Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas Ornaments

In case you are new to Faith (or have never visited our cafeteria in December), we have an ornament tradition.  The whole school creates international ornaments.  They are usually centered around a tradition in a particular country.   Since I've only taught science for the last few years, I haven't had any part in the Christmas ornament making- Mrs. Pless (she taught reading) has done it for all of fifth grade for the last few years.  So I was excited to get crafty again!
I like to tie the lesson in with literacy, and I knew I wanted to do something new and different.   I scoured the internet for idea.  I came across "Julehjerte " which is a Danish Christmas tradition.  It is a woven heart basket created by Hans Christian Anderson.  The directions seemed simple enough.
Well.... I should stress the SEEMED simple enough.  They were everything but!  It took me a few HOURS to figure out how to do this!  First, I finally realized that the pattern was not right.  I made a new pattern and I was still having problems.  I kept weaving it, and it wouldn't open!  Uggh!  I eventually found a video tutorial and I was able to do it.  I was very nervous about teaching it though!
I began with the literacy component.  I went to our library at school and looked for Hans Christian Anderson books.  The checked-in selection was pretty slim.
I ended up reading The Princess and the Pea.  (Not very Christmasy, I know!)  I read it to them, but I didn't tell them why.  Boy did that spark their interest!  They spent 2 days trying to figure out why I read them a book about a princess!
I finally shared with them why I read the book.  I showed them my ornament, had them select some colors, and they had to trace the pattern.  Simple enough?  Nope!  About half of the class accidentally cut their pattern in half.  (It was supposed to have a fold.)
The next day, we traced patterns again.  On the third day, we began weaving.  I went through the directions step-by-step once.  Then I walked them through step-by-step as they tried to weave as well.  I wrote all the directions on the board, and walked them through again.  I still had exactly zero completed ornaments.  I worked with a few students who were close.  Once they were done, they became my helpers.  We worked together (over 2 days) to get everyone done.
They did turn out very cute, but my simple ornament took 4 DAYS for us to complete.  (Somewhere between 3-4 hours overall!)  So much for simple!

 Finished ornament
We had to label the ends so they knew which piece to weave when@

 The inside


Coming up: 
Fractions: Multiplying and Dividing
Science: Weather

Change to routine:
We will have a new Wordly Wise lesson every other week.  All students should ALWAYS have words to study- except the day after a test!
We will do phonics pages every Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

December Currently


Sorry for the delay!  Back in late October, we studied the election process.  We did a whole bunch of 'Election Task Cards'.  We were able to combine learning facts about our government with everyday writing, reading, and language arts skills.  I completely forgot to take pictures of the packet (oops!).  Some of the activities included finding the main idea of short passages, using conjunctions to combine sentences, correct the errors in sentences, compare and contrast the candidates, etc....  Of course, everything was all election/government related.  I LOVE when I can integrate subjects!  Sneaking those social studies facts into our regular literacy block!

After we spent some time on our packets, we moved on to the learning about the Electoral College.  I found this idea on Pinterest.  We had a Coke and Pepsi election!  First, we read the book Grace for President.   (Side note- as I just went to enter pictures, I discovered that I deleted them!  Uggh!  I meant to delete the Matter pictures.  I fail!  Sorry!)  Then we learned about the Electoral College.  Which states have how many, why we use it, how many votes are needed to win, etc....    Then, each student was assigned 2 states.  Their vote counted for their assigned state's electoral votes.  In other words, lucky California!  And sorry if you drew Wyoming, Alaska, etc...!  The kids then took a top secret taste test and voted for their favorite.  The figured out their 'top secret drinks' were Coke and Pepsi.  (VERY small amounts, I must add!)   After they chose their favorite, they plugged their vote into an interactive electoral college map. 

And the winner was............... PEPSI!!!  I was very surprised! 

We also did a 'blind' election earlier in our unit.  I compiled a list of facts about each candidate found in one of the Scholastic News issues.  I left the candidates name off of them, and the kids had to vote for either Candidate A or B.  They chose A.  A was..... our current president, Barack Obama!

We also learned about campaigning and propaganda.  We watched some vintage campaign videos (Vote for Ike!), and looked at past campaign posters.  After that, they had to develop their own campaign posters.  The turned out really good!  Then I put them into a 3-D bulletin board. 

I used T-pins to make the bulletin board three dimensional.  Another Pinterest idea!
And, since this was in the hallway, I wanted to make sure it wasn't damaged....

Sorry again for the lack of pictures!  I can't believe I did that.  *sigh*

Keep checking back for more posts!

Status of the Class

We are officially half way through the second quarter!  I can't believe how fast November flew by!
I have at least 4-5 different classroom 'events' that I need to blog about.  Keep checking back- my goal is to do at LEAST one by Sunday!  If only I could blog while driving- I'd have everything up-to-date all the time!

I do want to address a few issues in our classroom.
The biggest issue by far is missing work!  I have never had as many missing assignments as I currently do.  PLEASE check your child's agenda daily- I make note of missing assignments.  The only exception to that is if they are missing their Reading Log.
Currently, we have:
41 missing assignments in Math
22 missing assignments in Language Arts
63 missing assignments in Reading (most are reading logs)
4 missing assignments in Social Studies
16 missing assignments in Science

I would say roughly 20% of that is make-up work that I never received.  I just don't understand the other 80%.  Except in extremely rare cases, the kids work on all of their assignments in class.  So I know they have part of it done!  Yet they never turn in the partial assignments.  A partial assignment is better than no assignment!!!

So, I am BEGGING- please, please, please help me by checking your child's agenda for notes and making sure the work gets turned in!  Out of 135 grades (5 grades x 27 kiddos), only 5 are F's with no missing assignments.  And they are all in the 67-69 range which means they are so close!  That is pretty typical compared to previous years for me.  The problem I am currently having is the fact that I have a number of students who are failing due to missing work.  Which is why I am asking for your help!

