Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday's Words for the Week

How true! Teachers have so much to juggle these days. We sometimes feel we can't afford to slow down and savor the little things. Let's make the time and live with no regrets later on! I hope everyone had the opportunity to find moments of joy this weekend. A friend sent me this bucket list, how fun! I've done many on this chart and will make it a priority to do more in the days to come. How about you?

Halloween Science Snazzy Snack Idea

Hello Fellow Procrastinators! Anyone else out there just now trying to figure out the snack plan for Halloween with kids? We can't have an official "party" at our school. So I do what I can to work in some Halloween/Fall fun through our lessons. Tomorrow we will review phases of matter and solids, liquids and gases with this snack idea. You have all the phases represented with the liquid sprite, the solid worms and sherbert and the gas is the carbon dioxide or fizz. You also have changing matter as the sherbert changes phases and melts. Use if you can! Print out the two sheets and run back to back. Students fold to make a booklet.
Halloween Snack

Halloween Snack 2

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Matter: Make and Take Study Guides

Here is one more post on Matter. Feedback on these resources would be wonderful as a friend and I are working on idea development for a teacher resource publisher and these may be going up for review. Let us know what you think!

The idea here is to have students create "Make and Take" study guide materials for the Matter Unit. We have them create a folder for each science unit. Here is their unit cover for matter. It is glued onto a simple pocket folder. Inside it they will place all their Matter work to take home to study. I collect them and keep them in the classroom. They get them back right before the state tests in the spring for review.

I try to use some sort of graphic organizer to help my students retain the information they are learning. Here is our flip sheet on the Atoms in Matter.

We used sticky dots to show how the atoms in each phase of matter are different. We have since decided to also give the definitions of these phases. They would glue them to the bottom portion of the cut tab under the sticky dots.

Here is a glossary my students made for the words connected to this unit. At the start of the unit, they were given the words and placed them in ABC order and glued one to each page.

As we worked on a word, they recorded the definition and drew an illustration.

Here is a tree map as a cut and sort activity for the scientific tools we used to study matter. We discussed how our brains do a better job remembering information if we give them a picture with the words. They illustrated each card and then cut them apart. They kept these in a baggie and I gave them many opportunities to sort and review.

These all went home for a few days before the test. I think having these resources to study from helped them to do better on their tests.

Here are some of the documents to print and use:

Please let us know what you liked or what suggestions you would have! (:

A sheet to record what we learned about these tools:

Matter Tools 0001

Printed on cardstock for the kids so they will hold up better:

Scan 0006
Words used in glossary. Printed many on a page to save paper:

Scan 0007

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Writing:Welcome to our Poetry Patch!

After 20 something, something, years of teaching, I have learned a thing or two about how to deal with kids and holidays. My philosophy is to tap into the excitement and enthusiam kids have for this time of the year and use it as fuel for learning in the classroom. We are presently working on identifying nouns as a part of speech. So I used noun collection as the springboard for this fall writing activity.

Step one was to have students brainstorm all the people, places and things connected to the fall season. They did this with a small group on poster paper. We call this stage "brain dumping".
Then we taped all these posters up on the wall and I told them we were going to use them to create our fall pattern poems.

The pattern goes like this:

Fall is...

adjective, noun, verb ending with -ing

We wrote our rough drafts on day one. Then on day two we revised.
We made "word choice" one of our writing targets for this writing activity and discussed how poets are very choosy about what words they use because poems are generally fairly short-every word is important. We decided to do the same and took great care in the adjective and verbs we picked. On day three we edited our writing paying special attention to our spellings. We are working on attending to spelling by having another "go" at the spelling and using spelling strategies to help us. More on that another day! They actually published these themselves, boy are they good on the computer this year!!

Here is the final product:
Here is what we are calling our POETRY PATCH!

Kids love creating these frames for their poetry!! Some clever and creative ways to decorate their pumpkins!

More examples of the poems they wrote:

My third grade poets ROCK!

Hope you are enjoying this season with your students!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sunday's Words for the Week

It turned out to be a sad and trying week yet I was also blessed with moments of reflection and insight. Spent hours talking with a dear friend who sent me this...

figuring out what is important in this regrets

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Scarecrow Crunch and Pumpkin Punch: A Science Snack Idea

Here is another Fall/Halloween based Science activity for all those in the middle of a unit on Matter. Through our unit we work on what Mixtures and Solutions are. In this activity my kids helped make a mixture called Scarecrow Crunch and a solution called Pumpkin Punch. First we read about mixtures and solutions in our science text book. Then the students and I read the recipe for Scarecrow Crunch and prepared a batch of it together. Great review of sequencing and measuring too! After making it, we determined if it was just a mixture or if it was a solution. Here they are analyzing: They figured out this was just a mixture. The parts could be separated easily.

Then we made the Pumpkin Punch (powdered lemonade)! We determined that it was a solution since the parts could not be separated easily. A glass pitcher helps students to see the powder dissolve. Many oohs and aahs when we added the food coloring to make the lemonade turn orange!

Then each student got a plateful of the mixture and drew a scientific illustrations.

