Five For Friday

26 April 2013
Ahhhh .... Friday.  :)

This week's Five For Friday has me thinking about SPRING!

Look at these little cuties that popped up in my garden late last week.  I was so excited to see them - they must have started growing under the snow, and a day or two of rain melted enough snow in my garden I was finally able to see them.  I LOVE gardening in the summer and those first spring flowers are such a treat after a long, long, long winter.

And speaking of growing, my little school is growing, too.  The school nearest ours is closing at the end of the year, and the students will be moving to our school.  So, we're getting an addition built on to our school.  Construction has started and the students are SO excited to watch the "mighty machines" at the school every day.  (This pic was taken from far away because I didn't think the workers would appreciate it if I walked right up to them and started snapping pics of them ... ;).

Another thing that reminds me of Spring is cooking with fresh berries again - no more frozen berries here.  I made these delicious blueberry lemon loaves with the girls this week - I've been trying to bake at least one thing with them every week.  The recipe is from The Joy of Baking - everything I've ever made from that site has turned out perfectly!

comprehension strategies, reading postersYet another sign of Spring is reviewing for our upcoming standardized testing.  I've been using my newest product, Reading Comprehension Posters for Fiction Books, to review the comprehension strategies we've been studying in reading all year.  I've focused on one strategy to review each week, and during our reading of a mentor text at the beginning of each week, students completed a poster for the strategy we're studying.  We read Chris Van Allsburg's Just A Dream this week to fit in with our Earth Week theme.  They love that they can decorate and colour the poster while I'm reading - it's a treat for them because it's the only time I let them doodle during a read aloud.  I love the deep thinking I'm getting from the posters and the discussions we've had in class about the books.  

Lastly, while I was at a PD day today, my daughters were busy painting and having fun at their daycare today.  My middle surprised me with this little gem when I picked her up at the end of the day.  ♥

T.G.I.F!!!  I wish you all a wonderful weekend!


Celebrating Earth Week

25 April 2013
Although we discuss the importance of global responsibility throughout the year, we really try to focus on it during Earth Week in the classroom.  I tried to incorporate these kind of activities into all subjects across the curriculum this week.

On Monday we did this word problem for our three part math lesson.  We've been studying perimeter and area for about a week, so I thought they'd be good to go.  But boy, they struggled with it.  They all wanted to do 1.2 x 10 = 12 for area.  Not so much.  I gave them hints to draw a diagram, and I even started off a diagram for them, but we still had to revisit the problem the next day to consolidate the learning and fix-up some of the misconceptions.  It was a real math work-out.  ;)

On Tuesday we got outside for a yard clean-up.  But I decided to add a twist.  I divided the class into 4 groups and we made it a relay race.  I kept track of the number of pieces of garbage collected on the whiteboard - because my class is so competitive this year - this was a HUGE success.  They set a goal to collect 100 pieces of garbage, but I ended up filling both sides of the whiteboard with tally marks, and we ended up collecting well over 300 pieces of garbage (I would just like to insert that we have a gigantic school yard, and we did the back, front, driveway, and parking lot).  Fresh air, exercise, and some care of the school grounds ... perfect!

Our science unit is Conserving Energy, so I decided to pair it with some writing this week, and I used some writing prompts and paper from The Science Penguin.  Click here to see her Earth Day Freebie.  I let the students choose from 8 different prompts, then they had to complete their good copies on the Earth Day stationery in the pack.  We added some art (coffee filter globes) and had a perfect display for Earth Week.
You can get directions for making the coffee filter globes here.

How did you celebrate Earth Week with your class?


Reviewing Decimals and Rounding

24 April 2013
If you're an upper elementary blog stalker (like me), you must have met my wonderful friend, Kim, from Finding Joy in 6th Grade.  And if for some reason you haven't, you really have to stop by her blog - trust me.    Kim is the most wonderful, most supportive, sweetest bloggy friend around.  In fact, she's not just my "virtual friend" (as my husband calls them), she's a true friend.  And so, when the Magical Product Swap linky came around again this year, I was THRILLED to have the chance to partner with Kim.  (Sidenote - the swap linky actually happened on Saturday, but just to prove how SWEET Kim is, she refused to let me post on Saturday because she wanted me to leave up my fundraiser post all weekend.  I ♥ her).

When I saw Kim's resource for Reading, Writing, and Rounding Decimals, I knew it would be perfect for review in my class.  And perfect it was.  The kids LOVED the hands-on aspect of it - give them a spinner and some number cards, and you'd think it they'd hit the jackpot.

I had my students work in partners for this activity.  Each pair had a mat with 4 different frames, a spinner, and a set of number cards.  One thing I LOVE about this resource, is how it first activates students' previous knowledge.  Before they start rounding numbers, they have to first practice reading and writing decimal numbers.  Another thing I LOVE about it is how easy it is to differentiate for my students (my grade 5 and grade 6 students worked with different spinners, being able to hit the expectations needed for each of their grades).

