Saturday, December 28, 2013

Classroom Read Aloud (chapter book version)

The last day before the winter break I kept my students on edge and engaged by reading the December chapter of one of my FAVORITE read aloud chapter books Because of Mr. Terupt. Last year (and years prior) my media specialist came to all the fifth grade classes monthly and read this book to my students. At the end of the year we did a Skype visit with the author Rob Buyea. It was AMAZING!

So when I moved I told myself I would read this to my class. The book follows a fifth grade class (one of the many reasons I love reading this to my class), every chapter is a month in the school year, and in each chapter the main characters tell the story from their point of view! Did I mention how much I love this book?

Each of my students have a three prong folder in which they keep different entries and notes. I wanted a folder because I wasn't sure as to what exactly I was going to put in the folders. Each month/chapter they are given a sheet with each main character listed and a summary box. As I read the chapter they take notes under each character...they list things that happen, things they learn about that character, etc. 

Another thing that I add at different points of the month might be a character study map, prediction sheet, or whatever lessons we may be covering in class. I love that they are connecting what I'm teaching in my mini lessons with the book the entire class is reading. 

Now each student doesn't have a book, I usually project the book from my iPad Kindle app; therefore, I am not able to really do reading comprehension questions. But I do love how the lesson application pages are turning out. I hope to possibly have a packet made for this book...maybe by the end of the year. 

Here is another great part about this book....Mr. Terupt loops with his class to 6th grade!!!! The kids can't wait to get their hands on the next book!!

So that is probably one of my favorite classroom read alouds, here are a few others...what is/are your favorite? 

(great for fifth grade SS curriculum) 

( has a great unit on this one!)

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Joy of Giving

This year, at my new school, I was introduced to a project called The Joy of Giving (this can be done at any time of the year, maybe a new year's project).

I really love this idea, and there is not much work involved for the teachers. If you are like me taking on yet another project is a huge task, so this was perfect!

It lasts 5 is how our committee set it up:

Day 1: Random Act of Kindness
  This is pretty simple, the students complete one random act of kindness. We sent home a little sheet of paper that they could fill out explaining what their random act of kindness was. They could return it to the teacher. During that day they could possibly share and discuss random acts of kindness. I suggest showing this Kid President video (LOVE Kid President)!!

Day 2: Local Food Drive
   Find a local food bank to participate with, this time of year there are MANY food drives. Have the students bring in  a canned food or other non-perishable food item that is not expired and is unopened to school.  Have a large box or designated place for the students to drop the items. Call the food bank to come pick up the items (maybe at an assembly or in your classroom, so that the students can actually meet/talk with the organization where the items are going), or deliver them yourself.

Day 3: Book Drive
  Find a local or other place that is in need of books (new and/or gently used). Here is the one we are using: Books for Kigutu is a charitable organization that brings books to the children in Burundi, East Africa. The highest need right now is gently used or new preschool books, board books, and books for children ages 3-6.

Day 4: Make a donation to an Animal Shelter
  Call a local animal shelter and ask what they are in need of. Most shelters (especially during this time of year) need blankets, bedding, etc. These items can new and sometimes gently used. Our local shelter is in need of:  cat food, canned and dry with no red dye, dry and canned dog food, collars and leashes, towels, blankets and washable bedding. Again have a designated box or bin for the students to bring items in. Once again your can deliver them yourself or have a representative come to your classroom, pick up the items, and talk to your school/class as to what they do, how the items will be used, etc. 

Day 5: Helping a Homeless Shelter
  Call a local homeless shelters and ask what your school/class could do to help. These could be simple donations, writing Christmas cards, etc. Once again have a donation box and invite a representative to come pick up the items so that the students can talk to them, ask questions, etc. If they aren't available you can deliver the items or have a volunteer to do so. 

The idea is that the students demonstrate the act of giving within their own  neighborhood (local), community (city/county), and world wide! I really like the idea of asking representatives from each place to come in and collect the donations as well as talk to your class/school. This allows the children to get a better idea of how their donations are being used, what these places do to help the community, and such. 

Another idea is to have the students make a kindness chain...for each act they do they can add a link to the chain. You can have them write their act on the chain, or simply add a link. This is something that can be kept up through the entire school year, if at any time they complete another act they may add a link. 

