We read My Mouth is a Volcano. This humorous story is about a boy who interrupts others while they are speaking. His words just erupt from his mouth. When others interrupt him when he is presenting to the class, he realizes that he is being rude, and he consequently learns the importance of self-control. A great discussion on taking turns in group discussions followed this read aloud. We decided that when we blurt out an answer, we are stealing our classmate’s opportunity to share his/her ideas. You may hear me say, “Are you erupting?”
To expand our vocabulary, we look for interesting words when I read aloud. When we find a great word, we place it on our Power Words board. I try to use these words as often as possible. They should also begin to appear in the children’s writing. I will keep you updated on the words, so that you can use them at home too.
My students always write goals for the upcoming year. This year, I decided to have them make “Bucket Lists”. We discussed that a “Bucket List” is a list of goals that you want to complete by a certain time. This is the first writing we took through the writing process – prewrite (share ideas and brainstorm), first draft, revise and edit, and final draft. Each child had a conference with me to discuss ways in which this writing could be improved. Most of the final drafts are published in the hall. (A few students who were absent will finish soon.)
We have been learning more about synonyms, words with the same meaning. Good readers and writers learn and use synonyms.
I try to anchor all mini-lessons with good literature. We read I Knew a Librarian Who Chewed On a Word. We listened for all the different synonyms for ate and listed them on our anchor chart. Finally, each of the children added a pair of synonyms.
I also explained that some words are worn out, such as nice, look, and like. I created a visual for them by placing those words on our garbage can. When we write, we will try to think of synonyms for those words to make our writing more powerful.
I decided to simplify our rules this year and to use the following statement: We can do anything as long as we are learning, safe, and kind. We discussed which actions would be unsafe, unkind, or prevent us from learning. I will refer to this statement often and it will be the lens by which the children and I determine how we behave in our classroom.
“Dear students, the summer has ended.
The school year at last has begun.
But this year is totally different.
I promise we’ll only have fun.
We won’t study any mathematics,
and recess will last all day long.
Instead of the Pledge of Allegiance,
we’ll belt out a rock ‘n’ roll song.
We’ll only play games in the classroom.
You’re welcome to bring in your toys.
It’s okay to run in the hallways.
It’s great if you make lots of noise.
For homework, you’ll play your Nintendo.
You’ll have to watch lots of TV.
For field trips, we’ll go to the movies
and get lots of candy for free.
The lunchroom will only serve chocolate
and Triple-Fudge Sundaes Supreme.”
Yes, that’s what I heard from my teacher
before I woke up from my dream!