Saturday, February 22, 2014

Five For Friday...on a Saturday

Happy Saturday friends!

Is it just me, or has all the snow days and delays really thrown off your teaching groove? I'm just getting back into the swing of things. So, beware, I'm updating two weeks into one big Five For Friday to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching today!

Our Valentine's Day Cardboard Box Challenge (inspired by Amanda from One Extra Degree) are finally finished on Valentine's Day. Oh boy, did they look SPECTACULAR! Take a peek at our final products...
Despicable Me minion with a lever to move the arms up and down. Hockey table with two hockey players that move side to side or up and down using a lever. A pinball machine using a lever and inclined plane. An owl (his name is Hoot Hoot) made from a laundry container using a hinge to open and close.

 For this project, they had to use a simple machine (an inclined plane, screw, wedge, lever, or pulley) and create a cardboard box containing a cavity to hold Valentine's treats.  Our goal was to use the design process from STEAM to brainstorm, build, test, and revise to create a successful box from recycled materials. 
This student created a basketball hoop that moves up and down using a pulley for an added challenge. 
This student made a locker using a hinge.

This student had an inclined plan inside of her flower garden for envelopes to slide down.
Basketball hoop using an inclined plane.

A merry go round using a pulley system.

A pinball machine using an inclined plane.

To celebrate Black History Month, and practice our writing from a new point of view, we researched a famous African American in history, and then created a diary for that person. It gave students a chance to see what it would be like to walk in someone else's shoes, and take on a new perspective of how difficult it was to overcome segregation.

Please ignore my poorly painted fingernails! :o)

We played a game on Friday to practice locating lines of longitude and latitude. Remember the "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?" game show? She was an international jewel thief! Well, I introduced the theme of the show to my students and created clues for certain countries on the map points of latitude and longitude. They had to correctly identify each point/country on the map with their team and check with me if it was correct before they could move on to the next clue. This was an engaging review for them, and allowed me to formatively assess students who were still having trouble with the hemispheres and coordinates. Also, it gave a great opportunity to show team work, since they had to work as a team to find Carmen Sandiego's location. My favorite part was one of my darlings said, "Miss S, if Carmen Sandiego is a jewel thief, why is she leaving clues behind for the police? She must be a stupid thief!" Truth. Sometimes, teachers don't create the best "real-world" problems for students. :o)

Our focus in ELA this week was working on identifying the types of context clues. I made the set of task cards and used them during our centers to play scoot. I think out of all the skills we teach fourth graders, being able to use and identify context clues is one of the most important skills for reading. It's a huge help for test-taking, and is something they will use for the rest of their life. Get a set of your own task cards in my little TpT shop - they're only a dollar! Enjoy a FREEBIE anchor chart, too! 

Yesterday was an interesting experience for me. Friday was "TA for a Day" at our district, where the high school group FEA (Future Educators of America) raises money for their scholarship funds by allowing teachers to purchase a teacher assistant for the day. I just think it is such a unique opportunity for both the students (in high school AND my fourth graders) and for the teacher. We get to collaborate in learning, which is a rare opportunity in many districts. Although I am only 22 years old, I realized that I was ready to show a leadership role, and wanted to help support the FEA, so I took on the responsibility of having a TA. Let me tell you, it was a fabulous experience all around. Miss Melanie was such a sweet girl, and the students seemed to really enjoy having her around for the day. While it was fun for us to have a guest in the room, I didn't want to make her do busy work all day (because let's face it, don't we ALL hate busy work?) and, I didn't want to say "Just walk around, observe, and hangout,"because how fun is that? (Been there, done that, and was never a comfortable experience just meandering around a classroom for five hours.) I did my best to make her feel welcomed, and a part of our day. As I look back on the day, while I started the day being nervous that, maybe I wasn't ready to be a leader, considering I'm fresh out of college myself; I ended the day feeling grateful and rewarded with the collaborative opportunity. Isn't the goal of education to inspire others? She helped my fourth graders understand how important certain concepts were (like how yes, Ms. S is right in telling you that you will ALWAYS use context clues forever and ever; or how you do learn to write more than five paragraphs in high school - shocker!) The experience inspired me to be more confident in my teaching, that no matter what age you are, you can be a role model; I know she was mutually inspired to remain in the field of psychology/education after our day together.

Phew! What a lot to catch up on! Well, I promise to give more updates and stay in touch this week - we have a lot of activities planned.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Made It: Valentine's Day Edition

Happy Monday everybody!

I'm participating in a Monday Made It with Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics to show off my Valentine's Day materials!

Okay, I'll admit I'm a little excited. This is going to be my first paid product on TpT! And folks - it's only a dollar! Last night, I was a busy bee making some fun activities to plan for Valentine's Day this Friday. 
Since we are working on finding area and perimeter right now as a part of our Geometry goodies, I came up with these cute little task cards - just head on over to my TpT store!

