Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Peek at my Week-Lots to do!

The gorgeous weather outside has been so motivational for me! I feel like I get so much more accomplished when it's nice out.

Including planning out my week and getting things ready! :)

I wanted to link up share a "Peek at my Week"!

I thought it'd be fun this week to share with you what we're doing by showing the newsletter we send home to parents and students on Friday! This shows details of what our week will be all about :)


{If you like my newsletter, pick up your copy here for free to edit for yourself!}

We are in full on test-prep mode with our state tests only 3 weeks away! (EEEEK!!)

I like to make test prep fun, so we do a lot of stations, which the kiddos LOVE! We are reviewing characterization, using evidence,  and point of view this week!

Here are the things I'll be using during stations to review these concepts:



2 of our stations will be spent working on our Kidblog Literature Circles!

My students are {LOVING} every minute of this new concept of blogging, and are SO motivated! I overheard one of my boys run up to another student on Friday and say "OMG, I commented on your post! Make sure you check it!" Makes my heart happy to hear that! They didn't have any "blogging" duties this weekend, and I just checked to approve comments and posts and there were 415 comments for me to approve, and 22 new posts about books! And that's all EXTRA! :)

I know many of you are dying to know more about this, and I've been promising to share.. and I am going to stand by that promise! But I want to test everything out in my room first before I post it as a product and blog about it! I have 2 more little things I want to try out Monday and Tuesday!

This will be available in my TPT store Tuesday, and I will have a nice long blog posts jam packed with pictures all about it! :) Pinky promise!

Hope everyone enjoys the rest of their Sunday, and have an amazing week!


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Using FROZEN to Spark Student Motivation!

Yesterday was our last day before... SPRING BREAK! That's right, WE MADE IT!!

Barely!

We decided to do a little March motivation to keep our behavior and academics in check. When we realized Frozen came out on DVD in March, we knew it was perfect!

All of my fourth graders have a kindergarten buddy that they read with every Friday. It is ADORABLE and means so much to both groups.

We wanted to keep them on task during this time all March, and encourage behavior in the classroom other times. So, we created a "March Madness: Behavior and Reading Challenge!"

We gave each pair of students a piece of card stock with 10 different genres of books (things both 4th and K had been studying such as historical fiction, Dr. Seuss, seasons, a small chapter book, etc.) They had the 3 Fridays in March, leading up to yesterday, to finish reading all of these books together and get their papers stamped. Then, there was also a "behavior" stamp for each Friday. The students had to stay on "green" all week to receive their Friday stamp. They each needed 2/3 to qualify to watch the movie!

What do ya know… EVERY student made it! All 118 K's and fourthies! We were so proud of them :)

We celebrated by watching the movie and enjoying a "Frozen" snack! We made little "Olafs" out of a graham cracker, blue frosting, 3 marshmallows for the body, pretzels for the arms, chocolate chips for the buttons and eyes, and a tiny piece of an orange slice candy for the nose. (I forgot to take a picture of a finished product, I'm so sorry! @Missnelsonsgotthecamera has a picture on Instagram though, where I got the idea!)

Here's some pictures of them in action :)






They had an AMAZING time! Both groups were singing along and belting out the music the whole time! (Check my Instagram for an adorable video!)

How do you Spark Student Motivation, especially in the crazy months? Link up with my BBB Joanne over at Head over Heels for Teaching to show what you do! 


Also, to spark a little motivation for YOU, here are two exciting things going on right now!

First, my ENTIRE TPT store is 20% off today and tomorrow! Head on over and "spring clean" those wish lists of yours! :) Don't forget to leave feedback to earn TPT credits so you can buy more!

Second, there are only a few days left to pick up this amazing poetry bundle for a STEAL at only $10.99! Click here or the picture below to grab it while it's still available! :)

Have a great Saturday, everyone! 


Friday, March 28, 2014

Colorful Idiom Fun!

My students LOVE figurative language, so I was so excited when I picked up this awesome pack from Joanne over at Head Over Heels for teaching!

