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Stone Soup

A few weeks back, we had a "Stone Soup" week in my classroom.  This was leading up to Thanksgiving (which, of course, occurs in October in Canada).  I really wanted to tie in the ideals of "thankfulness" and "gratitude" throughout the week.  


I started the lesson by introducing some vocabulary from the Marcia Brown version of "Stone Soup".  The class  did not know what book we were reading.  There were 4 words - one per chart paper.  Students were split into 4 groups and rotated carousel style, brainstorming ideas on each word.  Once we had discussed as a class, we moved on to a new task: Text Graffiti.  I saw a video about this on someone's blog recently, and can't remember where.  If you know the video, please let me know.  In this task - I selected 22 (one per student) lines from the story that didn't give away the "big idea".  Each line was taped to the centre of a paper.  Students sat down at a desk and read the line.  They then wrote any ideas about vocabulary, characters, setting, big idea or questions they had around the text.  They were not to put their name.  We did 4 rotations.  Looking back, I probably did not need to find 22 lines, but it did work well to provide everyone with different context clues.

Then, using the vocab words, and the text they had read students had to create a prediction of the story we were reading with justification.  Some thought we were reading "Shrek" (because of the term village), others invented stories about kings and soldiers.

Throughout the story, we paused to discuss story elements.  Afterward, students had to provide their thoughts about the "big idea" of the story.  Again, with justification.  To the right is a list of my favourites, which I typed up and shared with the class the next day.  We also worked on reflecting on goals of the lesson.  That part was a bit tricky for them.   


On Tuesday, we repeated the activity.  Again, I gave vocabulary words and we did the text graffiti activity.  This time, I used the "Stone Soup" version from Ann McGovern.  Student predictions were more accurate today as they had heard this version in a previous year, and they also were expecting the "Stone Soup" theme.   Below is my favourite piece of thinking from the text graffiti activity.  Student connections are so hilarious sometimes!


We had a big assembly with a special guest this day so no "Stone Soup" activities!


We read a third version of the story today: "Bone Button Borscht".  I really like these spin off books - shows so much creativity!  I hadn't ever heard of this version before.  I found a copy in our Public Library.  This story has a longer text and beautiful illustrations.  It's a nice combination of the two stories I had already read.  A stranger comes to town and tricks the towns people into creating the soup.  The entire town works together to make something delicious and has a huge celebration.

We didn't repeat the activity of previous days as we were short on time.  I think next year "Stone Soup Week" might become "Stone Soup 2 Weeks". 


On Friday, I read "Cactus Soup".  This Mexican version of the story is very similar to the Marcia Brown version.  Again, we just read the story.

Friday was the culmination of the activities.  Of course we had to make soup!  I had two wonderful parents come in to help out.  Students all brought in items for the soup.  I made pumpkin biscuits (with a pumpkin grown in a student's field) and another brought in homemade buns.  Yum!  We had so much food we ended up making two kinds: beef barley and cream of potato.  Throughout the morning 5 or 6 students at a time went to the foods room to help the moms peel, cut, stir and season.  The smells through the school were amazing!  We had so much extra soup, we shared with some of the other adults in the building.  There is currently 10 large Ziploc bags of soup in the freezer waiting for us on a cold winter day.  I think we will go skating on the school rink and then warm up with the soup leftovers.  I am so happy we made the soup - it brought us all together as classroom family.  Parents came in to eat as well.  It was a great event. 

Mrs. Nowell texted me this picture of her bowl of soup.  She got a stone!  Lucky lady.

A student had her cousin spend a few days with us that week.  Her cousin was from Switzerland.  We shared some amazing Swiss chocolate for desert.

Mrs. Holland, our principal, wrote us this thank you note.  Seriously, she has the best teacher printing ever.  I'm really jealous.

What did you do for Thanksgiving?
Check out my Pinterest Board for more great Stone Soup ideas!
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Professional Development


Friday, October 25 was a Professional Development day for the entire province.  Crystal and I applied for some funding from our Pro-D committee to go to a SMART Learning conference in Penticton.  We were very excited to be approved and head down for some inspirational learning.

We had to fly to Vancouver first as there was no direct flight.  We had a few hours between flights.  As I'm from the coast, and have been to Vancouver many a time I decided to take Crystal on the Skytrain for some shopping.  The picture above was texted to her husband who asked if we were riding on a rocket ship.  No, we were not.  Although that did make it sound more fun.

