Sunday, April 17, 2011

Super Student Teacher's Super Power: Differentiation!

Students at the elementary level vary greatly, to maximize students' individual potential, as a super student teacher I will aspire to attend to the differences!

The Four Elements: Based on student readiness, interest and learning profile I will use to differentiate...

1) Content- what the student needs to know or how the student will gain access to information.

When writing lesson plans I present ideas through both auditory and and visual means. My lessons include: A Reteach and Extension: For lower and higher level learners.

Visual and Audio Tour of the Solar System! Presented by Super Student Teacher.

2) Process- activities in which the student engages in order to make sense of the content.

My favorite thing to incorporate is manipuletives or other hands-on supports for students. Using tiered activities and varying the length of time a student may need to complete a task is also a way I may choose to differentiate a lesson.

Fabio Fractionelli InteractiveTri-fold: Students use different manipulatives to express fractions!
Created and designed by Super Student Teacher for Grade Level 1.
3) Products- culminating projects that ask the student to rehearse, apply and extend what they have

Depending on the grade level: I enjoy giving students options of how to express the required learning (eg. create a puppet show, write a letter, create a mural). Allowing students to work alone or in small groups to complete a project. Providing rubrics to match and extend students' varied skill levels.

Solar System Unit: Students had a choice to work in small group to create all 8 planets from the solar system...

...and then measure their distances apart....



Students could choose to work individually on creating their own planet including a written description of their planet.

 4) Learning Environment- the way the classroom works and feels.

Some learners need to move around to learn, some learners do better sitting quietly. Depending on the lesson: I make sure there are places in the room to work quietly and without distraction, as well as places that invite student collaboration. Another strategy, develop routines that allow students to get help when I can't help them immediately (The Buddy System). 

 (Buddy Support System)
Assigned Buddies: Lower level learner and higher level learner pair sit close for anticipated needed support.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

March Math Olympics: Super Student Teacher Trains Fourth Grade Mathletes for the Gold on the Math State Test

Students worked together to solve graphing word problem at station 4.
For the Olympics teams train together weekly with the guidance of their coaches to push themselves hard to the get to the next level with the ultimate goal of placing first and receiving the Gold Medal! For the Olympics everyone works hard together…

I was lucky enough to have had the opportunity to sit in on a faculty meeting one morning in January. The faculty discussed ways that the teachers might reteach the material students scored poorly on the recent State Math Pre-Test. As I sat and listened my math wheels started turning inside my head!
The following day I wrote up a proposal for a March Math Olympics and presented it to the principal eager to hear her thoughts. She loved it! She encouraged me to introduce my grand idea to the fourth grade teachers as soon as possible. Many teachers loved my idea, but declined to embrace the idea for their own classroom explaining they didn't have the extra time. However, my cooperating teacher agreed to find the time and implement this innovative unit plan within our own classroom.
So after the break this enthusiastic Super Student Teacher three times a week became a specialty math coach for her fourth grade primary mathletes. The class was broken into teams (blue, red, yellow, green) and three times a week covered 3 of the 15 math topics the students struggled with on the math pre-test.

The math material was introduced or re-introduced using “hands on” activities to teach the material at each math station. Teams rotated between 4 work stations.The work stations actively engaged the students. It allowed each team to collaborate with their peers positively and  the chance to get up out of their seats and move around  the classroom.

At the end of each week the team took a collaborative mini test (9 questions; 3 from each topic). The tests were scored and their math coach proudly announced the Math Olympic team with the highest score for that week! (Recorded on a Math Olympic score board in the back of the room).The winning team of the week received extra snack time.

At the end of the month the teams' scores were tallied together and 1st, 2nd, 3rd  and 4th place teams were announced. The gold medal was awarded to the 1st place team. (A chocolate coin on a string and received a special privilege for the following week).

The ultimate goal was to bring up the math testing scores from the math state pre-test. Students’ working together as Math Olympians is a fun way to prepare for the state test. More importantly the students worked together as a collaborative team which promoted positive peer interaction and a sense of solidarity in the classroom!



Students really loved the math workstations! Math was no longer dark and dreary. Students weren't being asked to" Sit still!" and "Pay attention to the overhead!"... Math Olympic workshop allowed math to become a time to interact, move around the room and enjoy solving math fraction problems as a team.

This math workshop changed the students view on math! It literally changed their learning environment. Students would come in to class every morning excited to learn. The most gratifying feeling was when I was surrounded by a group of smiling faces all wanting to know," Are we going to do math workshop today?"

Created by Super Student Teacher

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Topic: History of New York: The Underground Railroad

This lesson was so much fun to design and teach!
Fourth Grade: History of New York: The Underground Railroad
I began the lesson by surprising the students by dressing in an "UGRR “Conductor” Costume" holding an UGRR quilt. The students became immediatley engaged asking many questions including, "Who are you supposed to be and why are you holding a quilt?" This began my introduction to how New York State played an important role during the transport of runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad. I taught the lesson in character of the mysterious UGRR conductor until the end of the lesson when students eagerly shouted out my identity as being Harriet Tubman.
Students really enjoyed the Power Point Presentation I created and presented which included famous New York "conductors" on the UGRR and actual photographs of New York "safe houses". (Many of which still stand today on Long Island, Brooklyn and Rochester, New York). Students interests were peaked further when discovering the way many slaves relayed hidden messages; including hidden codes on quilt blocks to help runaway slaves find the route to freedom.
 Then the students were asked to get up from their seats and move to the rug. Using a chart I guided students as they filled out a graphic organizer to review the information and vocabulary from the Power Point Presentation. To conclude the lesson students students returned to their seats to design their own quilt code on a quilt block by iillustrating one of the 12 vocabulary words which included the written definition on the inside of the quilt block.
The students' quilt blocks were combined to create a New York UGRR Quilt which served as a Vocabulary Word Wall. This Word Wall Quilt became an interactive bulletin board; students during free time were eager to use the "quilt" to quiz themselves on each new vocabulary word from the unit. I was quite impressed with their enthusiasm and creative art work! ( Photos of lesson and students work at the end of post).

