Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

by Denise Krebs

“I Am” Metaphor Poems

In the summer I read the blog of Sara Kiffe, with the lovely name of Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast (Teaching Under the Big Sky).  On July 2, she wrote this post, “First Day I Am Poems.” Sara didn’t stop there. Check out Sara’s super summer posts for lessons on Fibonacci PoetryColor Poems and Saving Things Poetry.

I decided to try writing metaphors the first day of school too. I teach English to native Arabic speakers, and I had them only 45 minutes a day the first two days of school. After a mini lesson on metaphors and figurative language, each student wrote one metaphor using one of their senses, a metaphor about themselves. Most of them were able to understand and created their own metaphors.

We hung their first metaphors on a bulletin board in the hallway.

We are learners!

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The next day they wrote a whole poem about themselves using metaphors of all kinds. The images were so sweet and some were just beautiful.

I don’t know much about the Arabic language, but from what others tell me and what I’ve experienced, it is rich in figurative language. In previous years, I’ve noticed my students have always been good at similes and metaphors, and they use them spontaneously in their writing and speaking.

Thanks, Sara, for the inspiration.

First day of school metaphor slides
Student Samples
Templates – Students chose from these to help scaffold their writing

by Denise Krebs

Pink Prepositional Pandemonium

On Thursday I wore a pink top because I like alliteration and I had lots of pink paper.

On Wednesday, I made up my first Breakout EDU game as I sat in the hospital keeping my post-surgery husband company. Since I was there without my computer, all the game pieces were hand-written. Before I had left school for the hospital on Wednesday, I grabbed a small pile of colored paper from the cabinet. When I got started working, I realized most of the paper I took was pink, so that’s what I used for the puzzles. Thus the pink theme was born, and I added Pink to my Prepositional Pandemonium game.

I’m working on a @breakoutedu game for tomorrow!

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It had been several months since my class participated in a Breakout game. It was definitely time to do it again, and I wanted to leave for spring break on a high note. I created the game to use and review prepositional phrases–one of our topics this week.

I reached my goal to end on a high note! They all BROKE OUT, and we had lots of fun!

If all didn’t succeed, no one would breakout.

For this game I decided to make five separate puzzles and assign one to each of five small groups. That way the groups wouldn’t be in each other’s way, while trying to solve all the puzzles. The last time we did a Breakout, all the groups were working independently from the others, trying to open all the locks. It seemed half the time was spent in the queue to try out the combinations they were solving. Not this time. Each group was responsible for just one lock. (They weren’t told which one when they started, but as they solved their puzzle, they could figure out which lock their combination could open.)

Here are brief descriptions of the five games:

  1. Team 1 was given a sheet of sentences that they had to mark the prepositional phrases. The students were to circle the letter at the beginning of each sentence that had only one prepositional phrase. They then had to unscramble the letters to come up with something that was in my pocket, the next thing they needed to solve the problem. After they figured out it was a deck of cards, they had to find the cards that were marked with prepositions and turn those into a five-digit directional lock combination. This was the hardest puzzle for both classes.
  2. Team 2 was given a worksheet as well. They marked sentences that had two or more prepositional phrases. The letters that were circled were unscrambled into a preposition. Students then used that word as the combination for the letter combination lock. This was definitely the easiest puzzle.
  3. Team 3 had a difficult task. It had a math problem: Page 4 + Page 8 = the 3-digit lock box. Since it was page 4 and 8, they did a lot of experimenting with the four guided reading books on the ledge.  I didn’t really give them much information before or during, but eventually they found the UV flashlight. They discovered one highlighted preposition on each of pages 4 and 8 in one of the books. It took them another while to discover they needed the code that was hanging on the board. They then had to add all the numbers in each of those words. That gave them the three-digit code to open the lock box, where they found extra hint cards to help the other teams.
  4. Team 4 was given a page with prepositional phrases written all over in four quadrants. They discovered, after some trial and error, that the phrases were found in one of the books. Each quadrant’s phrases were found on a separate page in the book. They then used those page numbers to open the four-digit combination lock.
  5. Finally, Team 5 was given Hint #1 of a prepositional phrase treasure hunt. The first clue said, “in the dialogue journal basket.” They found the second clue in the dialogue journal basket and continued from there through eight not-so-easy hints. My favorites were “inside a tall desk” and “across the hall.” More about those:
  • We have about five desks that are taller than all the others, so it should have been an easy one, but I taped the clue up on top of the inside of the desk. The students in one class just kept giving up and saying it wasn’t there. I would find students falling away and start helping another group. Occasionally, I would remind someone in that group that if they didn’t break out no one would break out because we needed to open all the locks. They got back to trying, and then finally someone found it. He nearly went through the roof jumping with such excitement!
  • “Across the hall” was another good one. I have English language learners, and in one class no one in this group knew the words hall or across. They used Google Translate and the online dictionary to help them. (I had to give them the word hallway since hall was only a large meeting room in Translate.)
  • Finally, the last clue was “under the carpet,” where they found a key to the padlock on the Breakout box.

