November 8, 2013

Five for Friday: Conferences, Goldsworthy, Zip Zap Zop, Thankful

It's time to once again link up with Doodlebugs for...

Parent/Teacher conferences were this week. Although the day is grueling: teaching from 8:00am-2:15pm followed by conferences from 2:30-7:30pm, it is also rewarding. I enjoy meeting with my students' parents, discussing their children's progress in school. You may have heard me say this before, "There has got to be a better way!" With only 10 minute time slots for each conference not much can be discussed. Often a parent and I may be in the middle of a discussion and time is up. I've made it a habit to meet with the parents of students who are struggling, be it academically or socially, on separate days before or after school so that we have the time we need to discuss a plan for their student, and now with the ease of electronic communication I am in contact with the majority of my parents at least once a week. However, the idea of the conference day/evening... gotta be a better way!

Our art teacher and I have developed a great curriculum for my sixth graders over the past three years. We have selected notable artists who depict a particular style or technique to teach our sixth graders about. I prepare the lesson ABOUT the artist, generally a Powerpoint full of pics and/or videos about the artist, while the art teacher prepares and implements the hands-on art lessons. Our latest artist study was Andy Goldsworthy who is know for his unique natural sculptures. Here's one of Andy's pieces crafted of leaves of various hues. Each piece is ephemeral, lasting but a few moments. It is the photo of the piece that captures the sculpture for permanence.

Here are a few of my sixth graders' nature compositions. The students worked in small groups, having gathered materials over several days from the school property or from home. They completed them today near the end of the day with the art teacher just before the cloudburst. I was able to capture just a few snapshots in between the raindrops.

My mind works in random, yet connected, ways. For whatever reason, a few weeks ago I was reminded of a favorite game that my sixth graders and I would play when I would take them overnight camping as an outdoor education experience (back in the day). The game is called Zip Zap Zop. I won't go into how to play it; however, if you are interested you can read about it HERE. I will just say that both my fifth and sixth graders are clamoring to play it everyday. It makes for a great brain break!

Zip Zap Zop reminded me of another game that I used to play with my fifth and sixth graders- ZAP! I hadn't played it last year because the class was rather large and rambunctious. Playing games tended to amp their excitability to a level that I couldn't tolerate so we did OTHER things, and ZAP! was forgotten.. ZAP!  is a great way to practice humdrum class skills in a fun way. Played in teams, the basic premise is to collect paper strips drawn from a canister on which are written response items. If answered correctly, the team keeps the strip. If not, it's returned to the canister. At the end of play, the winning team is the one with the most strips. However, there is a twist. Inside the canister are a few ZAP! strips. Draw one of these and ALL of the team's strips must be returned to the canister. There is lots of cheering and chanting as the game progresses.

I busily made several ZAP! games this past week. Both my fifth and sixth grade Language Arts students have had a great time with them this week. We played Fall ZAP! practicing dependent and independent clauses. This game REALLY helped the fifth graders tell the difference between the two clauses.

We also played Veterans Day ZAP! where we practiced the difference between complete sentences and sentence fragments, something my sixth graders can not seem to remember, while we learned a little about the background of this special holiday.

Both ZAP! games are available in my TpT Store along with a third, St. Nicholas ZAP! This ZAP! game provides students practice with distinguishing between subjects and predicates while teaching them about the story of St. Nicholas, a bishop in fourth century Myra who eventually evolves into the modern Santa Claus. 

By now, you know that I teach in a Catholic School. Many of the items that I use in my classroom, even games like Scoot and Zap, incorporate the things that I reach in Religion as well. I've recently begun to share some of my "religious" teaching items in my TpT Store. Catholic Prayers Brag Tags was the first followed soon after by All Saints' Day Scoot.  I wasn't sure how they would be received, and was pleasantly surprised to find that they sold quite a few. I was quite encouraged as I began to receive positive feedback. I especially enjoyed this comment by STEDS regarding my All Saints Day Scoot:

I teach in a Catholic school, too. This was a fun way to practice language skills and incorporate religion facts.

 STEDS, if you read this blog post, please contact me by leaving a comment below. I'd like to send you the St. Nicholas ZAP! game as a thank you for taking the time to leave a positive, thoughtful comment about one of my "religious" items. You encouraged me to continue creating and offering this type of item. Currently, I'm working on an Advent ZAP! game and an Advent Scoot pack, as well as a Saint Lucy, Our Lady, and Nativity ZAP! I can't wait to finish making them and using them with my kiddos!

Happy Friday,
Happy Teaching,
The Teacher's Desk 6

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