Holy Moly! That Sandy Packed A Punch

I hope this post finds most of our readers safe and sound in their homes with electric, heat, and the creature comforts you are used to. For those of you in shelters, we hope your stay isn’t much longer and that when you return home you are pleasantly surprised. Here in our tiny south Jersey town we experienced horrible winds, minor flooding, downed wires and trees but over all most if us feel pretty lucky considering what our friends at the shore got. I am just heartbroken to see my beach washed away. We will definitely be looking into ways we can help as a class community service project. This week (at least what’s left of it) we will be focusing on studying hurricanes (shocker there I’m sure) finishing up our math unit and trying to have some Halloween fun.

Holy Moly! That Sandy Packed A Punch

I hope this post finds most of our readers safe and sound in their homes with electric, heat, and the creature comforts you are used to. For those of you in shelters, we hope your stay isn’t much longer and that when you return home you are pleasantly surprised. Here in our tiny south Jersey town we experienced horrible winds, minor flooding, downed wires and trees but over all most if us feel pretty lucky considering what our friends at the shore got. I am just heartbroken to see my beach washed away. We will definitely be looking into ways we can help as a class community service project. This week (at least what’s left of it) we will be focusing on studying hurricanes (shocker there I’m sure) finishing up our math unit and trying to have some Halloween fun.

Halloween and Hurricanes- Guest Bloggers Julianna, Braez’an, and Elias

With all the excitement about the coming weekend in the air, our classroom was abuzz today.  Halloween and Hurricanes was on their minds.  With that in mind we had a class contest to get some guest bloggers up on our site.  Julianna and Elias will be presenting their tips for safe trick-or-treating and Braez’an will make sure you are prepared for the storm.  Enjoy!

 Tips for Safe Trick-or-Treating by Julianna and Elias

1.  Always stay with your parents while trick-or-treating.

2. If someone tells you to come inside to get the candy, don’t.  Leave and go to another house.

3. Do not get into a car if someone offers you a ride home.

4. Don’t walk in the streets.

5.  Don’t go to any houses that you don’t know.

6.  Make sure you have something that glows or wear light clothing so cars can see you.

 

 

Be Prepared for Bad Weather by Braez’an

1.  Keep flashlights and batteries around the house.

2.  Make sure you have bottled water.

3.  Make sure you have food in for your family.

4.  Make sure you and your family have underground shelter spots like a basement.

5.  Make sure you know where everyone you live with is at.

Witches Walking Wacky and Dogs Doing Math- Sound a Little Crazy? Nope Just Another Day in Room 11

Holy mackerel Batman!  We accomplished SO MUCH today I’m still reeling!  We have been publishing our writing and part of that process means a conference between me and each of the students in the class.  During this conference we discuss the pros and cons of each writing piece.  It is a very special time working with each child individually that I really look forward to.   A pattern became very evident as we conferenced.  We are using the same words over and over in our writing.  This is not good.  So today we bid adieu to some of our favorite words and with the help of some wacky witches legs we welcomed some wonderful new alternatives.  Each student created a snazzy set of legs to help us come up with creative ways to have our characters move through our stories.  Walk was getting old!  Borrowing some Aerosmith lyrics we put together a bright, fun hallway display.

Sadly some words needed a more permanent farewell.  We held a funeral for the following words in class today- said, pretty, good, and bad.  These poor words have been used to death! As a sign of appreciation for all the use they have given us, we decorated their tombstones with some updated synonyms to use in their place.  Hopefully our graveyard does not have to grow as the year  progresses.  Please encourage your child to use new words whenever possible!  As some wise woman once said (OK it was me, and while my wiseness may be yet proven the words work!) ” You can never have too many words or too many shoes!”                         

It ws not all word games today.  We joined the RM Bacon Dog Pound and started our SumDog.com journey.  SumDog is a website that allows students to practise and review skills at their own pace.  Each student has a log-in and can access the site from home or school.  I have added it to the links portion of this site.  Students will use the quick log-in option and our school code is Rm_2.  Students should have written their user name and pass code in their agendas. 

Finally, at the end of the day we had a visit from my stepson, Tyler.  Tyler is a pretty cool kid who happens to have some challenges when it comes to learning.  He is instructed in reading using braille and has also been learning sign language.  Last year, we  learned quite a few signs throughout the year.  Tyler shared a braille story book with the class and let them feel how he reads.  All in all it was a pretty cool experience for us all.

Our Afternoon with Taylor Swift and the R.E.D. Campaign

Anxiously Waiting for the Webcast to Start!This afternoon we had an awesome experience!  We participated in  a live web cast with the one and only Taylor Swift!  Scholastic.com offered an afternoon with Taylor to help launch their R.E.D. campaign which stands for Read Every Day.  Coincidentally, Taylor’s new album is also titled Red. 

