Tuesday, December 23, 2014

An Unexpected Christmas Surprise

So the last week before a holiday break can be a pretty crazy time for teachers. I don't know about you, but I fall into bed at night only to drag myself out each morning. The last 2 days are the hardest. This year I decided to do my celebration on Thursday. I think I like this idea. The kids and I had been reading Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus by Chris Plehal. We did several close reading activities and really had some powerful discussions on generosity and believing in things that we can't see. It was really inspiring.
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On Thursday, we wore our pjs to school, had hot chocolate, and watched the 25 min. movie. To be sure we were still learning until the end, we did a venn diagram comparing the book to the movie. The movie certainly expresses more of the story and gives the viewer a better understanding of why the mean girl in the story is mean. It defies the norm. In this case, the movie was created first, and then the book was written. So the movie actually tells more of the story. An excellent holiday must see!

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As I am platooning this year, I had to do hot chocolate, the movie, and the comparing activity twice. There are some major benefits to this style of teaching, but in this case not so much. Of course the kids were wild. Sometimes you feel like you are herding cats. It was an exhausting, but fun day.

So that takes me to the very last day. With the threat of a walk-through and the pressure of teaching to the end I kinda cracked. Since there were 4 kids absent from one class and 3 kids absent from the other and we were tired, and the kids were so done, we spent the day doing some free choice. 

Some might say free choice on the iPad is just kids playing games. I disagree. Sometimes it is in this time that we learn the most about our students. Yes, I had some showing me that they learn best through games, but I also had a group of 4 girls write, direct, create the set, and perform a play based on the snowmen they made with my teaching partner. It was adorable. It was creative, it was writing, it was story development, and it was collaborative. How can we say that isn't learning? I was pleasantly surprised to see that if we step back a bit, give them the tools, they will naturally learn by playing. It really was an amazing discovery. Now I understand, just a little bit more, about how they learn and express themselves. And thankfully, there was not a last minute walk-through!

I hope your last week at school was one filled with memories, and that now you are getting some much deserved rest. Happy Holidays to you!


P.S. Just in case you want to try this unit out next year...

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