Happy Thanksgiving!

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While many are planning their shopping strategies already for the weekend, I’m a firm believer in taking time instead to give thanks for what I have already in my life.  This week is always one of my favorite as a teacher.  Not only do I get to help my students develop an attitude of gratitude through reflection activities and webquests about the first Thanksgiving, but I also get to spend time with parents during our annual parent/teacher conferences.  I really enjoy getting to meet and share the awesome things my students are doing with their parents!

In preparation for our conferences this year I did something a little different.  I found an amazing freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers that helped to make sure that our time in conferences was purposeful. The first image below is a questionnaire I sent home the week before conferences for parents to reflect on how they are seeing their child progress so far this year.  I was very happy to have the majority of my class return these!  This allowed me to have time prior to our assigned conferences to gather resources and materials to best be prepared for our meetings.  The second image below is another freebie find that I used to help me be more focused with my concerns (I tend to be easily distracted during conferences telling parents how awesome their kids are!) 🙂 )  This form is a take away that parents can take home and share with their child.  It breaks down their grades and areas of success and concern in classroom behaviors.  I must say that I did not create either of these forms, so please join me in thanking the lovely ladies who did create them and posted them on TPT for all of us to use!  Thank you!  Clicking on the picture will take you to each of their TPT stores to enjoy these FREE downloads!

Parent Questionnaire

Parent Questionnaire From Zanah McCauley

Teacher Forms to Help with Conference Preparation from More Time 2 teach

Teacher Forms to Help with Conference Preparation from More Time 2 teach

teacher form 2

 

This week we will be taking a virtual field trip back to the first Thanksgiving courtesy of Scholastic.com.  This webquest is very well put together and a wonderful resource full of videos and text resources to share with students.  Students love seeing how the pilgrims lived and hearing how they spoke.  As a culminating activity each year, I make hardtack with my class.  Hardtack was a food staple during the passage over on the Mayflower as well as when they first were setting up their settlement here.  The image below is a link to the Scholastic site.

First Thanksgiving Webquest from Scholastic.com

First Thanksgiving Webquest from Scholastic.com

Hardtack Recipe

Hardtack Recipe

Finally, I would like to leave you with a heart felt thanks for being a part of our classroom!  Below is a link to my annual Thanksgiving video.  Each year I choose a song that has a message of thanks and have students compose visuals to express their gratitude.  This year we worked with hashtags to develop a concept of how hashtags are useful in grouping ideas and concepts.  Please enjoy!  Our song this year is the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Theme.

 

Happy Thanksgiving from Our Class to Yours

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Thanksgiving is truly my FAVORITE holiday!  There are not pressures of gift giving or costume creating.  It is a time to celebrate friends, family, food, and gratitude for what we have instead of worrying about what we do not have.  Each year my classes learn about the 1st Thanksgiving thanks to virtual fieldtrips provided by Scholastic.  This experience helps to set the tone for our week of gratitude.  We have spent this short week focusing our efforts inward and learning different ways we can show our gratitude to others.  Some students wrote lists or essays about what and whom they are thankful for.  Others drew pictures or asked to visit old teachers with whom they’ve made lasting connections to show their gratitude.

I have created a video to express my gratitude to the parents of my students.  I am so very grateful for the time I get to spend with your children each day.  I am so honored to be one of the many professionals that has a hand in shaping them into the adults they will become.  I am especially thankful to all of you who came out to conferences this week so that I could meet and discuss your child’s progress with you.  This was a record setting year for me in terms of parental attendance at conferences.  Please take a few minutes to watch the video I created for you, the parents, as a way to express my thanks in entrusting your children to me each day.  It is not an responsibility that I take lightly, and I thoroughly LOVE my job!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Love,

