Sunday, September 27, 2015

Be a Problem Solver, Not a Problem Maker

"We're all good people. Sometimes we just don't make the right choices."
- Khila

Khila's quote is a great example of how we wrapped up our "unit" on team building this week. Since the beginning of school we have really been focusing on how our actions affect others, how it's important to stop and think when we respond to situations, and how we all have choices when it comes to challenging situations.

One thing our whole class agreed upon is that when you are frustrated, upset, and angry, it's hard to stop and make the right choice. We also all agreed that nobody is perfect; even grown-ups could sometimes make different choices about how we respond when we are upset. But we all agreed that our goal will be to choose actions that will help solve problems that are happening instead of making more problems.

What does is mean to make more problems? The kids had some really great ideas not only about what problem solvers do, but WHY they do those things. Here is the chart we created together, and yes, these were all of the kids' ideas!

After we thought about how quick and easy it is to respond with a choice that make more problems, we brainstormed all of the things that problem solvers do. I think we could have probably filled up two or three charts, but these were the top answers and the "whys" behind them.

As Khila said, we all know that we will never be problem solvers 100% of the time. We are all humans and everybody makes mistakes. But if we can get ourselves to stop and think before we act sometimes, hopefully we will start solving more problems than making problems bigger.

This will continue to be a theme throughout the entire year, and you can use this as a reminder for your kids' at home. We are specifically focusing on the why behind the actions to help us better understand how to make a different choice.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Understanding Genre

We have been talking about a new, fancy grown-up word the last few days, and that word is genre. Genre is a word we use that means different types of books. Books are split into two main categories, fiction and nonfiction, and there are many different genres in each of those categories. So far we have learned about fantasy books and science fiction books. Both of these are examples of fiction genres.

So what can you do to help your child understand what types of books he or she is reading? A simple way is to ask if they are reading a fiction or a nonfiction text. The pictures below give the definition we're using in class and some examples of each. Understanding the types of books that they are reading and the purpose for those books often helps kids start to understand books a little better. While we will be talking about all of the different genres of books during the next week, this is a topic we will review throughout the year so keep asking your child what kind of book they are reading!

We typically read nonfiction books because we would like to learn something new. Nonfiction books include facts, and they often have photographs and a variety of different text tools like a table of contents, an index, captions, and many others.

We typically read fiction books for entertainment. Fiction books are stories that include characters, setting, a plot (problem events), and a resolution. There are many different types of fiction genres including fantasy, realistic fiction, historical fiction, fairy tales, folktales, and myths.

Pep Rally

Tomorrow night is Bear Creek Night at the Elizabethtown Area High School football game. All of the kids brought home blue tickets in their homework folders today. If you take that ticket to the football game, the kids will get in free. To celebrate Bear Creek Night, we held a pep rally today. The entire school met in the bus lot to hear from some football players, cheer with the cheerleaders, and clap along to the band. Take a look at the pictures and videos below to enjoy some of the excitement. And don't forget to wear your blue and white tomorrow to celebrate our second school spirit day!

The band played while everybody met out front.

Dr. Spagnolo and Mr. Kingsborough led the cheers!

The football team thanked us for our support and invited us to tomorrow night's game.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Teamwork and a Positive Mindset

Our second week of school was just as busy as the first, and we wrapped up with a special activity with Mrs. DelMarcelle. Mrs. DelMarcelle is our instructional coach at Bear Creek. She teaches some clinics, and she co-teaches with classroom teachers to help them try out new techniques and strategies. To help us get to know her a little better, she came to our classroom and helped us do a teamwork activity.

The object of the activity was to use 12 straws and an 18 inch piece of masking tape to make a golf ball catcher. Our teams had only 12 minutes to make our catcher, and it was a challenge!! Some teams got to work right away, and other teams had some disagreements in the plan. In the end none of our groups were able to catch the golf ball, but we learned some really valuable lessons about working together and listening to each other. We are going to try and use these lessons as we move through the year.

Working together to make the golf ball catcher

Everybody had a job to do

Brainstorming a plan for their catcher

Another big thing that we are trying to work on is our attitude. Many of the things we'll do this year are very challenging, and a lot of students are very quick to give up when the going gets tough. If you're wondering how to talk to your child about having a more positive attitude, here are some phrases you can try. Next time you hear your child say one of these phrases in white, try rephrasing with one of these colored phrases to help them develop perseverance and a growth mindset.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Off to a Busy Start

It has been a busy first 6 days in the Bair's Den! We celebrated our "Happy New Year" by learning how to open our lockers, getting to know each other a little better, and learning a lot about how things work around Bear Creek.

The students on Team Kit Kat (or team 4A) got to learn how similar we are by playing 20 questions. The teachers would ask a question, and we would stand up and give a high 5 to others who answered the same as us. Some of the questions included, "Have you ever flown in an airplane?" and, "Do you have more than 4 brothers and sisters?" We also found out who has lived in other states and who went to another state for vacations this summer. It was great to get to know each other and make some new friends!

Kit Kat kids and teachers playing 20 questions

Besides decorating our doors, we had a "New Years Celebration" before lunch on the first day of school! All of the fourth graders came out in the hallway and used noise makers to celebrate the new year. It was quite the noisy experience, but it was a lot of fun. Our final special New Year's celebration was to make our own party hats. We decorated the hats with things that told a little about ourselves, and as you can see we make quite a handsome crew!

Throughout the first 6 days we have been focused on being good teammates. We are thinking about how our actions affect others, we took our first pretest and started our math classes, we're learning how to do classroom routines like Read to Self and Work on Writing, and we're all learning to find our place at Bear Creek. So it has definitely been a busy week, but don't worry; even with all that work we Bair's Den kids - we still know how to have some fun!!

Yup - we are super silly!