Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Grammar Surgery Day Transformation!

Grammar Surgery Day was an unforgettable day in our classroom! This worked as a comprehensive review of many different standards we learned in grammar this year.  It was relatively low cost and we had donations that helped as well.  I'll try and walk you through the steps of what we did.

Checklist available at end of post! Diplomas printed just from a Google search.  Masks were donated. 

The small glue sticks were from Dollar Tree.  Gloves, gowns, and masks were donated by our local clinic! We kept them in relatively good shape so we can use next year.  The hand sanitizer and bandaids were just from our first aid kit   --- all placed on cookie sheets from my house. 

Here's another look at some of our supplies. 

Students came in and received a gown and doctor badge.  You can download my doctor badges here - I created unique titles for all my students based on their interest and just used pictures we had from earlier in the year.

I had all the surgeries laid out on the back table with the supplies needed for each. We had 3 "operating rooms" with the students working in groups.  

These were just Dollar Tree table cloths!! Really cheap.  I had the students divided into groups on the board and we took our "hippocratic" oath and got our pre-op instructions before we got started .

They set off to work and I monitored the rotations to make sure the groups all weren't doing the same one.  I bounced between surgeries and they had to get their score/check off before moving on to the next one.  I had answer keys ready and if they made more than 5 errors they had to stop look it over and fix it.  I also had to make sure that each team member was working - which was tough for a couple of my kids.  

It might not look like much but those 9 surgeries involved: 

1.  suturing vocab words to defintions
2. stapling figurative language words, definitions, and examples
3. using noodles to punctuate dialogue
4.  color coding parts of speech 
5.  blood typing  ordering adjectives 

and more !!

Check out these 2 documents for planning! 

I kept all the envelopes for next year and copies to make sure we can do it again.  I had such a great day and the kids had a blast.  It took us about 3 hours to complete all the surgeries.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Classroom Community with ART!

Want a great EASY art project that builds classroom community?!

Look no further!!

With literally 3 steps, this easy canvas print is a fantastic inspirational addition for years to come.  Here's how it works:

1.  We brainstormed to come up with one word to be the motto for our class.  We each came up with some and then we voted.  Our one little word was "determined" so it went front and center on our canvas.

2.  Next we taped up all around in no pattern.  I used masking tape cut in half and had students place strips on after they were finished with their reading groups that day.  

3.  Each student picked their favorite color and got a chance to fill in a shape.  I did direct some where to go since we wanted a rainbow-esque design and obviously everyone's favorites could come into play.  

4.  We took off the tape to reveal our masterpiece.  All the students got such a kick out of it because they could find their favorite color and worked as a class to create.  **  I did fill in the extra spaces with what I thought would fit ** this was only a 11x14 canvas and didn't have many extra spaces left.  

Here you can spot our determined canvas on our wall above our hooks.  The rest are paintings I had at my house and don't have room to hang up - can you tell my color scheme??

We love having it to refer to year after year - the students signed the back!  I love seeing it as a reminder to be determined and of the great class.

This would make an excellent beginning or end of year project for students to complete and it really adds to the classroom community!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Summer Science Roundup

Summer Science!  

If you missed any of my posts from last year check out the links below: 

These are great for anytime of the year, if you want any more specifics check out these products for some great science ideas year round.

These products go great with the  lessons we did in summer school and can extend into the school year!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

10 Easy Stations for Building Circuits!

Before moving to the older grades I was petrified of teaching electricity and circuits because I didn't know! Brushing up on the material is now one of my favorite things to teach with so many ways to showcase their knowledge.  Incorporate some of these projects in your teaching - really - the kids love it!

We take about 3 weeks to complete our unit on Electricity! At the beginning of the unit we talk about Circuit Day and what options we have available to present.  Students work in pairs to design something that will showcase a circuit and a full explanation script for people visiting their station! We invite other classes to come see our work and learn as well!  

Below are some of the options we had.  I'll link if you want to check them out.  Many were purchased over the course of a the year (by myself to take to another school if I wanted) or donated by the company. 

This is such a cool item! Here is the kit that we have but many parts can be replaced at  a lower cost once you have the hang of it! We love incorporating them into other projects as you can see below!

