Saturday, December 14, 2013

Remembering Sandy Hook

As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School. We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children. We honor their memory with our service. Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook. #love4SH

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Don't let them suck your fun circuits dry

This month in my classroom my students and I are being very super secret elves and spreading random acts of kindness throughout our school and community!  We are doing this for many reasons but one is very close and dear to all of our hearts: Sandy Hook.  The anniversary of that tragedy is fast approaching and it's hard to believe that only a year ago our whole world changed.

My school is over 2,000 miles away from Sandy Hook yet even we felt the ripple of sadness and outrage.  We've seen the changes to our school security: a new fence around our playground, scan card entry into the school building, security officer on campus, etc.  All valid security measures, but each and every one is a sad reminder as to why.  This month the people of Newtown, CT have asked everyone to commit random acts of kindness in honor of the students and teachers of Sandy Hook.  Our class could not be happier to answer their call!

I told the kids about my morning and how I was in line at McDonald's to get an orange juice.  When I pulled up to pay, I told the cashier to pay for the man behind me and tell him it was a random act of kindness.  As I was waiting for my food I saw him try to pay and the cashier shook her no and started talking to him.  He looked VERY confused, which was funny but sad at the same time. As a society we are more shocked about people doing something nice for one another than we are when someone is rude.  Then all of a sudden she took his credit card.  Well this girl's Texas/Irish sass flared up!  I was so mad that she would make him pay for a meal that was already paid for, but then in a split second I saw him point behind him and realized he was just paying it forward :o)

As a whole, we then came up with ways we've helped someone and how it made it us feel.  After much discussion and excitement, we came up with different ideas of things we could do around the school and our community.  They came up with some GREAT ideas but the first one they wanted to do was create holiday book marks for another class!

With every act they do, they leave one of these little calling cards!  Click on the image below to grab five different designs of this card for FREE!  My act of kindness to you for the day :o)

Many things will stick with me from this tragedy but this is one of the most moving things I have ever read and it has been a mantra for myself and many other teachers this past year, "Don't let them suck your fun circuits dry."  If you have not read this letter from one of the parents at Sandy Hook, it is very heart-felt and moving and a powerful reminder of why we do what we do.  Through all the ups and downs, the changes from people who have never even stepped foot in a classroom, to the people who tell you "you aren't doing enough" when you're up at 1 am coming up with different ways for Johnny to learn his multiplication facts; always remember why you're there and don't let them suck your fun circuits dry!  Click here to read it.

No matter what is thrown our way, always remember we are there for our kids.  To love them and help them grow in any way we can.  They don't remember that you're the one who taught them how to bubble in an answer sheet.  They remember that you're the one who decorated their desk and made them feel special on their birthday.  You're the one who noticed the new haircut or backpack and complimented them when they thought no one was looking.  You're the one that showed them their special talent was worth something in life and taught them to always reach for the stars. 

As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School.  We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children.  We honor their memory with our service.  Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pumpkin Fest 2013: Pie in a Cup!

Yep, you're reading it right!  TWO POSTS IN TWO DAYS!  Be amazed y'all.  Be.  Amazed.  Yesterday I told y'all how our class got down and dirty with pumpkins using math and science labs to explore and learn.  Today I'm going to show y'all the second half of Pumpkin Fest: Pumpkin Pie in a Cup!  Mmm....

A teammate of mine did this with her son when he was in Pre-K but my fifth graders loved it none the less!  We poured 1 1/3 cup of cold milk and two 4 oz. boxes of vanilla pudding into a Ziploc bag.  Make sure you get all the air out and seal it tight!  Then pass the bag around your circle and have the students knead the bag for about a minute or until everyone has a turn.  It will turn this yellow color when it's ready.

Once everyone has had a turn, open the bag back up (be careful it's messy!) and add one 15 oz. can of pumpkin, 1 tsp. cinnamon, and 1/2 tsp. ginger.  Seal the bag again (remember to remove all the air).  Pass the bag around the circle again and let the students knead the batter once more.

Set the bag aside (I doubled the recipe and used two bags) and pass out little Dixie cups to each student.  Give each student half of a graham cracker and allow them to crush it in the bottom of the cup.  This will be their crust!

