Showing posts with label pen pals. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pen pals. Show all posts

Friday, October 4, 2013

Five for Friday {October 4, 2013}

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for a quick Five for Friday to share some highlights of my week.  It will be an early night for me since this cold I am fighting is kicking my behind!  It probably didn't help that I had to stay up last night watching my Bills lose. :(

 Guess what arrived?!?
That's right, our pen pal letters arrived from Jessica (Ideas by Jivey) and Gary (Scrappy Guy Designs) in Georgia!!  The students have no idea yet because this week was insane trying to play catch up with fire drills three days in a row and a 1/2 day with students today.  I also still need to pair up the names and can't wait to do the big reveal next week.  The students will be ecstatic!!  
This folder was in the envelope!
 Here is the inside with the letters, "Cool Stuff Every Kid Should Know about Atlanta" book, and class lists (they have about 50 students total to match my numbers since I teach ELA to the whole 4th grade).
There is also a little fact card about Lawrenceville for each student!

We worked on the first interactive notebook lesson in our writing journals.  This characters interactive notebook activity is from the 4th Grade Interactive Reading Notebook by Nicole Shelby.
 We finished reading the book, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing this week and completed some character trait activities.  Students completed a graphic organizer where they listed a character trait for some of the characters in the story and found at least two specific details from the text that demonstrated that trait (sorry, I took the graphic organizer from a resource and didn't make it myself).  For example, the main character, Peter, is responsible.  Details:  Peter takes care of his pet turtle on his own by cleaning the habitat and feeding the turtle.  He is also responsible because he completes his homework on time and wants his school project to be well done.  I was so proud to see my students refer to this page in their journal without any prompting from me when completing activities about character traits!
We had our first monthly "Homework Stars" incentive lunch party that ended with some Gangnam Style "Just Dance" from Youtube.  Homework Stars is homework incentive we are using as a departmentalized 4th grade.  You can read more about it here.

I finally got around to mod podging about 50 writing journal covers that the students had personalized.  On some of the journals I used shipping tape to cover them because they had the plastic like covers that mod podge doesn't work well on.  I use this free editable handout for my students.  They loved it!
It was spirit week for homecoming this week and every day the students had a special dress up day.  Here is a picture of some students on "mismatch" day!  The boy is wearing different socks and shoes. :)

You need to checkout the giveaway at Fifth in the Middle!  One of my BBB's, Diane, is celebrating 1,000 TpT Followers and giving away a $20 TpT gift certificate!  In addition, ten winners will win any item from her TpT store.

Happy weekend everyone!! 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tried It Tuesday (pen pals!)

It's time for Tried It Tuesday!  I know just about everyone is back to school and there are many things being "tried".  My team and I always talk after school at the beginning of the year about how far behind we are and all the things we aren't getting done.  Today, we had to remind ourselves that we just finished day THREE!  Haha!  The days just fly by and we never get accomplished what we thought we could.  Does anyone else have that problem?  I can almost see you nodding your head. :)

My Tried It:
Pen Pals
I have LOVED having pen pals for the past two years in my ELA class!  Hands down, the days we received letters from our pen pals were some of the most exciting "educational" days of the year!  There is just something magical about receiving a letter personalized for you from someone somewhere around the country.  The excited buzz throughout the room is just wonderful as they start reading their letters and talking about what their pen pal said or drew for them.  The students always worked hard on their letters and it was an example of a great, authentic assignment.
I was so disappointed to learn that my amazing pen pal from last year wouldn't work out for this year.  If you have been reading my blog, you know that we are departmentalizing now and I am teaching all three sections of ELA.  My pen pal from last year has 27 students and I have 48.  You can read some highlights from my experience with our Indianapolis pen pals from last year here and here.

So, how will I find pen pals for my three ELA classes this year?  I am hoping I can find a pen pal through my blog readers this year again!  I had such great luck last year and this way seems to much better than trying to find one through a site for pen pal requests (I have had problems with that before).

