March 7, 2017

Build a Kind Classroom

Image result for when given the choice between being right and being kind choose kind

In a world where there is so much negativity and hate, it is crucial to remind our students of love. Coming from a Catholic School setting I could teach love and kindness openly. Now in the public school setting I do not have the answer of "because God wants us to", rather now I am teaching because it is the right thing to do.

I first read Wonder 2 years ago. I was so moved by the story that I read each of the follow up books. I thought it was such an amazing book that every child should be exposed to it. I was shocked this school year when I added it to my library and only 2 out of 27 students have read it.

I know so many classrooms that start the year with reading Wonder because it is the perfect read aloud for discussing friendship. Unfortunately, I was so overcome with beginning the year in a new school and new grade that I was unable to plan a read aloud.

I knew that I wanted to read aloud to my 5th graders, but the question was when?  I am not teaching Reading this year but I desperately wanted to read aloud to my students. So, I utilized mentor texts. Which was a fantastic time in our classroom. However, I still wonted to get more in depth with my students.

That's when I discussed the Global Read Aloud with my grade partner. She was very on board! So that is how novel read alouds began in my classroom.

My goal was to begin reading Wonder in the morning before our day officially began.

Resources: 

Here are two fantastic resources to utilize with Wonder
                              Wonder, by R.J. Palacio: Interactive Layered Flip Book                   Choose Kind iPad Activity

Impact On My Students

Recently we have had some poor decisions being made in my classroom, including vandalism. I was frustrated and ready to give up. However, I can't give up on my kids! So instead I fought back. I combated these choices by having heartfelt/real conversations with my students. Rebuulding that respect and trust.

I brought in sticky notes for inspiration.

And I put up a kindess countdown for the end of the school year.


I won't lie. It was hard, but it was the right thing to do. You could see my classroom begin to change. Students were moved to express to me what they were feeling. Others began to see how they were hurting their peers. And slowly we began to come back together again as a class.

My students are coming to see me as an adult they can speak with. I believe in my heart of hearts, that this is a much better way to run a classroom. I do not want my students to fear me, I want there to be a mutual resect. Not all teachers are the same. It is hard for me to deal with that, so it must be hard for my students to process.

Our classroom is a family, and I want it running on kindess. 

Become a Certified Kind Classroom

If you are interested in implementing this in your classroom you can read more here. This was such a wonderful activity to complete with my students. I look forward to next school year when I can begin this year with this!

Image result for when given the choice between being right and being kind choose kind

March 1, 2017

Native American Diorama Projects



A large portion of our 5th grade Social Studies Curriculum is learning about Native Americans. We begin by learning about the first Americans and their journey to North America from Siberia. We then discuss tribes and cultural regions in North and South America. I have also been able to extend their learning in discussions on current events and how pipelines are impacting Native Americans.

Overall this was a great unit for myself and my students. I can not wait to expand it even more for next year.

To conclude our unit I gave my students two weeks to work on a diorama for a native group we learned about. I put all of the groups we focused on in a hat and let them pick.

These projects came back and I was SO IMPRESSED! I really wanted them to use natural resources versus spending money.

Prior to beginning their project I had the students complete a planning page. Check out the rubric and planning page I grabbed here.

Check out some of the projects below.

I am reaching out to our local library to see if I could place a few of them on display.



This one is so creative! They used graham crackers and that is a real cactus!!






The Makahs might be my favorite. It is so cool to see how the students represented their tribes.


Up next we are learning about explorers. Any creative ideas for my students to create!?

February 19, 2017

Valentine's Day Math Centers

Did you all survive Valentine's Day? 

How do you celebrate in your classroom? 


My 5th graders do so many activities and special programs throughout the year that my grade partner and I decide to keep it very low key.


I gave each of my students a gel pen as their gift. 
I added these cute tags from The Creative Classroom, and we were good to go!

As you know, we are doing Math Workshop this year. Currently we are working on fractions and mixed numbers. Valentine's week we were starting Subtracting Mixed Numbers. I knew that if I taught this lesson as a whole group I would have so many confused students. I did not want to set ourselves up for failure, so I restructured our class time.

This week I would be teaching each small group how to subtract mixed numbers. Typically during the meet with teacher time I am working with my students who need the most help. This week I reversed that and met with my advanced group first.

The remainder of the groups were working on review activities.

All of my centers this week were made a little extra fun by sticking with the holiday theme!


Meet With Teacher:

Students worked through a few problems with me after explicit instruction. I created this activity for us to complete before working independently in our workbooks. You can grab it here.


At Your Seat:

Now since students did not receive whole group instruction, they did not have problems to complete from their book. For this center, the students were working on task cards as a small group. They were all mixed operations and served as great review. I provided the answer sheet for them to check their work.  

Technology:

During this time my students were working on review activities. After the students met with me they would be doing more with subtracting mixed numbers. I like using the computers because it provides instant feedback for my student. In addition, it allows them to analyze their mistakes before moving on.

