Sunday, February 26, 2012

Natural Disaster Poems

In writing this week I had students write a formula poem on a natural disaster of their choosing. We have been doing a Force of Nature unit all month and I liked how this particular formula poem lended itself to nature's fury.
The Formula:

Line 1: Participle, Participle, Participle 
Line 2: Noun
Line 3: Adverb (how)
Line 4: Verb
Line 5: Adverb (where or when)

The poem I modeled for the students:

Swirling, Churning, Frightening
Down in Kansas

Some students' finished poems:

Local Landform Models

Now that I finally got my camera and laptop together in one place and WORKING I can finally post some of what we have worked on in the last week. First and foremost I want to post my newest student blogger, J.Z. She has been my biggest support of the classroom blog and I was excited she decided to write about the Local Landform homework I assigned. Students were to make a 3D model of any landform in Oregon or Washington State (since we live on the border). With the model students needed to write an index card with the name of the landform, where it was located, what type of landform, and two facts about it. When the landforms finally came in I was BLOWN away! It was my proud teacher moment of the year!!! Let's see what J.Z. has to say about the assignment:

We've been learning about forces of nature and our homework was to make a model of a landform. Our teacher had told us the legend of Crater lake and I really enjoyed this study!!! I love doing projects like this. I think it helps me understand more not by being told but actually making me write something to explain what I've learned.

J.Z.'s Crater Lake model
Multnomah Falls in Oregon
Mt. Hood
The Sea Lion Caves in Oregon
Mt. Hood
Columbia River Gorge
The Mima Mounds in Washington
Mt. St. Helens
Crater Lake
The Ape Caves in Washington
I so with I could include every students pictures. They were all so truly amazing and they put so much time and effort in to it! I hope the families had fun doing this activity together and learning about their local landforms!

Friday, February 24, 2012


I am horribly behind in my blogging. My laptop crashed on me last week. Going without a computer for a blogger is beyond stressful. Not to mention school work that needs to get accomplished. I currently have a laptop on loan. Although I am grateful it is a DINOSAUR! Weighs a ton and won't take my camera SD card. Please be patient and hang in with me.... I promise to get posts and pics coming soon!

I thought I could at least post ONE of the student blogs I have in my stack. After all P.R. just wants to share about what he has learned during our Colony Storypath and Amazing Americans Reading unit. No pics! I think I can manage that one...even if it is two weeks late! (my fault-not his!)

This blog is about the colonies/colonist. the colonies were part English, Dutch, Swedish, and British. the colonies were founded in 1607. A famous American colonist I learned about was Benjamin Franklin, who was an inventor. He created the lightening rod and the Franklin stove. the Lightening rod made lightening not hit your house, and the Franklin stove heated your house.

The Revolutionary War started with the Boston Tea Party. The reason the war started was the colonist thought that the British were doing taxation without Representation. In the end, with the help from the French, the colonist won the war.

Thanks P.R. for sharing what you have learned so far. I can tell that reading and social studies have a great interest for you! Benjamin Franklin is one of the people I like to learn about too. I think he was a fascinating character in our history. I am curious if others think that the Boston Tea Party started the Revolutionary War or if the Boston Massacre was the catalyst? Chime in students if you have an opinion!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


You can't do a landform study without examining some topography maps. Most of my kiddos have never seen a topography map before. I broke them into groups and they had to come up with some observations and questions about the topography map of Mt. Shasta. Many students thought that the lines were earthquakes (natural disasters on the mind). After we shared our ideas, I made a foam mountain. Then I traced around each shape one on top of each other. It didn't take long for students to put two-and-two together. Next the students had a hand at making a topography map of Mt. Shasta, standing at 38,000 ft.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Landform Cycle & Chant

As we begin wrapping up the landform unit I finally completed the pictorial diagram. I would only color and label parts of the landform cycle as I taught it. I like how it finally turned out and hopefully it has been a resource for the students.
Other things we have been working on throughout the entire unit is our GLAD big book and the chant/song. My host teacher is a master at writing learning songs to different tunes. When you write and teach a chant you should have the students come up with gestures for key vocabulary words. The songs help students recall information and they are engaging. Here is the song on an anchor chart and my class performing it!