* I also provided students with UGRR picture books to explore during independent reading:

Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom --Weatherford/Nelson

Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky -- F. Ringgold

Henry's Freedom Box --Levine/ Nelson

Under the Quilt of Night -- D. Hopkinson

Sweet Claa and the Freedom Quilt -- D. Hopkinson

The Patchwork Path -- B. Stroud

The Listeners -- G. Whelan

Eliza's Freedom Road -- J. Nolen

Brother & Me: A Historical Novel -- K. Velsor

Lesson Plan Overview:

ELA 1: Language for Information and Understanding
Social Studies 1: History of United States and New York
Arts 1: Creating, Performing and Participating in the Arts


  • Students will define 12 vocabulary words from the Underground Railroad using a vocabulary quilt chart.
  • Students will illustrate an understanding of the definition of vocabulary words on a quilt block.
  • Students will create a word wall quilt by combining each of the illustrated quilt blocks to design an Underground Railroad Quilt bulletin board.
  • Linguistic: Oral PowerPoint Presentation on the UGRR
  • Logical: The definitions will be written in the correct boxes of the vocabulary worksheet chart.
  • Content: Define UGRR vocabulary
  • Strategy: Visuals; PowerPoint and Vocabulary Charts.

Photos From Super Student Teachers NY UGRR Lesson....

Costume and Quilt!

Power Point Presentation

Students Engaged In Lesson

Vocabulary Quilt Chart

Student Illustrating Vocabulary Quilt Block

Complete Vocabulary Word Wall

Cover Of Interactive Quilt Block

Inside Definition of Quilt Block

New York UGRR Vocab Word Wall In Use!!!! See Below...

 Students quizzing themselves on UGRR vocabulary.

My Philosophy

All Students Are Capable of Learning

I believe an exceptional classroom provides an exciting educational adventure in which both the teacher and the students are participants. Engaging students in the learning process through different mediums such as technology, art and music, promotes active learning and fosters critical thinking. I promote an actively creative learning environment where students are encouraged to interpret, analyze, and predict by using “hands on” learning experiences. As an aspiring educator I design lessons for differentiated instruction to accommodate all learning styles, abilities, and interests. In my recent experience as an elementary student teacher I have found my philosophy true; students who are creatively stimulated are fully engaged in the learning process and will not only retain information, but also will be motivated to learn more!

Super Student Teacher and Fourth Grade Students
Behavioral Reward: Face Paint Party (March 2011)
Created by Melissa Masci-Bernstein

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Patricia Polacco Author Study!!!!

My favorite children's author and illustrator, Patricia Polacco, came to Huntington Village to do a book signing. I missed this amazing event but decided to turn lemons into lemonade by creating an author study and share Patricia Polacco's stories with my first grade class. I dressed up as the author and transformed the classroom's reading corner into the magical world of Patricia Polacco!

Below is the Interdisciplinary Unit I designed for the Author Study which I began this week!

Author Study: Patricia Polacco
Book List: Meteor, Thunder cake, Babushka’s Doll.

Performance Objective
Assessment Instrument
Lesson 1
Students will write in complete sentence form one wish. 
Students will create a book mark and list three facts they learned about Patricia Polacco.
Meteor Wish
And Book Mark.
Lesson 2

Students will list a recipe for a storm and include an illustration.
Storm Recipe on Cake Cut- Out.
Lesson 3

Students in pairs will create a doll and write instructions on how to take care of the doll.

Doll Craft and Instructions.
Lesson 4

In groups students will create a picto- graph to represent their favorite Patricia Polacco book.
Group Picto-Graphs.

Culminating Activity

Students will write a class letter to Patricia Polacco, thanking the author for “coming to their school.”
Students will work together to paint images from their favorite P.P. book on the envelope.
Class Letter and
Large Painted Envelope.

**Optional: Culminating Bulletin Board: To display student work throughout the Author Study.

(Monday) Lesson 1: Introduction to Author Patricia Polacco.


Students will listen and respond to a presentation on the life of Author Patricia Polacco.
Students will listen and respond to a read aloud of Patricia Polacco’s first book Meteor.
Students will write in complete sentence form; one wish on a meteor cut out.
Students will present their wish to the class.

 Slide show overview of lesson:

Read Aloud METEOR!

Q&A: Making predictions and checking for comprehension.

Class closes eyes to elicit visualization.

"Your meteor is falling!!"...(sound effect produced by large rattle)

Meteors falling from the sky into students laps while their eyes are shut.

Students are engaged with lesson, surprised to find  a meteor has really fallen into their laps!

Modeling how to write a complete sentence.

Independent practise: Writing a complete sentence. (Student writes her wish on meteor cut out.)

Conclusion: Students present their "wish" in complete sentence form to the class.

Student sharing his meteor wish.  "I wish that I can play the guitar with my friends".

Meteor Wish.

Extension: Students will list 3 facts they learned about author Patricia Polacco on a book mark worksheet.

I'm not sure who enjoyed this lesson more, me or the students! Students were engaged by me dressing up and really enjoyed the sound effects and meteor wish activity. I was extremely impressed by the students extension activity, everyone was able to write down 3 facts about the author, most wrote in  great detail!Later in the week students took home a Patricia Polacco book from the school library, and shared what they learned about this amazing author and illustrator with their families.