I Would Love to TRY Pen Pals Again This Year!
If you are a 4th grade teacher and need pen pals, please contact me!  I have 48 ELA students this year.  Your student number doesn't have to match exactly because there are always a few students who will volunteer to have more than one pen pal.  I am open to having more than one teacher at a school to pair up with too if you have about 48 students between two or three teachers.  I have three sections of students (17, 16, 15).  I would like to keep the teachers within the same school though so mailings all come together to make planning easier.  

Preferably, it would be nice to have pen pals from an urban area, southern state, or western state since I am in a small, rural town in New York State.  It is fun to have students with different backgrounds.  You can send me an email at if you are interested or leave me your email in the comments.  It would be helpful if you let me know where you teach and how many students you have.  Thank you!

UPDATE:  Thank you so much everyone!!!  I paired up with my first response of 4th graders that matched my numbers!!  Guess who?  It is Jivey from Ideas by Jivey and Gary from Scrappy Guy Desgins!!!  Did you know they work together on the same team?  I didn't! Lol! :)  I am super excited and will email those who expressed interest below to checkout some of the comments and send emails to others who may be interested too.  Please feel free to add your comment below if you are looking for a pen pal.  Someone may stop by and check it out!  If you get matched up, you could write that in the "reply" box.  Good luck matching up and thanks again for your support!

I also wanted to give you an update on my "Tried It Tuesday" link in the menu bar.  I haven't been adding more thumbnails under the categories since I saw this:    
Must be there is a limit on the number links on a page and I only have 100 remaining.  Any thoughts or suggestions on this?  I haven't looked into it much but there is probably a subscription fee I can pay to have this number increased.  For now, I will hold off adding more links.  Thank you for your understanding and patience! :)

Don't forget to enter the 1000 Followers Giveaway at Ideas by Jivey!! It's HUGE!!!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Made It (ABC book and flash freebie!)

Happy Monday!!  This is one holiday where I am thankful that I am not going back to a five day work week on Monday after the festivities are over (Christmas/New Years is enough of a struggle!). 
We went camping over the weekend and it is such a let down on Sundays watching everyone pack up.  The kids wanted to stay and even our little dog didn't want to get in the van!  
During the summer, Sundays are happy nights and Mondays are made sweeter with the linky party that I fell in love with when I started blogging a year ago!
Check out Monday Made It with the talented and so creative, Tara, from 4th Grade Frolics. :)
I really like to have many things to show you for a Monday Made It, but today I have just one.
I went into work last week for one day and finally finished making one item on my to-do list:
Our last gift from our wonderful pen pals in Indianapolis, IN and their teacher, Jill, was an "ABC book" of Indiana!  
Here are some pictures of the amazing book her class made and sent us.  As you can see, the students incorporated the shape of their letter into their illustration.  So clever!!
B is for Bass
 C is for Corn
 O is for Ohio River
 L is for Lenape
I thought that this was such a fabulous idea that I decided to make one in return!  
We will be pen pals next year too and since they start back in August (we start back in September), she can share the ABC book with the new class.
I love the cover Jill had a student design and this was our last project in the final days of school.  About half my class (12 students) volunteered to make a cover and then we were going to vote on a winner.  Guess what?  Not one of the students made a cover and now they were on summer vacation!  
So, I made this one digitally because I cannot draw to save my life.
We focused on "Western New York" because when many people hear "New York", they often think of New York City.  We are about eight hours from NYC and couldn't be more opposite!  
I teach in a small, rural district in Western New York. 
For the ABC book, each student was assigned a letter.  I used the same letter that corresponded to their letter assigned to them in ELA.  In homeroom, everyone is assigned a number but since we switch groups for ELA by ability, that class has a letter assigned to them for easy organization.
I have 23 students in ELA, so three students volunteered to make an extra page.
One night for homework, the students were assigned to think of an idea for something that represents Western New York beginning with their letter.
Boy, am I glad I didn't give them their paper and have them go for it without making them share their idea first!
Here were some of the ideas that I had to nix:
  • R for Rock N Roll!  ummm...
  • P for People!  yep, we have people here:)
  • K for King George!  I think "Can't You Make Them Behave King George" made quite the impression.
  • J for jump!  Who or what is the jump referring to?
After we brainstormed some more appropriate responses for some of the letters, the students used the paper I gave them with a preprinted letter and they designed their page for homework.  I typed the blurb about each picture and then printed them.  If I had more time with my class, I would have brought them to the computer lab to type their own description, but we ran out of time before school was out.  Then, I cut the blurbs into strips and taped them to each page.  Finally, I copied each page of the book in color on our school copier and bound the book with an spiral binding machine.

