Happy Halloween!

31 October 2011
It was a CRAZY day at school today, so I'm looking forward to unwinding and handing out some candy.  My husband took the girls out - they're SO excited!!!  I promised myself I wouldn't blog until I finished my progress reports (due on Friday), but I couldn't resist just one quick one ...

Happy Halloween from my little trick-or-treaters!
I have a pumpkin doll, a mad scientist, and a princess (with three little girls, I think I have a princess every year!).

And these are our pumpkins this year - I think my husband does a FABULOUS job carving them.  And of course, one is pinterest inspired - LOVE the polka dots!

Happy Monday!  May you all have more treats than tricks!

iPad Update

29 October 2011
I'm LOVING my iPad in the classroom.  Oh, how I wish all my students had their own to use, but since I don't see that happening, we'll make the best with what we've got.  I got my Giving Tree sticker (ordered it from Etsy) for the back of my iPad - little things like this make me a happy, happy girl.

Since I asked for advice on what apps to use when I first got my iPad, I thought I'd share what I'm using so far.  We start our day with a Brain Pop video and quiz (I can't believe this app is free - it's fantastic!!!).  I was having a bit of a problem getting all my students to enter the classroom quickly after they came in to the school in the mornings.  Now when they enter, they know they have 60 seconds until I start the movie ... the problem has been solved.  The students (and I) really enjoy the movies, and I love the wording of the multiple choice questions.  Definitely a HIT!

I bought the iTooch app ($4.99 each) for both math and language.  It's based on grade 5 curriculum, so it's a perfect fit for my grade 5/6 class.  Completing the practice questions, and then the short quiz takes about 5 minutes, and is a great way to start my math and language classes.  I try to do one lesson every second day.

I recently used Songify (another free one) in math class, and the students loved it so much, I'll definitely be doing it again.  I had each student write a phrase or math sentence related to place value.  Each group recorded themselves saying the phrase, and then we played it back in song format.  SO.MUCH.FUN!

I want to use my iPad in my guided reading groups.  I thought it would be great to record the students reading, then have them play it back to reflect on their fluency, phrasing, or expression.  Does anybody do something similar to this?  What app would you suggest?  I've downloaded a few free ones, but if there is something out there you LOVE, I'd LOVE to know ...

Happy Saturday!


Friday Art Feature

28 October 2011
I've been seeing all these fantastic decorated pumpkins all over bloggy land and pinterest, and I wanted to get in on the fun.  When I saw the Pumpkin Book Project from Clutter-Free Classroom, I knew I had to have it.  My class worked in groups of 4 to complete their pumpkins - the work is all theirs - except a few suggestions from me, they had no adult help to complete their projects (as you'll probably be able to tell).  They will be orally presenting their pumpkins and character book study on Monday.  Who knew I'd actually be able to get an assessment in on Halloween?!?  Although I told the students to pick favourite BOOK characters, many of them turned out to be characters from TV shows that just happened to be in a book ... sigh ...

Meet Squidward - this group worked quite well together, and their pumpkin reflects that team work.

Meet Flik from A Bug's Life.  Poor Flik was still a little wet when he was moved to the table.

Spiderman, Spiderman.  Does whatever a pumpkin can ...

Perhaps this group will listen to me next time I suggest to use a smaller brush for the black lines ...

Poor Dora - crying paint tears because her group couldn't find the time to make her a mouth ...

Meet Winnie the Pooh - still a little wet, but definitely recognizable.  The students had completed the painting the day before, but some of the paint was starting to flake off, so they needed to fix it today.

The kids had a lot of fun with these pumpkins ... can't wait to hear what they present on Monday!

Happy Friday!!!  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Fridays!!!

Other Fall-Themed Resources:


New Guided Reading Groups

27 October 2011
The buckets are packed with goodies, and the kids were soooooo excited to start our new guided reading groups this week.  I have 5 different groups with 4 students in each group.  Each group will be reading a different Jerry Spinelli novel:  Wringer, Report to the Principal's Office, Maniac Magee, Loser, and Fourth Grade Rats.  We do guided reading each day, and all groups work at the same time.  My resource teacher works with me during this time, and she meets with (runs) the same group each day - she works with my below grade level group.  I meet with two different groups each day (I read with one group, then I work on the task with a second group).  This way, I meet with each of my four groups every second day, and my group that needs help the most has teacher support every day.

