Monday, May 18, 2015

Week of May 18-22, 2015


Today, I had the first graders visit the studio to continue working on their wire sculptures of animals. After that, I spent the day with the second graders. We went to Tifft Nature Preserve where we were immersed in nature for the day. We saw a deer, snakes, a turtle, many tadpoles, red winged black birds (including a pair protecting their nest,) evidence of beavers and bats, and lots of Canadian Geese.

When we got back to school, we reviewed the photos I'd taken and shared out about the experience. Since they were in four separate groups on the walks (I bounced among the four groups to get photos of all of the students) they had a lot to share.


The first graders continued to progress with their wire animal sculptures. We should have a few finished pieces ready to photograph tomorrow!

Some of the second graders from 116 have finished their books on plants!

Bilingual books on how plants grow.

A bilingual book on how paper is made.


I brought another group of students in to study insects and test out the language of wire. The students played with different types of wire and some metal objects and got the hang of the medium. Here are a few examples of the insects they began to create:

A bee. I love the use of the spiral for the stinger.

A fly.

Pre-K finished two projects today- their houses (which helps them remember their house numbers, something our Brigance data shows as lacking) and their book on the alphabet, which was a wonderful emergent project that sprung up when we took a walk outside to look at lines and they saw letters instead.

Second Graders worked on butterfly drawings for a book about butterflies they're creating in Story Workshop. We did an Austin's Butterfly style critique using butterflies as the subject- it was perfect. 


Now that the weather is finally nice, we've been taking a lot of nature walks to the Valley Nature Habitat Trail.  Today, pre-k, kindergarten, and first grade made a visit. On Friday, the second graders will have a chance to visit. We will incorporate the walks into our curriculum. Some have plans before we head out and others are using it for inspiration.

I've been asking the Pre-K and K to think about the living things in our community, so that they can be aware of the things we want to find on our hikes and have an awareness for the living things we are creating in the atelier. They are using both languages to answer the question.

Pre-K 103:

We are starting a partnership with Imagine Community Gardens, a non-for-profit organization who is building a beautiful pair of gardens for Hope House, a shelter in the city of Buffalo. Our student artists are going to be creating some garden artwork for this garden, learning about insects and community service in the process.

Pre-K 103 started theirs this week. They are creating insects out of wood pieces donated by another local non-for-profit that we love- The Teacher's Desk- which gives tons of free supplies to schools. The wood pieces look like hot air balloons, as the students pointed out at first, but as we turned them around different ways, they began to see how we could make them into insects. We looked at the insects, either models or photographs, to make sure that we were paying attention to the colors we needed to use. For the wings, the students are trying to make sure they are looking at the size and shape. The students have to count out enough wire for their insects' legs, to incorporate counting into the lesson.

Once they finish their sculptures, we will have the students research the insects and draw them, then dictate facts they've learned. We will add photos of their sculptures and compile it all into a book about the experience.

Second Grade 116:

116's story workshop is heading in a new exciting direction. The students have been interested in comic books. Ms. Passino knew of a website recommended for ESL students in which they can make themselves into comic book stories. This led to their interest in drawing comics. We noticed that they are interested in reflecting on the year, so we're turning the comics to the theme of "advice for next year's new second graders." We talked about story boards, how stories are created, sequencing, the idea of beginning, middle and end, and the concept of having a problem and a solution to make the story interesting. The students are really coming up with great stories and advice. 

When I got to school, I was nervous to go to the classroom and it was hard. I got my nervous off and now I'm not nervous. The miss told me not to be shy and be myself and so I did and then I was not nervous.

My problem was that when I came here, I didn't know English and I was being a little bad. When I didn't know English, my problem was that I wanted to talk and I couldn't because I was shy. I started watching TV- tons of TV- and I got better at it.  If you try really hard, you can do anything.

This was a nice reflection for J and it brought us closer because I can sympathize with his feelings. I understand much of the conversational Spanish I hear, but I only use it when I'm reading vocabularly words off the translator on my iPad because I'm afraid that I'll say the wrong words and the students will think I'm weird.  We had a nice conversation about it and I really should take J's advice. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Week of May 11-15, 2015

Monday, May 11:

Second Grade:

118 has been using a new method of documenting for Story Workshop that I want to share. We are using Google Docs. Ms. Chowaniec created a working document that lists the students' names and tracks their activities during story workshop. We add dialogue as we get it, progress, things students need to work on, successes.  This has been really easy to use and I feel like we finally have a way to connect with each other when we are in separate rooms (the atelier and the classroom, outside and the classroom, etc.)

Today (Monday) I brought a small group to the atelier to work on making their story characters out of clay. At first one student, A, couldn't tell me his story. He said "I don't know about it. Ask D." D reminded him that it's about Plants vs. Zombies, a video game that both boys play.

Who are the characters?
A- The army.
D- The plants, Spiderman and Halo.
A- Oh! I played that game!
I see you have a lot of characters that are from different games and stories. Tell me about that.
A- They are going to work together! They can teleport anywhere they want. Some people teleport and they can't get back because some evil people broke the teleporter. Spiderman teleports to zombies vs. plants, but they end up being zombies vs. Spiderman.

I reread his words to the boys and they like it. I ask if they have anything else to add, but they said they don't at this time. However, a few minutes later, I still heard them discussing the story. 

D- The plants team up and help Spiderman. Then, after all that, they help fix the teleporter and they go back to their home.

A- No! They go to the Halo world and they have to help each other and fix each other. Then they go back to the real world!

Final characters for the boys' story.

