Monday, June 30, 2014

BB Part 8 - 5th Grade Memories

Eep! I've only got a few more posts for my Blog Backlog series, I'm so excited to be able to share some great things and get all caught up on blogging. And now onto part 8 of the 10 part series.

Today I am sharing an awesome freebie from Teaching in Room 6. About a week before school was out she posted a 5th Grade Memories Glyph activity. Although the last few days of school are hectic and filled with activities, I knew this was something I needed to have ready in case of a lull. It so happened that this worked perfectly for a last day of school activity.

Usually, on the last day, the tables and chairs are moved, and we are working on the floor. And usually, the last day of school is crazy... I mean, the kids are crazy. This year I decided to keep our tables and chairs until the last minutes of the last day. What a great choice this was! My class was calm, and working. It also helped that they had this great activity to work on. The project includes math review which leads students to different things to draw. My kids were doing math, being creative, and focused on the last day of school.

On the last day of school I give my students a book of their poetry and art that I have saved during the year.  I had the kids glue their 5th Grade Memories page in as a memento.

Go and download this awesome freebie to use next year (3rd and 4th grade are included)! If you didn't already know, TpT now saves all the freebies you've downloaded so, if you're like me and forget, you can find them all in one convenient place!

Friday, June 27, 2014

BB Part 7 - Tropical Volunteer Gifts

It's time for part 7 of my 10 part series, Blog Backlog: Playing Catch Up. Today I am sharing another fun idea for volunteer gifts.

This year I was so lucky to have three amazing moms who came in regularly to help make copies, prep projects, and do almost everything I asked! I wanted to show my appreciation with something cute. Last year I made my volunteers these awesome Out of this World gifts, but I was in the mood to switch things up this year. 

I was browsing Dollar Tree and they have a whole tropical/island section for summer. I picked out three tiki cups, some flower leis, and umbrella straws. While looking around some more I found these adorable battery operated string lights that had colorful flowers on them. I knew these would be a great addition!

I placed everything in the cups, including the string of lights, and topped it off with a Jamba Juice gift card (obviously they need something cold and refreshing to put in those cups!). 

I also found plain paper gift bags and foam Hibiscus flower cut-outs at Dollar Tree, so I glued them on for a themed gift bag! Not including the gift cards, each gift came to about $4 each! Not bad! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

BB Part 6 - Fibonacci and the Golden Spiral

Woohoo, I'm more than halfway through my Blog Backlog: Playing Catch Up series! Make sure to check out all the BB posts!

During our last few days of school I wanted more of an "enrichment" lesson with my intervention math class. I've always been fascinated with Da Vinci and Fibonacci numbers, so I figured this would be a fun and meaningful math activity.

I have a copy of the book Math Wizardry for Kids that I picked up at a second hand bookstore ages ago. There are a couple of chapters on Da Vinci, including a biographical background and some activities.

I started by reading about Da Vinci to the class, then we figured out the Fibonacci sequence using calculators (0+1, 1+1, 1+2, 2+3, 3+5, 5+8, etc.). Next we took a mini field trip out to the playground to collect some samples from nature. We brought back twigs, leaves, pinecones, seed pods, and more. Then we looked at our samples to see if we could locate the numbers in our sequence. The seedpods had places for 8 seeds, the twigs had sections of 3, and the pine needles always came in sets of 2.

The following day we discussed the Golden Spiral and we created our own using the Fibonacci sequence we had discovered the previous day. For the most part it was easy, we just had to make sure we were all turning our papers the same way.

To create the Gold Spiral we started with a piece of graph paper (ours had very small squares, less than 1 cm). We found the approximate center of the paper and outlined a 1x1 square as our starting place. Next to this we colored in a 1x1 square. Beginning to move in a spiral we then made squares to the dimensions from the sequence, 2x2, 3x3, 5x5, 8x8, 13x13, until we had no more room. I think we were able to make it to 21x21. For each square we changed colors trying not to have any same colors touching. Finally, we used a dark colored pencil to create the spiral shape.

Not only did this simple activity help them better appreciate numbers and how math is related to nature, we ended up with some pretty cool looking art!

Monday, June 23, 2014

BB Part 5 - Donors Choose + Sticky Notes = Nonfiction Readers

I hope everyone is having a relaxing and fun summer. Mine is already half over, the first three weeks flew by, and I'm hoping the next three weeks are nice and slow. It's time for part 5 of my 10 part series, Blog Backlog: Playing Catch Up. Today's post is about my Donor's Choose project and a really great resource I purchased from TpT. 

We all know that with Common Core a greater emphasis is placed on reading nonfiction, which, if your school is like mine, lacks in the nonfiction department. Actually, even before CC I had realized the need for more nonfiction, especially as literature sets. When I taught sixth grade I used Donors Choose to get a set of books on Ancient Egypt, which I donated to our library when I moved to fifth. So, this year I decided we needed a class set of books on the Revolutionary War. Last year during our study of the war I had some students in my class "rooting" for the Americans and booing the British. I wanted them to understand that there were always two (or more) sides to a war, and always different perspectives. So, I read them George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer, and that helped. This book is at a great reading level for 5th graders, and they loved the graphic novel-like illustrations. I decided this would make a great book to use as a lit study, and so I set up a project through Donors Choose.

