Tuesday, August 9, 2011

First Week Lesson: Classmate Connections

I promised a follow up post on how I use the book, "Spaghetti in a Hotdog Bun". 
This book is about a girl who brings spaghetti on a hotdog bun to eat for lunch. She gets teased for it and then a bully continues to tease her about her hair and other things. In the end she has the opportunity to help the bully out of a difficult situation and does. The bully then becomes her friend. Third graders can relate to the problem of getting picked on for being different.

After reading the book, I tell them I'm going to teach them a "juicy" word that describes the character's classmates and the students in our class too. I then present the word: Diverse and then present the noun: Diversity.

I use Marzano's procedure for introducing new vocabulary and then this word is posted on our board. ( I'll post more on this procedure in upcoming days) The word "Diversity" is part of the social studies vocabulary we teach in third grade and it seems appropriate to introduce it with something the students can understand.

I tell students they will participate in an activity to compare/contrast themselves with another friend in the class. The students then go back to their seats and work on labeling and illustrating the "Classmate Connection" page below. After they are finished, or perhaps later in the day, I will pair them with another student. This is where the candy comes in. I will have a bag on different kinds of candy and students will pick on from the bag without looking. I have prepared the bag so it has two of each kind of candy. For instance, two tootsie rolls, two starbursts, etc. They will find the student who has the matching candy. They will find a quiet spot on the floor to work and will bring their Classmate Connection sheets with them. They cut out all their pictures then will share their responses and check if it is something they have in common or something that makes them different. They will then glue it in the appropriate place on the venn diagram. By third grade, most students have done venn diagrams before, but I always model the procedure for them before they meet and greet their partner. After everyone has a completed Venn Diagram, we lay them out on our desks and take a walking tour of our work. This way everyone can see the responses of the entire class.

Here are pictures that may help illustate the process.
Here is an example of a finished product:

Go to my TPT page to download this FREE  lesson and printable


Another PERFECT back to school book to read during the first days of school is this one:

Calvin Can't Fly: The Story of a Bookworm Birdie is a story of a bird who doesn't learn to fly because he is can't stop reading books. It is all he wants to do! His bird friends make fun of him which hurts Calvin's feelings but he keeps reading and learns SO much from books.  When it's time to migrate, Calvin's friends figure out a way to bring him along for the trip.  On their migration south, they run into a hurricane, good thing they have Calvin! He learned about this type of storm through a book and  teaches them about this type of storm and manages to keep them safe.

You MUST seek this book out to read to your third graders. It is the perfect springboard for discussions about how reading helps us to grow and learn and so much more. There are so many lessons taught through this book. Using teamwork, Calvin's friends helped him...they didn't leave him behind. I will talk with my students about how our class is like that team of birds....we will help each other learn this year.Then we will do a STEM lesson!  Use this book to also spark talking points on other things like: how different people have different interests and talents and how making fun of people is unfair and can really hurt. I'm so excited to have found another book to add to my first week of school collection!

I created some activities to go along with this one. I'm going to have them work through their first reading response using this Calvin inspired response booklet:

It is two sheets copied front to back and folded. It makes a simple one page booklet. We will talk about how good readers: prepare for reading, think before reading and ask questions about their reading. We will discuss and record our thinking about the characters, problem and solution. 
I will use this as a "training session" for responding to books. 

After the reading of this book I will have my students play a game inspired by Calvin's story. 
They will use game markers to represent Calvin, spin the spinner and move to the appropriate space. Then they will answer the question on the square. 
I think I will have them record what they learned about their new friend by filling out one of the "post game" forms. During the game play is the perfect time for me to assess my new third graders and their ability to take turns speaking and listening. 

Once I started creating activities for this book, I could not stop!  I thought it would be fun to make this Calvin bird craft. This will give them a break from just listening to me all day and I can check out their fine motor skills and their ability to start and finish a project. It's a simple black piece of construction paper folded in half with the top rounded a bit. They will add simple eyes, beak, legs and wings. Since it is folded, it will open up like a booklet. I'm going to have them think about how Calvin had something he couldn't do YET...but also had something he was good at. I'll have them fill out a sheet to tell what they want to learn this year and also what they are talented in. This will help me to get to know them better...It's all about building relationships with them.
To gauge their math thinking, I also added this book inspired problem solving page. It will give me an idea of how they can perform in math and their confidence level with math thinking. 

Finally, I think I will reserve some time on Friday of that first week for a STEM project. I will have them design and create a contraption to help Calvin get to his destination. This will be super open ended...students will use a variety of recycled materials such as paper towel tubes, string, paper, milk cartons, plastic spoons, tape, etc. for their creation. I will put them in teams of 4 or so and see what they come up with.  We will test their design by marking a starting place and target and  using a pingpong ball to represent Calvin. Here's the form for this one: 

If you are interested in checking these materials out, you can visit my TPT store by clicking the link below: