Tuesday, September 18, 2012

"I saw this idea on Pinterest"

How many of you start a lot of your conversations with co-teachers that way? I know we do!

What did we do back in the day before there were blogs or Pinterest?

So...I saw this idea on Pinterest...seriously I did! A few of my teacher friends had pinned it and I couldn't wait to use it. The students LOVED it and were so excited to use them.

Place Value Cups (or renamed by my students...it's a like a Decoder or a Vault Lock)

I gave each student five cups and a blue pen to start with. Depending on grade level, abilitiy, and lesson you can adjust how many cups you give your students. What's awesome about this is that I bought 50 cups for less than a dollar!

You have to discuss/talk with the students as to how all the cups have to stay in the same direction. This was a little hard for me because I am left-handed...but they caught on pretty well.

Because I used these cups with my decimal unit we started with marking a decimal point on one. The remainder of the cups they had to mark with the numbers 0-9 on the rim of the cup. Spacing was a little bit of an issue, but again they caught on  (maybe after one or two mess ups).

This is how they were looking as they were writing the numbers:

I also love that because we were using them for decimals including whole numbers and decimals, they could move the cups around to make the number they needed.

So here is how I used them:

I either called out a number or wrote one on the board using word form or fraction form:

This is three and three hundredths

 This would be two hundred sixty-five thousandths

You can also use this for "regular" place value. This would be one hundred and fourty-three 

 And decimals again...nineteen ten-thousandths

We had a lot of fun using these, hope you do too!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Pencils, Glue, Acronyms, and Theme

Six weeks into school and I already had to give my students the pencil and glue talk. You would hope that by fifth grade they could use glue sticks sparingly or not go through so many pencils...but it doesn't change.

They still paint or color with the glue sticks...still not sure why! I know we do a lot of gluing because of interactive notes, but I brought up the fact that I do the SAME things they do (because I always model my note or projects)...and I have yet to use half of a glue stick. I'm not sure if they believe me or even listened to me.

As for the pencils, at this rate we will be out of my stash by Christmas. I use my handy sharpened/broken buckets...but somehow both always seem to be empty, as well as the pencils box I keep in our bucket (I keep a class set of pencils in a little box that travels with us in our class caddy, this way when we go to the computer lab or specials and need pencils...well there they are!)

So after the famous speech of using resources wisely and sparingly I have a few of my girls that are on a crusade to save the pencils! I get daily updates of how many pencils we started with for the day, how many we currently have, how many were used...and so on. They also took it upon themselves to post these signs! I guess I can be happy they are using their math skills in real world situations!

As most of you know my class make up this year is a little different. I have a fourth/fifth grade combo, in a way. I have the students that failed the fourth grade state tests, yep they move them on to fifth grade and call them transition students. They have to be retaught the areas they still failed as well as learn the fifth grade content. Well I have about 10 of these students. Of course this is something that must be done with TONS of documentation. I had to meet with the parents prior to school or the first week of school to discuss what all of this meant and get them to sign the "okay" for the student to be in such a class...and now I am on round two of meetings to discuss the student's ILPs (individual learning plans), yep each of them have their own learning plans, much like a mod. plan or IEP (individual education plan), they are a working document. I also had to SST (student support team) each of them, to document what I am doing in the room to make them successful. I am swamped in paperwork! It's not an easy class to have. I guess I am thankful that most of them are great kids. Just need a lot of support.

I say all of this to express my JOY (sarcasm) of school related acronyms. I was sitting in said SST (student support team) meeting with our AP (assistant principal), school psychologist, speech/language teacher, a county interpreter, and a mom. I was telling mom of all the things we had in place for her student and what our plan was for her...at one point I had to stop, look at my AP and make sure I was using the correct acronym. This student is a different case, not all my students have all this support, but pretty close. She is currently considered 4/5 transition therefore she has an ILP (individualized learning plan), she is also EL (use to be called ESOL, English Speaker of Other Languages)...but she is considered consult, she still has a MOD plan (modification plan), she is also SPED (special education) because she is in speech, she therefore has an IEP (individualized learning plan) for speech, she also qualifies for EIP (early intervention program) because of her low test scores, we are wanting to make sure she there is nothing else interfering with her learning so we will begin RTI (response to intervention) to do some progress monitoring, the psychologist will also be completing a full panel of tests to rule out any other learning weaknesses and strengths. Not to mention all the data we did review in this meeting from the CRCT, CoGAT, ITBS, and  BASC tests already administered. WHEW!!!! And that is one of my students. What are some of the acronyms you enJOY at your school?

FINALLY I am so excited to start working on our comparing and contrasting theme unit for reading. I built the unit off three books we have already read in our classroom and then found other books that have similar themes, so we can compare/contrast them. Here are the ones we will be using. LOVE these books!

Compare/Contrast with

 Compare/Contrast with

Compare/Contrast with

Hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Day to Remember

Sorry for the late post.

Every year I really try and teach my students why we remember September 11th. This year will prove to be even more interesting now that I teach 5th graders. I am looking forward to hearing their thoughts, questions, and discussions. What is pretty interesting is that my students have already brought the subject up numerous times. They have made connections to 9/11 and the Civil War, and the questions, thoughts, and feelings are astounding! How you ask...it all stemmed from a mentor text The Librarian of Basra. This book is amazing. It also gives an interesting view point of the war. My students could have spent days discussing the connections and asking questions, they were so curious.

