When I finished summer school last Thursday, my mom (retired teacher) said, "So, you're finally on vacation?!" No, not exactly...I just started courses for my principal/supervisor certification, so I am right back in the classroom. Sitting in the workshops listening to the importance of PLC's and data collection and formative and summative assessment and collaboration is nice, but honestly I'd rather be with my sweethearts doing the fun stuff we did in summer school!
My school requires students grades 1-6 to choose from a list of books and complete a project and bring it on the first day of school. There are a lot of problems with that requirement for my students, mostly the lack of differentiation, secondly the lack of parental guidance and resources at home. Last year I decided to do their summer reading projects with them: we read books from the list and did the project that was provided (read: lack of differentiation). They got nothing out of it. This year, after reading blog after blog about guided reading and actually having the students read books on their level, I chose a book that was a good fit for all the kids in my group and found a project we could (almost) complete in 4 weeks, while still being meaningful and hitting our CCSS and WIDA standards at the same time.
I taught the kids how to take post-it note summaries during the year, and we kept it up during the summer. I am so proud of how far they have come with their post-it notes. Our discussions about the main idea were deep and insightful, and even my lower-functioning students were making text connections that were out of this world. It just goes to show what finding a good-fit book on their level will do for a group of students. I bought this pack from TPT- I used quite a few of the pages as quick assessments before and during reading. If you're planning on reading Freckle Juice with any of your groups, definitely give it a look.
Last came the project. In 4th grade, the kids are supposed to bring in a brown paper bag with writing on all sides telling about the book, and fill the bag with 4 items that represent the book. We didn't get that far. Also, I had shoeboxes taking up space so that's what we used. I had the students wrap a shoebox in construction paper, then write the title, the author, and their name on the top. We filled the boxes with all the assessments we did about the book, plus all our post-it notes. I kept them in my room for safe-keeping, and on the first day I'll deliver them to the classroom teachers. My students were excited when they figured out that they could make block letters and then draw freckles inside of them!
On the last day of summer school, we did something super-cool that had them begging for more!
We read the story, Andrew Drew and Drew, which is about a boy who turns his doodles into amazing drawings. Then we used those squiggle pads ($2.99 at Michael's!) to spin an animal and turn our doodles into amazing drawings.
Since each ESL lesson is not complete without reading, writing, listening, and speaking, we gave our squiggles a name and then wrote a story about them on the back. Some friends needed more paper! Then we shared our stories around the table and told one thing we liked about each person's story. This will definitely be going in my writing center for sure. All in all, this was a great 4 weeks of summer school- it's so nice to get to do those extra things we didn't have time to do during the year.
Now, on to the chocolate?
The other night, another cold, rainy (summer!) night, I decided to do some baking. I'm part of a cooking forum which is where I get most of my ideas for dinner. One of the bloggers had posted these amazing looking brownies, so without a thought for real dinner, I up and made these. I can't even remember if we had dinner...all I remember is chocolate.
Salted Fudge Brownies
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp sea salt (I used Kosher 'cuz I didn't have any)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a brownie pan with foil and grease the foil. In a saucepan over medium/low heat, melt the butter and chocolate chips together, stirring occasionally, until totally melted. Remove from heat and whisk cocoa powder and sugars, one at a time, until smooth. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Last, mix in flour. Pour into brownie pan, sprinkle salt on top and swirl into batter using a tooth pick. Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes. Let them cool for an hour at room temperature, then chill in fridge for another hour. Lift out of the pan and remove the foil. Cut into squares and serve at room temperature. You can freeze leftovers and microwave individual brownies for about 15 seconds whenever you need a quick snack!