Friday Art Feature

30 September 2011

The only way I could bear to take down my Fall leaf art from last week, was to do another Fall leaf art this week.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Fall colours!!!

For this project, I got brave and broke out the paints.  We discussed how to make shades and tints of colours by adding black and white paint.  I found the best way to do this without having the students mix up all the colours on a paper plate, was to use egg cartons.  I poured two sections of blue paint (one to make blue shades and one to make blue tints), and one of each black and white.  We started with a stripe of blue paint in the centre of the page (I used cardstock for this project).  We then added black to the blue paint bit by bit as we worked down the page.  When we were done that, we added white to the other blue paint, bit by bit, and worked up the page.  Then we let it dry.

We then used a pencil to draw a tree outline on the paper, and coloured it in with black sharpie.  I actually projected an image of a tree outline I had found online so the students could follow along while they drew.  With that being said, I did have some awfully ... interesting trees.  ;)

We used scrapbook paper to cut out the leaves (we used green, orange, yellow, and red papers).  I left it up to the students to add as many or as few leaves as they wished.

My students aren't quite finished with their projects yet (they are just finishing up with the leaves).  With the cross country meet Thursday afternoon, and a PD day today, we didn't get in as much art time this week as I would've liked.  We usually start our art projects Monday morning (45 minute class), then students can finish their projects through the week when they have extra time.  I did however, do this as a weekend craft project with my own kids last weekend.  Here is our completed project:
Elizabeth (my eight year-old) completed the one on the left, mine is in the middle, and Katie (my five year-old) completed the one on the right (my three year-old was taking a nap).  I have to admit, I helped them with their trees and cut out the leaves, but everything else is ALL them!  Right now they are proudly displayed on my dining room wall.

Happy Friday and Happy Weekend!!!  To celebrate surviving the first month of school, I'm having a SALE at my TPT store until Sunday!  Stop by and take a peek ...


My NEW Classroom Newsletter

28 September 2011
Keeping up with you fabulous bloggers can be exhausting!

I've been so jealous of the fantastically cute classroom newsletters I've seen out in bloggy land.  Jealousy isn't a good thing, so I knew I had to do something about it ...

I've always done parent communication letters - a plain old word document, 1/2 a sheet in length, sent out every two weeks - full of information, but lacking that "WoW" factor I push my students to give me.  If I keep telling my students "presentation counts", I guess I should ALWAYS be modelling it.

I found an easy, yet perfect, template for Word here.  After that, it didn't take me long to write a much better, and much more interesting newsletter for my classroom.  So happy with it!  I can't wait to send it out tomorrow!

Happy Wednesday!  


Hot Fudge Monday ... On Tuesday

27 September 2011
I wanted to share a GREAT resource with you tonight.  I bought this book near the end of last year, and thought it would be so fun to use this year.  Hot Fudge Monday is a HIT in my class!  In fact, one of my students (who is difficult to engage on the best of days) remarked, "Where did you get this book?  It's hilarious!".  Well, if that doesn't SCREAM hit, I don't know what does.  The book covers the teaching of parts of speech (verbs, nouns, prepositions, adjectives, conjunctions, pronouns, interjections, and adverbs), and does so with a funny twist.  Students learn about the various parts of speech through short writing activities that are interesting, humorous, and a bit off beat.  We just finished the chapter on verbs in my classroom.  My students' favourite activity was a short writing piece where they had to describe what happened at the Institute for Disturbed Livestock when a food fight broke out in the swine development center.  Not only are my students learning about word choice and parts of speech, they are so eager to share their short stories when the time is up.  It's one of my favourite times of the day!!!

Of course, when teaching new concepts, you create new anchor charts.  This is one we created during our verb unit, and we kept adding to it as we studied new verbs (this picture was taken near the beginning of the unit).  We were really focusing on choosing "Million Dollar Verbs" and tied this learning into our Personal Narratives unit.

(affiliate link)

Our Pinterest-Inspired Picnic

26 September 2011
I've been pinning so many fantastic recipes lately - so many wonderful recipes that I haven't had ANY time to try.  When the sun FINALLY came out on Sunday after a week of rain, I knew what I had to do ... send my husband to the grocery store ;).

