Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Start of Summer School (+ Freebie)

Today was the first day of summer school. I had know idea what to expect. We had a roster with 16 names on it...that's it!! We didn't know what grade they were in, what (if any) disability they had, if they required a para professional...nothing! Oh and to top it off the teacher I run the program with couldn't be there because she had to be at a class of her own. So here I am with 16 students (per class), 3 volunteers and my lifesaver best friend who stepped in to co-teach with me while my counter part was gone. Having my bestie there was the best thing that could ever happen. We are pretty much the same person and know what the other person wants just my looking at each other. She was able to follow my lesson plans, my bullet points, my 3 minute oral directions at the beginning of the 3 hour class to a tee!

Our summer program "Explore" focuses on reading, writing and math improvement for students with an IEP or who are considered at-risk, grades K-5. I love working in the summer because I get a chance to work with the "littles". They are just so stinkin' cute! Don't get me wrong, I love working with my drama filled, boy crazy, sport loving 4th and 5th graders. But it's just something about the littles that makes my heart melt. Maybe it's the pure innocence of everything in life. Every moment is a teachable one.

Alright, alright enough of that...let's get onto what we did. It was a jammed packed 3 hours but it couldn't have ran more smooth. Someone was a little shy to enter the room, he sat out there for a good 50 minutes until he got enough courage the come in...or until he couldn't wait any longer to eat the goodies we had laying out for him.

For math we started off by having students make the number they selected 10 different ways. We had the older students make sure to include at least 2 number sentences for an added challenge. The younger students had pre-made tally marks, ten frames and number words to choose from. The differentiation for this task was perfect and allowed all of the students to achieve the same objective in the same room.

It was then time for a tasty snack so we pulled out some M&M's. For this activity we had the older students go to our other room, since this task required more direct instruction. I had the littles sort their M&M's on sorting mats.

We then made a graph together. I called the students up 1 by 1 and had them color as many spaces as they needed. This was a great task because it required the students to count up from a specific number instead of always starting at one. Some of our kiddos were even able to add 10 quickly. I was so impressed.

The older students completed the same task but they had their own graph and answered questions about their graph individually instead of whole group like the littles.

Once we finished with a color they were allowed to eat those candies....they said we were torturing them by making them wait soooo long to eat them.

For reading we focused our day on Chrysanthemum, by Kevin Henkes. I absolutely adore his stories and couldn't have selected a better story to start off the summer. I started off by introducing a pink paper heart. I told the students that throughout the story they would hear some hurtful words. We were going to take turns passing the heart around and every time they heard a hurtful word they would have to crinkle up the heart. As I read the story the students did a nice job passing the heart around and only crinkling at the correct times. I asked questions and did some partner shares during the read aloud to keep them moving and engaged. At the end of the story we tried to "iron" out the wrinkles but no matter how hard we tried it still wasn't perfectly smooth/mended. This was a lot of fun because it allowed a visual representation of how someone's heart may feel after being hurt. Visuals are soo important for our little fellows, especially those with autism.

After reading the story we filled out our anchor chart together. I was very interested to see how this went but surprisingly the older students allowed some think time and gave the littles a chance to respond.

Once we had an understanding of feelings, worries, kind words and traits, we went on to creating our own, About Me pages. Most of the K-2 students required adult support to complete this activity but they did a nice job.

And I had to slip this one in here because apparently he has no worries in life :)

During writing we talked about bucket lists. We made a giant list of all of the things we would like to accomplish before we "got old" together.

 I then told the students that we were going to make a summer bucket list. I showed them an example of mine. I created 3 different size paper templates for our varying ability levels. Instead of sharing my summer bucket list as a whole, I split the kids up by ability levels and shared my "just write paper" story with each group. I thought sharing it in small groups would allow the students to focus on exactly what they were supposed to do instead of seeing all of the examples and ask why they couldn't write less.

They worked hard creating their bucket lists and then colored these cute bucket and shovel pictures (available here in the clip art pack). We cut them out and pasted them to a large piece of construction paper next to our summer bucket list stories. These will be great to have on their wall during the summer. We thought about putting a sticker next to their item if they completed it. Get your very own FREE copy of our bucket list activity here!

All in all I would say our first day of summer school went great! I am looking forward to 6 more weeks of fun filled, jammed packed days! What summer activities do you do if you teach during the summer?

***Just for fun, who doesn't like cowboy boots, in Michigan, on a humid day with basketball shorts?

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  1. These look great! I'm glad the activities we planned went well. I just wish I could've been there to see them happen. Can't wait until next week!

  2. Wish you could have been there as well. They will love love love you next week when more technology is introduced! I'm going hi-tech tomorrow. Dictionary on the iPad!!