My students first worked on reading and writing decimal numbers.  They first spun the spinner to find out what place value they had to read to.  They then chose the correct number of cards to make the number, and placed the cards on the frame.  They then wrote the number in numerals and in words on their recording forms.

Once they were ready, we moved on to rounding decimals.  This time they had to spin the spinner to see what place value they had to round to - if they spun hundredths, they had to fill the frame that went to thousdandths on their mat.  They had to record the number, what place value column they had to round to, then the rounded number on their mat.  Another thing I LOVE about this resource - there is a column on the recording sheet for "check".  The partner had to check the column if they thought the answer was correct.  There was a lot of great math talk in my room as students discussed or had to prove why they thought the answer was correct or incorrect.  

My kids loved the hands-on aspect of this activity - it really helped them with the rounding process as they physically removed the last column number card after rounding.  (And I was even able to slip in a teachable moment about theoretical probability versus experimental probability while they were working with the spinners ... happy teacher moment).

This resource even includes two pages of exit slip task cards so students can PROVE their learning at the end of the activity.  See ... so many reasons to LOVE this activity. 

You can further preview this activity by clicking HERE - Kim has it available at her TeachersPayTeachers store.  And after you check it out, stop by her blog - Finding Joy in 6th Grade - and send her a little joy, as sending JOY is one of her favourite things.



I Just Want To Say ... Thank-You!

23 April 2013
You have all touched my heart and truly overwhelmed me with your support during my fundraiser this weekend.  Through your prayers, positive thoughts, support, sharing, and shopping, I was able to far exceed the goal I had hoped to reach ... four times over.  I can't begin to tell you how much this means to me, and how much this will mean to Taten and his mom during their fight ahead.  You are an AMAZING group of people, and I just want to say ... THANK-YOU!


Fighting the Monster

19 April 2013
Meet Taten - the bravest little boy I know.  Taten is in grade 2 at my daughters' school; his younger sister is in my youngest daughter's class.  Taten's mom is an EA at my daughters' school; she has worked in my oldest daughter's class.  She is also a good friend of mine.

Taten was just diagnosed with cancer.  

His fight began less than two weeks ago when doctors found a tumor in his leg.  Today he is in surgery to have his port put in place, and will have his first round of chemo.  Taten and his family have to travel to a hospital almost 8 hours away every three weeks for the next nine months to receive treatment.  

I cannot even begin to imagine the nightmare his mother is going through, but I knew I had to help in whatever way I could.

This weekend, I'm having a sale at my TeachersPayTeachers store and I'm donating every single penny to the family.  All day Saturday and Sunday (April 20th - 21st), all my teaching resources will be on sale.  I hope you will be able to find something to help you in your classroom, and help this family at the same time.  Please click on the link above, or in my left sidebar to visit my store.  And if you can, please share this post. 

A few days ago, his mother wrote about her love for her son and promised him that she would hold his hand every step of the way.  Well, hold on tight Marnie, but know that we're all behind you, holding your other hand.


Five For Friday

12 April 2013
I'm so excited to be linking up to Doodle Bugs' fabulous Five for Friday.  I've literally been thinking about it all week - what I would include, what pictures I would take ... and then I got sick.  I've spend the last two days at home.  Ridiculously wicked head cold - plugged ears, can't breathe, and a dozen other things I won't go into detail about.  So, enough of that ... here are my 5 random "shares" ...

No picture for this first one - nobody needs to see that.  But here's a mental image for you - for the past two nights I've been lying upside down off the edge of my bed with socks filled with hot rice held to my ears (yes, I'm trying all the googled home remedies I can).  I can't stand the feeling of my plugged ears.  Granted, with three little girls around here, muffling the noise can be a good thing ... but it's just too uncomfortable.  Anybody know of any other home remedies to try?

Moving on ... spent some quality time with my baby girl (not such a baby anymore) baking cookies while her older sisters were busy this week.  And the cookies were fabulous!  (So fabulous we had to bake a second batch later in the week).  ;) 

We've done a lot of free writing in my class this week.  Stay tuned next week for a blog post telling all about it.  My students are SO excited about this new addition to our class.  Here is a list they brainstormed about all the different forms of writing they could try - they came up with ALL the ideas.  Just underneath that is a little freebie I whipped up this week to get my students to do some revising and editing with their free writing.  You could try it for a minute or two after each writing block or piece, or go full out for a "Find It and Fix It Friday".  Just click on the image to grab this little freebie.

We had a little task card fun on Wednesday with these great division task cards I got from Teaching With a Mountain View. I set out all the cards in the common area outside my classroom, and the kids rotate through answering the questions.  They can use their whiteboards to work out the questions.  I sit at one of the stations with two different task cards, so each student eventually has to sit with me to work out a problem as they complete all the cards.  Great for some formative assessment.