I decided I would spend the afternoon cooking (which I enjoy so much more than the marking that was piling up), then we would take the kids on a drive to see the beautiful leaves and have a picnic supper.  Our picnic supper was totally Pinterest-inspired.

I started with Baked Parmesan Garlic Chicken Wings.  I normally don't like chicken wings, but everyone else in the family does, so I made them ... and they were DELICIOUS!!!  Definitely on the "to-make-again" list.  My husband said they were better than the wings at his favourite restaurant ... can't beat that compliment!

Then I made Cheddar Bacon Ranch Pull-Apart Bread (a.k.a. - Crack Bread).  WOW!!!  It definitely deserves it's nickname.  It was still warm from the oven when we started our picnic, and it smelled wonderful!  Glad I had four other people to help me eat it, 'cause I definitely would've eaten the whole thing myself.

We finished our meal with Caramel-Swirled Pretzel M&M Blondies ... ummmmm .... YUMMY!!!  The perfect finish to the perfect picnic.  The kids thought this was the best dessert ever - and I'd have to say they're not far off.

We had a fabulous day full of family fun, great food, and colourful nature.  What a GREAT way to spend a Sunday!!!

Happy Monday!!!


Math Journal Sundays

25 September 2011

I'm back for another installment of my math journal Sundays.  This week my oldest daughter (8 years old) "discovered" my math journal when she was looking for something in school bag, and she thought it was the coolest thing she had ever seen (proud mommy moment sidenote:  on her "All About Me" poster that she brought home this week she listed ME as her favourite teacher.  LOVE that girl!).  I'm not sure these math journals are "the coolest things ever", but I'm sure loving them in the classroom.  I've had a few students ask if they can bring them home to show their parents ... ummmmm ... YES!!!

photo of patterning math journal entry @ Runde's Room

We are halfway through our patterning and algebra unit (just finished the mid-chapter review on Friday).  We finished two foldable entries this week.

This entry was for "Finding the Rule".  The students are still practising how to identify the explicit pattern rule in a T-Table.  For this foldable, we folded a piece of paper into thirds.  On the right side "third", we cut four flaps that will open outwards (see picture below).  We made four different T-table examples, and when you open the flap on the right, the students wrote the pattern rule.  Some of them are getting quite quick at finding the explicit rule!

photo of patterning math journal entry @ Runde's Room

This is a view "under the flaps".  They did have a little difficulty with the two step rule, but we'll get there ...

photo of patterning math journal entry @ Runde's Room

As Friday was our mid-chapter review, we did a review foldable.  We reviewed the term "variable", identified the rule in a T-table, and then extended the pattern using the rule.

For this foldable, we folded our paper into fourths.  We glued the top fourth to the page, so that when the book is open, we can pull the foldable out into a full page (see below).

photo of patterning math journal entry @ Runde's Room

On the top fourth we wrote a T-table pattern.  Next, we described the rule in words.  Next we wrote the explicit rule as an algebraic expression, and lastly we extended the T-table using the pattern rule.  The students really liked this foldable - the fact that all the work was hidden until they pulled the foldable out.

Next week (near the end of our unit) I am going to do a similar foldable for their reflections (summary of learning) on the unit.  They will need to record one reflection on each of the flaps, and give an example using numbers, pictures, and words.  As they will be completing the reflection on their own, I'll be able to assess it.

Happy Sunday!!!  I do believe the sun is wanting to peek out from behind the clouds here (it's rained ALL week) - hoping it does so we can go on a fall leaf drive and have a picnic supper.  Fingers crossed!!!


Falling Leaves in Art Class

23 September 2011
Well, it's officially the first day of fall - and around here, the leaves are already changing.  Fall is my favourite season - LOVE the beautiful leaves and crisp weather!  To bring a little bit of fall into our classroom, our art this week captured the feelings of the season.  We are still studying colour and lines in visual arts.  This project was perfect!

We started with discussing warm and cool colours.  Students had to choose three of each.  I then gave them a sheet of leaf outlines (I found it here) which they had to cut out to make leaf templates.  They then traced the leaves onto their papers (I let them choose whatever leaves they wanted, and they could draw wherever they wanted on the page).  Then it was time for a quick compass lesson.  Starting with a small circle in the corner, they had to draw concentric circles.  When they couldn't stretch their compass any further, they started again on the opposite side of the page.  I had them colour the cool background first - alternating their colours in a pattern.  They then had to fill in the leaves, alternating the warm colours.  I gave students the option of using markers or pencil crayons.  If using pencil crayons, be sure to instruct the students to press quite hard - the effect looks best with brighter colours.  I really like how this student used a marker over the original lines.  Beautiful!

