Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tried It Tuesday on a Snow Day

Well, much to my dismay I'm sitting at home on a Snow Day, so I'm linking up with Holly over at Fourth Grade Flipper with another Tried It Tuesday! 

I know, I know, a lot of teachers love a snow day every once in a while. The problem is that I had a bunch of awesome things planned for today that kind of won't make sense when we get back in December since half of them are Thanksgiving related. And I was hoping to wrap up some ongoing projects today that have to be pushed back too. 

Of course, tomorrow is a "Records Day" here, so the students stay home but the teachers report to work on progress reports and catch up on planning and classroom things. (But we may have that day canceled now!) Most of our teacher planning days are taken up by planned professional development, so I was looking forward to a planning day that I could actually use for planning. Plus, if we get called off tomorrow I STILL have to do the progress reports and the planning...just on my own time! Sigh!

And we have to make this day up on December 20th too. So, yeah...not a fan of snow days. But I digress...

I thought I'd share a little about the research projects my kids have been doing. In my district in 3rd/4th we've had the same social studies and science units for nearly 20 years. With the push for math and language arts, our units just haven't been updated. So it often falls on the teachers to take the basic theme of the unit and update the activities from our old units to match the current standards. One of the units we study is Africa. Africa can be a really daunting subject to take on due to size of the continent and the dramatic differences in culture from one side of it to another. It's really hard to teach kids generically about "Africa" because of those differences. 

So, along with another teacher on my team, I decided to break the continent up into 8 pieces, assign triads of kids one of the regions each, and provide them with materials to do research on that region. Having another teacher onboard was great because we could divvy up the responsibility of finding the different research resources. Kids have taken the last several weeks to do their research, and the last week preparing their presentations.

One kiddo brought in this
homemade smashed banana
treat from Madagascar!
This turned out to be an excellent example of how a teacher can set high expectations for the kids, and the kids will rise to meet the challenge. I asked kids to present about at least 9 out of the 12 topics I had them research, and they had to present using at least 3 forms of media. They rocked it. Every group ended up preparing at least 4 types of media, and several presented on all 12 topics!

Media types ranged from iMovies, Google Presentations, and ComicLife comics to homemade food, dance routines, reader's theatres, illustrated folktales, travel brochures, and posters.

Couscous (from Morocco) lovingly made,
but unfortunately smashed on the way to
school...it SMELLED delicious at least.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous that I'd set the expectations too high for the amount of time I was able to give the kids to work, but they did it by working on it (unasked) from home and during recess. I had parents ask to come and watch the presentations, and I think they were happy with what they saw. In the future I think I might take the number of research topics down so that the amount of time needed for the project is less, but otherwise I'd call the project a success! I was hoping to wrap up the last two presentations today, but alas...it just had to snow...Oh well!

Not the prettiest lady...
So I'll leave you today with a chuckle. We had one of our infamous "too cold to go outside" inside recess days yesterday, so some of my kids got another chance to work in the Book of Awesome Tasks that I made for them. So I present to you a couple of pictures from one of the kids' favorite pages. Apparently, monster, ninja, robot, etc. just wasn't interesting enough, so they decided to draw me as "other."

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!


  1. Ugh...your snow days sound like planning for subs...more trouble than they are worth. I wouldn't even know what to do with myself if I woke up and didn't have to go to school. In Florida we are well prepared days in advance because Tropical Storms and Hurricanes move like snails. The anticipatition on whether or not we will have school just about kills me. LOVE how and your teacher friend did your research projects. I think this could work out in my pod.
    Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'

  2. I'm so sorry about your snow day(s)! You're right, here in GA, we get so excited to have a snow day!! But I understand why you're upset about it. Also, I looooove when kids get so excited about projects they want to do them on their own time. They look like they did awesome!
    PS I hope you framed those portraits of you........ ;-)

  3. What??? You have to make up snow days? We have a snow warning for tonight and tomorrow - probably yours heading North. Usually only school buses are cancelled with a snowstorm so some children walk or get driven to school anyway.
    Grade 4 Buzz

  4. I totally feel your pain about not being able to get done what you wanted to because of the snow day. We are lucky to have five snow days built in our schedule that we don't have to make up. Even though it snows on average 200" a year here, we rarely have even three snow days, so it is really a free day off. When I used to coach, I would get really disappointed though because we needed to practice and had a competition coming up!
    Way to go on the projects with your students! You are right that students WILL rise to the challenges and expectations set before them! :)
    Fourth Grade Flipper


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