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Friday, April 20, 2012

Guest: 3rd Grade Thoughts

Our next featured teacher is Stephanie from 3rd Grade thoughts. Stephanie incorporates a lot of whole brain teaching techniques and strategies into her lesson plans. This is an area that I have been wanting to learn more about and plan to fit in a few books on this topic soon!

Hi there! I am Stephanie from 3rd Grade Thoughts and I am so incredibly excited to be featured over here on Think, Wonder, & Teach!

I’m not sure about you, but it feels like the end of the year is going to be here before we know it! The end of each school year is bittersweet for me—although I love my summer break, I am always sad to say goodbye to my group of students who have been my little buddies for nine months straight and have grown up before my eyes in so many ways.

Today, I would like to share a wonderful activity that I have done with both fifth graders and my third graders for the past seven years. This was introduced to me by my mentor teacher and has stuck because it was so personal, thoughtful, and best of all, easy! It is the “Smile File”!

This works particularly well with older grades and only requires this freebie cover and some copy paper cut into fourths, like this:
I always like to use different colors of copy paper, just to make it fun and happy!

Each student makes an envelope from the cover by folding it back and stapling, gluing, or taping the sides. Have them (or you) write their name on the line. The only other supplies are a pencil or pen and the tiny pieces of copy paper. Each child will need as many pieces as there are students in class.

Set aside a nice chunk of time for your kids to work on this, or split it up over the last week of school. I usually do the last day of school and we are able to get it done in the morning with some relaxing music in the background.

You can split up the directions into as many parts as you need (my 3rd graders need it spelled out a lot more explicitly than my 5th graders did), but the gist of the activity is that everyone will write a sentence or two (a compliment, a memory, why it was nice having them in class) to each person in the class and sign their name. They will then slip the paper into the student’s Smile File and repeat the process around the room.

Before we begin, I make a chart about some nice notes we could write and leave that posted for those students who may have trouble thinking of specifics for each student. I will also write my Smile Files in advance and put them in the envelopes lickety-split so I can hang out near my kiddos who need a bit more support with writing.

After all of the notes have been written and stuffed into the envelopes, we head outside for recess, come back inside, find a comfy spot in the room and begin to read these notes in our own envelopes. It is always so wonderful to see the loads of smiles that fill our room and hear the occasional giggle or two.

It’s also special, as a teacher, to collect your own Smile File and keep these little mementos from your year. It does not take up any space or clutter and can be a little souvenir of your yearlong journey together.

Feel free to adjust this activity however you’d like and I would love to hear all about how you used it and other end-of-year traditions you have! Stop by my TpT store to grab this freebie and thanks so much for having me here on Think, Wonder, & Teach!

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At April 21, 2012 at 6:26 PM , Blogger Donna Boucher said...

I'm featuring this post on Bagels and Blogs tomorrow!

Math Coach’s Corner
Math Coach’s Corner on FB

At April 22, 2012 at 9:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I LOVE your blog! You have such great, simple, and meaningful ideas! It helps that we have a lot in common! I am also a first year teacher who, coming in this Aug, will be teaching a 1st-3rd multi-age class! Its nice to follow a blogger who understands how to differentiate among a larger span of ages!! -Sandra

At April 22, 2012 at 10:05 AM , Blogger ThinkWonder Teach said...

Thank you so much Donna!

At April 22, 2012 at 10:07 AM , Blogger ThinkWonder Teach said...

Hi Sandra -

Thanks for your comment! I am planning my posts for May now and most of them will be dealing with differentiating instruction and versatility in assignments. =)

At April 22, 2012 at 12:29 PM , Anonymous Sandra said...

What a great (and simple and inexpensive and little prep work) activity! Thanks!!


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