Friday, October 25, 2013

Five for Friday: Bats and Point of View

This week my students have been studying Point of View and Bats.  I am going to link up with 5 for Friday to show you what we have been up to.

I found this great little Point of View freebie pack from Chrissy at Buzzing with Ms. B. I hung up her Point of View posters in my room.  We used them to discuss first person, second person, third person limited, and third person omniscient point of view.  (Sorry about the glare. I really need a better phone camera than my iPhone 4.) We also did the point of view sort from this pack and glued them in our notebooks for examples.

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We made this little flapbook for our notebooks.  You can get a free copy of the Point of View flapbook here.

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We have been reading about bats, so we read Stellaluna. As we were reading we stopped to discuss what point of view it was written in and how we knew.  We also discussed how point of view can also mean the way we understand the world.  We discussed how different things shape our point of view. We talked about how the narrator's and the author's point of view can be different.

After we read the story, my students had to write a quick write from the point of view of Stellaluna in first person.  We discussed how she would have felt at different points of the story based on her limited experiences. My students all bring their own laptop to school, so they typed their quick writes.

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We even talked about how the baby bird and mama bird's point of view would have been different. I wanted to follow it up the next day by having everyone write from the point of view of one of the baby birds, but we ran out of time.

We wrote cinquains about bats this week and wrote them on a bat template.

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This week we practiced our nonfiction skills reading about bats. We started out doing some online research about bats, where my students recorded details and then wrote a paragraph. I also grabbed a stack of nonfiction books on bats at the library. My students read the books all week and recorded main ideas and details about what they read.  They also listed questions they had about bats and looked for the answers they read.  We used activities from my Bats Research and Writing Unit all week.  It is on sale 50% off all weekend. Do you have any favorite activities for studying bats? My kids are excited about studying spiders next week while I will be gone at the iNACOL conference.

On a random note, here was one of lunches this week. I took Chicken and Corn Chowder, cheese and crackers, and an apple.
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Getting ready for the iNACOL Conference and NAGC Conference

We have had a fun week of studying bats and point of view.  I am going to share more tomorrow about what all we have been up to.

I wanted to pop in and tell you I am excited about going to the iNACOL conference next week.  The iNACOL conference is an education conference for online and blended learning.

 I work at a blended learning school where we combine online learning curriculum with personal teacher interaction.  It is a model that allows kids to work at different paces and levels, while still getting attention from a teacher in person.  I am always excited to learn and try new ways to incorporate technology.

I am hoping to be able to come back and share about my experience with you and maybe some new technology tools. This will be my first education conference, and it is at Disney World, too.  I get to stay in the park for the first time.

About a week and a half after iNACOL, I will be leaving for the NAGC (National Association of the Gifted) conference in Indianapolis. I am also really excited about getting to network and learn from experts on gifted education.  This is my first semester of my PhD program in Gifted Education, so I am pretty excited to just go and learn.  Hopefully both of these conferences will spark some great ideas to implement in my classroom and share with you.

I hope you are having a great week. I have to get back to trying to get some of that grad school homework done before I leave on Sunday.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Peek at My Week: Bats and Spiders Research

Some how some way I will figure out my routine. Anyway, I wanted to share about my plans for the week. You can read my food menu plans for the week at Balancing the Backpack.

We are studying bats and spiders some over the next couple weeks. We are doing a lot of fiction studies right now, so I wanted to bring in some nonfiction. Last week, we read The Spider and the Fly.

We followed it up with a really cute writing activity where the kids had to either be a piece of candy convincing a trick-or-treat sack they did not want to go with them or a trick-or-treat sack convincing the candy they would not get eaten.  The kids had a lot of fun with it, and it was a great follow up to our discussions of letter writing, persuasive writing, and Point-of-View.

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This week we are reading Stellaluna and Bats to go with this Collaboration Cuties unit. We read Bats today and discussed Fact and Opinion. It was a great entrance into our week of researching bats.

We are also doing some close reading passages on spiders and bats from this Really Creepy Stuff unit.

I am excited to use several of them through this week and next. (Next week we are going to do some Monsters activities and use some more of the passages.)  I am excited to introduce close reading to my students.  We are going to discuss how readers have a purpose just like writers do.  We will discuss the difference between active and passive reading.

To go with our reading about bats and spiders, my students will be doing some online research about bats this week and reading various nonfiction texts.  They will be doing a project about what they learn about bats. They decided they wanted to research a species of bat and a species of spider, so we will be doing both. It may take us into the first part of November to do both, but I am glad they are excited about it. I am finishing up a bat and spider research project unit that I hope to get posted on TpT in the next couple days.