When everyone has crushed their graham cracker, cut a corner off of your Ziploc bag and proceed to fill up everyone's cup with the pumpkin filling.  It's fun to pretend to be a pastry chef!  I then let the kids come up and get the whip cream topping and begin the feast!

The kids thought it looked like baby food but really liked it!  I was surprised by how many students had never had Pumpkin Pie before.  I will say that with my 21 fifth graders one bag did the trick with these little Dixie cups!  So you have two options: 1. Fill 'em up a second time.  OR 2. Give them a little bit bigger cup (like the one's the dentist give you to swish with).  I hope you and your kids enjoy this activity!  I got the recipe from Making Learning Fun, so hop on over there for a printable version.
Happy Fall y'all!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Pumpkin Fest 2013

I know, I know!  It's winter now and everyone is in the winter spirit but I was out of town for Thanksgiving and still wanted to share what my kiddos did to celebrate fall!  And let's be honest...  I actually have time to write a blog post so I have A LOT to catch up on, lol.

Right before the holidays my kiddos and I got elbow deep in some serious pumpkin activities!  These were not all done in one day mind you.  In fact, we did one activity for Halloween and one for Thanksgiving!  I know some schools are stricter on their holiday policy, so some of you might not be able to do this during those times.  Thankfully you can do these anytime during the fall season and it is still applicable and fun!
The first activity we did was Pumpkin Fest Labs!  Thanks to Jennifer Runde from Runde’s Room and her wonderful unit “The Pumpkin Pack” that was filled with all sorts of science and math labs that correlated with dissecting a pumpkin!  Here are just a few of the labs we did in class:
Sink or Float

Measuring the Circumference
Counting Seeds
Can't forget the rotten pumpkin!  Always fun when the kids cut into that ;o)
Graphing and Finding Correlations
All in all this activity took up the first half of our day but my kids were using their math and science brains THE WHOLE TIME and they LOVED it!  I will absolutely be doing this every year from now on.  Come back tomorrow (yes, you read that right... TOMORROW.  I know, I can't believe it either - two posts in two days) to find out what we did for the rest of Pumpkin Fest.  HINT: IT WAS DELICIOUS!

Happy fall y'all!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Getting them hooked on writing and a THANKFUL giveaway!

Some kids are just natural born writers (or talkers) and have a lot to say.  Other kids don't even know where to begin let alone how to get their thoughts down on paper.  If you are a teacher or parent, you know EVERY kid has something to say.  Most of them can't stop talking, lol, but when you ask them to write it down you can practically see the wall going up and the lost stare in their eyes.  How do you get those kids to break out of the shell and start writing?

I'm linking up today with my girl Jivey from Ideas by Jivey for her Workshop Wednesday: How do you get kids to write?  There are a few things I really like to do when teaching my kids about writing.  Some teach to the writing structure and others are just fun and showing kids that writing is fluid and can be soulful.  It doesn't have to be all about a prompt.  Luckily in fourth grade there is a huge push for writing so my kids come to me with a good deal of writing knowledge.  Although, let's face it, sometimes a summer can wash away an entire year's worth of work!

At the beginning of the year I like to take my kids down to the media center and have them roam around and pick random books.  I ask them to write down the first sentence of each book they pick up and look at the different ways author's hook the reader.  Do they use figurative language?  Dialogue?  A cliffhanger?  Ask a question?  After they have written down a bunch of different examples in their Writing notebook we go over them as a class and see which direction we would like to take in our own writing.  Sadly, we have not had a chance to do this activity yet this year because of our new reading series but I'm thinking we might take a little trip to the media center after the holidays!  I got this idea from Melissa Forney (she is AMAZING!) in one of her books.  If you have never checked her out, you must!  She is a writing guru and has some terrific ideas!

Another one of my kid's favorite activities is Classroom Journals.  I think they like this for a couple different reasons.  The first reason is that it's not graded and they have free reign to write about what they want but on a specific topic (it's the perfect amount of direction for independent fifth graders).  Sometimes just telling them to write about whatever they want is the hardest thing for them!  Another reason I think they love it, is that they can go back and look at what other people wrote about that same topic and brainstorm.  This might not be the best way to engineer originality and creativity but it does get their juices flowing and ideas churning.  My students in fact always run for this station when given the opportunity!