I am so grateful to all the donors that made it possible for us to get a class set of the books, they were a hit!

To make our study even more meaningful I purchased this amazing resource from Head Over Heels for Teaching: Reading Nonfiction with Post-its.

I picked out many of the pages from her resource that would coincide with the sections of George vs. George and made them all into a booklet. We glued on a copy of the front cover of GvG to make it official (sorry, forgot to take photos!). The students already had the 3"x 3" sticky notes that they use during Reading Workshop, but they needed the smaller ones for many of the activities. I found four packs of brightly colored ones at Dollar Tree and there were just enough in a stack for each student. 

Thanks Head Over Heels for Teaching for creating this super resource! I know I'll be using it even more this coming school year! And thank you Donors Choose for helping teachers get great resources and projects for our kiddos!

Friday, June 20, 2014

BB Part 4 - Solar System Posters

Hello, hello, and welcome to part 4 of my 10 part series, Blog Backlog: Playing Catch Up! I'm really enjoying getting to share some blog worthy things from the last month or two of school. Today I'm sharing a simple, yet easy, meaningful, and fun science activity.

My favorite science topic in 5th grade is SPACE! Here I am modeling wearing my planets t-shirt that I bought just for teaching this subject!

I was super lucky to be placed with an amazing intern this semester - she's going to be an awesome teacher soon - and she took the class outside to play with toilet paper. Well, actually, there was a scientific purpose. She had groups of students roll out the toiler paper and place a cut-out of each planet at their scaled distance from the sun. It really helped the kids get an idea how far the planets are from each other. 

Unfortunately, with all of the things that happen in our final quarter, sometimes there just isn't enough time to do as many in-depth activities in science that I would like. I needed a quick and meaningful way for my kiddos to get to know our Solar System. So, I came up with these simple Solar System Posters.

I had the students take a sheet of 17" x 22" copy paper and fold it in half lengthwise (hot dog style!) They opened it up and cut along the crease to create two long pieces of paper. They then glued these together with about an inch or two of overlap to make an even longer paper.

Next, we folded this to create 12 sections... so we folded it in half, then in thirds, then in half again. Then students labeled each section...
* Sun
* Mercury
* Venus
* Earth
* Mars
* Asteroid Belt
* Jupiter
* Saturn
* Uranus
* Neptune
* Pluto
* Our Solar System

Students used their science books to research each section of the solar system. As you can tell, the focus wasn't on just the planets, we included the sun, asteroid belt, and our dwarf planet friend Pluto! In each of the sections the students wrote at least three important facts about that part of the solar system and included a colored illustration. I absolutely loved their illustrations and they looked great hanging on the wall in our room.

I find that some of the best and most meaningful activities are projects where students get to complete their own research and use their own creativity. I hope you enjoyed part 4 of my 10 part series, part 5 will be up soon!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

BB Part 3 - Rubber Duckie Gifts

It's time for part 3 of my 10 part series Blog Backlog: Playing Catch Up! If you missed out on previous posts you should definitely check out part 1 on our state mobiles and part 2 on Go Noodle!

Today I'm sharing one of my favorite I love creating cute thank you gifts for the amazing people who give so much of themselves to work and volunteer for our kids. Some of the past gifts include: thank you cubes, out of this world space themed gifts, and flower cards.

For the past two years I have been teaching the 5th grade intervention math. Most of the kids have an IEP or just struggle with math. We are lucky to have a wonderful para and resource teacher who come in three days of the week to work with us. Last year these awesome gals got calculator cards and fun flexible calculators. This is even a freebie in my TpT store!

Since I had the same lovely ladies this year I needed something different. I was wandering around Dollar Tree and stumbled upon some cute rubber duckies. I immediately had the song, "Rubber Duckie you're the one..." in my head. My next thought was, hey, I could replace "bath" with "math", and this new gift was born. 

Each gift basket includes: cards from each student, two rubber duckies, a loofa, a bottle of bubbles, a lavender bath soak, and a gift card to Bath & Body Works. Most of the items I found at Dollar Tree!

I found a cute image of a bath with a duckie in it and just used that as the cards that students wrote on. The front of the cards says "Mrs. White, you're the one! Making MATH time oh so fun! Mrs. White we're especially fond of you!"

Inexpensive, cute, fun and full of gratitude! That's my kind of gift! There will be another volunteer gift post coming up in my 10 part series! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

BB Part 2 - Go Noodle

Hi! I'm back for part 2 of my 10 part series Blog Backlog: Playing Catch Up!  

For part 1 I shared our state mobile projects, today I am going to share something that many teachers have already found to be an awesome, easy, and FREE addition to their classroom...Go Noodle.  I had, apparently, signed up for Go Noodle quite some time ago, but forgot all about it an never used. There was suddenly a barrage of teacher bloggers buzzing about this site, so I jumped in to see what the hype was about.