I decided to use these posters and put a little twist on our idiom learning fun! 
{Look how pretty they all look printed and laminated!}

Our classes are ability grouped, so I modified this lesson for each group! First, we reviewed idioms and took the pretest in Joanne's pack (LOVE that she included this!). My kiddos were actually giggling while taking the test because they were amused by the idioms... too cute! We graded our pretests together to see how we did, and they loved seeing how well they knew some already!

For both groups, I paired them up first. 

Then, for one group I gave each pair an idiom poster and a blank piece of card stock. I instructed them to "recreate" the idiom poster. They had to copy down the idiom and the definition, but put their own sentence and their own picture. They loved doing this and did a great job! It was great practice for them to use idioms in their writing.

I challenged my second group a bit more. I gave them an idiom poster and blank card stock. They had to find an idiom with the same meaning as their given idiom, and create a poster for it. I was SHOCKED at how well they did! They had a book of idioms, the internet, and their brains to find one! They came up with ones that I couldn't even think of!

Here are some pictures of them in action and their final products:

{Check out that Eeyore!}



{VERY clever from my second group!}


{Another one I never would've thought of from my 2nd group!}

{They LOVE seeing their work hanging in the hallway!}

If you love this activity, you have to pick up the amazing poetry bundle it is in over at Educents!
It is JAM packed with hands-on poetry and figurative language activities, and it's only $10.99! It's only available for a few more days, so get it now!

I know this wasn't a FULL Five for Friday post, but with it being the week before spring break, I was doing everything I could to keep them hands-on and interacting! :) And I'm also linking up with my BBB Jivey for Workshop Wednesday (a little late, I know!) because her amazing topic this week was poetry! Head on over and check out all of the other ideas for teaching poetry!
Check back tomorrow to see how we used FROZEN for a reward incentive to Spark Student Motivation! :)

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Bundle of Poetry-Just in Time for Poetry Month!

I can't tell you how many groans I usually get when the word poetry comes out of my mouth the first time each year. What is it with that? My kiddos never seem to want to do poetry… until I get a hold of them! :)

Since I began teaching I am always looking for ways to get my students more engaged in poetry and ENJOYING it! I always do this by launching our poetry unit with a BUNCH of music. I'm talking jam out session in my classroom. We listen to lots of Katy Perry ( Roar, Firework), some 80s music and love songs, and a ton of country! My kiddos can't believe it when I tell them THIS is poetry.

Now I've got their attention.

After that, I am lucky to have purchased some amazing products from other bloggers/TPTers out there who make our poetry learning that much more fun. I'm so excited to be a part of a bundle that includes so many of these amazing products!

I will be sharing how I use many of these products in my classroom over the next week! So check back to get ready for poetry month! :)

Poetry is just so fun to teach.. I hope you share the love! So some friends and I have teamed up with Educents for an amazing bundle of instant downloads to teach about poetry!



My products included will surely be loved by your students!  
These fun and interactive flip books are a blast to make, and the kiddos love writing in them! There are many other fun activities to practice in this pack, too! :)

I love using this fun game to review at the end of April! Just in time for summer weather :)

For a limited time it is $10.99 from Educents which is about 75% off!  It also includes these other great products so there is sure to things you love!  

And if you have never purchased from Educents before.. they always have a great deal for your first purchase.  Click here if you are a first time purchaser to take advantage of a  special offer just for you!   




You can also take peek at some of the other products included in the bundle at any of the links below! Have fun teaching everyone!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Interactive Social Studies with a FREEBIE!

I have been planning this post since Thursday, and I am so sorry that I am just bringing it to you! If you follow my TPT store, you already saw the freebie appear! Many of you have already picked it up! :) I am loving all of your feedback, thank you!

So what's this post all about?

HANDS-ON, interactive, social studies!

I am one of those geeks who has always LOVED history, but I am totally realistic that all of my students don't share my same passion and intense interest in anything historical. I always try and make my social studies lessons a little more hands-on and fun.