We have lots of other stuff going on, but that is as much energy as I have tonight. Do you have any favorite books or websites about bats and spiders?

On a side note, I went to the Dallas Arboretum on Saturday and checked out the Pumpkins.  Here is a picture of me with the Pumpkins.

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I am also going to link up with Denise at SunnyDays for my truth about fitness.  Here is my truth about fitness:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Goodbye What Not to Wear

I was going to blog hours ago, but I got caught up watching the Series Finale of What Not to Wear.  It was strange to me when they announced this last season to realize it was the tenth season.  It dawned on me that I started watching the show right when I got married and now have been watching the show for my entire marriage.

I got married right before I turned 20 and in January I will have been married for 10 years.  In February I will turn 30.  It seems strange to think of this era ending that has been my twenties and the first decade of my marriage. Watching What Not to Wear on Friday nights has been a part of this era.

I am far from being a fashionista.  I am a simple, low maintenance kind of person. I am wash and go when it comes to hair. I do not wear makeup unless professional pictures are involved. The only two accessories I wear regularly are my wedding ring and my college ring. One of the things I have always enjoyed about the show though is watching the women be tranformed.  It is so fun to watch the insecurities be shed and their confidence blossom by the end of the show.

As teachers, we get to observe much of the same process.  It just often takes a little longer.  It is so rewarding though to look back at the end of the year and see the growth your students have made.  I love watching that shy student who never said a word eagerly participate in class discussion or that reluctant reader get excited about a book.  There also is that child that just absolutely struggled with Math, and it finally starts to click.

I know I am struggling with finding the time to fit everything in that I want to accomplish each week for home, work, life, workouts, spiritual growth, and graduate school. I find I often need reminders that it really is less about the lesson plans, the tests, and the cute activities. It is not even just about the learning. Teaching is about the transformation.  I became a teacher so I could help students learn to really see themselves and accept their own strengths and weaknesses.  We as teachers have the ability to be mirrors and catalysts of transformation.  I need to worry so much less about checking off every item on my to-do-list and trying to cram in every fun idea I think of. I always have ideas because I am an analytical over-achiever. However, I need to focus more on choosing activities that will really encourage growth, reflection, and metacognition.  How can you encourage transformation in your classroom?

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Letter Writing Freebie and Teaching Point of View and Persuasive Writing

The last week has been super busy. My students have had a lot of fun studying letter writing. We started out talking about the parts of a letter. We made a flapbook to go over all of the parts.

You can get a free copy here.

We wrote our thank you letters to the fire fighters for visiting us. We used ReadWriteThink's Letter Generator to type our letters.

I have gotten some great text suggestions lately from Jivey. Not long ago, she suggested The Day the Crayons Quit as a great text to teach point of view.

I immediately ordered the book. A few days later I decided to cover letter writing with my kiddos since we were going to be writing Thank You letters anyway. When The Day the Crayons Quit came in the mail, I was so excited. I had forgotten the book was structured with letters.  We had so much fun reading the book last week. We talked about point of view and character traits for each crayon. Over the next couple weeks, we are going to continue to revisit the book to discuss theme, conflict, plot, and some other reading skills. I am excited to use one book to cover many of the Common Core Literature Standards.  I made a literature unit to go with the book. 

You can get a copy here at my store. It has 17 pages of reading and writing activities that were created with the 4th and 5th grade Common Core Literature Standards in mind. Today for our journal writing, we wrote from the point of view of a school supply object. I am going to try and take some pictures tomorrow. They had some really cute ideas.

On Wednesday, we are going to read The Spider and the Fly which I read about via Jivey (who read about it via Head over Heels for Teaching).

You could easily follow up the book with a letter writing activity from the point of view of the spider or the fly.

I was thinking to get ready for Halloween and continue with the idea of a predator/prey relationship we would follow up the book with a writing assignment to be a piece of candy trying to persuade its audience not to be eaten. I may even pair up my students where some of them write from the point of view of a piece of candy trying to persuade you not to choose him and the other student writing from the point of view of a trick-or-treat sack trying to convince the candy to come with him. Then each student can present and we can decide who was more persuasive. Over the next couple weeks, we will be doing journal writing activities using my 95 Halloween Writing Prompts and Paper. How do you incorporate persuasive writing and letter writing with literature?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Peek at My Week: Life of a Star, Explorers, and Letter Writing

Here is a peek at my week (1 day late):


We are finishing up a project where my students had to design their own planet. We have been studying the planets and the solar system.  I am going to blog about our projects later this week with pictures of what we have been doing.  This week after finishing up our planets we are learning about the life of a star.  We are doing a couple different foldables from this Space Science for Interactive Notebooks. For their reflection, my students are going to either write an acrostic for STAR or make a comic strip about the life cycle of a star.