Since you stayed through all of that I think you deserve a special little treat!

A bunch of bloggers have joined up to say THANK YOU.  Thank you for following us.  Thank you for your support, encouragement, and friendship.  We have learned so much from you.  

So we wanted to say thank you with a Gift Card Giveaway.  

Simply fill in the rafflecopter below and you have a chance to win one of 3 prizes. 
(You can fill in the rafflecopter on any of our blogs, it's all the same one.) 

3 lucky winners will win a $25 gift card to TPT.  

Good luck!  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happy Halloween Sale!

In honor of one of my favorite holidays, I am putting everything in my TPT store on sale!  Starting October 30th and ending on October 31, 2013 (after trick-or-treating of course), my entire store will be 20% off!

(Thanks to Becca from First Grade in Foxwell Forest for the super cute button!)

Here are just a few seasonal goodies that you might want to check out!
October Writing Prompt Calendar
October Word Work Activities (FREEBIE!)

Trick-or-Treat: Multi-Digit Multiplication
Trick-or-Treat: Two-Digit-Divisors

Trick-or-Treat: Order of Operations

If you liked the October Word Work activities, you'll love my new Spelling and Vocabulary Stations: Set 1!  They are perfect for any time of year and any spelling or vocabulary list!
Click on any of the images above to take you to my store!  I hope you have a fabulous Halloween and get lots of yummy treats and stay safe!  The next time you hear from me will be after Pumpkin Fest.  Pumpkins guts all day... WISH ME LUCK!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trick or FREEBIE: A Treat of a Blog Hop!

The wonderful ladies and I from A-Classy Collaboration are having a treat filled blog hop starting today and lasting until Halloween!

My treat for you today is my October Word Work pack of activities!  Included are three different spelling and vocabulary activities that will promote learning all while celebrating the Halloween season!

One of the things I love about these activities is that they can be used over and over with new spelling words and vocabulary lists.  It is geared towards intermediate grades but some of your little kiddos might enjoy the enrichment as well!  Included are three different activities: Candy Corn Clues, Spell Recipe, and Witch's Hat.  Click on the any of the images to grab your freebie!

I hope you enjoy this little treat!  Don't forget to head on over to A-Classy Collaboration to see what all the other lovely ladies are giving away this week!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Trick or Treat: Math Games!

I'm linking up with my girl Jivey from Ideas by Jivey for Workshop Wednesday!  Today's (really yesterday's) theme is Math Games.

As some of you know, this is my first year teaching EVERYTHING.  We've always been departmentalized so teaching Math and Science is a whole new adventure for me but I'm loving it!  My kids really enjoy having math games during our Math Workshop because they get to reinforce their skills in a fun and inventive way or they get to apply their learning to real life situations.  Here are just a few of the games you will find in our station tubs right now:

Division Error Analysis and Task Cards by Teaching with a Mountain View
(TWAMV has some AMAZING products and my kids love them)

What I really like about this product is that the kids know right off the bat that the problem is wrong and they have to analyze and explain why it is wrong and how to correct it.  There are 9 problem cards and a blank one where students (or you) can make their own.
 Trick or Treat: Order of Operations, Two-Digit Divisors, and Multi-Digit Multiplication
(We are just finishing up Division and moving into Algebra)

When I first created these games and added them to our math centers, I thought they would be a nice review of skills and a little "treat" to go with the holiday season.  Little did I know what big of a hit they would be!
Students are given 14 equation cards and they have to figure out if the equation is correct (treat) or incorrect (trick).  Once they figure it out, they place the equation card in the right space on the graphic organizer (Trick or Treat).  When they have figured out all equation cards, they check their graphic organizer against the answer sheet.  The kids were hysterical when figuring out whether the answers were "tricks" or "treats."  You could hear them whisper, "It's a trick!" or "Oh!  It's a treat!" HAHA needless to say I will apparently be making more of these as my kids love them!  If you would like to add them to your math centers as well, click on any of the images above to take you to them.
At the moment those are the "top math games" in our math centers.  I know because I had my kids vote, lol!  Don't forget to head on over to Jivey's site and see what other people are doing in their math centers.  I've already checked it out and there are some great ideas that I will be implementing soon!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Silent Tea Party: A Pre-Reading Activity

