Last week was amazing! We turned in our first novel projects which were awesome, had our Valentine’s day party and dance, and participated in Jump Rope for Heart. Check it all out below in our Storify:
This week we are going to work on the following goals:
Wow! What a week we had last week! Our school had our school spirit week leading up to today’s Super Bowl with themed days all week. Our class really got into the spirit! We also were contacted by a school in Canada that challenged us to complete their one week fitness challenge called Burp-it-On. We gladly completed the challenge and made sure to pass the challenge along to all of the other awesome schools in the Millville School District. Click on the Storify video below for a recap of our week:
This week is a shortened week due to a teacher in-service on Friday. In addition to our academic goals this week, we also have the opportunity to participate in a very worth while cause, Jump Rope for Heart on Wednesday after school. In order to participate, students need to have raised at least $5 in donations and have a signed permission slip. Jump Rope for Heart will take place Wednesday starting at 4:00.
We are also having our 2nd annual Valentine’s Day dance on Thursday, February 11th from 4-5:30. Cost is $3 per student and must be paid by Wednesday. ALL students must have someone to pick them up by 5:30! I hope to see many of my students come and enjoy the fun in the gym! During the afternoon on the 11th, we will be having our class Valentine’s Day celebration. Students will be making Heart Healthy berry smoothies and sharing the love with classmates. Please be sure that if you are sending in Valentine’s Day cards that you include all students! A list with names and correct spellings was sent home last week. If you need another, please let me know!
On to the not so fun stuff… we have been having a hard time getting along in class these days. I’m not sure of the cause, but I do know that being stuck indoors all the time due to the weather is not helping! I have begun using Class Dojo to help students be more aware of their behaviors, both positive and negative. On Friday, I sent home an information sheet for you to use to set up a parent account. With the parent account, you will have the ability to keep tabs on how your child is behaving throughout the day. You will also have the capability to message me with any concerns or questions. Please be aware that I did activate a privacy setting that shuts messaging off between 10 PM and 7 AM, any messages sent during those hours will not be received until the following day. All messages go straight to my cell phone Class Dojo App and I will respond as soon as possible. So far, I have found that this is working very well and students are excited to know how they are doing each day.
Learning Goals for this week:
We will be reading a story about record holders in nature entitles, “Hottest, Coldest, Highest, Deepest.” We will be focusing on use graphic images such as maps, pictures, captions, and graphs to gain information that will better help us understand the information. Our vocabulary words are: average, depth, deserts, erupted, outrun, peak, tides, and waterfalls. We will be having a vocab quiz on Thursday.
We are continuing our study of fractions this week. We will be using fractions strips to help us compare fractions with unlike denominators. Fractions are always a tough concept for kids to get. Here are some ways that you can help your child better understand their usefulness in real life:
1. Include your child in cooking and baking recipes that use fractions.
2. Have your child help you measure things around the house.
3. Use common terms like half, third, fourths when having your child fill things around the house
We are starting a mini unit this week learning about famous African Americans and their contributions to our lives. Each day students will learn about a different famous African American. At the end of the unit, students will have a book that they have made documenting the contributions of these important people.
We are beginning a mini unit on the water cycle this week. The video below gives an overview of the complete water cycle:
As you can see though this week may be short it is PACKED with opportunities for learning and fun! We are definitely earning that 4 day weekend! Please remember there is NO SCHOOL on Friday the 12th or Monday the 15th. Enjoy the extra time with your kiddos! I know that I will miss them!
Last week was an AWESOME start to 2016! I can tell that we are on the way to making huge strides as we work through the end of the 2nd marking period. I want to say thank you to may students and their families as they adapted so easily to our new homework format. I had 98% completion of all flipped math lessons on Sophia.org and 100% completion of all literature circle questions posted on Edmodo. I found that having time in class to practice applying skills has been very beneficial. We will continue with this format this week as well.
Makerspaces update: All supplies have been bought and bins have been put together!
Each box contains a challenge, puzzle, or creative activity to help students extend upon their learning and think creatively. Students are SUPER excited to get their hands on these! I have an even bigger surprise for them this week! I wrote a grant for Sphero 2.0’s and the grant was accepted by the Millville Board of Education. These Spheros will give students the opportunity to try out coding in a real world challenge as they code the robotic balls to complete a maze.