Hands-On:

My math series comes with some great math games that I have been using during this center. (A big pitch for my implementing math workshop was that I would be incorporating more components of the series.) Before I had students complete the math game they would be making fractions using candy hearts. I used a freebie from Jennifer Findley, and my students loved it! This is definitely always the favorite center of the week. See - math can be fun!



I have to tell you, I swear by using Math Workshop! My students are engaged and always working. Typically we work in the library because I do not have enough devices in my classroom for the technology center. However, obviously the library is not for my only use and we can't get in there. This happened on Friday so we readjusted. It was a crazy week, so before my students went to their centers I had them complete this fun review color by code worksheet. Practice can be fun for 5th graders too!


Next week we will do a little review and then they will take their assessment. I have a very good feeling about this one!

February 7, 2017

Rewarding Student Behavior



If you have been following me you know I took down my behavior clip chart in my kindergarten classroom. It was....liberating! But you can read more about that here.

So knowing that, you can imagine my "joy" to discover that my new school utilizes a behavior chart. Wahh! But okay - get over it because that is just what works for them. Well we are more than half way through the year and unfortunately my disposition on the clip chart has not changed. Yes I use it, but typically forget to move clips up and only move clips down when I am "fed up". To me that is not effective.

So - here comes an incentive!


I have a few students that are are so focused, driven and hard working. They are all around good kids. They are consistently doing what is expected of them. So, I wanted to reward them with something that would actually make them feel good. Yes - moving your clip up is nice but I wanted to actually reward them.

Hence the V.I.P. table was born!

My dear friend Erica uses a V.I.P. caddy in her kindergarten classroom and my stubborn self never really listened to the awesomeness that it offered. What a great way to make a kid feel good! You can read about her caddy here

I decided to up the game a little bit for my 5th graders and give them an entire table. My students love any reason to get out of their seats. I purchased these awesome chairs from Walmart for only $10!

Friday before I left for the weekend I rearranged my personal desk so that I could use this table that had my computer. I ran to Big Lots, Walmart and Target to get little goodies to decorate the table and purchase supplies. The final touch were the badges and sign from Create Teach Motivate that you can find here


My students walked in on Monday so inquisitive and excited! They were so pumped when I explained what the table was and how you get there. I did have some students who thought it was only for the smart kids. That broke my heart. Because in my opinion that's what they are perceiving is important. But that is certainly NOT the criteria for this table.


I picked my two students from each class and they were so excited! I let them each pick a buddy to sit with them at the table. This table was theirs for the week!

The best part? My grade partner thinks we should expand it to the lunch room. We would have a VIP from each grade and they could bring a friend to sit at a special table. LOVE THIS! I am so excited for how this will motivate my students. 




January 10, 2017

Teaching Civil Rights in a 5th Grade Classroom


"Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope."

This quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could not be more beautiful. To me it symbolizes the changes that all Civil Rights Activists were working towards.

If you are familiar with my blog you know that I am an advocate for teaching love and appreciation for diversity in the classroom. At the kindergarten level this seemed to not be a larger undertaking. However, teaching 5th grade I have a bit of a challenge. My students now come to school with a certain mindset on the world they live in. Now, this could be a wonderful thing to embrace or it could mean breaking down barriers in your classroom.

I want to share with you some tips for teaching about the civil rights in your classroom. The biggest point I can make is that you need to teach about these influential chapters in the history of the United States.

Go In Depth

At the elementary level we typically pair a craftivity with historical content. I know I did! Art is such a fantastic subject to integrate into our content, as it is typically overlooked. However, in 5th grade I am thinking my students will not want to make a paper bag Dr. King. :) So instead I want to open their mind to the real issues. In the lower levels they give a great background on who individuals are so that I can dive into the stronger issues.

Don't Be Nervous

Anyone feel this way? Ever feel that as a white teacher what right do you have to teach about issues impacting African Americans? Um, HELLO! You have every right!! Who cares if your ancestors were not the ones who suffered the heartache of millions of Americans. This is part the U.S. history....of your history. 

Could you imagine if teachers did not go in depth on issues just because it was unconformable? 


Yes, it is hard to talk about our painful past. Are we proud of it? Heck no! But if we do not learn from our past, aren't we doomed to repeat it? I am SO passionate about teaching historically accurate facts to my students. I personally cannot rely on another teacher to teach the content I am passionate about.


Use Great Resources

This is so key and I really feel like it could make or break your lesson. Now, who else can teach lessons on the fly? After some time we all can. However, this is a lesson that needs to be planned and thought out.

First, know your students. At the end of the day you know what is appropriate to share with you class. I personally shared with my kinders a decent amount, at an age-appropriate level. Some teachers would not do the same, but that is your decision to make. Trust your gut!

Resources I Use


I began by touching upon the history of slavery using videos from the History Channel and oral discussion. I felt it important to go through a progression to have my students understand how we moved from slavery to the Jim Crow Laws to the Civil Rights Movement.

Here is another great video that could be used to start your dialogue. My class loves the kid president, and how cool to have someone they can relate to?!