I love how this bulletin board brings a little of my favourite season into the classroom!

You can take a peek at my full lesson for this Falling Leaves idea here.  The lesson includes a full PDF as well as PowerPoint lesson with pictures and detailed step-by-step instructions for students, as well as a rubric for assessment and student reflection sheet.

Happy Friday (and Happy Fall)!!!

Math Journals - LOVING Them!!!

18 September 2011
I'm LOVING my math journals this year.  We've only done 3 entries so far, but I've had so much fun with each one.  I'm going to use foldables a lot this year in our journals (the students are really enjoying this) - and have used two already.  I know I've already posted some pics of our math journals, but I plan on doing one blog post each week about what we've included.  And Sunday seems to be a great day to do this.  So here goes ...

photo of math journals @ Runde's Room

We have started decorating our covers with magazine letters.  I thought we'd be done decorating them by now, but with our Spirit Day and Terry Fox Run, time got away from us this week.  I plan to give the students time to finish decorating their journals this week.  We made a table of contents on the first page (front and back) for the students to use as a reference.

photo of operations math journal entry @ Runde's Room

Our first entry was a foldable for Operations.  This isn't our first math unit, but I thought it would make a great first journal entry because everything we do is related to operations.

To make this one we made a square, then folded each corner into the middle.

photo of operations math journal entry @ Runde's Room

Inside this foldable we included the definition for each answer word - example:  "Sum" is the answer to an addition question.  We also included a sample solved problem.

This was a great beginning of the year review.

photo of patterning rules math journal entry @ Runde's Room

Patterning is actually our first math unit (we call them strands).  We used this foldable to review the two types of pattern rules:  recursive and explicit.

To make this foldable we folded our rectangular sheet in uneven thirds - the smallest third was this little lip at the bottom (called a matchbox fold) that we folded up at the bottom.  Cut the top third in half.  (Wow - this is hard to explain - good thing I'm including the pictures).

photo of patterning rules math journal entry @ Runde's Room

Underneath the flaps we wrote the definition and an example for the two types of pattern rules we study.

I'm really encouraging the use of colour in our journals - I want students to "make it their own", and this is one way to do so.

photo of mean mode median range with Oreos math journal entry @ Runde's Room

The last entry of the week wasn't related to our patterning unit, but I wanted to include it in our journals because it was such a large part of our Oreo Day.  We used the stacking totals from each student to find the mean, mode, median, and range from our data.

I really wanted to include a foldable, but we ran out of time (the story of my life last week).  We will study mean, mode, median, and range again this year in our Data Management strand, so I'll do one then.

I'm already thinking about ideas for new foldables next week.  I've never been so excited about a math journal before.  ;)

Happy Sunday!!!


Optical Illusions in Art Class

16 September 2011
Last week I pinned a fabulous optical illusion art idea from We Heart Art.  She had completed this activity with her fifth graders, and I thought it would make a fantastic first lesson for my students.  I tried it out with my oldest daughter last weekend (she's in grade 3), and when she achieved great results, I knew it would be perfect.

This is a perfect art lesson for the beginning of the year because it uses only a few materials, has simple directions, and turns out to be an impressive work of art.  As we were working on it, I could hear the "cool" and "awesome" comments that we teachers love to hear.  We started our lesson by examining a colour wheel and discussing complimentary colours.  I had students choose two complimentary colours for this project.  To get started:
1)  Locate the centre of the page - draw a dot with a pencil.
2)  Still using the pencil, draw 6 straight lines through the centre.
3)  Still using the pencil, draw "happy face" curved lines in alternate sections.
4)  Colour in the sections with marker, alternating one coloured, one blank (these were my magenta sections).  Use a pencil crayon (in the same magenta colour) to shade the edges of the blank sections.
5)  Using the pencil again, draw "sad face" curved lines in the left over sections.
6)  Colour in these sections with marker, alternating one coloured, one blank (these were my green sections).  Use a pencil crayon (in the same green colour) to shade the edges.
7)  Trace over all pencil lines (straight and curved) with a black marker.
8)  Stand back and admire.   :)

It also makes a show-stopping bulletin board display!!!

