Sunny Days in Second Grade
Since blogs can help to promote creative thinking as well as critical thinking, I’ve chosen three blogs that get me thinking to help more creative ideas flow! It gives me the chance to gather ideas to add to my bag of tricks. I called this post, “Sunny Days Ahead,” for two reasons:
- I think that looking at these great educator’s blogs, you will be feeling “sunny” when you read some of the creative ideas they have posted on their blogs.
- One of my favorite classroom blogs is “Sunny Days in Second Grade!“
One of my favorite elementary blogs is Sunny Days in Second Grade. I have followed Denise’s blog for several years now when I have needed a shot of something fresh and fun to engage my students in a lesson. Denise has so many wonderfully creative ideas that she either supplies free of charge or for a small fee on the website Teachers Pay Teachers. The first post that caught my eye is titled, “Self-Selected Homework.” In this post, Denise discusses the changes she has made in regards to homework. When research showed that homework was not as beneficial as it was previously thought, she decided to do away from traditional homework and only have the students do homework on a topic that they are interested in or on a hobby that they might not have time for because of homework. Denise then gives tips about how to set this up in your classroom. She even includes a PDF slideshow to show to other faculty or parents to explain the concept along with student examples.
I also liked her post titled, “Resources for Teaching Genre.” In this post, Denise describes several different, fun ways to learn about genre. One way was through a game where the students guess the letters to spell a genre based on the pictures that are on the card. I was thinking a visual game of “Hangman” when I read the description. The next activity she described was to do a sort of different genres using the Scholastic Book order form. The students would find a book in that genre and glue it underneath the correct heading on their paper. She has her resources for sale (at $2.50 it seemed to be a bargain) on TpT. The third activity that she wrote about in this post is a set of genre task cards. She uses these on her “Brain Builder Wall” Her students are second grade enrichment students so she wanted to have activities for the “fast finishers” to do while the rest of the class finished their work.
The second blog that I like is from a technology integration specialist in middle school named Bethany Ligon. She has the header–Connecting with Other Educators to be Our Very BEST! I love that heading because I think that if you are reading blogs then you are trying to learn something new to be your very best. The first post of her’s that caught my attention is titled, “Showcasing Student Work“, which talks about how important it is to showcase student work to show the student’s that their work is important to you. Otherwise, they will not find importance and pride in the assignment. They will throw it in the trash without another thought. She ends the post with thought provoking statement, “If your students are not producing work that is worthy of being showcased…your lessons need revision.”
The second post, “Have a Mic Drop Worthy First Week of School,” talks about how to make the first week of school enjoyable for students–not just procedures and rules. Ligon makes the point that students show up for the peer interaction, not to hear the teacher yammer on about how to go to the bathroom or when to sharpen pencils. She suggests having the students do some kind of stations and then watch how they interact and behave. Then teach the rules as they become applicable. She also suggests apps, websites, and materials that would work well with this.
The third post that caught my eye, The Pep Talk I Wish I Had Given, gives a scenario about not knowing what to say to that difficult student until much later. Ligon goes through the conversation that she and other veteran teachers had with a student that moved from the alternate school because he was always in trouble. They motivated him to become a leader and pass his classes. To quote Ligon, “If you’re still working in the classroom and have daily contact with a difficult student, do me a favor and do whatever it takes to breathe in new life to that child. He/she is worth the effort.” I love that thought and try to live it every day!
The Creative Classroom
John Spencer’s Vlog (video blog) about his experiences and things he has learned in a video format.He is a former middle school teacher and current college professor on a “quest to transform schools into bastions of creativity and wonder.” He speaks to teachers to show them that children’s creativity needs to be unleashed so they can embrace a “maker mindset.”
The first vlog that interested me was “How Play Leads to Creativity.” In this video, John explains that through play his son came up with an experiment to test out all on his own. His son wanted to know what substance would melt snow the quickest. He tested several things (salt, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, body wash) and found that rubbing alcohol was actually what melted the snow the fastest. He then went on to wonder if he could make a de-icer for the windshield using what he knew. Genius! Kids learning through play? How preposterous! Just kidding–really, isn’t that what we learned in our early childhood classes?
The second vlog that really interested me is titled, “Be Fearless in Your Creative Work.” Again, he uses his son as his muse when he looks at him drawing and realizes that he is fearless. He makes mistakes in his drawings, but just keeps on trying. This leads John Spencer to make a resolution to be more fearless and take chances no matter how scared it makes you. Every mistake takes you closer and closer to success.
The third, rather long, vlog is “What is Action Research?” Even though it is long–it is a read or listen that will make you stop and think. Do students do more creative, more innovative writing if they see exemplars? Or will they just copy what they see? He digs into this topic to present both sides so you can decide for yourself (he is still asking himself questions). What do you think? Will it make the students more creative or will they just copy what they see and not put forth an original thought?
I think that each of the three blogs I chose to look at have a common thread–creativity. Denise’s blog showcases her creative ideas to give others either ready-made lessons (through TpT) or spring boards for your own lessons. Either way, you can’t lose looking at what she has to offer. The second blog by Bethany Ligon is food for thought that you could very easily turn into a complete lesson for you. Ice breakers or rotations the first couple days of school instead of rules and procedures–then insert your own ideas here. What will work for your school community and students? The third was John Spencer’s vlog (video blog) that made me think about how to naturally use student’s curiosity and interest to learn through play. What a novel idea to let kids be kids! Let me know what you think….