Balloons Over Broadway: The Inquiry Process and Integrated Arts Lead to a Parade

Last week the second graders made their own Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.


It started with Melissa Sweet’s Balloons Over Broadway. This book tells the story of Tony Sarg who created the balloons for Macy’s parade in the 1920s. This book also happens to be a Nutmeg Book Award Nominee

I had been planning on reading it to my second graders the two weeks before Thanksgiving break to use it as springboard for the Inquiry Process.  I would read the book, model how I connected with something from the text, write down all I know about my topic, and then create  a wonder: So for example, if the pictures were what intrigued me, I would write down all that I noticed about the pictures and what it was specifically that intrigued me, then I might wonder how exactly Melissa Sweet made the pictures.

From there I would decide how I was going to find my information (I and the students were using KWHL charts during the process - Know, Wonder, How, and Learn). I might decide that I think I could use books to find information to this question, or maybe a website. I might be even more specific and say that I wanted to look at Melissa Sweet's website.

The students could then connect and wonder to something they found in the book: I was planning to be pretty relaxed about this: In the beginning of the year we had read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, another Nutmeg Nominee, and I had them connect to the text. Then we did a project researching Veteran's Day, which was a lesson series that was also teaching how to use a KWHL chart. Since I had limited the students topics in the past, I wanted to give them the opportunity to explore something a little more openly.

Then the librarian and a second grade teacher (who also happens to be my awesome mentor) had a fabulous idea: what if as an Integrated Arts project, the students created their own parade? Integrated Arts are periods my school has where a teacher, or a group of teachers, works together to collaboratively plan a STEAM project with the specials teachers. Working together with the whole second grade team of teachers and all of the specialists, we decided our focus should be on What makes parades important? We would take the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving break for the students to plan, design, and create their parade, then Wednesday morning the parade would begin. 


Boom. Lesson trajectory changed. Since I was already planning on reading the book in the library, I decided to change my lessons to really focus on parades and made the focus my essential question. This way, the students would be given a chance to gain background knowledge and a chance to explore the area of parades that was most interesting to them, whether it be building the balloons, the music, the dancers, the people behind the scenes, Tony Sarg himself, whatever from the book drew their attention.

In my modeling, I decided to focus on Goodyear and the balloons. I showed the students during the reading of the text, and after reading how different parts of the book drew my attention and modeled how I really thought about each of the pages, the text and the pictures. I wrote down on (pre-made) stuky notes what I already knew about Goodyear and the Balloons, then I wrote down (again on a pre-made sticky note) what I wondered. Students then went and chose a topic, wrote down what they kenw about the topic, and then what they wondered,

In the second lesson, students were to decide How they were going to find their answers, then they researched to Learn. We brainstormed different ways we could find our answers:books, the library catalog, websites, PebbleGo, BrainPop Jr.  I quickly reminded them of and modeled how to use the catalog and where to find the call number, then showed them an awesome website the librarian had put together with loads of information all on Balloons Over Broadway. This LibGuides site has information on how to create the balloons, the history of the parade, dancers, and pictures from a teacher in the school who had been in the parade. A seriously awesome resource for the kiddos to explore. 

Then came Monday: time to start making the parade. Honestly, I was a little nervous going into the project: Would the students really be able to create a parade in two days - minus specials, lunch and recess? 

The students were divided into groups based on their interests: we had builders, dancers, musicians, advertisements, announcers and interviewers. Monday I helped out with the dancers. I was surprised by the collaboration between the students, the engagement and the willingness to keep at it - they repeated, practiced, and reflected on the dance steps until they felt like it was just right! The second day I helped out with the builders - WOW! I say helped out, but honestly most groups were putting their finishing touches on their floats by this point. I was majorly impressed by the students persistence and problem solving. (Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures of the individual floats. And I don't feel comfortable sharing pictures of floats with the students in them since they and their parents don't know I'm sharing them here! But take it from me: they were truly AWESOME floats: Big, elaborate, mobile).

Wednesday morning arrived. The snow held off. The parade was scheduled to start at 9. The parade route was to come through the library and chairs were set up for parents to sit in. I was expecting maybe 20 parents to come and was worried we didn't have enough seats. There were WAY more than 20 parents (did I also mentioned that parents donated a lot of the supplies that were used to build the floats?)!

The parade went without a hitch. I was filiming the parade for Livestream and while that was definitely a learning process (first time Livestreaming an event - some nerves came with it!), the students did an awesome job the whole time.

I think writing this what struck me is how their were SO many little pieces that came together to make the parade a reality. If I just been reading the book in my classes, the parade wouldn't have happened. If the librarian and original teacher had decided to put on the parade, but the other teachers weren't on board, it would have been a lot smaller. If the parents hadn't been so generous in donating all the supplies, the floats wouldn't have been as magnificent. If the specials teachers didn't pitch in to help, it wouldn't have run so smoothly or had as many awesome ideas. Our theme this year in our district is "Collaboration: Together We Can" and while you might think 'Oh what a nice sentiment', when you actually see collaboration like this on a large scale, it makes you realize how much CAN get done when everyone pitches in with ideas, supplies, and plain old work and time. 


