Friday, September 18, 2015

Dot Day, Nouns, & Word Problems

This week was Dot Day so I read The Dot to my homeroom class. Every year I use this day to start our random acts of kindness that we do throughout the school year. We pick a door in the school and leave many, many positive post it notes on the door. Of course, my kids wanted to start with Dr. Headen, our new principal. 

The only rules are they must be positive notes and they must sign their name. 

I'm sure she was surprised when she returned to see her door looking like this!

We have been studying nouns and I found this game to help them practice concrete and abstract nouns. The kids loved it!

They played the game in pairs and the winner of the game got a ticket for the good job jar. 

Do you need some games to noun practice? Games 4 Gains had this great pack for Nouns so I purchased it. The kids loved this game and I can't wait to use more of them next week. 

We have also been working on making word problems easier. This is something my students struggle with every year. I wanted to introduce them to this collaborative problem solving activity for 5th grade math. 

So I put the kids in small groups and had them work together to solve the word problem. Then I set up the screen and we used our 4 Mobis so that each group could share their thought process and problem solving. 

I love using the Mobis for this because there are times when groups solve the problem in different ways and they are able to share with the entire class. This time everyone solved it exactly the same way. I like using the groups to solve the problems because it helps those who may struggle with word problems because they help each other!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Simple Subjects & Simple Predicates

I've been a terrible blogger this school year and for that I must apologize. Things have been crazy at school and home. So I decided to share this awesome video a couple of my students made when we learned about simple subjects & predicates. I had them make up hand motions to go along with what we were learning. I saw several of them doing those motions during the test!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

1st 2 Weeks- 4 Types of Sentences

I can't believe we've already finished 2 full weeks of school. The first week of school was full of getting to know you activities, learning how to open lockers, and getting back in to the swing of school.

We did several fun things to review the 4 types of sentences. First we watch the Explore webcam and wrote 4 types of sentences about what we saw. 

Later the first week my students went through old magazines and found one picture the liked. They cut it out and glued it to notebook paper. Each student wrote 4 types of sentences about their picture and then shared it with a small group. 

Finally, we wrapped up our review of the 4 types of sentences with this cute activity! Students punctuated sentences, sorted them into categories, and then glued them on to clothes lines. 

STUDENTS: Which sentence activity was your favorite and why?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

#LearnLAP Chap 4

Chapter 4 is about improvement focus vs. grade focus. It seems that so many parents and students are grade focused. They are so proud to have had straight A's all the way through school. So my question is, do they have straight A's because the work is too easy? I've often wondered about that. I want my classroom to be more improvement focused, but that is going to take some work.

Set the Expectation: "In our classroom, we have one rule: Be a good person."

I love this quote because students need peers, parents, and teachers to be examples of this as well. We are a Leader In Me Lighthouse School. So we have made many changes around our school in the last 3 years with the focus of becoming a better person. This is not just directed at students, but teachers and staff as well. I worked with my best friend and fellow teacher on a Random Acts of Kindness project at our school. Our classes did nice things for others and I loved seeing the changes in my classroom. We did things like writing nice notes to an adult in the building. Parents were happy to send in old note cards they had for us to do this. We wrote post it notes with positive words like: Great job or Super and posted them on the student work that was displayed in the hallways. We would have a set time and my class would make a loop through the entire building. Each student made 2-3 post it notes and they chose the work where they would leave the note. I always made them sign their name on the note. We also chose random teachers and covered his/her door with positive post it notes. 

Another thing that I really liked from Chapter 4 was the section about having students write reelections. If you know me at all, you know I had to create some super cute signs to post in my room for my students to use as a guide. I also started thinking about having students write in reflection journals. This is still an idea that I'm developing but if you use reflection journals I'd love to hear about how you use them and how often your students write in them! 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

#DitchThatTextbook Chap 4-7

Can I tell you how much I love this quote? I'm not one to pretend that I know everything. My students are always asking questions and I don't always know the answers. So I say, "Why don't you look that up?" or "Why don't you Google that and share the answer with us?"

It is all about teaching students where to find answers, not act like we know all the answers. I've had several parents tell me when they ask questions at home their child will say what I say, "Why don't we Google that?" I love that they are taking the initiative to find the answers to their questions.

I started doing #GeniusHour last year and my students loved it. They couldn't get over the fact that I would allow them to research and share information about anything they were interested in. We did have the discussion that their projects had to be school appropriate but they were super excited! When I first started planning to do this I had no idea how I would fit the time in. We have specials 4 days a week (45 minute block) but one day a week we don't. I normally used that time to catch up on social studies or another subject if we needed extra time. But I decided to make that our Genius Hour time and my kids never let me forget. There were days when we were out for weather last year and they would give up recess time to make it up. They were allowed to research something they were passionate about and I loved seeing their excitement.

