Thursday, January 30, 2014

Valentine's Day Freebies and Our Winners!

It's been crazy here in Georgia for the last few thankful that everyone is safe now! And tomorrow we head back to school after being off the last 2 days......enjoyed sleeping in but will not enjoy making these days up this summer!

I wanted to take a minute to share our PIN IT TO WIN IT winners from Sunday! These 2 winners won a copy of our When Washington Crossed the Delaware Common Core Unit. Congratulations!  :)

Also, I have created a couple of Valentine's Day FREEBIES that I hope can be useful to you!

Have a great evening!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

When Washington Crossed the Delaware {A Must Read Mentor Text for Social Studies}

Happy Sunday!

It's time for our weekly Must Read Mentor Text Linky! This week's topic is Social Studies. I am excited to share this great book by Lynne Cheney. 
When Washington Crossed the Delaware Description: "Christmas night, 1776, was a troubled time for our young country. In the six months since the Declaration of Independence had been signed, General George Washington and his troops had suffered defeat after defeat at the hands of the British. It looked as though our struggle for independence might be doomed, when Washington made a bold decision. He would lead the main body of his army across the Delaware River and launch a surprise attack on enemy forces. Washington and his men were going against the odds. It seemed impossible that the ragtag Americans could succeed against the mightiest power in the world. But the men who started across the icy Delaware loved their country and their leader. Under his command they would turn the tide of battle and change the course of history. Best-selling author Lynne Cheney tells the dramatic story of the military campaign that began on Christmas night in 1776. When Washington Crossed the Delaware will teach the young about the heroism, persistence, and patriotism of those who came before them."

I found this book last year while I was teaching about the American Revolution. It gives an excellent account of Washington's crossing of the Delaware. My students were so intrigued as I read this story of courage and determination. I absolutely love the captivating way that Cheney tells this story. 

The illustrations are phenomenal too! The kids can learn so much just by analyzing the paintings. 

The picture above portrays the scene of soldiers listening to Thomas Paine's encouraging and empowering words.

I also like how Cheney includes quotes from famous Americans on each page to support the text and illustrations. 

This book is perfect to use in Social Studies while I teach about the American Revolution, but it is also filled with opportunities for integration in Language Arts. Students can summarize, infer, and make predictions about what they are reading. 

I love to use this book for close reading because students can analyze the text and illustrations. For close reading, I photocopy a page of the book, and then I have students paste it into their notebooks. They work in groups or independently to dig into the text. They highlight, underline, circle and annotate all over the page in their notebook. 

This year, I am going to use this book in my Language Arts block for a couple of weeks. We will spend time analyzing the text and writing about what we learn. I created a unit based on Common Core standards to accompany our study of this amazing book. It's available in our Teachers Pay Teachers Store if you are interested. 

You can also PIN IT TO WIN IT
Here's all you need to do:
1) Pin the Pack on Pinterest (please make sure it is the image directly above).
2) Leave a comment with your email and the Pinterest ID in the comment (all you have to do is copy the URL after you pin it to your board and then paste it into the comment section).

That's it!  I will use a random number generator to find 2 lucky winners. Thanks for entering!  :O)

Thanks so much for stopping by! I can't wait to hear about all of your Social Studies mentor texts! 
Please Link Up!  :)
Have a great rest of your weekend!

Next week's linky- Language Arts

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Positive Behavior Management {A Candy Store, Arts and Crafts, and Games Galore}

Hi, Y'all!

I wanted to take a few minutes to share with you a fun way that Amanda and I rewarded our students' positive behavior yesterday!  :)

Both of us use a "money" system in our classroom to encourage and reward positive behavior. The students have opportunities each day to earn "money" that they can then use to buy special rewards.

In the past, I have always used a candy box, treasure box, and a variety of passes such as wear slippers to school, no homework, sit with a friend at lunch, etc... I still have used these throughout the year, but Amanda and I wanted to try something EXTRA this year that could REALLY MOTIVATE our kids! So...........we planned a special afternoon for our kids- they were able to trade in their money for:

1) Extra Computer Time
2) Arts and Crafts
3) Candy Store
4) Extra Recess
5) Games (Board game, electronics, etc...)
6) Popcorn
7) Soda

The kids were ECSTATIC!!! I was hopeful that they would enjoy it, but they truly LOVED it! And they already are asking when we will do it again!!!

Now, I have used all of the above rewards before except the Arts and Crafts and the Candy Store. Those were new, and the students couldn't wait to see what they were all about it!