With just a few twists, you can turn this into a fabulous spider web art idea perfect for October.  You can take a peek at my full lesson for this Spider Web Op-Art here.  The lesson includes a full PDF as well as PowerPoint lesson with pictures and detailed step-by-step instructions for students, as well as a rubric for assessment and student reflection sheet.

Happy Friday!!!  And oh my - thank goodness it's Friday!!!

Our Outrageous and Outstanding Oreo Day

15 September 2011

A few weeks ago I signed up for the O.R.E.O. Project (click on this link to check out the project).  Today was our outrageous and outstanding Oreo day.

We started our day with stacking the Oreos.  I paired students up (I chose the partners), and each student had two attempts at stacking.  The highest number in our class was 30 - which made quite the impressive tower!

The students had a BLAST with this.  We made a chart of all the data, then used the data to find the mean, mode, median, and range.  We will be submitting our mean to the online project next week.  The students copied the data into their math journals.  I wanted to do a foldable for the entry, but I ran out of time.  Maybe tomorrow ...
Our chart.

Entry in our math journals.

We are currently studying Space as our science unit, so of course we had to make the phases of the moon with our Oreos.  This was another hit!  My principal came in to visit us during this part, and she LOVED it!  I loved how this girl added craters to her moons.  Very creative!  After we made our Oreo diagrams, we drew another diagram for our science notes.

We ended the day making Oreo sculptures.  By this time the Oreos were quite warm, so this was a very messy, and a little bit difficult part of the day.  I kept it quick, then it was clean-up time.  This was my favourite sculpture:

After that, I sent the kids home, full of sugar and fun.  Such a great day!!!  I chose today to do our project because tomorrow is our school-wide Terry Fox Run (Cancer fundraiser).  I thought we might be able to burn off some of those cookie calories.  ;)

Happy Thursday!!!


Using My eReader

12 September 2011
I just started using my eReader in the classroom.  Well, it's actually my husband's, but I bought it for him, so it makes it kind of mine ... right??  The funny thing was, he was going to buy me one for Christmas last year but I told him not to bother - I wouldn't use it.  There's just something about the actual feel and smell of a book that I will never give up.  I may reconsider this Christmas.  Or, I may have to buy him a new one - I'm LOVING it in the classroom.

My oral reading time is one of my favourite times of the day - it's sometimes hard to squeeze in, but I try my best to get to it every day.  I was so excited to find out Gordon Korman had written a new trilogy (based on The Titanic) that I bought it the second I saw it, and knew it would be our first oral read this year.  I started last week on the very first day of school, and was a bit disappointed that my students didn't seem as engaged as other classes I have read to.  Sure, the language is a little different, and it's not the adventure style the kids have come to expect from Gordon Korman ... but it's a GREAT book, and I knew I had to do something different.  Thursday night I asked my husband to borrow his eReader and promptly downloaded the first book.  On Friday, I put the eReader under the ELMO, and now the kids can follow along on the SMARTboard.  Such.A.Difference!  The kids are following along, engaged, asking vocabulary questions, and recalling details.  YAY!

Our current reading focus is summarizing.  I usually find this strategy hard to practise with an oral reading novel, but the fact that the kids can now follow along has made this so much easier.  Today we made a "Gimme 5" summary together, and the kids had no problem recalling details - and we came up with a pretty great summary.  I had given them handouts similar to the chart paper pictured, and they recorded the details on the hand while I was reading.  When I was done the chapter, groups created a Gimme 5 summary on chart paper.  This was one of the better ones.  I'll be working my way through my Summarizing Package for the next few weeks - I love to give my students different strategies for writing a summary.  Tonight I'll be making Summary Bookmarks (included in my package) for my students.  They keep these bookmarks in their independent reading novels, and refer to them often.

Happy Monday!

