Why do you flip?

The last few weeks I have been sharpening my proverbial “technology” sword. Before I started my new role as an Instructional Technology Coach I had a long list of technology “try its.”

One thing about my style of teaching is that it is throrough, purposeful, targeted and intentional. That was also true about the way I approach technology integration. In every situation my filter for a quality learning experience considers the “eyes” of the student and the “ears” of the parent who hears about the learning either that day or in the passing days when the assessed learning makes its journey home… sometimes to the trash can and other times to the refrigerator door. And much like the work that is affixed to the refrigerator door, I want the learning to stick.

The big item on my list of “try its” were to begin flipping my classroom as an intentional, purposeful and regular part of the instruction and learning in my classroom. While my job has shifted that goal, I still think about the “anchor” lessons in the continuity of learning that students will come back to time and time again, and the parents and/or student support network that desires to support that learning. To that end I started thinking about those universal “anchor” lessons that a student would revisit time and time again and a parent would reference. After all, the concept of flipping by founder Salman Khan of the Khan Academy, began when he started remotely tutoring his cousin, Nadia, by sending short clips to help her with “unit conversion.”

So in this entry I am contribuiting a brief but essential lesson on how to select a “just right” book. The audience is intended for students grades 2-4 and parents who are helping any child select a book for their independent reading pleasure.

Picking a Just Right Book

I am not sure what my next anchor “flip” lesson will be, but I do know I will be looking through the lens of universal “anchor” points of learning, teacher need, student success and parent involvement.

Please comment below and if you have suggestions for other “anchor” lessons, please suggest!

On another note… I plan to revisit the discussion of “Content, Curation and Collaboration.” My head is FULL of ideas so stay tuned!

Message in a Bottle- Learning about Theme

Message in a Bottle Amazing Grace

letter for Amazing Grade MIB

Letter Journey to a New Land MIB

Journey to a New Land Message in a Bottle

I want to share a very engaging lesson our 3rd grade team did on theme. The idea came to me through my teaching team partner Kristin Carlile @kjcarlile. She does an excellent job crafting reading lessons for our team and this one was not one that we needed to keep to ourselves. She is an incredibly resourceful teacher and used an idea similar to the lesson I am blogging about from Scholastic @scholasticteach. We had already been doing read alouds with the kids and identifying the genre, summary, big idea of the book and the theme. After about 5 days of this being modeled with read alouds and various independent acitvities i.e. readers response journals, tickets out, and small group instruction through readers workshop we presented a new and creative acitivity. Kids were partnered up and given the following task and rubric.

Message in a Bottle

At the beginning of the post are some student products after working on it during Readers Workshop for a day. Would like to have given more time to this activity. Definitely will revisit as the learning was profound and the engagement unprecedented.

To finish this post I will leave you with a short list of books that are great for this activity. There are many more and I encourage you to find titles across the genres so that students can see how theme occurs in many genres.

Book list:
“The Honest-to-Goodness Truth” by Patricia McKissack
“The Mitten Tree” by Candace Christiansen
“My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother” by Patricia Polacco
“Thank You, Mr. Falker” by Patricia Polacco
“Too Many Tamales” by Gary Soto
“Charlie the Caterpillar” by Dom Deluise

Good luck with your Message in a Bottle activities… may your students discover a lesson of a lifetime!