Currently: April

31 March 2013
I am SO excited I'm finally linking up to Oh' Boy 4th Grade for another Currently linky ... and even more excited I'm a day early!!!  That NEVER happens in my life of forever procrastination.  Here goes ...

Listening to ... there's quite the storm going on outside.  Bit of rain and bit of snow mixed in.  Desperately wishing the wind would blow away ALL this snow ... I think it just may be MAY before it's all melted this year.  SO sad it's the season finale of The Walking Dead tonight - it's one of the few shows that my husband and I actually enjoy watching together ... I have no idea WHY I like the show as much as I do - never thought I would get wrapped up in a zombie show, but I am HOOKED.

Loving ... my Easter Weekend.  Can't beat 4 days home with my family.  We had a lovely dinner at my parents' house last night and had a great time with the whole Easter Bunny thing this morning.  LOVE my life.

Thinking ... about laundry???  Yikes ... moving on.

Wanting ... to squeeze in a few more moments of fun tomorrow (maybe the laundry will have to wait another day).  We've been playing all the old classics together lately.  Just in the past week we've had a few games of Monopoly, Life, Scrabble, Jenga ... LOVING it.  (And the teacher mom in me makes the girls add up their own scores and count their own money).  Favourite line from today:  my oldest spelled "reef" in scrabble.  When my middle asked what a reef was, my youngest said, "You know - like a Christmas reef".  ;)

Needing ... to get our passports.  It's driving my husband CRAZY that I haven't gotten it yet.  I do want to take a few little trips over the summer, but I have BIG plans to take the family to Disney at the end of December.  Shhhh ... it's a secret.

Advice ... and this is one I need to keep reminding myself to follow ... I think I've done a pretty good job this month.  Get OFF the computer more - and spend that time with the family.  

Well, that's it ... still can't believe I've got it done a day early.  :)  I also can't believe that tomorrow is the beginning of April!!!  I've got to plan a great trick for my girls tomorrow.  Any ideas???



We've Got Our Heads Stuck in a Good Book

29 March 2013
Book Report Project For Any Novel
Independent reading is huge in my classroom ... HUGE.  There is not a day that goes by that we don't find the time to squeeze it in.  When I first started my teaching career I worried about keeping students accountable for their independent reading time - we kept reading logs, students had questions to answer, you name it - I tried it.  I think I tried so many different ways because none of them were working for me (and my students).  And then ... I scrapped it all.  And the sheer LOVE of reading for pleasure skyrocketed in my classroom.

I teach readers ... and there is nothing I am more proud of.  Yes, I do "challenge" my students each year - we have a 30 book challenge we take on.  Yes, students discuss their reading with a partner during pair-share oral activities after reading ... but there are no lengthy comprehension questions to answer in writing, no log to send home to parents to sign every night.  My students are reading because they want to - they love what they are reading and finish their books because they want to, not because they have to.  I think the secret to it is that we do find the time to read every day.  I dedicate 15 - 20 minutes of my (100 minute) reading block to independent reading each day.  Because they are reading every day, they can't help but to get sucked into their books.  I think our pair-share at the end of reading really helps too, because students are always hearing about what their friends are reading, and are always adding new books to their mental "must-read" books.

About 3 or 4 times a year, we showcase our love of reading with a project ... okay - you can call it a "book report" if you want.  But, the secret is to keep it fun for the students.  My kiddos LOVED the Paper Bag Project we do in class, but I did it last year with my students, and because I have half of them again (I teach a split grade), I had to come up with something new.  My students have been loving lapbooking in science and social studies, so over our March Break I created a LapBook Report Project, and it was a hit in the classroom!  (If any of you have already purchased this product, I have updated it to include a picture of our bulletin board and the template we used to create the face and hand pictures for display.  You can download your updated copy on your "my purchases" page).

Students used their independent reading books for this project.  The foldables inside focused on character analysis, making connections, inferring, problem/resolution, vocabulary, summarizing, setting, reflection, etc.  To display these projects, students had to draw their faces and color their faces and hands.  I stapled the faces to the bulletin board and put the lapbooks just underneath.  I then stapled their hands over top so it looks like they are holding their projects.  My students did such an amazing job on these - I think they are just as proud of them as their teacher is.  ;)

book report, lapbook, bulletin boards

book report, lapbook, bulletin boards

Edit:  I have also created a nonfiction version of this Lapbook Report Project for informative texts.  Just another way to allow for differentiation in your classroom.  Click HERE to see the nonfiction version.

