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September 3, 2021

Week Four Reflections

20 days… I still can’t believe it’s already September. 

Highlights of this last week!

1. My students started a Silent Reading Book Club this week.  I learned last week that they hadn't read Island of the Blue Dolphins (regular 4th grade class novel) due to distance learning, so I highly encouraged them to check out a copy from our school library. They are SO excited to read it. The deal with the book club is that when they are done, we will watch the movie.  About half my class chose to check it out, and now I’m hearing (and seeing) them react to the big moments in those first chapters. 

2. Since it's been 3 weeks, we started our week having a class chat about what we've noticed that we are doing well as a class, and what goals we want to work on.  I wrote it on the board.  I used to do this weekly, and I guess it's another thing that I forgot over the last year of craziness.  

3.  We started researching our Native American Tribes.  Groups are learning about common consistencies between tribes in certain regions, so we are working on learning specifics about how the Native Americans before the European Settlers arrived lived - diet, location, shelter, tools, jobs, etc.  I like to use this project by Teaching in Room 6. 

As for tri-fold boards - every year we clean out the Dollar Tree.  It's a great price when you are buying 8 per class (32 total).

4.  We changed desks on Tuesday, the last day of the month.  It's a tradition in my classroom.  Every last day of the month we are switching seats, unless it's the weekend and then it's always the Friday before.  In the past the kids would just take out their items and move everything to the new seat, but this year with everything going on, they had to haul their entire desk across the room. It just took longer.  :)  To make it easy, I have a powerpoint template on my computer that I always print. This year it's 8 groups of 4... we are a little squishy, but we're making it work. I just make 1 table of 2x2, and then copy and paste it over and over.  Tables in a ppt. make it easy to type the names in.

5.  Speaking of the end of the month... I really LOVE my calendar this year.  Every Back to School I always buy one of these desk calendars for our information wall. So far this year, everyday I ask the kids for one highlight.  What is something they want to remember?  Then I write it on the calendar.  Usually it's a satisfying rip and toss at the end of the month, but this year I'm going to hold onto them for the end of the year so we can see all our memories. 

6. First day of the new month also meant that we were changing out our class jobs. I have my job chart on the side of my file cabinet. On the base of the laminated numbers I have velcro holding it on. It’s really easy to attach. I use this product.
*Paper Checkers - they are filling up our class mailboxes with practice papers. I personally take care of graded work.
*Teacher Assistants- they are helping me pass out papers and materials in class to get it to all the groups quickly.
*Book Helpers- they are keeping our classroom library organized.
*Lunch- they are in charge of bringing the basket in and out every day. 
*Future leaders- they are in charge of randomness- writing team points on the boards, choosing the class game, etc.
*Errand runners- they are my go to kids when something or someone needs to go some where.
*Kindness Club- they are the ones I’m sending to read kindness books to younger grades, and they are writing encouragement notes to the kids in class.
*Room Monitors- they are my extra set of hands and eyes, reminding kids about cleaning up their areas.
Everyone always has a job, because it’s our classroom and belongs to all of us.

7. We had a Math Fact Snowball Fight this week.  Yep, it's really easy, and the kids LOVE it.  One piece of copy paper each, then they write a math fact on the paper. They write their name, and on my "Toss!" they toss it into the air. The papers fall, and the kids grab one from the ground. They open it up, solve the math fact, write their initials, and then make a new math fact.  They don't toss until it's time.  It goes super fast. We continue on until the paper is full or falling apart.  I've learned we really need to practice our math facts. 

8. I had to print out sight word lists. Yep. 5th grade. Some kids are starting with the basics. I still use my sight word lists from when I taught 2nd grade, lists go to 5th grade as well... but it's mainly for my beginning readers. I’ve been doing book talks every day during independent workshop, so now I’m also pulling my special friends to do sight word practice at the same time. I can't wait to see growth.  :) 

9. We had our first taste of Rainbow Editing this week as well. I love Rainbow Editing.  I've been doing this for years, and it really works! 
Red - capitals
Orange - punctuation
Yellow - indents
Green - topic sentence and/or key words
Blue - details or reasons
Purple - spelling to check
Every paragraph should be a rainbow... and if it's not, then add to it!

10. We had Spirit Week this week! It was fun. :) PJ Day, Sports Day, Monochrome Day, Tourist Day, and Extreme School Spirit. Having a staff meeting in PJs is always welcome.  Ha!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! I'm so thankful for the extra day.  :) 
(Disclaimer - these are things that I have found that works for my classroom.  Not sponsored in any way, I just like to share.)