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Five For Friday: Ketch-up Version



Since it has been so long since I actually blogged this Friday is a Ketch-Up post. I remember my third grade teacher having Ketch-up days and I loved them. They were oddly relaxing but it also felt great to finish uncompleted work. 








And here are some more pictures from my marathon that I didn't share in my Liebster Award post.
Yes I ran a marathon. I woke up at 6 in the morning and by 8 I was at the starting line. It was one of the most fun, exhilarating and awesome experiences of my life! And I totally want to do it again…ASAP! They need to warn you: If you run one, you’ll want to run them all! I think for me there is this idea, like OMGosh I will NEVER be able to run a marathon. Then I spent all summer training, spent three weeks tapering (essentially not running as much and eating a lot of carbs!) and then boom, ran the race. And it was awesome and beyond all my expectations.
On Saturday, only my backside hurt from a rash.
On Sunday, my thighs KILLED. Getting up and down was a huge deal. The fight between I want something to eat and I don’t want to move was a hard one.
On Monday, I had general achiness.
On Tuesday, I had a PD day and I was fine during the three hour meeting in the AM then in the afternoon when I was sitting at my computer adding students names to a database I thought I was going to fall asleep! Physically I was fine but boy was I tired!
Did I mention the night before the race, I woke up every hour on the hour in a panic. At midnight, I vowed I wasn’t doing it. At one, I was in a complete panic. At two, I decided I was insane. Then finally at 5:45, I woke up and decided, Nope! Doing it!
And I’m SO glad I did.


CRAZY Hair Day! This picture was taken in early October...hence the tan!
As you can see here I went for the braids look….which led to comparisons to Bo Derek and Bob Marley, both which I wasn’t aiming for! I just thought it would be easy to do. Thirty minutes later I wondered who thought braiding my super long hair into little braids was a good idea. It must have been someone else.

Happy Black Friday! I HATE shopping in malls....and in stores...especially when they're crowded. So Black Friday is not my type of holiday. Except I do LOVE shopping..online. And thankfully stores are also have deals online and more deals on Monday for Cyber Monday. On my To Buy List?
-A new laptop! I bought my current laptop when I was student teaching ... so about 2 and  a half years ago. And sometimes it works AWESOME (like right now) and other times its SUPER slow and it shuts down on me without warning. My game plan is to buy one at a discount then save it for when my laptop really truly dies.
-Winter Running Jacket. I LOVE jackets. And I have several fabulous ones. But I want a jacket that is high visibility, cute, and warm. Which is harder to find then you'd think. Okay well actually not hard, I just don't want to spend $200 on a jacket I only wear running.
-Pillows and satin pillow cases. I decided I want new pillows AND satin pillow cases because satin pillow cases prevent wrinkles.

I successfully completed my first formal observation! Now I just have one more formal observation and one informal left. It felt awesome getting that done! 
I taught a lesson on using the table of contents and the navigation bar to help you find answers to your questions to first graders.While the lesson was definitely NOT perfect (only about 6 kids completely finished the assignment), I was happy to have semi-successfully completed my first teaching observation as a new teacher.

And I’ve been super busy with … well… teaching! I love working with my students (all 250+ of them!) and I love the content I teach, but each day is a learning experience and it’s a lot of rewarding work. Each week it gets easier and each week I learn more, but it takes A LOT of time and energy, which made me put this blog on the back burner. I miss reading other blogs, participating in linky parties and blogging about my days. I will definitely be trying to blog more! I miss it!

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Liebster Award Nomination

About two weeks ago the thought of blogging vaguely entered the back of my mind (as it usually does about every two weeks, usually on Fridays) and I thought 'The next time I blog I'm going to create a little Worst Blogger Ever Award and give it to myself.'

So here it is, Sunday night, and I was like Hm maybe I'm not up to blogging right now since I have 12 other things I should really be doing but maybe I'll go and read some of my favorite blogs to rejuvenate my energy and to give me inspiration. 

So I headed over to one of my old favorite blogs, Teacher Will Run for Books, to find out Ashlee had nominated me for a Liebster Award! Wowza! Thank you Ashlee! Now I don't need to make an award celebrating my stinky-ness and instead can post a legit awesome award!


So: here goes!
The Liebster Award is for blogs with less than 200 followers with the aim for us to discover new blogs. 

My job now that I was nominated is to answer 11 questions then nominate 11 blogs I think deserve the award. 

1. Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
Like Ashlee, I started blogging as an undergrad assignment in the Fall of 2011 (three full years ago!) where I was supposed to blog about 15 books that I had read. Well I continued to blog about books at Teaching Voracious Readers even after the class had ended then decided I wanted to create a more generic teaching blog, hence Teaching Voracious Learners. 

