Can you picture it now?  YOU in LAS VEGAS? 

How about YOU in LAS VEGAS attending a one day session of the SDE conference?

Primary Chalkboard is giving away YOUR CHOICE of a 1 day session at SDE!

So, will it be Singapore Math, Differentiated Instruction, I Teach K, I Teach 1st, or the newly added I Teach 2nd? 

How fun is that?

BUT, that's not all, we're also including a $25 gift card to the SDE bookstore, CRYSTAL SPRINGS.

So, NOW can you picture YOURSELF in VEGAS?

Oh, you say you need money for airfare, hotel accommodations, or just some spending money while you are here?  Well, we've got that covered, too.  How about  
to help you out with that?!?!?

NOW, can you picture YOURSELF in VEGAS?

Here's how to enter for a chance to win.

Hop through our Facebook pages and collect a tip for your (possible) visit to Vegas.
Be sure to "like" each page as you hop through so that you can collect the tip.
Each tip will have a number on a playing card.
Add the numbers together and enter the sum  on the Rafflecopter on the Primary Chalkboard blog for a chance to win.
Be sure to add a comment and include #primarychalkboardsendmetovegas.

For an extra chance to win this, take a selfie, post it on IG with #primarychalkboardsendmetovegas 
Don't forget to tag us in your picture! @primarychalkboard

The winner will be picked on the evening of April 5th.

A HUGE thank you to SDE (Staff Development for Educators) for their kind and generous donation!

Hey everyone!  Just a quick little post as we wrap up Nevada Reading Week (Read Across America Week).  

This year our theme was "Be a Superhero...READ!"  
It was a great theme and a bonus that it just happened to match our classroom!

Friday, our final day of fun, was, of course, Dress Up Like a Superhero.
Had to grab some quick snapshots and post them.

Here are a couple of my grade level peeps.  Love these two girls!  Carina (Wonder Woman) is also known as The Teaching Tornado.  Lindsey is the jumping instigator.  They were having far too much fun!

There were more than a boatload of Batmen hanging around school, too!
Check out my principal!  (I think she loves dressing up even more than we do!)
Of course we had the Battle of the Catwomen, too.
Who  wore it best?  LOL

HA!  HA!  Love this pose of our GATE teacher.  My kids wanted her to try bending things with her mind.  I think she knew to quit while she was ahead!

Love that our neighborhood firefighters stopped by to read to the kiddos.  We are always so happy when they volunteer their time.

Speaking of volunteers, see that amazing lady up there in the picture?  She is a true superhero.  I could not begin to count the number of hours that she has dedicated to our school.  She has participated in many activities sponsored by our school.  She is the parent of one of my students this year.  YAY!  She comes several times a week to test our kiddos on their sight words...and not only does she test my kiddos, she tests the other second graders, too.  So lucky to have someone so  
sweet and positive helping out this year.  As the saying goes, "Volunteers don't get paid, not because they're worthless, but because they're priceless."  
Thank you, Sierra!
Today was a crazy new student-getting, book character dressing, magician performing, IEP having day, is also...

But before we get to that though, it was also book character dress up day, and I just have to share some adorable costumes that I saw.

It has been a tradition in my class for us to dress up as a group.  We've been Farmer Brown and the farm animals, and last year we were Things 1-22 and the Cat in the Hat.

This year, after much debate, we went with 101 (OK, 23) Dalmatians and Cruella DeVille.  Each student made their own costume and they were very inexpensive to create.

Anyway, on to No Worksheet Wednesday.

We always start our day with Mission Possible Math, an idea I got from the fabulous Hope King.  You can read about it here.

The students usually solve a problem in their math journals, but today they did the creating and the solving.  Their mission today was to create 2 problems for their partner to solve, swap, and solve.  They did a pretty good job!

After Mission Possible math, we go right into our regular math routine.  We have been working on place value and today we solved math problems in our journals and then used our Plickers cards to show the answer.  (If you haven't checked out Plickers yet, you should!  It's an amazing way to do quick assessments with your students...and it blew my principal's mind!..and mine, too!  Isn't technology great?!?!)

