Cultivating Minds Without Losing My Own

Join me on my adventures in elementary education

Celebration of Reading

November21

This week we finished our first novel study for the year, The Chocolate Touch. As a culminating event, students presented projects they created based on our book study and we celebrated reading by partaking in a chocolate covered fruit party (since we are participating in the Healthy Schools initiative we did our best to keep it healthy)! Below are some pictures of our projects as well as our celebration.

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For our next novels, we will be breaking into literature circles (book clubs) and reading books selected at the students reading level to provide more of a challenge. We will be starting this in January.

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Veteran’s Day Project Plans and Weekly Objectives November 10-14

November9

I can very honestly say that I can’t wait to return to work with my kiddos tomorrow and get away from the germs that plagued my home THE ENTIRE LONG WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!  At last count 4 out of 5 people in my home have been sick in the last week with a very unfun virus that left us stranded on the couch vegging out and watching movies.  Hopefully the return to routine will mean the return to health for me and my poor kids!

Last week we had a very short, very productive week.  We learned about the election process, became “registered voters” and elected a class president in a mock election.  Take a peek at what the kids learned as they reflected on the lesson below:

elections

 

This week we will continue on our project filled November by learning about Veteran’s Day and Remembrance Day.  Students will be taking a virtual field trip to the Tower of London in England on Monday as they celebrate its 100th anniversary.  We will be analyzing memorials from our country as well as England, poetry, and non fiction text to learn more about why people create memorials.  We will be taking a second virtual field trip on Tuesday to visit the war memorials in Washington D.C.   After we explore the different memorials and compare their symbols, students will work cooperatively in groups to create their own memorial for our veterans.  Stay tuned for pictures next week of our hallway display.  Links to the twp virtual trips are below.  The first is offered through Discovery Education UK and the second is a video I shot on a trip to D.C. with my daughter, Madison, a few years ago.

Discovery Education Website

Mrs. Sinone’s Veterans Day short video:

We will also be participating in World Run Day on Tuesday afternoon.  Be sure to wear your sneakers!

world run day

 

Math:

This week we will be completing our 1st marking period benchmark assessment on Monday.  Later this week we will be working on using arrays and expanded algorithms (ways) to multiply 2 digit numbers.  See below for some video resources to help you at home.  This is a new way to do this and it is easier to help your child if you “see” it.

Please check out our Important Dates Page as this month is PACKED with important dates to remember.  I will be sending home conference reminder sheets on Monday of this week.   I will be out of the building on Wednesday as I work with the principals at the Senior High and Lakeside to gain some experience and interview them for my NJEXCEL principal program.  As always, I know my class will be in good hands with one of our substitutes.

How to Make a Short Week Meaningful

November3

It’s that month again- November… you know the one where we never seem to have a full week of school and even when we do everyone is sick thanks to the change of the weather!  While there are many days off during November, there are also many valuable teaching opportunities- especially in the area of Social Studies.   So how can we make the most of our shortened time together?  PROJECTS!!!!!!!!  It’s time to shake it up and bring on the projects!  Kids love them, teachers love them, and they lend themselves wonderfully to the stop/start nature of school days in this month!  Below are a few of the projects that we will be completing this month:

vote

First Week of November:  Election Day Project

This week we will be exploring the origins of Election Day, political parties, the voting process, and conducting our own mock election.  The video below explains why we vote on Tuesdays (a question I have often wondered myself as it seems like an odd choice for an election day!).  We will be working through the election process this week and voting for a mock candidate for class president.  Students will listen to campaign speeches from our two mock candidates, vote at the polls, and justify their choices.  They will also be making their own voter registration cards.

*Parents- if you go out to vote on Tuesday after school, take your kids with you and share the process!

Second Week of November:

During the second (and one of the only full weeks of school) of November, we will be researching the origins of Veteran’s Day.  Students will take a virtual field trip to see the many memorials dedicated to our fallen soldiers in our nation’s capital (see the video I created below).  They will then work in teams to design a memorial to honor our local veterans.

Third and Fourth week of November:

During the final full week and our last short week of November, we will be walking in the footsteps of the Pilgrims and learning about the first Thanksgiving.  We will be researching, comparing and contrasting the Thanksgiving feast we enjoy today with the one that those first settlers enjoyed.  Students will work in pairs to create a menu for today’s feast and a menu from the first Thanksgiving feast using various websites like the one below.  We will make a staple of the pilgrims diet- hardtack (yum) to enjoy in class together.

Scholastic’s First Thanksgiving Website

National Geographic’s First Thanksgiving Website

History Channel’s First Thanksgiving Website

This month I am thankful that I get to share these meaningful, cross-curricular lessons with my class!  I will be combining first and second hand accounts as well as multimedia to enhance my student’s learning experiences.  We will be creating, writing, debating, and collaboratively working to produce meaningful and memorable products.  Stay tuned to see the fruits of our labor in upcoming posts!

Happy Halloween!

