A Thank-You Gift

29 November 2011
Yesterday's TeachersPayTeachers Cyber Monday Sale was amazing!  I was so excited to pick up many great products at a great price, and I was overwhelmed by the interest in my products.  So much so, that I decided to create a little thank-you gift to all my followers - here at my blog and on TpT.  My Cootie Catchers continue to be a popular product (all due to inspiration from my 8 year-old daughter), so I made up a fun little Christmas Cootie Catchers activity.  This activity contains 6 cootie catchers:  Christmas Jokes, Winter Jokes, Musical Next Lines, The 12 Days of Christmas, Christmas Movie Trivia, and Christmas Trivia.  This activity could be a fun little way to fill up those last minutes before the Christmas break, or could even be used as a stocking stuffer (at school or at home).  Click on the picture to download your FREE copy.  I hope you enjoy!!!

Happy Tuesday!

Math Journal Sundays

27 November 2011
It's been a while since my last math journal post.  With my weekends full of dance lessons and soccer games, routine seems to have escaped me again.  But, right now I'm relaxing with a coffee, looking forward to the two hours I have before I take my girls to see a stage show of Annie today!!!  (I may be more excited than them).

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

So here goes - I have two foldables for you today.  This first one is a place value foldable from the end of our last unit.  I modelled how to make it under the ELMO.  I then wrote all the different numbers on the front for the students to copy.  They had to write the correct place value columns on the inside of the foldable.  This could also be a fun partner activity, where the students take turns coming up with numbers to write on the front.  We took it up the next day so I could check for comprehension before our test.  This one is from one of my grade 5 students, and I can see she is having trouble with the tenths and hundredths columns.

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

photo of mean mode median range math journal entry @ Runde's Room
My second foldable for today is from our new unit in Data Management.  I introduced the unit by giving the students a set of data (the percent results from our math last test).  I then posed an open-ended question, "How could you display this data?".  I paired the students up, gave them a sheet of large chart paper, and sat (HA!  Do we ever get to sit?) back to observe.  Every single group made a graph - with about 3/4 of the class making bar graphs (I also noticed I'm going to have to spend a lot of time on intervals - not one group of students organized the data into intervals).  The next day we had our math congress - where the students display their work and explain why the did what they did.  I also have other students explain the thinking they see on the charts.  When all groups finished, I asked them if there were other ways to display the data.  Again, they gave me a variety of answers all about different kinds of graphs.  So then I asked them, "What if I wanted to see what the average was?"  I did have a few students remember about mean, mode, and median, so this was a great lead-in to our foldable for the day.  We made a four fold foldable and wrote mean, median, mode, and range on the outside flaps.  We wrote the definitions on the back side of each flap, and then solved the problem on the inside.  We used the same test data as the day before.  As I had introduced mean, mode, and median earlier in the year (when we had our Oreo day) they were pretty good at it.  I usually try to do a mean, mode, and median activity every time I hand back a test.  I find it's a great way for students to see how their mark compares to the rest of the class (and hopefully may inspire a little goal-setting), and it's great practice for our province testing (which ALWAYS contains a question related to it).

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

photo of mean mode median range math assignment @ Runde's Room
I've uploaded an example of one of my Mean, Mode, and Median assignments to google docs if you would like to take a look.  I left it in Word format so you could alter it to fit the data from your class.  Click on the picture to the right to download a copy.  If you're interested, this is included in my Mean, Mode, and Median activities at my TpT store.  In this activity I have a Mean, Mode, Median, and Range poster, as well as examples of 8 different assignments like the one shown.

Lastly (whew, this is a long post), don't forget about the HUGE sale at TeachersPayTeachers.  Many sellers are offering up to 20% off (with sales already starting), and on Monday you can take an extra 10% off by entering the code at the bottom of the picture below.  All my products are on sale for 20% off until Tuesday.

Happy Sunday!!!  I'm off to get ready for Annie, and you'll have to excuse me if you hear me singing in the shower.  It's been a "Hard Knock Life" lately, but I'm sure "The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow".  :)


Friday Art Feature - Is It Too Early For Snowmen?

