Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Bunny Pals and a Freebie

I have some earthshattering news to share with you. I am not an ahead of time teacher, blogger or creator. That's right - I know there are some teachers, bloggers and TPT creators who are working on end of the year units or even Back to School items. I read blog posts weeks ago that were talking about Easter and they had pictures!! I just can't do it. I am a blog as I go kinda person and I realize that sometimes this means I am sharing something and it is too late for you to use it this year - this is one of those   times : (   (hopefully you can Pin it or save it for next year!!).

On Saturday I shared our Bunny Bucks. When I introduced them to my class on Monday my class was very excited. Then they asked if we were going to do Secret Elf Pals too - only for Easter (since we had done Secret Elf Pals at Christmas time). Here is another nugget about me - I am a sucker for kids asking me to do things or follow traditions. If one kid says, remember last year when you did this, or I loved it when we did this - guess what I do it again, works on me EVERY time!!

So guess what, we are doing secret Bunny Pals. Today we made bunny bags out of lunch bags - I gave each student two bags (I have over 1000 bags). They wrote their name on the back of one. Cut ears out of the other one. Attached the ears and used scraps of pink and white for detail. I gave them each a cotton ball for the tail.

Then they pulled names out of my super cute basket from the dollar store : )

Then we moved on to Task 2.

Then the wrote 2 eggs-ellent compliments for their pal. They cut out the eggs and put them in the plastic dollar store eggs and dropped them in the bag. They could of course have just cut the eggs out and dropped them in - but I may have a slight obsession with dollar store plastic eggs.

Students will be using their bunny bucks to buy an item for their pal at our class store at the end of the month - since we started late (cause I had no plans of doing this till the guilt got me) we will be doing it over the next week and a half.

If you want to do Bunny Pals in your classroom (the rest of the month or next year) click on the picture below to pick up a copy of the task cards.

Sorry - really it is a goal of mine to share things ahead of time so you can use them - but it is a long term goal, not a short term goal!

I am linking up with my friend Molly at Lucky to Be in First for her Fabulous Freebies on the 15th (or 16th) linky!!


Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Close Reading - Tried it Tuesday

I am so happy that I have a post to link up with my friend Holly (the Fourth Grade Flipper) for her linky (that is an awesome way to find new ideas!!)...

I know that there are teachers that are miles ahead of me when it comes to close reading but I thought I would share how I am getting started with this strategy just in case there were some other people new to the world of close reading.

The first thing I introduced to my students was the Thinking Notes part of close reading. I gave each student a mini-chart with the Thinking Note symbols for their reading notebooks (from this close reading package). I also made a poster for our bulletin board.

We read a text together from Students made Thinking Notes on the article and turned one of their thoughts into a reflection - I used this as a formative assessment or baseline.

I modelled how I would use these symbols during a shared reading of a non-fiction text.

Then as a class we constructed success criteria for writing a reflection based on our thinking notes (I really let them have their say on this one - I do have an end goal in mind but we are getting their together!).

Now we are ready for some close reading. I am following the set up in Diane's (Fifth in the Middle) awesome close reading package. (Check out a freebie from it here).

Students read the text on day 1 and add thinking notes. Then they turn 1 of their thinking notes into a reflection. Students find a partner and share their reflections. Since we are still baby stepping we made notes together and discussed before they wrote their reflections.

Next we will be identifying the ingredients in jelly beans, the steps in making jelly beans and writing an opinion piece about jelly beans - oh and probably eating jelly beans!

I am so thankful to Diane for creating this package - it lays everything out perfectly (I mean perfectly - so helpful to a newbie like me!) and offers differentiated texts!! My students love the Thinking Notes and loved this text. Next week we will be using the text on reducing, reusing and recycling. If you are just getting started or looking for some new close reading resources you need to check this package out!!

Be sure to check out Holly's blog to see what other teachers are trying in their classrooms : )

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Easter Writing and Bunny Buck Freebie - Spark Student Motivation

I have said it before and I will say it again - using themes, like holidays, when teaching is a great way to Spark Student Motivation. So of course I am linking up with my friend Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her weekly motivating linky!

At Christmas we turned our classroom into the Elves' Workshop with activities, crafts and a reward system. It was so fun we decided to revisit these ideas for Easter.

First of all we are writing persuasive letters to the Easter Bunny in order to apply for assistant positions. Here are some pictures....

You can check this resource out on TPT by clicking here.

This upcoming week is a short one but as holidays approach sometimes our behaviour starts to slip. So I will be introducing Bunny Bucks, classroom money to reward good behaviour. We will spend this money in a class store at the end of the month (we have testing at the end of the month in Grade 4 so I am going to keep the money going to help keep us on track). I am printing mine on spring coloured paper instead of using coloured clip art to save on ink : ). Click on the picture of you would like some bunny bucks too!!

Be sure to head over to Joanne's blog to find some ways to keep you and your students motivated : )

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Integrating Science & Earth Day Freebies - Workshop Wednesday

Popping by to share some ideas for Earth Day (or Earth Week as we do it at our school!). While I am here I am linking up with my friend Jivey for her linky Workshop Wednesday.

As you may know (as I tend to repeat myself!) I do not teach science this year : (   ......but I do try and integrate science into other areas during our Earth Week. It is a great opportunity to teach students about natural resources - renewable and non-renewable, conservation, energy, the 3R's and on and on.
I have already begun with one of my guided reading groups - they are reading a book all about taking care of our earth.

In the past I have used the book The Great Kapok Tree and there are a ton of free resources online to use with this book.

