First Grade Fun

Today I introduced the first graders to a new concept: Divergent Thinking.  We learned that diverge means to go in different directions and applied that to the concept of brainstorming.  I asked the kids to brainstorm things that are round or go around.  They started with the more obvious like balls and clocks, but they quickly began to delve into more complex ideas like TIME and ILLNESS.  Wow!  We then looked at a cloud shape and the kids brainstormed all of the things that the shape could be.  I had the kids partner up using the an app called Educreations to create shapes and then their buddy had to turn it into something else.  Enjoy the videos below.  I think they did a good job considering it was the first time they used the app, but we do need to work on voice level. 🙂  Also you will notice a LONG pause in some of their videos. We had a fire drill in the middle of their creative process and a couple of the kids forgot to pause their recording.

We made movies that we did with buddies.  And we doodled and the other person added to doodles and we gave them to Mrs. Germadnik to put on her blog.  We read Abel’s Island and we doodled a bunch of things and I did really good.

By Alex W.

By Tyler and Michael

By Dasom and John

By Evan and Sofia

By Isabelle and Alex W.

By Alex P. and Kayla

By Andrew and Quinn

By Abigail, Lillian and Amy


First Day of Kinder GT!

Today was my first day with my incredible kindergartners   We really hit the ground running and these kids were more than ready!  I will let them tell you about our day below.

A.M.: We rot on the tabl.  We got to yoos the iPad and we got to hav fun.

Ethan: We rot on the tabl.  We mad videows and thot of wrds in GT.

Jovanah: We wrote on the table. We made our feelings.

Juliana: We lrnd all ubowt communication.

Justin: We had fun.  And we droo on the tabl.  But we will be puding this on the blog.

E.S.: We rot on the tabl. We got to yooz the iPads.

Today we started by taking a pre-test to show what we know about COMMUNICATION.  The kindergartners had to think about the BIG IDEA, the DETAILS, the RULES, and the LANGUAGE of the DISCIPLINE related to communication.  This is a great way for me to see where every child is starting out.  We then went and brainstormed ideas and words related to communication on one of our tables…yes, we wrote on the tables!  Don’t worry, I explained that we could only do this in GT, with my special markers. 🙂

Following our brainstorm the kids thought about ways they communicate each day.  Each child brainstormed 4 ways they communicate and drew a picture to go with their idea.  I then put the iPads in their hands.  I partnered the kids up and they had to take each others pictures as they acted out the 4 ways they communicate.  We then used an app called SHOW ME to import their pictures and the kids recorded themselves talking about each of their pictures.  While the quality is not perfect, I think they came out perfectly perfect for their first attempt.  We will definitely work on voice level and expression as we do more projects.  However, they each did all of the work themselves, so that is pretty impressive.  I am excited just thinking of all that we can do this year.  I hope you enjoy the movies.







Turtle Haikus

In first grade we read a Japanese folktale called Urashima the Fisherman.  It is a story of a fisherman that catches a sea turtle, but no ordinary sea turtle.  This turtle was a goddess that lives in the sky.  She wanted to marry Urashima and he agreed to join her in the sky.  He became homesick and his wife allowed him to return home.  When he arrived he learned that it was 300 years in the future and his family and home were gone.  He was also unable to return to the sky to live with his wife.  We had a discussion on WHAT IS HAPPINESS and HOME?  It was wonderful to hear the kids think deeply and philosophically at such a young age.  They then followed directions and created an origami turtle and wrote a Haiku about their turtle.  Enjoy their work.


In 3rd grade we have been studying the brain and how it works.  During our study we had some questions about memory.  Why do we remember differently from others?  Why do we forget?  Why do we remember some things forever and forget others immediately?  These were just a few of the questions that were brought up in our study.  To help the kids understand that memory is not neccessarily truth, that emotions and other things play into what we remember and how we remember we did a version of a self-portrait.  The kids were told to fold a piece of paper vertically and draw half of their face.  After completing one side of their face I had them flip their paper over and attempt to draw the other side of their face without looking back at the work they started.  The kids then created a metaphor for memory.  Below are the results.  Enjoy!


We’re Brainy!

