Friday, September 27, 2013

Thank Goodness It's Five for Friday!

I'm keeping this Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching highly visual this week because I'm flat out exhausted! I forgot to get my breakfast out of my microwave today - yeah, it's that kind of day! Actually, it's been one of those weeks.... whew!!!....

My second bell finally finished their mosaics yesterday! Some of their projects turned out really, really well! This one from the Southeast was one of my favorites because of the American Indian in the chickee with his deer skin leggins. Love it! I felt bad that none of their projects were able to be featured in my blog post about American Indian mosaics but that's what happens when you write a scheduled post! So, here's one from that class so they're not left out! Check out that post here to learn more!

O-H-I-O! Let's GO BUCKEYES! Today, was Ohio State spirit day at school. The kids wore red and gray were really getting into it. I love that our principal really gets the kids excited about different events and gets the teachers excited too! I still {heart} spirit days!

We worked on finding evidence to support our thinking in Reader's Workshop this week. I think my fifth graders did a stellar job! Look at all this textual evidence....

We had library this week! It's amazing how engrossed 53 students can be during a book talk! It warms my heart so I just had to share this happy teacher moment! They were hearing parts from the book Homer Price.

My workshop charts are certainly growing although I haven't been keeping up with them as much as I should... But, I did add two about personal essays (they're on another wall) and one about "What good readers do?" this week! So I felt pretty good about that!

Hope everyone has a great Friday,

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Native American Mosaics

We're still studying Native Americans.... It seems like we've been in this unit for a while now but we're finally getting ready to wrap things up next week! As a end of unit activity, small groups were assigned one of the cultural regions. They will become "experts" and teach the class about the culture of that region. Then as a visual, they created mosaics that also show us something about that region's way of life. I will be projecting their final mosaics on the SMARTboard so that all students are able to see the finished masterpieces.

Here's the direction sheet that the students were given...  However, first credit and a great big THANK YOU goes to Mrs. Brewer who created this project!

Students could use the textbook or an electronic device (if they had one) to look up information on their specific cultural region. Our textbook lists out seven different regions. The state of Ohio refers to nine different regions - as the teacher you can decide how you want to assign groups or split up the kids. I decided to do the seven regions from the textbook so all groups could have access to information and then teach the Arctic and Subarctic separately.

We talked about mosaics and students discussed examples they had seen in their lives. Luckily, the primary building has large mosaics on the wall. Score! Then, we talked about the materials they would be using. Since, I was fresh out of tile, glass, and quartz -- they would be using a variety of construction paper to create their mosaics?! The confused looks are wonderful. I explain that they will be ripping up little bits of paper to create their artwork - just like a real artist needs to fit together all the pieces in a mosaic. It's a great project and the look amazing! We will be discussing that "sunny" is not a climate - but besides that, I'm impressed!

Here are some of my finished masterpieces from this year!

Students will share their mosaics and then other students will take notes on the climate and ways of life of each region. Each group will get essentially be the teacher for a day (15 minutes) and share their work and region! It's always a fun project and a great stress relief for the students! Plus, I charge class dollars for construction paper on the floor so my floors are always spotless even after a shredding frenzy!

Native Americans Linky

Don't forget to link up with Diane at Fifth in the Middle with your Native American lesson ideas!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My September SLANT BOX!

So, today was hot mess sort of day... We had MAP testing and library. So, I think I saw my homeroom for a total of 20 minutes for actual teaching today. Needless to say after sitting silently during MAP and then listening to the library presentation silently - my students were a bit out of sorts! So, we finished up our mosiacs (on the blog calendar for tomorrow) and called it a day! I did get to teach my second block for the entire class period, however, but my brain was frazzled from earlier in the day.

Here's my desk and back table at the end of the day.... It's a hot mess. I know it. You can tell I was running around all day or teaching... nothing is organized, things are thrown every which way and there is a hot mess of Native American projects on the back table! Yikes!!!

So, I stayed a little later so I could try and tame the choas... I think I succeed at least a little bit.

And then I came home to find my #SLANTbox waiting at my door! It was the perfect treat after a really long hump day! After organizing, grading, and cleaning up my desk... I couldn't wait to see what Laura from Tattling to the Teacher had picked up or thought I may have "forgotten."  Here's a peek at of my extra special treats from Laura:

Laura sent me things that she usually forgets (and actually me, too) like lip balm, sunscreen, an afternoon snack, and ear buds. Plus, of course some things she thought I forgot to pick up like fun post-it notes and lists. I really can't wait to use the Zombie finger post-it notes on something! Awesome! Plus, a country music CD of some great Nashville songs and my personal favorite a Star Wars reading poster for my classroom library! Love it all! Thanks Laura! The Slantbox is such a great opportunity!

