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Sunday, January 20, 2013

I'm Back!

     I cannot believe how fast winter break had came and went. I was extremely busy up until the last day of school before break and then I got sick. Now we have been back in school for 2 weeks and I am having so much trouble getting back into the swing of things. When the second half of my day begins I just want to crawl under my desk and nap. It feels like jet lag, but Im starting to get over it.

      I have really thrown myself into the CAFE book, and will start to use it in my classroom during reading. If you haven't checked it out yet, do so. I am going to go into school tomorrow and get my CAFE wall ready and my conferencing binder prepared.  I'll keep you all updated on that.

    I just wanted to share some of the things we have worked on in my classroom since I've last posted. We had worked hard on government because of the election. We spent a lot of time talking about the Three Branches of Government. Here are a few pictures of what we made.

    We also created flip books about the four major Native American Regions and we also made totem poles (for the Pacific Northwest). I unfortunately did not get a picture of either of those items! I always forget to take pictures!

   We also did a non-fiction text features study. We compared non-fiction to fiction books. We discussed features and why they were important.

      The week leading up to winter break we did a winter haiku writing unit. The students all wrote their own haikus after discussing what a haiku and syllables were. We also did a poetry reading where we turned out the lights and instead of clapping the kids had to snap their fingers, they thought it was fun to pretend we were in a coffee house. (Maybe next year I'll do hot chocolate to help set the mood? haha) I then had students draw six snowflakes on white card stock with white crayons (NOTE: If you do this project make sure to find some big, chunky white crayons). We then took watercolor paints and painted over the crayon wax. I had all of the student's poems printed out on their artwork.

Here is one that I whipped up real quick. The students did a better job than I did! You really have to push down on the crayons. You also have to get creative with coming up with different designs for each snowflake!

      Before winter break I went to a conference about EL students. One of the things that I really enjoyed and use in my class everyday are sentence frames. They serve several different purposes. One, they state the objective of the lesson you are teaching. Two, it teaches my students to answer their questions in complete sentences while talking. Three, if they can demonstrate their understanding of the objective it is more obvious when they are forced to repeat the frame.

 This is just one example, more specifically, this frame is more of an exit card. I normally will write  something like "I can explain the steps to adding fractions by _____" I always like to use the word CAN. I also try to use words like "I can DEMONSTRATE, or JUSTIFY, or INFER . .  ." I really like it and my kiddos will automatically correct themselves if they forget to answer in a complete sentence. This has also helped improve their writing when they have to answer a question or do a small writing project.

WELP that is all for now - I am going to do my best to try and stay connected, especially with the ISTEP test coming up! This semester will fly by!

Mr. C

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Reading Workshop: What It Looks Like in My Classroom |

Reading Workshop: What It Looks Like in My Classroom |

The Scholastic website has a lot of great resources! Also, check out the Post-it note website.
I really want to work on creating a reading workshop that runs smoothly and where the students learning and USING their strategies. Anyone with ideas? What do you do in your classroom for reading workshop?

Win a Free Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

    I found this website on Pinterest and immediately began to geek out. I have already gone through 2 pencil sharpeners this year! Kids like to jam their pencils in who knows what else they do to these poor machines but I would love to win this! Very cool! Heres the link below!

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Why Didn't I Think of This?!

    So I have a a few special needs students in my classroom. I've been having trouble with trying to get these students to learn the same things as the other kids, but the truth is, they are just on a lower level and can't. BUT they can learn and what I need to focus on is getting them to grow but use materials that are more appropriate to their learning level.
     I began to do searching for resources that would be useful to these students. I mainly am focusing on Social Studies because this is the one area where they do not get one on one interaction. I looked through books at school, found different leveled books, used edhelper and pinterest. I ended up finding this genius idea.
    If you own a mac then you have a program called Garage Band. I believe that there is a program for Windows that is similar, I want to say it is called Acid. I maybe wrong about that though!
   Using garage band I can create my own books on tape. I record myself reading a selection and then can upload it to an iPod or in my case my iPad.

 <------- So first you choose to create a pod cast.

