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.
Happy New Year! I hope everyone had an amazing time with family and friends over break. I must say that I really enjoyed the time off that allowed me to slow down and focus on recharging my creative juices. I love the start of a new year to take a look at goals I have set for myself evaluate the progress made and set goals for new challenges. Last year I vowed to run a 5K. I ran 3 of them! This year my goal is to connect more with other educators to ensure that I am presenting the best opportunities available for my students. Over break I spent many hours researching a few new ideas that will help re-energize our learning environment. Starting this week we will be reworking our concept of homework.
For language arts, students will be reading pages in a novel at their level. They will also have a question to respond to on Edmodo each night. Edmodo is an online educational tool that will help us to have discussions about school work from our homes. I like to equate it to Facebook only the focus is on education not selfies! There are rules to using this format, which we will go over in class on Monday. An appropriate use contract will be sent home as well for both parents and students to sign. If you do not have internet access at home, don’t panic! All sites that we will be using can be accessed through cell phones as well. If that is still an issue, I will provide a paper copy of the night’s question for students if necessary. They will be able to record their answer on paper and then transfer onto the computer in the morning in class. Since the novel that your child will be reading is based on his or her current reading level, the assigned reading should take no more than 15-20 minutes each night.
We will also be using an online component for math starting this week. For math, students will access the website Sophia.org. They will watch a short tutorial about the math concepts we will be covering the next day. This is called Flipped Instruction. In Flipped instruction lessons, the viewing the lesson becomes the homework and applying the skills becomes the classwork. A typical lesson will include a short 5 minute or less video or presentation that students will view followed by a 3-5 question “quiz” that they will complete. Based on the results of the “quiz” I will group students in class the next day to accommodate their individual needs. Students who grasp the concept will have the opportunity to apply it in a variety of ways including paper and pencil, computer based activities, and extension activities. Students who seem to be close to grasping the concept will talk through what is confusing them with me then move on to the application activities. Students who are truly confused about the concept will still get a traditional lesson with me to ensure they understand. Since I need to group kids by their comprehension of the skills it is very important that they receive NO HELP on the “quiz”. Everyone will receive a 100 for homework regardless of the “quiz” results just for viewing the lesson and trying the questions. Please note that I am able to see how long each student spent on each lesson, so skipping the video and jumping to the questions will be noted. Again if internet access is an issue, students may complete this during homeroom/morning work time as well.
Finally the last major change I am going to be implementing this month is the addition of Makerspaces to our classroom. I am SO EXCITED about this! What are makerspaces? They are bins full of challenges, puzzles, supplies, and opportunities for students to create, invent, discover, and tinker. So much of what we do in class requires everyone to come to the same result. They may approach it differently, but the end result is the same. Makerspaces allow for students to tackle a problem or challenge their own way and create their own unique solution. This will teach students to problem solve in a no risk environment. They will be required to complete a makerspace form to demonstrate what they have learned, but the end result is all theirs. Some students are going to love this! Full creativity! Woo hoo! Others may hate it- they, like many adults, want to know how it should look in the end. This concept teaches all students that failure is a completely ok end result as long as they learned something along the way. I have a TON of materials ordered for this so as soon as they come in be ready for an amazing update!!!!!
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.
This morning my students were visited by Mrs. Mackall and Mrs. Daigle, two of our districts technology instructors, to introduce our class to NJ’s new assessment system the PARCC.
What is the PARCC?
Each year students are given a standardized test in 4th grade. Prior to this year, the tests were called the NJASK and students took them using pencil and paper. The PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), however, will be taken strictly online. Students will read passages, answer math problems, and write essays all on the computer. This is more than a little intimidating. To help students prepare, they were introduced to the different types of questions and buttons that they will see when they take the assessment in the spring.
What types of questions will they see?
Multiple choice- students will see questions that have multiply choices. Students who are used to being able to cross off wrong answer choices will still be able to use this strategy. They will be able to eliminate answers that they know are incorrect using the answer eliminator button on the test screen. They will then click on the circle of the correct answer to fill it in. (Just like we do each week on our comprehension tests already)
Drag and Drop Questions- for these test questions, students students will select information from one area and slide it into the answer area. While our weekly tests do not use these types of questions, they are exposed to this through instructional games and websites that we use.