October31

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We got into the Halloween spirit today with some spookily (May have just made up word) yummy snacks and our annual costume parade. Below is the recipes for our ghoulish treats:

Pumpkin Smoothies:
Milk
Canned pumpkin
Banana (or plain yogurt either work well)
Honey
All spice
Blend all ingredients until smooth

Halloween Parfaits:
Vanilla yogurt layered with canned pineapple chunks and canned mandarin oranges

Banana Spiders
Banana chunks with pretzel sticks as legs

Remember to be safe for those if you trick or treating tonight! Wear bright colors or take flashlights and don’t eat candy until your parents check it!!!!!!

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Write Like A Reporter

October30

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This morning we were visited by a local reporter, Chris Torres, from The Daily Journal. He spoke with our 4th and 5th graders about how reporters develop their stories. He focused on encouraging us to answer the 5 W’s, who, what, when, where, and why. He also spoke with us about the importance of reporting true facts.

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Below is a video clip from his visit:

A Day in Room 11

October22

I decided to dedicate this blog to answer the question, “what did you do today?” If your child is anything like any if mine they reply, “nothing.” As parents we know that they did a lot more than nothing but aren’t quite sure what “a lot more” actually is. So today I documented what a day in room 11 looks like. Enjoy!

All of our lessons and centers are designed around our daily objectives.
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We begin our day with language arts. A few students needed to finish publishing their Diary of a Spider books.

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Why did we write these books? We learned from a mentor text, The Diary of a Fly, about sequence, humor, and intertwining facts into a fictional narrative.

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Other students were working on their personal narrative rough drafts in the writing center.

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After language arts we had gym. Since the weather did not cooperate we held recess inside and just “Let it Go!”

 

Following lunch, we have our math lesson. Today we were multiplying 2 digit by 1 digit numbers.

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Finally, we wrapped up our day reviewing for our social studies quiz on the NJ Social Studies Weekly Website.

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As you can see we work extremely hard everyday! Make sure to stop by and check out our “scary smart skills” the next time you visit our school!

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We Will be Author’s this Week- Goals and Tools for Oct. 14-17

October14

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I hope you all enjoyed your LONG weekend!  I know I did!  The family and I went and picked up some pumpkins at the pumpkin patch this weekend and then spent all  afternoon today carving them and roasting the seeds for a nice healthy snack!  This week is another short week thanks to our holiday today, but it will be packed with review activities and our first unit test in Language Arts.

Language Arts:

This week we will be reviewing our grammar skills and reading strategies to get ready to complete our first unit assessment.  We will be taking this test on Friday.  Instead of loading this post up with review lessons, each night this week, your child will have a flipped language arts lesson as part of their homework to review the skills needed to be successful on Friday.  Remember flipped lessons are lessons that the students view at home via the internet to better prepare to practice this skills in class the next day.  The results I get from these lessons will help me to better plan which topics we need to review as a whole class and which lessons only a few people need extra help with.

 

Writing:

We will be published authors by the end of this week.  We are wrapping up our Diary of a Spider books (stay tuned for a special blog post Friday!) as well as working on our first portfolio piece.  Below is a short video explaining the 6 Traits of Writing that we will be working with this year to produce the best writing pieces that we can.  All of our work will be scored using these 6 categories.

 

Math:

This week will be working with multiplying 2 digit numbers by 1 digit numbers using the standard algorithm (the way us old people learned how to do it!).

 

Social Studies:

We will be learning about NJ’s first inhabitants this week, the Native Americans.  Many of us think Native Americans are mainly located in the central and western parts of the country.  NJ however is home to many Lenni Lenape tribe members.  The video below features some of the Lenni Lenape from right here in Cumberland County and details their struggle to hold on to their heritage.  We will be focusing on the Native Americans of NJ this month in our social studies lessons.

Weekly Learning Goals and Tools Oct. 6-9

October5

respect

 

Brrrrrrrr!  I am sitting in front of a fire as I type this!  Fall is definitely making its presence felt today!  Don’t worry, however, because we will be learning so much this week we will work up a sweat!  This week we begin our month of Respect.  Over the weekend, you had a chance to review our school’s bullying information and sign our anti-bullying contract with your child.  We take this very seriously at RM Bacon!  Ms. Spanbauer will be in this week to speak with the class about respect and get us started on an activity that we will complete as a whole 4th grade class.   There is NO SCHOOL ON FRIDAY due to a teacher inservice day.  Enjoy your day off!

Reading:

This week we will be working with determining main idea and supporting details.  We will also be starting our first novel for the year, The Chocolate Touch.

Vocab words for the week:  glacier, impressive, naturalist, preserve, slopes, species, wilderness

The Chocolate Touch Chapters 1-3 will be covered this week.

 

Math:

This week we will be working with Multiplying by Multiples of 10 and 100 as well as breaking apart 2 digit numbers to find the product.  The prezi below may be helpful to reinforce what we are doing in class.

Writing:

We are working on our first book this week.  By the end of next week all of my students will be published authors!  We used the model text The Diary of a Fly as a guide and we all came up with our own versions of “The Diary of a Spider.”  Be sure to stop by the third floor hallway and read our creations next week!

