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Saturday, December 31, 2011

"One Little Word" Resolution

Once again I have been inspired by a fellow blogger...Farley at  Click picture to read her blog:
She shared an idea this week called "One Little Word."  Instead of making a New Year's Resolution, that probably will be broken in a week or two, she recommends choosing a word to guide you during the year.  I love it!!!!

I have spent several days thinking about this idea and my word for 2012 is "Change."  I have made some big changes in my life (mostly at school) and they have worked out for the best.  I like things to be predictable and I am very afraid to try anything new.  I would like to continue to work on this for the New Year!  Happy New Year and may good changes happen in all our lives!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Boys

I was looking for something to blog about in my pictures and came across this one.  My boys!  They were all working (really working) on a Social Studies project.  This year I ended up with only 7 boys and 15 girls!  I was praying for more boys to move in to balance out my class but it has worked out fine.

I love moments like this!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pick Up States

Do you remember the classic game "Pick Up Sticks?"  I created a new game for my class last week based from the childhood game.  My fourth grade social studies curriculum is the regions of the United States.  I have been trying to find games to help them learn their states and capitals.

You need to collect Crystal Light canisters and Popsicle sticks.  Wal-Mart sells a giant box of sticks for cheap.  I had a few of my early finishers write a state on one side of the stick and the capital on the other using a fine permanent marker.  I then taped the label on the canister and covered with packing tape.

To play the game the child or children dump out the sticks and take turns naming the state or capital.  If they get it right they keep the stick.  They can only pull from the top.  The children take these home one night a week in the Homework Bag (see earlier post).  They also can play them during the day.

Here is the document...sorry about the first one.  I need to upgrade my PDF program.  There are still five on the sheet.  Click the picture below to print the document.

Do you have any ideas for learning states and capitals? 
I would love to hear from you!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Vivid Verbs

I have seen many posts on Pinterest using paint chips.  My husband was heading to Home Depot and I asked him to grab 22 paint chips.  He got all nervous and thought that someone might speak to him...I told him to say that his wife can't make up her mind about paint colors!!!  I had the stack sitting on my desk for a few weeks and I finally decided to do a mini-lesson on "Vivid Verbs"  and use them.

I had the children brainstorm verbs for "said" and "walk" on note cards. They came up with great lists.  I had them put the boring verb on the dullest color on the paint chip and write 3 vivid verbs on the others colors.  They wrote sentences using the vivid verbs and decorated their papers.  I hung them out in the hall with some plastic crayons from the Dollar Tree.


Saturday, December 10, 2011

Math Power Towers

The favorite multiplication game in Room 210 continues to be Power Towers.  I made these back in September and they still get used every day.  The children pull out a cup, answer the fact and stack.  They are getting very creative with their towers.

All you need are some empty Pringles cans and plastic Solo bathroom cups.  The original post used paper cups and I did not think they would last.  I did the 6, 7, 8 and 9 tables. (40 cups per can)  They can be made for any math skill.

I got the idea from Pinterest.  One document is for reading and the other is math.  Here is the link to the original post:

Click photo to open document

Happy Stacking!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Daily Five Bookmarks

My class is loving Daily Five!  They are becoming voracious readers.  We started a book challenge in November and we read 167 books as a class.  Our goal is 700 by the end of the year.  They are recording their titles and genres on their sheets (see my Book Whisperer post).  I bought a giant thermometer at the Dollar Tree and plan to mark the amount of books that we read each month.  The children have a visual of how we are doing as a class.  I am also participating and have been making the time to read daily. (I usually save my novels for the beach)
I have been conferring with each child once a week.  I downloaded an app called "Confer" and love it.  The free version allows you to keep data for 10 children so I bought the full app.  It is much better than using sticky notes or carrying around my fat binder.  The children get excited when I sit down with my Ipad and confer with them about their reading.  The app allows you to group students in many ways including levels, teaching points and strengths. 

The children started writing letters to me each week about the books they are reading.  I was apprehensive about having to write 22 letters each week but I now look forward to reading their reflections about the books they are reading. I have learned so much about my students' reading and writing through this process.  I have several children share their letters during the week to model for the others.   I did a lesson last week on "I wonder" questions and had my students collect their questions on a bookmark and use them in their letters. 

Click  to download bookmarks.  I got these from the web.
One of my students inspired me to design another bookmark to collect vocabulary while reading.  She had made her own.  I typed and printed some up for the students who are "expanding vocabulary" on my CAFE. Emily's creation is on the bottom.

I was very set in my ways and jumped into Daily Five at the beginning of the year.   If you are sitting on the fence...take a chance!  I have no regrets and I have never seen such enthusiasm about reading.  I want my children to become life-long readers and I know that I am making a difference!

Here are my thick questions:  What if I didn't try Daily Five?  What books do my students want to read next?  What might happen if I give them more time to read?  Who needs to be the role model for voracious reading?  What if I let them read in a spot that is comfortable?     How do I assess their comprehension if they are not doing fat packets of guided reading questions?  What might happen if children talk to each other about the books they are reading?  What caused the excitement of reading in my classroom?  I wonder how my students will do on their MCAS?  What are your thick questions about reading?

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