a few and make multiple copies!

If you haven't already, I encourage you to take some time and watch some of Kid President's other videos! Prepare to be inspired!! :) 

Read Across America Recap

I always utilize Read Across America Week/Month to visit classrooms: emphasizing the importance of reading AND tying in a lesson that meets ASCA standards? Score. Here are the two lessons I presented this year: 

1. Gertrude McFuzz (K-Grade 2)

     One of my absolute favorite Dr. Seuss pieces. Gertrude's story can be found in the book Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss. In this story, Gertrude is a young bird who only has one lonely tail. She desperately wants to be like her friend Lolla-Lee-Lou, who has two long, beautiful tails. Gertrude gets very jealous of Lolla and goes to extreme measures to find special berries that will help her grow another tail. However, Gertrude isn't happy with just two tails. She continues to eat all of the berries until "she had eaten three dozen-that's all that there was!"  The story continues to show how Gertrude's many tails don't allow her to be as great of a bird as she once was. She learns that she must appreciate the things that make her individually unique.

    Following the book, I spent some time processing the story with students and discussing the things that make them unique, just like Gertrude's one tail made her unique. I also had a simple worksheet for students to write a few sentences about what makes them unique. This activity really got them thinking about the special things about themselves that are different from others. 

   For an added touch, I purchased a blue boa and a green boa, and attached them as my own "tails". This helped to draw the students in when I entered the classroom and definitely started some discussion. :) I also had this wonderful hand-painted shirt from my friend Tif to wear during the week! (Visit Tiffany's Box of Tricks

2. Horton Hatches the Egg (Grades 3-5)
    I found the idea for this lesson by visiting Steve Sandman's Guidance Lessons page via the the Cane Creek MS Counseling Website. First, I asked for a few volunteers to join me at the front of the classroom. Next, I handed them a few Warhead Jellybeans (you could substitute any other initially-sour candy), and asked them to eat a few. While they did this, I asked for the other students to pay particular attention to their classmates' faces. Once the students had laughed and finished eating the jelly beans, we took some time to process the experience-What are some words that described the initial experience? How was it at the end? Was it worth getting through the sour part? Hopefully, their responses go from sour, painful, etc. to sweet, chewy, yummy.

   Afterwards, I read Horton Hatches the Egg to the class, and asked them to be thinking about how Horton's experience was similar to the Warhead Jellybeans. Another Dr. Seuss story, this book really emphasizes the character trait, perseverance. Horton agrees to sit on the egg of a bird-friend who promises to return quickly. However, the lazy bird doesn't ever return to the nest, and yet Horton remains faithful and sits on the egg through wind, rain, hunters, and is even sold off to a circus! At the end of the story, the egg hatches and the end result of Horton's commitment is an elephant-bird!

   I chose this story for the older students, as they often lack motivation to work hard and get through the school day. They can also struggle to see a connection between the things they are learning and their futures. (State Tests, Middle School and beyond)...

“I meant what I said and I said what I meant. 

An elephant's faithful one-hundred percent!”

I have already started thinking about what books/lessons I want to share with the students next year! What are some Dr. Seuss lessons that you have implemented?