After math, our school was so fortunate to attend an assembly sponsored by The Public Education Foundation.  Only in Las Vegas can a performer from The Strip be found entertaining students in a school.  My students were completely amazed by Mac King (and as a bonus, my son came to my classroom to perform a couple of his own magic tricks!)

The afternoon was all about our Fairy Tale Study.  We are currently digging deeper and examining characters.  My students loved doing this.  While these may look like worksheets, they really are used for researching and recording.  You will notice that the ratio of student work to pre-printed text is vastly in favor of the student work.

 We also, had to have a Brain Break, and of course, what would be more perfect than "Who Let the Dogs Out?"

The last part of the day was all about inventors.  We are laying the foundation for our paper airplane unit. We watched a biography of the Wright Brothers.  The students were then asked to reflect and write in their journals about how our lives would be different if the Wright Brothers hadn't ever experienced success.
(Sadly after all of the picture taking, my battery died.  Note to self...purchase another charger to keep at school.)

Anyway, that's how our first Worksheet Wednesday went.  I think we had a load of brain power and thinking going on...and don't forget, building those dendrites!

So what is all of this buzz about PBLs, and what exactly is a PBL?

Well, my definition of a PBL is an amazing "event" where your students form a question or questions to drive their learning.  Through this driving question, they are engaged in learning about a topic and create a fabulous project that serves a purpose and is shared with others.

According to the Buck Institute, Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge.

Why do my students and I LOVE PBLs?  

First of all, I can see the growth that is taking place every single day in their learning.
They are also able to do real-world application of skills they already posses.  
New skills come about naturally instead of being taught out of context.
Projects are presented to an audience, which gives purpose for learning.
 PBLs allow students to work together to share opinions, ideas, and thought processes.
Student engagement goes through the roof.
PBLs are multi-faceted.

So let's take a look at one of our most recent PBLs.

Two of my reading groups read two of the fiction Magic Tree House books, High Tide in Hawaii and Twister on Tuesday.  Living in Las Vegas, my students had zero experience with either of these types of natural disasters and the conversation kept coming back to these two topics.  My students were wanting more information, so we followed these books up with the non-fiction companions, Tsunamis and Twisters (and Other Terrible Storms).

My students were literally gobbling up the information in the books and several of them were researching facts at home and sharing them with the class.

So all of this led to the birth of our Natural Disasters PBL.

We had to start with our driving question.  A driving question is open ended and it something that students find intriguing and encourages them to want to find out more.  It is the driving force behind their learning.

So here is our driving question.

So with our driving question in place, each student selected a natural disaster that they found intriguing.  Then we were off with the research.  We used books from our library, classroom magazines, as well as the internet.

Once our information and data were collected, we created Powerpoints that would be used to inform the public of what each natural disaster entailed so that they, the public, would be able to identify one if they ever encountered one.

Next, we created posters informing the public what to do to be prepared for a natural disaster and what to do following a disaster.

Since our school is not only doing a push for PBLs, but also STEAM, we decided to take this whole project one step deeper and create structures that would withstand the specific type of natural disaster that each student had studied.  Of course, they knew that Legos and linking toys would not be the building materials of choice.  Students had to be prepared to tell us what they would use to create disaster-proof structures.

Sadly I accidentally deleted photos of their final product.
 The final part of our PBL was to share their knowledge with an audience.  The information was first shared within our classroom.  Then, their posters, copies of their Powerpoint, and photos of their structures (as well as a letter written by me explaining the project) were sent to areas that were most commonly afflicted with each specific type of natural disaster.

Yes, PBLs are time consuming, HOWEVER, the amount of learning, engagement, rigor, and application of skills to real-world experiences and events is truly priceless.  

I highly recommend that you try one!

UPDATED: I recently collaborated with our GATE teacher and we created a Nutrition PBL centered around The Big Bad Wolf. We had so much fun using it with our students. You can grab it by clicking on the picture below.

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