This student is referring to his science text book to write his explanation! Great thinking!

We are working on producing good, detailed science diagrams. This student added labels afterwards too!

Finally, they sorted the mixture into its parts and counted what they got.

They created a bar graph to show what was contained in their serving of the mixture.

Great review of sorting, classifying and graphing!

Here is your shopping list if you want to try this recipe. You also need some drink mix. I used crystal light lemonade. We put some food coloring in to make it orange. I got all this donated by my parents. I'm blessed with a great suppportive group this year!!

Interested in trying this one? Here is the lab report for it. I ran the pages back to back. Students folded it to make a lab booklet.

Scarecrow Crunch Science 0001

Scarecrow Crunch Science 20001

I have one more matter experiment to share. I'll try to post it soon!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Guided Math and Place Value Practice

I've got a WIDE span of math ability levels in my room this year! I know that some kids get the math concept after the first lesson and others need much reteaching and practice. I don't want my high achieving kids to sit through reteach after reteach so I knew I wanted to begin running Guided Math in my room but have been procrastinating . I've been dragging my feet on it not sure of what kind of result I would get. Finally gave it a go and was quite happy with the way it went. I've got my groups worked out so one group has teacher time, another group is working on an independent activity and the final group has partner practice. The kids work at their group for 15-20 minutes and then move to the next one so that they all do the three during the math block. The above chart is what I'm using for the management part. I do spend about 10 in the very beginning of the block doing a whole group introduction to whatever we are doing.

I'm trying to keep the partner practice time very simple to make sure kids can work independently without needing teacher assistance. Here is one of the place value activities the kids worked with. They have number cards run off on cardstock that they keep in a baggie in desks. They use those cards on this mat. Students make a number on the work mat and then record it in standard, word, and expanded word form on the recording paper. Pretty simple!

Love to hear from others who have guided math or math stations running!

Place Value Build a Number

Place Value Build a Number 0001

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday's Words for the Week

Last week was a rough one for many reasons. My prayer list is long. Seeking God's wisdom and strength as I enter a new work week.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Spooky Science: A Matter Experiment

I know many of my VA friends are teaching a science unit on Matter now so I want to pass this one along before October is over. In this experiment, students are using the Scientific Method of Question, Hypothesis, Procedure, Observation and Conclusion to investigate changes in matter.

Students worked with a lab partner. Students are given a package of Halloween Gummies and told to pick one out to use in this experiment. Students are then to observe the gummy and record all its physical properties on the lab report below . (We had spent a couple of days prior to this working on what physical properties were).

Here is a student using a magnifying glass to get a closer look. She records in pictures and words what she notices about the size, shape, color, texture, luster of the gummy. We had a class poster we made earlier that week that included words that described texture and appearance. This helped them greatly! Lab groups placed their gummies in a small cup overnight.

The next day, the students got their gummy back and observe changes. This group noticed that even the water changed in color and smell.

They were VERY surprised to see the changes. The gummies grew by one centimeter and many changed in shape, texture and color.

Students recorded all their observations on the lab report below. They compared their result with their original hypothesis and wrote their conclusions.

Here are the experiment sheets if interested. I copied them back to back on one sheet. Students folded them in half to make a lab booklet.

Gummy Experiment 10001

Matter Changes 2 PDF

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pumpkin Globes

We've been making some sort of globe with our third graders for years. Usually it has been paper mache. Last year my teammate came up with the idea of doing a pumpkin globe. No cutting a million strips of paper? No blowing up 26 balloons? No messy paper mache paste? I was excited to try it! It was a great concept and worked well but some started to rot before we were finished with the project. This year we still liked the idea of the pumpkin but used the "fake" craft pumpkins instead. These little ones were Buy One, Get One Free at AC Moore earlier this month so they ended up being $2.00 each. The kids painted them blue, colored the continents, added the Prime Meridian and Equator yarn lines and placed the continents. We glued them with glue dots. Here is the result: Kids started singing, "I"ve Got the Whole World in My Hands" while I was snapping pictures!

The process of placing the continents where they needed to be in relation to each other was a great review. Plus they make great study tools!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Writing Bulletin Board

I've had many requests for the pencil topper for the student work on the writing bulletin board. I do intend on leaving this board in place for the year and just switching out the writing. I like that each student has his or her own "spot" in the room in which to show off their writing talent. We got the little picture stickers after getting fall pictures done this year. I like adding their faces to each pencil.
Here is a copy of the pencil toppers. I did type the kids' names on it but you could just write them in too. (:

From the Desk

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Simple Pleasures of Fall

After a few cool rainy weekends, this one was GLORIOUS! The sun shone and the leaves are just beginning to change color. We spent a lot of time outdoors. I rode bikes with my daughter, ran a couple of miles, and just sat in the sun. I burned delicious smelling fall candles and baked yummy pumpkin muffins. We visited with friends and talked and laughed. I was totally content. It brought to mind how satisfying God's simple pleasures are and how little is really needed to bring happiness and joy to our lives. Life is good.

