Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Out of This World Research

Informative/Explanatory writing is a often a overwhelming writing genre to tackle with 3rd graders.  I decided to create a product that I could use to help my students break this task into manageable parts.  Integrating Science seemed like a natural fit, so I geared this writing kit for researching our Solar System.  Here's a look, as well as a link:  Solar System Writing Kit

The contents of the product have the following pages, shown below.  Each student will receive a cover, and one page for each of the planets and the sun.  After researching all of the planets and sun, they will plan their report using the graphic organizer page, and then turn their planning into an actual report.  Two styles of templates for the report are provided, both in color or black & white to suit your printing needs. 

Each student is given his/her own Research booklet.  We take the booklets into our computer lab and hop on an online encyclopedia called World Book Encyclopedia.  Most districts provide a resource for research for their students and teachers to access.  Here's a picture of some of my students looking up facts and information online.  It takes an hour to get through 3 pages of research.  So, the initial research will take at least 3 days of computer lab time.  They are also given time to add information found from library books and their science text books.

Along with the research and report writing, I have my students make a three dimensional project to go along with it.  This is the culminating project that is completed at home.  Here are some cute ones they came up with!  This is absolutely one of the kids' favorite memories from 3rd grade. 

I encourage you to give this a try!  The kids will amaze you with their capabilities.  They feel so "grown up" using the online encyclopedia, actually begging me to work on it!  When they are given choice and time to write information they choose for a report, the quality and uniqueness of their writing is out of this world!  

Go for it!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Round Two...

So here I am again, sitting at home with a broken leg.  It's a major deja vu from last October, when I broke my foot.  This minion meme pretty much explains what I did to myself this time.  No kung fu spider kicks, but a big tumble down my stairs.  I cannot express the amount of pain I felt as I fell down.  I tried to get up, but fainted from the pain.  My daughter, my hero, was the only one home, and helped me call 911.  After an ambulance ride to the ER and a few X-rays, I heard the bad news.  I would be out of school for another 3 months...no walking, no driving, no nothing.  Here I go again.

I'm not one to question God, but I did wonder a wee bit...the classic "why me...AGAIN?"  How could lightning strike again? Hadn't I already learned the lessons of slowing down, appreciating the little things in life last year?  God, what did I not learn last year, that I'm supposed to learn again this time?  Facebook gave me the answer to that question, loud and clear.

Facebook is my link to the outside world.  It can really play mind games with someone who's stuck at home.  I definitely see that the world has not stopped for me.  Life is going on without me--which I learned last year, thank you.  I hadn't expect the world to stop for me, and was super emotional when a friend would pop by, a meal was delivered, a card or call came home.   I've always been super sentimental, where little thoughtful gestures go a LONG way in my book.  Seeing everyone having embracing life is fun to see, but brings the painful realization that I'm stuck at home, not having fun at all.  Anyway, in the midst of my love/hate relationship with Facebook, I saw that I wasn't the only one getting a double dose of misery.  

My old high school best friend had a tragedy with her husband a few years ago.  He had an unexpected aneurysm that they are still battling with.  He survived, but life will never be the same for them. Last week, her son broke his neck while surfing.  When I saw this, my heart froze.  It's happening to her again.  

An old friend who used to be a speech teacher at my school was diagnosed with breast cancer about 4 years ago. She's moved back to the south, where she was originally from, but we've stayed in touch through Facebook. Luckily, she fought and survived her breast cancer.  I've spent many Octobers cheering for her from a distance, as she relived her victory over cancer during cancer awareness month.  Well, recently, she just announced that the cancer is back.  Again.  

I am not the only one experiencing pain or suffering twice.  It's happening all the time, to lots of people.  I am not alone in this.  I guess the lessons are still there for me to learn, for us to learn.  My friend Amy told me that she doesn't ask God why.  She just knows that she will emerge, as she did last time, a new person, with new strengths, with new sympathy for others, with the eyes of someone who knows how to be resilient and faithful.  I will try to look at my plight with her eyes and not ask why.  

In closing, I will end this post with gratitude.   For my dear friend (not naming names), who calls me every day, thank you for keeping me in the loop and laughing.  For my church family, who brings us meals and calls to check on me, thank you.  For my neighbors who feed us and check on us, thank you.  For my Girl Scout friends, thank you for the meals and encouragement.  For my husband's co-workers, who are so kind, thank you.  For my dad, who comes to sit with me every week and brings me apple fritters, thank you.  For my mom, who is with me every single day, helping the kids, cooking and tidy for us, thank you.  For my husband, I can't even put into words the amount of love I have for you.   Through thick and thin--proven over and over again.  My kids--my constant source of happiness--thank you both!  Feeling beyond blessed by the outpouring of love and support.