Happy, Happy Friday!!!  And I hope you all enjoy a lovely Easter Weekend.


2D Geometry and Art

19 March 2013
We've started our 2D geometry unit in math this week.  Today, when we were finishing up our journal entry, I had the students draw a picture that showed their learning for the reflection.  Thought we had wrapped it up and all was good.  And then, during recess, I remembered a fun art idea I had seen on pinterest for 2D geometry op art.  So, we pulled out the paper and the markers and set to work.

Students had to first draw a grid on their paper (they used pencil then went over it in marker).  I then asked them to draw a minimum of 6 polygons on the grid (not overlapping the shapes).  They then had to color in the grid (alternating squares for the pattern).  I had them do all the squares for the grid first, then they had to go back and fill in the shapes - opposite to the pattern they did for the grid.  

There you go - it was quick and easy - and integrated math - and most of my students finished it up in one art block.  Glad we squeezed it in today - it's been a bit since we got an art block in.  

Happy Tuesday!!!  


Lapbook Giveaway Winners

13 March 2013
Thank-you so much for all your comments!  You are all too sweet.  I'm sorry I'm a little late in posting the winners, my blog post didn't go out to my email followers until very late last night, and I wanted to give all my followers a chance to enter.

I had my girls pick the winners for me today.  I gave them 5 pieces of paper and asked them to write a number between 1 and 65 on the slips of paper (does that count as our math lesson for the day?)  ;)  These are the numbers they chose:

Congratulations to:
#15 - mccutch
#20 - Jennie
#22 - Gina Coniglio
#33 - Stephanie @ 3rd Grade Thoughts
#48 - Kathleen Bond

Stephanie and Kathleen - I've already emailed you.  Gina, Jennie, and mccutch - could you please comment below with your email adress?  I will send off the lapbooks as soon as I have your address.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!!!




11 March 2013
Oh my goodness - how I LOVE spring break!!!  The school break is great, don't get me wrong ... but I think what I'm enjoying most is the break from my girls' extra-curricular activities.  I have two little dancers and one soccer superstar ... and they keep us RUNNING!!!  For the first time in a LONG time, we had NO activities this weekend ... which equals sleeping in ... which equals heaven to me.  :)

So, with the extra time I've found plus two very rainy days (not complaining - hoping that rain melts some of this snow mountain around me) it gave me the time I needed to finish a couple of projects I've been working on.

Provinces and Territories Project
I've been working on a Canadian Lapbook Project.  My class LOVES making lapbooks in our science units, so I thought I'd create one for Social Studies.  Provinces and Territories is actually taught in grade 4 in my province, but it's a unit I always review in my class at the beginning of the year because it's SO important to me that the students know all about their country.  This lapbook has the students naming the province and territory capitals, population, major lakes and rivers, and exports and imports.  They also research natural resources and physical regions of Canada.  You can click on any of the pictures to preview this product. 

Provinces and Territories Project

Provinces and Territories Project

US States Project
I had SO much fun creating the Canadian project, and had such a great reaction from my daughters (who insisted on helping me with the cutting), I decided to create a similar one for the United States.  I quickly realized that with 50 states, this was going to be a MUCH bigger lapbook.  This lapbook is actually 6 pages (2 file folders).  Students will study the state abbreviations, capital cities, state population, date it entered the union, imports and exports, and major lakes and rivers.  They will also research famous Americans, natural resources, famous landmarks, climate, highest peaks, and more.  It would make an impressive project to display and then send home to the parents!  Again, you can click on any of the pictures to preview this product.

US States Project

US States Project

US States Project

US States Project

US States Project

To celebrate Spring Break, I'm going to giveaway FIVE of these resources.  Just leave a comment below stating which one you could use and I'll use the random number generator to choose 5 different names tomorrow.  Check back tomorrow evening to see the winners.

Happy Monday!!



Math Journal Sundays - Prime Numbers and Factors

10 March 2013
I've got two journal entries from our Interactive Math Journals to share with you today.  We finished up our math unit this week - we were working hard to get it done before March Break.  (YAY for spring break!!!).

prime composite numbers interactive math journal
The first entry was a simple one for prime and composite numbers.  I photocopied a hundred chart onto a longer rectangle so that the sides could fold together and meet in the middle.  Under each of the flaps we wrote the definition for prime and composite numbers.  We then colored our number chart to show the prime and composite numbers.  We boxed the perfect squares and wrote a definition for perfect square under the sticky note (under the hundred chart).