Getting Ready for the Breakout!

Here is my Google Document with these Breakout Prepositional Phrase papers. (It’s my #edublogsclub giveaway for your own Breakout game!)

I was really pleased with my first attempt at making a Breakout EDU game. I felt pleased that though I gave myself only one evening to create it, I managed to make it and pull it off without too many glitches. The videos below show the last moments for each class as they opened the box!

I had one disappoint, though. As a result of giving myself only one evening, I felt I defaulted too quickly to worksheets. Yikes! I don’t want to make worksheets part of Breakout EDU, so I am looking for any alternatives to those two worksheets.

Any suggestions on how to improve this game?

She persisted!

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5B figured out how to remove the clasp too!

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by Denise Krebs

Pearls of Wisdom for Second Grade English

Michael Buist's picture of pearls of wisdomflickr photo shared by buistbunch under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

Recently I noticed the above picture on Michael Buist’s Instagram account.

I have watched Michael’s Instagram posts about pearls of wisdom, and I was always curious. This time I asked him if he had written a post about his pearls. Good timing. He was just getting ready to write that post. You can read it on Michael’s Tumblr blog: Pearls of Wisdom Gamify Learning. Be sure to click on that link now and read the post for details about the Pearls of Wisdom. (I’ll wait for you.)

It’s a game. It’s an alternative to grading. It honors the ability of young people to memorize for a lifetime. (I always enjoyed memorizing times tables, presidents, U.S. capitals, and more. I would have loved the pearls of wisdom idea.)

I’m definitely going to try this with second grade English language learners. What would the pearls be for, though? I just finished teaching Kindergarten. For those students, some of the pearls may have been for knowing all the letters and sounds, days of the week, months of the year, and Kindergarten sight words.

For second grade, I need some advice from second grade teachers and teachers of English language learners. I have a limited time with the students, only 3-4 hours a week! What pearls of wisdom would your second grade English language learners earn?

Michael, thank you so much for sharing this awesome idea and write up on your Tumblr account. Thanks for introducing me to two new teachers from KGA. (You can follow Michael and his colleagues here: @BuistBunch, @NusKnights, @notleycrew1, @gforceteach). I have one more question, though. Do the pearls of wisdom stay with the child? Or in the room, as this photo below suggests? Do they stay in the room and students add to them as they earn? Are their names on the string? (Some would have few pearls and hanging up for all to see, right? 🙁 )

Michael's Class #PearlsofWisdom

Michael’s Class #PearlsofWisdom

flickr photo shared by buistbunch under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

by Denise Krebs

What is the Purpose of School?

Recently Oliver Schinkten asked the question, What is the purpose of school? (Read more provocative questions at #QinEd)

My first thought was that was a very big question. I believe the purpose of school is to save our democracy. It’s a frightening thought to consider what America, and other countries, would be like without school. I believe in public education, even with all its problems that will be fixed. I believe our country needs school in order to save itself.

On a more down-to-earth level of school purpose, I liked the idea of communication Joy Kirr shared in this blog post when she answered Oliver’s question.

Certainly communication is the paramount goal of English language learner instruction. I am teaching in a bilingual school in the Kingdom of Bahrain; this year I’m moving up to second grade after 1.5 years in kindergarten. On a day-to-day basis, my goal is much like Joy’s, to use the English language in all its facets to communicate with my English language learners. In addition, I want them to grow in their ability to communicate in English, as well as their native Arabic.

I teach them about what research says about their growing brains when they are learning multiple languages. (Some of them actually speak three or four languages.) I teach them about how they get smarter when they have to struggle to learn something. (SIDEBAR: Join us on 6 August 2015 as we discuss more about using #mindset in the classroom.)

Of course, the reason for all of my teaching is a bigger life lesson.  My purpose is for them to be not only lifelong learners, but creative innovators, collaborators, and confident world-improvers.  What could be a better gift for today’s world than these bilingual innovators from Bahrain using what they’ve learned to make the world a better place? That’s my ultimate purpose in teaching English to second graders.

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