Sunday, August 2, 2015

my FAVORITE hilarious Preposition Activity!

I love incorporating anything funny into my teaching!! Ugh prepositions - I still remember memorizing them in elementary school and it was so not fun.  With this being on the CCSS and therefore our state testing I knew I needed to hit it and make it stick. My students will tell you this was one of the most memorable activities we did in grammar the entire year!!  They loved this activity you can do with literally NO SUPPLIES!!

I introduce prepositions using Flocabulary and their preposition video is particularly catchy - Prep, prep, prep, preposition - tells about a thing and its position.  My kids could still quote it for you. I also gave them a small copy of common prepositions to refer to when we first started working with them because there are so many!

All you need are notecards or you could just do it on paper.  I have the students write a subject and a verb (animals work best) on one notecard and then turn in to me and then they write a prepositional phrase on another notecard.  I let them use the reference sheet if they need to.  After I have both sets I mix them up and flip over one sentence card and one prepositional phrase card at a time.

They glue them on a sheet of paper and draw the picture to match.  They love hearing the combinations because of how funny they sound. 

It was a really quick and easy reinforcement exercise that used some creatively as well.  A few of the sentences we had to add a word for it to make sense but they were still silly so it worked. 

The basset hound laid above the house. 

Do you have any tricks for teaching prepositions? I'd love to hear more. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Upper Elementary Management - FAVORITE tip!

This is one of my favorite tips to use in the classroom.  As a teacher, I can always work on my classroom management!  I feel like I get a little better every year but who knows..I do try at least.

In our schedule, I teach 4th and 5th science and the 5th grade teacher teaches my 4th graders math.  I really like this set up for multiple reasons:

1.  I'm selfish  - and I get to see my old kiddos for one hour of the day! I'm almost squealing writing this because I always miss them. and some days since they know my expectations - it saves my sanity :)

2. I get to know the curriculum- I know what is expected the next year and can prepare them and I see the sequence of our science curriculum, making it so much easier on me as a teacher.


So this is the first year that my students get to switch classes and with that comes a whole lot more responsibility - they have to remember supplies (biggest obstacle) and keep up with 2 teachers and still have it all together.  We are next door neighbors so we  pack and line up at first bell and switch at second bell.  That leaves about 2-3 min while others are still packing to stand and wait.

I remember seeing this idea somewhere...I'm sure on Pinterest but I don't have an original pin to give the link to - (if you know then help me out!)

This board sits right next to my door and all of my students can see it while waiting in line to switch (or go out to recess.....lunch... special...bathroom...whatever!)

I write an answer the in the blank.  I usually use a term/person/vocab/concept and most often from science and social studies but it doesn't have to be.  

Students have to come up with a question that would have that as an answer.  I love the BACKWARD thinking this makes the students do.  I give Dojo points for correct questions after giving students time to think.  They only get a point for a question that makes sense and is correct and has not been said.  

You will be so surprised with what they come up with!  They surprise me so frequently.  I love just how easy it is to change - just wipe and go.  Ideally, it would get changed each day but in my room it's usually 2-3 days and I change it just right when we walk to line so they aren't trying to come up with questions all day

I really like how this fits with upper elementary!  I can quickly change for both classes.  This can easily be used as an exit slip and to check knowledge in those few moments! 

I use a dry erase board but you could easily use a paper and a picture frame and write on with a dry erase marker. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Upper Elementary Literacy Block Schedule

My literacy block is a piece of work...not in a bad way ....just a work in progress.  I've been inspired by numerous other experience bloggers and teachers and since I'm the only 4th grade teacher at my school, I'd love some input and will try to clarify what I'm doing this year for your sake (and so I can wrap my head around it as well)

Here's what my typical schedule:  (Yes it will slightly change depending on pull outs and last minute changes but roughly)

I'm pretty lucky to get uninterrupted 2 hours in the morning which I love!  We use this time for our literacy block.  As you can see, I have a separate time for writing, and I do my read aloud right before grammar so it's even a little shorter.  My students do get SSR/DEAR/silent uninterrupted reading while another teacher pulls out Title 1 kids and I can't do any content they would miss.  I usually am using that time to confer with any left in my room that need help in math since it is tested

Below you can find a schedule that I plan to use this year and WILL FOLLOW!  I've tried to combine many other blog ideas I've seen and Book Talks/Shares that are popping up everywhere from teachers that have gone to a Reading Summit (I'm so jealous!)