Taylor Swift is an avid reader.  As she says, “It’s fun to escape from your life and jump into the lives of different characters.”  Students in the live audiance as well as the students in our class gasped with excitement when she mentioned the titles of her favorite childhood books.  They have something in common with a super star!  Some of her favorites include the Harry Potter series, Charlotte’s Web, and Star Girl (which I can see flying off my bookshelf in the days to come!)  She chooses books based on other people’s recommendations.  Her favorite genre is historical fiction.  She loves to imagine living in another time.   She told the students, ” No matter what you are reading you’re picking up knowledge that is impacting you whether you realize it or not.” 

Ms. Swift has clearly been seen and impact of reading on her life.  She credits reading with helping her to be a better song writer.  She won a national poetry contest in 4th grade and wrote a novel while on vacation when she was 12.  While she admits these were not her best pieces of writing, the encouragement of her parents, friends, and teachers helped her to realize that she had real potential.  She encouraged us to focus on learning and studying as much as possible and to find something that we love.  If we can do that it will help us get through those bad days and tough times in life.  I have to admit I was blown away by how wise this 22 year old is!  She reminded us that we can find beauty and magic everywhere we look if we use our imagination. 

When it comes to writing her music, Taylor says the process changes every time.  Sometimes a lyric or melody will just come to her and she has to whip our her cell phone to record a quick reminder so she won’t forget it.  Many of her songs are about things that have happened to her or her friends.  Some are about movies or books she has read.    For example the song, “Mean” is about an article written about her music.  The critic was mean in his criticism.  When that song became an anthem for anti-bullying she said that was one of the proudest moments in her life.  She says she was lucky to have good, stable influences in her life to keep her on the right track.  Below is a couple of clips from our web cast.

 

Taylor even sang to us!

We Love you Taylor Swift!!!!!!!

Well needless to say Taylor Swift inspired us not only to read more, but to write more too!  We spent the remainder of the day publishing our first piece for our portfolio, an expository  essay on what it means to be a good citizen.  In addition to typing that and getting it in its best final form, we used Doreen Cronin, author of The Diary of a Fly, as a mentor to help us create our Diary of a Bat book.  A silly take on being a bat infused with actual facts about bats.  Stop by the third floor hall to take a peek at the work of some up and coming authors from RM Bacon Elementary School!

 

A Case for Alternative Assessments

After spending and entire day simultaneously battling sinus issues and a deadline for a graduate school paper, I am left feeling like some of my students feel at the end of a chapter.  Spent.  Utterly exhausted both mentally and physically.  Taking an assessment is not just a mental event!  The stress it creates on your body is no joke!  I feel like I’ve run a 5K today and I promise you I have not left my dining room table in many hours and exercise is no longer on the agenda for the evening. 

I came to the conclusion that maybe “one size fits all assessment” has had its day and needs to bow out of the picture.  Had I been given options for this assignment such as create a prezi, Power Point, or website to cover the same content I did in the paper I wrote, I assure you it would have been done days ago and my stress level would have been much lower!  While I understand that choice is not always feasible in all situations, shouldn’t we provide it when we can?Graphic Representation of The Branches of Government 

 Online quizzes on Edmodo or Pearson Success Net as a Quiz AlternativeI have been trying to incorporate as many different methods of assessment as possible this year to make my students less stressed and more successful.  I have been using Edmodo to offer online quizzes rather than paper and pencil options for grammar and language arts.  Our math series offers online tests for each topic as well.  I try to offer these as an option.  Some students do prefer the traditional pencil and paper approach and that is fine!  Just print them out a copy of the same test!

In addition to the high tech tests, I have been offering more creative ways to express thier understanding of concepts.  In social studies students chose to demonstrate thier knowledge of the branches of government by creating a graphic representation of “The Branches of Government.”  Later this week students will be showing me how well they have understood summarizing and narrative elements by creating Diary of a Bat books. Diary of a Bat

Those students with a flair for the arts have loved creating Xtranormal videos and iMovie trailers to show what they comprehended from novels they have read.  Check out a few examples of their work below. 

I am in no way taking complete credit for these ideas!  I am a teacher which means I am very well skilled at “borrowing” other teachers’ ideas!  The Internet it full of resources as are the buildings we all work in!  I few of my favorite sites are Pinterest and Teacher’s Pay Teachers.  Both offer a variety of ideas at all skill levels.

 

Clementine has a big problem
by: carriesinone

Weekly Learning Objectives for October 22-26

Happy Sunday!  After another not-quite-long-enough weekend it is back to the grindstone.  I hope you all were able to enjoy the weather and get outdoors with your families this weekend.  My family spent Saturday at soccer fields and visiting the new Amish Market in Bridgeton.  If you haven’t been out there, I highly recommend it.  AMAZING food, great prices and just some wonderful people to deal with.  All that out of doors activity has my allergies in an uproar so hopefully I make it through the week with a voice.  Right about now I sound like a cross between Marge Simpson and the mom on the Big Bang Theory :(. 

