Sunday, January 3, 2016

Teaching with Technology PPT

Visit this link HERE for the PPT SLIDES.

I am sorry that I am unable to be with you all today. I would much rather be there talking with fellow educators than constantly dealing with puke...but I will spare you the lovely details.

At the end of the PPT I had intended on having you all share your additional ideas on Lino (an online sticky note board). The board is pictured below and please feel free to add your own technology ideas and thoughts for using technology in the classroom! I will check out all of your ideas later today. Meanwhile, I will add a few of my favorites below the sticky note board for you to look at.

I would LOVE to add some images to this blog post, but my Chrome Browser on my laptop seems to hate me! So I will gladly add them later, but for now just click on the links to go to the site.

#1- I have always noticed that my students need more practice with their basic math facts. XtraMath is wonderful for helping them practice these facts. It is completely FREE and works on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The students are assigned by the teacher a pin and that is all they need to log on. I started this late in the year when I taught second grade and they had the PIN thing down in no time. When I taught 4th grade I made a log-in card for the kids and that helped them. Now that I am teaching 5th grade, I assigned my students multiplication and division and am now requiring them to complete 3 XtraMath sessions each week as a part of their grade. It also gives a progress report each week for the teacher to view. There are APP versions available!

#2- Kahoot! - Kahoot is a fun way to "quiz" your students over any subject. It can even be used as a wonderful group activity for indoor recess days. Each student or pairs of students needs their own device for this. You (the teacher) create your own Kahoot quizzes or choose from the thousands that have already been created and play it for your students. On your projector you will then display the game code for your students. The students will go to and be prompted to enter the simple game pin that you are displaying. They select a username and are ready to be quizzed. You start the quiz and the students view the question on the board and answer on their device. They are "scored" and ranked based on having the correct answer and how quickly they respond. The kids LOVE this and beg to do it again and again. There are some fun quizzes that can be used for indoor recess as well. You definitely need to check this one out!!

#3- Lino- This site allows you to create a blank board in which users (who you allow access) to create a sticky note and leave it on the board. I have used this with my kids to define vocab words, share quotes, and to express their own opinions. They update live and the kids love to create and add their own sticky. 
Image result for linoit

#4- VokiVoki is a FREE service that lets you: Create customized avatars. Add voice to your Voki avatars. Post your Voki to any blog, website, or profile.
Image result for voki

#5- Prezi-  Prezi is a visual and online presentation tool. It allows students to have a presentation that zooms from one point to another and has lots of templates for them to use to create their presentation. They can also add videos from YouTube and images from online to their presentation. They can search for these without ever leaving the Prezi page. This is great in that it keeps them from visiting pages they shouldn't be at and from getting distracted. 

#6- NEWSELA- NEWSELA is a site that provides reading articles for students at various levels of text complexity. You can sign up for your free account and then follow the simple instructions to get your students signed up. Then you can assign specific articles to your students. Each article is available in multiple lexile levels. You can have your students all reading the same article, but at various lexiles that are appropriate for each individual learner. There are also quizzes that your students can take and measure their comprehension with. There are a few parts that are only included in the Pro Version, but it is definitely worth checking out!! 

That is all I can get in at this point...sleeping baby is beginning to wake. I will add more of the things I like to use in my classroom as time allows.

*In addition to these specific sites, we also use the various video-editing and shooting apps and programs to create things. For instance, one of your final book reports in the class is that students must create a book trailer for the book of their choice. They have lots of freedom to create however they feel fit!

We also use PUBLISHER or PPT (could use Google Slides) to create Amazon book listings for their book choice. We just go over what book ads and reviews look like on Amazon and then the students have to create their own for their book *without copying what is already on Amazon of course! 

Microsoft PhotoStory is a free download on Microsoft PCs that you can basically make a video out of still images and text and put a voice over. We use this to create class digital poetry books and even partner up with our 1st grade friends to create a narrative starring their 1st grade friends. Again I will post examples of these in video form as soon as I have another spare moment!

I hope you find these helpful and useful in your own classroom!! 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Pilgrim Life Diary- A SS/Writing Assignment

The last chapter in our SS book that we have covered, talks about the life of the Pilgrims. During each chapter we try to do a project of some sort that can display and apply the knowledge that we have gained from the reading. This chapter we read and learned about pilgrim life in our textbook and we took to other books to learn about what pilgrim children did.

In this unit, we completed a web hunt to learn more about the life in the colonies. PBS has a website linked below that uses the picture below as an interactive lesson. The students use that site combined with site to scavenge for information about how the pilgrims lived.

We also read a couple books, Sarah Morton's Day and Samual Eaton's Day. These books are very kid friendly and describe the daily life of a pilgrim child. My students then look up information on "How to Talk Like a Pilgrim." They really enjoy learning the new phrases and words and use them frequently for a few days.