I saved the best for last ... or the most embarrassing for last. ;)  Earlier this year, when my students were struggling with learning their multiplication facts, I made a promise to them that if they got a class average of over 80% on their skills quiz at the end of the week, I would turn cartwheels in the snow for them.  Well, it didn't quite happen with multiplication (we came awfully close), but last Friday, with their division quiz, they hit an 84% average.  YAY!!!!  And, since we still have snow in April (blech), early Monday morning I took my kiddos out to watch me do a cartwheel in the snow.  It's not a pretty cartwheel (it's been three children and two back injuries since I've last done a cartwheel).  In fact, my husband isn't convinced it's actually a cartwheel ... but my students LOVED that I tried, and my own kiddos belly-laughed at the video ... so, it's worth it, right???  Now I've got to figure out how to up the ante for our remaining skills quizzes.

And that's that ... how did you spend your week??


Thursday Art Feature - Reflection Pop Art

11 April 2013
Just popping in quickly to share a fun little art project my students completed this week.  I integrated our math unit into our art (again), and knew I wanted to do something with symmetry.  Then I thought I'd kick it up a notch and throw in some pop art culture.  This is what we ended up with:

It's so bright and cheerful in our room ... and with the weather we've been having, and how we're all feeling, we needed a little more bright and fun in our room.

Students started out by folding their page (just a piece of white computer paper) into fourths (they drew lines along the fold lines, which would become our lines of reflection later).  They then had to cut an image from a magazine to glue into one of the fourths.  They used miras to help them reflect the image into the four quadrants - flipping the image each time.

We then did a quick lesson on pop art - read some quick biographies about Andy Warhol we found online, and looked at some of his pictures.  When they finished drawing, they had to colour in the remaining quadrants "pop art style".  LOVE!

Happy Thursday!  


Math Journal Sundays: Polygons and Division

07 April 2013
With Easter last weekend, I didn't get around to posting our math journal from last week.  So, I have two entries to share with you today from our Interactive Math Journals.

math journals, interactive notebooks, 2D Geometry, polygons
We're just finishing up our 2D Geometry unit.  This journal entries for polygons was near the beginning of the unit.  I gave each student an envelope and some coloured paper, and had them work in pairs to construct as many polygons as they could think of.  They were to write the name of the polygon on the front, and on the back they were to write some of the attributes of the polygon.  (We used the shapes they created for some of our lessons following that - they used them for sorting polygons in Venn Diagrams, and measuring angles). Hindsight note:  when I gave them the envelopes (the "polygon pockets") I asked them to cut off the lip and glue them to their journals so they would act as an open pocket.  After finding many polygons on the floor, I wish I would've had them leave the lip on the envelope so they could close the envelope to keep the polygons contained.  ;).

For the proof of learning, I asked students to show the difference between a polygon and nonpolygon.  I gave them free choice for their math reflection for this entry.  Some of my students drew pictures with polygons, some wrote about them, and a few made a chart showing the # of edges and vertices.
math journals, interactive notebooks, 2D Geometry, polygons

math journals, interactive notebooks, 2D Geometry, polygons

math journals, interactive notebooks, 2D Geometry, polygons

math journals, interactive notebooks, divisionThe next entry I wanted to share with you is on division.  I spend about 20 minutes at the beginning of each math block (I have a one hundred minute math block) strictly studying skills.  We just started long division this week after a LONG time spent on multiplication.  The good news ... because we spent such a long time on multiplication, division was a breeze this week.  Did you hear that correctly?  I don't think I've ever written those words before.  Seriously.  Our class average on our division skills quiz on Friday was 80% (and that was after only three days, as it was a short week).  YAY!

math journals, interactive notebooks, divisionWe made a simple flap interactive tool for this one.  We wrote the steps to division on the outside of each flap, and then showed the step on the inside of the flap.  Easy peasy.  We also included our favourite mnemonic device for division:  Does McDonald's Serve Burgers Raw?  (Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring Down, Repeat or Remainder).  They LOVE this mnemonic device and have written it on every practice sheet they've done.  They've really been using this entry a lot when they're practicing their division - I even had a few students ask if they could use their journals during the quiz on Friday.  (I let them ... on the condition that they try it without their journals next week).
math journals, interactive notebooks, divisionFor the math reflection, I used my question fans and asked them to connect the concept learned today (division) to another concept they have learned (specifically, multiplication).  They were free to explain their connection using pictures, numbers, or words.  

math journals, interactive notebooks, division

math journals, interactive notebooks, division

That's about it for today.  Hope you're having a FABULOUS Sunday!  (It's actually not snowing here today ... first time in about 3 days ... fingers crossed it stays that way!!!)