Short Response Questions- for these test questions, students will need to type in responses. There will be short response questions in both math and language arts test areas. Students do type essays in class now, but they will definitely need to work on this skill in the coming months. Students need to remember not to bold, underline, or highlight the text. This will result in the answer being scored incorrectly. There is no spell check on PARCC. Also, NO TEXT TYPING! Spell out the words! (no lol, u, r, brb). For the math short response questions, students will be given a set of icons to click on to show division symbols and whatnot.
Multiple Answer Questions- Some questions require students to select more than one correct answer. (For example: Select two of the details from the article from those below.) Students must click on more than one correct choice for these questions. These questions do look slightly different. They have square answer choices instead of circle answer choices. Students MUST follow the directions and select the number they are asked to find.
Drop Down Menu Questions- students will select the correct answer from choices in a drop down menu.
Shade in the Area Questions- students will select the areas to be shaded and the box or shape will change color
What tools will they be given to use?
In the math section there will be online rulers, protractors, and calculators that students can use in designated sections.
Students are also given scrap paper in both sections of the test- to plan out work in language arts and to use as scrap paper in the math sections.
At the end of each section, students are encouraged to click the review button to ensure that they have completed all of the questions in that section. Once they hit the submit button, they will not be able to go back to make any changes. As students take the test, they can also “flag” questions that they would like to remember to go back to and finish later. These flagged questions will also appear in the review section.
Students will not be able to open other websites or tools on the computer as they take the test. If they do they will be kicked out of the test site. This would not be good!!!!!!
How am I preparing your child in class?
Thankfully, our text books offer an online test option for both math and language arts tests. While this will help familiarize the kids with reading texts and questions online as well as answering the multiple choice questions, it does not help with the other questions types. To help prepare my students in class we will be utilizing practice tests and games to help us practice answering the other questions types. We also type frequently in class. All of our essays are typed before they are submitted for a final grade. We will be increasing our typing opportunities through the use of some typing websites. Our social studies tests do require some on line short response questions to help them prepare as well.
How can YOU help prepare your child?
Visit the district PARCC informational website and review the material with your child at www.parccmillville.weebly.com as well as visit the new PARCC resources page on our blog.
Offer your child the opportunity to log in to custom typing at home to practice typing skills. They can also practice typing on your tablet or computer for fun. They can even type homework if they want! Encourage your child to text you in complete words so that they get out of the “text talk” habit. Call me if you have questions!
This is new for all of us. I got a TON of useful information from today’s session. The website above gives games that will help students prepare as well as sample test questions for both you and your child to review.
Thanksgiving is truly my FAVORITE holiday! There are not pressures of gift giving or costume creating. It is a time to celebrate friends, family, food, and gratitude for what we have instead of worrying about what we do not have. Each year my classes learn about the 1st Thanksgiving thanks to virtual fieldtrips provided by Scholastic. This experience helps to set the tone for our week of gratitude. We have spent this short week focusing our efforts inward and learning different ways we can show our gratitude to others. Some students wrote lists or essays about what and whom they are thankful for. Others drew pictures or asked to visit old teachers with whom they’ve made lasting connections to show their gratitude.
I have created a video to express my gratitude to the parents of my students. I am so very grateful for the time I get to spend with your children each day. I am so honored to be one of the many professionals that has a hand in shaping them into the adults they will become. I am especially thankful to all of you who came out to conferences this week so that I could meet and discuss your child’s progress with you. This was a record setting year for me in terms of parental attendance at conferences. Please take a few minutes to watch the video I created for you, the parents, as a way to express my thanks in entrusting your children to me each day. It is not an responsibility that I take lightly, and I thoroughly LOVE my job!
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.
We begin our day with language arts. A few students needed to finish publishing their Diary of a Spider books.
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.
Other students were working on their personal narrative rough drafts in the writing center.
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.
Finally, we wrapped up our day reviewing for our social studies quiz on the NJ Social Studies Weekly Website.
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!