Halloween Miracle

Wait, maybe I’ve got the wrong holiday…

Well, it’s been a week since my last posting about some of my in-class frustrations and I am happy to report that I have made some great strides forward. Thank you to my teacherfriends who responded and offered suggestions, encouragement and their time. I continue to take your words to heart and use them in my continued efforts to be more effective in the classroom.

So starting on Halloween I will be embarking on a new schedule where I get to have the students all to myself for an additional 2-hour time block each week. The time block will be dedicated to English learning that is connected to whatever theme the students are learning about in their “Unit of Inquiry.” We are currently finishing up a unit focused on the five senses and taking care of our bodies.

In conjunction with our upcoming unit on safe and unsafe/clean and unclean environments I have developed a long-term reading comprehension using Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Charlie lives in a house that is unsafe/unclean and the factory is filled with various situations and environments that are unsafe/unclean. Additionally, it’s a good follow-up to our unit about taking care of our bodies (i.e. Augustus Gloop and Mike Teavee don’t take care of their bodies).—okay it’s a bit of a stretch, but I think it will be a fun unit and great for them to have a reading comprehension at least once a week (I’ll be reading 2 chapters at a time).  I am also doing spelling tests once a week since many of our parents expressed an interest in having more English-based spelling for their children.

Simply put, I am sticking up for my ideas more within our group planning meetings and as a result, I even have a Halloween triumph for you all.

Yesterday, during group planning, I came in with a detailed plan for a special Halloween party based in English learning. I successfully showed that I could incorporate both English and UOI learning aspects while keeping it fun and exposing the students to a new holiday. I even developed a way to have the party arranged so that both classes participate together without things getting out of hand. By putting the students from both classes (total of 29 students) into six groups that mix students from both classes, and having the groups rotate into different activities I can create an atmosphere where the students might make new friendships and where I can work on encouraging more good will between the two first grade classes.

The activities I am planning include puzzles that will teach them their new Halloween spelling words, crafts where they will get to create spiders and bats out of used egg cartons, coloring where they get to draw the face onto a jack-o-lantern and even a bingo game where they will get to use some of their new English Halloween vocabulary. Additionally, I will be giving many of my students the opportunity to go trick or treating for their first time. I can’t wait to see my little guys’ faces when they take their goody bags to the school offices and library and receive candy.

Lastly, in preparation for the big spook day, I will be having my students do a short reading comprehension about the holiday to help them learn about the traditions of October 31st. We will also be watching a few short clips from The Great Pumpkin, because everyone knows that it’s not Halloween without a little Charlie Brown.

All of this was my idea—start to finish—and all of it was welcomed and praised by my coworkers.

So I think that this is the start of a new chapter in my role within my classrooms. A chapter where I don’t fade into the background…because I’m much more than a human dictionary!

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