Weekly Learning Goals:
This week we will be reading “Seeing Stars” in class. Our focus skill will be using graphic sources.
Vocabulary words are: dim, gas, gigantic, ladle, patterns, shine, and temperature.
We will also be reading a chapter a night in our novels and responding to an open ended question on Edmodo.
We will be wrapping up topic 8 this week which was our intro into the concept of Division. Students will have a test on Friday.
We will beginning our unit on systems this week. Systems exist all around and even within us! We will start our by exploring different ecosystems this week focusing on identifying producers, consumers.
We will be looking at graphic sources in Social Studies as well as Language arts this week. In addition, we will be wrapping up chapter 2 reviewing types and purposes for communities.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year- until you break out the glitter that is! We have finally finished our mid marking period assessments which leaves us with a little time to get crafty and creative to make some festive gifts for our families. While most of the year we are working hard on curriculum and data driven instruction, I like to spend our last days before break pretending to be elves! We sing carols, make gifts and cards, and generally just enjoy being together. This year it is even more special as we have just completed our unit on how holidays are celebrated around the world. It is so rewarding to see my students discussing the illustrations they are using on cards and how they relate to something that they do in another country.
For those of you new to our blog, we have been virtually traveling around the world over the last 2 weeks learning about how Christmas is celebrated in many different countries. We journeyed to Sweden, Finland, Poland, Germany, France, Spain, England, Ireland, Japan, Australia, Philippines, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Italy, and the United States. For each country we located it on the map, learned how to say Merry Christmas, watched a short video showing how families decorate and celebrate, read an informational article, answered some questions related to our research, created a small poster, and listened to each countries holiday music. Below is our interactive bulletin board we created for this unit as well as a word cloud of all of our new holiday greetings.
On Monday night, our third, fourth, and fifth grade students participated in our annual Holiday Concert. It was a wonderful evening of music, artwork, and community.
Another exciting event for our classroom was being nominated for an Eddie (Edublog Award) for best class blog. I can’t tell you how humbling it is to know that people actually read what we put out on this site! Thank you to those who nominated us and voted for us! We will keep you updated as the results come in!
While many are planning their shopping strategies already for the weekend, I’m a firm believer in taking time instead to give thanks for what I have already in my life. This week is always one of my favorite as a teacher. Not only do I get to help my students develop an attitude of gratitude through reflection activities and webquests about the first Thanksgiving, but I also get to spend time with parents during our annual parent/teacher conferences. I really enjoy getting to meet and share the awesome things my students are doing with their parents!
In preparation for our conferences this year I did something a little different. I found an amazing freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers that helped to make sure that our time in conferences was purposeful. The first image below is a questionnaire I sent home the week before conferences for parents to reflect on how they are seeing their child progress so far this year. I was very happy to have the majority of my class return these! This allowed me to have time prior to our assigned conferences to gather resources and materials to best be prepared for our meetings. The second image below is another freebie find that I used to help me be more focused with my concerns (I tend to be easily distracted during conferences telling parents how awesome their kids are!) 🙂 ) This form is a take away that parents can take home and share with their child. It breaks down their grades and areas of success and concern in classroom behaviors. I must say that I did not create either of these forms, so please join me in thanking the lovely ladies who did create them and posted them on TPT for all of us to use! Thank you! Clicking on the picture will take you to each of their TPT stores to enjoy these FREE downloads!
Parent Questionnaire From Zanah McCauley
Teacher Forms to Help with Conference Preparation from More Time 2 teach
This week we will be taking a virtual field trip back to the first Thanksgiving courtesy of Scholastic.com. This webquest is very well put together and a wonderful resource full of videos and text resources to share with students. Students love seeing how the pilgrims lived and hearing how they spoke. As a culminating activity each year, I make hardtack with my class. Hardtack was a food staple during the passage over on the Mayflower as well as when they first were setting up their settlement here. The image below is a link to the Scholastic site.
