Welcome to my blog. I see this as a place to reflect on my teaching practices and to share ideas and strategies with other teachers.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Animals and Their Life Cycles Lessons

One of my favorite science units of the year is my Animals and Life Cycles unit.  I teach each of the vertebrate animal groups separately and then, Insects.  We learn characteristics of the animal group and then explore the life cycle of that group.

First, we explore Animal Information Cards to try to find characteristics of that animal group (such as how they breathe, body covering, warm or cold bloodedness, how they reproduce, etc).  I made these information cards using pictures found on the Internet (and used for educational purposes only).  

Next, we read together the animal group book from edHelper.com and discuss any other important information about the animal group that we could not gather from our information cards.  You can find them here:

Mammal Book from EdHelper (subscription required for all)

Bird Book from EdHelper

Fish Book from EdHelper

Amphibian Book from EdHelper

Reptile Book from EdHelper

Insect Book from EdHelper  

Then, we read picture books that tell about the life cycle of the animal group.  Here are some of the books my class reads:

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
A Monkey Grows Up by Rita Golden Gelman
Foal (from Scott Foresman reading textbook)
Baby Otter Grows Up by Susan McCloskey (from Scott Foresman reading textbook)

The Emperor Lays an Egg by Brenda Z. Guiberson
The Little Duck by Judy Dunn

The Little Penguin by A.J. Wood
Duck (from Scott Foresman reading textbook)

Salmon Stream by Carol Reed-Jones
Swordfish Returns by Susan Korman

Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni
Moonbear's Pet by Frank Asch
Frogs in a Pond by Bill Martin
A Wood Frog's Life by John Himmelman

Turtle, Turtle Watch Out by April Sayre
An Extraordinary Egg by Leo Lionni
One Tiny Turtle by Nicola Davies

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
A Ladybug's Life by John Himmelman
Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert
Clara Caterpillar by Pamela Duncan
Charlie the Caterpillar by Dom Deluise

An Egg is Quiet by Dianna Hutts Aston
Chickens Aren't the Only Ones by Ruth Heller

After each read aloud, we then explore and sequence animal cards to match the animal in that story (from the cards below).  I gathered pictures of different animals in each stage of their life cycle from the Internet (and used them for educational purposes only).  We work with partners to sequence and discuss what we notice.  

Lastly, we write about the animal group and the life cycle.  Students write research reports or make nonfiction books of their own.  Students choose an animal group and create their own new animal to be part of the animal group.

Create a Mammal

Create a Bird

Create a Fish

Create an Amphibian (coming soon)

Create a Reptile (coming soon)

Create an Insect (coming soon)

What additional activities do you do when teaching about animal groups and their life cycles?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

So You Want to Be a Teacher

At East Carolina University's Spring 2013 Clinical Teacher Conference, a speaker shared this fun video titled "So You Want to Be a Teacher."  The video features music by Judy Domeny Bowen.

I have enjoyed the song so much that I shared it with the beginning teachers in my district at our first monthly support meeting.  I hope you enjoy it, too!

So You Want to Be a Teacher - video link

Monday, September 2, 2013

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Updated Literacy Centers

You can read my previous post describing my literacy centers by clicking here.

After attending some professional development this summer, I decided to make some changes to my literacy centers in order to allow students more autonomy and choice.  For the most part, my centers are run the same as they have always been.  The only difference is that I do not tell students to which center they must go.  Instead, I allow them to select their center, as long as they do not repeat the same center in one week.

I created a new center chart which resembles my old one.  The only difference is that the new one has six dots for each center.  These dots represent the maximum number of students who can attend that center at once.

As part of their morning jobs, students will use a labeled clothespin to clip the dot showing which center they wish to attend that day.  After clipping the dot, they will also color that symbol on their Literacy Center Tracking Chart (to ensure they don't repeat any centers during the week).

Instead of assigning a leader for each center each week, I instead added the job of "Center Leader" to our class helper jobs.  Students choose their jobs each Friday afternoon for the following week.  So, two or three students can choose to be center leaders.  When students need help, the Center Leaders will fill in for the teacher and provide help.


You can read all about my class helper jobs here.