Then it is off to the races they go creating their own Pilgrim Life Diary. They have to write in 1st person as if they were a pilgrim child. There are strict requirements that there must be great evidence of historical data and research throughout their journals. They must put it together in a book and it must be handwritten and have hand-drawn illustrations. (Insert disappoint kid faces when I said "No, you cannot type it. The pilgrims didn't type their diaries, did they?")

Some of them went above and beyond the call of duty of course. Here are some samples of the amazing work they came up with:

I love the learn book and the pages were so authentic on this one!! One of my favorites! 

Sorry this next one is sideways, but I have little time to fix it! Her cover is clever and very artistic.

Again, sorry for the short time and sideways picture. This male student did a wonderful job researching and basing his writing on research. Writing is the following picture. 

Again sideways, but look how fun and authentic this student was! I couldn't get any good pictures of her writing, but she did very well at talking like a pilgrim! Good Morrow! 

This is the neatest I have seen this student write! I was so proud of all of his effort and the amount of writing the students have me far exceeded my expectations. 

I liked this project last year, but this year I LOVED IT! The students really put more into researching and finding out historically accurate information to put into their story. I think that putting an emphasis on that really helped me out! It is amazing how much we learn as teachers as we teach the same things over and over. We are always tweaking and working to make things better and this is a good example of how I re-taught something the next year with the lessons I learned from the year before! 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!

Well Thanksgiving has come and gone and I really enjoyed my week long Thanksgiving Break!! Now as of today I only have 5 more days of school until I get an entire month off!! Woo Hoo!! That means one WHOLE month with my little monster. I absolutely cannot wait!

So what does one do when you only have 9 days of school with only 8 full days of learning time between Thanksgiving and a WHOLE MONTH OFF???

Here it goes...

Reading- We do a novel study of the book Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. As I have stated before, I am a huge fan of Donalyn Miller and all of her reading research, but I just can't help myself when it comes to this novel. (Her research doesn't favor a whole class novel study) There is so much rich history in this novel and my kids always LOVE it. I do not think that I have any students who dislike this book. It is suspenseful and they learn so much about a hard time in history from reading it.
I did change my ways of doing a whole class novel though...I threw out the WORKSHEET packets (YES the one I spent hours creating last year and even have listed on TPT). We took that packet to a different style this time around. I broke down all of the important and trick vocabulary words and broke them down by the chapters that we will be reading. I broke students into 5 groups and gave them a word list. They used their laptops to look up the definitions and recorded them on chart paper. Before we read each section we bust out the vocab poster for those chapters and go over the words. Then as we are reading we stop when we get to those words and use the context to make sure we understand exactly what they author was trying to say. The students who looked up that word are typically the ones who like to be experts and share their knowledge! They really take ownership of it!

We are also working on the plot as we go through the novel. Each student has a plot map and as we read we are recording the important events that are leading up to the climax. One other activity we will be doing tomorrow is that we will be making a poster for each main character and writing down the facts that we  have learned complete with page number/chapter references and text based evidence!! We will add to those as we continue reading. I am really challenging my kids to look deeper at character change. When asked how the characters in their previous book clubs changed, I typically received answers like "they grew older" or "the learned more." So I am hopeful that this activity and doing it together as a class will help them see this in more detail.

Later on in the year we read together the novel The Man Who Love Clowns. This one is a heart breaker and another novel that everyone loves to read. From this novel comes our very in-depth character study. So that is why I am trying to get my readers deeper into character analysis here!

Social Studies- We don't have time to start a new chapter, so instead we research Christmas!! The students are writing a compare and contrast 5 paragraph essay comparing their Christmas traditions to the traditions of another country or religion. Tis the season!

Writing- DEAR SANTA!! It wouldn't be Christmas without a Santa letter! The kids are writing a 3-5 paragraph letter to Santa explaining their #1 gift and how is would benefit them. They are super cute and very convincing! (Examples to come later this week!)

Also, Snowmen at Night...ADORABLE book to read. Check back next week for a post on this wonderful writing assignment where students are going to create their version in PPT!

Math- We are conquering dividing decimals! Wish us luck!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Operation Choose Kindness is a GO!

I saw how a teacher over at Head Over Heels For Teaching started a big Kindness movement in her classroom. We have talked a lot about kindness as we read Wonder this year. (See about that in THIS post) I challenged my kids to think about the theme of the book and their life precept just like in the book. If you have not read the book, I encourage you to read it. My 5th graders begged me to read it aloud to them. I almost couldn't wait with them and took it home, but decided to stick with them and read it at the same pace. Needless to say this will be my beginning of the year read-aloud for many years to come.

