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Friday, February 22, 2013

Five for Friday...the longest shortest week!

This was the longest shortest week!  
I am finding it difficult to come up with five notable happenings to blog about for Doodle Bugs Teaching Five For Friday linky but I will give it a go:)  
Read at your own risk...notable?  not so much.
Although...I can't resist!  
It is wonderful reading what everyone else has been up to and 
reading comments from you guys! (a little New Yorker accent there). 
1.  Natural Disasters Projects:  My students began working on a "Natural Disaster" project at the end of last week and were assigned writing the rough draft for the essay on Tuesday night for homework.  They are working in pairs on this project and the room has been a buzz of excitement!  They have to write a 5 paragraph essay (intro., 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion) and have a visual aid.  

Many students went home over the weekend and worked hard on their project.  I can't wait to see the presentations next week and I am so proud that they have worked with their partners so well.  It is a great way to also get some much needed practice reading informational text since the Common Core emphasizes a 50/50 split for fiction and nonfiction reading.  I know they have been introduced to a lot of new vocabulary while working on the project.  

I tried importing the directions and rubric I made for the project, but of course it didn't turn out the right way.  If you would like a copy of these, write a comment with your email and I will send them to you.  If there is a lot of interest, I may upload this on TPT.  This has been revamped with 10 pages total for the project and is uploaded on TP here
Check back next week and I will blog about some of the presentations with pictures of the final products:)

2.  MOST Unexpected Snow Day on Wednesday!  
There was no school on Monday (President's Day), back to school on Tuesday and then a phone call at 5:45 am Wednesday morning.  
The forecast called for 2-4" overnight (which is nothing!). 
Well, the weatherman had it wrong again....
My district got over a foot overnight and with the 50 mph winds at just the right time, it was that magical combination!  Wahoo!!

3.  Stayed home sick Thursday!  I told you it was the longest shortest week ever, right?  
My husband and I both started to feel sick on the snow day (he had to work though!).  I laid down during the kids' naps (loved spending extra time with them:).
I did not get up the entire nap time!  Body aches, feverish, dizziness, and no appetite.
Well, I was bound and determined to get back to work on Thursday.
I just had a snow day, right?
Got up at 5:20...took my shower, and I was exhausted!
My temperature was 101.5 and there was no way I could make it...

4.  Several students were quite naughty for the sub!
with a pile of papers waiting from being out one day sick...
some naughtiness to attend to...
summaries on a nonfiction piece written that didn't even make sense by my top writers...
today was quite exhausting!
I mean some of those summaries were like they did not even read the story and there were run-ons, incomplete sentences, and some incoherent writing!  I am telling myself that it is because there was a sub but I am not so sure...starting to panic a little.  Our state test is mid-April but we have a 2 week spring break before it....FOUR weeks of school left until spring break...yikes!

5.  Added to Danielson APPR binder organizers:  With the little bit of down time I had resting Wednesday and Thursday, I was [slightly] productive.  I updated the APPR binder organizers that follow the Danielson rubric for teacher evaluations on TPT.  Included now are checklists for each domain and examples of four artifacts that can be used.  

I am actually looking forward to a five day {slightly normal} week next week!  I think the five day weeks are easier somehow.  Anyone with me on that?  
Have a great weekend:)

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 Donorschoose.org!  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 Donorschoose.org, 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:)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Have you used this website? (ReadWorks.org)

Hi everyone!  I just recently found out about this website, ReadWorks.org, and I had to spread the word!  
I'm sure many of you already use this FREE site but I would love for you to comment on how it 
has helped you or provide a tip for me since I have just started navigating it.  
Here is a snapshot of the homepage:


This is what ReadWorks is all about:
ReadWorks gives you a proven, research-based program for teaching reading comprehension.

  • ReadWorks’ lessons focus on the essential skills and strategies your students must master to become successful readers.
  • The lessons are FREE. ReadWorks is a non-profit organization of educators with the mission to help students excel at reading comprehension.
If you like ReadWorks and our lessons, you can help us advance reading comprehension by sharing ReadWorks with your colleagues and school leaders. 

1,000 Non-fiction Passages!

- Aligned to the Common Core and State Standards

- Research-based question sets

- Lexile Leveled


Common Core Aligned

- Meets ELA Standards for All 50 States

- Complements Core Reading Programs

- Based on Leading Research

- Free, to be shared broadly

Teachers Rave!

"I just want to say thank you for providing excellent worksheets and ideas to use.
I'm a 3rd grade teacher and have used these worksheets to push my students to higher thinking skills."
- 3rd Grade Teacher, Arizona


You can search for lessons by Common Core Standards and enter your state as well.  Here is an example of the lessons that correlate to just one standard ( 4.RL.1):
Reading Standards for Literature

Key Ideas and Details

Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.
Urban Education Exchange

You can also search by topic.  Here is an example of a 4th grade passage with questions (multiple choice and short responses) on Colonization and the Revolutionary War.

What do you think?  I would love to hear your comments!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Monday Made-It February!

Although I am a little late, I always love hooking up with my all-time favorite inspiration in the blogging world, Tara at 4th Grade Frolics.  She's the best I tell ya!  (doesn't that sound like something she would say?)  Haha!
My Made-Its are mostly products I have finally found time to print, laminate, and cut-out.  I have found so many new materials this year thanks to the blogging world and TPT.  Adding math centers and a Daily 5 revised model has been rewarding in so many ways, yet exhausting at the same time.  I am looking forward to next year when I will already have many math center, word work, and work on writing activities on hand and laminated from this year.  Then, I can add steadily without feeling like I am running around frantic all the time:)  

My students are finally working on multiplying two-digit by two-digit numbers and I laminated this cute centers activity by Tara.  I have used the other centers in this Holiday Hoopla pack and this one can obviously be used anytime of the year!

