Friday, March 23, 2012

Caring Community and the Common Good

Creating a caring community of students begins in the first few days of the new school year. Each of us as new teachers will spend much time modeling how we want our students to treat each other. Once again I am struck by how a teacher must live in the present moment while also switching gears to remember the bigger picture.

Classroom management styles vary in our classes at IUSB just as all of our backgrounds and experiences vary. Our group on Thursday discussed  what makes a great classroom. We listed those characteristics that make a great classroom . I was struck by the common element of kindness and manners and compassion shining through our list. We came up with these common characteristics we want to teach:
                Be a Good Listener
                Be  a Peacemaker
                Use Actions you can be proud of
                Be Prepared

All of these traits and characteristics, or actions are ones we expect our children to have in the classroom. I will do well to remember to treat my students each day with the same qualities of grace and compassion. I believe living one moment at a time will help, living in the present and modeling this daily will be no small task.
Here's a website to check out about creating classroom communities

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Salt Dough Geography Maps
This month we explored making a salt dough map of a country we were interested in studying. We learned about our county and then made a map out of salt and flour. This was a great way to think about land formations and geographical attributes of a country. We were able to label rivers and mountains as well as interesting landmarks and important cities. I loved doing this and I think my students will enjoy it too! Below I have included the recipe and an interesting website to learn more about mapping for the classroom. So have fun and get messy with your class~

1 c. salt
1 c. flour
2/3 c. water
Food color (or poster paint when mixture is dry and map is formed and you are ready to paint)

Mix salt, flour and water until mixture is like icing. Add food coloring if you want dough colored. Otherwise paint dry map with poster paint. On board, shape dough into hills, valleys oceans to make topography map. Let dry.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Where do you call home?

            This week we are thinking and reflecting on how to teach about Geography. Teaching Geography to elementary school children requires some creative ways to have children tap into their natural ability to live in the present. Questions like where do I live? Where do I go to school? Who are my neighbors and where are the special places I like to go to in my community? These are all great starting points for conversation about Place, Regions, Human Interactions with Environments, Movement and Location...Yet, superficial conversations will not have the sticking power to really make a lasting impression or become building blocks for further knowledge.. Young children need to be able to see, hear, taste, and feel what calls these things to mind.

One way to do this, if you have a passion for Geography is to start an after school Geography Club~ think about it~ What a great way for the children to become interactive participants and have some more time for creative activities to sink there senses into! One website I found for some great ideas in the classroom and for clubs is found below...who know's maybe a passion for the place you call home could spark some passion in kids who intuitively live in the present in whatever place they call home.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Trade Fair Among Us....

Trading for goods has been a practice among civilizations for centuries. Perhaps, the recession in the United States is another reason to think more about how we can barter and trade goods for services in the coming generations. With global food shortages, fuel prices escalating and the cost of living skyrocketing, it's no wonder most of us think about shopping more local than ever before. Shopping locally, reducing our carbon footprint and bartering talents and trades all help communities thrive and create bonds that go beyond fiscal responsibility.
 Our day in Social Studies that was devoted to swapping items with each other reminded me of the many third world countries that are so much better at this than we are.Perhaps we all needed this recession to remind us how to interact together again. Communities working toward the common good and not just the consumerist material good of individuals.

Here is a link to one website that is already supporting women and fair trade in third world countries buying their goods and creating jobs for women. Ten Thousand Villages is an admirable business and can be found locally.

 Think about supporting them the next time you need that special gift or card for a birthday or special occasion. You will not only be supporting women who desperately need jobs, but also supporting a company that believes in fair trade.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Artifacts...What will you leave behind?

We all have a story to tell, a place we come from, a family we love.  We are daughters and sons who come from mothers and fathers with their own stories that came before us.

Bringing our artifacts to class is one way for us to reflect on the important people, objects and cultural priorities we have in our lives. This is a picture of some of the objects of importance in my life. This project reminded me that we all have a story to tell, we all have important "treasures" in our lives, people, pictures, journals and even in my case a special rock.This Geode that my children cracked open for a reminder to me that we all have a treasure inside, even if the outside is cracked and bumpy, and is no indicator to what lies within.

We all have a story to tell, What is yours? And what will you leave behind for the next generation to find?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Environmental Awareness One Child at a Time...

The Unity Garden's in South Bend has been raising awareness that all people should have access to quality food through their free gardens sprinkled throughout neighborhoods in South Bend. According to the Unity Garden Website, " The garden's provide healthy food for the community & bring diverse people together to grow, harvest, share, and eat healthy food. Each Unity Garden has two criteria: diverse people coming together to grow food and a sharing component."

This week the Unity Garden's sponsored a 2012 Wind Power Class for children. This free class was offered to  create awareness about the importance of alternative energy. Each child was able to construct a wind turbine and see how it works.What an opportunity to empower our children with the tools they will need as adults to think creatively about how to care for our environment. Follow their link below for future opportunities for free classes in our community.