August 27, 2021

Week 3 Reflections

This week seemed to be slightly easier because we are now in a routine. 


1. We started our new novel - Indian in the Cupboard. I love how this ties into our SS unit, and gives them a taste to learn about different Native Tribes, and then how that information connects to nowadays. We start our research team projects next week... 

2. I read Totem Tales to them, and then they created their own totem poles and tales. I used the clipart from here to make a small sheet to give them as ideas. 

3. We had a moment and did I wish my teacher knew… it’s sweet and heart breaking all at the same time. Man, I love these kids. Have you ever done "I wish my teacher knew...?" Basically I give them an index card, and they finish the sentence, then turn in.  I told them that it can be anonymous or they can put their names on it if they want.  They tell me information that means something to them.

4. We also tackled our Context Clue Travel Adventure! The foam flyers worked wonderfully as a mini STEM project to build, then sort the kids to mix them up a bit from their normal team groups before they hit the stations to review context clues.  

5. The kids got to attend music class for the first time in years. It was amazing and they absolutely loved it. And I loved the extra prep. :) It's amazing how much one can get done in a short amount of time... It feels good to tackle the to do list and actually get something accomplished.  

6. I read Noteable Notebooks. It's a great story to show pictures of real scientist notebooks.  

7. We also worked on our science observation note booking skills- working on those A,B,C,D’s. 
This week we closely observed shells.  Last week we observed classroom objects, and the first week we observed rocks.  Our drawings are getting more accurate, bigger, colorful, and definitely more detailed. 

8. I ordered a bulk pack of ear buds for our class set of laptops.  This is the link I used, so far they are working great. It's helping now that I'm letting them use the computers more for, Scratch, and for Prodigy as a May Do.

9. We tackled a Growth Mindset Escape Room on Friday afternoon. This is the product I used.

It kept them moving and they needed to use that growth mindset because it was tricky! I ended up taking the 4 included puzzles and putting all 4 on a single page before I made copies for my class, it saved on paper. Then each table group had a specific task and code, and the kids rotated around to complete it all.

10. I taught them the game "Hello Mr. President". 
Hello Mr. President is a listening game, and it's quiet. Key word - silence... A kid stands in the front, eyes closed.  Silently, pick a second student to stand in the back of the room and say "Hello, Mr. President" - in whatever voice they want to use... kids get into the disguise. The "President" with their eyes closed has to guess the owner of the voice. For some reason the kids LOVE this game. 

11. The kids are reading!!! Silent Reading seems to be our favorite time of the day.  Kids are stretching out all over the room, in chairs, under desks, on the rug... I'm over in my chair also reading (currently Poison in the Colony), and there's a groan when we get to the point we HAVE to move onto workshop.  They love to read, and I'm getting to hear all about their books during our Book Talks.  Book Talks, with the 40 Book Challenge, and Book Beads are filling my time during Workshop.  It makes my day!

And now I'm ready to go curl up with my own home book... Have a great weekend!

Disclaimer - These are not sponsored links, just things that I LOVE and that I'm currently using in my classroom. I love to share ideas.  :)  

August 25, 2021

Theme - Including a Poetry Slam

Last week our ELA focus was finding theme in songs, movies, and poems- and then connecting it to books. 

For songs, I used Joanne Miller’s Close Read to Music to share 4 songs. 



*Man in the Mirror (my old school)

*Let it Go (their old school) 

We listened to the safe share link, they noted on copy paper what they thought the author’s message was, and then we discussed. 

For movies I used Gay Miller’s Animated Short Clips to view. Love this entire product, how it’s organized for different types of strategies. 

*Fishing with Sam


We ran out of time for the others…

Then the next day we had a Poetry Slam. I seem to have at least 8 poetry books (mainly Shel Silverstein), and I charged up my Karaoke machine. I passed out the books one per group, and then called one person per table group to choose a poem to present into the microphone. They sat on my stool, They read with emotion. Even my shy kids eventually wanted a turn. After they read, other kids called out their theme ideas. Then we moved onto the next speaker. They LOVED it! 

Then we took everything we learned and transferred it to our textbook and novel, and eventually took a formative assessment. They now have a better idea what theme is and isn't. 

It was a fun ELA week. :)

Hope this helps!