Writing: Patterned Poetry

Ok, so here is the post on the patterned poem I promised some of you. I kept forgetting to take the pictures! This is how I presented the lesson, first we read Jessica Crum's poem (see bottom of post). As I have described before, I like doing "Guess the Covered Word" so we did that activity with it. Then we glued it into our poetry journals and examined the pattern Jessica Crum used to write it. I told students they were going to write their own version of a Friends poem using their own ideas. We did a brainstorming activity called the "Brain Dump" where they wrote down all the activities they like to do with friends. I pushed them to think past the immediate ideas and to think deeply since the "gems" are the ideas hidden deep down in our brains. The "gems" don't come to us right away, they come as we stretch our brains. They then starred their favorite ideas and the drafting began. We used the pattern of: "You get the ____,
I'll get the ______. We'll _________ together. They drafted and then we went to revision. We didn't want "get" to be a "tired word" so we brainstormed other ways to begin some of our lines to make it an interesting poem for others to read. We edited or "cleaned" up our writing and then it went to publication. My highschool son typed them for us for volunteer hours! He is a super fast typist and got them done in no time. The art work was the last step. Here are the final products:

Here is a reference poster the kids and I made up together as we were working on the editing stage. We decided to make it because some kids were writing about names of games like Monopoly and Sorry and did not know they needed capital letters. An example of how student needs can really drive our instruction.

Here is the poem printed two to a page to cut down on copies. This size fits nicely in their poetry journal

Beginning of Year Friends Poem

Just a thought, if I was doing it now, I might make it into a fall poem by having kids brainstorm things that they like to do with friends at this time of year: football, playing in leaves, trick or treating, bobbing for apples, picking pumpkins, etc. etc.

Have fun writing with your kids!!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Halloween Themed Book Review

Don't you love October? I've been trying to find ways to integrate some Halloween fun into our learning. We have been writing weekly book reviews on our Independent Reading Books. We started the year just giving oral "commercials" on books we loved. Then we started doing some shared writing where we would write reviews of read aloud books together. Finally, they started writing them independently. The scaffold approach at its best! This was their third independent attempt at a review and by far their finest! I was so encouraged to see their improvements! To tap into their excitement over this time of the year, I created the book form: " I've Gone Batty Over This Book". They rated their book, wrote the review and then they created a bat to go with it. Here are some pictures of the final results.
I was hoping I wasn't going to get 26 copycat bats, no need to worry! Kids have a way of making theirs unique!

This was a good Friday activity! Sometimes I think I just need to slow things up and give kids a chance to relax! They thoroughly enjoyed making these bats and produced some top quality writing work!

Here is the form I used. I hope someone gives it a try! Enjoy this season with your kids!(:

Batty Over Books

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Very Late Thank You!

I have been so crazy busy with kids, school and the writing project that I failed to thank two awesome bloggers who nominated me for The Top Ten award and The Versatile Blogger Award. I am beyond honored that you would think of me! The talent out there is AMAZING and I love the ideas and inspiration I get from both of these girls! If you are ever in a teaching slump head over to visit Mary and Janaye's blogs and you will feel recharged! MANY, MANY THANKS!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday's Words of the Week

We were studying Phillipians at church for the last few Sundays. I could read this scripture every day. It means so much to me.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Reading Block Rotations

This week was so busy, it went by in a blur! With all the assessments we do, I just started my Language Arts Rotations this week and though I was dreading having to introduce it all, it went pretty smoothly. I figured I'd answer some email questions with this post and explain how I run it. Basically I have my students grouped into three reading groups that we call our "Reading Clubs". I use one hour of my LA Block to have students rotate through an Independent Work Activity, Guided Reading with Teacher, and one Literacy Station. They spend 20 minutes at each one. The names are on post its. This works well since these are flexible groups and some weeks I may switch a few kids around. The names stay in place for the day, but the wheel can spin around as they move to show them where to go next.
Here is how I organize the literacy stations. Kids names are on pins. I want kids to work with a buddy at a station so I had to run 5 stations for the number of kids I have. (The drama is not being used this week) Kids will only go to one lit station a day. The next day the pins stay in place but I rotate those cards around so they will have a new station to go to. So if I am running 5 different stations, it will take 5 days to get everyone through them all. After those 5 days, I switch up stations and switch up who kids partner with. They are going to stations with a person from their reading club. I like dividing my class in thirds for the rotations because then really the most I will have at a station is 10 kids. The others will be with me or quietly working at seats. This really cuts down on the noise and distractions while I'm with my group.

I've had questions about how to encourage quality work during station time. One way I do this is by holding what we call, "Status of the Class" at the end of each day's rotations. Students come to a big sharing circle with the work that they produced and hold it up for others to see. I give "shout outs" to kids who have done great quality work and one person's work gets to be placed in the "Smile Showcase". I also can quickly gauge if work has been finished and done well. This eliminates kids shoving work in desks and having to "show off" their work to their classmates really does push them to work a bit harder.

Here is a picture of a student's work in the "Smile Showcase".

I'll be back one day soon to go over what those lit stations are and promise to answer questions about the Writing Block. I appreciate all your nice emails!!