I started by having them create a heart map. They drew a large heart and filled it with all the things they were passionate about. Then I had them write a wonder on a post it note. That would be the guide for what they wanted to research. They posted their post it note for everyone to see and they organized their plan using our class Trello board.

There were so many different things the students shared with each other. Once they finished we would let them share with the class and post about things on their blogs. There are areas where I need to improve and work on some mini lessons to help them grow beyond their basic questions. But for the first year, I'm tickled with the way this turned out. I'm planning to do it again this coming school year and I love learning what my students are passionate about. This last year we learned about aquatic animals, how to draw, break dancing, and many other things!

While I wasn't ready to make my class completely self-directed, I did find a way to allow students to find their passions. With a few little changes I made it work. I'm going to do things a little different this year, but I was willing to start. That made such a big impact on my students. I loved watching them work together to find answers, learn how to use new technology, and share what they discovered. So if you're thinking about finding a way to empower students to find their passions, this would be the route to go! Your plan doesn't have to be perfect!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

#LearnLAP Peer Collaboration

Chapter 3: Peer Collaboration

I love when my students work together and I think they do too. We do lots of group work in my classroom and one of my favorite things to do with math is Number Crunchers. This is something that is done in pairs or small groups. Feel free to download these to use in your classroom!

Paul Solarz also shares how he uses "Give me 5" to get the students' attention and for others the get the attention of the class. I've used this as the teacher before but never thought to allow students to do the same. I love this idea! I normally say "Holy Moly" and my students say "Guacamole" to get the attention of the class. But I love the idea of turning this over to the class to use as well. Of course it would need to be modeled and practiced but I can really see this as something helpful in my class

Responsibility partners is another idea I loved from this chapter.  This year at school all the teachers had accountability partners. We were partnered with another teacher on a different grade level. We did periodic check ins with each other to see how things were going. My accountability partner and I even got together outside of school to go to the shooting range and have a little fun. Accountability partners is something I intended to do with my class, but I never did. So I think after I get to know my class this year I'll assign responsibility/accountability partners, not sure which word I'm going to go with yet. I think this is great to help the kids feel like they have a peer to check in with to see how things are going or if they need help with something.

Next topic from this chapter that I loved: Strategies for Dealing with Conflict. I've always taught my class to use rock, paper, scissors to solve disagreements. We also have the rule that it is a one shot deal, not best 2 out of 3. This keeps resolution time to a minimum and then everyone is able to get started or continue working. I also use how Paul said he uses Choose Kind. This was new wording for me but this is what I'm always trying to get my students to use and understand. I loved these ideas so much I created a few signs to post in my classroom. Want them? Click here to download my conflict resolution signs.

Finally, Classroom Meetings is something else I was excited to see addressed in this book. We have Community Meetings in my class and so many good things have come from these meetings! I'm planning to host #5thchat on Twitter July 14th. We will be discussing community meetings and student leadership roles. I hope will join me for that chat. I'll share some things I do in my classroom and will be excited to hear what others are doing as well.

Monday, June 15, 2015

#DitchThatTextbook Chapters 1-3

When I got this book in the mail I read the entire thing in one days. The ideas were spinning and I was thinking of all the things I could do differently in my classroom. I don't rely on the textbook much in my room already so ditching the book wouldn't be that much of a stretch for me.

So I thought I'd go back and reread the book and post my thoughts and ideas here.

Section 1 Why Go Digital? Chapters 1-3

This section was excited for me because I am the technology integration mentor for my school. I'm the first one to try new technology with my students and I love sharing my experiences with others. I've done some backchanneling with students before but after reading this section I'm excited to try it a little more. Do you know what backchanneling is? It is like a chat room for your students to discuss material as you go through it in class. I've always used Today's Meet for that, but like I said I haven't done it a lot. My takeaway from this was the following quote:

In school, I was that student who didn't really speak out a lot. I have changed a lot as an adult but still don't say a lot in big crowds of people that I don't know. Backchanneling is a fabulous way for you to encourage those students to share their thoughts with everyone.

Because of our limited technology in the classroom we have always used the backchannel in groups. So I would allow group to discuss ideas and then share their take away in the chat group. Our elementary school should be getting a BYOT network this coming year so my students will be able to bring their technology from home. This would allow every student to be able to directly contribute something to the conversation.

Are you reading the book? I'd love to hear your thoughts on it as you read. If you want to link up check out the linkup below. Can't wait to hear what you guys think of the book.