This was suppose to start this week for my school, however due to the weather conditions we have already been out for three days! I'll update you as soon as we are able to get this started. 

Enjoy the snow pics! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Classroom Ornaments

Every year I tend to make the same keepsake ornament, mostly because it's so darn cute! I will admit a tad messy though. I've posted a DIY for this ornament before (click here to view it).

This year...I haven't made up my mind yet. My art class is working on a stained glass project, and if I thought about it I should have started the ornaments then...last week. But I have been on the search for something cute, simple, and not too "school craft" looking (does that make sense). I want keepsake ornaments to be worth the keeping part :)

I came across a few from Better Homes and Garden (LOVE them). Here are the ones I thought were adorable!

Click here for the website, with pictures and directions for most of these ornaments.

I'll share an update if I choose a different ornament...if the ice melts and we can go back to school!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Class Dojo and Cyber Monday Sale

I made it through my first conferences in Oregon. The students were off for the whole week of Thanksgiving and the teachers conducted parent/teacher conferences Monday through Wednesday. I did manage to get a few things done in between my conferences, but of course not as much as I thought I would or wanted. When do we ever?!?

So I wanted to share with you all my new behavior management system (click here to read about it, I have modified it a little since this post, but you get the idea). I still use the behavior checklist and folder system, but mostly to "document" the bad behaviors or lack of responsibility. This is also for the parents.

I'm not sure why I didn't try it before! may be the age of my students, but they LOVE it! Maybe it's the closest they can get to a video game?!?

They get to design their own little "monster" avatar and can track their dojo points. The parents can also make log ins and track all of their behavior. I have gotten nothing but great feedback from my parents.

I sat with my class and we made our own positive and negative point awards

I love that I can project it on my smart board, use my iPad as I am in small group, or even an iPod! I can be walking around the room monitoring, or in a small group and as soon as my students hear the "ding" noise they know that someone has gotten points. I have never seen so many students "snap" to attention or get on task so quickly!

Everyday we set a new positive point goal for the students to strive for. For example: the top three positive point earners get 2 punches on their behavior punch card, and two owl feather (a school wide positive behavior system) then the top 10 positive point earners may get one punch and one owl feather. We also do positive percentages for the end of the week, to earn Fun Friday (my teaching partner and I do a study hall/fun Friday incentive). The kids love that there are different incentives. And if you don't follow me and know my behavior system they can earn passes and small pieces of candy for their behavior punch cards.

They really like looking at the class averages, percentages, trends, and such. We have already done some math with it all...who would have thought!?!?

The best's ALL FREE!!!!! I found it pretty easy to use and manage. Have you tried it or do you use it??

Next...I am having a sale at my Teacher's Pay Teachers site...I know it's been a little while since I have actually put items on my site/store. I really wish I had more time. But take a look around and see if you like anything. I know a lot of the other stores are also having Cyber Monday/Tuesday sales! I plan on taking advantage of them! 

Lastly I wanted to throw a few questions out there and see what type of response I get...

Does anyone use the performance based grading system? If so what are your thoughts? What is your scale? How in the world do you do it?!?! 

Obviously I'm now having to use it...and it is very very difficult to adjust to! VERY DIFFICULT...and I'm not the only one, some teachers that have used it before are even struggling with the whole idea. 

Oh and while your there...check out these AMAZING reading logs! I LOVE LOVE LOVE them, they are exactly what I would create if I had time :)  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Last Minute Thanksgiving (seems to be a trend)

I must quit reading blogs and catching up and write this post, I have SO much to share with you all. But will try to pace myself.

If you don't remember or are new to my blog...I posted a few Thanksgiving lessons last year (click here). One "addition" I made this year was to expand the Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving lesson.

This year I am reading the book to my kiddos, after a few leading questions and discussion...I hope that they will realize the similarities to Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving. I will then give them the Venn Diagram with the QR code in the corner (see below). The QR code links them to a You Tube video of an animated reading of Twas the Night Before Christmas. They will watch the video then use the Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the two poems. Click below for the printable, there are two per page so they can glue it into their Reading journals.