Also this year will be a little different because most of these students were not even born before this happened. It is so important as teachers to tell our stories, our connections, and our feelings of this tragic event. We lived it! We need to make sure our students remember.

So I hope you talk to your students tomorrow or read a book, maybe even watch a video...just remember.

Because it is our job as educators and as Americans to never forget, to pass this piece and time in history down to our students and children!

Here are a few things that you may be able to use tomorrow.

Picture books: 

Brainpop has a good, free movie of 9/11


A great time lapse video showing the rebuilding of Ground Zero


I will never forget! To those that lost their lives on that fateful day and to all of those who have since sacrificed their time and lives so that we may be free!

Thank you to my family members (my husband, my sister, my brother, and my nephew) who have fought in this war so that I may have the freedom to teach my students about their freedoms!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

What's in a Name? (follow up)

Another week is done and I only posted once this past week...sad I know. This year has proven to be, well, crazy busy. With a new grade level (well sort of two of them), new required lesson plan format, weekly newsletter, new online services (including grade book which was OH SO much fun to figure out this past week)...well let's just say I'm just trying to keep my head above water! It's pretty exhausting and I'm going on almost 12 years of teaching.

So I tell you all of this to bring up the fact that I completely forgot to attach the What's in a Name WS that went along with my lesson using the book The Name Jar.

The initial lesson was a mini lesson on small investigations in writing. We were in the beginning of Writer's Workshop...making lists, and jotting ideas. This lesson discussed how students can conduct short investigations to research questions that the students may have. They could be questions that they think about a lot but don't know the answer or they can be questions about a topic that they are really passionate or curious about. (Side note: this website is GREAT for questions or as they say wonders of the day, or small investigations they can conduct...http://wonderopolis.org)

I then read Chapter 2 of A Writer's Notebook by Ralph Fletcher. My students LOVED the chapter. It brought on so much conversation. I was also so excited to find this book can be purchased for your Kindle or Kindle app. 

They got a chance to then write their own investigation ideas or I wonder word splashes or webs in their writer's journal. The next day I read (or the same day if you have time), I read The Name Jar. We discussed how every one's name has a story, that they were going to conduct their own mini investigation...their name! I then sent home the What's in a Name WS for homework. The next day they were so excited to share what they had found out! Click to book picture to get the WS.

I hope your year is going well...keep an eye out I do plan on getting my camera back to school to take more pictures of interactive notes and some fun cell stuff! That is one thing I thought I would never say...fun and cell (I am so not a science teacher, but I am trying!!!!)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Guided Math Tubs

Well my week was exhausting, and I think I am finally above water...at least until tomorrow when we are back to school. I had to be video taped and had four conferences already! By the way, it should be against the rules to have a Friday afternoon conference. Whew!

I know some of you had a few questions about my Guided Math tubs, mostly what I am putting in them. Well this is my second year of Guided Math, and my first year doing it in 5th grade. Therefore, I am having to start from scratch (in terms of materials).

As I update my tubs I'll do a post to let you know what I have put in them. First of all, I have started off very slowly...introducing the games and tubs one at a time. This way I can see what they can or can not handle.

First I introduced the game Multiplication War. I discussed it and demonstrated it to the entire class, they then got to play with a partner. After that, it became tub 1. Here are the directions that we use for Multiplication War (even though they are fifth graders, the NEED fluency practice!!!!!) click to retrieve:

My other tub is Rolling Factors. This game was given to me by a friend and it is from Teacher's Mailbox. I looked for it online, but was unable to find it. Basically each student has two dice. They roll the dice and make a two digit number. Example: player rolls 4 and 2, they can make 42 or 24. They then have to list the factors for that number. Based on how many factors they make, according to the cart they can earn 1-6 points. Example 2 factors, 1pt; 4 factors, 3pts. After five rounds they add up how many points they got, the player with the most points wins.

I had both of theses tubs in rotation for a week. This week I am adding two more tubs. These are both task card tubs. They focus on two skills we have worked on in the previous weeks. I got the task cards from TpT. The first is expressions: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Math-Common-Core-Task-Cards-5th-Grade-CCSS-5OA2

I break the task cards up into groups of four or five and place them into Ziploc baggies. The baggies are then put into a large envelope along with a recording sheet that I have made. Click here if you would like the sheet. I usually have the same tubs for two weeks. So I also include an envelope in the tub that says I'm Still Working. This way if they don't get done they can put the WS in there. If they are done they turn it in for possible incentive, especially if they do well!

Again I will set it up the same way as the previous tub. Click here if you would like the recording sheet I made to go along with them. I didn't include the last five cards because my kids haven't mastered graphing an x and y table yet.

Each student must first complete seatwork, usually a short assignment from that day's mini lesson. Once I have checked their work they are then allowed to work on a tub. If a student is struggling with the seatwork this gives me a chance to work with them one on one or in a small group. My meet with teacher group is usually calling those over that may have struggled on the previous assignment or test for some extra help.

Hopefully I can keep you all updated on my tubs :)  I haven't even started my reading tubs yet! They are currently reading independently or going to the media center. One step at a time I guess.