April 29, 2017

Celebrating the End of State Testing



FINALLY! I am more than relieved that the testing sessions are over. Certainly, so are my students! They worked their tails off for 7 days and certainly earned some down time, Our principal had emailed us that we should take some time to reward the kids, so that we did!

Before our state testing we did a kick off. We took the afternoon to pump our kids up. We paired review with active games and the kids LOVED it!! Unfortunately I did not get any pictures of that.

I saw on Instagram this awesome carnival themed test prep from Cooties and Cuties. Read about it on  All About 3rd Grade. I told my grade partner that I would love to do a Carnival Themed Kick Off next year.

So once this message from my principal came about I knew instantly I wanted to do a mini carnival for my kids.

I purchased the giant inflatables from Target (dice, ring toss, and bowling). I hit up Amazon for some water guns, ping pong balls, and photo props. The rest of the games I had in my house, bean bag toss and parachute.

Overall it was a huge hit! I'd love to know if you have done a carnival theme before. Next year I would like to go bigger! Or at least have more than a week to prepare. :)

Games:

Giant Bowling



Roll and Run


Parachute



Photo Booth

I ordered the props off of Amazon.

Ring Toss


April 16, 2017

Upper Elementary Easter Activities


How is it the middle of April already?! This school year is just flying by! Which also means that I was not prepared for Spring activities!

The weather was finally warming up this week and I was just as eager to get outside as my students. So that's what we did! I took my class outside for their writing block and it was so perfect. Not only were some of my students engaged in the writing and working hard, but they were on task while enjoying the weather. This is certainly a reward I would like to use more often with my class.

Click the image to see our writing resource.

Here in PA we had 3.5 days off at the end of winter due to snow, unfortunately that meant my district took away days from our spring break. Disappointing, but I just remind myself we get out early! :) So when Thursday before Easter came up my kids were on me about "What are we doing fun?!" Well that was a great question, mainly because I did not have a plan as of Tuesday LOL!

Here is what I came up with on the cheap.

My students came in to complete a spring word search. Which you can grab for free here.
We had an early dismissal so we cut down our Math and Reading classes to 45 minutes to get in the final project. For math this week we had been working in centers for preparing for our state test. Naturally, I thought this was fun already (lol) but my students appeared to disagree. ;) So I had them plan an egg hunt using Jennifer Findley's free activity. 

They worked in small groups and this served as their exit slip into their math centers. They were definitely having a fun time with it, and it was nice to have them doing all the planning for a change! I think next year I'd like them to plan the egg hunt and the next day we would actually do one.  But that idea is a whole year away. 
Planning an Easter egg hunt
After Math and Reading we came together as all of 5th grade. I LOVE bringing cultural activities into the classroom and having my students explore outside of their own world. 

For this activity we read Rechenka's Eggs. I first heard this story when my aide read it aloud to my Kindergarten students. It is a beautiful story of friendship with the culture of the pysakny represented.

Paper Pysanky
After the story my students made their our pysanka, which is a Ukranian Easter Egg. This was also a great tie in because my grade partner is Ukranian, so she shared a little of her self with our classes. The template came from the The Mailbox, it is part of my Gold Subscription. 


I was amazed with the detail in which my students created their paper pysanky. The sheet they were given showed what certain images and colors represented so they could keep in mind the person who was receiving the gift. They certainly did not rush through this activity, and that made my teacher heart happy.


What are your favorite spring activities?



April 15, 2017

#TpT Flock 17

This has always been one of my favorite quotes.


Last weekend I had the WONDERFUL opportunity to come together with 180+ Teacher Pay Teachers teacher-authors at the Flock. Very fitting, the theme of the TpT Flock is "birds of a feather flock together" and yes we did!

It was so rejuvenating as an educator. Here I am surrounded by these incredible men and women who want to make a change. Not only in their own classrooms, but in classrooms around the world!

Along with my other half we made the 4 hour trip to Rochester, NY. That in itself was so full-filling to have him with me and support my career. 

 When we reached the Woodcliff Hotel I had to give a gigantic hug to my dear friend Erica of Ms. V's Kinder Kraziness. Would you believe that over a year ago she was a complete stranger?! I first met Erica at a TpT Meet Up in NJ. This was my first meet up and I was so scared, I was going there knowing not a soul! But I fully believe in a big risk, big reward system.

Lucky for our partners, we had adjoining rooms!!! Even though this lady was super busy being on the Flock planning committee.

Saturday was an early start and a long day, but so worth it. The day started with breakfast and a Keynote Speaker. And yes, that is a donut wall!!


 I finally got to meet Kay of Primary Cornerstone, I connected with her through Erica and Instagram. I met so many other great people, but I didn't use my camera! Fail! Next year I will be better, because you better believe I will be there next year.

Jenny of Art with Jenny K. was the phenomenal Keynote Speaker. She did such a fantastic job of building us up. She also gave such a good reminder of why we do TpT. Every resource that is purchased from us is being used in a classroom. That is 30 kids we are reaching, and we know that. That is why we put our heart and soul into these resources because you teachers deserve the best. 

After the AM Keynote she had us decorate a piece of paper. As you can she she put it together into a gigantic collaborative poster. Each one of us contributed to this picture. If even one person would not have done their part, it would not be complete. Truly we would not be complete without Paul, Adam and Amy of Teachers Pay Teachers. They are truly an inspiration to us all.  


 Throughout the day we attended sessions that helped us to grow. After lunch we had the opprtunity to hear from some amazing educators on a Q & A panel. This was followed by a Q & A from Team TpT.

Collaboration, not competition. We are all about building each other up. Because if we succeed, students all across the world will succeed.

If you are a TpT author, I highly suggest you join us a the Flock next year! You will not regret it. 
 We were so spoiled this weekend with goodies and our swag bags! One thing we did that I loved was a tool trade. We shared items that help us and then swapped with another teacher. Below are the items I received from Kim of Stress-Free Teaching.
My biggest take away from the weekend? Get out of your comfort zone, that is where amazing things happen. And, work with educators to build each other up. When we are built up, we build up out students.

Click here to read more about the Flock!

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.