Thursday, September 18, 2014

Increasing Literacy by Increasing Interest

One of the most basic ideas that is expressed to teachers to increase their student's literacy is to meet their interests..... which works until you teach Science and Social Studies and most non fiction is cut and dry... aka boring.

I discovered this summer some of the very best REALISTIC fiction books to go along with my Social Studies topics. Check this great books out:

The best part about all of these books is that this entire series is INTERACTIVE! They are similar to the Choose Your Own Adventure books that I remember reading growing up. Totally awesome and attention grabbing!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Should Floods Be Controlled? (A Visual Tug of War)

This summer while Pinterest-ing (that's a word, right?) I saw an awesome idea about discussing and debating a topic or question by using a visual tug of war. You can post the question on the board and the students voice their opinion on a sticky note. I have been waiting to try it and love the results of our basic beginning!

We have worked our way through our first unit of science. Earth science has been a blast to teach! As a culmination type of activity, we have been studying how we can use technology to intercept or change constructive and destructive forces in nature.

Our beginning was studying about floods- what they are, what they do, how they occur, etc. We learned how they can be stopped (dams, levees, floodways, etc.).

The first step of our Visual Tug of War was to have our thoughts organized. I teach several different classes so each class made a chart of the Pros and Cons of controlling flood waters:

Then we pretended that we were the city council and had to make a decision on if we should control the yearly flooding (pretend for us). They had to decide on an answer to my question:

Then they had to explain their reasoning:

While my first attempt at this did not have rebuttals and defense statements, I think they accomplished the overall activity. It was great and the students did an awesome job of applying their learning!

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What exactly is a Book Cabinet?

At my old school we had an AMAZING literacy coach who set up a book cabinet for our school. She took a large metal cabinet like this one:

and placed it in the hallway so it was accessible to everyone. Then she went about getting donated books from parents and the community. All the books were free to children in the school and there were all levels available!

Since I'm in a new school this year,I am continuing the tradition since learning that many of the students here have no books at home. How can you build literacy without books?! I am excited about this new venture and have advertised to parents on Facebook, our website, and via newsletters. If you want to do the same kind of project, here's the image that I'm using!

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unknown Resources

A lot of my summer was spent researching, relearning, and gathering resources for my new curriculum. I uncovered several gems that I wanted to share with you! If you follow me on Pinterest you might have already seen a couple of these. But I have used them in my classroom this past week and WOW! Insane student engagement!

Underground Railroad activity: on the plantation

The image above is from a scholastic lesson/resource. Your students follow 'Walter' from slavery through his escape to freedom. It's very insightful, well done, and very descriptive. One of the best things about this resource is the fact that the pictures are interactive and give a ton of information. Each of the plus marks that you see have a pop up box. Worried about your low readers? No worries, it'll read everything to them if you like. Only focusing on one part of the journey at a time? It's separated into 4 different steps of Walter's journey.

Another fabulous gem is also from Scholastic:

This particular page gives book lists, media, lesson plans,and other resources to cover Abraham Lincoln and his importance during the Civil War.

Do you have any amazing online resources that you'd like to share? Leave them in the comment section to get a shout out on my Facebook page!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Donor's Choose is the BEST!

Last year, before leaving Kindergarten, I was blessed to get an awesome project funded. Because they stop shipping during the summer (totally understandable because of all the changes) I just got my project goodies:

How awesome is that? I went from the gray rug in my room (my teammate is ecstatic to get it!) to this beauty of a rug. I can not wait to use it for instruction as we study the Civil War.

The best part? My 5th graders are BEYOND excited! They came in this morning and literally were rolling around on the carpet and jumping from state to state... a tad bit of chaos in the morning but it warmed my heart that they were so excited!!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Open House Walk Through!

This year is already flying by! I can't believe that day 8 is in the books already! I meant to sit down and blog about last week... then the weekend flew by! I want to share at least some walk through photos with you. 5th grade is SO different than 5th grade but I am absolutely loving it!

My awesome Vocabulary Wall for my students to keep up with ALL of our Science and Social Studies terms!

My area... those crates are now gone since I have my file cabinet now :)

Ready for Open House! I have the best view out of this window!

No curtains? No money? No problem! I added ribbon that I already had and used my 'welcome' banner from my Kindergarten room to make a welcoming sight to all of my new parents and kiddos.

I love this new Smart document projector... now that I have figured out how to use it!

My focus wall. This was an awesome Pinterest find that was really my main 'I have to do this in my room!' from this summer. I love how it has turned out. Since I've been teaching, I've also seen how it has added a small amount of support to some kids who want to answer a question but need a little bit of prompting. It definitely helps to jog their memory.

Ready for Open House with a treat and (of course) all the parent paperwork!

Large view of my room from the door. It's friendly, inviting, and clean. Definitely a winning classroom :)

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

What a Bright Idea!

Have you ever needed just a quick idea to get your mind going? This is the link up for you! Bright Ideas is FULL of great, quick ideas. No products, no freebies, just great ideas for you to use!

My idea is something that I've been doing for the past few years.. especially during this time of the year when hanging up bulletin boards! I always want to make sure that everything is hanging straight when it's supposed to. However, what I think 'looks' straight and what is 'actually' straight are sometimes not the same!!

Here's my bulletin board that I'm working on finishing up for Friday:

Love my cute polka dots but in order to make sure that they were as straight as I could make them... and not have to un-staple and restaple. I decided to use push pins instead.

Now that I have it right, I will go back to staple and to add my letters over top of the staples. Works beautifully!!

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter for more great ideas.

For more bright ideas more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!


    An InLinkz Link-up

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Monday, August 11, 2014


All teachers know that kids learn more when they’re excited and engaged. Today a team of bloggers come together to help your students take a BITE out of learning with a theme your students are sure to love!

My students love it when I match their interests to what we are doing in the classroom. That's why themes work so, so, soooo well in all grades! You can check out a more hands on theme about pumpkins from this past fall by clicking on the picture below:

Of course, the students always love to be in control and have a say in what they are doing too!

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My Shark Week freebie is a great visual for students to create a class KWL as you begin your exploration of sharks. Plus there is a multi-use sheet include. This sheet is wonderful for so many different uses! Just think, students can create questions, facts, labels, and more... all on one sheet!

Click HERE to try it out!

Be sure to go for a swim in the linky party below. Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a fishy freebie for you and your students- but hurry! Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, August 17th  : )

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