Another thing regarding progress reports/grades- Per the Rowan-Salisbury School System's policy, grades are weighted.  55% is classwork, 10% is homework, and 35% are assessments/projects.  This means that a bad test can pretty much kill their grade.  Right now, I have only given 1 test in reading, 1 in math, and 2 in science.  I hate that 35% of their grade is based on ONE test.  As a solution, I am going to work in more quizzes.   I'm hoping this will take the pressure off of the cumulative unit tests, and it will also be a more accurate reflection of their ability.

Coming up:
Math- fractions, fractions, and more fractions!
Science- the transfer of heat

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Matter Matters!

Hi all!  Sorry that I (we!) have been MIA.  I assigned the role of guest blogger to a student, and it is taking much longer than I anticipated to get things together.  I haven't wanted to step on any little toes, so I've taken a step back.  However, we've had a lot going on in the last two weeks, so I decided to post! (My guest blogger should be writing to cover the first two weeks of October.)  This is going to cause things to be presented out of sequence, so I apologize for any future confusion :)

Anyway.... A status of the classroom, if you will.  Testing is 100% complete!  WAHOO!!!  This means I have been moving into a more hands-on environment within our classroom.  This is BY FAR my preferred method of teaching!  (I just wish there were enough hours in the day for me to plan/create lessons so the entire day way hands on, but I am only one person.  Bummer.)  While testing, the kids had to work on things independently (and quietly) so I could complete the assessments.  But testing is over for now!

Recently, we have been working on the States of Matter!  I introduced the concept with an inquiry lesson.  Is shaving cream a liquid, solid, or gas?  I gave each pair of students a sheet to organize the scientific method/process. I shamelessly stole borrowed it from somewhere.  I can't remember where and I cut off the bottom.  I will update later to give the owner credit.

After I walked them through the beginning of the scientific method, I let each pair of students develop their own plan for testing the shaving cream.  Here are some of the pictures:
Some kids put their shaving cream in a cup, some poked it with their finger, some held the plate upside down, some put it in direct sunlight, some put it in a Ziploc bag, some put it in the refrigerator, etc... You get the idea.  After their experiment, they had to go back and write their conclusion!

Also, we created a Matter Foldable with Cheerios.  I completely forgot to take pictures while they were doing it, but here are a few finished products:
The Cheerios represent the particles.  They had to explain the properties of each state, and give a few examples as well!  

We also created Matter Books, but they are not done yet.  More on them later!

Coming up in the classroom:
-Election/Government (I have a GREAT lesson planned for the Electoral College!  I am SUPER excited!)
-Human Body Systems
-Multiplication of Decimals

Our Halloween party will be on Wednesday afternoon (beginning around 2:15 or so).  Our first field trip will be Thursday.  We are going to the Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury.  We have an author coming to visit on Friday.  No school on November 5 and 6!

Oh- Class Dojo has been acting very buggy.  I have been emailing them hoping to come up with a solution.  (Their solution is to use Google Chrome.  I can't download it on any of our school equipment.  So, I am kind of at a standstill.)  I will be going back to the punch card for at least next week.  I apologize for all of the flip-flopping around!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Class Dojo & an apology

Sorry for the absence!  We are in the middle of our beginning of the year benchmarking window.  I have been spending every spare second in the classroom benchmarking the kiddos!  These tests take between 45-120 minutes PER CHILD!!!  Needless to say, I have been super busy!  In turn, I have to take all work home to plan and grade, and.... well..... the blog has been put on the back burner.  I'm hoping to be all caught up next week.  I'm also sorry for the turn around delay in Thursday folders. 

Anyway, Class Dojo is up and running!  This is my first time using it, so please be patient while the kinks get worked out.  Here is an Idaho teacher's video that show the program:

Right now, I am requiring the kids to get at least 50% positive per week.  My students are required to get a parent signature when they get below 50%.  Also, Parents, please send me your email addresses!  This way I can email the report directly to you.  It is easier to see in color.

Coming up:
Wordly Wise 2 Test on Thursday
Science Test next week

P.S.- Great news!  They fixed my laptop today!!   YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Starting to get it together....

This year has started off pretty rough.  It may not look that way to everyone (at least I think that I am faking it!), but it has.  I use technology A LOT.  A LOT, A LOT, A LOT, A LOT.  My laptop is still out of commission.  My iPad had to be sent back to Apple because the problem is internal.  This means I cannot use my projector and ActivBoard.  EEK!!!!  This is how I teach!  I am going crazy without it!  The good news is that they finally have my desktops and printers up and working.  Baby steps I guess!  Now I have a new problem- I am supposed to begin assessing the class in reading fluency and comprehension.  Well, guess what!  The program we use is computer based.  *Bangs head against the wall*  Sigh.  I do have the desktops, but they would be very awkward to use.  I will stop rambling about my technology woes now.

In other news, I am starting to check a few things off my to-do list.  Remember one of the pictures I posted of our first day?  Well, I have finally had time to drag a ladder in the classroom and hang them up!  First, they turned out super cute.  The kids were quite creative.

Now, this is what they look like up on the wall!  I put them off center because I planned on hanging something else to the right of them, but it was too tall.  So now it is bugging me that it is off center, but I am so not taking them all down and starting over!  I am terrified of heights, and doing this once was bad enough!  I had plans to make them all turned a different direction (because I have symmetry issues and I knew I could never hang them all straight and evenly spaced), but my need to get off the ladder ASAP ruined that idea! 

I'm pretty sure I mentioned before that I am a blog stalker.  The idea is not mine!  I found a 5th grade blog via Pinterest, and I stole found the idea there!