The 3rd graders had a great time exploring many different aspects of the brain through some brain centers. They were learning about the functions of the small parts of our brain, like the amygdala and hippocampus, by solving a cryptogram.  They worked on writing a script for a radio station sharing their understanding of the large parts of the brain.  The kids used 2 great sites to learn about the neuron and brain related issues.  They also had the opportunity to create their own neurons using pipe cleaners.  It was neat to see them working away.  The brain is a fascinating topic.  Enjoy the video below showcasing the kids at work.

Brain Centers on PhotoPeach

What do you wonder about the brain?  What questions do you have? 

Leave them in the comments.


Getting to Know the Kindergartners

In our effort to know more about each other, the Kindergartners created a Cinquain poem about themselves.  To write a cinquain, students need to know what verbs and adjectives are.  We spent time brainstorming and discussing these new words.  I was impressed with how quickly the Kindergartners caught on.  Below is a video of the finished Cinquains.  I hope you will enjoy watching them as much as I enjoyed seeing the kids create them.  It is also exciting to know a little more about the wonderful kids that make up this class.  Enjoy!

Arctic Animals

In first grade we are traveling the world and discovering some wonderful Folktales from each of our visits.  Our first destination was Northern Canada, specifically the Nunavut area.  Our first story was Tuk the Hunter, a story about a boy who rescued his family from a Polar Bear. Following our reading of this action-packed adventure, the kids created an origami Polar Bear.  We then learned how to research an animal using a terrific webside, National Geographic Kids.  We did the research whole class so that the kids could learn to read, think about what they read, and then record it in their own words.  We discussed copyright laws and the importance of not ‘stealing’ other people’s words.  Following our research on Polar Bears the children paired up and chose another Arctic animal to research and learn about.  Below is a slide show of the kids hard at work.
Research…Arctic Animals on PhotoPeach

Following their research the kids are using Blabberize to create a talking version of their animal.  They will use their animal to share the facts they collected through their research.  Here is one to view, more to follow!


The McNay

I was thrilled to be able to take the 4th graders on a field trip to the McNay Museum.  It was my first time taking my GT students on a field trip, but it certainly won’t be my last.  We went on the field trip with other 4th Grade GT students from Northern Hills, Redland, and Thousand Oaks.  It was great to meet other students that are investigating the same topics as we are.  All of the children were excited, engaged, and well-mannered.  Very few of the kids had been to the McNay before, so it was neat to see their faces as they realized they were seeing pieces created by the Picaso, Monet, Calder, etc.  They kept asking, “That is the real thing? Not a Copy?”

Enjoy a slide show of our day…


Some Comments on why they want to visit again with family…

One thing I want my friends and family to see is the Andy Warhol part with his pieces because they have life and death, sadness and happiness.  Arianna

I want my friends and family to see my favorite painting of a Fall Tree because all of my family’s birthdays are in the fall.  Kevin

I would take my family because almost everyone in my family loves art, so I am pretty sure they would love it.  Sydney

I’d like my friends and family to be there to admire the paintings. Mia

Why would I like to go again with others…I would like to see more art there.  Emily

One thing I want my friends and family to see is the Monet painting because it’as a really good piece of art.  Kaleb

To see the Monet painting because it made me feel like I was actually at the pond listening.  Madison

One thing I want my friends and family to see is the Andy Warhol exhibit.  Madelyn

One thing I want my friends and family to see is all the abstract, wonderful art that is in the museum.  And also the sculptures and 3-D stuff.  Surya


Acceptance Versus Equality

Which is more important…

Acceptance or Equality?

What began as a Socratic dialogue, quickly became an impassioned debate!  Who knew that this quick write would light sparks off the kids? 

As we get into our novel The Giver, the kids are looking at the idea of sameness and considering the pluses and minuses of such a world.  In thinking about the idea of SAMENESS, which was created so that no one would feel “different”, I wondered what the kids would think was more important…being equal with others or being accepted by others.  I loved listening to their perspectives; when I could hear them over the arguing and disagreements.  🙂

The children and I would love to hear other thoughts on this imporant question.  It is a question very relevant in today’s world.  The discussion in class went from Bullying, to Work Ethic, to Politics, etc.  Thanks for adding your thoughts.