At the beginning of the school year I purchased a subscription to Flocabulary because my students loved it so much! I love the blend of content with music! You can watch the beginning of the Civil Rights video if you do not have a subscription and it would be the perfect hook to your lesson.

Finally I really wanted my students to have an idea of what are country was going through. Yes, it is painful, but it is so necessary for them to understand. In my rural area they could never fathom this could of hate or racism.

I utilized the free film kits from Teaching Tolerance - you can find them here.
Need a place to start? These films are perfect. They are under 40 minutes and come with a disc of teacher resources. I highly suggest adding them to your school for yourself and other teachers. 

As educators we have the difficult task of changing mindsets and teaching empathy to our students in a world filled with hate. BUT we are molding the future, we are making the world better. Do not stop embracing others and teaching your students the importance of what it means to help others. We have one life and one world, and we are all in this together. Be the change.

January 3, 2017

Decimal Review - Pirate Theme


I am always inspired by amazing educators and what they do to engage their students. For some time now I have been wanting to think of an activity to do with my students to review operations with decimals. Inspiration came through this amazing Pirate theme that Hope King created in her classroom. Read about her transformation here.

Now I know some teachers think that it may be crazy to complete a classroom transformation. But let me tell you - it is very doable! I am going to walk your through our engaging week with math - pirate theme!!

Keep reading to enter for a chance to win this decimal review!

**Closes Saturday, January 7, 2017**

The Transformation

Last year I did bigger transformations, but this year I am in a new grade and it is not just not as possible. BUT, we still had a blast. I purchased my items from Oriental Trading and took advantage of free shipping. 

When my students arrived they were greeted by fun and thought provoking decor.


On their desk they were greeted with a treasure map. On the back I had typed up their task for the week. I am having my students collect gold coins to earn some extra recess time. This is going to be based on the entire class. That way my students who need extra support will still be able to earn the reward at the end of the week. Come Friday after their quiz I would love to let them unwind!


On one of my black boards I draped the fish net.

I then attached the flag to make for a fun feel! I teach two math classes so I will put up the jewels each class earns to see how much extra recess they will have.
I adore this little parrot!

Now, I told myself that I was not going to buy each of my students an eye patch. BUT, I just couldn't resist! I purchased them after my original order but Oriental Trading was having a promo of free shipping on every order!


Large Creepy Cloth Pirate FlagCloth Ragged Ship Door CurtainPirate CoinsNatural Fish Net Wall DecorationPirate EyepatchesPirate Treasure Maps

The Content 

This part is crucial! Yes it may look like my students are having a blast this week, because they are!, but we are also working hard. This week is a review of all operations with decimals. I have created four pirate themed activities, one for each operation. Again, students will be earning gold coins for equations that they solve correctly. 

I wanted to do this review week, even though it is not part of my curriculum. I feel so often that students are not given enough practice with skills they have learned, and therefore they forget.

With our math series my students work on a spiraled review packet each day. This week will provide them with more rigorous review before we transition into fractions. 

I am using these activities during my Math Workshop. I will have my students complete one activity a day. Before we enter workshop I will review with the class the operation that my lower group is going to be working on that day.

Check out my activities below. Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win this resource!


In this game students are working to find the treasure! There are 24 task cards so each student will have a chance to earn up to 2 gold coins. Students can complete these task cards as a scoot game or center. However, I have added a dice to make it even more engaging. Students will roll the dice and are only able to solve a card with that image. This helps to ensure that students are not rushing through the problems and promotes a group activity.


This game is designed similar to the board game, Battleship. However - it has been a LONG time since I played LOL. Students will be doing a little backwards work here. I set these game boards up on file folders to shield their board. Students will first need to record the answers that they are given. These coincide with the differences to the subtraction problems on the task cards. Students will place their answers where ever they want on the grid.

Next, students will pick a task card to solve. My students love working on white boards and it is a quick clean up. After the students solves the equation they can self check their work with their opponent. That student will then try and sink one of the ships of their opponent. This student will call out a coordinate, "A 7". If it hits a number they get an extra coin! Students will use the bombs to record where their opponent fired! 


This game is called, What Does the Pirate Need? In this activity students will be completing word problems. On each task card I have placed an item that they will be purchasing, as well as its cost. Students will need to complete the work problems using the amounts provided.

If time allows they can challenge each other by telling them what items to buy!


The last game included is called "Walk the Plank!"Students will be using the game board provided. They will take turns spinning the spinner and moving on the board.

When students complete the game - the winner is awarded an extra gold coin. If time remains they can start over. With the replay, the challenge is they will only be able to solve the problems they have not already done. They will be able to tell this due to the recording sheet.

Click the image below to go to this resource.


FREEBIE

Click the image below to check out the sampler of this resource. It contains a comparing decimals activity that aligns with this resource. 

Giveaway

I am BEYOND excited for this resource. I truly would love to see it benefit other teachers and their students. While it contains some prep, it will be well worth it! 

If you would like to enter for a chance to win, complete the rafflecopter below by Saturday!


a Rafflecopter giveaway