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!


  1. What a wonderful week you had. I bet your kids had a blast. :D

  2. Loved how you incorporated Black History Month! The project that you had students do and the research that they did was awesome! I love the diary entries that they produced!!! Have a great week.
    Mrs. Bentin's Blackboard