Here are some of my favorites:
G is for Grace Bedell.  As an eleven-year old girl, Grace sent a letter to Abraham Lincoln, urging him to grow a beard to improve his appearance.  Within a month, he grew a full beard and later met Grace in Westfield, New York.  There is a statue in Westfield depicting this event in history.

I is for Iroquois.  The Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) are a league of several nations and tribes of Native Americans that stretched from Western New York to the Hudson River.  Today, the Iroquois live primarily in New York, Ontario, and Quebec.

M is for Maple. With its unique climate, soil and forests, New York State is naturally perfect for producing maple syrup.  New York state is the second largest producer of maple syrup in the United States (after Vermont).

X is for eXcelsior.  A banner below the State Seal of New York shows the New York State motto, Excelsior, which is Latin for “Ever Upward”.

W is for Welch’s. Thomas Bramwell Welch was the inventor of the pasteurization process to prevent the fermentation of grape juice.  The oldest structure associated with the Welch’s grape juice company is located in Westfield, New York.

For today only, in honor of my Birthday/Blogiversary Giveaway, the ABC Book Starting Template will be a FLASH FREEBIE.  It will end at midnight EST tonight.  Get yours for only $2 if this is a project that you would like to do with your class in the future.  All the letters are made and ready for printing to be passed out to students.  I also included my letter descriptions, ready for you to edit, and the above example pictures in the file.

Don't forget to go on a scavenger hunt for an amazing giveaway organized by Erin at I'm Lovin Lit!  EVERYONE WINS!!  You can choose any of the scavenger hunts to complete and win the prizes!  Head over to check it out!

If you haven't entered my giveaway yet for a $50 Winner's Choice Giftcard to TPT or Amazon, there is still time!  Thank you!!  Cheers:)

See you back tomorrow for the only Tried It Tuesday of July 
(linky will stay open the rest of the month!).  

Now, go back and check out all the other Monday Made Its!  
How will you be inspired today?

Friday, March 15, 2013

Five For Friday TGIF!!

TGIF is the phrase of the day!! 
It has been snowing and blowing the past two days like it is January, 
my sickness (cold, fever, blah) is back with a vengeance, 
and it is crunch time for the state tests.  
If that doesn't deserve a TGIF, I don't know what does.  
Good thing I can do a link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to brighten my spirits:)
1.  Pen Pal Letters-We have the best pen pals from Indianapolis this year!  Since we live in a rural district, I wanted pen pals from an urban area.  Jill replied to my blog post plea here and we just exchanged our third set of letters back and forth!  In the last set, I sent a video message of the whole class and each individual saying a quick "hi" to the pen pal and word about themselves.  We just received a video and letters back from them and my students were so thrilled!  I love the buzz of the classroom as they read their new letters:)

2.  American Revolution (FINALLY!)  I am so far behind in everything this year it seems and social studies and science are no exceptions.  This is my favorite unit in social studies and we started these pockets to hang on the students' desks this week.  

This is the Boston Massacre pop-up.  The students really love the activities that go with this unit!

I use this book for the resources that go with the pocket folder.

3.  American Revolution #2-In ELA (different grouping than my homeroom-social studies group but there are some crossovers) we started reading "Can't You Make Them Behave, King George?" by Jean Fritz.  I love all her books and the interesting, fun spin she gives to historical events.
4.  Math Review-We studied area and perimeter weeks ago and I added this tic-tac-toe game that I found on TPT to my math centers as a fun way to review both concepts.  With the test approaching soon...dun dun dun...any review of concepts that will surely be tested is always a good thing!  
One side of the card has a question.  Students answer the question and show their work on the recording sheet.
 Next, they flip the card over and if the answer is correct, they put their "x" or "o" on that spot of the board.  If they are incorrect, their partner gets to place their "x" or "o" on the board.

