December 4, 2015

Thankful in Third

This time of year always reminds us of how much we have to be thankful for. That, along with some things going on in my personal life, has me feeling incredibly grateful.

            I am always very honest with my students and share stories from my life with them, just as they do with me. We spend most of our days with each other and whether we’d like to believe it or not, they know when were off our game. The students knew something was up, so I shared a bit with them about what was happening (as much as these little kiddos could handle) and a student replied “Wow! Mrs. Flahive, I am so thankful everything is ok!’  This sparked “Turning into Turkeys” with thanks to Digital Divide and Conquer for creating such a great product! See the link below! TURKEY is an acronym for being Thankful, Using your skills to be helpful, Rest & Relax with family and friends, Kindness and Caring count, Everyone matters, and You make a difference.

             In our gratitude circle each day after lunch, we have been sharing what we are each thankful and grateful for. Of course, many students started out with things like video games, trampolines, toys, birthdays, holidays, etc. After of a few days of my modeling, I was hearing things like parents, siblings, friends, etc. Then, last week, I had another PROUD TEACHER MOMENT. Kids were sharing things like “My older brother, because he always helps me and compliments me when I do things well, and I know this doesn’t happen for everyone with an older brother so I am thankful he is mine” and “My mom because she makes sure me and my family have a delicious healthy dinner that we all love every night!”
            As the kids have worked through their booklets, they’ve shared their experiences with the class, and parents have shared photos with me! Some of the children have started setting the table and doing chores without being asked and others are making sure to spend time with siblings and parents. Some are being extra helpful with their siblings and peers. There is an overall increased sense of gratitude and empathy towards others. It has been amazing to watch! Feeling extra thankful for these little learners. =) Below are some pictures from our bulletin board.

Each feather has something the children are thankful for, they wrote stories about what they're thankful for and what Everyone Matters means to them, and they wrote from the perspective of a turkey on Thanksgiving.
One student wrote "Alone you are like an ant, helpless. But together you all have the power of an elephant." =)

November 21, 2015

Only One You

I came across Only One You by Linda Kranz last spring and LOVED it. I love the little messages sent throughout this book while a little rockfish learns to go off on his own. I read it to my students on the last day of school last year. We talked about what message each of the students would take with them to 4th grade.

Fast-forward to this year and my principals are doing Book of the Month for the whole school. Only One You was chosen as our book for October. I knew the activity I wanted to do with it right away! Since the 1st day of school we have held a Gratitude Circle each day after lunch. We were using laminated colorful circles with each student’s name. By the time October rolled around they were coming apart and looking well used. Which they were! The kids beg to meet in circle! So… after reading the book, I gave students a rock with his or her name on it and they decorated them with Sharpies. Then we put them in our gratitude cup. We talked about how each and every student is different and how lucky we are for that. The students noted that all the rocks were different, too! Now we use our rock fish in our gratitude circle. The students pass the cup around and pull out a rock. Then we share something special with the person whose rock we pulled. Sometimes we compliment each other or thank each other for something they’ve done. Sometimes something silly happens and students chose their own name. Then they can compliment themselves and how nice does that feel?!

You can get the book on Amazon here:

November 11, 2015

Book Shopping- Literally!

Many teachers use the phrase ”Book Shopping” to describe their student’s process of choosing books. This year, after much discussion in our district around weeding and curating libraries and authentic experiences for students, I decided to have my students do some real book shopping.
In September, when I passed out our 1st Scholastic flyer along with our class code, I promised my class when we earned 3,000 bonus points they could choose the books we would order. Well… because of their extreme excitement over reading and new books we earned over 3,000 points in less than 1 month! So I kept my promise but I also made them work for it (a little bit!).
I gave the students some time to peruse our library, thinking about our bins, authors and titles. I asked them to look for authors they would like to see more of, series where we had missing titles, titles or series we were missing altogether, etc. They explored bin by bin. I’m talking book by book through A-Z Mysteries to find each book we were missing. They jotted their ideas then shared out and we compiled a class list. Then we logged into Scholastic and that’s when the fun really started!
They soon realized 3,000 points go quickly! So we had to compromise, think about which books would get more reads, what we were missing, and HOW MANY POINTS THEY WERE! They negotiated text worth based on how many points they would take and how many students would actually read them. They learned a lesson in value with value packs. Some packs had 3 or 4 newer books for more points than a pack with 5 or 6 books, even if they weren’t the newest titles. After about 35 minutes, full of great conversation (They were only 4 weeks into 3rd grade!), adding and subtracting and many lessons learned we hit “Place Order”.  They asked me everyday to track the shipment. They felt so much ownership over curating their library and were so excited to start turning the pages of these new titles. We added over 40 titles and used ONLY points. It was an amazing thing! We can’t wait to do it again.

Update: We are at 989 points so far!