I have a confession to make: I. Love. Grammar. I loved learning it as a kid, I love teaching it, and I love discussing and debating the nuances of it. Today I'll share with you a fun grammar activity we did!
We began the school year reviewing the most basic part of speech: nouns. This week, we moved to the next logical part of speech: adjectives. Why are adjectives the next logical step? Because they describe nouns! It is easy to find the adjectives once you've found the nouns. You simply go to a noun and ask, "What kind? Which one? How many?" But we're not there yet.
I began today's activity by putting some simple adjectives on the board.
I told the class that these are describing words, and that we were going to use them during our greeting (the first part of morning meeting).
"Adjectives describe nouns. What is a noun?"
"A person, place, or thing!"
"Right! Did you know that you are a noun? I want you to think of an adjective to describe YOU! You can choose one from the board or think of your own. We will then use your adjective in our greeting. For example, "Good morning, fancy Mrs. Skillman"
Once everyone wrote their adjectives on their post-it notes, we went around the circle and greeted each other with our adjective and name. It was a great way to spice up our greeting! Hover over the photos below to read what each student's adjective was (the writing in the picture is hard to see.)
At the end of all this, Smokey hopped by the rug. "We should do one for Smokey!" they shouted. So I snapped a pic.
"What adjectives could we use for Smokey?"
The students had lots of thoughts about this: soft, curious, hungry, and adorable were some of my favorites.
Our first conceptual humanities unit is called "Building a Community." During this unit, social studies and language arts standards combine to form a study of civics and government. We began last week by learning about "rights," the protection of which is the foundation of any civilized community.
This week our unit has lead us to think about how rights are in play in the classroom. In partner groups, the students brainstormed what rights we have in the classroom. Then, partner groups combined to form small groups who refined their lists to make them even better. As a class, we shared and consolidated our lists of rights and brainstormed what rules we could put in place to protect them. The students pointed out that some rights are protected by me and some are protected by them. Conversations like these bring out such interesting comments and connections from the students. One student pointed out that Smokey has all the same rights we do, and so some of our rules should be to protect her!
Finally, we used our list of rights and rules to create our class constitution. By creating our own constitution, the students gained a sense of power and ownership over the culture of the classroom along with an intrinsic understanding of the nature of rights and laws.
One challenge that educators face is what to do when some students are finished while others are still working. In my class the students have a few different options to choose from whenever they say, "I'm finished!" Fittingly, we call them "I'm Finished Choices." These choices change depending on what's been going on in class.
"Independent Study" is always a choice, but it has a couple of different meanings. One meaning is to finish any unfinished work or work that needs correcting. This work is kept in their "independent study folders." The other meaning is that we have an independent study table, with materials and activities for the students to explore on their own. As we get into our conceptual units, the independent study table will have materials that expand or go deeper into our concept. At this point in the year, the table has books about rabbits (Can you guess why?). Students can go here to learn about rabbits and post their new knowledge for others to share.
We also have a collaborative puzzle table, where two students at a time can work together to make some progress. Currently, they are working on a vibrant 1000 piece puzzle of a candy shop! Once the puzzle is complete, I frame it and save it to sell at our class market later in the year.
It's interesting for me to observe which students gravitate towards which type of choice. This year, many students asked if I could add "Geoboards" to the I'm Finished list -- so I did! This popular choice may seem frivolous, but exploring the geoboard builds conceptual understanding of polygon relationships!
As you can see, there is never a dull moment in 3rd grade!
We are off to a fabulous start in 3rd grade! This first week has been all about getting to know the classroom and making it our own. The students began by walking around the room and writing down 3 things they noticed and 1 question they have. Then we came to the rug to share. This activity helped familiarize the students with the locations of important materials in the room, and also opened up conversation about certain procedures. For example, "Why is there a mailbox in your room?" led to an explanation of my system for communicating privately with individuals when they need it. "You have a lot of books!" led to an explanation about my classroom library and the procedures for checking out books. Next week, your child will write to you about our classroom and what they think makes it special.
The next order of business was allowing the students to put their own special touch on their surroundings. They created labels for various areas in the room, as well as a class birthday chart!
This activity allowed the students to have ownership of their physical space, while at the same time giving them a chance to practice appropriate use of classroom materials and seating.
Taking our time to set things up right, be it our environment or our procedures, will have a lasting effect on the culture of our classroom. If these first 2 days are any indication, it's going to be a great year.
Little people, big minds.