## Wednesday, October 31, 2012

### Spooky Spiral Spiderwebs

My friend Tamara from Teaching with TLC posted about the coolest math activity - as soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to try it with my kids today.  I remember doing these spiralgraphs when I was little, and I knew my students would enjoy it ... plus, it kept them busy and engaged for almost 45 minutes today - (and that's no trick!).  We've been practicing skip counting with our multiplication facts (and we just finished our patterning unit), so it wasn't even a stretch to include it into our math activities today.  You can download a template and instructions for the activity by visiting Teaching with TLC through the link at the beginning of this post (tell her I said 'hi!').  When we finished our spiralgraphs we added a little spider to complete the spiderweb effect.

I even managed to get them up on a bulletin board display during a few quiet moments at recess (and believe me, those were the ONLY quiet moments today).  ;)

Happy Halloween!!!  Hope you all survived the crazy day ... and the next few days to come.  Is it Friday yet???  My little trick-or-treaters are out with Daddy right now, and I'm enjoying one one-too-many chocolate bars while handing out the candy.  ;)

Jen

## Tuesday, October 30, 2012

### Plot in the Pumpkin Patch

We've got a pumpkin patch growing in the classroom ... and I'm loving it!  We took a few minutes this morning and made our pumpkins.  You can find instructions on how to make them HERE at First Palette. The only difference was that we used 6 sections instead of the 10 shown on the website.

We turned our pumpkins into a seasonal language activity by incorporating the story elements we've been studying in class.  Using our read aloud, Wonder, we wrote about  the story elements on each of the pumpkin sections:  plot, character, setting, conflict, resolution, point of view, and theme.  This was a perfect activity for the day before Halloween, and it makes a perfect formative assessment activity (handy for collecting marks in the last few days before report cards are due).

Happy Halloween!!!  Here's hoping we all make it through the next few days!  :)

Jen

## Sunday, October 28, 2012

### Math Journal Sundays - Pop-up Bar Graphs

We started into our Data Management unit this week.  I LOVE this unit!  It's so easy to integrate it into our other subjects and interests, and the students always experience a lot of success with it.  And this year, our first graphing lessons really POPPED ;).

As our diagnostic activity, I gave each student a sticky note and asked them to write down all the different graph types they could think of.  We posted the stickies on the board, and made a tally chart of the frequency of each type of graph.  Together, we built a bar graph, and discussed all the different components of the graph.  I made a large note and graph on chart paper, and students each completed their own.

The next day we turned this graph into a journal entry for our math journals ... we made pop-up bar graphs - and they turned out AWESOME!!!  The kids thought this was so cool (and so did I).  For time-saving purposes (and to allow for a little mastery) we used the same data as the previous day.

We discussed intervals for both graphs the next day.  We completed a bar graph activity that had the students incorporating intervals into their bar graphs.  I asked the students how many markers they had in their desks (can you believe one of my students had 90 markers!!!) and we collected all the data.  After that, the students worked independently to complete their own graphs.

When they were finished, we had a gallery walk for our reflection.  Students filled out the top half of their reflection sheets (success criteria checklist and reflection) before they went on the gallery walk.  For the gallery walk, students put their completed graphs on their desks.  They then walked around the classroom with their reflection sheets to come up with 3 questions / or things they noticed to ask the whole group when we reassembled.  This was a lot of fun - and I LOVED some of the questions they came up with.  It let to great class discussions about choosing the most appropriate scale and intervals, and how to best show the range of data on a bar graph.  When they were finished their gallery walk and class discussion, students had to fill in the last part of their reflection.

My students had so much fun with these activities, I thought yours may enjoy it, too.  I made up a graphing resource for these lessons and posted it at my TPT store.  Creating Pop-Up Bar Graphs contains 2 different bar graph activity ideas, instructions and a template for creating the 3D model, and instructions and handout for the gallery walk and reflection.  You can click on the picture below to preview it.
 Creating 3D Bar Graphs
I've also added a few more resources to my TPT store in the past few weeks:

Genre Question Fans - Perfect for guided reading groups, read alouds, partner reading time, genre minilessons, etc.  Resource contains 80 different questions to support the reading of different genres:  fictional narrative, personal narrative, poetry, persuasive text, and informative text.

