Thursday, August 27, 2015

Grandparents Day Project Ideas 2015

First up if missed this post last year - here is are some great/HILARIOUS ideas to start off Grandparents Day this year.  Pic below is linked to what I did last year.

I'm changing it up some this year because of how much time we get with grandparents and I want to use it wisely.

First up, I created this Kindercraze inspired tree.  I was really proud of it and it was the inspiration for other creations we came up with for celebrating this year.  I literally just cut random black strips of bulletin board paper and then up with glue dots it went.  Those leaves - just circles - even this completely unartistic gal got it together!

Here is a closeup of the frames hanging from the tree.  We put pictures in so far just drawing then adding real pictures once grandparent's day happens! 

Free frame from TPT (Creative Clips) and just added words

One of the activities will be completely the answers to these questions on Grandparent's day comparing then and now.  I'm excited to see the answers and the students already have some guesses, but we can't wait to get to them till next Friday. 

I love that this will tie in with our curriculum!

They will be attaching to our big hallway tree outside when complete (fingers crossed) 

FREE printable about "Thumb" body that comes with different numbers as well from Who Arted.  I love that I got to use stamp pads just something cutesy and I haven't done in awhile.  I plan to write letters and cover parts of a letter to grandparents on the back to give to them upon their arrival. 

 Can't forget this old favorite.  We used the Old Fart Booth (FREE) app again this year and made ourselves old! Which of course again was HILARIOUS! We stepped it up this year and I came up with showcasing them this way as a 50 year reunion for that class.

We also used the Grandparent Name Generator to give ourselves names as well - such a fun addition

There you have it!  Many activities to prepare yourselves for Grandparent's Day this year!  I hope you can use some of these in your classroom.  

How do you connect with grandparents and make them feel special?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Shelfie Thinglink Project

I have seen the idea of a "shelfie" floating around and knew I really wanted to incorporate that this year in my reading classes.   I set some guidelines for this project and am SO HAPPY with how it turned out!   I have loved seeing my students as readers and how much they can tell me from day 1!

They had to come up with
1) favorite book from childhood
2) favorite books from last year 
3) book they didn't like - lets me know they try knew things
4) books they already want to read this year
5) Book that made me change or think

We used planning sheets to think about books and any we needed to gather - these could easily be taken in the library with easy access to lots of books

We only spent one day in the lab working on these that's how easy it was on Thinglink!  I love that ITS FREE! and so easy to use - even for day 1 fourth grade students!

I see so many benefits with these and how it starts off my relationship with them as readers-  I embedded ours on our website after finishing to share with parents.

You can grab this for just a couple bucks for the planning sheets, writing template, and rubric or just go for it yourself!

Here's my example - no laughs please :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Text Based Evidence - 4th grade

I wanted to get more into Text Based Evidence this year and really make it a focus. I know my students do it in a really basic way but this year I really wanted to dig deep from the beginning and  make it a priority! 

I found these awesome response sheets from Teaching in Flip Flops, and for my students this really works because they NEED this scaffolding to build that learning. 

We started with the question of "What makes a book?" and had a great discussion.  I had them read "Flotsam"  (book with no words) and write a summary on a Post - it.

Next we researched what Flotsam meant and used an extended response as a class to answer the question, "How does the title of Flotsam fit the book?" I think this was even more challenging because they had to really use picture clues and inference what was happening.  Doing it all together made them feel comfortable with the format.

I just LOVE that book - the illustrations and message etc...

We talked about our Prove It board and how they could use the colorful starters in their reading response to better prove to me how that exactly answered the question from the text.   

Next we read another David Wiesner book, "Art and Max" which I LOVE LOVE LOVE!! It does have words and the illustrations are mind blowing!  

In groups they had to do an extended reading response on their own.  Turning the question around, using proof, then explaining and concluding.

We answered "How is the theme of friendship evident in Art and Max?"  

They did such a great job especially for the first time!  I can't wait to use these sheets more and extend them into our weekly stories or books they read on their own.  I think starting with pictures books and tough concepts like theme shows rigor but in a manageable way at first. 

This lesson was one that I think my students got a lot out of and I plan to use again.  It shows the level of responses straight from the first week and what I expect.  

Monday, August 17, 2015

First Day Activities - Goal Setting With Post Its!

We recently went back to school!  One of my goals was to start learning right from the beginning or close.  I wanted to students to know why we were here, not many get the opportunity to focus on that.  I posed the question - why do we go to 4th grade?   - on our whiteboard.  I wanted them to specifically focus on our grade rather than school. 

Each student got a Post It and wrote down their answer.  They stuck their Post it on underneath the question up on the board.  

Then using the FREE Post IT app I took a picture of the Post Its. 

Ya'll it scans them in and puts checkmarks on them then arranges them in a board!! It is fantastic!!  Then I can group them, rename and even make them straight - all in about 15 seconds! 

We read each response then made groups with similar themes - as you can see below our themes were "moving on - to get to higher grades", "learning" and "responsible"

Then I challenged groups to come up with a sentence to answer the question using all three parts we came up with!  I WAS AMAZED!  We shared answers and came up with this answer as a class. We all signed the poster as well showing our dedication to our goal this year. 

I plan to refer to this throughout the year for many occasions.  If for instance, I get asked "Why are we doing this?" I'll point to this and explain.  or "I'm not smart enough".  We specifically said we were smart and that is why we are here in 4th grade!  (which I loved!) 

We have a reason to be here that we created together using everyone's answers.  I really loved how this gave us a focus for the year!  

Below is just another example of how the app works - I plan to use it quite a bit during the year...what could you use it for???

IT'S FREE AND EASY!  Click the picture + create a board + organize! 

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!!