Our overall focus for the next four weeks is Literal Comprehension (this is our division focus for my school).  Each group also has a subfocus they are working on in their groups (vocabulary, phrasing, expression, accuracy, and conventions).  I know conventions isn't a typical guided reading group focus, but for this particular group, it is a necessity!  On Tuesday we built our Literal Comprehension Anchor chart - establishing our learning goal and building our success criteria.  Each student copied this chart into their reading journals.

 This is one of my student's journals.  I was WOWED by it - such attention to detail!  (Now, if I can just get her to stop spelling summary with an 'e' I will be one happy teacher!).

Each day after reading the students have two tasks.  First, they need to answer literal comprehension questions from their reading.  They can discuss their answers as a group, but each student is responsible for writing their own answers in their journals.  The next task is something new I started this year.  I created a Summary of Learning sheet for each group which I posted on my bulletin board.  Each sheet has the novel name and the groups' subfocus written on it.  After each day of reading, students are required to write one thing they learned from their reading each day on a special coloured sticky note.  This should relate to their group's subfocus.  They then post their notes on their sheets on the bulletin board.

I created a special "Summary of Learning" section in my guided reading binder to keep track of all these sticky notes.  Each day as I take down the old sticky notes so the students can post their new ones, I will add it to their page (a piece of blank paper inside a page protector).  It will be so neat to see the growth in their reflections.

Happy Thursday!!!


Math Journal Sundays

23 October 2011
We're currently studying place value in math, and we've added two more foldables to our math journals.

photo of place value math journal entry @ Runde's Room

This foldable isn't really a foldable ... but it's certainly interactive.  We actually made two of these - one went from ones to hundred thousands, and this one went from thousandths to hundreds.  We made the pockets and glued them to our journal.  Then we made a set of number cards (0-9).  I had the students work in pairs - one student would say a number, and then the other student would build the number with their pocket chart.  I've also used this as a whole group activity where I read out a number, the students build it, then hold their notebooks up for me to see.  This way I can quickly assess who gets it, and who needs a little more practice.

photo of number forms math journal entry @ Runde's Room

We also made some candy corn number forms.  I got this idea from a picture on pinterest and followed it back to Katie Lately.  Such a cute idea.  We made one together, and then I had the students complete the second one on their own.  I LOVE how they turned out.  Quick, easy, and quite effective.

I actually have two other foldables planned for this unit, that I had hoped to get done last week ... but the good news is, I don't have to plan new ones for this week.  ;)

Now, it's back to the Oreo bars I'm making ... yummy!

Happy Sunday!!!
photo of number forms math journal entry @ Runde's Room


Friday Art Feature

21 October 2011

I'm back with my Friday Art Feature.  I've missed it the past week or two.  We were finishing up our Falling Leaves project, which took a bit longer than I would've liked.  But this week we started fresh on a brand new project.

Here is our completed Falling Leaves bulletin board ..

LOVE it!  But I did realize my students were in need of a few more drawing lessons before we started our next art project (those are some ... interesting ... looking trees).

Inspired by a picture I saw on pinterest from A Faithful Attempt, I was super excited to start this week's art - Glue Line Pumpkins.  But this time we started with learning how to sketch a pumpkin.  We did a few rough sketches first before we moved on with our good copy.  When we were satisfied with our sketches, we went over all our lines with white glue.  After we left the glue to dry overnight, we traced around the glue lines with an extra fine black sharpie (or waterproof marker).

Then, we broke our the water colours.  Believe it or not, this was the first time some of my students had used water colours.  We talked about how to make the pumpkins appear more 3D by making the centre a little lighter than the sides of the pumpkins.  The students got really good at mixing the colours and playing with the colour technique.  About half my class has finished so far, but I couldn't wait to hang them, so I started on the bulletin board right away, even though I still have some space for a couple more.

Here are a few up close examples ... they look even better in person ...