Character Freebie - From Crayons to College

11 September 2011
When I posted my completed classroom pics I included a picture of my bulletin board that is just outside my classroom.  On this bulletin board I posted My Classroom ABCs.  I created these from a post I had read on The Corner On Character.  I loved them as soon as I saw them and knew I wanted to use them in my classroom.  I made a second set to use with my document camera.  On the first day of school we read and discussed the ABCs together.  I then had students choose one goal (one of the letters) they wanted to work on.  They had to write this goal / quote down in their planners.  Their only homework for the night was to discuss this quote with their parents and brainstorm ways they could work on their goal.  I love that it is something concrete I can remind students of when needed.

I've had a few people request copies of these ABCs, so I asked Barbara for permission to post them.  Thanks, Barbara!  So, for a Sunday Freebie, click on the picture below to download your own copy.

Happy Sunday!!!


A Bell's Not A Bell 'Til You Ring It ...

09 September 2011
"Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel's just got his wings."

This is my grandfather's bell.  It sits on a high shelf in my classroom, just out of reach of my students' curious hands.  It used to sit on a shelf in my grandfather's office, and it was engraved for him when he retired almost 30 years ago.  My grandfather was a teacher, a principal, a superintendent ... a great man.  When he passed away a few years ago, my mother gave me this bell, knowing I would treasure it.

As I already said, this bell sits on a high shelf - I've never let the students touch it, and I had never really used it.  One day, just over 2 years ago, the power went out at the school while the students were out for recess.  We have an extremely large school yard, and many students were very far back in the yard.  A coworker of mine asked to borrow this bell so he could ring it to call the students in after recess.  At first I resisted ... this bell was precious to me ... meant to be treasured, not used.  But then something changed my mind, and I let him borrow it.  This bell rang out clearly and loudly across my school yard that day ... heard by all students and staff.  After it served its purpose, the bell was put back on my high shelf without another thought.

It was only after I returned home that night that I realized it was the one year anniversary of my grandfather's death.  And.I.was.floored.  My grandfather was speaking through that bell - it was my reminder that he is still with me, still watching me, still inspiring me.

This bell still sits high on a shelf in my classroom.  It's even more precious now, and even more treasured.  But the next time someone asks to borrow this bell, you can bet I'll let it ring.

Happy Friday!


Settling In ...

08 September 2011
I'm sorry it's been a couple of days since my last post.  Getting back into the routine has been more difficult than I thought.  I've had a nasty little flu/cold thing for over a week - my throat felt like I swallowed glass, and just as I think I'm getting over that ... I woke up with PINK EYE!  Awesome!  I think my body is rebelling against going back to school.

Body issues aside, the first few days have gone well.  I have a difficult class this year so we've taken it quite slow.  Most of our time has been dedicated to discussing character, establishing rules, discussing character, practising routines, and discussing character ... you get the idea.  They'll come around ... I hope.  I had a GREAT moment today when I asked for some volunteers to help in the JK/SK classroom during lunch time - every single student volunteered!  I made a BIG deal about this, gushing about how they filled my bucket with their display of great character and leadership.  I also made them all a character rocks card, and filled the bucket with them.  I can't wait to hand them out tomorrow!

We have accomplished a few academic tasks these past few days.  We started our space unit in science.  Today we made our KWL chart (one student "wondered" if it was possible to get pulled into a wormhole - lol), and they started on their title pages.  I haven't taught this unit for a few years, and our resources are so limited and outdated.  I've been doing some internet searching, but if anybody has any great ideas, I'd love to hear them.

I started our writing workshop unit - Personal Memoirs.  I'm really excited about this unit I made.  Yesterday we read Eve Bunting's The Memory String, and we discussed it using a question string (OK - it was more like a chain, but the students got the connection).  Today we started to make our personal timelines - we'll have to finish them tomorrow.

We also started to make our math journals today - we made our first entry and started decorating the covers.  Tomorrow we'll finish decorating them, and add a layer or two of homemade mod podge (equal parts white glue and water) to the cover to make it a little more sturdy.  We're going to make foldables for each entry.  Today we made a four-corner foldable for operations.  They students had a lot of fun with this, and I am VERY excited about our math journals this year (something I've never said before).  Here are a couple of pictures from our journals today:

So, it's been a LONG three days so far, but there's only one more day to go.  Hopefully the antibiotics kick in, and my eye starts to heal.  We have Spirit Day tomorrow, and I have to get busy writing a cheer for the class ...

Happy Thursday!!!