<------- Next you record yourself reading whatever it is you need. This could be a book, a small article, or maybe even just a lecture. Save it and upload it to your iPad.

    Now here is the great part. I went to Wal-Mart and found a splitter to plug into my iPad. A splitter is a device that allows more than one person to plug there head phones into a device. I got this one for 15 dollars and it is made for up to 5 students to use at the same time.

 How awesome?!?! I can now have a small group going using my pre-recorded readings! I can not wait to try this out! I will keep you posted!

The Liebster Award

     Wow! I just had a fellow blogger nominate me for a Liebster Award. I had no clue what the Liebster Award was but after doing some research I found that it is an award that is given to up and coming bloggers. I don't really consider myself to be a true blogger; actually I am very much an amateur when it comes to blogging. 

     Some of you maybe wondering, "What is liebster?" Well, I asked the same question and Google responded with a list of answer. Technology can be great! (When it works right!) 
    From what I have gathered Liebster is German and means: sweetest, dearest kindest, beloved, nicest, lovely, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome. So this award is nominated to welcome new bloggers who have less than 200 followers and encourage them to continue doing what they are doing! Thank you Fifth in the Middle for nominating me!
The Rules: List 11 random thing about yourself.
                             Answer the questions 11 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
                             Nominate 11 other blogs with less than 200 followers.
                             Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer!

Here I go. . . .

11 Random Things about Me 

1. I despise onions. Especially the minced onions on a McDonald's hamburger. No matter how many times I ask for no onion, they always put a giant glob right in the center. Eck!
2. I love karaoke! My go to song is Crocodile Rock
3. I met Kelly Clarkson . . . and I kind of love her. Her greatest hits album just came in the mail. Anyone else a huge K.C fan? Whoop Whoop!
4. I love getting out on the dance floor and letting loose. Where are my glow sticks?! ;-p
5. I dislike country music but secretly want to learn line dancing. 
6. I am trying out a gluten free diet and so far, so good. I just need to find some gluten free bread!
7. When I was 6 I tried to jump off of a moving roller coaster I was so scared. I didn't ride another roller coaster until I was 18 and my friends took me to Disney World. 
8. I am the most unorganized person in the world, yet I always seem to know exactly where to find something I'm looking for. 
9. I'm trying to read Christ Colfer's book "The Land of Stories" but can't because I imagine Kurt from Glee as the narrator. 
10.          I work with the greatest group of people EVER! Seriously, I love going to work just to see my colleagues! 
11.          I would love to move out west one day. My sister, brother in law and niece live in Spokane, Washington and it is the most beautiful place I have ever seen! 
Responses to Questions Fifth in the Middle asked me:
1. What is your favorite classroom holiday activity?  The fifth grade will have a snow day for everyone who can reach his or her math facts goal. We go outside and play in the snow all day! 
2. What is your favorite freebie? I love all freebies! I think it is great when teachers share their ideas and creations for FREE! I have pledged that anything I create and post on TPT will be free. 
3. What is your favorite holiday dish? Pie, any kind of pie. I love pie!
4. Black Friday or Cyber Monday? Neither, my family has started a new tradition where we buy gifts for another family instead of for each other. Trying to get everyone to agree on a day can be challenging but it is a lot of fun!
5. Where is your favorite place to shop for your teaching wardrobe?  I love Express. My kids love that I always match my ties to my socks! 
6. Summer or winter? How about in between summer and winter? Autumn is my favorite.
7. I need a new book to read. What do you recommend? The Art of Racing in the Rain although it made me cry. I mean snot running down my face sort of crying. But it was so good!
8. What is your favorite TV show? I love Parks and Recreation. I love Supernatural.  But my all time favorite was and is Brothers and Sisters before it got cancelled. 
9. What is your favorite dessert? Did I mention I love pie? Blueberry to be more exact. 
10.          What is your favorite sports team? The Colts of course! Go Horse! 
11.          Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip? I like the real deal, mayo for this guy! 