I LOVE my art bulletin board so much, I couldn't bear to take down the old art to put up the new art.  My solution ... add a second art bulletin board!!!  ;)

Happy Friday!!!

Some Spooktacular Halloween Ideas

19 October 2011
Oh my goodness - what a week (make that two weeks)!  CRAZY!  I feel bad about not keeping up with my regular posts, but I promise to be back on Friday with a fabulous art feature and then again on Sunday with our math journals.  I also hope to have finished our personal memoirs book which I am so anxious to share with you.

Today I want to share a few Halloween lesson ideas with you.  Last night I finished and posted a FREE Halloween Writing Prompts activity to my TPT store.  There are four different writing prompts included in this freebie:  fictional narrative, procedural writing, news article, and a journal entry or personal memoir.  I let my students have their choice of what writing prompt they wanted to use, and they are so excited to finish their rough copies, so they can use the special writing paper.  Click on the picture below to download your own copy.

While you're visiting my store, you can check out some of my other Halloween products.  Click on the pictures or the title to get the link.

Halloween Drama Circles.  I really enjoy watching the kids during this activity.  So much fun!

Halloween Mad Libs for the SMARTboard.  Definitely a favourite of my students!  They LOVE it!

Halloween Kooshball Template for the SMARTboard.  Includes 20 linked slides perfect for review or fun questions.  All you need to do is enter the questions.

Happy Wednesday!  And I'll see you back on Friday with a Fabulous Art Feature!

Other Fall-Themed Resources:


A Pumpkin Freebie Perfect for October

14 October 2011
When my daughters came home this week with a pumpkin fundraiser from their school, I immediately ordered seven pumpkins.  At first my family thought I was crazy (and who's to say I'm not), but I had the best pumpkin day with my students last year and I can't wait to do it again this year.

For our fun pumpkin day, I put the students in groups of 3, and gave each group a pumpkin.  The rest of the day was dedicated to pumpkin activities.  The first activity was a science activity in which the students had to make a hypothesis as to whether their pumpkins would sink or float.  After they tested their hypothesis, it was time to hollow out the pumpkins and begin to count the seeds.  There were two graphing activities (scatterplots) related to counting the seeds - one compared the number of seeds to the circumference of the pumpkin, and the other compared the number of seeds to the number of vertical lines on a pumpkin.  The students had to determine if there was a correlation between the two.  Then the students worked with figurative language, coming up with similes and metaphors for their pumpkin (we worked with our kindergarten reading buddies for this activity).  There was a math problem solving activity (which I am including as a freebie, as it doesn't require the pumpkin).  Lastly, we made pumpkin seed mosaic pictures.  Wish I had a picture of these - they turned out fantastic!  Alas, this was done before my blogging days ... now I take pictures of everything.  The students had a great day, I had a great day, and even my husband appreciated the day, as I brought him home hollowed out pumpkins to carve and eliminated a very messy job for him.

You can check out my full Pumpkin Pack Activity Day by clicking on the picture below.  It includes all the handouts you will need for the day (14 pages in total for only $3.00).

I also want to share a freebie from this activity with you.  My Pumpkin Pack:  Pumpkin Pie for All activity is a fun problem-solving activity where students have to alter the recipe for a pumpkin pie to make enough for the whole class to share.  Click on the picture below to download your free copy.

Happy Friday!  YAY for weekends!

Other Fall-Themed Resources:


How Cute Is This???

12 October 2011
I've been home with a sick kiddo the last two days ... fever finally broke so I hope she's on the mend.  So, of course I've been on the computer way too much through the day while she has been resting.  And for me, too much time on the computer leads to online shopping ... my weakness.  I did order some fabulous things, though!

How cute is this???  I saw this Giving Tree iPad decal somewhere yesterday (maybe on facebook?), so I went hunting for it today.  I found it here on Etsy.  LOVE.IT.

Speaking of my iPad, I still have yet to use it in the classroom.  I brought it to school on Friday, ready to go with a new solar system app I was so excited to share with my students.  And just as we were about to start, the power went off at my school - and stayed off through my whole science period.  Wonderful.  Monday was a holiday, and I was home yesterday and today, so tomorrow's a new day.  And I WILL wow them tomorrow ... I promise.