5.  My Little Buddy is 3!!!  I can hardly believe that my little guy turned THREE today!
Seriously, where does the time go?
He only asked me about ten times today, "Mommy, am I three now?  Today?"
He has the sweetest little soul and just melts my heart!
When we brought him home from the hospital three years ago, it was 75 degrees (yes, mid March in WNY).  I actually like colder temps but the 20's can go now!  
Fifty degrees would be all I ask...please? 
Have a great weekend everyone whatever your weather is like:)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Five for Friday (a day late!)

I am linking up a little late with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.  What a great way to reflect on the week!  I usually spend some downtime on Friday night reading blogs and posting something about our week.  If I had my choice, I would stay home most nights after being pulled in so many different directions all day.  However, last night my hubbie and I went out to dinner and a movie with my parents.  It was a rare treat to get a sitter and go out:)  The movie we went to see was "Lincoln" and it was fabulous!
1.  Project on Donors Choose Funded!  I was so thrilled when these packages arrived in my room this week!!  They are from!  I did not really expect that the project I submitted last summer would get funded, but it was! Yay!!  One lovely lady kept coming back giving donations and finally funded the whole project because she said that she wanted to see it completed.  I am so grateful and blessed by the kindness of strangers like her.  
My big ticket item that I had my eye on was this storage cart from Lakeshore Learning.  
I had already spent much more money personally than was in my budget last summer for school supplies (don't we all) and this item was $99.  It was a piece that I knew would be so helpful in organizing the Daily 5 and math centers that I was downloading all summer.  I went the cheaper route and have been organizing materials in folders and boxes.  This has worked somewhat but the centers with little cards are awkward in folder and fall out easily.   Now, some of my centers can have their own little drawer and the students can take the drawer with them to their work space!  LOVE IT!!

My students were just as excited as I was.  It was so cute!  These three boys assembled the cart and were so proud.  I wish you could see their faces.  Now, I am working on getting permission slips to post photos on DonorChoose and then we will write our thank you letters.  If you haven't checked out, I highly recommend it.  You just never know when someone may help your classroom dream item become a reality.  It has been a great experience and I think it was also good for the students to witness an act of kindness by a stranger on their behalf!

2.  Pencils Made by Seniors with Disabilities- Speaking of acts of kindness, the students were also thrilled when one of my room mothers who works with senior citizens with disabilities delivered these pencils and bookmarks to our room.  The seniors added a ton of pizzaz to these pencils and one elderly gentlemen came with the parent from my classroom to deliver these!  It was so sweet and the students have been using them all week.  
3.  Electricity Unit- We started our electricity unit this week (finally!).  After learning about electrical safety and making rules for our classroom when working with electrical items, we were ready for our first investigation.  Each pair of students is given two copper wires, a "D" battery, and a little lightbulb. I gave them about 10 minutes to try and figure out how to light the bulb.  It is so funny listening to them.  So many say, "Oh, this is easy!  I know how to do it!"  Guess what?  Not one could do it this year!  Usually, I have one or two groups that figure it out or might have an electrical kit at home.  Not this year.  They were amazed when I demonstrated how to light it.  I love watching their reactions to science experiments and then witnessing how much they learn over the course of  a few weeks.

4.  Pen Pal Letters-We mailed our third round of pen pal letters this week.  Our class made a five- minute video clip of our class saying a big hello with each individual saying a quick blurb to their pen pal.  We also took a look out our classroom window with the snow, fields, and woods.  We are in a very rural area.  Our pen pals are from Indianapolis and it is fascinating to compare the rural vs. city life.  They asked us a lot of questions about snowmobiling.  When the winter is great for snowmobiling around here, it really affects the local economy.  The trails are closed right now...not good!

5.  Daughter's 100th Day Project:)  Here is my little Kindergartner and her "100 Scoops of Ice Cream".  She is so proud!  Between Valentine's Day and the 100th day, she had quite the busy week for a five year old:)  She is growing too fast...sniff, sniff:(

How was your week?  I would love to hear your comments!  Have a nice long weekend:)


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