We stopped first at Vancouver City Centre.  That takes you right downtown, to Granville Street.  We were STARVING.  I figured this was a better choice for food than the mall - who likes eating at a food court? Not me.  So, we were on the search for something to eat that we couldn't get at home.  Something different.  We stumbled across this place:

The sign said "all food only $4.95 all day".  Sounds pretty cool.  The outside looked kind of vintage.  We went in.  We walked into a loud music, dark, snowboarders on the tv, waitresses with lots of tattoos bar.  I looked at Crystal and said "are we cool enough to be here?" She responded with "no."  We shrugged and went in anyway.  
Two teachers skipping school and this is what happens.  That wine bottle has water, by the way.
We ate some amazing food!  Wings, mac and cheese (with cornflakes.... weird but tasty), some awesome foccocia bread, soft taco wraps.....  It was under $20.  Delicious and affordable.  I'm cool enough for that!

And, so with full tummies we head to Metrotown for some serious shopping.  I needed pants.  A lot of pants.  I couldn't find pants.  They were all skinnies.  I am not a skinny pant person.  I nearly had a meltdown.  (Ask the woman in Winners.)  Luckily I had my good friend to keep me going and I ended up with 4 pairs.

We began our sky train journey back to the airport for our second flight.  Simultaneously, both of our phones went "bing!".  We looked.  Our flight was cancelled.  It had been rescheduled for 10:00 the next evening.  Well, that wasn't going to work!  The conference would be over.  After some serious rescheduling, we were on standby for a flight to Kelowna, which is an hour away from Penticton.  We figured we could rent a car and get there.  No big deal.  That is, if we got on.

In the waiting room, we met two men who lived in Kelowna, but worked in Fort St. John.  What are the chances?  We told them our story and the one went and sweet-talked our way on to the flight.  We couldn't sit together - but no big deal.

Crystal sits down and hears the woman behind her say "I'm so happy I got on.  I have a huge conference to give tomorrow".  She turns around and says - "are you Susan Close?"  The woman says "uh, yes".  So, they got talking and she scored us a ride to Penticton with the Key Note speaker and developer of SMART Learning.  Now that's amazing luck.  What a spectacular ride that was.  An hour alone with Susan Close chatting about the program we were off to learn more about.  Super cool.

We checked into the hotel and passed out at 1:30 in the morning.  We awoke at 7 and were ready to learn!

Here we are just before the conference began!
There were so many inspiring things about the day, I can't even begin to pick the best one.  So sad the day only went 9-3.  
The morning after the conference Crystal and I went to the Penticton airport to head home.  We had an uneasy feeling as it was once again very foggy outside.  We arrived early in case there were troubles.  Things seemed positive.  About an hour before our flight, we overheard that the plane took off from Vancouver, but it was unlikely to land.  They put everyone through security as normal.  We were hopeful.  The room was small and had no air.  We were both annoyed, because they took away our bottles of water.  Then, we heard the plane roar over, and.... not land.  A lady came in and told us that they would try again.  Second try didn't work.  Our flight was cancelled. 

Everyone was understanding and we all filed out, cellphones ready to make new plans.  We knew that we were lowest of priorities and investigated things on our own.  There were no flights from Kelowna or Kamloops.  We tried to rent a vehicle, but both places were franchised and would charge us a $600 drop off charge in Vancouver.  We weren't even sure that if we got to Vancouver that flight would even take off.

I was sick before the conference, and feeling very ill that day.  Crystal needed to get home to her children.  We did the only thing we could justify.  We took a charter van to Kelowna, rented a truck and drove home.  Fourteen hours.  You'd think things would start to look up from this point.  But, you'd be wrong. 

The trip started out very foggy.  And that fog turned to rain.  At a few points, we had intense rain and fog together.  You know, just for fun.  Worst of all, we had issues at every stop we made.  Starbucks had no cups, there was no toilet paper in the bathroom, no restaurant we went to had any soup (and I really just needed some soup).  But, we persevered.

The final trial we went through occurred around midnight just past Chetwynd.  We drove up the hill, and it suddenly began to snow.  And, of course, not just little tiny flakes.  Big flakes.  Lots of flakes.  We are talking about white out conditions.  It appeared as if we were driving backwards and sideways.  Luckily Sylvie (we had named the truck at this point) had some awesome headlights and we were doing this.  (There was no safe place to stop or turn around and it seemed ridiculous to stop an hour and a half from home.)

And then came 100 deer.  Truly.  They were panicking about the snow and all out for a last feast.  They were everywhere. 

It took us 3 hours to drive the last hour and a half.  We made it home at 3:00 in the morning. 

Truly, this was the best conference we could have asked for.  We'd repeat all that chaos again for it.  Now, off to implement new ideas!

And the winner is....

And the winner is...

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Currently October

It's that time again!  Here's my October Currently for you to enjoy!

I'm not going to blog a whole lot about this... (see my "thinking") as I've got some work to do on a lesson for tomorrow.  Why use what you did last year, when you can start completely over the night before?

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