Stream Tables

Student Blogger, H.C., decided to write about what we have been experimenting with in our Landforms unit. Our FOSS kits came late, but they have been so much fun! Her post explains the set-up perfectly. At the end of her post I will go into greater detail of the three different experiments the class did over the last two weeks. Here is H.C.:

What I wanted to talk about is the stream tables we have been doing in class. We have been different types of experiments. One was flooding! What you do is put a big tub on a desk. Then you get a smaller tub and you put it on the ground or a chair. You put amount of sand (and clay) in the big tub. You need a ruler and a cup with a hole in the bottom. You place the ruler side ways so the end of the rulers touch each side of the tub. Then you place the cup on the ruler You will fill the cup with water and wait until it comes through the sand. Before you do this you write a prediction. You are done after a second cup of water. Then you write a conclusion.
Here is a picture demonstrating the set-up H.C. described
H.C. did a great job describing the set up of the stream tables. The first cup is meant to represent standard rain fall. When you fill the cup with water over the earth material (shaped like a plateau) you can witness what would happen to the earth with erosion in thousands of years in only two minutes. Students write and sketch observations of their stream table as two water cups flow over their earth material. I walked around and tried to point out canyons, caves, floodplains, meandering rivers, deltas and more. Our 2nd experiment has a larger hole in the cup that represents a flooding environment. The 3rd experiment is not part of the FOSS kit investigations. My host teacher wondered if we put popsicle sticks (as a way to create a tree type environment) if it would  lessen or slow down erosion. As I walked around I noticed that the "trees" did change the impact of the erosion. The students had a hard time seeing the difference because in both the material did eventually have a landslide (which would happen in reality as well). I  had students create a Venn Diagram to compare the standard rain fall experiment with no trees and the experiment with trees to highlight some of the similarities and differences. This has been a fabulous way for students to witness landforms forming in a very quick and relevant way. I am sorry to see the FOSS kits leave.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Hokusai Inspired Art

PTA asked for some art for an upcoming fundraiser. My creative, mentor teacher had the brilliant idea to tie the art project into our natural disaster unit. After teaching the students about the Ring of Fire she introduced them to the works of Hokusai (1760-1849) and his paintings of Mt. Fuji. One of Hokusai's most famous painting is The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, acted as our inspiration.

The students had six steps to draw a series of lines that acted as waves. We discussed how the way Hokusai drew the waves as hands out to reach you creates the sense of movement. After our waves were sketched we outlined our drawing in black crayon. We then used a white crayon to color the snow on Mt. Fuji and the tops of the waves. The crayons act as a resist to watercolors.
Students were given three watercolors (blue, brown, and yellow) to finish their art. She talked about value and how to create different shades of blue. Not only did we discuss the likelihood that this giant wave depicts a tsunami, but the duality of nature being both beautiful and dangerous. The students did an amazing job with their paintings. I am beyond impressed with the final products.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Forces of Nature

For February we began a new reading unit for the month. My host teacher found a GLAD unit based on Forces of Nature. We thought that learning about natural disasters and reading adventure fiction stories is a nice companion to the learning we have been doing in our landforms unit.

Students have broken into four literature groups (we had five choices, but no one chose to read the Tornado fiction book). The groups are reading a fiction book that portrays children in a heroic light and a non-fiction text as a companion. We read the non-fiction text first to build our background knowledge so we have some great schema in place as we read the realistic fiction the rest of the month.

Here is what the literature groups are reading:

After students read the non-fiction text they made a 3-part "mural" where they drew a picture of a scene before the disaster they learned about, during, and after. Then they wrote and performed a news cast skit for the class.

Here are some of the murals:
Tsunami Before
During Tsunami
After Tsunami
During an Earthquake
During a Hurricane 
Other Supplement Learning:
  • Cognitive Content Dictionary: Preparation, Safety, Precipitation, Humanitarian Aide, Impact, Evacuation, Tectonic Plates, ...
  • Poems and Songs about Natural Disasters
  • Maps 
  • Learning about Mt. St. Helens (local landform & disaster)
  • Earthquake & Fire Drills
  • Water Cycle
  • Safety Preparation
  • Creating Mental Images
  • Character Traits that will help them be heroic 
  • Making Inference, Predictions, and Observations
  • Rebuilding Community