The newest lesson I decided to teach interactively was on "Taxation without Representation"

We've been talking about the Causes of the American Revolution using articles from this amazing pack by Collaboration Cuties and Jivey's American Revolution Mentor Sentences! They've been working great and my kiddos are really starting to grasp the concept. I hear many comments of "That king was a jerk!" or "He's so stupid, didn't he realize what he was doing!" throughout our discussions.

However, I think it's really hard for 4th graders to truly understand "taxes."

How do you fix this problem? With Skittles, of course! :)

My kiddos sit in teams, which works perfectly for this activity. To start, I tell each team that they represent a "colony" (I usually give them names, too.)

Then, I pass out a Dixie cup with about 20-30 skittles to each student with the instructions to NOT touch them. I tell them that if they do, they lose all of them and are thrown in "jail." I explain that this is their money and they need it.

I then pass out role cards randomly to all of my students. There are 2 parliament, 2 tax collectors, 1 king, and the rest colonists role cards.

I have a big "throne" at the front of my room for the king to sit on, and two little chairs for the parliament to sit on. I give the parliament, tax collectors, and King all cups that are MUCH bigger.

I then give the tax collectors the "tax" cards. These cards have different taxes that have been passed and require colonies to pay a certain amount of money. I let the tax collectors choose the colony they want to tax first, and they randomly select a card and give it to that colony.

The colony reads the card out loud and then have to pay that many "pieces", or Skittles, to the tax collectors. The tax collectors then give a portion of their collections to the parliament, more to the king, and keep a little for themselves.

We continue this for quite a while (usually each colony is taxed at least twice.)

By the end, the colonists are FUMING! It cracks me up to hear their reactions and see how they feel. It leads to a nice long and meaningful discussion on what it's like to be taxed when they had no say!

Sometimes, I let the parliament, tax collectors, and king keep their skittles and eat them all, and the colonists only get what they have left to really drive home the point. Other times, I collect all the skittles back, repeat the process, but this time let the colonies "vote" on how much they want to pay in taxes. They usually like this option MUCH more and we discuss why!

Here's some pictures of it in action in my classroom!
{Our king has been crowned}

{Taxes being collected}
{The people in charge!}

{Reading a dreaded Tax Card.. wish you could see the faces in the background, priceless!}

{Some of the Tax Cards}

As you can see, this is a very fun and hands-on activity to use in the classroom! I love making social studies more interactive! More detailed instructions and the pieces for this activity are a freebie in my store! Click here or on the picture below to download. 

I am linking this post up with one of my BBB's, Holly, for her Tried it Tuesday linky! Head on over to her blog and see what other great teachers have tried lately! :)




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A FREE reading resource!

Many of you may already have heard of this amazing resource. I stumbled upon this site at the beginning of last school year and quickly felt like I had found a gold mine! It has become my go-to resource for assessments, quick comprehension checks, close read, and anything else reading skilled related!

What website might you ask? Readworks.org

Have you heard of it? If you have, you know exactly what I'm talking about!

The quotes on the opening page are SO true! I literally tell every teacher I meet about this site: reading, social studies, science, all the subjects are covered with amazing reading passages! 

My favorite tool is probably the "skills and strategy" units. Need a quick assessment on drawing conclusions? There ya go! There are multiple passages per grade, with common core aligned questions to match, and teacher keys! The passages are interesting AND educational.

The comprehension passages are so perfect for Close Reading, and include questions that follow Close Reading strategies.

Novel studies?! This was a new tool I just discovered last week. I will definitely be putting these to good use in the future! Can we say "differentiation"? I LOVE that I could choose novels for each of my reading groups specific level, and not feel overwhelmed with prep!

So, what are you waiting for?! Go sign up! It's FREE! :)

I'm linking up this post with one of my BBB's, Jivey for Workshop Wednesday! Check out the linky for other great reading ideas! :)