Science:

We are finishing our study of ecosystems by creating poster representations of the 5 major ecosystems in the USA.

 

 

Welcome October- Learning Goals and Tools for Sept. 29th-Oct. 3rd

September28

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Wow!  Where did September go?  This week begins October and as the image above states, we are going to make it AWESOME!!!!!!!  Last week, I spent some time in the evenings learning about the website www.sophia.org and taking some tutorials online to become Flip Classroom Certified.

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What is a flipped classroom?  Does that mean I am now teaching gymnastics?  No gymnastics lessons (although back in the day I had a killer back handspring- just saying), but rather a way to have students learn the lesson for homework so that when they are in class with me they can apply the skills rather than sit through a lecture.  Starting Monday, I will be assigning a flipped assignment each night.  Students will need access to a computer, tablet, ipod touch, smart phone, or any other device that has internet connectivity.  If you do not have internet access at home, don’t fret!  Students can also look at the lesson in class if necessary.  They will watch a short video or view a website or presentation about a concept.  Once they are done, they will take a short quiz online.  I will look at the quiz results first thing in the morning or as soon as they finish for those who don’t have internet at home (they are graded on completion not how they scored as they can retake the quiz as many times as necessary to pass it- so it’s either a 100 or a 0).

flipped classroom

 

For students who got the concept quickly and are ready to move on, I will assign them the practice sheet to complete independently and then they will work on an enrichment lesson.  For those, who got it but still have a few questions, we will meet in a small group to clarify what needs working on and then they will move on to the independent practice sheet.  For those students who are really struggling, we will meet and I will reteach the lesson and we will complete a guided practice sheet together before they move on to working independently.  I am really excited to see how this works!  All students have their Sophia log-in information and we have practiced in class a number of times last week.  If you have any questions or encounter problems, please do not hesitate to email me at [email protected]

This weeks learning goals and tools:

Reading:

This week will be reviewing author’s purpose.  This is a concept we covered a few weeks ago, so at the end of this week we will be having a short quiz to check for mastery.  We are also working on combining simple sentences into compound sentences.  For example:

The dog was very tired.  It had been running all  morning.  = The dog was very tired because it had been running all morning.

Vocabulary  Words for the Week: bargain, favor, lassoed, offended, prairie, riverbed, shrieked

 

Math:

This week we are wrapping up our review of addition and subtraction.

Examples of regrouping when adding three digit numbers:


Regrouping twice when subtracting three digit numbers:

Science:

Last week we learned about the elements of an ecosystem.  This week we are going to focus on the ecosystems in the United States.  Students will learn about them via a Sophia tutorial and then use the information they’ve gained through taking notes to create a Ecosystems of the USA poster.  Check back next week to see our work!

 

Bacon Turns 85! Weekly Objectives and Resources Sept. 22-26

September21

happy birthday

 

Happy Birthday to our home-away-from-home, RM Bacon Elementary School!  On Friday, we celebrate our building’s 85th birthday.  Imagine the history this building has seen and what it could teach us if only the walls could talk!  In addition to another jam packed week of learning, I am challenging my students to join me in completing 85 laps around the playground by Friday.  I did the math for us- we need to walk/jog 17 laps a day to reach that goal.  If we can do this we will also have walked over 10 miles!  Bring your sneakers if you’re up for the challenge!  I know I am!  What a way to help me reach another one of my goals- getting my fitness in daily!  This week’s objectives and resources are below!

Language Arts:

This week we will be wrapping up our study of sentence types and moving onto dissecting a sentence to identify the subject (who or what the sentence is about) and predicate (what they subject is feeling or doing).  I have created log-ins for www.sophia.org for each student to use to view a lesson and take a quick check to see how we are understanding this concept.  They will get their log-in information on Monday.  I am super excited to use this tool as it will help me to better assess and work with students on concepts.  (Thanks Andy Bingham, my daughter’s 5th grade teacher for introducing this to me!)

The reading strategy we are working with this week is identifying literary elements such as characters, setting, and plot.  The prezi below will help to support the lesson we will be doing in class.

Our vocabulary words for the week are:

badger, bank, bristled, jointed, patched, ruffled, rushes

We will be using the mentor text The Diary of a Fly,  to help us work on creating a narrative writing piece that has both a sequence that is easy to follow and all of the narrative elements that we are learning about this week.

Math:

This week we will be wrapping up our review of place value and taking a unit 3 assessment on Tuesday.  Topic 4 will start on Wednesday with a review of addition and subtraction using mental math and estimation.  The Educreations lesson below will help to review the concept at home.  Students may also work on www.mobymax.com at home to brush up on both math and language arts skills.  All students were given a log-in sheet last week.  This is a great way to keep learning and reviewing at home.

 

Social Studies:

This week we will be taking a trip WAYYYYYYYYYY back in time to discover what NJ was like during the age of reptiles.  Take a peek below to see what some of our very, very, very old neighbors looked like!

 

Science:

This week we will continue working with our study of weather, but delve deeper to understand how weather effects the ecosystem.

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