After we share our "findings" and complete a class Venn Diagram they will then make their Turkey Survival Kit booklet (what we can sell to turkeys so that they can survive Thanksgiving without becoming dinner). 

Finally tonight I'm going to leave you with one of our art lessons....I had a lot of fun with this fall/Thanksgiving craft. Sorry in advance for the sideways pics, when I uploaded them from my phone they are showing up correctly in my gallery but as soon as I put them in blogger they flip! 

Step 1: Go on a nature walk and collect leaves, who doesn't like doing that?!

Step 2: Using fall colors complete a leaf rubbing, overlapping the leaves and colors. 

Step 3: Print (in different fonts) words such as Thankful, Fall, Thanks, etc. Have the students choose one and tape it to their desk. Then discuss the definition of overlay and give examples. Hand them an overhead projector sheet (transparency)...they flipped out that they were going to use one! Give them a Sharpie and have them trace the word from the printed page to the transparency, by laying it on top of the one taped on the desk. 

Step 4: Make a frame out of a long piece of art's hard to explain without pictures, but when I did it with the kids they were AMAZED!

Step 5: Tape the leaf rubbing inside the frame, tape the overlay over the rubbing, close the frame and tape it shut if you want. I LOVE how these came out (did I say that already)

Here are a few more

As an added bonus for my loyal readers I am attaching some QR codes! Here are two sheets of codes that when scanned will just show text...the numbers 1-36 (each QR code is a different number). You can use these for many things. 

My students wrote descriptive paragraphs for their monsters from the I Need My Monster glyph activity. When writing the paragraph they used the descriptive words and such that they wanted their monsters to actually look/be like. They were also "cryptic" in their writing, so as to not give away which monster was theirs too easily. 

Using the paragraph they wrote and the glyph key students from another class, and their parents, had to try and find that monster...located on our monster wall (each monster has a number attached to it). Once they guess which monster fits that description they then scan the attached QR code to reveal the correct monster's see if they were right! I can see us doing many different activities like this in the future. Feel free to use these codes and let me know what you use them for!! Click here to download

Finally I leave you with this...I have changed my behavior management by adding Class Dojo! THEY LOVE IT, and so do my parents!!!! I'll have to update you on that soon!

Have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Topic Charts

I am alive and most teachers you dive into the school year and are lucky to come up for breath before Thanksgiving! We have done some fun things, and every time we do something I think..."I would love to blog about this!" Then before I know it...another week has past.

One of these days I'll catch promises though!

I did want to share my old and new topic charts that we are using in the room. It's just a general chart that shows an overall "snapshot" of our topic we are discussing/learning. I don't really consider them anchor charts, to me those are more specific. But they are a quick reference for the students.

Sorry for the short post, but enjoy the pictures (my good camera is on the fritz so these are taken with my phone).

Saturday, October 19, 2013

I LOVE books!

For the past two weeks my class has been enthralled in some amazing books! We have been working hard on comparing and contrasting different elements of text. I thought I would share some of the books we have been using and what we have been using them for. (Some of these I may have posted about before)

We used this book to compare and contrast character dialogue. Before we even charted using a simple t-chart, I read the book. Then we went back through noting the dialogue. They were shocked to realize that one of the characters didn't say a thing in the beginning and middle...but when he did speak it was important and the climax of the story!

This book is SO powerful! I used it to talk about how setting can affect and change a character, also how a character changes, we compared and contrasted how she felt in the beginning versus the end.

I know that I talked about this next book before, but I love it...and so do the students! There is so much to discuss about in this book. We first used it to compare and contrast the two characters.

We then read Teammates and compared the two characters. The next day we compared and contrasted the two stories (Pink and Say with Teammates) was AMAZING some of the things the students came up with: "they are both battling the same thing even though they are decades apart", "the both wore uniforms". Great discussions!!!

We then compared and contrasted stories written by the same author (how the story itself was structured, written, etc.)

As we moved on we started a Character unit. I will share my Reading notebook and classroom focus/topic poster soon! But I wanted to share the students' favorite book, they couldn't stop talking about this one and the character traits that they discussed were great.

ENJOY these great mentor texts!