First Thanksgiving Webquest from Scholastic.com
Finally, I would like to leave you with a heart felt thanks for being a part of our classroom! Below is a link to my annual Thanksgiving video. Each year I choose a song that has a message of thanks and have students compose visuals to express their gratitude. This year we worked with hashtags to develop a concept of how hashtags are useful in grouping ideas and concepts. Please enjoy! Our song this year is the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Theme.
Fun Friday Math Centers! Math Duel App and Mobymax.com are some of our favorites!
One month down! Where did the time go?! In the past month, we spent a log of time setting up our routines and getting used to our daily schedule. I think we FINALLY have it set! I want to take some time to explain to you what life in our room looks like on an average day. Take a peek at our schedule below:
9:15-9:30- Morning Meeting- During this time we are learning how to greet each other in a new language everyday! Ask you child how to say hello in any of the following languages: Romanian, Hungarian, Russian, French, Italian, Sign Language, Hindu, Swahili, Spanish, German, and I’m sure I’m missing a few! We are up to 13 different languages! We also take some time to “check in” with each other during this meeting to set the tone for a successful day.
9:30-11ish- Language Arts- During this time we have 4-5 mini-lessons and go to 4-5 centers. I follow the Daily 5 approach to teaching. This allows for short periods of focused learning (mini lessons lasting about 10-15 minutes) broken up by time in centers practicing our Language Arts skills. Each day we will have a mini lesson in each of the following areas- spelling/vocab, grammar, reading strategies, and writing strategies. Our centers focus on the skills learned in the mini lessons as well as reinforcing skills we’ve learned previously. We have centers that focus on Word Work (vocabulary), Listening to Reading, Reading to Self, Reading to Someone, Guided Reading, and Working on Writing. The work done in centers is done continuously throughout the week and only graded on Fridays.
11ish-12 and 1-1:30- Math- We begin each math lesson with a common core review that asks students to practice a variety of skills. After we discuss that we move on to the day’s lesson including a short video to introduce the concept, guided practice and independent practice. Our math class is divided by recess and lunch. After we return from lunch and take our bathroom break, we do some math centers. During this time, I will work with students who are struggling with the concept in small groups while the others are practicing the concept in a variety of ways (ipad apps, mobymax website, etc).
1:30-2:15- Science- By far one of our favorite times of the day! We will conduct experiments, read about science concepts, and interact with different apps and web sites throughout the year during this time. We are currently wrapping up our first area of study- matter. We will also be studying the following areas this year: Ecosystems, Life Cycles, Weather and Climate, and Engineering and Design.
3:00-3:30- Social Studies- This year our focus is on the elements and interactions in a community. I am hoping to have a few guest speakers from our community come in to help explain how we all play a part in making our community run smoothly.
Whew! After seeing it all in writing, it’s no wonder I’m exhausted at the end of the day! As you can see, we work hard ALL day! That being said, we do have fun too. We have recess daily before lunch to make sure we’ve worked up a healthy appetite. We also do alter our schedules a bit on Fridays to allow for fun math centers (more game oriented with some sneaky learning built in). I tell them daily we work hard, but we will play hard too throughout the year! Speaking of hard work here are our learning goals for this week as well as some resources to help you support learning at home:
This week we will be reading the story, “Kumak’s Fish.” We will be continuing to work with the concept of Sequence, or order of events. In addition to this we will be completing our first full writing piece, a friendly letter to a teacher that student’s would like to thank for teaching them something in the past. All letters will be “mailed” to the teachers on Friday. Our grammar skill this week is classifying sentences as declarative (statements) or interrogative (questions). The presentation below will help you to review this concept at home:
Our spelling concept this week will focus on using base words to help with meaning. Our spelling words are: using, getting, easiest, swimming, heavier, greatest, pleased, emptied, leaving, worried, strangest, freezing, funniest, angrier, shopped. While I do not give traditional spelling tests, students are tested on their ability to explain the spelling concept for the week on the weekly test. I will be trying something different for homework this Thursday to help better prepare students for the weekly reading test. Stay tuned!
Vocabulary words this week:
Gear- noun. the equipment or clothing needed for a particular activity.
