Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

10/Apr/2017
by Denise Krebs
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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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06/Sep/2015
by Denise Krebs
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Blog Posts for Day 3

My first students from Bahrain are in grade 2 now. I had them in Kindergarten, and now I get to be their teacher again.

It is only the third day of school, and we are already on a mission to be bloggers, contributing to the world. I’m not helping my students with their blog posts (unless they ask me for the proper spelling or for some specific help). You will see some mistakes in their writing, but it will be exciting to see their progress over the course of the year.

There will be a pearl of wisdom awarded to students when they write their first blog post all by themselves–with one or no errors, publishing it themselves. For now, I’m publishing them. And today I accidentally published this one here on my blog instead of on our Krebs Class Blog, but I like it, so I left it here.

By A17

I like the school wee read and write and wee all play on the recess

By B12

I like my school I like to write and read Al raja school is my best school and thanks for techers

06/Nov/2014
by Denise Krebs
7 Comments

Finding My Way in Kindergarten Genius Hour

After teaching grades 7 and 8 for seven years, it was a challenge for me to go down to Kindergarten. The first few months, the way was treacherous. Now looking back, after eight months or so, I can say overall it has been a delight, and I know it was a gift I didn’t even know I needed.

I find I can practice what I learned in my Master’s program; that is, teaching young children literacy. Most importantly, though, the children are “wonderful, marvelous, beautiful, magical, filled with curiosity and dreams.” (Lyrics by Debbie Clement) They are loving and open. They are learning sponges with big, growing brains.

But how can I do genius hour with them? I wondered. I loved the engaged ownership in junior highers when they were given a chance to learn what they wanted in what we call genius hour.

As Faige Meller has suggested, genius hour in kindergarten may look like a maker space. In this tweet, she says making is what kindergarteners do and, in fact, makers are who they are. (Be sure to read Krissy’s original post too.)

I believed in making, but I didn’t know much about Kindergarten. I had learned to trust Faige, though, so when I saw her tweet last March, I began to run with her ideas in Kindergarten. I began collecting supplies and asking families to do so, as well. We have quite a collection, and we go through a lot of materials.

A genius hour sculpture

When I learn something new about brain research, I share it with my Kindergarteners too. They are not too young, and even though I’m speaking a foreign language to them (they are native Arabic speakers), they understand enough. They know they are capable and creative, and as they create, they get smarter. And they know that as they learn two languages, they get bigger brains too!

A matchbox car garage

So, we are definitely still making our way (pun intended), but we’ve had some huge successes. After we made a small couch for our reading center as a group project, one boy took on the task of making a very small chair with the ten juice bottles we had recently accumulated. He needed lots of help, but that’s where I came in handy, helping to wrestle the juice bottles and operate the hot glue gun and packaging tape. He was the maker. I was the sous maker taking my orders from him.

The little chair finished and ready for a cover.

Genius hour in Kindergarten. It’s happening. We are calling it that, we are making and learning, but I am always open to suggestions you might have for helping us do it better!

Please leave a link in the comments to your primary genius hour projects and process. Or share on Twitter with the hashtag #PrimaryGH.

Our growing collection of maker furniture

11/Dec/2013
by Denise Krebs
6 Comments

Creative and Authentic – That’s What Parents Save

I’m moving soon. We are on the countdown, and it’s now 12 days to moving day.

This is a move of prodigious proportions. We have sold our house and furniture. We are going through all our additional belongings and saving only the most important. We have digitized VHS tapes, micro tapes, and even home movies on DVDs.

Today I went through all the saved school work from grades K-8 of Daughter #1.

More worksheets

AR certificates, math worksheets, spelling tests

So much of what I looked through was easy to decide what to do with. Into the trash can went high stakes test results, report cards, Accelerated Reader certificates, and worksheets.

It doesn’t matter if a student is a high achiever or a low achiever, no parent wants to have years worth of test scores and reports cards that give little information about who their child really is. Most of the report cards had meaningless letter grades with few heartfelt comments. Year after year of high stakes test results don’t show anything worth knowing about my daughter or her education.

Those A.R. certificates remind me of how teachers over the years required my children to read on their tested level. That’s one way to squelch the love of reading–telling a sixth grader she has to read books on a high school level. Really? What is the purpose of Accelerated Reader anyway? It doesn’t promote a love of lifelong reading.

Worksheets. We have stored hundreds of our daughter’s worksheets over the last two decades. Really, no child has ever been deeply invested in a worksheet, have they? Twenty years later and that is even more evident. These were easy to throw away. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for all the hours my daughter wasted on some of these activities.

This looked hopeful…

 

What was in the proud papers folder? More worksheets.

Ironically, I didn’t save one piece of paper from the Proud Papers Folder.  This teacher didn’t understand that what makes a child proud is not papers marked with 100% or “Great Job.”  Children are proud when they invest in authentic work and do an excellent job because they are passionately involved.

To be sure, there were many items to save. I now have half a tub of  letters, science fair reports, artwork, proposals, (my favorite is a “professionally” written proposal to her dad and me for turning our pool house into a club house for her and her friends). Today, while looking through her things, I had fun reading her beautiful poetry and the personal experience narratives that made me laugh and remember.

Some she did all on her own, outside of class. Some were assigned by teachers, like this Pandora’s box made during a unit on ancient Greece.

But all are authentic and creative.  That’s what I saved.

Horrible things in Pandora’s Box, like spinach and Brussels sprouts

11/Oct/2013
by Denise Krebs
Comments Off on Meaning Makers or Empty Vessels

Meaning Makers or Empty Vessels

Do your assignments treat children as:

  • meaning makers
  • active processers of learning
  • wrestlers of ideas

Or do your assignments treat children as:

  • empty vessels to be filled
  • passive processers of your assignments
  • mindless direction followers

Read more about “Rethinking Homework” by Alfie Kohn.

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