Category Archives: Uncategorized

Guided Discovery Lesson Plan: Cubbies

This lesson introduces students to the their classroom cubbies. The lesson allows the class as a whole to determine what is the appropriate use of a cubby and how to best care for them.

What is a Guided Discovery?
It is a student-centered approach to introducing materials and routines in the classroom, developed by the folks at Responsive Classroom. According to Lynn Bechtel and Paula Denton,

The primary goal of Guided Discovery is to generate interest and excitement about classroom resources and help children explore their possible uses. Guided Discovery also provides opportunities to introduce vocabulary, assess children’s prior knowledge, and teach responsible use and care of materials.

I would add that Guided Discoveries also build community.  Students are asked to listen to each other, compliment one another, and really see and hear the work and ideas of their peers.  Using this strategy I have built compassionate, organized, and respectful classrooms.


Teachers Love Tech

My love for tech begins at a personal level.  I plan my life (and my lessons) on iCalendar. I create invites, worksheets, game handouts and more with Word and/or Pages.  All of my music comes from the web (check out Songza). Wunderlist is my current favorite to-do list. I Skype with my parents overseas. My news comes from Flipboard.

But, as an educator, I love technology even more.  At the most basic level, technology in the classroom can be a resource and a motivator.  I often use videos, images and websites to demonstrate or introduce abstract concepts.  Games are an engaging way to get kids to practice their basic facts and word work.  The web is also an invaluable source of information during research projects.

At its best, integrated tech supports higher-level thinking.  Using social media, students are asked to analyze, comment, pass judgement and support their thinking on content.  My favorite is when students combine content in creative ways to produce new and innovative content.

Turns out, I’m not the only one who loves tech in the classroom (duh!).  Allison Morris at passed along this infographic revealing technologies growing role and value among educators.  Enjoy!

What do we Know Infographic

SOLSC: A Visit From the Director

We could have been working on our writing curriculum.  We could have been reviewing the accreditation materials.  Instead we were telling stories.  There were stories about our students, and there were stories about our own children.  The room was filled with laughter.

That’s when I saw him.  He opened the door to the classroom, and quietly entered.  No one skipped a beat.  Stories cascaded from one another.  He took a seat. It was a rowdy scene as we joyfully celebrated the funny things kids say and do.  It’s not mean.  It’s part of the craft – part of loving kids.  Like a group of camp counselors, we delighted in a child-free moment.

There was a brief lull.  In the seconds before another story could emerge, our director spoke up.  “I remember when…” He regales us with an anecdote about a friend’s daughter.  And this is the catalyst for another surge of storytelling.  This is what makes us a community.

“Stories are there to help us make sense of the world and our place in it, and to share it with those who, by necessity or invitation, are in our circle.”
Stephanie Leibowitz

SOLSC: Dancing with Her Mom

Her mom didn’t want to come.  “I don’t speak so good English,” she tells me.  I try to explain that this is not a problem.  “You can speak in Russian.  She really wants you to come.”  When A saw her mother, she begged.  With her hands clasped in prayer, she pleaded, “Please!” The last thing I saw as I left was A erasing her name from the student-led conference sign-up sheet.

But, when I arrived at school today – her name was back on the schedule.  When A arrived with her mom, I squealed in delight, “You came!”  A was so proud. She glowed with joy as she shared her portfolio.  As they thumbed through the pages they laughed and giggled.

As part of her conference, A was excited to show her mom the Brain Dance, a major component of our unit of inquiry on dance. And so they danced.


SOLSC: As If He’d Always Been There

When the new boy arrived today, I was so sad to tell him that the one boy in our class was out sick.  I was sure the new kid would be lonely and friendless on his first day.  Speaking only a few words in English, I was having a hard time connecting.  At recess I took him outside and introduced him to the fourth grade boys who were playing soccer.  He jumped right in.

By second recess they were cheering him on, and yelling for him to pass the ball their way.  On our way into lunch, I asked the new boy to wait for me while I put my coat away.  “I’ll show you how to buy lunch,” I said.  From behind me, however, came the voice of J, one of the fourth grade boys.  “I’ll show him, Ms. M,” he said.  “Come on,” said J as he motioned the new boy to walk with him toward the cafeteria.

When I arrived in the cafeteria, J was chatting away with the new boy.  “Do you want one of those?” J said while pointing at a hot dog.  A few of the other fourth grade boys had also chosen the hot dog.  The new kid just nods, and puts it on his tray.  The new boy follows J to a table full of fourth and fifth grade boys who warmly welcome and adopt the new kid, as if he’d always been there.


Creamy Red Sauce

While dicing an onion, she melts 1/2 a stick of butter.  Once sautéed, the onions emit a sweet and pungent smell.  A cup of chicken broth is added to the pan, as well as a can of diced tomatoes.  The smell hits the roof of my mouth, kind of towards the back, and I stand up to get a better look.  She pours a 1/2 cup of red wine, the cheap stuff, and waits for the alcohol to burn off.  The sauce is a pool of blood, until she slowly drizzles in a 1/2 cup of cream.  Maroon fades to a fleshy pink.  She dips a spoon into the sauce and hands it to me for tasting.  Tangy and creamy, it is a tribute to simply good food.

SOLSC: The Beat Goes On

Throbbing to the beat of an unrelenting strobe light, human movement is reduced to mechanical gestures. It’s been seven years since my last visit.  My legs kick to 80’s classics remixed to a contemporary beat. Metallica is transformed into an urban mantra.  Guns and Roses are twisted into a dance wonder.  The floor is covered by the bouncing bodies of a generation educated by YouTube.