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February 4, 2017

I Graduated from GLAD!

Have you heard of GLAD training?  I just finished 10 days of training this year.  The last 4 days we have been in a model classroom in the mornings, watching the trainers go through an American Revolution unit with the kids.  

Three reasons why I LOVED this week:
1) I learned something new.
2) I was able to see my kiddos from last year.
3) There were 4 days of prep time in the afternoons, complete with free color printing, posters, and lamination.  

Today I wanted to share some of my pictures from the week.  So many interactive charts, the butcher paper was literally falling off the walls.  Not everything, just the things I really wanted to remember.  

On the last day, the trainer met with small groups.  The first two groups were on level kids, so they read informational passages and did a jigsaw activity.  The third group was an ELD group, which went through a narrative (lots of pictures on a chart, the story on the back) and then each student had to add a sentence after the topic sentence prompt.  

These inquiry charts were added to every day for 4 days.  The kids asked a question, and the trainer didn't answer them, but had them add it to the chart.  There was an opportunity every night for students to choose a question from the chart and do research to find out the answers.  LOVE it!

I want to remember that poems/chants are NOT just for the primary grades.  Back when I taught 2nd grade, I would always have a Poem of the Week to practice for fluency.  Well I learned that poems can be used to teach vocabulary in the upper grades.  The chart started off nice and BW.  Then the kids had an activity to stand up and shout it out.  Afterward, the trainer asked kids what words they thought were important and highlighted them, then added some illustrations and picture file cards to help bring the poem/chant alive.

The kids created this timeline, and it expanded over two days.  The first day was only the last half of it, just the words, the second day the kids reviewed it, added pictures and vocabulary words, and then found more information to add more events to the front of it.  I've always had a CA timeline, but never thought to add pictures as we walk through the story.

There is so much more that I'm still pondering how I can add it to my classroom, and honestly there are tons of units out there for almost every part of my Social Studies and Science standards (just google GLAD units 4th grade), but here's what I came up with at this point in time.  Check out the links to grab them from Google Docs.  :)

Home/School Connection - The kids take a sheet home, talk to their parents about what they learned, and write about it on the back.  They get a parent signature and can earn some points for their team if they choose to do the assignment.  The real GLAD units usually have specific questions to talk about, but I wanted some I could use anytime to review.  These are for Fourth Grade California Social Studies and NGSS units.   


Caught You Cards - These are inspired by GLAD's literacy awards.  Basically during direct instruction a teacher is busy teaching :), so you choose two helpers that are your scouts.  You tell them to pay attention to the other student's behavior, something specific like active listening, eye contact, participation, etc.  After the lesson you ask the scouts which kids demonstrated those qualities, and they can give an award to them.  The kids are recognized for doing a great job, and then they have a choice to do an extra activity for a reward.  Those rewards don't have to entail anything more than giving some team points, or a spot on the raffle.  These Caught You Cards are for Social Studies and Science - research options and STEM.  :)  

Oh, Research!  How I love thee... Well, with all the research options they had, the kids need a little help with organizing their thoughts.  The focus with research is that it is taking a question from the unit, and learning how to cite a source. Here's a little sheet. 

Okay - last one for the moment...  There are tons of anchor charts that the trainers used, but I was drawn to something similar to this... It's called a Mind Map.  Students record information on it from all the many informational passages, timeline, narratives, pictures, etc. that they learned from the week.  I love the fact that it's a way to culminate everything.  

I hope these help you.  There are still tons more that I want to recreate for my classroom.  I'll check back in another time.  Hope you are having a great day! 

January 15, 2017

Snowflake Similes

Snowflake Similes are one of my favorite winter activities.  This past week we read Snowflake Bentley, and did numerous activities with the book.

For the similes themselves, I have a half sheet template that we first brainstorm and then they create their own.  

Snowflakes are as unique as...

Snowflakes are as fragile as...

Snowflakes are as light as...

Here's the template if you need it.

After glueing on their template, the kids get to take a coffee filter and make their own snowflakes.  It's always art after the writing... Some years I have had the foam snowflakes (think Dollar Spot), but this year we resorted to the filters.  They really do make them unique.  We started fractions in math, so were able to practice that a bit as we were folding the circles getting ready to cut.  

NONFICTION Mentor Sentences: Vol 2, Fourth 10 Weeks (Grades 3-5)

I also love Mentor Sentences and recently realized that Jivey has Snowflake Bentley in her Volume 2 Unit 4 product.  I love that my read aloud could also be used for our mentor sentence.  