Literacy for Big Kids 
...are just some of my favs!!
you can click to download - you'll have to change fonts and all but if you want a sample!

I give homework pack once a week because I expect my kids to be reading.  I purchased them from TPT and they are fantastic!  They contain a short story and comprehension questions along with a skill sheet and require other practice as well.  These work so well and are easy for me to copy and keep up with.  I kept them in order so I know exactly what I'm pulling out each week. 
I do occasionally assign other work during the week in small groups or big reading projects that would be in part completed at home depending on timing.

Common Core Weekly Reading Homework: 3rd-4th-5th Grade {Co

I want them to just be READING - they know from the beginning that is my focus for them!

Small Group Rotations
I plan to use these sheets for my students to be held accountable during Daily 5 time.  Yes I do keep it semi-structured and for me as a teacher this is what has worked so far.  They work their way down and know what they have to do each week.  I plan to have in sheet protectors and they can use dry erase to mark off so I don't have to make weekly copies. 

click the picture for a copy

1.  All work from me must be completed first! Either assignment from small group, part of our weekly story, etc...

2.  During the week at some point they must complete 2 spelling and 1 grammar/english activity. These they just cross off.  For spelling we use the Monthly Spelling Menus which work fantastic!  My grammar center is just FREE activities on TPT that I searched for our concepts or DOL if we don't have any.  It is always review for a concept we have already covered so it can be completed without assistance.  I feel that my grammar is sometimes cut short and this can help reinforce those skills especially closer to testing time.

Spelling Contracts for the Entire Year

3.  Read by themselves - we do AR at our school so they can buddy read if they both have completed their quarter goals otherwise they read by themselves around the room.

4.  On the bottom is their "Status of the Class" where they write what they are reading and what page each day -that is what I look at when I conference with them along with their Reading Response.

Book Shares
I've seen so many post about these and I knew I wanted to incorporate them to make my class better readers after hearing recommendations and modeling them myself.  I put in my plans an easy format for them that I read about a little while ago on social media (and cannot remember who!!! so help me out if you know so I can give credit)  We'll start with title/author, 1 word about the book and why they chose it, then either 1 connection they had or an award they would give that book and why. 
I know these probably  aren't suppose to be scripted but my incoming 4th graders are horrible at a SHORT summary (not every character and every event! especially not the ending) so I'm starting the year with this and we'll move into more candid discussion and recommendations for other books hopefully toward winter - at least that's the goal.

My Shoestring life also mentioned that book shares are perfect for Speaking and Listening Standards!! How perfect - I'm planning to get to each student once a month (fingers crossed) and maybe assessed on this a couple times a year just with a checklist of some sort - anybody got any good ones?

 Whole Group

This will contain mini lesson on our focus skill and I'll use our basal series for stories along with picture books to model.  I don't have access to a whole lot of books so I'm semi limited. 


I always have standards on board but need to work on referring to them more often :)

Exit Slips

Life in Fifth grade uses her essential questions as an exit slip and she had the genius idea to do them on Post-its then glancing over them stick the ones on your desk that are wrong or you need to meet with them!  Brilliant and super easy!

I put those on for every day but I'm hoping to get 1-2 in a week focusing on the skill we are working on. 

My one goal would be to incorporate more vocab work especially after all the Word Nerds book studies I've seen happening but this is what I'm going to commit to this year.

I'm sharing because I know how helpful it was when I saw blog posts of others and how they set up their reading block, I'd love to hear any questions/comments you have or anything you do that works great in your room- I'm always open to new ideas!!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Classroom Reveal 15 - 16

Well it's that time of year again!  I've been putting my room together slowly and surely over the past few months.  Yes that slowly! I did have time to work since they cleaned before summer school and I got a chance to put my room back together then!  I get literally no budget in my room so I'm always looking for ways to save some money in my classroom!  We all know how much teachers spend in their rooms and I have one really big way that helped save me money this year -

USE COLORED PAPER!!  I know this isn't a new idea by any means but it makes coloring your classroom so much easier than buying colored ink!  

Our school does have some colored ink available but really frowns upon us using it frequently and I DO NOT have the budget to be buying it more than once a year at home so I get creative.  Really with 2 packs of bright colored paper that are less than 4 dollars each I make my room look pretty dang good!

