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October 30, 2015

Owl Week

Wanna see something gross?  Yes, please!

I love focusing on owls during the month of October.  We have a full week of everything owls - we read the mentor text Owl Moon, do a paired owl passage, and then complete Owl Pellets.  This year my class was fortunate to have Donors Choose donors fund this project for us.  We were given a class set of pellets, forceps, owl posters, gloves, and a nonfiction owl book as part of our project.  

Once again it was a hit. The kids got down and dirty, and some wonderful parents were there to help the kids.  Some parents spritzed the pellets with spray bottles, some parents offered encouragement.  I always do this project outside - 2 huge pieces of butcher paper create a "table" for the kids.  Each partner group has a styrofoam plate (because of all the water that is used to break up the pellet a paper plate just won't do).  Each student also received a little bathroom cup to collect their bones and a pair of those blue forceps.  I used to use metal tweezers, but these blue ones do not get lost as easily.  I switched this year to the little bathroom cups since with big bowls they never clean the gunk off as well.  When done, they dump their little batch of bones into a snack size ziplock bag and then head inside to sort and label their bones using the information sheet from Ideas by Jivey... Who am I kidding?  I use a lot from Ideas by Jivey during this owl week of learning!  

Owl Moon Mentor Sentence Lesson & Interactive Activity        Bats, Owls, and Spiders Paired Texts Grades 4-8 (Construct

Owl Moon: Figurative Language FreebieOWLS: Common Core Nonfiction Unit for Grades 3-4

Hope this helped!

October 29, 2015

Charlotte's Web Dialogue Practice

Remember that time I tore a book a part to use it in a lesson? Yeah, I did that last week.  

We have started really working on narratives, specifically we were looking closely at dialogue and the kids needed to see ALL the different parts - the quotation marks, the punctuation, the REST of the quote...  so I tore up a Charlotte's Web book (that was already ripped in half), and each student ended up with a different page.  

Charlotte's Web is the novel we have been reading for the past 3 weeks anyway, so they were familiar with the story and the different chapters. I had them glue the page to the middle of the colored copy paper, and they had to rewrite 4 different quotes - one had to be from the page that they were given, the others could be something that stuck out for them in the book.


The kids really GOT this activity.  As they turned them in, so many of them had to go back to look at it once again... to fix this or that.  Did you know that quotations marks need 2 sets?  That you can't forget the comma or the punctuation mark before the second set of quotation marks? That usually there is more to the quote, for instance how the character is saying it?  So many little things that the kids learned.  I counted this as really good practice that was relative. I've already seen improvements in their narratives.  Win win! 

October 27, 2015

Ecosystem Dioramas

We've been working on ecosystems in my classroom.  LOVE the energy that the students have when they are learning about the different places.  Every year I have them create a diorama to "showcase" their special choice.  This year I decided to make it a formal project, and added clip art to help them with their thinking.

They were first allowed to choose an ecosystem from 4 choices (Ocean, Arctic, Forest, and Rainforest).  I gave them a piece of construction paper that had been precut and they decorated their background.  I put some options on the board as ideas, but being the copy cheapskate that I am, I didn't print them off for them.  :)

I did print out the specific ecosystem animal and grid sheets so they could focus on details for their dioramas.  The sheets are filled with animals on the top, and the grid on the bottom portion.  

Students filled in the grid and then glued it onto the back of their diorama.  They had to identify producers, consumers, prey, predator, living, and nonliving parts of the ecosystem.  It was then easy for me to use the included rubric to give a grade - did they really understand the concepts?

I loved all the unique ecosystems that they created.  I also loved that I didn't get a headache, and that the project didn't take forever to accomplish.  :)  Little things people!  

Create an Ecosystem Diorama {Forest, Ocean, Rainforest, an

Check it out!  Hope you had a great day!

October 26, 2015

The Best Sharpener on the Planet!

I know I've shared before, but I have a love obsession with Classroom Friendly Supplies' Pencil Sharpeners.  

 I already own 3 blue and 1 green version, but I couldn't resist testing out their new PURPLE version too!

I LOVE them for many reasons... 

1.  They are QUIET.
2.  They sharpen pencils QUICKLY.
3.  They can be MOVED around the classroom (I let kids take them to their desks).
4.  They produce sharp points that don't automatically break.
5.  They are EASY to use.  
6. It's been years, and they STILL work!

They come with a metal clamp to hold it down to the table, but since I like them to be movable I teach my students to hold them down with their hand.  It's easy to pull out the pencil grip (don't know if it's the correct terminology, but I'm going with it), and that holds the pencil in place as the kids are sharpening.   

As the pencil is sharpened the metal "grip" is pulled toward the base.  The shavings are caught in an easy to empty bin at the base of the sharpener.  Did I mention that they LAST?!! Yep!  All 4 of my "old" sharpeners are still going strong (while I used to have to replace my electric sharpener at least once a year).  

Why did I buy so many of them if they keep working?  I didn't want a line of kids waiting to sharpen their pencils.  You know how it is... one kid asks if they can sharpen, and then a bunch of other kids also need to spruce up their own pencils.  I was also able to get a discount when I bought multiple sharpeners at a time.  :) 

(Hope my video works! If not, I'll be posting it to IG.)

Check out the sharpeners @ Classroom Friendly Supplies

October 14, 2015

Native Californian Study

Don't you love it when it all comes together? We just finished our Native Californian study.

We read Island of the Blue Dolphins and then wrapped the unit using the Island Quilt project by Fancy Free in 4th.

California Native Americans Research and Writing Pack
We also have been focusing on informational writing so far this year, so each student chose a tribe and had to research specific information.  They then wrote 5 paragraphs using the different categories in my Research and Writing Pack.    

California Native Tribes Reading Passages {5 Tribes}

Research... so much research... My students used these passages and comprehension questions and grids to learn more about Native Californian Tribes.  It was a way for us to compare and contrast the different tribes.   

We also used Native American symbols to write stories.  Never a dull moment in our classroom!  

October 2, 2015

Five for Friday

This week has been nuts... absolutely nuts.  Two weeks until the end of the trimester, there were so many things to wrap up...

...and then this happened.  My youngest had a croup attack the other night which caused us to pull out the nebulizer.  It's a yearly thing - every fall and winter we have the humidifier and this going almost every night.  Anything to fight the attacks!  He's scared of it when he's awake, so at night I do the pass over.  It works though and I usually get a chance to sit and watch a show on Netflix. :) #littlethings

We are finishing up our Native Californian and Island of the Blue Dolphins units. This week we finished up our 5 paragraph informational booklets on our specific tribes. Today we read the chapter in Island that describes her visiting the cave with the drawings from her ancestors... so our Friday art project was to create our own Native American Symbol Drawings.  Using google images, the kids told their own story through pictures.  They then had to share the stories with each other.  So much fun!  

With the end of September it was also time to change desks.  We change them around on the last day of every month.  We are now sitting in this arrangement.  Basically one row that wraps around, no one sitting in front of someone else which lets this teacher be able to see everyone very clearly.  There is also a lot of floor space which helps with all the group work that we complete.  LOVE this arrangement!

Another thing that we completed on Wednesday was our Monthly Grammar Coloring Sheet.  Overall, the kids did a great job! #proudteacher


Hope you had a great week!