I'M BACK!!!!!  It's been a crazy month with LOTS going on but I'm back now!  I was saying to my mom and a co-worker yesterday that I feel like I'm doggy paddling through this year, barely keeping my head above water sometimes...  My mom's reply, "At least your head's above water and not under!"  Always the optimist mom :o)  Must be where I get it from and thank goodness, otherwise I would not have made it this far in life y'all!

On to why we're really here!  I found this amazing pre-reading activity around midnight (because I'm the QUEEN of finding amazing lessons at midnight the night before I want to do them) and knew I had to create it for our new novel we're reading, Holes by Louis Sachar.  It's called a Silent Tea Party and requires students to read different quotes from the novel you'll be reading and, using those quotes, students must analyze and infer answers to pre-reading questions about the novel.  I was amazed by some of the student's insight and answers!

Students travel around the room and "meet" other people in class by shaking their hand.  The first handshake indicates that they would like to swap quotes.  The second handshake says, "Here is your quote back.  Thank you for letting me look at it!"  I tell them that there is NO talking because I want to know what THEY think about their new quote, not what their partner thought.  I came up with 20 different quotes so that no two students had the same quote.  As students read the quotes, they need to figure out which question the quote will help them answer.  They will write down their answer and what quote helped them to come up with that answer.  Here the video that I got the idea from!  She also explains it WAY better than I ever could, lol.

I created one for my Holes Literature Unit that is in creation as we speak/read and will be available soon but here is a little example of what my students answered when they did this activity.

From this quote alone:

My students answered part of this question:

With these different outlooks:
  • All said it was a boy because it said "his last day"
  • One student said he was 9-10.  This was very telling because when I asked him why he thought that, he said "because he's in school."  It was interesting to see that he thought a main character could only go as high in age as he was.
  • Another student said he was probably in middle school because he has a "math teacher."  In elementary school you just have a teacher, but in middle school you start to get specific subject teachers.  I had never thought about it that way!
  • Then I told them my thoughts on that particular quote.  I asked my students (fifth graders) to raise their hand if they had learned about ratios yet in school.  No one raised their hand.  They then realized if they hadn't learned about ratios yet, then our main character must be older than fifth grade but still in school so younger than 18.
I absolutely LOVED this as a pre-reading activity because it front loads students with background information going into the novel and requires them to analyze and synthesize new information.  I also like that it can be used for ANY novel.  Once my kids got the hang of how to answer the questions using text-based evidence, they started to see more possibilities than what they had originally answered.  The video talks about using this for complex text but I noticed that you can make a simpler text complex just with this activity alone!

Sorry I have been away for so long but I am glad to be back!  I really appreciate you all sticking by me and the wonderful words of encouragement and wisdom from everyone, especially some of my BBB's, you know who you are!  Without y'all this wouldn't be possible.  So thank you and until next time... Which won't be in another month, I PROMISE!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

1,000 Follower Blogiversary Giveaway Bonanza!

I am so excited to be joining two of my blogging buddies, Diane from Fifth in the Middle and Amelia from Where the Wild Things Learn, for their combined celebration!

They are having amazing giveaways over at their blogs but to enter you have to go on a scavenger hunt!  I always loved scavenger hunts! And the best part of this hunt is you get to hop along and meet some other fabulous bloggers that I just LOVE!

If you click on the image below it will take you to get your own copy of the score card/cheat sheet to fill out as you hop.  You'll need this as you follow through all the blogs because each blog has a special secret number attached to it.  Once you get everyone's super secret number, you'll add them all up and that is your entry into the raffle to get some A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. prizes!  Get your math caps on y'all!

Are you ready for my super secret number???  Well here it is!

Click on the next button to get the next number for your cheat sheet.

If you want to start at the beginning click on the image below.

If you're all done and want to hop to the end, click on the image below.

I hope you all have fabulous time "hunting and hopping" and a marvelous Labor Day weekend!