For the Arts and Crafts Station, the kids got to choose from a variety of materials that I picked up from the clearance section at Michael's and from Dollar Tree. And then they got to play! They were able to create whatever they wanted! It was so awesome for me to get to watch the excitement on their faces as they used pom poms, pipe cleaners, glitter, stickers, glitter glue and more! Yes, it was messy, but it was worth it! :)

For the Candy Store, I set up a mini candy counter. You can see the pic below.  :)  The kids got to fill a bag with wrapped candy, and then they got to fill another bag with scoops of unwrapped candy. They were THRILLED! One of my kids looked at me and said, "Mrs. K, you have outdone yourself! Wow!"  :)
It was fun!!!

My hope is to do another fun afternoon at the end of the year and to include even more stations that the students can choose from- maybe a video game station? or face painting? or jewelry making? Who Knows!

I am linking up with my good friend Joanne for her Sparking Student Motivation Linky. Please check out all of her awesome ideas and link ups!

Have a great Saturday! :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Look- Blog Redesign

Hey there!  Did you check in with us yesterday for our Mentor Text Linky?  Did you wonder if you were in the wrong place?  ;O)

You weren't!!  Megan from A Bird in Hand Blog Designs and I Teach What's Your Superpower gave us an awesome makeover!!

A Bird in Hand Designs

What do you think?

From this:

to this:

We loved our dots but we wanted an update!  What do you think?  Do you like it?  

Isn't Megan AMAZING??  She has infinite patience with teacher bloggers who are OCD and think they know what they want plus an incredible talent to make it even better than what we imagined!!  If you need a blog design, we HIGHLY recommend her!  Thanks Megan!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Light and Color {Mentor Text Linky}

Happy Sunday to Everyone!

I've got a new book to share with you for our Must Read Mentor Text Linky. Today's topic is Science.

I LOVE teaching Science, and I especially love teaching it using my favorite mentor texts! Well, my students and I are moving in to a unit on light so I thought that I would share a great informational book I have that is filled with wonderful photographs and examples. It is from a series called "Straightforward Science."

Light and Color 

This book covers the topics of where light comes from, shadows, light and materials, bending light, and much more! I don't read the whole book straight through with my students. Instead, I pick and choose certain pages to share with them depending on the skill we are covering during that lesson. 

Last year, for example, I photocopied one of the pages and shrunk it down on the copier so that my students could paste it into their science notebooks. Then, together we used that page to take our interactive notes. I LOVE interactive note taking! :)

Here are some examples of what the pages look like. They have headings, photographs, captions, diagrams, and ideas for investigation!

I really love that there is a glossary at the back because it is a great resource for me and my students! One fun thing I like to do sometimes is have my students create their own glossaries in their science notebooks, so this would be a fantastic tool to help them add to their glossaries. 

I am currently working on creating a unit about light....with articles and interactive flip books and if you teach about this, please stay tuned....   :)

I would love to hear what Science books are your favorites, and what you are using right now! Please link up with us!  

Have a wonderful weekend!

Next week's linky- Social Studies

Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Day Our Way- Our Daily Schedule

Hey there!

We are linking up with Amelia from Where the Wild Things Learn for her linky
We get a lot of questions as to how our day runs, and so with this linky, you can see how several classroom schedules go!!

Here is a brief glimpse of our schedule below, and I will explain it in more depth as well!!
Here's a breakdown on how these times work out!  These are approximate since we know how it goes with a can take more or less time than you expect...

7:45-8:15  Morning Work-  Our buses come in two loads so we have to have something for our students to do when they come in.  Usually, this is honestly the only assignment that I give during the day that's a worksheet for a grade.  I alternate the subjects and it works well as far as getting grades when I need them!

8:15-8:25   Morning Meeting-  I posted about this HERE in more detail, but as they finish their morning work, they go to the carpet with a book and read quietly while we wait for the morning announcements (it's a news show that runs just before 8:15 or so).  Once the news show is over, they start our morning meeting where they can share anything they want.

8:25-8:35  Calendar Math- I have students who leave to go to Advanced Math.  Each week I put up a number of the week.  From there, they do different things with the number or I may give them a short multiplication problem, fraction, etc, depending on what I feel we need to review or preview.  I also have a calendar up that has the numbers for the month in a pattern.  This month's is all about lines.  Lines, line segments, rays, parallel lines, intersecting lines, and perpendicular lines.  Since we haven't gotten to geometry yet, this is a great review from last year and a preview for this year!

