Monday, May 30, 2011

7... more... days!

We're down to the wire now.  I have 7 more days with my current crop of kiddies, and it's starting to sink in.  I love my class, and I am so sad to see them move on.  At the same time, I am so proud of how well they have done this year, and I am excited to send them on toward future successes! I know I've been practically living under a rock lately, but I am so wrapped up in end-of-the-year paperwork, grades, and trying to come up with SUPER FUN end of the year activities!  (You know, the kinds of activities that are like the exclamation point at the end of a really great year!  They take so much more time, energy and planning than lessons I create during the rest of the year.  Why is that?!)  Strep throat was a minor set-back, but I think I'm back on track to finish up on a high note! Unfortunately, my blog has been seriously neglected lately.  If you're reading this, thanks for sticking with me!

In the process of planning and all that jazz, I created a little Survivor's Guide for my current kiddos to fill out.  I figured that it would be a meaningful way to end this year and begin next year.  So, I'm setting my current students up as mentors and allowing them to share their wisdom with my future class.  I'm hoping that the newbies will appreciate their advice and that it will help calm their first day jitters too!  You can check it out HERE, if you're interested! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Checking In!

I have been swamped all weekend, and I need a little R&R before embarking on yet another Manic Monday.  So, this post is going to short & sweet! Here are some highlights from last week!

We had our Wax Museum!  (Click HERE to read my post from earlier this week!)

We went on a field trip to a historic Hale Farm & Village!

We celebrated Right to Read Week in our own end-of-the-year-frenzy-abbreviated-kind-of-way.  

The students added a tentacle for every 30 minutes they read during Right to Read Week!

We started a new genre in writing, and I survived a Writer's Workshop observation by a county coordinator!  I'm actually starting to get excited about sharing my program with other teachers this summer!  Yay!

The kiddos also spent some time making Geometric Cities.  This is another great Lesson Plan S.O.S. lesson, and the kids really enjoyed it.  

We're still working with the lizard wizards too... for two more weeks!

I hope that you all have a fabulous week!  I'm off to spend time with my hubby and fur-babies! 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Our Biography Wax Museum!

Today was the big day!  My kiddos came to school dressed up like famous historic figures, and it was a TOTAL HIT!  We had lots of guests today!  In fact, four different classrooms toured our classroom! We also had visits from two parents (a teacher and principal), a janitor from the middle school, our reading coach, and a few Title I teachers! I really wanted to make the wax museum an evening engagement, but so many of my kiddos are involved in sports this time of year, so it didn't work out.  I used my Flip camera to record their speeches though, and those clips will become part of a larger compilation that will go home with my little peanuts on June 9th.  I could post so many pictures, but it could get out of control really quickly!  Instead, I'm just going to upload a few pictures to give you a sense of how the day went.  :)

To recap, the kids chose their historic figures from books that we received from Donor's Choose.  Then, they began to conduct research using a booklet from my Wax Museum Biographies packet.  After that, they used their information to create posters about their historic figures (also using forms from the packet).  Then, they began to write speeches as though they were giving an autobiographical account in first person.  While I conferenced with them about their speeches, the kids began to plan their costumes.  (I gave the parents about a week to plan this.)  Then, after a few days of practicing speeches, we were ready for the real deal!  We worked on this project for 30 minutes a day for about 3 weeks, and I am pretty happy with the end result.  Check it out!

George Washington

Clara Barton

Abe Lincoln

Harriet Tubman

Amelia Earhart


Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Reading Shell-a-bration & A FREEBIE!

I just uploaded an ocean themed packet to use during our school’s Right to Read Week (a week long reading celebration we have annually in Ohio).  It is not intended to be a complete unit.  It was intended to help integrate the theme easily into my classroom!   If you don’t celebrate Right to Read week, you could have your own beach-themed shell-a-bration, or you could opt to use these resources to wrap up your school-year with summer themed resources!  If you're interested in scoping out the resources I've created for our Right to Read Week Reading Shell-a-bration, you can preview the 16 page file HERE. The first three people to comment on this post will get this packet for zero dollars!  :) 

Also, again, I'd like to take the time to thank everyone who follows my blog and TpT store.  I love the fabulous collaborative community we've built through our blogs, and I love learning from all of you.  In honor of surpassing 600 followers this weekend, I'd love to share yet another freebie file with you.  (I was going to share it with you anyway, but this gives me a good reason to celebrate!  Ha!)  This poster has been extremely helpful to my students when they are working with informative texts.  I hope you'll find it useful with your own kiddos! 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Whoa! Two Posts in a Day!

I just added a freebie to TpT that accompanies my Charlotte's Web unit and reinforces the concepts in my Synthesis bundle.  Essentially, it includes the clip-art you'll need to make this anchor chart, and accompanies a student page from the unit (as you'll see in the download). If you're interested in the free file, you can access it HERE.  It's nothing particularly fancy or ground-breaking, but if you already downloaded the unit, I wanted to share this idea/resource with you!  Happy Synthesizing!

Running the Race!

Wow!  I've really neglected my little slice of cyberspace this week!  Have no fear.  I am, in fact, alive.  I've been completely consumed by several meetings, a banquet, puppy agility classes, and staying afloat during a really hectic week!  Of course, next week may be even more interesting, so if I fall off of the face of the earth again, you'll know why.  Next week is Right to Read Week all over Ohio, so we have a big Oceans themed celebration all next week.  Tuesday, we will be having our Biography Wax Museum.  We also go on our field trip to an old Civil War era farm and village on Wednesday.  On Thursday, the head literacy honcho from my county will be observing my Writing Workshop.  Is it sad that I'm exhausted already, and the week hasn't even started yet!?  It should be a lot of fun though, and I'm looking forward to all of the excitement!