The pair working on this literally taught themselves in no time and were so proud to build one on their own not out of the book (it has blank pages to do so) Definitely worth the investment! The stickers LEDs did come off relatively easy so we can reuse them at least a couple other times. 

Makey makey is an awesome tool for the classroom.  It comes with alligator clips and a controller like device that you can plug in the computer.  You can choose their variety of games or control anything on the computer with ANYTHING that conducts electricity!

We had so much fun.  We made water guitars, banana pianos, played a jumping game by high-fiving but really the possibilities are endless. Their sites has a great link up of ideas if you need a springing off point!

This has got to be a favorite just because of the sheer amount of effort involved.  This could literally be applied to any content! Just using aluminum tape, regular tape, LED, alligator clips and watch battery you have your own light up matching game, or operation, or whatever!!

Here is the list of detailed instructions!  My kids were able to make another on their own pretty easily as well.  I have my 5th graders make review games for 4th grade! Such a great way to tie content together!

This puzzle lights up when a complete circuit is made.  It comes with templates that are labeled with levels so it can work for a variety to ages or as a game. This was definitely a fun option! Here is the link to something extremely similar.

Squishy Circuits are very cool and easy to work! We can apply many concepts such as series and parallel circuits to this and be able to see very easily the results!  You could use your own playdough, LEDs, batteries but the kit is inexpensive for the amount of light and other items like a buzzer that come with it.  These lights work better than the smaller LEDS that I get from Radioshack if I end up buying anyway.

you can build so many things with this and such an easy illustration!

These were another labor of love but great for just raw materials - instructions here.  Just using battery, paper clips, and lights/buzzer you can make your own circuit with an on/off switch.  These are pretty cool to display and show others using creativity!

 Oh Scribble bot- great machine to show off powering circuits!  Just attach a vibrating motor to a battery and put on side of a cup with markers and VOILA! A robot that scribbles on his own.  I had a tough time keeping the battery and wires attached - something to improve on for next year.

The Everything Machine from the App store ($) simulates circuitry with many options to build.  Like a camera that takes a picture when motion is detected or a light that turns on when a color is present or sound....really endless possibilities.  I love how it simulates! I used our a part of our yearly app budget to purchase this just on a classroom ipad to have!

 An important discussion we had was how static electricity differs from electricity that powers homes so I had some students working some of my Static Electricity Stations and explaining what the changes were.

Snap Circuits were such a hit in my classroom!  We truly love how many options and pieces it has to build so many cool projects! I had so many kids requesting to come in at recess to build!

The projects progressively get harder but I had some students that would build on their own since they later knew how the parts worked. 

Here is a link to their awesome products.  I plan to purchase some more for next school year just because of how durable and popular these kits are!

Here is the invitation we placed around school and used in our video. This was our culmination to our chapter on Electricity!

We are a rural school and we love our country music.  They love this song so I rewrote it to fit the needs of our class.  We filmed it to help promote our circuit where we invited other classes in school to see what we worked on.  

You can listen to audio of the song - here.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


What can you do with little greatly improve instruction?! Here are some ideas we used this year that you can rock with just 1 computer or iPad!

1.  TWITTER - now as an individual I hardly use twitter (gasp!) I've tried and tried and had no success with sticking with it BUT for Global Read Aloud, it was a fantastic tool! You can read more about Global Read Aloud  -  here - and see the books that were chosen. We have a class twitter account that I manage and it stays the same year after year.

We can tweet other classes,

answers twitter chat questions about posted chapters,

ask/watch the author!!!

Last year we watched videos that Lynda Mullaly Hunt posted and she even answered a question in the video that we tweeted her!! My kids were just so connected to the book on such a deeper level after knowing so much of what was going on behind the scenes.  Connecting with other classes and learning how to use hashtags made us such a better reading community.  It really opened their eyes to a broader international audience.

Twitter can also be used to connect with parents, other schools, other classes in your district, etc...  If facilitated correctly it really can become a positive educational tool.  Bonus: it can teach students how and when to use social media correctly.  I think the benefits far outweigh the negatives in this situation and it really is great for any classroom.

***TAKEAWAY*** Social Media can be positive - show students how to connect!


I love Padlet because it is so easy to use! It is like an online bulletin board! We used this for our poetry portfolios this year.  Students posted their various types of poetry and we used the QR codes to go and comment on each others.