8:35-8:50   Math Minilesson-  During this time I do a minilesson on the skill for the day.  We take notes in our journals or we may use the Mimio to do virutal manipulatives.  It depends on the skill. 

8:50-9:10   Guided Math Group- I LOVE guided math and so we move into groups.  Some days I don't need to do a minilesson because I may need more time in groups.  But, when I do a minilesson, this is when I shoot to start groups.  I also have a Special Education teacher that pushes in with me and she pulls a group at this time.

9:10-9:30  Guided Math Group-  I pull my second group.  Usually, when students are not in a group with me, they are doing math games, working on the iPads, or working on problem solving.  It depends on the week.  I don't have a super cute, organized board that I use for centers.  It really just depends on what my kids need at the time. It may change day to day or week to week.  Just depends...which I know is annoying but I guess I'm a tad flexible in that way!  

In groups, I'm working on the skill using manipulatives and paper and I'm mostly just observing them to see what they are doing and where they may have misconceptions.  I have found that whole group math lessons allow students to hide their thinking.  We use white boards in my minilessons and they like to copy one another.  When they are in small group with me, they can't hide!

9:30-10:10  Social Studies-  My Advanced Math students come back.  I'm technically supposed to do Social Studies and Science during this time, but I just can't cram it all in.  I like to use picture books as much as possible.  I also use articles and we do interactive notes.  I incoroporate YouTube as much as I can or Brain Pop to change things up!

10:15-11:05   Specials  (Art, Pe, Music, or Science)

11:05-11:10  Restroom

11:20-11:45  Lunch.  We have a weird 5 minutes in between specials, restroom, and lunch.  Sometimes if it's enough time I'll do some of our read-aloud book.

11:45-12:10   Recess and Restroom again

12:15-12:30    I have students leave for Advanced Language Arts.  The first thing we do every day is Mentor Sentences.  By 12:30 a different Special Ed teacher pushes in.  

12:30-1:00   Mondays and Tuesdays I do a Reading Minilesson.  Wednesdays and Thursdays I do a Writing Minilesson.  Fridays, it's usually a spelling and mentor sentence assessment and then we go to the computer lab at 1:00.

I alternate reading and writing because I just don't have time to do both and so I can get to guided reading groups.  It's been working pretty well so far.  Plus, I do try to integrate both reading and writing into science and social studies as much as possible, so that helps!

Everyday I have students pulled out for ESOL during this time (12:45-1:30) and two days a week I have gifted students that go out for a gifted class (which is why I have to have this schedule- I don't want them to miss anything super important that I can't catch them up on by pulling them for a short small group).  It's a mess.

1:00-1:15  Grammar or Word Study.  I alternate these, too, so I have enough time to really teach it.

1:15-1:30   Guided Reading Group-  I meet with my first group and my collab teacher pulls her first group.  I do meet with my two groups every day and she does, too.  That's definitely a perk for having a teacher push in!!  I'm so glad we get to meet with students every day!

1:30-1:45   Guided Reading Group-  While I'm meeting with them, students are reading independently, going to the media center, or working on iPads or center activities.  It depends on the day and the skills we are working on.  Again, I don't have a cute schedule because it changes, but it is my goal to get something more concrete next year.   This year, I feel like the time is so short (ideally I'd like more than 15 minutes per group) that I can't stick to a schedule and I get stressed if kids don't get finished with something or they don't all get to every center.  It's something I'm working on!  :O)

1:45-2:35  Science-  Really, I only have all of my class until 2:10. Then, students are pulled out for small groups.  It's not every day and it depends which kids on which days (it's enough to make you a little crazy) but when I have all of them, we do science the whole time.  When I don't have all of them, I teach until 2:10, then we stop and those that are left with me do DBQs based around science and social studies. (This is a primary source picture that I project on the white board that has a question attached that they answer- there's more writing!)

2:35-2:45  Read Aloud and Pack up- During this time I do read from a book (right now it's Wonder) while students write their assignments in their agendas and pack up.

2:45  Bus call and Dismissal

*I'm pretty tied into this schedule due to all of the students that go to different places throughout the day.  This can be frustrating at times when I need more time on one thing and less on another but I can't change my schedule because I may not have all the kids I need.

Phew.  I think that's everything...although I'm not sure if I explained everything thoroughly enough, so if I didn't, just leave a comment and I'll answer and go back and edit the post!!  :O)

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Snow Globe Figurative Language!

Hey there!!