Literary Question Fans - Perfect for guided reading groups, read alouds, partner reading time, reading minilessons, etc.  Resource contains 80 different questions to support the reading of different literary elements:  author's purpose, characterization, figurative language, point of view, and tone and mood.

Story Elements Cootie Catchers - Different cootie catchers for studying story elements:  plot, setting, character, conflict, point of view, and theme.  My kids LOVE using these for review after independent reading or guided reading groups.

And don't forget I have a fun little FREE Halloween Writing Activity in case you're trying to keep your kiddos busy (and productive) in the next few days.  Just click below to download your own copy.

Happy Sunday!!!  I'm heading back outside with my kiddos to enjoy this beautiful fall day ... and maybe rake up a few leaves.

Jen

## Friday, October 19, 2012

### Friday Art Feature: Northern Lights Silhouettes

YAY for last minute art inspiration on a Friday!  We had a big old math test this morning ... and then I think a stomach bug hit my class and they started dropping like flies.  By last block, I only had 16 students left in the class.  We were talking about the Northern Lights a few days ago in class, and I remembered a project I had seen on pinterest that reminded me of the Northern Lights.  So, I grabbed some black paper and chalk ... and we got started.

We started by drawing and then cutting out a tree silhouette (we used black construction paper trimmed to 8.5 x 11 size).  As I'm integrating poetry into each of our art projects this year, I launched into a mini-lesson about concrete poetry.  We brainstormed a list of words and phrases students could use, then they filled their trees with concrete poetry.  We used sparkle gel pens to write our poetry (they show up well on the black construction paper - and I LOVE a little sparkle in our art).

I then showed the students some images of the Northern Lights.  Although my students live "in the country" up here in Ontario, most have never seen the Northern Lights.  We then took a second piece of black construction paper (also trimmed to 8.5 x 11 size).  They did a quick trace of their tree silhouette on the new piece of construction paper, then started blending chalk colours to represent the northern lights.  Students had to "colour and blend" in an upwards motion to really get the effect.  When students were satisfied with their backgrounds, they glued their tree silhouette onto their background.  After laminating (that chalk is MESSY!!!), we stood back and admired our masterpieces.  (Only a handful finished up today, but most are just about done).

Happy Friday!!!

Jen

## Sunday, October 14, 2012

### Math Journal Sundays - Patterns and a Candy Corn Freebie

Are you ready for a new week of math journal ideas?  It's a cold and wet Sunday here, so I'm happy to be home and blogging with a nice hot coffee by my side.

Last week I shared my end of the unit Summary of Learning for our Number Sense unit.  If you missed it, you can see it HERE.  When I started this year, it was my intention to be able to confer with students and their journals during our "Number of the Day / Calendar Math" skill drill during our first 20 minutes of math class.  After setting this part of our day up, I had hoped that the students would soon be able to lead themselves through this part.  Unfortunately, as of yet, this is not the case.  My class this year has A LOT of needs (7 of my 23 students are on IEPs, 3 are on modified programs, and the majority of my students still have a lot to learn about working cooperatively).  I have no doubt we'll get there, but we're not there yet.  So ... at the moment, I've decided to collect all the journals to assess over the weekend, and I'll keep leading  our "Number of the Day" until the students prove they are ready to take it over.

Anyhow, as our end of the unit Summary of Learning only used one side of the page, it left a blank page for our Assessment Checklists.  I've gone through and assessed the notebooks (it will be a summative mark for the unit) and when I give them back to the students tomorrow, they will have to reflect on my feedback and bring the journals home for their parents to sign.  You will notice that there isn't a final mark on the checklist for the students - I have recorded a mark in my own records, but our board is currently moving towards the belief that students benefit more and are motivated more from the descriptive feedback we give, rather than the marks.  What are your beliefs on this?

We moved on to our Patterning unit this week.  I wanted to break out the Candy Corn folding pattern because I am totally in love with Fall and already getting into the Halloween mood.  Last year I used a similar idea for number forms (standard, expanded, and written form), but this year I'm in a different unit (I switched the order of my Number Sense and Pattern units).  So, I had each student fold the paper in half and cut out three pieces of candy corn).  Each candy corn had a different pattern and different options for the other flaps.  If you scroll down to the bottom of this post, I've included a little TREAT for you so you can give this one a try.