Admittedly though, I've been slacking in the bulletin board department.  I just can't motivate myself to spend HOURS decorating the walls when we have about 17 days left of school.  (This nine-weeks has been pretty fractured by Spring Break, Easter Break, and two weeks of state testing too.  I honestly haven't given Right to Read Week much thought, aside from creating new resources for an ocean-themed reading celebration. My goal is to finish this today, so keep your fingers crossed for me!)  The hallway didn't really make it to the top of my list, so I left the Fraction Spongebobs on the wall, and I plastered painted fish on the bulletin board.   The kiddos made the fish in Art in August, and I kept them to use during Right to Read week.  So, I fixed up the background, then I stapled the fish onto the board, and viola!  Done. Okay, maybe not.  I need to incorporate some words into the display, and I plan on decorating my door with little octopi. Each kid will be making an octopus body and add crepe paper to the bottom for every 30 minutes they read.  At least that's the plan for now.  I'm trying to keep it SIMPLE!

This week, we continued working with our lizard friends.  They are technically called anoles, but we've affectionately dubbed them "lizard wizards" because of their uncanny ability to escape from sealed, taped, weighted containers.  Actually, only two of the anoles have been rebels, and they are now relegated to their very own terrariums.  They are the only lizards that are not going to be handled throughout the duration of the experiment, because "Rambo" and "Houdini" are reckless escape artists anytime a lid is opened.  So, these two fellas (ladies?) are residing in their very own "zoo"... even though the kids refer to it as a "prison".  I like the connotation of "zoo" so much better, but eh.  Prison is probably closer to the truth.  Regardless, we still have six other friends to hold and study over the next few weeks, and they are easily handled by kiddos without risking another escape (and an overnight camp-out under a fallen anchor chart).  The kids always love this experiment, and it's always a great introduction to food chains, because the lizards each crickets and the crickets eat grass.

We created a food web with the animal cards from my Populations unit this week, and then after a discussion about how complicated they can be, we created a physical web using yarn and ourselves.  I was the sun, so that I could move freely around.  Some kids were plants, some were primary consumers, some secondary consumers, some were tertiary consumers, and some were decomposers.  They each wore a name-tag with their creature's name on it.  The kids held on to yarn and it was passed to whoever consumed them.  Eventually we had a pretty complicated web, and we talked about what would happen if one population of animals became extinct or endangered.  I snipped the yarn where that critter was, and we watched the web collapse in the middle.  We then retraced our steps to see how the other animals would be affected.  I knew it was a hit when my students asked to do it again.  Haha!

We read literature and used our observations to create this anchor chart on chromatophores.

One of our escape artists!  I think this is Rambo, because Houdini has a shorter tail.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Miscellanea: pl.n.    Miscellaneous items or written works collected together. (See below)

Essentially, this week has been a total hodgepodge.  This is our second week in a row of the OAA, and midterms are due Friday.  Of course, I've done my best to maintain some semblance of normalcy in the classroom.  I'm going to QUICKLY do a run-through of some of the activities I managed to snap photos of and actually uploaded.  (Some are basically in limbo on my camera at the moment.)

Of course, most obviously, we took the OAA.  I'm really hoping that I prepared my little peanuts enough to blow that test out of the water.  Yeah, we don't aim to pass it.  We aim to "blow it out of the water".  My kids will tell you that I am the queen of idioms.  Really lame ones too.  When the librarian read My Teacher Likes to Say to our class, they got a few laughs out of it.  I am that teacher.  Oh well.  Anyway, you can see that one of my cuties reinforced the testing sign I made with a larger red sign.  It made me giggle a bit.  :)

We've also been working on some Charlotte's Web lessons & finishing up our Wax Museum Biographies.  We're almost ready for the big night! (I promise to take lots of pictures once we finish!)  I'm so excited!

The last picture in that series shows words that the kids found in chapters 1-4 after we read them.  Each student "harvested" a word (using the Harvesting Words sheet in my unit), then we had a little tea party.  I run my tea party a little differently than the conventional way.  I like to have my kiddos turn & talk a lot in class to interact and make connections, but sometimes I like them to get up and get moving.  I like them to share with multiple people.  So, I have them raise one hand and quietly walk around until they make eye contact with someone else who has their hand up.  In this case, they shared the words they harvested and the definitions.  Then, they find someone else.  I typically let them circulate for about five minutes before reining them in.  Today, I had someone tell me a word they found, and then I asked someone else to tell me the definition.  They were dazzling!  Few things make me as excited as expansive vocabularies.  Aww...BLISS!

We also did a cute little fraction activity from my pals at Lesson Plan SOS.  The kiddos turned fraction pieces into jungle animals... and they really enjoyed it. You'll definitely want to check it out!  Thanks ladies!  Here's a few examples.  I had to stop myself from posting 22 of them!  Haha!  They are all so cute & creative!  (They weren't required to label each part, but some chose to.)

We talked a little bit more about the food chain and animal classification.  I'm absolutely itching to get outside for a fun tangible (& edible) lesson, but it won't quit raining!  Que sera, sera.  All in good time! 

Okay, and now for a "funny".  My birthday is this upcoming Sunday (May 8th), and I'll be celebrating the big 2-7.  I brought in yummy cookies for my kiddos to celebrate the end of testing and my birthday, and this is what I got the next day.  SO PRECIOUS!  I totally appreciate the honesty of children...