2. What 1 word sums up the heart of your blog and why?
Hm. Right now: Sporadic. I haven't blogged in over TWO months and even though I have ten gazillion things I want to share finding the time as a first year teacher is tough! 

3. Is there something you learned late in your blog journey that you wished you knew before?
Hmm. Blog about what you are truly interested in and what you feel like blogging about. I think at first you are reading all these other awesome blogs and you feel like you need to replicate that awesomeness in your own blog...except that blog already exists! Just be yourself, whether it's with your blog topics, your type and style of writing, your blog design, even your blog picture! Just do you!
(Although I also completely agree with Ashlee about the Link-ups! Easiest way to get readership and to find other awesome blogs!)

4. What is your favorite past time other than blogging?
Running! Eating! Buying clothes!
Running - I ran my first marathon in October!

 It was awesome!! I ran it with my sister and I honestly had SO MUCH FUN! Fitting the training in once school starts is a total pain but it also offered an awesome escape and excuse for leaving work before some late hour.

 I also participated in the Virtual GO HARD (Hug-a-runner) Half Marathon this past weekend. That was a little less fun because a) it was cold, b) I hadn't tapered for it, and c) I was runningon a Friday after a long week at work (can you say tired?).  But it benefited Girls on the Run.If you are a runner and want inspiration for a run (you can sign up for a 5K, 10K or a Half), head to Hug A Run at Run the Edge  - you have until November 30th to sign up and run!

I have a 5K in January and another Half in February so those are keeping me motivated to get out the door and run despite the dropping temps.
Eating - I joke that I run so I can eat. Except that I'm really not joking. I love food. But I also love...
Buying clothes - and when you buy a dress that doesn't fit because your tummy is too happy, it's kind of a bummer. Which is why I'm returning it and getting a bigger size. I know I should eat healthier but (sigh) I love food. I actually semi-organized my clothes this weekend and it was one of those moments where I got SO excited by the clothes I own I created more outfits then there are days to wear them. Despite the illogical number of sweaters (and shirts and scarfs and dresses) I own, I end up wearing the same 15-20 tops and bottoms each month. Sigh. 
I once tried to catalog all my clothes and only got this far before I got bored.


5. How many hours do you dedicate a week to your blog?
Oh my goodness.
ZERO! Well lately anyway.
Normally probably like 1-2. 

6. What category of blog post do you enjoy the most?
Hm. I love the blog posts where they show you around your classroom- like classroom decorations or how they store supplies or have their classroom management system. Usually because they're always so pretty and inspiring. 

7. Where does your blog inspiration come from?
Link-ups and things I'm working on/doing that I really want to share with other teachers. 

8. Which post have you written that you are most proud of?
Hmm. I think it still is one of the original posts I wrote where I showed how to create comics with Word. I think personally I love projects where you create a digital product (whether it's a song mash-up, a video or a drawing) and I love discovering new purposes for everyday things. But I also love my How to Rock the Demo Lesson post maybe because it's the type of blog post I would have wanted to read as a new graduate. 

9. Is there any post you've been planning on doing but have been postponing for a while?
Um yes! The second grade at my school in conjunction with the specials teachers planned a project for the whole second grade where the students are going to create their own Thanksgiving Day parade based on Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet.
Also: the funny things kids say to you.
And: the ups and downs of being a first year teacher. 
And:My favorite new YouTube Video.
And that picture of my hair from Crazy Hair Day.
And the endless Wardrobe Wednesdays I wanted to link-up to
And ....
I could keep going.
It's not that I don't want to write, it's just finding the time!

10. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
Reading all the other blogs and interacting with the teachers. I have learned A LOT from other bloggers and they are always inspiring me.

11. What recipe, project or idea on my blog would you most likely try yourself?
Definitely the Whole Brain Teaching Methods! I have used Class Yes with a few of my classes(I'm a K-2 technology teacher), but I really want to try some new techniques with some of my more challenging classes. 

And here are the 11 blogs that I am nominating:
1. Kristin at My Carolina Classroom
2. Jennifer at Sparkling in Second
3. Corinna at Surfin' Through Second
4. Susan at Happiness is Watermelon Shaped 
5.Carolyn at Kindergarten:Holding Hands and Sticking Together
6. Erica from One Lucky Teacher
7. Kristen Dembroski
8.Marine at Tales From a Very Busy Teacher
9. Allie at The Positive Teacher
10. Lydia at Glamour and Glue Sticks
11. Amy at Albuquerque Amy

Here are the rules for the nominees...
1. In your post, be sure to link back to your nominator as a shout out & a thank you!
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you (the ones I answered above)
3. Nominate 11 blogs of your choice who have less than 200 followers. Provide them with 11 questions or ask them to answer the questions above.
4. Let your nominees know they've been nominated and provide them with a link to your post so that they can accept.
5. Send your nominator the link to your post, so they can learn more about you... leave it in the comments below!

Thank you again Ashlee for nominating me! You inspired me to blog again!



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