We also used this for responding to reading.  Sometimes for Global Read Aloud a class or teacher would have a link to a question for the reading and we could all respond.  It is great as an educator because I can see all the responses in one place without having a Google Classroom like environment.

You don't have to have an account to respond -just the link so for students it definitely eases that computer time.

Here is the link :  to one we did for reading response letters.  They are default to a hidden link - where it is public but not on search engines.  You can password protect and change the address as well for extra protection.

From the yellow side bar you can see it is extremely easy to share in a variety of formats - QR codes, social media, embed, etc...

This is really second nature for kids as they just have to click on the "wall" then start typing.  No extra details and for a teacher having all responses in one place is priceless.

**TAKEAWAY*** Use as a center/exit slip for next year focusing on our weekly reading skill 


This app is EVERYTHING!! I presented to our faculty on this because I love it so much! You basically set up a class and add pictures, videos, text, audio, anything to a student's portfolio! It is incredibly EASY! My kids know if we put something on Seesaw and it takes no time!

Parents see only their child's work and get updates whenever we upload.  It is great for accountability.  Teachers and parents can comment and of course there are TONS of privacy settings already to make sure you can make it work for you class.

I'll have a more detailed post later.  But check here if you want specific tutorials =  She has awesome tutorials for everything you could possibly need!

We usually do this for center work or special pictures that won't necessarily get turned in.  I love that:

*I can grade at home
* I can listen to work at home
*I can push work to students
* aspects of Google Classroom that I can use my limited (2) iPads to sustain my class!!
*I can message parents/students

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What you Literacy Block is MISSING!

   A listening center is crucial for any reading block.  Starting out teaching I felt this would be an impossibility for my classroom and had so many unanswered questions - how much? how do I get stories? Where does it go? How do I fit it in? 
Here's my solution to get a listening center into every classroom!  All you need is an internet connection and 1 ....yes 1 computer/iPad

A listening center is possible for every single classroom even small rural ones like mine.  We only have 2 iPads and make this possible on a daily basis. If you have an internet connection you can make this work!  That's what makes this so great.  Keep reading to see the many options available!

 I use to think I had to purchase books on tape/CD but that is not the case anymore with technology! You can read books in many ways online!  I love using QR codes and the listening centers available - here but there are also other ways.  I use them because of the rigorous skill focus associated with each set of stories!                      Another great way to get book is to use EPIC! It is FREE to educators and there is such a wide story selection and each student can have a profile! Not all stories are read but it is a great option and way to expand your library.  There are also great options on TPT of listening centers you can use QR codes for and there are for different themes and times of year.  

We use our listening center as part of our reading rotations! My students have to listen to 1 story a week at least and take the test that accompanies their story and score 3/5 or better.  They can work with partners because these types of questions are good for discussion and they will work independently for an assessment.  This also helps keep them honest.  If they do worse they come to me and we work on a story together at a separate time.
  Listening Centers can be done at any part of the day you find time.  They are short and students need to hear reading in order to become better readers.  This works great as part of daily 5.  We don't use headphones because they weren't required and we have a certain level the iPads must be turned to for reading.  Since it is a quiet working time and at most I only have 2 stories being read it does not get too loud.  If they abused the privilege they would have to do this as part of computer time.
  Listening centers in any format are a great way to differentiate for readers in your classroom.  Some students need smaller books and some like to read more complicated material.  Nonfiction can be great read aloud because of the complexity.  The listening centers we use have AR levels printed on the bottom and students can choose one from their level for that skill.  It's a win-win as a teacher.  They get fun books (even though they are short!) and still practice a much needed skill for the week!  I love having that opportunity!

I love integrating technology into my class!  This is one easy way to do it! Using EPIC or QR codes to listen provides great way for students to be more oriented with technology! The listening Centers we use are self-checking so they can get immediate feedback from what they read and learned to apply the skill.  So easy for a teacher to keep track of and for a student to use. 

Listening to stories can also be a great whole group activity!  Sometimes listening to reading just like read alouds we do in class provide different opportunities and conjure different visualizations depending on the student.

If you are interested in learning more about skill specific QR Listening Centers click any of the pictures or this link!