Parka- noun. a warm, heavy jacket with a hood
Splendid- adjective. very good, excellent
Twitch- verb. to make small, jerky movements
Willow- noun. a tree with narrow leaves and thing branches that bend easily.
Yanked- verb. to pull with a sudden, sharp movement.
We will be working on estimating and rounding this week. This is a difficult skill for students to comprehend. The short video below demonstrates how I teach them in class (minus the silly rap). We have to fully get rounding before we can start estimating.
We will be completing our unit on matter this week and taking a quiz on Thursday.
We will be working with how to read and interpret graphs this week.
WOW! I am so excited about this year! We got off to an AMAZING start last week! Here are some high lights:
Welcome to our newest Bacon Bear!
We celebrated our first birthday of the year healthy schools style!
Trying out our new playground equipment! Future Lacrosse players in the making!
We created class rule posters
We learned about being Bucket Fillers and pledged to be a Bully Free Zone this year!
We will be doing some pretty epic things this year and I have MANY surprises up my sleeves, but it’s going to be hard to top our first class music video (while it’s a little hard to hear them, we changed all the lyrics to Whip Nae Nae to relate it to school!)
Every Sunday, while I am planning our lessons for the week, I will also update this blog. In each update I will post our learning goals for the week along with helpful videos or tips to make homework a breeze! We will have homework every night except Fridays. Also, please remember to check and sign your child’s agenda EVERY DAY (even Fridays). On the front of your child’s homework folder you will see a communication sheet that I will update daily. They receive a sticker or smiley face for each task they complete that day: have their agenda signed, turned in any homework, completed classrwork assignments and have had a good day behavior wise. If for some reason you see a check mark any any of those columns, please peek in the folder for a note explaining the cause. They will either have a “Sour Note” for forgetting their homework (they can complete it and turn it in for the next day. I accept late work within reason), a “Bitter Note” for any behavior issues (I will ask that it is signed and returned to show that you received it), or an “Uh-Oh Note” explaining why classwork was not completed (this work is then added to their homework to be completed that night).
This week’s learning goals:
We will be learning about the different genres (types) of literature we will read this year. Below is a short video that defines each genre for you to review with your child. We will be creating graphic organizers in our interactive notebooks to help us study and remember these throughout the year. There will be a short quiz on Friday to test our skills at classifying fiction or non fiction pieces of writing.
We will be learning different ways to read and write numbers as well as reviewing place value. Good Luck getting this song out of your head! (I’m sorry in advance for the many silly songs that you will be stuck singing this year!)
We will be doing a lot of experiments this year! Before we can do any of them though, we need to review proper safety procedures. We will be spending time this week creating safety posters to serve as reminders for us.
This week we will be learning about how departments in the community work together to keep us healthy and safe. Our class jobs are set up to model these community groups. We will also be working on locating we in the world we live! Sorry no cute video for this one!
February, albeit a short month, is one that is jam-packed with activities. Many of our activities this month are focused around Valentine’s Day and our hearts. We are going to take this to “heart” this month and begin a 2 week family project. Many of us have seen the movie “Pay it Forward” which came out in the late 90’s. The premise of the movie is that if one person does an act of kindness for another it can start a chain reaction of events that can change the lives of thousands of people for the better. We will be reading the novel, Pay it Forward in class beginning next week as a read aloud. The author of the original book recently released a child-friendly version this past August. It is a beautifully written book that I hope will encourage my students to begin to look for ways to be kind and do kind things for others on a regular basis.
Beginning the weekend of Valentine’s Day, February 14th, students will be given a kindness journal to keep track of acts of kindness they either see, do for others, or have done for them. The notebook will be divided in to three sections- things I have done for others, things I saw someone do for someone else, and things someone has done for me. In addition to recording the act that was done or seen, they will also write a sentence or two or draw a picture to describe how they felt. For example, my daughters made me a special snack and hid it in my lunch box the other day. When I found it at lunch, it touched me and made me feel good that my girls were thoughtful enough to make me a healthy snack knowing that I had been rushing around that morning and hadn’t packed much of a lunch for myself. If I were recording this in my kindness journal I would have recorded in the “Someone did Something Nice for Me” section. I am asking students to write one act of kindness for each day. The goal is that students will develop a sense of community through this activity and become more aware of the way we make others feel when we are kind. This assignment will be due on February 27th. I am requiring students to do this EVERY DAY- even weekends!