Social Studies

We are working on explorers. We will be reading Encounter and discussing setting and point of view. This will be a great transition from Native Americans to the Explorers.

My students also will start reading The World Made New this week.  They will be reading it on their own this week and filling out different assignments and activities to go with the book.

It is a great nonfiction book about how exploration changed the world. 

Today we talked about Main Idea and Detail in Reading, so my kids read a passage from Readworks on Columbus.  We cut up the paragraphs and glued them to colored paper, underlined the supporting details in the paragraphs, and drew webs to show main ideas and supporting details from the passage below each couple paragraphs.

Reading and Writing

Last Friday, we had the Plano Fire department come to our school and talk to the kids about fire safety.  It was so much fun, and the kids were really engaged. 

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We are going to write thank you letters to the firefighters this week, so I decided to do a whole letter writing unit. I went to the library today and got some mentor texts to use as we discuss letter writing this week.

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We probably will focus more on friendly letters this week and then maybe do persuasive letters next week.


We are working on Week 4 of the Word Warriors program. Because we are working on letter writing, I am going to have them write a letter with their Spelling words this week.  Today we discussed all the roots and their meanings.


My Math 5 students are finishing up their unit on word problems and going to start reviewing multiplication.  My Math 6 students are finishing up our unit on decimals and starting algebraic expressions.

In case you are interested, I also posted my "Peek at My Week" Dinner plans for this week on my personal blog, Balancing the Backpack.  I am trying to start blogging about my workouts and what I am eating. One week down...

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Spelling Lists with Greek and Latin Roots

This week I am linking up with Jivey's Workshop Wednesday for Word Work. 

This year I really wanted to spend more time on Greek and Latin Roots.  I also really wanted to do a weekly spelling list, but I wanted it to be challenging and really strengthen their understanding of words.  I decided I wanted to do a weekly spelling list that consisted of Greek and Latin Roots. 

This summer I purchased the Reading Olympians program.  I loved the idea of the kids getting to earn different titles of Greek Gods as they mastered different sets of roots.  I hoped the program would come with word lists to accompany each root, but it did not.  It was my intention to just pick 3-4 words for each root and create weekly spelling lists to match up with the Reading Olympians program.  Of course I never had as much time as I planned, so I decided to search TpT for a Spelling program based on Greek and Latin Roots.  Reading Olympians really seems like a great program as a separate vocabulary program, but I did not feel I had time in my week for separate spelling and word work times so I wanted to combine them.

I was so excited to find One Extra Degree's Word Warriors program.  We are on week 3, and it is working great!  We start out the beginning of the week talking about each root and it's meaning.  My students then match the different words from the list to each root.  We talk about the meanings of all the words on the list.  I usually have them do some sort of writing assignment with the words. I also have a Spelling City account, so I have been putting the lists into Spelling City.  This way my students can play games with the words to practice them. Here is an example of our list from last week:

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We used a flapbook on Monday to illustrate all the meanings of the words, write sentences, and group the words by root. 
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You can get a copy of the Root Word Study Tabs flapbook here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Owl Clip Chart for Classroom Management and a Behavior Think Sheet Freebie

So one of the classroom management strategies I am loving this year is my Owl Behavior Clip Chart.

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I have fifth graders, so I know that at that age sometimes people move away from the clip chart.  My students have Chinese, Drama, and Art for Specials.  One of the issues we had last year was inconsistency in behavior.  My students would behave for me, but not for their Specials teachers.  So what I did this year is I have the clip chart and each student has a clip with his name on it.  The clip chart moves with the students from class to class.  This gives consistency in behavior, rewards, and consequences among all teachers.  I tried Class Dojo last year and it works well, but it was not something the other teachers could access.  I needed a behavior management system that could travel with my students.

At the end of the day if my students make it to "Owlstanding Student" they get $1 Hoot Loot. I also give hoot loot for birthdays and turning in homework.  Once a month, we have a class store where they can trade in their hoot loot.

One of the things I needed to make was a Behavior Think Sheet for when students got to "Think About It" on the clip chart.  I finally made the think sheet, so I have a freebie for you.

You can click here for the Behavior Think Sheet.  How do you use a clip chart?  Have you found a great way to have consistency in behavior among all teachers for the same set of students?
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