Thursday, December 19, 2013

Using Primary Sources in Primary Grades...Crazy? Or Awesome?

This is more of a try it out and see...when I was at ISLMA's conference, I saw a great lesson using primary sources!

I'm going to try it out with 2nd grade. I am going to use the Primary Source Analysis Tool (find it here: and have students look at pictures. Since it is January, I was thinking about using a picture of Martin Luther King Jr.'s Office. I will make copies (and laminate if possible!) and then introduce one piece of the Analysis Tool each week. So each week the center will be Observe, Reflect, Question, and Investigate.

Week of January 6:
They will simply observe the photo. They will use these questions to help them guide their observations:
  • What do you notice first?
  • Find something small but interesting.
  • What do you notice that you didn’t expect?
  • What do you notice that you can’t explain?
  • What do you notice now that you didn’t earlier?

Week of January 13:
They will reflect. They will look at the picture, and read over their observations. Then they will use these questions to help them guide their reflections:

  • Where do you think this came from?
  • Why do you think somebody made this? 
  • What do you think was happening when this was made? 
  • Who do you think was the audience for this item? 
  • What tool was used to create this?
  • Why do you think this item is important? 
  • If someone made this today, what would be different?
  • What can you learn from examining this?

We will also watch this video: MLK - The King and His Dream

Week of January 20:
They will question. They will look at the picture, and read over their observations and reflections. Then they will use these questions to help them guide their questioning.
What do you wonder about...
  • who?
  • what?
  • when?
  • where?
  • why?
  • how?

Week of January 27:
They can think about further investigations. They will use their notes and the photo, then use the following questions to guide further investigations. 
  • What more do you want to know?
  • How can you find out?
I made a quick PPT to show the students the guiding questions and to help me remember the questions. 

As I think this over, I may have to do this as a whole group lesson to model how to observe, reflect, question, and further investigate. OR I may have them do the observe and reflect in small groups, but do the question and further investigation with me. 
This may be really hard, but I think I'm going to try it out with one 2nd grade and one 1st grade class. Then after the "pilot" I will try it out in February with a new topic with all the 2nd graders. Then another topic for all the 1st graders in March. We'll see how it goes!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Scholastic Book Fair is Here!

And is it over yet? =)

We're in the thick of our book fair, and I thought I'd reflect on some of the things I do and some of the things that might make it easier!

We run the book fair for 3 days, and I am incredibly lucky that I get a substitute for 5 days, 1 day to set up, 3 days of actual fair, and 1 day to take down. This year, the week before the book fair, I canceled centers (oh no!) and had a little different set up. For the kindergartners, I told the kids that I had a special surprise that we had to get ready for and that we needed to check out in 15 minutes so we would have time for the special surprise. For 1st - 2nd, they know the fair is coming (the signs went up about a month ago), and we went over that we needed to check out in 15 minutes so we have time to ask questions about the fair and watch the book fair video!

We talk about what a book fair is. We talk about how a book fair is different than a library - in a library, we borrow the books, in the book fair, we buy the books. This inevitably leads to...what would we need to bring to the book fair if we want a book? These conversations really help when kids show up with no money (or 9 pennies and they think it's 9 dollars...oh poor thing...). I am debating having a money lesson before the next book fair, but hate to invest that much time in a 2/3 day event...and it takes away from the research and technology lessons I want to focus we'll just help them count...and buy a coin counter!

The students are super excited, and because they have seen the video, have the fliers, know what's coming, know that it is a BOOK STORE and not the library, they bring money and we make a ton of money for the school!

More to come. And no, we do not have any more Lego Chima books or Bendy pencils. =)