On to our objectives!

Reading: This week we will be working on summarizing.  A good summary answers the following questions:

Who was the story/article about?

What happened?

Where did it take place?

When did it take place?  (past, present, or future time)

Why did it turn out the way it dis?

How were the characters involved?

Grammar:  Students will be working to make sentences say more by adding descriptive words.

Vocabulary: Students will be working with more adjectives this week to make our writing more interesting and descriptive.

Writing: Students will be working to edit, revise, and publish their first portfolio piece about citizenship.

Math: Students will be using estimation and mental math to find sums and differences of 3 and 4 digit numbers. (addition and subtraction)

Social Studies:   Students will continue to learn about citizenship and the steps it takes to become an American citizen.

Science:   Students will wrap up their mock rock experiment.

How Awesome is Technology?!

As I sit in the middle of no where watching my husband play softball, I remember I forgot to create an edmodo assignment for my class tomorrow. I know we will be out here pretty late and when we get home I will need to focus on getting kids ready for bed and packing lunches for tomorrow. By the time all of that is done, I will be one tired puppy and any hopes of remembering to post an assignment would not be promising. What’s a tech-loving teacher to do? Download the edmodo app and post from my phone if course! It is truly amazing how far we have come technologically speaking. In fact after downloading the app, creating and posting the assignment, I am now blogging from my phone as I shiver and cheer the grey team on!
One of the essays I read for my graduate class last week mentioned that this generation of students we are teaching has never NOT had Internet, wireless access, cell phones, or social media. It’s not a matter of teaching them how to use it but rather how to responsibly and respectfully contribute to the world wide canvas that is the Internet. In the same essay the author, Stephen Wilmarth, further explains that our students are no longer consumers alone. They are creators and contributors daily. If they update a status, tweet, blog, or upload they are contributing in ways that we never dreamed possible! I’m still amazed everyday when I post that people are actually reading what I write! And not only people I know, am related to, or work with either! Complete strangers from all over the world are reading my ramblings. It is an amazing feeling! I have more followers and friends online than I have ever had in real life!
This amazing sense of “no boundaries” means we need to be even more mindful of how we present ourselves on line. Digital citizenship is becoming a mandatory element in our curriculum. We must model it as well as provide written guidelines. Our students need to see teachers and parents using technology for all the good it can provide. They must also understand the consequences that are in place if it is used disrespectfully. Remember once the post/share/tweet/upload button is hit it is out there for the world to see and extremely difficult to completely erase. That being said, create on my friends! I love reading what you’re all up to!

Solving Pesky Word Problems Using Organized Lists

Sometimes word problems are just that- Word Problems, meaning that their is no numbers to add or subtract, just words to organize.  These types of problems are the hardest for students to solve!  These types of problems are also the ones we face the most in life 🙁 .  We worked today to develop skills and strategies to solve this kind of problem.  We came up with 2 plans of attack when we are faced with these evil challenges.  The first attack plan works for problems with few choices like the picture on the top left.  This problem read:

Madison and Maren have 3 pets, a dog, cat and fish at home that they have to feed each day.  They like to feed them in a different order each day.  How many different combinations can they use to feed their pets? 

To solve this problem they wrote out an organized list like the one you see in the picture, then counted the number of groups they created to get their answer.

For problems that involve multiple variables (choices) they used our second pland of attack.  They created charts to help organize the information given like the one in the picture to the right.  This chart helped them solve the problem below:

The school spirit team is creating new shirts to sell.  The shirt colors they can choose from are blue, green, red, yellow, and white.  The designs  they can choose from are a bear, a picture of the school, or a thunderbolt.  How many different combinations can they create?

By creating the chart, they could easily organize and then count the many combinations they created. 

Students hate these types of word problems.  I know this.  I do not assign them as a form of torture, but rather as practice for life.  How many times have you as an adult had to look at different combinations for a sandwich or seating arrangements for an event?  Being able to take information and organize it in a way that makes combinations easily accounted for is a life skill.  So while they may moan and groan a bit doing homework tonight, encourage them to try their best and review the steps and pictures above.

What Makes a Good Citizen?

We began a new chapter in Social Studies today to delve deeper into the concept of citizenship.  We will be working on creating our definition of  citizenship this week, identifying ideal citizenship traits, and composing an essay about what makes a person a good citizen.  Take a peek at the Prezi below and review good citizenship traits with your child to help them be prepared for the rest of the week.

 

This essay will be our first portfolio piece for the year.  Portfolio pieces are writing samples that are written, revised, published, scored using a rubric, and placed in each students writing portfolio to be passed on the the next year’s teacher.  This year in fourth grade students are expected to compose a 5 paragraph essay with an opening, 3 paragraph body, and closing.  A link to the  rubric used to score this essay as well as more information about the NJASK  is below.

NJASK Information