I am excited to use this next product by Nichole at Craft of Teaching.  It is a Quadrilateral 2D shape sort and aligns with the Common Core.  The students can always use practice sorting quadrilaterals by properties.  It includes 24 cards for sorting, graphic organizer for sorting by quadrilateral name, bland graphic organizer for "open" sorting, Venn diagram for comparing and contrasting attributes, and triple Venn diagram for comparing and contrasting attributes.

I invested in some more of Rachel Lynnette's task cards during the big TPT sale.  This set is on inferences and my students always need more practice using this skill.  I just love her task cards!

These winter story starter cards I actually did make:)  You can get them here for FREE at my TPT store:)  Story starters are another new idea I am trying this year that the blogging world got me hooked on.  I love reading the students' stories using this method!  They are a creative way to get students excited about writing!

One more plug for me...sorry!  I am just really proud of myself for stepping up and making some useful TPT products for centers:)  I have learned so much from the blogging world!  In January I made a math center using line plots and fractions.  In 4th grade, students are expected to graph and interpret fractional data using line plots.  I created this "Line Plots with Fractions" math center that includes the game shown below and another game using a die.  

The students here are playing "pizza party" where they flip cards showing a fractional part of pizza that they graph on their line plot (laminate and use dry erase markers at a center).  After about ten turns each, students complete a series of questions using their line plot data.  For example, students calculate how much pizza was graphed total on their line plot by adding all the fractions shown together. 

I made several variations of the line plots so that students can start with fractions that have common denominators and work their way up to uncommon denominators.

I made two sets of pizza cards for my centers, each with a different colored back to keep them separate.

To easily get a colored back on the cards, I run a tape runner on the back of the cards paper before cutting them out.  I place the paper on a colored piece of paper and then cut out the squares.

My Kindergartener daughter needs to make her 100th day project this weekend (or should I say she needs to assist me while I make it?).  Haha!  Anyway, I took some picture of some wonderful 100 days projects at the school where I teach for inspiration.  This project turned out awesome and the teacher said her mom got the idea off Pinterest:)  
She used a hair dryer to make the color run off the crayons. Isn't it beautiful?  I hope Lilly (I) can think of something creative for her project!  Wish me luck:)  

Congratulations to Diane from Fifth in the Middle on winning my giveaway with the Quietest Pencil Sharpener!  It is already on its way:)  She chose RED!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

January Currently:)

I love linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade every month for her currently.  It is so much fun to read what is on everyone's minds at the moment.  I also love to connect with my blogging buddies and meet some new ones each month:)  

Listening:  This is so sad that this is the third time I have attempted to watch Grey's Anatomy from Thursday.  I either am working, blogging, or fall asleep while watching TV now.  It is bad I tell ya!  Where have the days gone when I just used to sit, watch a show, and do nothing else (except have a snack!).

Loving:  I have taken some time today to search for products and have added lots of things to my wish list.  There will be some tough decisions when I decide which items I can't live without for the sales at TPT and TN!

Thinking:  I went to my mom's today and came home stuffed!  We had homemade minestrone soup for lunch and ham, mashed potatoes, beans, brussels sprouts, yams, cake, and ice cream for dinner.  Then we are going to a Superbowl party tomorrow and I cannot stay away from food!  I will have gained at least 5 lbs. (that I definitely don't need) by Monday for sure.  Oh well, the alternative is passing up all the good eats and that just does not appeal to me:)

Wanting:  I never seem to get caught up with my grading.  Even on the weekend, there is always that one assignment that I am dreading grading and before I know it, I am into next week with all new sets of papers coming in each day.  So, when I do get to that one set I have been dreaded grading, there are many more papers waiting.  Story of my lifeeeee...

Needing:  We found out on Wednesday that our 5 year old daughter needs to have her tonsils and adenoids out.  On a size scale of 0-4, her tonsils are a size 4+.  So, I played phone tag with the scheduling office on Thursday and Friday.  It is not easy to get hold of teachers during the day and whenever I call, it goes straight to voicemail.  Of course, when I get home, the office is closed.  I want to have her scheduled during my two week spring break and then I won't have to worry about taking off time.  It is a good thing that we did not plan to go anywhere on vacation!  

Pet Peeves:  I am so with Farley on the lying one.  Lying in general is a huge pet peeve.  I am a brutally honest person which is probably annoying to other people.  
I just tell it how it is.  
Be straight up.  
Students lying to me is especially frustrating.  
Don't they realize that telling the truth is so much easier??
Laziness...really gets on my nerves.  
Students being lazy is really annoying and the ones that do it are usually repeat (daily) offenders. ugh! 
I have also had a problem recently accepting colleagues who always seem to leave right after school is out and never have a bag filled with school work with them.  
Ok, maybe they are not being lazy but are somehow super productive and have found some magic potion that I have not yet discovered.  
Although, it is not just that...others that don't meet for department meetings or submit paperwork for meetings....and I could go on and on.  
I don't like thinking about my pet peeves really because it makes feel bitter.  
Hmmm....I need a happy thought now.  
I got it...all the FOOD I will be eating tomorrow!  Haha!

Also, don't forget to enter my giveaway for the Quietest Pencil Sharpener and one item from my TPT/TN store!  
The giveaway ends on 2/7/13.

I am off to check out some other Currentlys! Yay!