Monday, October 31, 2016

Maker Monday: Kinder Halloween Makerspaces

When I started the makerspace at my school last year, I started it with 2nd-5th grades (you can read about that here). Thinking there was no way that I could run the makerspace the same way for kinders and 1st graders (if you read this blog consistently, you'll know about my panic attacks before each and every kinder class - haha) I decided I would see how it went the first year and try to figure out a way to give them opportunities the second year.

Well, in May last year, I decided to experiment and see if my kinder teachers wanted to come as a class to the makerspace to try a challenge.   You can read "5 Things I Learned From Kinder Makerspace" here.  I really liked this format so that is how I wanted to continue this year with them.

I found some Halloween STEM challenges on pinterest that I liked and couldn't narrow down which one I wanted to try so I decided to do 4, one each week in October (I know, I get crazier and crazier). I got the ideas from this blog and this one.  

Week 1: Build the tallest tower to hold a pumpkin.

Week 2: Make a monster bookmark (the bookmark folding was direct teach, but then they could decorate however they wanted)

Week 3: Make a Paper Bat Fly

Week 4: Design a Candy Tosser

The teachers and I had so many "Wow" moments watching the students these 4 weeks.  Like this student who was using pipe cleaners to hold 4-5 empty boxes together to make his tower for the pumpkin.

And I wish I had video of the last student in the bat video above when he asked me if he could tape a pencil to his bat.  When I said yes, his face was priceless.  Totally did not believe me and said, "I mean this pencil... can I tape it to my bat?" I said yes again and he still stood there.  Hilarious!

While kinders exhaust me, I am always amazed at what they can do, think about, design, invent and make and I am always glad that I give them the opportunity to do those things. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

You Can't Read That!

Go get a different book.
That book is too hard for you.
You can't read that.
That book is not on your level.
You need an easier book.

I must (sadly) admit as a previous classroom teacher of 12 years, I probably uttered one or more of these phrases to any given student thinking that I was helping them make a better choice that would further their reading.  But instead, what I probably did was make that child like reading a little less.  

Today I had the pleasure of hearing the one and only Donalyn Miller (@donalynbooks) speak in my district about Voice and Choice in Reading.  She spoke for 2 wonderful hours and gave information, personal anecdotes and research about students and reading and choice.  But this one quote, mentioned very early on, is what has stuck with me for the rest of the day.

So instead of building the student into a better reader by making them choose a book "on their level", what I did, was tell them they were not good enough or able enough to read "that" book.  

What could I have done instead? 

 *Maybe ask them to sit and read a page or two with me and see if they change their mind once they read a few pages.

*Have a "preview stack" of books ready for a child that continuously chooses challenging books and say "Take a look at these books I thought you might like!" 

*Ask "Are you and your mom/dad/grandma going to read that together?"

*Check to see if there is an audio version of the book and let them download that to a device to read along.

And then the unthinkable... let them check it out anyway!  

Maybe they have a desire to persevere and read through the book,  Maybe they hide a "baby book" in the pages of the bigger book so no one knows what they are reading. Maybe they just want to be like the other kids.  Maybe choosing a book in the library is the only choice they have control over that day.  

Maybe I need to find a way to support them and help them like reading because as Donalyn said, "If not us, then who?"

What key phrases or techniques do you use to help a student choose books?