I also bought myself a new eReader (so I can give my husband's back to him) - doing my last read aloud with the eReader projected onto my screen has changed the way I will do read alouds forever.  The students are so much more engaged.

Lastly, I finally found The Elf on the Shelf.  I wanted this badly last year, but I couldn't find it in stock anywhere.  I've been checking my online book stores for weeks now, determined to get it this year.  Mission accomplished!!!  I can't wait to do this with my girls this year - they'll love it!  I've seen so many great ideas on Pinterest to use with this, I think I may end up even more excited than my girls.

Tomorrow I head back to school ... my little girl is all rested up, and now my bank account needs a rest.

Happy Wednesday!!!

A Lesson Learned

10 October 2011
I learned a new lesson today.  I fully admit, I should know this one already ... but, sometimes I forget.  THIS is what happens when you leave a pie out where your three year-old can reach it ...

This apple pie was SUPPOSED to be dessert for our Thanksgiving supper tonight.  Apparently, Allison thought it would be much better as a little morning snack.  Grrrrrrrrr ...

Luckily, I had pinned this Caramel Apple Trifle earlier this week, and was planning to make it, too.  And thankfully, it was DELICIOUS!

Happy Monday!  And Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends!

Math Journal Sundays ... On Saturday

08 October 2011
Are you ready for some Math Journal Sundays ... on Saturday?  This weekend is our Canadian Thanksgiving, so I'll be cooking (and eating) up a storm with my kids the next two days.  Tomorrow (after we finish making the bread and apple pies) we'll be heading to my parents' house for our first Thanksgiving supper.  Then on Monday I'm having my inlaws over for our second Thanksgiving supper.  My husband makes an awesome smoked turkey, and I've been drooling over a new dessert recipe on Pinterest that I'll have to try.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Thanksgiving dinner!!!

OK - now that I've completely made myself hungry, I'll get back to the math journals.  This week we finished our Patterning unit - test was on Thursday.  On Wednesday, as part of our review, the students completed a Summary of Learning foldable.  We made a small flip book for this.  The students wrote our unit learning goals at the bottom of each page (so that it would show), and then gave their own example for each under the flaps.

The spelling mistake on summary is driving me crazy on this picture, but this student is so thorough on everything else, I'll forgive her ... just this once.  ;)

photo of patterning math journal entry @ Runde's Room

Here is her example for the first learning goal (this student is in grade 5).  After she handed this in, we discussed how her pattern rule needs to be more specific.  If she is going to use the recursive rule, the pattern should be the number of cupcakes starts at two and increases by 2.  If she used the explicit rule it would be multiply the term number (number of students) by 2.  A great review for her right before our test.  And you know what?  She nailed it on the test - well done!!!

photo of rubric for math journal entry @ Runde's Room
After students completed their summary of learning foldables, I had them hand their journals in so I could give them an overall mark for the unit.  I used this rubric I found here at Frogs and Cupcakes.  It's perfect!!!  The sharing and collaborative nature of this blogging community is definitely one thing I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend!!!

When students got their journals back, I had them add a learning goal of their own underneath the rubric.  What was their goal for the next unit to improve their mark?

Yesterday we started our new math unit - Exploring Numbers - part of our Number Sense and Numeration strand.  To do a quick unit preview and activate prior learning, I did a fun foldable I had seen on pinterest - we made little books.  The students thought this was "so cool", and I heard many say they were going to make more of these this weekend at home.  Click on the picture to bring you to the link at I Have Good Books.

photo of exploring numbers math journal entry @ Runde's Room

We called these little books "My Number Book".  Inside each book, students had to choose a number, then complete the following on each page:

  • write the number in numerals
  • write the number in words
  • write the number in expanded form
  • draw the number in base 10 blocks
  • draw the number in a place value chart
  • rename the number

photo of exploring numbers math journal entry @ Runde's Room

These little books turned out great, and I'm glad the students now have a reference in their journals that they can check when they have questions during their lessons.  Maybe, just maybe, I won't be asked a million times, "How do you do expanded form?", or "What's a place value chart?" ... something else to be thankful for this weekend.  ;)