25 November 2011
We had our first big snowfall of the year last week.  You know what that means - snowmen!  Yards all over the city proudly displayed the first snowmen of the year.  And then, the weather warmed up and the poor snowmen just couldn't adapt.  So I decided to make a safe home for the snowmen in our classroom.  I had pinned these fantastic little snowmen from For The Love of Art (such a fantastic art blog for all ages - I've actually pinned quite a few things from there), and couldn't wait to try them!

We started our lesson by discussing value.  Again, my pinspiration was my inspiration.  I had pinned these fantastic elements and principles of art posters from The ABCs of Art.  I displayed this poster over the ELMO, and we discussed the different ways to show value.  We also related it back to some of our other art projects this year that we have showed value in.  I explained that we would be showing value with tinting and shading.

After we finished sketching our rough copies, we started on our good copies.  We used light blue construction paper and oil pastels.  I LOVE how they turned out!!!
I plan to make a few paper snowflakes to add to our bulletin board to really set the mood.

For my American friends, I hope you're enjoying your Thanksgiving holiday!  I'm enjoying the shopping specials, and have almost finished my Christmas shopping!!!  To celebrate the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, I have placed my TPT store on sale for 20% off from today until Tuesday.  You can also take advantage of an extra 10% off on Cyber Monday.  Click on the banner to see my TPT store.  Happy shopping!!!


PD Day Present

21 November 2011
OK - may I just state right now how very jealous I am of all of you who have time off this week.  Canadian Thanksgiving seems like it was so very long ago ... and December 23rd seems so very far away ... <sigh>.

At least it's almost a four day week this week - today was a PD day, so no kiddies today.  We spent ALL day in PD for assessment - assessment for, as, and of learning.  Did I say ALL day ... <sigh again>.

Anyway, why should I have all the fun - I have a little PD day present for you.  (I must state for the record now, in case anybody from my board should read this, I DID NOT create this during my PD day.  Of course I was a model student student ALL day ;).  I'm simply offering this on the day that just so happens to be a PD day).  There, all done - see, I'm a good girl.

So I know most of you are dreaming of turkey and Thanksgiving sales, but I already have visions of sugarplums dancing in my head when I go to sleep.  LOVE Christmas!  So, I made up a fancy little Christmas product to get my students in the mood, too.  We've been doing a lot of problem solving in class lately, and although we're getting better, we've still got a ways to go.  This activity contains 14 different word problems, displayed on Christmas paper.  I'm going to use the ELMO to display a different one each day of December, and let my students to work in pairs to solve the problems.  The pairs will complete their solution on large chart paper, and then we'll post them.  That way we can discuss the different strategies students used to solve the problems.  Oh, did I mention that this one is FREE?!?  Just click here, or on the picture to download your own copy.  ENJOY!

Happy Monday!  

Thank-you, Amazon

19 November 2011
I was doing a little online Christmas shopping last night ... okay - I was doing A LOT of online Christmas shopping last night.  I wasn't planning on buying anything for myself - really, I wasn't ... until I went on Amazon. Now, books are my weakness, I've admitted that before, but I was going to hold strong - I had really convinced myself I didn't anything new.  AND THEN ...

You know that little advertising tool that they have - the one where it recommends books based on previous purchases ... oh, I know you know what I'm talking about.  I was just planning on taking a quick peek - just out of curiousity ... and I couldn't believe my eyes ... and just as quick, I added it to my shopping cart - The Chronicles of Harris Burdick.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg is a classroom favourite of mine.  It is my hands-down absolute go to book for inferring and creative writing.  LOVE IT!  I have it in hard cover, and in portfolio version.  My favourite activity is to scatter the portfolio sheets on the floor of the gym, then turn out the lights.  I have my students enter the darkened gym with flashlights and sit around me in the centre of the gym.  They turn out their flashlights and I turn on mine.  I read the introduction to them, and when they are hooked, I let them turn on their flashlights and have them do a walk around, pausing at each sheet (they must do this step in silence).  After the entire class has had a chance to see all the pages, I turn back on the lights.  In groups of three or four, students choose their favourite page and create a 3 pose tableaux about the picture (before, during, after).  When we return to class, I have the students use the page they chose as a prompt, and they create the story.  I've even had classes create entire books using a story-in-the round method.  Once we even created a real book, complete with illustrations.

