Thursday, March 24, 2016

Researching NATO Phonetic Alphabet Before Creating Our Own Minnesota Alphabet!

Over the past several weeks, Oak Hills 3rd Graders have been learning more about the variety of ways that people can communicate the English alphabet. We learned about the reasons that humans have created alternative ways to communicate. Our research was inspired by a beautifully illustrated book by Isabelle Arsenault entitled Alpha. Unlike the typical garden variety alphabet book, Alpha identifies each letter & word of the NATO phonetic alphabet used by various emergency services around the world. Students practiced spelling words using the NATO alphabet.

We also discussed other ways of communication and the reasons they were created. 


Morse Code

American Sign Language

Students had a blast trying out each one! 

After reading and practicing each alphabet, we decided to have a little fun and create one of our own! Our alphabet had a little less utility than the other examples, but students had fun brainstorming what kind of alphabet we wanted to create. Students identified words that Minnesotans could use to communicate. A Minnesota Alphabet! Each student picked a letter and a word that had Minnesota meaning, often the things that Minnesota is known for.  (Cold weather, hockey, cities, sports teams and so forth)  Students used PicCollage to demonstrate their Minnesota letter.  We put together our posters to create our own Minnesota Alphabet book!

Monday, March 14, 2016

It's March! Time for our annual March Madness Tournament of Books!

In February, my students began to ask me if we would have a March Madness Tournament of Books this year. To be honest, I had lost track of time! I was grateful for the reminder, but mostly I was thrilled that they were asking for it again this year! This week students began by filling out their brackets and voting for the Elite Eight using a Google form.  

To select the original list of sweet sixteen books, I surveyed a few classes for ideas of favorites. Student suggestions just confirmed what I could tell by looking at checkout records in Destiny, our library database. Again this year, I wanted to find books that students were excited about so they would be able to make an educated prediction on their brackets.  

Once students had filled out their brackets, I had them vote on the "Elite 8" to determine the winners of our first round of the tournament.  Everyone is invited to vote so feel free to weigh in if you would like!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New Student-led Oak Hills Library Twitter Account - Join the fun by following us @OakHillsLib!

Students at Oak Hills are having a blast with our new Twitter account! Our newly created @OakHillsLib twitter account is their opportunity to share their learning with the world! It may not be immediately obvious why this is a good idea, but there are several great outcomes to having students tweet for @OakHillsLib.

1. Students think it is cool.  This may not seem like a great reason, but any educator knows that when students think something is cool, they are likely to engage!

2. Students get to practice social media under the watchful eye of a teacher! So we have great conversations about what is good to share and what is not good to share. It is social media with training wheels! (Thanks to George Couros for talking about this at the MN TIES conference!) This practice at social media is laying the ground work for their own social media future!

3. Students learn the benefit of interactions from people around the globe! Students see their classroom expand to include students and teachers from all over the world. As their classroom expands they begin to see that social media  is more than selfies and cat videos, they can actually share their voice and learn from others. They can practice being global citizens!

Our twitter account is still small, but students are thrilled with each new follower and like!

2nd Graders Imagine A Day When Special Gifts Came With Everything!

Oak Hills 2nd Graders recently read and loved the book, When Dinosaurs Came With Everything, written by Elise Broach and illustrated by David Small. This delightful book is about a boy who has to run errands with his mother and discovers that stores everywhere are giving out dinosaurs with every purchase!

For those who might not have read the books, check out this reading by Ambrosia Backe from YouTube. 

As I read this story to my 2nd graders, they were spellbound. It really helped get their creative juices flowing! We had a blast sharing what they would do if they had to take a dinosaur home from the store! Where would they put it? What would they feed it?  How would their parents react! From there, the discussion took a fun turn to what they might they want to get free from stores?  At first they said all of the things most 2nd graders think of...candy, money, toys, electronics, wishes...but as they kept talking they began to move to ideas of really impossible but delightful options.  Unicorns, fairies, Chewbacca (Star Wars), Space Station, Cheetahs, and even the state of Texas were some of the free give aways my students imagined. Students used our go to app, PicCollage, to create a quick page for our class book that would allow them each to pick their outrageous special free gift with every purchase!