I thought I would share my example of the pumpkin character that I created for our classroom. As you can see, I did not use a novel, but your child has free choice of which book and character they want to do the book report on. Does your child's pumpkin have to be this fancy? Not at all, but whomever sees the work should be able to tell who the character is! Does the character has to have the full body? Again, this is completely left up to you. I did sew up the little trousers, but everything is attached with a glue gun! Obviously the easiest way to get an orange pumpkin to turn brown was to paint it. You do NOT have to purchase a styrofoam pumpkin either. The main purpose of this assignment is for the students to have fun connecting with a story and then make some memories as your family works on this little bit of creativity together. Not so long ago, I had children at school and I did not want to be trying to put together a project the night before it was due. That's why there was lots of time to do this. Can't wait to see all the pumpkin characters next Tuesday!
A few years ago, I moved to making my classroom a 'no hands up' area. Still students are used to this usual way of getting attention. What I use instead are these little plastic pencils that have a student's name written on each one. I can pull out a name after asking a question ensuring that everyone has thought of an answer because they do not know whose name will come out of the cup. I also use these pencils to create groups, either by colour, or numbers or by the shapes. I pulled out these four pencils and the four children with their names on them, became a group for working on an assignment in Social Studies.
Why do students work in groups so often? The easy answer is that it gets them ready for the real world. Think of how many times in different types of employment, groups of people must get together to talk about issues, solve problems or share ideas. That is an important skill and the curriculum asks teachers to ensure that those skills are taught, and opportunities for practise be given. It allows the students to recognize that they can work even when there is a 'buzz' of activity going on. It assists them in learning how to focus.
It also gives them opportunities to learn from each other. Students in 21st century classrooms are expected to find information on their own. It amazes me how many times my own boys bring an electronic device to the table during supper, but most often it is to share a news story that they were reading, or to 'look up' something that we are discussing. Students today are learning to be consumers of information. In both of the pictures above, the students, in groups of four, were working to find answers using text and maps. If they weren't sure if they were correct, they had someone to 'turn and talk' to.
You may hear all about 'Kaboom Kabobs' today. Our 'apple school' director worked with the health teachers this month to focus on making better choices for snacks. They discussed the difference, for example, between fresh fruit, canned fruit in syrup and 'fruit roll-ups.' The two Grade 3 classes spent some time this afternoon, planning and then creating healthy alternatives to prepackaged snacks.
They loved to be involved and readily took on the 'hands on' challenge.
Everyone of them came back saying how much they loved this snack idea! We should 'run' with it and get our children involved with packing their lunches with healthy (and nutritious) snacks!