Thursday, October 31, 2013

Word Study Cafe

Word Study Cafe Fun!

Each week (or almost every week!) we work with a new word study pattern.  Research has shown us that students need to look at these patterns and learn to generalize them to new words to improve as spellers.  We send home a set of words that match these patterns for parents to practice with their students each week on our weekly calendar page.  Throughout the week we work with these words by examining their patterns, completing word sorts, and our favorite- the word study cafe!  The word study cafe is a multi-sensory approach to practicing words. The students enjoy using different mediums to practice their words.  Here are a few pictures of our "Word Study" Cafe in progress....

Practicing our words using wood tiles.

Using magnetic letters to build words.

A classroom favorite- Practicing on the SmartBoard.

Using apps such as magnetic letters and doodle buddy to 
practice our word patterns.

Stamping our words...

It is a challenge to write our words using wikki stix.

It takes a lot of hard work to become a speller.  We are all at different levels, but by reviewing and practicing common patterns and spellings we can keep improving our skills.  We also spend time learning to use resources such as spell check (when using electronic devices), dictionaries, and word models to help us in our everyday writing.  Each student has their own orange Being a Writer dictionary book that lists high frequency words and they also add words to it.  It is a great resource for our writers as they work on mastering the English language!  Keep encouraging them at home!  Students were also excited to receive their own paperback dictionary from the local Kiwanis group.  Words can definitely be fun!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Insect Inquiry

Today we enjoyed a visit by Angela, Howard County Naturalist, in our classroom.  Angela discussed insects with us.  Did you know that in the world there are 700,000 species of insects?  Did you know insects see the world different than us?  How many body parts does an insect have?  Be sure to ask your student what they learned today.  Thanks, Angela, for your visit!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Genius Projects!

It is hard to believe that we are starting the second quarter of the 2013 school year!  Time is flying by, and today it was time to introduce the "Genius Project"!  I love the "Genius Project" as it is our class' version of the genius hour that many schools and businesses practice.  The idea behind the genius hour concept is to allow someone planned time to research and learn about something they are passionate about.  It is a great way for our students to practice their "21st Century Skills" as they identify a topic, ask questions, research the topic, and plan a way to share their learning with others.  Wow!  Students love "Genius Project" because they are motivated by having a choice in the topic and get to design what their project looks like.  Our plan this year is to have our weekly genius time on Thursday afternoons (as of right now).  My hope is that students will complete one "Genius Project" each quarter, so they will complete and share at least three projects throughout the rest of this school year.  As a teacher I love this time because I become a true guide or facilitator.  My role is to help students clarify their questions, learn how to use our technology tools to research, and celebrate their learning products with them.  I love seeing them become the teacher when they present their learning to the rest of the class through their projects!

Today we discussed what a "Genius Project" can be.  We also brainstormed topics that we are curious about and shared these with the class.  We then discussed types of projects they could create with their new learning.  Ideas included posters, models, writing and presenting puppet plays, digital slide shows, etc.   Students began filling in their "Genius Project" contract (see photo below) to help them focus their topic and questions and think about their final product.  Next week we will begin researching our questions and collecting those notes.  Throughout the projects we hope to learn more about searching on the web, finding valid sites, learning about copyrights, and more...  We will keep you posted!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Global Read Aloud 2013

Our third grade class is participating in the Global Read Aloud Project this year.  The goal of this project is to have one book that is read by classrooms all over the world.  Then students are given the opportunities to share, discuss, collaborate, and write about their learning with virtual classmates. 

The book we are reading is MartyMcGuire by Kate Messner.  Our class is enjoying the story, but also enjoying the chance to share our learning with others through different mediums.  We have used Twitter, Google Hang-out, On-line Padlet, Kidblog, and email to share our thoughts about this story with others.  We have made connections with classes in Maine (USA), Canada, and Germany. 

We have also posted questions to the author, Kate Messner's blog.  We were thrilled when she chose one of our questions to respond to on her Week One- Friday Marty McGuire Video Question and Answer.  It is pretty cool to have a published author mention our class' name!  Check it out at

Today we participated in a google hang-out (video chat) with Mrs. Cryer's class in Maine.  We shared answers to questions about what we have read so far, and also information about where we live.  Be sure to ask your student about what they learned about their virtual classmates in Maine!  Mrs. Cryer also complimented our class on being such respectful learners and listeners throughout the chat- way to go Team Adams!  Below is several snapshots from our Friday Google Hang-Out!

 Being Introduced to "Cryer's Kids" Class

 Students Answering Questions

"Cryer's Kids" Responding to Questions

Friday, October 11, 2013

Science Puppet Plays

During the first quarter we have been studying animal and plant populations in science.  We have examined concepts such as adaptations, ecosystems, conservation, variables, food chains, and life cycles.  We grew plants in our classroom and added aphids to them to track populations.  We also observed populations of fruit flies, daphnia (tiny water critters), and damselfly larvae.  We were able to watch ant behavior though our classroom ant farm.  We even tried (yes, tried- it didn't work so well) to hatch brine shrimp eggs in our room to determine if they were an egg or seed.  It has been a busy few months! 


One of our favorite activities was practicing puppet play scripts about plants and animals, their adaptations, and their habitats.  We created paper bag puppets based on their characters.  And we practiced and practiced and practiced and practiced..... our scripts to improve our fluency and expression.  We then presented our plays to the kindergarten, first, and second grade students to help them learn more about the living things around us!  The students did an awesome job on their plays and telling the younger students about what they learned.  I was such a proud teacher! 

Throughout this unit we learned that animal and plant populations can change due to different variables.  We learned that predator and prey relationships exist.  We also learned we need plants (the producers) for life on earth, and that the sun is the source of all energy.  Life science is so exciting!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Fall Fitness Day

Yesterday, Wednesday, Oct. 10th, our school district participated in Iowa's Fall Fitness Day.  It was a gorgeous morning and K-5 students at Lime Springs/Chester Elementary participated in a school-wide fitness walk around town.  Walking is such a great form of exercise!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Third Grade Bloggers

What a great bunch!

The third grade class is using the website kidblog this year to write and share their thoughts with others.  Writing is a lot more fun with an audience!  :-)  Students each have an individual account under our class account.  Sometimes we create class posts to model and practice our writing skills.  Students are also asked to write individual posts on different topics.  Our posts can be found at 

and readers can comment on what they read.  The third graders love receiving feedback on their thoughts!  We have also connected with several classroom around the United States and beyond to comment on each others blog posts.  It is fun to read posts and comments by student in Maine and even Germany.  Be sure to check out our kidblog account and we look forward to your comments!