I was also able to mail out a great box to Kris from I {heart} Teaching! I had a lot of fun getting to know both these wonderful teachers! The SLANT experience is definitely rewarding, thoughtful, and just makes your insides happy! Plus, I love that it put my bargaining to the test ;) It's amazing what you can do on a budget!  

Don't forget to sign up for October's SLANTbox! The theme is Education can be SCARY! ;)  You don't have to be a blogger to sign up! I know I've recruited quite a few teacher friends because I was so excited about my box for Kris last month! Sign up at Lessons with Coffee - just read Jameson's rules because she's worked REALLY hard on getting it up and running doesn't need the drama! Don't forget to follow me on Instagram to keep up with all photographic life!

Happy #Slantboxing,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tried it Tuesday: Sign Up Genius!

Okay, today I'm linking up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for an idea that's totally....Genius! If you're looking for a way for parents to sign up for things in your classroom... need volunteers? copy moms? grading moms? field trip help? donations? conferences? book fair?

You name it and Sign Up Genius is your solution! Now, last year our team was all on board with Google Docs. It was easy and parents could have the link and easily sign up... until a parent erased another parent for conferences. Major #FAIL! So, of course we had double booked conferences since both parents showed up and we were already running behind. It was a night of fast talking for sure!

 Here's what conference sign up looks like this year... Parents just check the box if they wish to take that time slot. They hit submit at the bottom of the page. We have already determined the dates and times!

So, then our school PTO started using Sign Up Genius for the school wide  Scholastic Book Fair. This system is great! It's free to use and all you need to do to register is log in with an email and create a password - done! Parents need to do the same thing. Sign Up Genius takes care of the rest!
 My calendar and view of my events and sign-ups... I have book fair and a taken conference spot because of a meeting conflict. 

Sign Up Genius will create a calendar for you (the teacher) of all your events and current sign ups. It'll even email you reminds if you like that sort of thing... I personally love it! It helps me remember and keeps me on top of things during crazy weeks. Sign Up Genius also sends parents a reminder of their sign ups (no forgetting a conference) and parents are not able to edit or delete an entry! No double booking or erasing someone else's input!

Our school has used Sign Up Genius so much more this year! They've used it as a means to check out our community cotton candy, snow cone, and popcorn machine. Previously, you had to play email tag with the receptionist to find out if it was a available and when. As a team, we've used it for our class store. We listed items that needed donated and parents could log in and sign up to bring in certain items. It's super easy to use and set up! No You Tube tutorial videos required! Because in the wise words of Sweet Brown, "Ain't Nobody Got Time for That"

Don't forget to link up with your Tried it Tuesday!

Monday, September 23, 2013

How to Make a Cherry Pie & See the USA

It's feeling like a loooong week and it's only a Monday! We have a lot going on this week with library, MAP testing, and Book Fair all crammed into one week. Plus, I'm also trying to do some teaching at some point this week as well. I created a quiz that I decided the students needed over our novel and we're also creating our mosaics which involve shredding construction paper - we're having lots of fun in 5th grade!!! So, to relax and ease my mind about my upcoming week I thought I'd link up tonight with a great mentor for Social Studies! Thanks to Amanda and Stacia at Collaboration Cuties for hosing such a great linky! This text is called, How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the United States. This book is great for teaching geography, United States natural resources, as well as economic concepts like interdependence and specialization.

In the book, the main character and her dog really want a pie for the Fourth of July. However, the pie shop is closed. So they set off across the country to put together everything they will need to make a cherry pie. I wish the book focused more on the "pie ingredients" but it does get a little side tracked with things like clay for the baking dish and cotton for a pot holder... however, the book does an excellent job at showing specialization and interdependence while taking readers on a cross country tour of the United States. It also has a companion book, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.  It's a great book if you teach regions of the United States and need to hit economics as well as the geography! Plus, it's a great review of all the states with whimsical drawings. Definetely worth checking out! This a book I just added to my collection this year knowing my new curriculum in Ohio was going to be Western Hemisphere Geography with history and economics interwoven into the geography of our country.  I haven't used it yet this year but if I create a handout or SMARTfile I'll be sure to post something on the blog!

  This also connects nicely to Diane from Fifth in the Middle's Social Studies Linky Party! So don't forget to stop over and check out all the great postings and link up your ideas! I'm linking up this post to her Geography category!

I love reading in Social Studies! 


Saturday, September 21, 2013

Motivating Students to Pay it Forward

Just wanted to share my excited for the weekend and our Pay it Forward project! Last night, our team received our first email message via Facebook that some of students had already started working on their Pay it Forward Projects because they were so motivated and inspired after yesterday's visit from the Dragon Fly Foundation! So this was the perfect opportunity to link up with Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching for Spark Student Motivation Saturdays because our team is really motivated to get out there and help the community!

