Saturday, February 5, 2011

Groundhog Day

Being back in 1st grade this year has been wonderful but at the same time challenging. It's seems harder and harder every year to find the time to fit in some of the fun things that are still educational, such as Groundhog Day. This is one of my favorites as I incorporate research, writing, reading, and technology. I've also been working to try and incorporate more 21st Century Learning skills into my teaching.
Here's some of what we did this year... maybe you can take some of these ideas and tweak them to fit another topic that you teach.

The day before Groundhog Day we created a graph predicting whether or not we thought the groundhog would see his shadow. After putting up our graph and discussing the results we brainstormed a list of teachers in the building that we also wanted to survey. I had my kids write the name of their teacher on a little whiteboard and then they set out in teams of 2 or 3 to collect their data. When they got back we took the information and added it to our graph.  We even made an appt. with our superintendent to come over and give us his prediction. We also surveyed visitors to our blog using Survey Monkey. Overwhelmingly, the vote was that the groundhog would not see his shadow.
 During our shared reading, we used fantastic groundhog SMARTboard lesson that I found on Smartexchange. (If you have a SMARTboard and haven't checked out this resource, you need to run, not walk to see what's waiting for you. There are some fabulously creative people who share their wonderful notebook files!) This file has wonderful facts, links to other sites, and is extremely interactive! My kids learned a ton and had fun at the same time! The authors of this file also have their own site where you can purchase add'l files that they've created for just $2.00 each. A real bargain when you consider how much time it takes to create a quality notebook file!
On Groundhog's Day, we used Google Earth to locate Punxsatwney Phil's home in Pennsylvania and Jimmy the Groundhog's home in Sun Prarie, WI (did you know that we had a famous groundhog right here in WI?). We used our map skills to discuss continents, states, cities, terrain, etc.
We also went onto both Phil's and Jimmy's websites to find out how their predictions turned out and to do more research about groundhogs.
We even made a text to world connection--- Did you know that it was a battle of the groundhog's- PA vs. WI just like in the Super Bowl on Sunday?!
After all was said and done, we blogged about our experience on our classroom blog, The Dog Blog, as well.
Next week, we'll be taking our research a step further and writing paragraphs using our Step Up To Writing format and then displaying them for others to enjoy.

I sure wish all of my lessons could come together this well and incorporate so many facets of learning and technology.
On a final note, Jimmy the Groundhog has a special prediction...


  1. Hello there! So, I just found your blog!!! I've only been blogging for about a month and I'm pretty addicted already. I am particularly interested in your blog because I teach first grade, and I love finding new ways to use technology in the classroom!

  2. Thanks so much for your kind comments (about my lesson on SMART Exchange) and our new site. We love creating the lessons and you are right it does take a lot of time to create the lessons. However, we hope that by keeping our prices reasonable that many people will be able to enjoy using their SMART Boards to keep students excited and engaged in learning. Thanks for letting your followers know about our site. Hope you visit us often and Happy SMARTBoarding!
    The Girls at