Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Geometric City

First of all, I want to give a huge shout out to the ladies at Lesson Plan SOS.  They created an amazing project in which students use their knowledge of lines and polygons to plan and create their own city.  I encourage all teachers in grades 3 to 5 to go to Teachers Pay Teachers and buy it now!  My kids were so engaged and they were begging me to keep working on their math.  I love how it also had a writing piece that went with it.  My kids did an amazing job of thinking about their audience, being creative, and advertising their cities. This project gave my students the chance to apply their math knowledge in a creative way, write with the purpose to persuade, practice speaking in front of the class, and work together which is not always easy to do! The students keep asking when we are going to do our next math project.  Here are some pictures of their awesome work.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Today during our spelling test, one of my boys raised his hand.  He asked me if spelling counted.  I resisted the urge to say SERIOUSLY?

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mystery Case Files

Hello Friends! Today was one of those magical days in teaching for me.  You know the ones where you feel like your lessons went well, you asked good questions, your kids did not look bored one bit?  This success is largely due to Beth Newingham and her amazing idea for Reading Detectives.  My students were so excited to get their case files yesterday! We had already discussed mysteries and the vocabulary such as suspects, crime, and clues.  Once they got their Case Files we were ready to get to work.  Yesterday we simply used them as a station during reading.  For the station, they were to look through their mystery book, examine the front and back covers, and write their predictions about their mystery. 

Today the students got in their detectives groups and discussed their predictions.  We recently made an anchor chart that I found on Pinterest about partner talk so we used that as a guide.

 After the students discussed their predictions, they read the first chapter of their mystery.  The students choose how they read it- independently or with partners.  I walked around and talked to each group after they completed their chapter.  I asked them what they read about, if they knew the problem in the story yet, if they had any suggestions, how they knew if their character was "nice" or "brave",if they liked their book so for and so on.  I really enjoyed this part of the lesson! They had some great observations and it gave me the opportunity to check for understanding and give them feedback on their partner talking.  Students could add any suspects or information about their detective to the papers in their case files and then they moved on to other reading activities.  

A lot of the items I am using in my mystery case files can be bought from One Extra Degree on TPT or downloaded from Beth Newingham's site.  I highly recommend checking this things out if you are interested in a mystery unit!  Here are some photos!  I told my kids to give me their best detective poses. Check back this weekend to hear about the awesome geometry project we started today too!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Simon Says Geometry

This week in math, my 4th graders are studying geometry.  We have learned the names of different polygons, how many angles they have, and how many sides they have.  We also talked about flips, slides, and turns.  A co-worker made up some motions to go with flips, slides, and turns a few years ago.  The kids stand up. For a slide they simply slide over.  For a turn, they leave one foot in place and turn their bodies about 90 degrees.  For a flip (no they don't do a flip but they would try if I would let them!), they turn 180 degrees.  After practicing these motions, we just had a spur of the moment game of Simon Says and the kids loved it!! When I play Simon Says if you talk then you are out.  I would say things such as "Simon Says slide to the right" or "Simon Says hold up the number of fingers a hexagon has."  This game was a fun way to review our polygons and practice our motions.  They keep begging me to play it again and of course, I gave in!
  There are some amazing geometry packets available on Teachers Pay Teachers from different sellers whose blogs I follow.  On Friday we are going to do the Geometric City created by Lesson Plan SOS.  And I love the activities in Ashleigh's Buggy About Geometry Unit. 
  I am giving my students their mystery case files tomorrow.  Check back for pictures!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Building A Mystery

For those of you that teach using Reading Street in the 4th grade, you know that Unit Four is all about puzzles and mysteries.  We kicked off our Unit Four by using clues to guess what the mystery item in the bag was and reading mystery task cards.  I really want my kids to explore this genre during our unit.  I did some buying on TpT and fell in love with Beth Newingham's Detective Reading Groups.  My kids are going to love getting their case files tomorrow!
  Not only do I want my kids to read mysteries during this unit, I want them to write them as well.  I created a series of graphic organizers to help my students with various pre-writing stages.  I don't know about you but my kids always want to skip the pre-writing and jump right in.  I appreciate their enthuasim but sometimes their stories are hard to follow and lack details.  My hope is that these graphic ogranizers will help my kids focus on some of the main elements of their story first. I plan to pull a sequence one from my files as well.  I have listed this pack of graphic organizers on my Teachers Pay Teachers store if you are interested.  I hope to post photos of my little detectives soon! Oh and I have a fun Simon Says math idea to share with you all soon!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Go Fish!

I am guilty of not blogging! School and life have gotten crazy lately!  This year I have a student that is an English Language  Learner.  He has been in our country for two years now.  He speaks and understands English pretty well and he is amazing in math.  It is so frustrating because if I read him a story and then ask him comprehension questions he can answer about 80% of them.  Sadly, he can barely read in English so he is has been getting extra help at school.  I have also been working with him one afternoon a week all year.  We practice sight words and reading fluency.  I have learned so much from him and he is such as sweet child with a huge desire to learn.  I thought I would share some strategies I have been using.  We do sight word flashcards to increase the number of words he can read.  We also talk about what those words mean and try to use them in a sentence.  For some words, we selected pictures from ClipArt and printed them off.  We practice matching the words to the pictures.  We do word ladders and he loves to use white boards to practice writing his words.  I have also used some old SRA reading kits a teacher had in her room.
   My favorite activity to use with him is Go Fish! This was inspired by my four year old niece who recently learned to play this game.  I used index cards and wrote sight word on them.  Since a number is in a deck of cards four times, I wrote each sight word on four different cards.  We mix up the cards and deal out five apiece.  Then we play Go Fish and try to make matches.  This means he has to read  a word to ask for a card and read each new card he draws.  He also hears the sight word and has to recognize it in writing when I ask for a word.  At the end, we go through and say all the words as we put the deck back together.  He took the cards home and played with his entire family! They are all learning English and I think they had fun playing together. I plan to add more words to our deck soon.  This idea can be used with vocab words and in a station for younger grades.  If you have any more sight word games feel free to share!