Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Introducing Dialogue Activities

So embarking on this new grade, I didn't imagine quite fully all the new material I would be teaching.  Dialogue in writing and how to punctuate it - certainly wasn't something I was expecting.

I found these awesome ideas to be very helpful to introduce the concept to my students!

First up  the Balloon Stickies App: It used to be free, so look for a similar version ( my Ipad is at school so I will try to get the one I used)

I got the original idea to use this app from the post over at Finally in First.   Basically you use pictures and add text bubbles over the top then add dialogue or wording to the picture!  I love the creativity involved and how easy it was to do.  Never mind that my picture looks like word vomit :( 

It was fun to play around with it, and get the grammar mechanics straight so it would help with our writing.  Students had a great time exploring this app!

Next up, I showed my students this picture 

I then had them free write a conversation between these 2 animals!  We wrote for a designated amount of time using proper grammar rules when using quotations.  

This also led to an opportunity to talk about "said is dead" and what other words we could use in its place. 

They thought the picture was HILARIOUS and then I played them the short funny video clip below afterwards (it was Friday....)  The video could also easily be tied in with health, cause and effect, and many other reading strategies honestly all while getting a good chuckle.


Just cracks me up! What other fun ways do you introduce and teach dialogue for either punctuation or in writing?!   What other funny pictures could you use? There has to be tons!

I just completed these Halloween Jokes after seeing a similar idea on Pinterest.  We turned the jokes into dialogue and then used macaroni for the commas, and quotations marks - GENIUS! it was such a hit!

I call that Macaroni Magic right there :) 

The kids loved the tie in of the jokes and the holiday and it brought a quick close to our activities on dialogue.  Such fun practice!!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Calling all 4th Grade Teachers...State Capitol Lapbook

If you teach 4th grade (or whatever grade you study state history) need this resource!

We recently went on a field trip to our state Capitol where every 4th grade goes each year.  It was great and I think I learn something new each time I go.  I wanted the trip to be meaningful for my students and I have a class that loves to learn so this was a great opportunity.  

We researched some aspects of the Capitol before we went so we knew a brief history and we studied our state government chapter before we went.  We also prepared a couple thoughtful questions about what we wanted to know more about.  

These lapbooks coordinate perfectly with our learning connecting government and our trip in a reflecting manner as well!  Click on the pictures if you want to check it out!

Here's the inside middle, front and back of the lapbooks! 

Anytime we get to cut, glue, write, use name it....we are engaged.  My students had fun filling out all the parts all while gearing up for our trip.

Reflecting on our trip was also crucial. All the aspects of the lapbook really brought out learning together from the chapter and connecting to our field trip.  What a fun way to round it all out!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Descriptive Writing - Monster Match

Well of course I couldn't stop with all the monster-y goodness! We ended up matching up more monsters after we have practiced and worked more on our descriptive writing unit!  I wanted a fun activity and something to give the students an opportunity to write a short description and not an essay since this will be part of their upcoming standardized test.   So of course, we made more monsters!  Here is the previous post of how we started out our unit.

This writing was such a hit!  We used the Create a Monster website  to create monsters then used our descriptive writing skills to have students guess whose monsters was whose.  

Click on any of the pics to get this for your classroom! 

The monster pages and writing templates are all included along with a rubric, directions, and monster templates if you don't want to use the website.  Also some writing organizers to help before you start writing!

So much can be packed in for this one little activity.  When we presented to the class we thoroughly discussed how details added to our writing and what some good examples are that are classmates had.  We talked about how sensory details can be written and included. Descriptive writing essays is our "big" project this unit but this paragraph was a fun way to reinforce and practice - connecting it to previous lessons! 

Here are some samples from our class: 

I love how they turned out!  So creative and the writing shows how much we have grown in the past few weeks learning how details can add SO MUCH to our writing. 

With such an easy process of making a monster and writing - it is sure to be a hit in any classroom! 

You can also use this FREEbie I created awhile back to work on descriptive writing - what better than to use poprocks?! Click the pic to go to the download. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Timelines Across the Curriculum

It no secret how much I love the Read Write Think: Student Interactives!!!

We recently used the Timeline version in the computer lab but they also have an app that works the same way!  I love how easy it was to use and that after 1 explanation 4th grade was ready to go and succeed.


They even give you options of how to group events, and you have the option to add pictures as well.  My students had to do a short project putting in order the first Native American groups to our state and listing their name as well as one unique fact.

We only had about 30 min to do so and they turned out great.  I love that you can email them or simply print (no login required!) - makes my job so much easier. The website is linked and has a TON of ideas for just this one resource. It is not limited to just social studies or writing, it can be used in any subject!

Here's a few ideas from the site and some I came up with:

1. Make in addition to an autobiography.  Insert pictures and complete at home

2. Make a class timeline for this year.  Include all events and pictures!

3. SS: Create a biographical timeline of an important person. Use when you study biographies or of famous Americans or people from your state!

4. Plot the specific events of a war or battle to help you study

5. Create a quiz about your timeline to help tie in math.  How long was it between these 2 events... Which event came first....

6. Researching Nonfiction - use a timeline as part of a nonfiction project.  Create it to help readers.  This would have been a great addition to our unit (there's always next year!)

7. Create a timeline over a book you have read - could be done in lit groups.  Use the events in the story to help guide you. A Unique Summary!