Stowflake Bentley The Official web site of Wilson A Bentley (1865-1931) " No two snowflakes are alike"

I wanted to direct you to the Snowflake Bentley website, where there is much more information, photos, his articles, interviews, gift shop, etc.  So much realia to share with our students. 

What do you do with the book?  Hope you have a great day!

January 13, 2017

Earthquake Challenge

We have started our Rapid Changes to Earth unit.  Oh, how I LOVE this unit.  The kids are so engaged, and there are so many hands on activities to complete.  This past week we started studying earthquakes.  Living in California, it's one of those things that we are used to hearing about.  We have prior knowledge and a bunch of connections... like the ones that we just felt during Christmas break.  Well this year I decided to use wooden blocks to have the kids try to design buildings that could withstand movement.  I hope the movies work, I love watching the kids problem solving, but also to hear them share their joy.  :)    

So Much Fun

Students worked with a partner to form a building on two "plates" - actually two books.  It needed to be able to have those plates move in 3 different ways while still remaining intact - sliding, pushing/pressure, and separation.  There were tons of laughter and problem solving at the same time.

We still have more to learn before we move onto Volcanoes, but the interest level has been piqued.  

Next up my students will be reading Jivey's Paired Texts on Natural Disasters.  

Paired Texts / Paired Passages: Natural Disasters Grades 4-8

She covers Earthquakes, etc.  and then I will assign their Natural Disaster Research Report from 4th Grade Flipper.  

Natural Disasters Project Editable Nonfiction Writing Task

The Paired Texts give that deep knowledge that our text lacks, and the research is giving the kids choice, which ups the interest level.  How have you studied earthquakes?  

January 11, 2017

Easy Star Goals

At the beginning of every trimester I like the kids to come up with new goals.  We hang them on the sides of our room from the ceiling using pipe cleaners and paper clips. Well it's not the beginning of the trimester, but it is halfway through the school year, so we made some New Year's resolutions to stay focused.  The students created the big stars themselves using construction paper, some patience, and a ruler.  After drawing the lines, we cut away the outside pieces to form the shape.  

Inside the star, the students had to write their name in the smallest section at the top, then had to think of 5 things they want to work on in the coming weeks.  I gave them some examples.  :)  

Did your students make new goals?  It's always nice to look ahead.     

January 9, 2017

Moving Toward a Digital Seating Chart

This is year 17 and I'm still learning.  Up to a couple of years ago I would hand draw my seating charts.  Then I moved to making a computer template that I would print and fill in with student names.  Usually there has always been a lot of erasing as I methodically place the students in the best spot for them to learn, and then realize that so-and-so can't be next to them in that area.  This break, after being inspired by Ladybug's Teacher Files, I decided to try a digital seating chart.

In powerpoint I created a simple background template with the approx. size to fit my most favorite seating arrangement (I call it the huddle).  With my 32 students I fit 12 in the front row, and 20 in the second.  I love this for many reasons, but mainly because 12 kids get the front row and I can see all faces very easily.   

After the background shape, I made squares to fit the arrangement and added my student numbers.  The asterisks mark the girls.  I like to do a boy/girl pattern, it helps with the chattiness aspect in my classroom.  I then color coded the boxes with the different learning levels.  Red is IEP (1's), Orange is ADHD/504/approaching/keep a close eye (2's), Green is at grade level (3's), purple is advanced (4's). I like that I can easily switch colors as students move on up.  

I switch desks at the end of every month, and this really was easy to complete (and eraser free).  Since I use classroom numbers, I won't need to change the basic template for future months or years, just will need to move the boxes to find the new spots.  :)

What have you recently started to do on the computer that you used to only do by hand?   

Hope you have a wonderful day!

January 7, 2017

Fly Like an Eagle...

Over Winter Break I fell in love with a little eagle family over on the Dick Pritchett website - a live Eagle Cam.  Eagles have always been special to me, maybe because they have been every mascot in the 4 schools I have worked at, or maybe it's because of what they represent, or specific facts about them, but I fell head over heels in love with them....

When I first tuned in the expectant parents were busy taking care of their two eggs, about to hatch at any moment... which I then learned "at any moment" was actually three days later on New Years Eve.   After investing days of tuning in, when school started back up I decided to bring them with me.

It was a very powerful motivator this past week in my classroom.  Students were trying to earn extra points in order to take a peek at the new eaglet.  We watched as a class as momma fed her baby some fish, they made inferences as to where dad was at the moment and why baby needed to snuggle up close to the parents.  

I wanted to share, just in case you didn't know about the website.  I'm hoping they leave the cameras on in the coming weeks to watch baby grow up.  If not, well there are other Eagle live cams out there.  :)  

I hope you have a wonderful night.