Cultivating Minds Without Losing My Own

Join me on my Adventures in Elementary Education

Welcome to October! The Month of Awareness for EVERYTHING! Weekly Goals 10/1-10/4


October is a month that we will spend in awareness of many things!  First off, this week, we will be visiting with the Millville Fire Department and learning about fire safety.  Also, this Friday will be our first wear pink day to raise awareness for breast cancer.  Any student who wears pink on Friday will earn EXTRA CREDIT on their reading test!  Woo Hoo!  Next week we will be participating in our week of RESPECT.  Stay tuned for special dress up days and assembly schedule.  Music lessons begin this week for our class band members.  Please remember to bring your instrument and lesson book on your lesson day.   Below are our learning goals for this week.  We are crusing right along and doing great!


Monday- Students will be adding and subtracting numbers up to 100,000.  Lesson 4-3 and 4-4

Tuesday- Students will be subtracting across zeros.  Lesson 4-5

Wednesday- Topic 4 Test covering addition, subtraction, estimation, and problem solving.

Thursday- Students will review place value and preview Multiples.  Here is a game to review finding multiples!

Friday- FACTOR FRIDAY!  We will be reviewing our multiplication skills and practicing finding factors.


This week we will be disecting the elements of a story and focusing much of our time on Characters and Plot.  Plot is definitely the trickier of the two to identify, but if we use the skills we have gained in our sequencing lesson it shouldn’t be too painful!  Below is a lesson preview of how we will be looking at plot.


EGGstra Special Weekly Objectives! Week of March 25-28


This week, while being a short one, will be jam packed with EGGciting EGGsperiments, drama, sports, mystery and more! 

On Monday, my little thespians will be performing a scene from their guided reading stories from last week.  Each group was assigned a one act play to read to learn how to interpret text in a different way.  As a culminating event, they will be choosing and performing one scene from their play instead of taking a normal paper and pencil text.  Their plays will be recorded and posted to the blog for them to view and share with their families!

In Math this week, we are continuing to work with fractions.  We are focusing on making improper (top heavy) fractions into mixed numbers and vice versa.  To make an improper fraction a mixed number, divide the numerator by the denominator.  The answer is your whole number and your remainder is the new numerator for your new fraction.  Example:   7/5 = 1  2/5

To change a mixed number into an improper fraction, multiply your denominator by the whole number, add the numerator to that answer, and place your final answer over your denominator.  Example:  1  2/5= 5 x 1= 5,  5+2=7  improper fraction = 7/5

On Wednesday, we will be having our annual staff vs. student floor hockey game (here’s hoping I don’t break anything)!

Thursday is our school wide scavenger hunt as well as our EGGsperiment EGGstravaganza!  The experiments we will be conducting are as follows:

EGGsperiment #1- the volcanic egg

EGGsperiment # 2- Humpty Dumpty

EGGsperiment #3- The Incredible Shrinking (and Expanding) Egg

EGGsperiment #4- The Naked and Bouncing Egg

EGGsperiment #5- The Unbreakable Egg

Please dress your child in play clothes as this may get messy!

Welcome to the New Year!


Welcome to the year 2013!  This week we will be undergoing our language arts benchmarking assessments using Fountas and Pennell to so how far we have progressed since September.  I am predicting some pretty amazing results.  We have been working very hard all fall and now it is time to see how well it has payed off.  Just before break, my kids created end of novel projects.  Below are just a few of them.  Unfortunately, the two groups who opted to write and act out plays, when recorded the audio did not come through well. 🙁 .  The options for this project were to create a movie trailer using iMovie for their novel, choose a song and create a music video that best represented their novel, write and act out a play, use extranormal to create an animated scene, or create a movie poster that would persuade people to read their book.  No surprise to me, my little tech savvy friends chose mostly high tech options.  Enjoy their work below!


Ruby and the Booker Boys- music video featuring the song, “Here Comes the Sun” which the group felt best represented Ruby’s personality

Out of Darkness the Story of Louis Braille- music video featuring the song, “Firework” which the group felt best represented Louis Braille’s spirit of determination

A Mouse Called Wolf- movie trailer



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

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!

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


Introducing RM Bacon’s Newest Directors, Producers, Actors, and Animators


We finished readingClementineon Tuesday of this week.  The students LOVED this book!  Everyday they were so excited to hear about Clementines latest superifical ideas and adventures.  We were able to make many connections (T2S, T2T, and T2T) with this character and her story.   Clementine has a whole series of books written about her many adventures.  I foresee adding many Clementine books to our class library in the future!  As a culminating project, students were asked to create either a movie trailer for a movie about Clementine or create an animated short film about a section of the book.  I was blown away with what they created!  Take a peek below at their hard work.  I think Steven Spielberg better start worrying about his job security!


Pretty amazing stuff!


Social Studies Review – Prezi


Assessment Two Ways


OK, my secret it out…..I have been watching WAY too many episodes of Chopped on the Food Network when I start naming my academic posts the way chefs name their main courses!  We wrapped up topic 2 in our math series today.  While my students love taking their assessments on our Pearson Success Net website (though not nearly as much as I love them taking them on the web especially since it grades them for me 🙂 ) I really felt they needed to SHOW me they learned something this time too.  Hence a dish I like to call Assessment 2 Ways. 

Students took turns using our classroom computers to take the traditional math test with a technological twist recording answers on the web.  Other then the obvious benefits such as less wasted paper and the option to have parts of the test read aloud to students who struggle with reading, it also has a huge benefit for me the grading-challenged teacher!  Students get immediate feedback upon completion of the test.  Not only do they get their score, but they also learn which topic areas they did well in and which areas they need to revisit.  Students who do not do well on the initial test will have the opportunity to study those areas, revisit the on line lesson videos, and retake the test on Friday.

Creating Pattern Word Problems

The second, more performance-based, assessment they took today involved creating a word problem that can be solved using a pattern.  Once the problem was written they included a partially completed table and illustrated the problem.  All of our original word problems are displayed in our hallway with post it notes to encourage other 3rd, 4th, and 5th  grade students to solve them.  Students (and teachers) can take a stab at solving the problems on the post it and leave their best guess stuck to the paper.

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