Friday, March 18, 2011

3rd Graders Reflect on their Readers' Theatre Experience

As a way for students to wrap up and reflect on their readers' theatre experience, I asked the third grade students to write a letter to an "imaginary" 3rd grade student next year. I asked them to share what advice or memories they think next year's students should know. Here are a few of the students' responses. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

It's Okay to be Different

First graders read the book "It's Okay to be Different" by Todd Parr in library class. I love this book for its colorful, simple pictures and the discussion starters on each page. Each sentence starts with "It's okay to..." (For example, "It's okay to say no to bad things. It's okay to eat macaroni and cheese in the bathtub. It's okay to need help.")

After reading the book, I showed the first graders this example of a Vermont preschool's work. They had read the book, too, and they created their own pages in the style of the book.

Our first grade students came up with an "It's Okay" sentence that they wrote and was typed by Mrs. Eley. Then they learned how to cut out shapes to illustrate their sentence. I then displayed their work in the hallway.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Mr. Sterling's Fourth Grade Inventor Interviews

In collaboration with Mr. Sterling, I paired up his fourth grade students for an African American Inventor research project. After researching basic facts about their chosen inventor's life , the students used a venn diagram to compare their inventor with their partner's inventor. They then wrote an "interview" script as if their inventors were meeting each other for the first time. They could choose any setting for the interview to take place, and create a drawing of that setting.

They then recorded their interview on We found this site to be very helpful during our research. This project was first inspired by a similar project done by Ms. Ricciardi's fourth graders at Springville School in Mt. Laurel, NJ.

See our project below, and feel free to comment!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Read Across America Day at Hillside

Whew! What a day! Hillside held its Read Across America Day celebration today, in honor of what would have been Dr. Seuss's 107th birthday. There are several traditions that I always look forward to every year.

- PTO moms organize "Dr. Seuss hat" sales ahead of time so as many students as possible arrive at school in their hats. Kindergarten students make their own hats - adorable!

- I encourage students to participate (and many of them do) in the Six Flags Six Hour Reading Program, which rewards students with a free ticket to Six Flags if they complete six hours of reading. I submit their information as the school coordinator.

- I and the teachers organize guest readers to visit their classrooms. Today our celebration included readers from the honor society at Lenape High School. Many thanks to Mrs. Stansbury, the NHS club advisor, and her students, for coming to read to our students!

- For the past three years, I have worked with the 3rd grade classes to prepare readers' theater skits.

The library is turned into a "performance space." Chairs and tables are cleared away and the 3rd grade classes perform each skit one at a time, the other students sit on the floor, and parents are invited and seated in the back of the library. The performances are video recorded and the videos are placed on the "What We See TV" Mt. Laurel website. The whole performance lasts no longer than an hour, and it is such a fun experience for the students. I love to see how some students really "shine" and blossom in front of an audience, even when I've never seen that part of them before. We work very hard on expression and volume, and many students make huge leaps in this area, not to mention increasing their reading fluency while doing this!

This year the skits were:
**Henry's Freedom Box (Ms. Wesolowski's class) - Script adapted from book by Mrs. Eley
**Rump and Ugla & The Frog Prince Continued (Mrs. Nelson's Class) - Scripts adapted by Mrs. Eley
**Bubba the Cowboy Prince (Mrs. Maccri's Class) - Script Adapted by Mrs. Eley
**Wayside Stories from Wayside School (Mrs. Pierce's Class) - Script by Aaron Sheperd from the book, adapted by Mrs. Eley
**The Boy Who Cried Lunch Monitor (Ms. Newhart's class) - - Script by Judy Freeman, adapted from the book

- Finally, the annual tradition of a "teacher skit" was upheld today. At 2:30 in the afternoon, the whole school gathers for an assembly in the all purpose room. The teachers perform a readers' theater as well, and today we performed "A Bad Case of Stripes" by David Shannon.

Mrs. Nelson performed the title role of Camilla Cream, and we used a projector to 'project' the various patterns onto her skin, including rainbow stripes, polka dots, checkerboard, and more. Mrs. Eley played the part of the "Old Woman" who cures Camilla's illness. The kids LOVE to see their teachers dressed up and we always get huge laughs.

Finally, the assembly was concluded with a message from our principal, Mrs. Fitzgerald, to "Keep Reading!"

Happy Dr. Seuss Day, everyone!