D started out with the clay working flat, like most kids do when they start using clay. He flattened the shapes on top of the paper to make the correct size. It looked fantastic, but I said, "I wonder how it would look if you made it three-dimensional, like a toy." He said he preferred it flat, so I didn't get a picture right away.  I'm so disappointed about this now, because by the time I looked back, he'd decided to make it into a 3D sculpture!
D's second attempt.

D- It's like making the story 3D when you use clay. You can make a stadium or a city out of it. If you have a lot of clay, you could do it.

Pre- K 103:

The students are moving from animal habitats into our own habitats and communities. I printed out photos of their homes and asked them to find their house as they entered. We critiqued the photographs, looking closely at the shapes, lines, colors and items from nature that we could see in the images.

We counted the windows, we looked at the location of the doors (right or left) and we looked at all of the details in the houses.

After that, the students look at the shapes of their house and, using their observation drawing skills, the students drew their houses as accurately as they could.

Pre-K drawing of a house- note the accurate placement of the
door and carefully counted windows. And I love the stairs! 

Pre-K 101:

I took a second group outside to look for letters out of twigs and sticks.


"Ch" from the Spanish alphabet! 

Tuesday, May 12th:


This pre-k class has been exploring the idea of cycles. Their latest investigation focused on the life cycle of butterflies, complete with a caterpillar habitat. They watched the process, as the caterpillars have turned into butterflies over the last few weeks. Today, I brought plastacine clay into the room. It was their first time using it, so there was an excitement in the air. I have noticed that when a new material is introduced, some children need a period to just play with the material, so I was surprised by how many students immediately began demonstrating the life cycle of the butterfly with the clay. The dialogue was rich as they were creating their sculptures.

Luis- I'm making a caterpillar.
What cycle is that?
Jeysiel- the butterfly life cycle. 
Luis- first it's an egg, then a caterpillar, then a chrysalis, then it's a butterfly!
Jeysiel- I like chrysalis. 

Natalia's Caterpillar
What are you making?
Natalia- I'm making a caterpillar.
What do caterpillars do?
Natalia- they eat and eat and eat and then they turn into a chrysalis. 
And then?
Natalia- They turn into a butterfly! 
What are you adding right now?
Natalia- his legs. He has some big legs.
That's a lot of legs. How many are there? Let's count them! 
Natalia- 1,2,3,4,5,6! 
You just added one more- how many do you have now?
Natalia counts- seven! 
She repeats this process and counts eight. 
I'm going to come back to you in a few minutes to see how many legs he has then! 

I walked around the room and when I returned, she had added two more legs. She counted them to tell me that there were ten legs!

This is Shainelly's story. First, she made a caterpillar:
My caterpillar is eating leaves.

Shainelly- my caterpillar is eating leaves and he's breaking it and then he got tired and he turned into a chrysalis. Now I'm squishing it to turn it into the chrysalis. And now I'm making a butterfly! 

She twisted and smashed the clay until the caterpillar resembled a chrysalis. She added clay to the top, telling me it was the branch from which the chrysalis was hanging.

Now I'm squishing it to turn it into the chrysalis!
 At this point, Shainelly turned her chrysalis into a butterfly.

At this point, I wondered what details she would add if she took a close look at the real butterflies.

Go look at the real butterflies and see if you're missing anything. 
Shainelly- I know what I'm missing. 
What are those called?
Shainelly- I don't know!
Maybe one of our friends knows.
Devin- Antennas!!! 

Kindergarten 104:

The students have been studying insects. In the studio, we gave them many different kinds of wire, plus some washers and other metal objects, and challenged them to represent their insect using this medium.
Pedro's Stag Beetle

Zianaris' Grasshopper

The students love using the wire, even though it seems challenging at first to adjust to the new medium. Once they get past their initial struggles (It's so hard to bend! I have a hard time cutting it! I can't get the eye to stay where I want it!) the wire gives them a chance to create in a way that is unlike any other medium they've tried before.

These are starting to look like the models of insects they were referring to!

Pedro- my insect has eight legs.
Emily- no, it can't. All insects have six legs. 
Pedro- mine has eight!
Emily- those are antennas.
Jadielis and Hunter test Emily's theory and count their insect model's legs. They both get six as the number and confirm Emily's theory. 

There is a lot of counting in this lesson, as they keep checking the number of legs they need on each side, the antennas, and even the mouths on some insects! 

Second Grade 116:

I had one group finish their book together and another student just needs to add her cover. I can't wait for the students to present the book to the class (hopefully tomorrow.)  I think this is going to spark a book writing frenzy!  Since this is the bilingual class, this book is written in English and Spanish.  It's about types of plants:


In Second Grade 116, the girls who completed the book were able to read the book to their classmates. They shared the steps they took to make the book. The other students were very interested and I suspect we have motivated them to want to create their own books.

Pre-K 106 continued their study of life cycles with clay. I love how easily the stories flow when students work with clay. Here is one student telling a story about a caterpillar:

Kindergarten 102 created wire insects and a spider using a page from a story they had just read as inspiration.

On Thursday, pre-k 101 and I took a walk to the Valley Nature Park Habitat Trail.  We saw a variety of living things interacting with the environment. We found a little snail on the way to the trail. We watched a kingfisher bird diving for fish in the water. This delighted and fascinated the students. Then we saw two adult geese with eleven baby geese swimming in the pond. The pond has lily pads, which Iya informed us are for frogs. We also wondered if there were crocodiles in the pond.  Lastly, we saw a butterfly that had blue on its wings, different from the butterflies we've seen previously this year.

A little snail

Running down the hill

This looks like corn to me.

Adult and baby geese!

A diving kingfisher. He was very quick, so it was difficult to get a good photo!

A blue and black butterfly.

In the afternoon, the second graders and I went to the Burchfield Penney Art Center for one last visit this year.