Mrs. Sinone and family

How to Make a Short Week Meaningful

It’s that month again- November… you know the one where we never seem to have a full week of school and even when we do everyone is sick thanks to the change of the weather!  While there are many days off during November, there are also many valuable teaching opportunities- especially in the area of Social Studies.   So how can we make the most of our shortened time together?  PROJECTS!!!!!!!!  It’s time to shake it up and bring on the projects!  Kids love them, teachers love them, and they lend themselves wonderfully to the stop/start nature of school days in this month!  Below are a few of the projects that we will be completing this month:

vote

First Week of November:  Election Day Project

This week we will be exploring the origins of Election Day, political parties, the voting process, and conducting our own mock election.  The video below explains why we vote on Tuesdays (a question I have often wondered myself as it seems like an odd choice for an election day!).  We will be working through the election process this week and voting for a mock candidate for class president.  Students will listen to campaign speeches from our two mock candidates, vote at the polls, and justify their choices.  They will also be making their own voter registration cards.

*Parents- if you go out to vote on Tuesday after school, take your kids with you and share the process!

Second Week of November:

During the second (and one of the only full weeks of school) of November, we will be researching the origins of Veteran’s Day.  Students will take a virtual field trip to see the many memorials dedicated to our fallen soldiers in our nation’s capital (see the video I created below).  They will then work in teams to design a memorial to honor our local veterans.

Third and Fourth week of November:

During the final full week and our last short week of November, we will be walking in the footsteps of the Pilgrims and learning about the first Thanksgiving.  We will be researching, comparing and contrasting the Thanksgiving feast we enjoy today with the one that those first settlers enjoyed.  Students will work in pairs to create a menu for today’s feast and a menu from the first Thanksgiving feast using various websites like the one below.  We will make a staple of the pilgrims diet- hardtack (yum) to enjoy in class together.

Scholastic’s First Thanksgiving Website

National Geographic’s First Thanksgiving Website

History Channel’s First Thanksgiving Website

This month I am thankful that I get to share these meaningful, cross-curricular lessons with my class!  I will be combining first and second hand accounts as well as multimedia to enhance my student’s learning experiences.  We will be creating, writing, debating, and collaboratively working to produce meaningful and memorable products.  Stay tuned to see the fruits of our labor in upcoming posts!

Cooking 1621 Style- Our Experience Making Ship’s Biscuits

This morning we ventured back in time to make a historically accurate Thanksgiving food item- Ship’s Biscuits (also known as Hard Tack).  Ship’s Biscuits would have been served at most meals.  They were traditionally made so that they were rock hard (or as Rachel puts it they should have been called Brick Biscuits) so that they could be stored for long times.  To eat them, settlers would have placed them in milk, tea, gravy, or water to soften them up.  They were also sometimes used as utensils in that they could push food on to their spoon using them therefore not wasting any delicious gravy. 

To get started we assembled our ingredients (all traditional) as well as some modern day cook utensils.  

hardtack ingredients

 

First we added 4-5 cups of flour.

 

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Next, we added a few dashes of salt for flavor.

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Then we added enough water to moisten the dough and make it stick together, kneaded the dough, and rolled it out to a half an inch thick.

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We baked them for 15 minutes at 375 degrees.

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Dr. Cook agreed to be our taste tester (after we offered him some honey to sweeten the deal!)

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The reason we offered honey and not jam or butter is that the Wampanoag Indians could have brought native honey to the first Thanksgiving and we wanted to be authentic.   Dr. Cook gave us a thumbs up and declared our hard tack (ok it was more like medium tack and not as hard as the pilgrims would have made it since I didn’t want anyone to break a tooth!) not only edible, but yummy!

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Feel free to experiment and make some Ship’s Biscuits to your Thanksgiving Feast!  Happy Thanksgiving from my class to yours!  May you enjoy time with family and friends, feast until your full, and be grateful for all that you have.

Love, Mrs. Sinone and the Room 11 Crew

Our First Publication of Room 11 Times! Hot Off the Presses for Your Enjoyment!

