Thursday, January 31, 2013

Human Body Systems

Here is a cool project I do with my class each year.

When teaching the Human Body Systems it can get mundane just reading the textbook and discussing the various concepts! So I decided that this unit really needed a project! That's when it hit me! How about life-size human bodies where the students could draw in the actual systems.

It worked and it was SUCH a hit!!! The students loved it and all I needed was a few yards of butcher block paper turned on the wrong side.
 These pictures are not the best quality and do NOT show the total 'cuteness' of the project, but I'm sure you all can get the idea.

 Happy Teaching!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Suffix Snowmen

Reviewing affixes and root words with my students has always been something I sort of dread! I used to feel like I had to lecture and have the students take tons of notes. Only to be followed by me creating an anchor chart with WAY TOO MUCH information, which only gave me a larger headache when I found that my students still couldn't remember the difference between common suffixes and prefixes.

I knew my old way just wasn't working!

So I sat down and came up with a mini project that would engage my students and get them interested and excited about affixes!

That's when I came up with Prefix Turkeys (i'll post them at another time, its January for crying out loud) and Suffix Snowmen!

These festive crafts/lessons have quickly become some of my favorite winter activities!  Perfect for a cold snowy winter afternoon activity and they double as an awesome wall or window display.

These super cute snowmen are great for a number of reasons! FIRST they allow students to review what a suffix actually is (and as teachers we ALL know that it's the BASIC things that students tend to forget), additionally the lesson requires that students use a dictionary and do a little digging (a lost art if you ask me), and finally and probably their favorite part, they get to 'coolify' their snowpeople. This year was NO exception! Lots of hip hop snowmen and even a snowgirl in heels and a Vera Wang bag (does Vera Wang even make bags? lol)!


Interested in the template and activities? Click the link below and pick it up from my Teachers pay Teachers store!


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Daily Affirmation?

When I first started teaching my school used to have a school wide pledge. I never thought much about it, but now that it is gone I seem to miss that old thing! It seemed to have given the students a sense of pride and honestly a feeling of school wide solidarity.

So I decided to start doing a daily affirmation in my classroom!

Seems to be working well! The students memorized it, and if for some reason I forget to put it up in the morning they make SURE to stop me in my tracks before we move on.

Using Textual Evidence to Support Your Answer

So I'm totally into this idea of text based evidence to support your claims right now! In a previous post I discussed how I was really trying to focus in on the Common Core and use it to help guide my instruction.

So I create a little graphic organizer that my students could use with just about ANY text! All they needed was the text source (of course) and a question (created by me) to guide their thinking. The purpose of the organizer was for students to think about the big  question, come to a conclusion, identify the details that informed that conclusion, and then give the exact location of those details.

Well guess what? It was amazing!

I used an article from the newspaper that a parent sent in, from that we did a read aloud, and then I asked the students an overarching question to get them started! The results were awesome... their thinking was awesome.. and most of all my students were TOTALLY engaged!

I've posted the graphic organizer on TpT for FREE! So go download it and try it in your classroom! I would LOVE to hear how it worked! Common Core Graphic Organizer

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Figurative Language Minilessons!

It used to seem like every year I would either get to standardize testing time or even worse the end of the year and had NOT properly covered Figurative Language.... I will never forget how mortified I was my third year of teacher when an admin asked a student in my class what personification was and the kid didn't have the SLIGHTEST idea... 

I felt like I had either dropped the ball or was just the world's worse teacher! I beat myself up that whole weekend. Now as more of a veteran I understand that these literary skills can be easily omitted! However, since that moment, figurative language has taken up special residence in my heart!

Here is a little mini unit I put together that covers imagery, similes, metaphors, alliteration, personification, idioms, and onomatopoeia. I usually make the pages into a little workbook and the students and I complete an activity everyday after lunch! They love it and we really cover figurative language!

Find it on TpT: Figurative Language Grades 3-5

What's even more fun is if your school has a OFFICE QUALITY copy machine that can take paper 11x17 you can make this mini unit into a workbook and the students can keep it as a resource! 

 Happy Teaching :)

Textual Evidence and Common Core...

As  we all know the Common Core is upon us! For some districts and schools this has been a slow process, for many others you have already started to grab the bull by it's horns. I will admit that for my school we have been a little behind the times and I am still finding my way!

So for the duration of the school year I am making it my business to align EVERYTHING I do to the CCSS as to further build my familiarity! Painstaking task? Of course! But, I'm hoping by next school year I feel more fully integrated and on top of things as they relate to the standards!

While 'aligning' last week I was rummaging around in my closet and found this book; The Reading Detective (a1) by the Critical Thinking Co.! I have had this book for years, BUT when I pulled it out this time it had NEW meaning (don't you just love those moments). The book which asks comprehension questions for various passages also asks students to locate the paragraph or sentence where they found their answer! I love it because it gets the children thinking about finding SOLID evidence to support their claims!

I think I'm going to craft a little mini unit on being a Reading Detective... Could be fun for the kids and REALLY helpful in continuing to hammer home the idea of SUPPORTING what they say with textual evidence!

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.4.1 Refer to details and examples in a text when explaining what the text says explicitly and when drawing inferences from the text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.8 Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.2 Determine the main idea of a text and explain how it is supported by key details; summarize the text.

(not the greatest, but it is a START)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Winter Vacation is Over...

Back to School! 

So after a NOT LONG ENOUGH vacation MOST of the world is going back to school tomorrow! I have been back to school since Thursday. One of the BEST things I've done to ease back into the new year is having my students do LOTS of writing!

As a fourth grade teacher I have been inundated with stories of what students did over their break, which can be overwhelming!!! Instead of having a million students at my desk telling me about ice skating or grandma's house, I have them write it in their journals. Then once they have gone on to the next task I can read their writing and leave comments. It's a great way to evaluate student writing for the new term AND allow them to feel that they have had the experience of fully telling you about their vacation!