Sunday, May 29, 2011

All Star Academy

What a fantastic week!  All Star Academy is a week, unique to my cutting-edge school, where teachers teach those "fun" things that we don't have time to teach during the year.  Kids choose 4 classes and have an AWESOME time learning new things.  I taught Spanish and there were classes like Golf, Stained Glass, Sewing, Cheerleading, Yoga, All About Dogs, Gardening, Drumming, Quilting, Scrapbooking, Music Production, Dance, Cooking, Weird and Wacky Science, Tessellations, and so much more!  It is an amazing opportunity that both we as teachers, and the students get to do something fun and completely engaging during the last few weeks of school.  This time of year, teachers are usually exhausted and the kids are bouncing off the walls.  I can't say the kids weren't bouncing off the walls (literally during disc golf), but it was in a structured, educationally engaging way.  There were very few discipline problems during a week when they are usually on the rise.  Teachers truly enjoyed what they were teaching and worked hard to deliver excellent and meaningful lessons each day.  I am exhausted after such a high-energy week, but it was totally worth it!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Garner Fine Arts Academy

It's official!  We are becoming a Fine Arts Academy!

We are an elementary school with rigorous academics, an exemplary fine arts program, building a lifetime of wellness while nurturing the gifts and talents of all children. 
We will still have our attendance zone of kids coming to our school, but we are open to transfers and out of district students to attend at no cost!  How cool is that?!  We will be integrating Art, Music, Drama, Dance, language and literature in to EVERYTHING we do!!  So many ideas, so many visions. . .  Do you have any fine arts, after school activity ideas, or connections with the community that would be helpful getting us going?  Let me know.

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I will be doing an after school club for Community Service Learning.  I am so excited.  I love, love, loved the class I taught in college about this same topic. I think the kids will like it too.
This year wraps up in 3 weeks and it's flying by.  The brochure project is going well.  Students are almost done writing and will begin building brochures soon. The stories are precious!!  I'll have to post some when they finish.  They are so heartfelt and hands-down their best writing assignments of the year.  Maybe it's because it's a meaningful topic?  (of course it is).  They are really expanding their topics and adding detail that I have never been able to pull out of them before.  I am so glad we decided to do this.  We are engaged in such meaningful work that we're not even counting the days down.  One of the kids asked me the other day. . ."Mrs. G, are we really going to give these brochures to people?"  "YES!" I replied.  I don't think their work has ever been for a real-life purpose before.  The projects they are working on in Social Studies are awesome too.  They are selling popcorn to raise money for kids that don't have school supplies.  It's another way they are learning that the things they do can actually impact other people. It's an amazing feeling to see them so excited about what they are doing.  My only concern at this point, is how do I make sure the next projects I do are equally as meaningful and engaging?????  I think this project just divinely fell together perfectly because of the situation our school is in and it's the end of the year, so we're reviewing all the skills.  I'm going to be working this summer to look a the curriculum and try to create some projects from it for next year.  Thoughts?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

PBL Implementation

Well, I've started my first PBL project and it's going well!  It's not as scary once you get in there and do it.  I think all the detailed planning and thought that went into creating the project is to thank for the smooth flow.  Of course there were some things that didn't go perfectly.  One of my students commented during my lesson, "Mrs. G, can we do some real work now?"  I guess I wasn't fully engaging him!!  Also, when the kids found out that they were going to have to write a Write From the Beginning Essay before making the brochure, the project lost it's appeal a little bit. I think overall though, it's going to go well and I'm still excited about it.  I'll keep you updated!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Project Based Learning

So, I'm taking a 3 day course in Project Based Learning with Charity, from the Buck Institute for Education.  So far it is . . . overwhelming.  It seems great, but I have a lot to learn and plan.  It's going to turn my concept of teaching upside down. . . but that's not a bad thing.  It's just something I need to wrap my head around. So far I've learned that the projects are not the culmination of the learning, but the avenue for the learning itself.  That makes sense.  Now how do I come up with a project that teaches everything I need to teach?  The website has a lot of good info, including a database of projects already created by subject and grade levels.  It's what I'm beginning with, but I can already tell it doesn't have nearly what I want.  I need to learn how to get creative so I can think up the kind of projects that I need/want and will work for what I'm teaching to my particular kids AND can incorporate every requirement that I have to meet in a lesson/objective/format, etc.  I'm looking forward to day 2!

Monday, May 2, 2011


You can email me at hozzma (at) hotmail (dot) com
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About Me

Thank you for visiting my blog!  My name is Heather Garcia and I am not only a 3rd grade teacher, but a huge Wizard of Oz fan as well.  This is the first year that I've actually married my two loves (teaching and all things Oz), and I'm really excited!!  I will post things throughout the year that I find interesting and worth sharing that have to do with my Oz theme, Project Based Learning, Fine Arts integration, Balanced Literacy, Daily 5, and anything else I feel like posting!  :)  I hope you'll find something useful!