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June 18, 2021

Virtual Book Clubs




I guess weeks ago I mentioned that I would share how we tackled virtual Book Clubs this year, and I haven’t done that yet. Sorry about that. 

In a normal year the kids have a choice between certain books they want to read as part of a book club. It’s one of our units. Well, it’s not any book, but they have a choice between the options that I present. This usually takes place at the beginning of third trimester, when we are knee deep in the American Revolution.  Usually I give them the choice between Chains or Sophia's War. Different perspectives about the revolution. They usually sign up on an interest list, then I split the list into the specific groups with 4-5 kids per group.  I inherited a class set of both books when I moved to 5th, so I do have plenty for each kid to read their own book.

We have specific purposes for each meeting. Starting with making norms, timeline to read the book, having specific tasks each time. They have to read the group assigned pages either at home, or during silent reading, they have to be ready to be part of the group discussions.  

This year with distance learning they didn’t have the novels at home, so we used our anthology. They only had one to two weeks to tackle the entire process. We went through the process a few different times during the unit.  Starting with shorter stories in the anthology and bumping to larger options.

I flipped it from a normal year and first randomly sorted the kids into groups.  Each group had their own channel, and I put the specific daily task into their channel that they had to respond to. I didn’t start meetings every single day, but they did have to respond each day. 

When I did start the meetings, it was just like a normal year. All the reading was done on their own time, they had to show teamwork. They had to complete the tasks.

The choice came in as they were able to choose which story from the anthology they wanted to read. I did give them 3 options each time.  The groups had to vote on the story they wanted to read for that week. The groups then came up with a reading plan. 

Each meeting had to include:
Character Traits and Growth
Setting description 
Action and Plot 
Theme 

Then they would have other discussions as well. Each kid has to say something.  Even if they don't want to.  There is accountability.  No one wants to let their group down.  The kids always love having Book Clubs, and it's a huge thing for me as it's finally time for me to hand off the reading process completely to them.  

Usually it goes:
1st trimester - novel studies mainly whole class
2nd trimester - we split it whole class and partner/groups
3rd trimester - book clubs, whole class, and partner projects

It's one of the things I love about these upper elementary kids - their growth as readers, their independence, and the discussions they are capable of having.  I love being able to sit on the sidelines and listen to their discussions.  My mom always said Readers are Leaders... and I love being a small part of their learning story.

Hope this helps!

June 16, 2021

DARE Program


In 5th grade we have a DARE program that we use. Our officer usually comes into our classroom once a week (for 10 weeks) for about an hour and tackles 10 lessons. The lessons cover everything from stress to confident speaking to staying healthy. This year he joined our TEAMs meetings to deliver the lessons. Kids had to be responsible to fill in their workbooks at home. 

It’s a big deal.

In a normal year we have a lot of community building and community service activities that we complete. Walking field trip to the park to clean it up, a bus field trip trip to a local nursing home, and then a lot of food and clothing donations. Kids earn community service points. 

All students must participate in a DARE Idol competition. They work together in small groups to take a song, and change the lyrics to make it DARE related. To show off some things that they learned.

When we tackled it this year we were still in full distance mode. We had already tackled Book Clubs in special channels, so I had the kids do the same thing. We picked groups, then daily I started meetings for them in these channels for them to work on their song. 

We were given a date to have all groups share their songs with the class and with our DARE officer. The kids met with me the week before and I used Screencast -o-Matic to record them. I simply put the record screen over the TEAMs meeting screen (while I was in large gallery with my camera off) to be able to get the kids as large as possible. It worked great! 

Even in this crazy year, the kids still completed the other requirements. Our officer still had them fill in their workbook lessons, complete their DARE essay, and tackle their DARE homework. The kids had to turn in their workbook and essay to the office for him to pick up and read. They had to have a passing grade on the homework and complete the requirements to be eligible to graduate. The simple thing of turning in a completed workbook to the office really showed their amount of dedication. 

In a normal year our graduation is a big celebration. It’s usually in the packed gym with parents, grandparents, and extended family there. Kids are presented with their awards, there are speeches and presentations, kids sing the DARE song. Parents tear up. 

This year was a lot simpler, more low key, but definitely more personal. We had a drive thru graduation. Kids wore their DARE shirts. Parents drove through our front driveway, we had balloons tied on chairs. Kids were announced over a loud speaker boom box as they drove up. They were handed their certificate by our officer and police chief. Some got out of cars to pose for pictures with them. Teachers waved. It was nice. It was nice that something was simple this year. 

Do your DARE too? 

June 14, 2021

Math Review - Shout Out

Backtracking a bit today... Wanted to share a few math review activities that my kids enjoyed as we were reviewing full class.  Now in a normal year we do a lot of playing with task cards and Jenga year round, and then they create their Math Board games for the major end of school review... but this year it was just hard... for a lot of reasons... I was searching for that classroom magic. I started searching through my purchases on TPT and found these math mysteries.  I had picked them up last year before the world shut down...  

These Math Mysteries by Mrs. J's Resource Creations definitely helped and are awesome! For a couple of weeks we did them together on our full distance days (Wednesdays). I would take screenshots of the pages to drag into our TEAM meeting conversations. The kids click on the images and it went larger so the kids could see, and then we would work together to find the codes. I tried doing them in breakout groups so the kids could work in small groups, like I would have had them do in the classroom.  But they needed the accountability that came with whole group.  We did them together.  The kids were so engaged. 

So a little different than what was expected. 



We did the Case of the Bee Bandits. It reviewed a little of everything which was perfect for one more review of those tricky units.  The kids used copy paper to solve the problems, and we had full class teamwork to figure out the bad guys. Major detective skills!



We also did Case of the Puzzled Pirate. Another winner! It reviewed Place Value.  Next year I think I'm going to add this to my Pirate Day.

I picked up some other Math Mysteries so I’m ready for next year. She has a lot to choose from.  I focused on the areas that I know kids usually have a hard time with, a little extra review is never wasted. I now have her Case of the Disappearing Donuts (Decimals) and the Case of the Divided Dragons (Division)

What other awesome resources do you use to review at the end of the year?

Hope this helps!