I plan to use these little task cards as an engaging review on Friday as a scoot game (in partners). Most of them (if not all) are real-world situations, which is what Common Core requires students to do in terms of applying area and perimeter. I hope you can find a use for them in your room as well! 

We made some lovely recipes for friendship to celebrate Valentine's Day. I told them they had to use fractional portions and liquid measurements to refresh these concepts. I liked how creative some of them were with their ingredients. It was an interesting way for us to look at friendship, especially since we don't typically think of qualities as ingredients, or as proportions of a whole.
Make sure you link up your fun Valentine's ideas you've made for this week at Fourth Grade Frolics!
Enjoy the rest of your lovely week, friends!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sparking Student Motivation: Olympic Edition!

I'm linking up with Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching for another Spark Student Motivation!  

It's so exciting that the Olympics have started! Have you been watching the events? I think it's such an exciting event that the entire world gets a chance to celebrate. Also, since the Winter Olympics only happen every four years, I think it's a great learning opportunity, too. I figured, wouldn't it be fabulous to come up with a curricular unit to tie in the olympics with my lessons! When I started this on Friday, my students were so excited! They kept asking what kinds of activities we would be doing. I plan to do my best to tie in mathematics, social studies, and language arts to be able to "Go For the Gold" with our learning.

One of the first things we started on Friday is to practice our close reading skills. I found a wonderful close reading packet by Ashleigh's Education Journey

We worked on differentiated passages in our reading groups. Then, each group answered the same questions about the passage. The first passage focused on the history of the olympics, which gave students a good look into the background of the olympic games. This definitely built some excitement into the following week's activities!

What I'm most excited about is our persuasive writing activity I found on Scholastic! Have students learn how the olympic locations are chosen, and then write their own persuasive speech about convincing the International Olympic Commission to host the Olympic Games in our city. I'm looking forward to exploring the speech writing process with my students and filming their speeches. While one student is presenting their speech, the rest of the class will act as the IOC and judge the speeches based on the important needs the IOC considers.  You can check out this resource in my TpT store as a FREEBIE!

Also, I plan to use some of our map and globe skills in social studies to plot the different countries playing in the Olympics on the globe using our knowledge of latitude and longitude. 

For a little social studies review before our test this week, we will use our knowledge of special purpose maps and create an economic, population, physical, and political map of Russia to learn more about Sochi. (Fun Fact: Russians pronounce Sochi as Soy-chee! What's up with the US announcers?) We'll also be tracking the progress of the Olympic medals and graphing them each day. I'm in the process of making a huge graph and printing and cutting all the medals to make a pictograph with our medal count. I'm really hoping that this will be a motivational integration of cross-curricular learning. Make sure to follow my class on Instagram to see how we are going for the gold this week!

How are you celebrating the Olympic games in your classroom? 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sparking Motivation & Currently February

Happy February everyone!

It's time for another Sparking Student Motivation Saturday with Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching. 

Here's a little peek at how I've been motivating students in Social Studies. Lately, we have been working on our Maps and Globes Unit. Let me tell you, maps aren't too exciting.

We have been discussing the parts of a map - title, compass rose, cardinal/intermediate directions, key/legend, and a scale. This week, we have been discussing how to use a globe by following the lines of latitude and longitude, as well as how the earth is divided into hemispheres. One of the first things that I made was my own map of the United States to model the important parts of a map.

To combine our concepts, I wanted to come up with a culminating activity that they would be motivated to do - not just another "make a map" project. I assigned them a challenge to create their own 51st state! They needed to include a scale, compass rose, map key/legend, a title, and extra information about their state. We presented them on Friday, and I have to say, they look fantastic! My students are so creative - take a look at how they came out!

Also, to celebrate the start of a new month, I'm linking up with Farley from Oh' Boy Fourth Grade for her Currently February!

My 2 Truths and a Fib: 
Truth: I've swam and kissed a stingray. 
The two times that my family has been fortunate enough to go to the Cayman Islands, I've been able to swim with the stingrays in Stingray City. While my poor mom was dragged into doing this the first time, I think she actually came willingly this summer when she realized how cute and friendly the stingrays are. It's such an amazing experience - and you get seven years of good luck for kissing them! 

Truth: I plan to do my first marathon this year. 
Last fall, I did my first 5K at Color Me Rad. This year, I'd love to do a full marathon. I'm not going to go too crazy on the training aspect, but I am going to start training in the summer in hopes that I can run in the fall in my city!

Fib: Sorry Colorado fans, but I'm not rooting for ya'll to win this one.
While I don't follow football much (at all), I am rooting for the Seahawks. Eli the Ape (who has correctly predicted the Super Bowl for six years in a row) picked them too, just for the record. While I'm not sure what this means, ESPN thought it was a big deal. 

Okay, now it's YOUR turn! Head on over the Farley's blog to link up what you're currently up to!