I wanted to share an activity that we just did that was really fun!!  A few weeks ago Amanda from My Shoe String Life shared a book called Snow by Cynthia Rylant and how she used it with figurative language!!
I love Cynthia Rylant and I love figurative language, so this was a win-win for me!  Expecially since I had this wonderful pack from Runde's Room that I wanted to do!!  Score!!

I just love these 3-D craftivities!  Which is why we did the New Year's Goal setting with her cute freebie as well!!

We learned about figurative language at the beginning of the year, so this was a perfect time for a review!  We took notes in our reading journals (forgot to take a picture of that, sorry!) with the definition for each one.

Then, we used sticky notes as we read the story Snow and found examples of figurative language.  We found similies, personification, and they found alliteration.  We did not find idioms, onomatopoeia, or a metaphor, but since we knew what those were, we decided we could write our own!!

On each snow globe, students wrote the definition on the base, a sentence that used the figurative language inside the snow, and then drew a picture inside the snowglobe to go with it!

It actually took us about 2 different class periods to do this because of the writing, drawing, coloring, cutting, and pasting, but they loved it, so it was totally worth it!  Plus, they turned out really cute!

I just have to figure out how to display them so they aren't rolling around on their desks.  Once again, I wish I could hang them from the ceiling, but the Fire Marshal won't allow THAT so...I'm still working on the display!  ;O)

We've also read the story Snow Globe Family that was recommended by the wonderful AMC from Looking from Third to Fourth and we are working on our snow globe stories.  We will be making snow globes with pictures with the kids in them...but that's still a work in progress!  :O)

We are linking this up to Jivey's Workshop Wednesday as a fun Wintry Writing idea!!  Go check out more ideas over there!  What are some of your fun wintry writing activities?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Opinion Writing about Eating Bugs! Yum!

Do you like eating bugs? Would you want to eat bugs? This was my topic of conversation with my students on Friday. As you can imagine, it caught their attention! :)  Let me explain...

Some of the other fourth grade teachers and Amanda and I all subscribe to a Scholastic Magazine called Storyworks. This is our first year using this particular magazine, and we all LOVE it! Each issue is filled with high interest fiction, nonfiction, drama and much more! Well, on the back cover of the November/December issue (yes, I'm a lil behind...) there is an infographic of a person's mouth eating a grasshopper! Yum or Ick!?!

As soon as I passed the magazines out, I heard "Ewwwww and Ugghhhhhhh and What?!" They were immediately engaged. I said let's start there on the back cover. We read and analyzed the infographic (an informational graphic) together. It explained all of the "pros" for eating bugs. The students and I were sparked great discussion. 

So, then I told them that they were going to work in a group to write me a letter convincing me to start eating bugs....not an easy task! Of course being the clever fourth graders that they are, they added, "If we really convince you, will YOU eat a bug?!" they still had a fun time trying!  :)

Here is an example of their opinion writing letter:

As the groups read their letters aloud, I recorded their reasons on chart paper. And just to get another perspective, I let one group convince me NOT to eat bugs. This was great practice on analyzing both sides of an issue. I recorded those responses too, and then we took a poll. Turns out, most of the class would NOT eat bugs unless they HAD to...I think I am with them....   :)

I loved this lesson because it TRULY engaged my students in opinion writing and it got them thinking! 
Do you have any fun lessons you do for opionion writing? I would love to hear some ideas!  :)

And since I have never done bug writing before, I am linking up with my sweet friend Holly for her Tried it Tuesday. Please be sure to check out her Linky. I am headed there now to browse all the great ideas!  

Happy Tuesday!
-Stacia  :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Remainder of One- A Division with Remainders Must Read Mentor Text!

Hey there!

I think the hardest week to link up to Must Read Mentor Texts is math.  We probably get the least amount of link ups because it can be hard to find literature for math or we don't use literature in math as much as we want to because there is SO MUCH to teach!  Buuuuuut, even if it's just us with a text, that's ok!!  We are determined to be able to find a math text to be able to share once a month!  :O)

That being said, it's time for
So, one of my blogging resolutions was to share more photos of what were are doing in action!!  I've done fairly well this week taking pictures, even if it's after the fact.  But, I did make sure I was prepared during the lesson I did using math literature this week!

Ok, so the book I want to share is

I'll give you a brief synopsis of this book.  There are 25 bugs that are marching in a parade.  They are trying to decide how many should march in a line.  They start with 2 lines.  Well, the queen is ok with this until she sees Joe, the bug that's marching by himself because he is the REMAINDER OF ONE since 25 divided into 2 lines does not work evenly.  So, they basically throw Joe out of the parade!  Awful, I know!  Poor Joe can't sleep so he keeps trying to find a way that he can be included!  He tries 3 lines, then 4, and finally finds out that 5 lines work best!!!