Currently, in my classroom we're reading the novel Rules by Cynthia Lord. Fantastic fifth grade read and perfect for a workshop mentor text!  However, one of my favorite pieces of this whole unit focused on building character because in Rules, Catherine's character has to make some difficult decisions in regards to family and friendships. In Rules, Catherine helps her parents take care of her little brother with Autism. She also makes friends with Jason, a boy unable to speak or walk. At times these relationships cause obstacles in Catherine's life but she is able to help out both Jason and her brother without expecting anything in return. The 30 Day Pay it Forward Challenge is based on idea that if our students are able to help out just two or three people in some way - big or small, the world would be a better place to live or at least someone's life would be a little better for a day. Then, hopefully, those people would be willing to help out someone else so that world would be a little kinder place. The concept is simple and the project is not graded nor does it need to be tied into a particular novel. Thanks Chelsea and Abby for all your hard work on this project!

 First, ATP & I  get our students motivated by showing them a clip from the movie Pay it Forward to explain the concept:

Then, we went over some ideas and examples from last year's students. We also had our students brainstorm ways they could Pay it Forward. They could choose to do one big thing or many little small things.
Students filled out a brainstorming sheet to help them narrow down their focus and start "creating" ideas for their projects. Students did a great job with this! Allowing them to work with a friend and offering to run a 5K with them as a team was also a huge motivator this year (Kudos to Mrs. Wirtz!). 

Then the students have 30 days to put their plan into action! This is not required so some students do absolutely nothing. That's completely fine, it's not required. As a team this year, we're collecting supplies for the Dragon Fly Foundation's hospitality bags so all students will be participating in collecting and making bags for Children's Hospital. These bags help make the families stay at Cincinnati's Children Hospital a little more comfortable during long stays. At the end of the 30 day challenge, we stop and reflect on the great things we all did to help Pay it Forward. We may read the MI Pay it Forward Blog or share some projects the students put together. Last year, I had some iMovies, PowerPoint presentations, and photo journals of all the great deeds my students had been tackling around town
Students also have time to personally reflect on how it made them feel to participate or in some rare cases not participate in the Pay it Forward Challenge. Each student has time in class to fill out a Pay it Forward Reflection sheet.  I usually collect these reflections and write each student a personalized "Thank You" message supporting their efforts and hopefully encouraging them to keep up their community service and pride! I can't wait to share their projects with you in 30 days!

How do you spark motivation to get your students involved in the community or character building activities?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Paying It Forward & Five for Friday!

This week has been so busy I don't think I've had time to catch a breath! I feel like I've been constantly doing something except for the hour and half I spent watching Project Runaway live this week. So, I figured a great way to catch everyone up was to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday linky party!

The "Fancy" Sharpener PSA: So, I purchased a Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener this summer for my classroom after my teaching partner won one off a blog giveaway and raved about it! So, naturally, I had to have one too. Within the first few weeks of school one of my little lovelies sharpened a purple colored pencil in my sharpener and it almost was my poor sharpener's downfall. Now, it seems to be in nearly perfect working order. It doesn't quite work the way it did fresh out of the box but does still beautifully sharpen pencils. So, my partner Amie decided to make a team PSA this week to remind our students to be extra careful when sharpening pencils! I was the behind the camera - I think I did a pretty good job! Hopefully, my P won't mind I shared her amazing video!

Pay it Forward! We introduced our Pay It Forward Project today to our students. We had someone from the Dragon Fly Foundation come in and discuss ways to help pay it forward to other children that may be in the hospital due to cancer. This project is not graded but ties in perfectly to our character unit and reading of the novel Rules. We like to challenge our students to do acts of kindness of 30 days and then record their experiences and reflections and share them with the class. Our hope is that these acts will spread to a more global scale. We even have a blog set up so that students can pass along a card with the blog information when they perform a "pay it forward task" in hopes that in turn that person will also pay it forward. The students seemed so excited! It's one of my favorite projects of the year! More to come on this soon - I need to get the post all in order still. If you want check out the project brainstorming sheet you can grab a copy before a blog about it from my drop box. I take no credit for creating the project - just promoting its awesomeness!

A view from the SMARTboard. We're getting into our planning stages of Writing Workshop. Our first piece in fifth grade is a personal essay. Today, we brainstormed stories that could support our three reasons. We then added these stories to note cards which we put inside our "pockets" that we made to house our research. These pockets and note cards are great because students can literally type their notes together to help them write a first draft!

All planned out! I'm planned for next week and everything is copied and ready to go! What?! I hope I can stay in this wonderful rhythm. But, I do start MAP testing next week... so I better not jinx myself.

Thursday is OVER!!  I finally gave myself some time to blog. I love down time. I need it. I think I might be getting a little sick :(  Blogging is the best therapy and experience out there. I can't wait to mail off my #SLANT box this weekend to Kris from I {heart} Teaching as well as mail my Giveaway to Shelly!

Hope everyone had a great week,

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