Getting Ready for Earth Day!

Earth Day 2014 is April 22nd. I love to celebrate/instruct on this occasion with activities related to The Lorax by Dr. Seuss.

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We use the text for with our Close Reading Procedures. First, we read the story as a class. Then, we read it again with partners.

After our second Close Read, the students are put into small groups for a Gallery Walk. I have 7 anchor posters around the classroom. The students use Post-It Notes to record their responses about various story elements and they add these Post-Its.  Then, they rotate.  After 3 minutes, they rotate to the next poster.(The kiddos put their student number on their Post-Its, so I know if any individual student is struggling with a concept).
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Of course, we take a small break to enjoy some Lorax-themed snacks for the occasion! I print labels with Brown Barbaloots and other labels with Swomee Swans. Then, I put the labels on the side of clear plastic cups. The Barbaloot snacks are a mixture of chocolate and honey Teddy Grahams with tiny marshmallows. The Swomee Swan snacks are regular Goldfish Crackers (easy). Somehow, they taste better because they are in the special cup! 🙂

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After the Gallery Walk, the students write a summary of The Lorax. Then, they write a personal response about ways THEY will help the environment. This last essay is combined with a Lorax craftivity and is displayed in the classroom. They LOVE this craftivity… and I do, too. It makes an adorable display in the classroom.

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Although The Lorax can easily be used with younger students, there are enough complex literary elements to create worthwhile reading lessons for students in the upper elementary grades. I particularly like to teach the older students a lesson on author’s craft/use of flashback.

In my class, we also do a comparison of The Lorax the book and its movie counterpart. This is great work for Common Core!

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In a day jammed packed with Lorax activities, I end the day a Life Science project. Students design Lorax-themed pots and plant seeds. We combine this with a lesson on photosythesis in my class (but a variety of lessons would work).

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After all of the assignments are reviewed, I send home the pots and the written work (which I put in an orange folder, complete with a Lorax label).

It is so much fun. It is also very meaningful. Hopefully, my kiddos have created fond memories while learning a variety of things for Earth Day.

Do you use The Lorax for lessons during the year? Do you do something special for Earth Day? I would love to hear your ideas!

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Technology in Education Conference

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My colleagues and I attended recently attended an excellent conference about technology in education.  The best part was the keynote speaker, Alan November.  November is the author of several books, including Who Owns the Learning:

If you haven’t read this book, I highly recommend it.  Moreover, if you have a chance to hear November speak live, you MUST go!  Alan November is intelligent and insightful.  He’s also hysterical.  Seriously, my stomach hurt because I laughed so much (he must have missed his calling as a stand-up comedian).

ImageIn the meantime, you can follow Alan November on Twitter at @globalearner and/or @NLearning.

I took copious notes during November’s presentation, but my biggest take-away from the day:

ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS start with the curriculum!  What do the students need to learn? Technology should provide clarity to the assignment design.  Also, technology should help us teachers provide effective and timely feedback as we assess our students.

There is a lot of glitz and hype when it comes to educational technology.  It is important for teachers to be informed consumers – and clearinghouses for our students.

How do you use technology in your classroom?  I would love to hear about some of your successes.

Best,   Michelle