The website is similar in set up to another I use daily in my room, Class Dojo, but instead of behavior management, Go Noodle is perfect to incorporate brain breaks and fitness. The research is overwhelming when it comes to the connection between movement and exercise and its impact on learning. It's sad that many schools have decreased recess and breaks, but Go Noodle is a perfect way to sneak in a few minutes of energetic fun to keep students motivated, engaged, and learning!

Go Noodle allows you to have multiple classes set up. I have one for my class and one for my math class. I also made one for my niece and nephew! Your class chooses a "Champ" to level up. My class did a quick secret ballot every time we started a new champ. These cute monsters have quirky things to say and at every level they go to the "Transmogrifier" and get beefed up.

There are TONS of activities for the students to do on Go Noodle. There are calming exercises that including breathing and yoga, and there are energetic ones with aerobics and dancing. Recently Go Noodle made it easier to search and save favorites. These are my students' favorite videos. The "Go Bananas" one is totally for the little kids, but my class loves it (and so do I)!

We have been loving the chance to have a quick break with pre-screened "safe" videos and the added bonus of leveling up a champ. A few months ago Go Noodle even sent our class a set of stickers. 5th graders still love stickers and most of them stuck them on a binder or notebook.

Thanks Go Noodle for the awesome stickers, but more importantly, for the great brain break fun! I'll be back in a few days with part 3!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

BB Part 1 - State Mobile Projects

Hello! Welcome to Part 1 of my 10 part series Blog Backlog: Playing Catch Up! I'm excited to get started!

Today I'm going to share our state projects. I've said many times how much I enjoy 5th grade social studies. We get to study the history and geography of our United States of America. My team has been trying to figure out how to best fit in the geography portion, which standard wise, isn't huge, but we feel is incredibly important for our kiddos to know. Last year the culminating project was a.....drumroll please...State Poster!!! So exciting - said no student or teacher - EVER. While my students last year did an incredible job on their posters, it just didn't have the novelty and pizzaz I was looking for.

I was inspired by Mr. Hughes NewYear New Me Mobiles. I've had my students create these mobiles two years in a row and I love how they look hanging in my classroom windows. It was time for those to come down and I figured a state mobile would make a beautiful replacement. So, thank you Mr. Hughes for the inspiration!

When I assigned the projects I cut up strips of paper with each state name on it and had students draw one. I took out our own state (which they studied in 4th grade) and other "popular" states that the kids knew quite a bit about already. Some were not thrilled about the state they chose, but once those projects came in, I could tell that they were excited about their project and had a new appreciation for a state they would otherwise not know much, or cared much, about.

Here is the part where I am a bit bummed out, the photos I took did not do their projects justice. I loved grading each one and reading all of the interesting things the discovered about their assigned state and the amazing art they drew.

 Don't those look lovely hanging in the window!

 Students carefully illustrated the state flag, and on the back the state bird and flower. 

 Each student had to locate the capital, two highly populated cities, and illustrate some geographical features on the state map. You can see that the title piece at the top also includes the state nickname. The back of the map included information about the state. 

 I want to visit that beautiful monument - time to travel to Nebraska!

 This was one of my favorite illustrations of an important person. I think Gerald Ford looks a bit like Kid President, don't you?

 A license plate and important person (I forgot who this is...maybe Margaret Mitchell???) from Georgia!

 This student was unexpectedly hospitalized and didn't get to put the mobile together, but he did a fantastic job!

So, that was our state project this year. It was a short, sweet, but meaningful at-home assignment. My class enjoyed completing it, and they loved seeing the projects that their classmates created. I will definitely be doing this again next year!

Interested in having your class complete these state projects as well? I've got the whole project ready to go in my TpT store.

Thanks for joining me for Part 1 of my Blog Backlog! I'll have Part 2 up in a few days!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Blog Backlog: Playing Catch Up

School has been out for just over a week. It was tough saying good-bye to my kiddos this year, I had an exceptional bunch. I wasn't gonna cry, but when I saw some of my boys sobbing uncontrollably, I kinda lost it. This year has been one of the toughest and most challenging for me - mostly because of things outside of my classroom, and out of my control. I'm grateful for the rough patches this year because I, and I know this is so cliche, but I have grown so much stronger. If the teacher I was when I started my career ten years ago, heck, even the teacher I was five years ago, saw me, I think I'd be pretty unrecognizable to myself.

My first week of break has consisted of some pool time, hanging out with Netflix (have you seen Derek? That show is so sweet!), and taking my sis, nephew, and niece to the Mirror Maze and Laser Maze. Looking forward to more slow days with some fun sprinkled in.

This year my phone has been full (literally, over spring break it took me a couple of days to get everything off it!) of photos. There were many blog posts I wanted to make, but never got around to. So, I figured that since I have no major plans this summer (besides hanging out at the pool, watching OITNB, and heading to Vegas for the TpT conference), it'd be a good time to catch up. I've selected ten topics for posts and will have a 10 part series I'm..."Blog Backlog: Playing Catch Up". Come back tomorrow for part 1!