When talking about the theme and life precepts one of my kids came up with "There is no limit to kindness." While I am sure he was not the first to come up with this or something similar, I jotted it down on a sticky note and it really stuck with me. Part of my school's mission revolves around service. This means teaching kids about serving others and being an active part of society and the community around us. So when I saw the "Kind is the New Cool" I couldn't pass up the opportunity to make it play out in my own classroom.

We kicked of the pre-planning stages of our Kindness Campaign yesterday when I told the kids about our "plans" and what we need to do to get into planning mode. We started with the background assignment for the campaign. Each student had to pick a quote about kindness and write a speech about what it means to them. I did NOT create this idea on my own (see HOHFT link above), but we are using it to kickoff our campaign.

After break my students will be going to the other grade level classrooms and presenting their quotes and speeches and challenging each class to committing to one random act of kindness in the community. The ideas for our 4 week long campaign are endless. I can't speak enough of how amazing the ideas at Head Over Heels for Teaching are. We are planning on completing some of the same challenges and activities along with coming up with some more of our own!! So until then...

wonder choose kind - Google Search:

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Creating 5th Graders Who LOVE to Read!!

My last post was about how I HOPE to instill a love of reading in my kids paired with my new look into Book Clubs or Lit Circles. You can read that post HERE.

My kids were so excited after completing our last round of book clubs that they BEGGED me to do it again. I was standing in front of them explaining how we won't have time to do Book Clubs again until January, because we have a week off for Thanksgiving and then only 9 days of school after that. (Yes, I am at a private school on a college campus. We follow their schedule. I get a MONTH off for Christmas. It makes this mommy's heart VERY VERY happy!) So in the midst of explaining to them that we don't have enough time they were seriously BUMMED. I then informed them that if they really REALLY wanted to do Book Clubs again that I would LOVE to do! It only meant that they would have to completely finish the book in 10 class days. This would assure that they had time to complete the book before having an entire week off of school.

I thought I would hear a definite silence or OH MAN from them at this point. WRONG!! I heard nothing, but LETS DO IT!! So I geared up and headed into my full Book Club bookshelves and picked 5 new books. They chose their picks and away we went.

One of the book I selected ended up being such a hit that over 90% of the class wanted to read it. I had to scrounge to even have 6 of this book. SO I will be adding this one to Book Clubs again until it has run out of interest from the class.

What is THE book? The Compound by SA Bodeen.
I had not read the book myself, but heard great things about it. I knew I would struggle to get through it in time and that I did not have an extra copy for myself. I lucked into an audio book copy of it at the public library and my librarian retrieved it for me! I listened to it on my long commute to and from school each day and within a day I was HOOKED! I would find a reason to be in the car or take it with me to listen to during my planning time. It is a serious page turner!!

I would not recommend this book for students younger than 5th grade. It does use some vulgar language in my opinion, but there are not any words that are out of the realm of typical. It does say He** and Pi**ed several times. BUT it is completely unpredictable and keeps you wondering and reading throughout the entire book. The suspense is just amazing!! Even my girl readers are loving it.

There is a sequel to it. I am looking for ways to order this for my kids or at least a copy for my classroom. The only copy our library has is missing!

I am still smiling from the unreal reaction my AMAZING READERS gave me!! Tune in next for an amazing and SUPER exciting service project that we will be embarking on! I am working hard to make this a student-led life-changing movement in my 5th graders lives. More to come soon!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Clubs- 5th Grade Version

We just finished up our first successful round of Book Clubs (AKA Literature Circles, Lit Clubs, Book Circles, Book Studies, etc.). It can always seem like a three-ring-circus trying to keep it all organized, but my kids always LOVE these clubs!!

So here is what it looks like in my room...I select 4 books that I hope to draw student INTEREST in!! NO, I do not base my book clubs on READING LEVEL. {Disclaimer- I do have a group of HIGH readers and I do choose books that ALL of my students are capable of reading. I DO understand that this is not always the case and will not work for everyone!}

I have spent lots of time reading and researching on reading instruction. I have struggled with book reports and my love-hate (more like I only love to hate them) relationship with them. I read the book The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and decided that the best thing for me to do is to "break-up" with book reports in my class. To me they were busy-work take home projects that your creative students put a lot of attention in to and end up with the same grade as the students who scrape by and put only the required minimum in to them. Also, I am not fooled into thinking that my students read their book in its entirety. I have tech-savvy 5th graders who have the same online resources that I did when I was a student who didn't want to read the entire book. OK so enough about my book report thoughts....I came to the conclusion that I NEED my students to LOVE reading! And so that is what I set out to do in my classroom this year. We set out to spend many more minutes READING for the love of READING in my classroom. MORE ABOUT THOSE THOUGHTS TO COME LATER....

Here is the book I was referring to...