Please feel free to comment in your child’s journal as well or better yet, start a family kindness journal and have everyone participate! Just like in the book and movie, I would love to see everyone “Pay it Forward” and cultivate a community where kindness grows and thrives!
New Years is a time when many people reflect back on the past year and analyze their choices in life and begin to think about how to make the next year better. I usually set goals for myself rather than resolutions. Resolutions are defined as the answer to a problem. I think we can all admit that there are problems in our lives we’d like the answers to, but just making a resolution is not the answer. I’ve made what I thought were resolutions in the past (to go to the gym more, to eat healthier, to not procrastinate on assignments, to get the laundry done quicker, etc). These are not answers to a problem though. Technically they are goals I’d like to achieve. I’d like to go to the gym more and in order to do that, I will have to take steps to make it happen such as schedule time, arrange childcare, and pack my gym supplies. I’d like to eat healthier and in order to do that I will need to shop with purpose for healthier ingredients, prepare food at home instead of getting take out, and skip out on some of those not so healthy snacks.
This week, we will be spending some time learning about setting goals for ourselves. We will work to set goals for both school and home. We will think about the steps we will need to take to ensure that we can follow through on these goals and be successful. While we are doing this we will also examine a theory in a book that I read last year, Mindset. In this book the author, Carol Dweck, identifies 2 different ways of thinking, or mindsets.
The first is a fixed mindset. Those with a fixed mindset believe that they are who they are, can do what they can do, and think the way the think because they are born that way. For example if you always struggled with math that is because you were born with a limited knowledge of math and once you hit that point you couldn’t learn any more. Those with a fixed mindset believe that they are the way they are and that is that. They will continue to prove that they are what they believe until they experience a failure. For example, if you always believed you were the fastest person and then you were beat by someone else you would be crushed. Your beliefs were ruined! You would start to feel horrible about yourself. This mindset is not wrong- but it can be detrimental to learning. If you immediately think that you are a failure because you fail one test think of how that can impact your willingness to learn more or different ways in the future!
The Second mindset is the growth mindset. In this mindset, people believe that they can be and do anything that they want. It may not be easy. They may not be able to do it right off the bat. It may require failing a few times before getting it, but with hard work, perseverance, and a willingness to try new and different ways to achieve their goal they will eventually get it. I have been working very hard to develop my growth mindset.
Let me give you an example from my life. Many years ago, I had a teacher that told me I was not good at math. I would never be able to be good at math because I just couldn’t get it. I started to really believe this about myself. I thought I was dumb. She was right, I would never get it. This impacted my career choices. I had hoped to be an engineer like my grandfather. If I wasn’t any good at math though, I could never do that. I believed this until I was an adult. I did very well in college math classes and could do all the math I needed in real life with no problem, but I still thought of myself as a failure. When I was hired as a teacher in Millville, I was hired to teach 7th grade math- this was a nightmare for me! How could I teach kids if I was a failure?! Fortunately, I was working with an amazing team of math teachers at Lakeside. They helped me to see that there are many ways to teach concepts and that not every student gets it the first time around. Through teaching and working hard to ensure that all of my students were given the tools and strategies they needed to be successful in math class, I changed my mindset from fixed to growth. I watched kids struggle but not give up and cheered with them when they finally got it. If these kids could try and try and try until they were successful, then so could I. I decided I would never limit or label myself as one thing again. Now I look forward to someone telling me I can’t do something so that I can prove them wrong! I never thought I’d achieve my master’s degree (neither did some other people) but I did. I never thought I’d be getting certified to be a principal, yet by July I will be. Next up on my challenge list- earning my doctorate degree. I’m not a person who is going to be limited by others opinions of myself or limitations I used to believe about myself anymore. MINDSETS CAN BE CHANGED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We will be learning about the mindsets in class this week as we set goals for ourselves for this year. We will be signing a contract as a class to promise to aim for growth and not become fixed in any one area. The TEDX video below explains the powerful impact of mindsets on our lives. It is a little long, but very much worth it!