All my students work independently on their left-side of the page thinking now.  I do have a few students I need to check up on, and perhaps give a few suggestions for proof or a reflection, or remind them to show understanding of the concept in their reflection, but most are coming along quite nicely.  Having the students share their reflections is a HUGE part of this success.

I wanted to share a little TREAT with you (no tricks involved).  My students have loved the candy corn template the past two years, and I think yours will, too.  Just have them fold the paper in half before they cut out the candy corn (and remind them to not cut on the fold line).  This little folded template has so many uses - not just in math.  I saw a cute idea on Pinterest that used something like this for summarizing books - the front of the flaps had beginning, middle, and end, and the inside of the flaps had a sentence related to each section.  You can also use these for vocabulary - words on the outside flaps and definitions on the inside flaps.  So many uses - what will you use it for?  I've uploaded this to google docs / google drive ... whatever it is.  Just click HERE or on the picture to get the link.  I've included both a color page as well as a page with just the black and white outline.

For more math journal ideas, you can check out my Interactive Math Journal Resource over at TeachersPayTeachers.  Just click on the picture to head on over.

Happy Sunday!!!  I've been working on a new set of comprehension fans (this one is for different genres: personal memoirs, fictional narratives, nonfiction, persuasive writing, and poetry) - hoping to get it finished later tonight.

Jen

## Thursday, October 11, 2012

### A Little Bit of Blood and Gore ...

Our classroom was covered in blood today ... before you start to worry, it was a good thing.  :)  As part of our human body unit in science, we made blood today.  I found this wonderful idea on Pinterest and traced it back to HERE.  I have an extremely high ratio of boys in my class (17:6) and it's getting close to Halloween, so I knew this would be a hit.  And a HIT it was!!!  LOVE these moments!

The past few days we had studied the circulatory system, so today was the day to make blood.  I had all my students bring in plastic water bottles today (I had a few on hand for those that forgot).  We started out by making plasma (water, two drops of yellow food colouring, and a bit of salt to represent the minerals and chemicals.  (And yes, I did get quite a few comments about it looking like pee in the bottle - I told you, I have a LOT of boys in my class). ;)

We then added our red blood cells.  I poured a large amount of Cheerios into a large ziploc bag and added a whole bottle of red food colouring.  I mixed it up until all of the Cheerios were red, then let the students add the Cheerios to their bottles.  The students already knew that the red blood cells were the most plentiful type of cell in the blood, and the reason why blood appears the colour of red.  Like magic, as soon as we added the Cheerios to our bottles, the plasma turned red.

We then added some mini marshmallows to represent the white blood cells and purple pompoms to represent the platelets (both less plentiful then the red blood cells).  The finished result was quite gross, but definitely a useful model that my students will remember for a long time.

Because I try to integrate the content areas into Language Arts whenever possible, we turned our bloody experiment into a writing task.  The final task was to have my students write an expository paragraph about blood.  After a quick minilesson about the set-up of an expository paragraph, I taught my students how to set-up a page to do research.  We divided our page into 4 large squares (plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets) and watched a BrainPop video about blood.  Students had to record facts and research on their page while watching the video (we actually watched the video twice to make sure we got down all the facts ... we LOVE BrainPop in my classroom!).  I subscribe to BrainPop on my iPad.  I only have one iPad for my classroom (my own which I bring to school everyday.  I put my iPad under the ELMO so it projects over the smartboard.

Last step, the students turned their research into an expository paragraph.  They needed to include a topic and closing sentence, and at least one sentence in the body for each of the four subtopics (plasma, red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets).  I did encourage my more proficient writers to include at least two compound sentences for each subtopic.  They had to illustrate their paragraphs with a labelled diagram of the blood model we made today.  A great summative piece to a bloody fun day!  ;)  (I apologize for the lightness of the pictures here - when my students write in pencil, it's so hard to photograph).

Happy almost Friday!!!  I'm SO ready for you!!!

Jen

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