Saturday, December 28, 2013

Classroom Read Aloud (chapter book version)

The last day before the winter break I kept my students on edge and engaged by reading the December chapter of one of my FAVORITE read aloud chapter books Because of Mr. Terupt. Last year (and years prior) my media specialist came to all the fifth grade classes monthly and read this book to my students. At the end of the year we did a Skype visit with the author Rob Buyea. It was AMAZING!

So when I moved I told myself I would read this to my class. The book follows a fifth grade class (one of the many reasons I love reading this to my class), every chapter is a month in the school year, and in each chapter the main characters tell the story from their point of view! Did I mention how much I love this book?

Each of my students have a three prong folder in which they keep different entries and notes. I wanted a folder because I wasn't sure as to what exactly I was going to put in the folders. Each month/chapter they are given a sheet with each main character listed and a summary box. As I read the chapter they take notes under each character...they list things that happen, things they learn about that character, etc. 

Another thing that I add at different points of the month might be a character study map, prediction sheet, or whatever lessons we may be covering in class. I love that they are connecting what I'm teaching in my mini lessons with the book the entire class is reading. 

Now each student doesn't have a book, I usually project the book from my iPad Kindle app; therefore, I am not able to really do reading comprehension questions. But I do love how the lesson application pages are turning out. I hope to possibly have a packet made for this book...maybe by the end of the year. 

Here is another great part about this book....Mr. Terupt loops with his class to 6th grade!!!! The kids can't wait to get their hands on the next book!!

So that is probably one of my favorite classroom read alouds, here are a few others...what is/are your favorite? 

(great for fifth grade SS curriculum) 

( has a great unit on this one!)

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Joy of Giving

This year, at my new school, I was introduced to a project called The Joy of Giving (this can be done at any time of the year, maybe a new year's project).

I really love this idea, and there is not much work involved for the teachers. If you are like me taking on yet another project is a huge task, so this was perfect!

It lasts 5 is how our committee set it up:

Day 1: Random Act of Kindness
  This is pretty simple, the students complete one random act of kindness. We sent home a little sheet of paper that they could fill out explaining what their random act of kindness was. They could return it to the teacher. During that day they could possibly share and discuss random acts of kindness. I suggest showing this Kid President video (LOVE Kid President)!!

Day 2: Local Food Drive
   Find a local food bank to participate with, this time of year there are MANY food drives. Have the students bring in  a canned food or other non-perishable food item that is not expired and is unopened to school.  Have a large box or designated place for the students to drop the items. Call the food bank to come pick up the items (maybe at an assembly or in your classroom, so that the students can actually meet/talk with the organization where the items are going), or deliver them yourself.

Day 3: Book Drive
  Find a local or other place that is in need of books (new and/or gently used). Here is the one we are using: Books for Kigutu is a charitable organization that brings books to the children in Burundi, East Africa. The highest need right now is gently used or new preschool books, board books, and books for children ages 3-6.

Day 4: Make a donation to an Animal Shelter
  Call a local animal shelter and ask what they are in need of. Most shelters (especially during this time of year) need blankets, bedding, etc. These items can new and sometimes gently used. Our local shelter is in need of:  cat food, canned and dry with no red dye, dry and canned dog food, collars and leashes, towels, blankets and washable bedding. Again have a designated box or bin for the students to bring items in. Once again your can deliver them yourself or have a representative come to your classroom, pick up the items, and talk to your school/class as to what they do, how the items will be used, etc. 

Day 5: Helping a Homeless Shelter
  Call a local homeless shelters and ask what your school/class could do to help. These could be simple donations, writing Christmas cards, etc. Once again have a donation box and invite a representative to come pick up the items so that the students can talk to them, ask questions, etc. If they aren't available you can deliver the items or have a volunteer to do so. 

The idea is that the students demonstrate the act of giving within their own  neighborhood (local), community (city/county), and world wide! I really like the idea of asking representatives from each place to come in and collect the donations as well as talk to your class/school. This allows the children to get a better idea of how their donations are being used, what these places do to help the community, and such. 

Another idea is to have the students make a kindness chain...for each act they do they can add a link to the chain. You can have them write their act on the chain, or simply add a link. This is something that can be kept up through the entire school year, if at any time they complete another act they may add a link. 

This was suppose to start this week for my school, however due to the weather conditions we have already been out for three days! I'll update you as soon as we are able to get this started. 

Enjoy the snow pics! 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Classroom Ornaments

Every year I tend to make the same keepsake ornament, mostly because it's so darn cute! I will admit a tad messy though. I've posted a DIY for this ornament before (click here to view it).

This year...I haven't made up my mind yet. My art class is working on a stained glass project, and if I thought about it I should have started the ornaments then...last week. But I have been on the search for something cute, simple, and not too "school craft" looking (does that make sense). I want keepsake ornaments to be worth the keeping part :)

I came across a few from Better Homes and Garden (LOVE them). Here are the ones I thought were adorable!

Click here for the website, with pictures and directions for most of these ornaments.

I'll share an update if I choose a different ornament...if the ice melts and we can go back to school!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Class Dojo and Cyber Monday Sale

I made it through my first conferences in Oregon. The students were off for the whole week of Thanksgiving and the teachers conducted parent/teacher conferences Monday through Wednesday. I did manage to get a few things done in between my conferences, but of course not as much as I thought I would or wanted. When do we ever?!?

So I wanted to share with you all my new behavior management system (click here to read about it, I have modified it a little since this post, but you get the idea). I still use the behavior checklist and folder system, but mostly to "document" the bad behaviors or lack of responsibility. This is also for the parents.

I'm not sure why I didn't try it before! may be the age of my students, but they LOVE it! Maybe it's the closest they can get to a video game?!?

They get to design their own little "monster" avatar and can track their dojo points. The parents can also make log ins and track all of their behavior. I have gotten nothing but great feedback from my parents.

I sat with my class and we made our own positive and negative point awards

I love that I can project it on my smart board, use my iPad as I am in small group, or even an iPod! I can be walking around the room monitoring, or in a small group and as soon as my students hear the "ding" noise they know that someone has gotten points. I have never seen so many students "snap" to attention or get on task so quickly!

Everyday we set a new positive point goal for the students to strive for. For example: the top three positive point earners get 2 punches on their behavior punch card, and two owl feather (a school wide positive behavior system) then the top 10 positive point earners may get one punch and one owl feather. We also do positive percentages for the end of the week, to earn Fun Friday (my teaching partner and I do a study hall/fun Friday incentive). The kids love that there are different incentives. And if you don't follow me and know my behavior system they can earn passes and small pieces of candy for their behavior punch cards.

They really like looking at the class averages, percentages, trends, and such. We have already done some math with it all...who would have thought!?!?

The best's ALL FREE!!!!! I found it pretty easy to use and manage. Have you tried it or do you use it??

Next...I am having a sale at my Teacher's Pay Teachers site...I know it's been a little while since I have actually put items on my site/store. I really wish I had more time. But take a look around and see if you like anything. I know a lot of the other stores are also having Cyber Monday/Tuesday sales! I plan on taking advantage of them! 

Lastly I wanted to throw a few questions out there and see what type of response I get...

Does anyone use the performance based grading system? If so what are your thoughts? What is your scale? How in the world do you do it?!?! 

Obviously I'm now having to use it...and it is very very difficult to adjust to! VERY DIFFICULT...and I'm not the only one, some teachers that have used it before are even struggling with the whole idea. 

Oh and while your there...check out these AMAZING reading logs! I LOVE LOVE LOVE them, they are exactly what I would create if I had time :)