8. Science - use a timeline over life cycles to help you study vocab and what happens in each change.

9. Writing - generate a story based on a timeline organizer to help you get started.  First.... (the first bubble) Then (2nd bubble).... and so on.  Once all the events are lined out then use it to help keep sequence in your story.

10.  Math: Make a timeline of your day including specific minutes.  Use at least 7 events.  Ask questions to a partner over how much time has passed between events in YOUR day.  Check together to see if you are correct.   If your students are anything like mine - elapsed time practice is NEVER a bad idea!

Here's how some of ours turned out:

It helped them visualize the chapter as a whole since we did it as a review activity and one of our social studies skills has been focusing on timelines - it was perfect!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Descriptive Writing 4th Grade - October

We have finished our Personal Narrative pieces and had an amazing author celebration! For the next 6 weeks we will work on Descriptive Writing, ending in a culminating Haunted Halloween piece.

To start this unit off with bang - I found these fun ideas from 4th Grade Frolics! We, too, started off with the "Go away Big Green Monster" book and then went into the descriptive writing and trying to match notecards. ( I told ya...more monster goodness!)  The students loved this!! I didn't show pictures and they had to draw from my reading the book!

After our first complete unit, we reviewed the steps in the writing process, stressing the importance of each and how they effect the outcome of the writing.

Descriptive writing, I emphasized was all about the DETAILS! My students clearly made the connections when they had to do the monster exercise.

They drew for 10 min, wrote a description for 5, then had 5 min to draw what was on the notecard of a partner and see how closely they matched. I had to emphasize they couldn't get any clues! We wanted to really stress how details are important!

We took time to present them so we could discuss the level of detail if they were closely related or what they completely forgot and how it effected the outcome of the picture.  My students really picked up on this concept of detail!  They were the ones making all sorts of connections to what we would be writing next and how detail is vitally important, even though we only demonstrated it using one sense!

Here are some of our finished paired pieces: 

forgot to mention color, but described shape well.

Another fun way to tie this in would be to use the Create a Monster Site from Disney. for FREE, you can create a monster instead of draw and you could also type a description instead of write.  If only I had found it in time for this year! The website is great and easy to save so it is very student friendly.

Here's a sample of one I created, how fun would that be to describe as well! Just another idea to add for next year!


Monday, October 6, 2014

Personal Narrative Celebration...4th Grade

WOO HOO! We finished our first big writing project of the year - personal narratives and we had a great author celebration to celebrate all our great authors.
Our writing units are 6 weeks long and I use plans I found, since we don't have a writing series to follow.  To make it makes much more sense to have a devoted time everyday and really dig deep in the writing process especailly in 4th grade.  We do big pieces and I get some shorter pieces where they do the writing process independently to prepare for state testing later in the year.

Personal narratives went over so well! 
I got some great model narratives: here.
Scholastic has some great organizers: here.
 We made covers for our books on the Scribblitt website - FREE and easy to use! I just set up one account for class and had everyone on same login.  It covered most stories otherwise they just had to draw their own picture, this was a fun alternative to spicing up their writing.
Portland Public Schools has some amazing resources and planning help : here.

We celebrated by having a "Special Invited Guest" attend our Publishing Party!  I invited the principal to come listen to our stories.  After I told my class, many thought it would be a famous author....maybe next time guys.
I had some red bulletin board paper cut up for our "red carpet" then I also added decoration to the board behind our chair and changed out the star for each student.  The stars later made it to the red carpet.

Each students had a drink and snack at their seat and after an author read they got to choose 2 comments from the audience.  We talked previously about how their comment had to refer to parts of a narrative and give an example of what the student wrote: "I liked the way you described your characters by saying..... I loved the interesting detail you added.... etc...  Not just "I liked it."  After they completed their story we would CHEERS to them and they would take their seat. 

My class really took the whole celebration in stride and it made me extremely proud as a teacher of their work! They took such pride in it! :)
This pack comes with 10 creative ideas for author celebrations in your classroom and the materials to get them started.  I'm already working on planning my next celebration!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Currently...October...can it be?!

This school year is flying by! I'm really excited with how far we have come though.  I'm getting my 4th grade groove on and really feeling better about this grade level - it just takes a little bit. has to be a tie! We just did this Monster Genetics Lab and it was FANTASTIC! My students loved it and I got to see their learning in such a cool way!


but celebrating National talk like a Pirate Day, was just plain awesome! You can check out that post and more here.  I love how much the upper grades really get into this!

Thinking: how lucky I am!  So this happened!!! Never in a million years, did I think I would make it there...little old me??  
Be sure to follow on Instagram and FB - had some giveaways yesterday for this milestone. 

I'm completely humbled and blessed by my followers :) 

Wanting: some motivation! This 33 week pregnant lady is tired, and my mind is mush most nights after school.  I have some great projects I want to work on but no energy or time to complete them.  I am enjoying the laziness though and just embracing it.

Needing: to finish up maternity plans and get over this cold! The teacher I took over for, retired, and she is my maternity sub, which really puts my mind at ease but I still want to make it as easy as possible for her and have copies made since the holidays are such a crazy busy time anyway! (Baby E is due 11/ it could work out to have Thanksgiving off and come back after Christmas!!)

My Monster Genetics Pack is on sale! TREAT for you wonderful followers! Also check out these goodies I created last year for October in Kindergarten.  One is FREE!