Oh my, WHAT A WEEK! I'm not just treading water, I'm feverishly doggie paddling it! I'm going to blame our very short Christmas vacation for this because ever since then, I have struggled to get ahead! I consider myself to be very organized and I depend on this organization to get me through at school and at home. But folks, let me tell ya', this organization bit is kicking my tush! Report cards, Master's class, school, home, etc, etc, etc.! When will it slow down? Do I even dare to ask that? Is there even light at the end of the tunnel? Please tell me I am not the only one out there who is sinking slowly too? I would be greatly comforted to know that there are others who are feeling the same pinch. You know the old saying, "Misery loves company." Mr. M, bless his heart, in all of his infinite husband wisdom actually had the nerve to tell me that "you took all of this on yourself." Hmph! Thursday night at class, my Master's professor shared something new I had never heard of before. At the beginning of class we had a "grass growing" time. Essentially, during "grass growing" time, you have the opportunity to share with the class anything on your chest that is good, bad, or ugly. In essence, you are clearing your mind so that you can focus on what is ahead next.
So now that I have had my "grass growing" session, it's time to get down to business to biographies. Teaching my first graders about Martin Luther King, Jr was the perfect time to introduce biographies. We read lots of books about him and by the end of the week, my class really had a vast knowledge of who this special man was and what his life was like. They amazed me with all of their new learning each day. While I wanted my class to identify all of those important details, I also wanted them to understand what a biography was and how it is written. First I asked my class how we could find out information about somebody specific. They gave some real good answers, but they weren't going in the direction I wanted them to go in. So, I had to help out a little, and I did this by asking them what an "interview" was. Hmmm....that kind of stumped them. I then had to explain to them that we use interviews to find out more about something or someone. I gave them some examples and then they had a better understanding. We then made an anchor chart of some really great question words. Now, any of you who teach at this level know first hand that this age group has a really hard time generating questions. Most of the time their idea of asking a question is simply telling you something that is irrelevant to the topic at hand. So, we spent a fair amount of time practicing what good questions sounded like. I even had them turn and ask their partners questions throughout the lesson.
The next day I explained to my class that they would be writing a biography of another student in our class. They would do this by first interviewing that student. WOW! They were so excited. We reviewed our anchor chart on good question words. Then we got started making a new chart of questions that we might like to ask our partner to find out more information about them. I took that list and created a template for them to use when they interviewed their partner. We read through all of the sentences before heading off to interview. It was so neat walking around the room and watching these interviews take place. I planned ahead and paired my lower children with my higher children. I wanted to make sure they would experience success with this activity on an independent level. Also, I modeled the interview process with another student before I sent them off to complete the interviews. You can click here to download the template that I used. It is in powerpoint so you can edit it if you wish. The font that I used was Hello Firstie by the fabulous Jen Jones.
The next day we sat together with our interview papers and started the process of taking the questions from the template and putting them into complete sentences onto our "official" biography writing paper. This was a little time consuming and it took 2 class sessions. But, it was a great review for so many skills. I'm planning on binding our biographies together into a book once I receive all of the completed sheets. I still have a few stragglers who are working hard to finish and I don't want to leave anybody out!
You can click here to download the biography writing paper.
Font: The Basic Apple
Thanks for hanging in there with me. Hope you all have a great week! Tomorrow is our 100th day of school! YIPPEE!!!!!!