**The following is an honest lesson that was by no means perfect, but was real (teaching) life!  You know, when you start a lesson and have all these ideas of what you want to happen but about 5 minutes in you realize, Whoa, Nelly, they aren't ready!  We have some work to do!  Yeah, that kind of lesson!**

When I taught 3rd grade, I always used this book to introduce division with remainders.  I wanted to make clear what a remainder is (leftovers).   Now, we began reviewing division before the break (I teach 4th), and so when we came back, I wanted to be sure they all remembered their basic division because we needed to move on to division with bigger numbers.  We had "touched" on remainders, and I wanted to finish up with it and move on.  I have also found with my class this year, they can do math, but they have a HARD time showing it, specifically with manipulatives (no matter how many times we use them!).

So, when I started this lesson this past week, I really thought that they would have all heard this book in 3rd grade.  Well, you know what they say about assuming.  That proves true for me EVERY time!  I asked how many of them had heard the book (totally expecting all of them to raise their hands) and only ONE had seen it.  So, at that point, I knew the lesson would be longer than I had planned!

So, we used Unifix cubes with the book, like I did when I taught 3rd.  They got 25 cubes and we went through the whole book.  They divided them into 2 lines, then 3, 4. and 5.  The observations alone that I was able to make were VERY helpful in understanding my students and I became very glad I did this.  Again, don't assume anything, I tell ya!!  I thought this would be easy peasy.  It wasn't.  I know they learned it last year, but it was a matter of them remembering it!

(Look at the little guy on the right.  When I came over to take the picture he hid the remainder.  So, I asked him how 25 divides into 4 lines evenly?  He looked at me and I asked, "Where's Joe?"  He sheepishly showed me the yellow cube.  I asked, "You weren't kicking Joe out of the parade too, were you?"  He said, "Weeeeeeeell...."  So we had another conversation about why remainders are still important and still a part of the group!!!  You wouldn't want to be left out, would you??  No!!!!)

It definitely helped going through the story with the manipulatives.  I had been trying to get my students to draw pictures for the division we had been doing and so many of them didn't want to!  But they were getting it wrong! So, I think this helped because after my observations, I think some of them just weren't comfortable with the remainders.  They had to get over the hurdle that it's okay to have leftovers!

Well, my whole point in reading the book in the beginning was that I wanted to take it to the next level.  My original thought was to have them create their own book with different remainders.  This was the next step I wanted to take after we did our reviewing.

So, I gave them the challenge of creating their own book.  They decided they wanted to use British soldiers since we had just started talking about the causes of the American Revolution.

They wanted to use 100 British soldiers.  I was pretty happy with that, I'm not gonna lie.  We were using a "big" number, which was what I was trying to get to, plus incorporate social studies (sort of)!  Happy me!

I paired the students up and they each got 50 cubes and combined it with their partner.  That is a whole other observation tool- watching kids count out 50 cubes!!
(The hope is that they won't count one to one, that they'll maybe count by twos or group them.  Many of them did, but I was able to see who still counts one to one and who may need some review with number sense/place value!)

So, they had their cubes.  We wanted the end of the story to end like A Remainder of One where it divides evenly.  So, I pulled a student's name from my sticks (I have their names on craft sticks and I pull names occasionally for activities) and that student and her partner got the last page!  They chose a number that divides into 100 evenly.

From there, I went to each pair and asked how many lines they wanted their soldiers in (it could not divide into 100 evenly because they needed a remainder).  Now, I understand that 35 lines of soldiers is probably not practical, but in using big numbers, I was okay with them trying it.  Once they had their divisor, they set to work with the cubes, making their lines of "soldiers."
After they had their answer, they created a page for our book.  Now, since the lesson went waaaaaaaay longer than anticipated, they only got started on their book pages, so I have a picture of their work in progress!
It says, "100 British soldiers marching through, divided into 9 lines is what they decided to do."  Then it says "King George got mad at the soldier that was not in a group." (They had a remainder of 1.)  Bless them, their array is a little crooked, but you gotta love their "redcoats"!!

So, this is how I used this book.  It was a lesson that started a little rough around the edges, but turned out being very valuable for my students and for me!  That's what I love about books.   You might think they will be too "easy" but may find out, it's just what they needed!!

I really do love this book!  I hope if you teach division, you'll check it out!!  :O)

Please Link Up!

Next week's linky- Science
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