Moral of that LONG paragraph was that in my classroom, students are not bound by their reading levels. Therefore, I pick books that I can hook them with. The students rank their picks in order in which they would want to read them. I select groups based on their top picks (with a small behavior consideration of course). Then they get together and READ!!

Last year I feel victim to the endless copies and the JOBS each student needed to complete in books clubs. I get creates a grade and holds each student accountable. BUT it does not encourage reading or comprehension. Instead I focus in on a skill every couple of days and allow the students to demonstrate their knowledge of that skill.

For instance, one skill we focused on was character! About 1/4 of the way into the book, I asked the students to analyze their character. I asked them to use character traits for the inside and outside to tell me about the character. I asked them to tell me about problems the character was facing and to look for solutions that may come along. I asked them to look for ways that they character has changed as a person. This took them two to three reading sessions to complete and they could add and change it as they please. The assignment took them about 5 minutes each day, but I KNEW that they were actively reading and THINKING about the character in the story.

Another skill we have focused on is DISCUSSION. I challenged my students to come up with a THICK and open-ended discussion question to share with their group. We went over good vs. bad questions and I set them on their way. They got it! It clicked! I was so proud of the effort they put into thinking this through...but the fact that I modeled until I couldn't model anymore might have had a little to do with it.

Currently they are working on SUMMARIZING and PREDICTING with this quick recording sheet.

This was meant to be a short post to share TWO books that I read with my students and fell in LOVE apologies on the short novel that led me to these points:

1. Make Book Clubs MEANINGFUL!! Don't give lengthy assignments each time that require lots of WORK from you as the teacher. Focus on allowing the students to READ!
2. Skip "follow up" assignments that resemble boring book reports. Again, make it meaningful!
3. Throw out the BOOK TESTS!!! (see #4)
4. Read THE BOOK WHISPERER by Donalyn Miller- it will change your reading instruction for the best! And for the best I mean for the students and their LOVE of reading!

Here are the two books I fell in love with:

This is a super CUTE and FUNNY read for pre-teens! It was a story that kept me and my students laughing and wondering what they outcome would be.

I am a SUCKER for Mike Lupica books. He had me hooked when I was in college and buying books for my classroom all the time. His books have a wonderful story line and are one-day readers for those with the time! This one was no exception. I had boys and girls in this group and they all LOVED this one. It talks about families in hard times and I think all of my students were able to relate to this at some point in their lives. Even my off the charts high reader (who had already read this book) told the whole group that they would not be disappointed. His books are perfect for your sports enthused boys and girls! I am considering reading this one again already...

My kids LOVED being able to pick their reading groups so much that they BEGGED me to start another round of Book Clubs even if it meant that they would have only two weeks to finish the book clubs before our Thanksgiving Break! I firmly believe that my knowledge and research from Miller's book is helping my kids grow their own LOVE for reading!

Donalyn Miller Quote
Graphic from HERE

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

October Writing Projects!

We do a lot of PUBLISHED writing in my class. We go through the writing process SEVERAL times in the first quarter alone. Here are a few of the October Writing Projects that we do.

Halloween Narrative Story- Students are each given a die and an organizer. (ORGANIZER IS FREE HERE) As I flip through the PPT (Available HERE), each student rolls their die and that number corresponds with the story starter element that they will use in their story.

 Other than following those guidelines, I make it fairly limitless. They enjoy these! Some turn out funny and others are spooky! We focused on burying DULL words and buried SAID in our writing for good!

We just finished reading Wonder in class together. If you are an upper level (4th and up) and haven't exposed your students to this book- YOU MUST! It is amazing and teaches so many character lessons! I can't even explain how many standards I was able to address just from reading this aloud as a class read aloud! I will be starting all of my school years with this book from now on!
My students totally bought-in with what I referred to as the PRECEPT CHALLENGE. In the book Mr. Browne gives students a precept at the beginning of each month. These are like life lessons or quotes to live by. They have to write in his class what it means to them. At the end of the school year he challenges each of this students to write their own precept over the summer and to mail it to him on a post card. So I gave my students the precept challenge! They had to come up with a precept that represented them and write a postcard explaining why they chose the one they chose! I also had them create their own "Wonder" portrait like the one of Auggie on the front of the book! This was a quick, but VERY meaningful writing assignment!

Here are a few of my favorites! (Just the illustrations, not their post cards)

The current writing project we are doing is about POINT OF VIEW! We study the different points of view in reading and writing (1st, 2nd, 3rd- Posters Made HERE). Then we talk about taking on the roll of another person or THING... :)

Then BAM- we become a piece of candy on Halloween and we write using this story prompt: 
*Found on Pinterest*

The whole beginning of this post was going to end with AUTOBIOGRAPHIES which we are getting read to start...BUT I am going to save that one for another day! 

Look forward to August-September Writing projects AND Autobiographies SOON!