Since we covered the numbers from 1 - 100, for the proof I asked them to identify the numbers from 101 - 120 as prime or composite.  For the reflection I asked students to write about the relationship between prime and composite numbers.  If you look at the student work below, you can see that this student seems like she didn't quite get the concept from looking at her journal. When I asked her about it, she realized she made a mistake when working quickly, and she should have written that some "odd" numbers are also composite.  She also missed quite a few numbers in her proof.  I had her go back and add to her work after our conference.

prime composite numbers interactive math journal

prime composite numbers interactive math journal entry

prime composite numbers interactive math journal

In case you missed it, I did a blog post this week with some fun lesson ideas for prime and composite numbers.  You can read about it below or click HERE.

prime factors interactive math journalOur next entry was on prime factorization.  For this one we decorated our page to look like a tree (to help them remember to use factor trees for prime factorization).  For our examples I wanted to use the same number twice to show students that it didn't matter what set of factors they started with, the prime factors will be the same in the end.  We also included a definition for prime factor on the page.

prime factors interactive math journal factor treeFor the proof I asked students to find the prime factors of two different numbers.  As they were making their factor trees, I heard students remarking that factor trees reminded them of a Christmas Tree.  (LOVE this - so much so that I might rearrange the order I teach my math units so that this unit falls before Christmas).  Another student said he'll remember prime factors because of Optimus Prime - because the factor tree reminded him of opening up a transformer.  :)  I was loving their discussion so much I told them what they were already doing was reflecting on the lesson.  So, for the reflection today I left it open for them - they could show their learning in any way they wanted.

prime factors factor tree interactive math journal

prime factors factor tree interactive math journal

I do have a copy of the factors and multiples quiz I use near the end of this unit available for FREE at my TPT store.  Click HERE to download a copy.

Happy Sunday!!!  



Prime and Composite Numbers

05 March 2013
Our math class was SO much fun today!!!  So fun I thought it just may be "bloggable".  ;)

We start out our day with 15 minutes of skill drill (every day) - we're still drilling those multiplication facts - but to keep them engaged, I try to keep it as fun as possible.  Right now we're using my Multiplication Tic Tac Toe for the smartboard - the kids are loving it.  I divide the class into two groups (grade 5 and grade 6) and they work out the solutions on their whiteboards before answering.  They are allowed to check answers with a partner before one student from the group offers the answer aloud.  So much fun!  The best part ... well, I think the picture below speaks for itself ...

We then moved on to today's lesson - we're reviewing prime and composite numbers.  We completed a math journal entry on them yesterday (check back on Sunday to see it), but have been discussing them throughout our current unit.

I started out by randomly handing out my magnetic numbers (you can grab a copy of the numbers by clicking on the link - just print out on magnetic paper).  I put up two hoops - one for prime numbers and one for composite numbers - and asked the students to come up and put their numbers in the proper hoops.  This is what we got after the first try:

We then used our current reading strategy, turn and talk, for math today.  Students "turned and talked" to their classmates to discuss the placement of some of the numbers.  They had to PROVE and convince other students why some of the numbers needed to be moved.  This is what we then ended up with:

YAY!  So, we started out the lesson old-school style - with magnetic numbers and the blackboard -  so we then turned to our technology.  I showed the students a brainPOP video on prime numbers.  I have the subscription to the app on my iPad, so I place my iPad under the document camera and project it.  (Yes, I know there is a little doo-hickey I can use to connect my iPad to the computer, I even
think I have one, but it's just so much easier to slide the iPad under the camera).  ;)

We then used our netbooks to play a fun game with prime and composite numbers - Fruit Shoot.  They had a lot of fun with this one.  You can see one of my students using his math journal to check his answers as he played the game.  (Happy, happy teacher).

We ended today's lesson with a fun prime number maze that I whipped up using Worksheet Works.  If you haven't used this site before, you have to take a peek.  It's so quick and easy to whip up a worksheet (and differentiate worksheets for the students working at different levels in your class).  We don't do a lot of worksheets in my class, but every once in a while a student needs a little practice on a concept ... or will miss a few lessons while sick or on a trip ... or my own kids need a little extra something something to keep them busy at home ... ;)  
Such a fun, fun lesson today - and that equals success in my books!  

Happy Tuesday!!!