Blogs I am Nominating:
1. Motivating Minds - Great special ed blog! 
2. Mr. B's Beach Brains - I really enjoy reading this blog. It's funny with a lot of great ideas!
3.Faith, Fully Caffeinated, Fifth Grade Teacher - great organization ideas!
4. Lessons From the Middle - great blog I use to help me help stretch some of my AL kiddos! 
5. Fifth Grade Patriots -lots of great resources!
6. Wild About Fifth Grade - another great resource blog!
7.Fourth Grade Racers - I really enjoy reading this blog and it useful resources!
8.The Autism Helper - yet another great resource
9.Teacher Fish at School- inspiring and funny
10.Sting, Keys, and Melodies - a musical blog! 
11.SW Art Gallery- this is my own schools online art gallery created by our fabulous art teacher! Love her!

Questions for my nominees:

1. What is the funniest thing a student has said or asked you this year?
2. Do you have a classroom pet? If not, would you?
3. Who inspired you to teach?
4.Why did you start blogging?
5.Pinterest or TpT?
6. Last book to make you cry?
7. Reading or Math?
8. What do you look forward to when getting home from work?
9. What is your favorite educational book?
10. If you could be any animal, what would you choose?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Worms and Writing

       We do not get a lot of time or chances to do science in our classroom. We have curriculum, all the students have their own books but we never have the time to fit it into our day.
       I obviously use leveled readers in small group reading and we try to make connections about things we know about science to our reading and math studies. I love science and I wanted to be able to take more time than just reading a small reader or watching a Bill Nye the Science Guy movie (although I love me some Bill Nye!). I have about 20-25 minutes a day that students work on writing. We do the Daily 5 (or Daily 4, or even 3 depending on the day and time) but I try to use my reading block as a time where students are fully immersed in reading. 
Get my journal template for free at TPT!

       Anyway, during my writing time I decided to incorporate science and introduced science journals. Science journals could be just a note book or maybe even a three ringed binder that you can add pages to. I made my own! Click on the picture above to download for free, it also comes with an alternate cover page that says "Science Journal" with a picture of a mad scientist.
     We used our science journals to write down questions and observations about what we were studying. I chose to do a unit on worms because I find worms to be extremely fascinating. They do so much and yet are these tiny, little, string creatures. I would love to do a unit on bees but not sure if there are any beekeepers around my area. I need to look into that for next year.
      First in our unit we practiced making list of what we knew about worms, what we wanted to know about worms and then after observations we would list what we learned about worms. I used the KWL chart or course. When I was  student teaching we used KLEW, the E standing for what Evidence we had found to support answers to questions we had. 
     Next we went outside onto the playground and with my principal's permission we began to dig for worms. We wrote in our journals where we found worms, what kind of soil we found worms in, why we thought we found worms where we did, all of those good questions that make us ask more questions. Everything was recorded into our journals. I even had blank pages in the journals so that student could draw pictures to match their writing.  Most days I would give the students prompts on what they needed to write about otherwise the writing would be off topic or not fully developed. We also took measurements of the worms we found and used magnifying glasses to get a better look at our specimens. The possibilities for a worm unit are endless!

I bought small plastic shovels at Wal-Mart for super cheap in their clearance aisle! 


      Lastly we created our own worm habitats. There are a dozen different ways to do it. The first time I ever made a worm habitat I used a tall, skinny Britta pitcher, that way I could see the worms making their tunnels and did not have to search as hard. This time however, I used empty 2 liter pop bottles. I just cut the tops off of the bottles and then my students took turns adding different materials to their habitats and explained to me why they were adding rocks, sand, dead leaves, and egg shells. We started putting our worm habitats in the windows of the classroom but we were not noticing a lot of changes and we never saw our worms. We came to the conclusion that worms live underground where it is dark so we placed our habitats in my closet and a day later we could see tunnels all over! 



This continues to be an ongoing project and we will definitely dive more into this project during the spring as long as we take care of our habitats. We will be doing a huge study on non-fiction text and using all the special features non-fiction texts have.

Have any suggestions? Questions? Comments? Send them my way!

Check out these books as well to go along with this unit!