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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Linky (Daily 5) & Linky (mentor text-science)

Where did the weekend go?  Oh yeah!  I spent Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon at an overnight girl's Scrapbook Retreat!  We stayed in a summer camp dormitory and had a blast.  I will show you some pictures of my pages in a future post (too lazy to download right now...lol).  So, that was fun to get away and do some cropping but it left little time for my other hobby...blogging!!  
I am finally linking up with two of my favorite bloggers, Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Saturdays and Collaboration Cuties for their science mentor text linky!  Did I mention that I LOVE these bloggers?!?  
You have to check out these great linky parties every weekend:) 

First up, is Joanne's linky from Head Over Heels for Teaching
Student Motivation Saturdays is where you share ONCE idea/tip/incentive that you use in your classroom to motivate or encourage your students.
I would like to share a self-motivational strategy that I use during Daily 5 (well, D4) centers.
It is no secret that, for me, the most difficult part of D4 has been the free choice aspect.  I have used centers before but always had a rotation and told the students where to go next.  I love the free choice idea of the Sisters and see so much value in it.  However, there are always "those few students" who try to bend the rules.  You know, they are choosing centers where their friends are (which I would have controlled by not giving them free choice) or they always choose the center that appears to have the least amount of work or accountability.  

I noticed many D5 tracking charts floating around but couldn't find one that worked the best for me.  I didn't want to hand out a new piece of paper each week and I also wanted a place for students to "rate themselves" on their performance at centers.

I came up with this tracking sheet for D4 centers:
I post a sign in my room that students use to rate their performance at a center ("How I Did").
3 Stars:  I tried my best the whole time.
2 Stars:  I tried my best most of the time.
1 Star:  I was distracted most of the time.
I use actual star pictures on the chart but cannot figure out how to put them in blogger right now and I forgot to take a picture of the chart.  The students just draw one, two, or three stars by "How I Did" on the chart.  I copy the paper front to back and the students use it for six weeks.
After each center, we "check in" and I keep another chart and mark next to a student's name every time they have two stars (no one has had one star:).  I used to use this information for my owl chart behavior incentive, but since switching to Class DOJO, I can now just take points off there when they are off task.  It is a great self motivator for students to try their best.  They also know that during "check in" time, other students will be sure to let me know if there were students off task and not following D4 rules.  They know not to interrupt my conferences during center time and to wait until check-in time.  If I notice a disruption, it usually just takes "a look" from me but then that means they will not get 3 stars!

Next, I am linking up with Amanda and Stacia at Collaboration Cuties for their mentor text linky. This week the topic is science.  I LOVE, LOVE the Seymour Simon books, particularly the Smithsonian Series.  

He has written more than 250 books for children!  His books have some of the best photographic, engaging illustrations that I have come across in a picture book.  

The text is challenging enough for 4th graders whereas it is usually too difficult for younger primary readers although they would find the pictures interesting.  I love that I can use his books to introduce a topic or to engage the class in new vocabulary development or note taking.  Combined with the illustrations, the students are very engaged.  When I do my natural disasters nonfiction writing task aligned to the core standards, I use Simon's Hurricane book as a mentor text.

When I was searching for some pictures of Simon's books, I came across this information:
"You can visit him online at www.seymoursimon.com, where you can read "Seymour Science Blog," participate in "Writing Wednesday," and download a free four-page teacher guide to accompany this book, putting it in context with Common Core objectives. Many of Seymour's award-winning books are also available as ebooks."

What?!?  Of course, I had to check out the Seymour Simon Science Blog and the Blog access to the Smithsonian Series!  Then, I figured out that if you register for a FREE educator account, you have access to so many teacher guides to accompany his books!!  I am not sure if this link for the Teacher Guide for Hurricanes will work, but I could access the "Teacher Guides" on his blog after I registered for the free account.  Check it out here!

Have a great week everyone and I hope to see you back on Tuesday for a new Tried It!


  1. I love the Seymour Simon books as well! The pictures are gorgeous and the text is perfect for 4th graders!


  2. I am getting such great book ideas! The Symour Simon books are amazing.
    Thank you for the center tracking sheets. I'm always looking for new ways to document. I'm teaching ELA/SS next year. The DOJO will be nice to use during guided reading groups and independent work time.
    Thanks for the great ideas.
    Fabulous Fifth Grade Fun

  3. Ohhh those books look AMAZING! I am adding them to my to-buy-ASAP list (which is ever-growing!)
    I will certainly check out that website for the free perks!

    Glad to hear you had a great time scrapbooking - I'm going to a scrapbooking weekend is two weeks. I can't wait!!!

    Joy in the Journey

  4. It is great that you got to have a getaway and do something that you love - if you say you were using a Cricut I will be insanely jealous. Thanks for info about these books and the blog/website. I will be using your Natural Disasters project next year and will for sure be needing these books. Have a great week.

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  6. Seymour Simon visited my school once. He was kind enough to autograph several books for me. They are some of my most prized "teaching" possessions. His books are amazing! I'm going to have to visit the site now.


  7. I love Seymour Simon's books. I almost chose one of his books for my mentor text this week. I had no idea about his blog/website. Thanks for passing that information on!

    Hunter's Tales from Teaching

  8. OOOOOOO, I love Seymour Simon! And he has a blog?? And some free teaching guides?? Awesoooooome!!! Thank you so much for sharing that!!

    I need to bend your ear about Daily 4...maybe this summer... :O)
    Collaboration Cuties

    1. Oh, and thank you for linking up! We love you too!

  9. Love his books! I'm loving the blog and resources! THANKS for finding that!! Love your chart for D4. I think that's something I can use.
    Beach Sand and Lesson Plans

  10. I am so jealous of your time away to pursue your other hobby! How fun!!! Thanks for the great ideas with D4 and Seymour Simon. His books are awesome! Have a great week!


    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  11. I too, get a little nervous about the "free choice" and prefer structure, but I like the way you hold your students accountable and have them self assess. Keeping track of their own progess is very self motivating! Seymour Simon books are wonderful! Thanks for sharing and linking up!

    Head Over Heels For Teaching