So, when I saw The Chronicles of Harris Burdick, I knew I had to have it.  Van Allsburg and 13 other authors (including Kate DiCamillo, Stephen King, Lois Lowry, Louis Sachar, etc.) have written mysterious and poignant tales to accompany the images.  I'm so looking forward to sharing this with my students (and I think I'll even grab my class from last year to share it with them, too).

Oh my goodness - I CANNOT wait for this book to get here ... just like a kid at Christmas.  ;)

With all my Christmas shopping last night, I was still in a Christmas mood today.  So I put that good mood to good use (why waste a good mood on laundry) and created a Christmas Drama Circle activity.  I've done two drama circles with my class already this year, and they have enjoyed them so much, I knew they'd love one for Christmas, too.  If you wish, you can click on the picture to get a preview of the product.  And, because I'm still in a Christmas mood, I'll send a copy to the first two people to leave a comment below with their email address.  Happy Saturday!!!


Remembering Remembrance Day

15 November 2011
Sorry for the lack of regular posts, lately - I've been having some camera and internet issues.  Frankly, I've been having some spare time issues, as well.  Whew!  Is it Christmas Break, yet???  And speaking of Christmas Break, we're not done school until December 23rd this year - the 23rd!!!  My goodness - how on Earth is this possible???

Anyway (small vent over), back to the original theme of this post - remembering Remembrance Day.  Last week we had spent quite a bit of time dedicated to activities related to Remembrance Day, and specifically, the poem "In Flanders Fields".  We read for fluency, work through a comprehension assignment, and memorize the poem to present at our assembly.  I am proud to say that every single students memorized the poem by Friday. Good job, class.  As part of our week, the students also completed Remembrance Day posters and poems.  The posters and poems are entered into a Canada-wide contest through the Legion.  Some of my students did an absolutely fantastic job on their posters - amazing!

The poems the students wrote had to be submitted on plain white paper, but the students made a second copy to display in the classroom.  We used special stationery for this poem (which I uploaded to google docs.  Click here to download your own copy).  As I had uploaded it previously, the students simply went on to google docs, downloaded the stationery, and typed their poems into the text box on the stationery.  So simple, and yet so effective.  Today we mounted the poems on black construction paper, and added a paper poppy (another foldable!) for a special touch.

The last thing I want to share with you today is a video we have shown at our Remembrance Day assembly for the past 5 or 6 years - A Pittance of Time.  As it is a Canadian video, perhaps many of you are unfamiliar with it.  It ALWAYS brings a tear to my eye.  It is so important to teach our young students the importance of recognizing and respecting our troops - not just on Remembrance Day, but every day.


Parts of Speech

09 November 2011
We're still hacking through the parts of speech in my class.  We've finished nouns, verbs, adverbs, and we're almost through adjectives.  I spend about 10 minutes a day reviewing parts of speech (part of our word work). I always try to mix things up for my students.  I'm lucky enough to have only 20 students this year, but of these 20, 15 are boys, 5 have I.E.P.s (with another 2 on waiting lists to be tested), and 6 have behaviour issues (and that's on a good day) - whew!.  Needless to say, I HAVE to mix things up, keep things structured, yet fun, and engage them in hands-on activities as much as possible.  For each part of speech we co-create anchor charts (I "borrowed" this idea for adjectives from a chart I saw on pinterest, but my students think they came up with it themselves).

For their independent Word Work, I'm using the book Hot Fudge Monday - they LOVE the funny activities, and I LOVE that they actually WANT to complete the work.
We also use the SMARTboard  a lot so they can circle and highlight the various words on the board - and sometimes I even let them use the magic pen.  ;)

They also really enjoyed the poster activity we did on "Life is a Verb" (see last post).  I'll have to tie something like this into each unit - it would be great to have real student created posters for each of the parts of speech.

