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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.