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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?

Please join my site or leave questions or feedback!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful Linky Party

1. What are you thankful for in your classroom?  Moving up to fourth grade with the BEST group of students who are LOVING reading this year! I love my rock stars!

2. What persons are you most thankful for?  My supporting husband, Gregg, and my beautiful daughters, Hannah and Emma.

3. What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?  There are way too many!  I am addicted to stalking.  I picked three that have some great printables.

4. What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?  Showtime TV shows like Dexter, Weeds, and The Big C.

5. What are you most thankful for? I am thankful for the experiences and opportunities that I have had in my life. There have been many ups and downs and I have grown as a person because of it all. Thanks to all the people who have a special part of my extended family, my colleagues, my students and good friends! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Battle of the Five Paragraph Essay

YEAH...we did it.  My class wrote their first five paragraph essay and there were no tears...including mine!  I am so proud of my fourth graders.

The first lesson that I did with the kids was discuss  narrative vs. expository writing.  We created a great anchor chart for the room.

Then, the children brainstormed memorable events.  We talked about different feelings to think about memories and memorable events in their lives. (ex. happy, scared, sad, nervous, etc.)  We also talked about narrowing down the topics. (ex. trip to Disney vs. ride on Space Mountain)  They choose an idea and I had them draw a detailed picture that helps tell the story.  I wanted a visual for their memory.  We had read a story called "Family Pictures" in our basal.  The book had great illustration that told stories.  I also read "Tar Beach" which is a personal narrative.  We talked about the story quilts of Faith Ringold.  I had the students draw a quilt border on their illustrations.

Next, we did a mini-lesson on great beginnings using ideas from empowering writers and a unit from Rundee's Room on TPT (has great posters and resources).  We made another anchor chart.  The kids wrote their great beginnings on a Four Square graphic organizer in the center of the paper.  The children used a piece of white drawing paper to create a four square.  
The Comprehensive Narrative Writing Guide: All the Skills You Need to Teach Good Writing (Empowering Writers)

The next step was writing a major event from the beginning, middle and end on the four square.  Then we went back and added details under each major event using bulleted ideas.  After that the children wrote their feeling for the closing  in the fourth box.

Four Square Writing Method: A Unique Approach to Teaching Basic Writing Skills for Grades 4-6
Once the organizer was complete we added a transition word to each box and circled it.  There are many lists of transition words on the web and some ideas in the "Four Square" book.  I also modeled how to add details to the introduction and conclusion. The intro might include who, what, where, and when.  The ending could have thoughts, connection, hopes, etc. 

The children had no problems taking their four square graphic organizers and putting them into paragraphs on paper.  They still need reminders about indenting on a new line  when starting a new paragraph.

The revising and editing process involved making an anchor chart.  I had them using two different colored pens for this step.  Revising is blue and editing is green.  They completed this process with a buddy and then by themselves.  I did the final conference in red.  My anchor chart was a mess so I typed up one for the room.  The font is teachers's pet and is size 48 if you would like to make your own.

Click on the images on the left to download:

My children copied over their stories and added creative catchy titles.  They will be saved in a hard cover portfolio book along with their illustrations. 

We spent about 2-3 weeks on our personal narratives.

Now on to the next piece... 
Expository writing here we come!!!!!