Check out what I did this year!   My theme was pretty much the same just lots of bright colors and focusing on boards and spaces I know my students would need and use frequently. 

The writing center can be purchased from TPT- here! Its the same one I had last year but I love how it can be used again and again!

I LOVE LOVE LOVE all these parts of my classroom this year! They are so colorful and I can't wait to hang up work and use them! 

Link for Parts of Speech

Link for Jobs in Upper Elementary

Here's what will be welcoming my students when they arrive!  I plan to have parents sign the flip book making sure they review and agree to all info before school starts!!

Those flip books are perfect for any grade and FULLY EDITABLE!   That colored paper is hands down the best way to get it in the hands of parents!

Hopefully this looks warm, inviting, and colorful!  My goal was really to not make it too busy! I wanted all the spaces to be student friendly and accessible.  Can't wait to see what everyone has planned for this year and ideas I can steal!  

What's your number 1 classroom decorating tip? Do you see all the colorful paper spotted! Luckily we don't have a paper limit (or I haven't reached it yet so running my colored paper through school printer makes for a great alternative!)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

FIRE SCIENCE - Summer Science Day 9

There's always a spark of excitement about this day!

First off we make Black Snake Fireworks that we light off outside.  We do this in the safety of sand to make sure it doesn't spread.   These are pretty cool and the students help mix but only the adult ever deals with fire! 

We then light some money on fire. This is always a showstopper and great way for students to be awestruck!  Really easy and harmless it goes quick. 

We end the day by making firework cards! I luckily remembered how to make them by leaving out a crucial ingredient of SOAP!!

Check these out - so easy with supplies on hand and so fun!!

Most of the experiments again are from this resource I created below.  Feel FREE to grab this FREE resource and leave me some feedback. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

AIR SCIENCE - Summer Science Day 8

The students had a literal "blast" today.

We started off making classic balloon rockets and testing paths for them.  This gives students a chance to work together, build paths, test ideas, and figure out what gives it power.

We also did races with aluminum cans powered by static electricity!  They loved trying to see whose hair had  the most and use the power to drag the can across the finish line.   You don't actually touch the can to the balloon just close enough that it picks up the charge and moves it.  

Next up we did my Static Electricity Stations!  These always have some WOW RESULTS and are so fun for kids to do! We go over the results together and explain how static electricity works.

We tested - salt and pepper, cornstarch, cinnamon, rice Krispies, gelatin

the sound effects are so cool on the Krispies - they literally look like they are being picked up from a UFO

the gelatin looks like little stalagtites!
Finally we tested different styles of paper airplanes from some diagrams I had to see which would fly furthest.  The kids found this fun and was a good way to get outside.  We even got to decorate our flyers!  I didn't get any pictures of our plans but they loved building and testing some of the new designs I found!

We loved reading and learning about how static electricity works and how this is related to "shocking" someone and lightning. 

Most of the experiments again are from this resource I created below.  Feel FREE to grab this FREE resource and leave me some feedback. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

COLOR SCIENCE - Summer Science Day 7

This day is so much fun! You can also add a chromatography experiment in here as well just with coffee filters and different color markers.  

We started off with the milk and coloring experiment using different kinds of milk.  This was a great experiment is explained great in the video below. 

It is so easy and I love the change of different types of milk.  It adds more guessing to the day.
The top 2 were some glue one that we did.


Below is one of regular milk.  We also tried cream because I had it on hand.  It didn't act a whole lot different but was cool to see.

Next we have shaving cream art.  This one is not strictly science related but I love a little art too and these prints are so much fun!!  

Seriously these look so cool - you can also do this with Easter eggs too!

Next up we do a bleach and food coloring experiment.  This is great and easy for school just make sure the adult is the one handling the bleach.  It is great for learning about mixing.  The video below illustrates it pretty well.

We tried all the secondary colors - purple, green, and orange to see what would happen when bleach was added.  It was so interesting to see.  I found myself saying, "oh cool!"  and watching how the colors changed.  Many did not think that it would be reversed but using our knowledge of how bleach works and the video above we figured out what was happening. 

Most of the experiments again are from this resource I created below.  Feel FREE to grab this FREE resource and leave me some feedback.