This year I am using pond circle - a great book like The House That Jack Built - that shows the interconnectedness of living things - I am in love with this book!!

This is one of my favourite videos to show...

I think this video has a lot of applications in the classroom for persuasive writing or research...

I usually work with my students on a class PPT all about our Earth and how we will take care of it - we find photos online, stage our own pictures and add great music (yes, yes of course we have used Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World).

I have also found some great freebies to use:

Earth Day Task Cards

Earth Day Facts & Fun Task Cards

Earth Day Math Freebie

Earth Day Word Work

I also have a pin board where I am trying to keep track of ideas for Earth Day.

Last year  I made up 12 math review cards that I placed around the room, students worked in partners to go around the room, find a card and record their answer. Since it will be Earth Week we record our answers on our white boards. You could also use paper from the recycling bin, or put the recording sheets in a page protector or even have all the students record their answers on one large piece of chart paper divided into grid squares. Click on the picture to get a free copy.

Since my class loves these type of activities I made a word study one too. Click on the picture to get a free copy.

Last year I also made our word study words using fun spring clip art. Click on the picture to get a free copy.

If you are looking for some fabulous science resources to use in your classroom you should check out this deal from Educents - I love interactive notebooks and will be implementing them next year!!

Hope you enjoy the rest of your week : )
I will try to update this post as I find more resources or the links I use!!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Great and Greater Estimations - Math Mentor Texts

I love the library, I mean LOVE the library. Between getting books for my class, for me, for my daughters and their projects we have spent a lot of time over the last two weekends at the library.

Will perusing the non-fiction section for books on Ancient Japan (project reading - not pleasure reading) I ran across this book.

So I scooped it up, because I love me a math book! Then I saw this...

and I almost did a happy dance (only my daughter is 13 now and does not care for embarrassing mom moments). So I pulled it together and quietly took out these two books (and 50 other books too!).

Here is some of the awesomeness you will find inside.

Love the way it lays out how to make an estimation - these books would be perfect at the beginning of the year or really whenever, as estimation is a skill that we should be reinforcing throughout the year (as I learned while reading my math textbook for my math course).

That is right on top of the myriad of books we get from the library I am reading a book on teaching math for my math course. Guess what, I love it. Only there are tooo many ideas and I am already losing track of all the things I need to try or improve on for next year. But here is what I took away from the section on estimation:

*instead of asking for an estimation ask, Is it more or less than? Is this picture showing more that 25?
*ask, is it closer to # or #? Is this closer to 25 cm or 45 cm
*use the word about to help students learn what an estimate is - not a competition to get the right or closest answer but to develop an answer that is reasonable and as a class to develop an acceptable range
*be sure to use benchmarks when estimating measures - so that each time you measure an object they can use that benchmark to help them estimate
*give students extensive opportunities to associate numbers with the real-world, if students have had rich experiences counting, sorting, comparing and measuring real-world objects they will have a deeper understanding of a number and what it can represent

This last one really hit home for me because of a recent experience in my class. As you know I have been using a Answer and Question board in my classroom (read about it here).

Well, since we are working on measurement I put up the answer 17 cm and crickets. Students were stumped. They had a really hard time coming up with situations and problems that could lead to 17 cm. I knew that we needed more experience developing our understanding of 17 cm!!

Also, now that I love these books I am on the look out for this one for our probability unit...

There you have it, 3 math mentor texts to check out! Don't forget to check out Amanda and Stacia's Mentor Text Linky to pick up more great math book ideas!!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Laser Lights and Idioms at School - Sparking Student Motivation!!

I am linking up with my friend Joanne, at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her weekly party...

I am sharing ideas you may have already seen on her blog (where I still most of my ideas from of course) but I thought I would share them again just in case you missed them.

First up, finger laser lights (you can read Joanne's post here). I bought these at my local dollar store.

I gave each student a laser light, let them test it and then just wear it on their finger. I read a non-fiction story and then students were invited to share what they had noticed in each section - we are working on close reading skills - so we are looking for wow information, connections and asking questions. Students were asked to come up and to the shared reading poster and shine their light on the part that made them think. Hands were shooting up all over the place - every one wanted a chance to shine their light!!

Then students read their own passage with their laser lights - silence I tell you, on a Friday afternoon!! They were so excited that they get to keep them as we will continue to use them to highlight/shine the light on our reading.

The second idea I stole from Joanne was Bring an Idiom to School (you can read her post here). While we were learning about figurative language my students fell in love with idioms. You can read this post to see some of the video resources we used. I also used this package from Jivey, which my student love!! They loved the video, the loved the idiom cards (which we matched and used for I have, who has) but their favourite thing to do was bring an idiom to school. I gave it as a homework assignment and set a date to bring in their idiom and they did. Then they asked can we bring more in, Then they said, oooh I have another one, can I bring it in. Then they would just announce as they walked in the class "I brought another idiom!". It went on for 8 DAYS!! Here are a couple of pictures of their idioms.

Please note - the student in the 1st and 2nd picture is the same girl on different days - I think she brought in idioms for 4 days straight! Pictured above, eyes on the back of her head, dog eat dog world and keep your eye on the prize.

If you are motivated to teach figurative language you really should check out this package from Educents. It contains Jivey's amazing Idiom package and my poetry posters. Plus you can use the code Anniversary20 for an additional 20% discount!! Now that is motivating!!

FYI - today was our last day of soccer!! No more Saturday soccer games for this family!! Woohoo!