But I've got a surprise for them tomorrow.  They LOVE using my Comprehension Cootie Catchers for pair share activities after their independent reading.  And I mean LOVE - I've never seen a bunch of boys so excited about using cootie catchers.  So, I made a Cootie Catcher Parts of Speech package for them.  This activity contains a cootie catcher for common nouns, proper nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections.  I'll pair up two students, each with a different cootie catcher, and they can take turns identifying the correct words.  I may even turn it into a little game WITH a timer going on the SMARTboard.  Watch out, boys .... I told you learning can be FUN!

I just posted this activity to my TPT store.  Click on the picture above to preview the activity.  And ... for a little extra fun, I'll send a FREE copy to the first two people to leave me a comment (with their email address) telling me their favourite way to review parts of speech.

Happy Wednesday!


"LIFE" is a Verb ...

07 November 2011
OK - lower those eyebrows ... I know "life" is a noun, but I just have to share our activity from today ...

It all started with this sticky note I found while searching the internet this weekend.  LOVE it!  And then my teacher brain kicked in ... and I mean KICKED in!  How much fun would this be to recreate in class ... and it totally was!

I started by (quickly) showing my students this image and explained that we were going to make our very own poster using the same idea.  First I posted a piece of bristol board on the blackboard, and had the students investigate how many sticky notes would tile the surface.  They then had to take the total number of sticky notes and divide it by the number of students in the class to find out how many sticky notes each student would receive (LOVE when I can throw a little math into my language class).
For the record, we fit 63 sticky notes on the paper.

I then gave the students 2 minutes to independently brainstorm as many verbs as they could think of that relate to "life".  We have already studied verbs this year, so this was a great review activity.  I then launched into a mini lesson about connotation and denotation of words, and allowed the students a few more minutes to cross out any words that had a negative connotation - neutral words could stay on the list.  I then paired the students for a few more minutes so they could share their lists and build on them.  When our brainstorm was complete, I made a list of all the wonderful verbs they had come up with.

We only needed to come up with 63 amazing verbs, but I think we ended up with over 90!

After that I chose students randomly (from my name jar) to pick their three words (a few students had to complete 4 words).  I instructed the students to write the word at the bottom of their sticky note (as large as they could), and if they wished, they could add a small symbol in the upper right corner.

Last step - assemble the completed sticky notes back onto the bristol board.  I wrote "Life is a Verb" at the bottom of the poster, and glued down some of the not-so-sticky sticky notes.  Add in a few minutes of photoshop when I got home, and Voila!!!  LOVE it!

I'm going to upload it to Vista Print tonight and get a large poster made for our classroom - and even better, they have a sale going on with free posters right now (at least they do in Canada).  Did I mention that SHOP is one of my favourite verbs?  ;)

Happy Monday!!!

Making Maps

05 November 2011
If I wasn't convinced before, I definitely am now ... Halloween candy should be banned at school!  Add two days of indoor recesses to that (and my progress reports being due), and WOW - what a week!  Needless to say, I've had to keep them super busy all week - any unstructured time would lead to chaos!

The students finished one of my favourite projects this week - Making Maps.  I LOVE how they turned out (and my students are so proud of their work, too).  I always do these maps as our first social studies unit (Mapping Skills) every year.  I alternate between World Maps one year, and Canada maps the next year.  That way, when I have a group of two students for two years in a row (I always have a split grade), they're not doing the same map twice.  They have to draw these maps freehand - using an atlas as a reference (because the maps are sketched, I can get a visual arts mark and a social studies mark).  They then label the provinces, capital cities, and major water bodies.  They must use the index in the atlas to look up the rivers and smaller water bodies.  So many skills packed into one assignment.  The day after the maps were due, I had a map quiz where the students had to label the provinces, capitals, and major water bodies.  It's actually a grade 4 expectation in our curriculum, but still a necessary review for my students.

If you're interested, I have this project listed at my TPT store - it includes a list of instructions for both the World Map and the Canada Map, as well as rubrics for both.

Happy Saturday!