My students have been hard at work on writing thier first news articles this month.  We have been reading non-fiction, writing non-fiction, and editing our writing.  As a culminating activity, we have developed, what I hope is the first of many editions, of our class newspaper, The Room 11 Times.  Please peruse the articles written by my students by clicking on the link below to open the PDF file.  As editor-in-chief, I am very proud of their work.  I would also like to let you know other then a very few corrections, these articles are published in the format that the students delevered them.  Enjoy!  I am certainly grateful for my young authors this Thanksgiving!

November Class News

Virtual Field Trip to the Plimoth Plantation to Attend the First Thanksgiving

This week we will be taking a trip way back in time to the first Thanksgiving. Ok, I did not develop a time machine (though that would be AMAZING and I would so take a year off to re-examine life choices and visit places I’ve read about ), rather we will be using the amazing site put together by one of my favorite publishers, Scholastic. We will be visiting the settlers and the Wampanoag Native American tribe to learn about life for children at the beginning of our country’s exisistance. Students will be using the information they gather to write their next full length writing piece comparing and contrasting Thanksgiving now with the First Thanksgiving.

Take a peek at the website we will be using curtesy of Scholastic.com:

Thanksgiving Historical Investigation

In addition to this investigation we will be wrapping up out math topic 10 with a quiz on Tuesday.
Also a reminder that our Attitude of Gratitude journals are due on Wednesday for a Social Studies test grade!

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Thank You for Your Generosity and Kindness

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving.  I love that it is a day dedicated to sharing your gratitude for what and who you have in your life.  I am saddened each year that the focus on this day is diminished more and more by that other holiday that follows it about a month later.  While I enjoy the winter holidays too, I love the sincerity and lack of commercialism that Thanksgiving embodies. 

I want to thank the parents and families of my students.  Thank you for sharing your children with me.  Especially this year, I want to express my gratitude for the this class in particular.  I have spent the last year and 3 months working with an amazing group of kids.  Looping with them from 3rd to 4th grade was the best decision I have made professionally.  I have learned so much about myself as a teacher and created such a enriching and close knit classroom family with these kids.  I am truly going to be a wreck at the end of the year when they move on 🙁 . 

We created a movie dedicated to our families and friends to share our gratitude for the love and support you have given us.  The song in the background is Generosity and Kindness by Natalie Merchant.   In doing this we also used American Sign Language.  This is near and dear to our hearts here in room 11.  We love learning to communicate in new ways.  Please watch the video and enjoy.  Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!

 

An Attitude of Gratitude

Wow!  It is November already!  I can not believe how quickly the year is flying by.  November is a very important month in many ways.  We will spend time in class being grateful for the many things and people we have in our lives.  This month, each students will  record 5 things they are grateful for each day in his or her agenda.  November is the perfect time to develop an attitude of gratitude.  Each night students will list five things or people they are grateful for having in their lives.  I would like for this to take on a very meaningful tone and to keep away from silly entries, but sometimes we really are grateful for a TV show or pizza!  At the beginning of each day, I will walk around and check to see that they have completed their assignment. and at the end of the month each student will be given a social studies project grade for completing this task.   This is to be done even over weekends and days off from school.  I am hoping that at the end of the month students will develop an appreciation for all the wonderful things and people in their lives.   

One of the ways we show our appreciation is by doing things for others.  On November 12th we will be participating in World Run Day.  On this day thousands of others will be running to express their gratitude for fitness and healthy living.  We are also collecting money to be donated to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization.  Collection sheets are due back on Wednesday, November 7th.  All students who raise $15 or more will receive a t-shirt and the top 10 collectors will participate in a pizza party.  Wear comfy clothes and running shoes on November 12th (our first day break after our long weekend) and be ready to run!  This event will take place outside so dressing in layers might be a good idea.  See the movie below for more information.  FYI in the movie it says World Run Day is the 11th, due to that being a Sunday we are participating on the 12th!