Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Confession: Writing

I have a confession to make.  I hate dislike teaching writing.  Writing has also been that one subject that I don't enjoy teaching.  I feel like I have a hard time teaching students how to be good writers and so many of them have bad grammar and they just don't see what they need to fix during editing.  BUT, with all that being said, we have done more Writing this year than ever before and a LOT more research.   Thank you, Common Core Writing standards.  I thought I'd share our most recent research and writing project.  

The students got to choose one rain forest and desert animal from a list.  We scheduled time for research in the computer lab.  The main four things they researched were: habitat, appearance, diet, and survival strategies.  After research, we made an outline of how we should set up our essay: 
To model this, I let the class pick two animals for me to write about.  They chose poison dart frogs and a roadrunner.

First, we organized and outlined our research. 
Then, we began writing our essay.  We started off with an introduction and have wrote a paragraph or two each day.  I model what I expect on the chart paper using the poison dart frog and roadrunner and then students begin to write.

How do you feel as a teacher of Writing? If you have any tips, I'd love to hear them! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ornaments, Literature Circles, and USA Studies Weekly

I am like a broken record...every time I blog I say how I have been so busy, etc, etc, etc.  It's true!  But I will save it this time and dive right in to a few things I want to show you!  

Every year before Thanksgiving break I send home two-dimensional nets.  Students can decorate them any way they'd like and create a 3D shape out of the net to use as a Christmas ornament for our classroom Christmas tree.  You never know what they will come back like!  I have some cute ones this year.  
My favorite just might be the Duck Dynasty one!  Have you ever watched that show?  I LOVE it!  Do you have a class Christmas tree?

In ELA, we are reading one of my favorite books that goes right along with our Social Studies unit on the American Revolution...The Secret Soldier!  My partner teacher and the teacher before me designed these literature circle cards so we have been reading the text as a whole class and discussing the questions in literature circles.  My students love the book!
How many of you get USA Studies Weekly?  If you do, how do you incorporate it into your curriculum?  This is the first year I've got it and I am loving it, but am having a hard time fitting it in with everything else!
I would love to use them with our Social Studies notebooks.  I am planning on using this map that shows the Louisiana Purchase in our notebooks.
Next week I am heading to a Common Core Workshop for two days!  I am looking forward to it.  I also got an email today that I have been selected to attend a Math textbook caravan because we are adopting new Math textbooks next year.  Out of our Prek-12 school, only three of us are going.  Yikes!  I am honored, but feel very unprepared for that!  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thankful Link Up

Friends, can you believe it is already November?  Today I am linking up with Stories by Storie for a Top 10 list of what I am thankful for!
Here are things I am thankful for!
1) God - Thankful for a loving God!
2) Hubby - He's such a hard worker and Easton thinks he hung the moon.
3) Easton - My sweet little boy is my entire world!
4) Family - Love them and miss them so much!
5) Friends - I am thankful for good friends!
6) School - Love where I work at.
7) Home - With all the destruction from hurricane Sandy, I am thankful for a home with electricity, heat, and plenty of food to eat.
8) Little moments - It's the little moments that mean the most!
9) Military - So thankful for all of our troops, past and present, that sacrifice their family time and their life to keep us safe.
10) Country music - I know this sounds silly, but I absolutely love the world of country music. :)

Have a good week, friends!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

November Currently

Can you believe it is already November?!  Wow!  I am linking up with Farley's November Currently!

I am not an Ole Miss or Georgia fan, but the hubs is watching so I am, too.  We are VOLS fans!  Go Big Orange!  

Am I the only teacher who hates grading essay's?!  They can be so subjective and I really dislike grading them, but I have 20 waiting on me so I better get going!

Several years ago I found classical CD's at Dollar Tree and bought several of them.  I use them in the morning when kids come in and during independent reading/small groups!  I could use some upgrades in the music department so I am going to be checking out some of the music you all are mentioning on this Currently!  

Catching up!

This post is a little random...you have been forewarned! :)  First, I wanted to show yall our door for Red Ribbon Week!  Our slogan is "United We Stand For A Drug Free Land!  Vote NO for Drugs!"  I love how it tied in with the presidential election!  
This week we had a candy Math lesson!  My students brought bags of individually wrapped candy.  Each group had 1-2 bags.  First, they counted the quantity in each bag and wrote that number on a post-it. Then, we put the post-it's on the board in order from least to greatest.  I introduced the words minimum, maximum, range, mode, and median using the numbers of candy we had!  Then, they got to rotate and fill a little baggy of candy to keep for themselves.  It was cute!
In Social Studies, we are learning about all about factors that led to the American Revolution!  This Social Studies Weekly tied in perfectly!  Do you get Social Studies weekly?  This is the first year we have and I am struggling to find time to add it into our curriculum, but have enjoyed it so far.
I couldn't get the video to post, but I LOVE showing my students the Schoolhouse Rock video "The Shot Heard 'Round the World". Most have never heard of Schoolhouse Rock, but they all love it!
Next Monday we have parent teacher conferences and we are out of school Tuesday!  I am looking forward to that!


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Severe Weather Safety

One of our 4th grade standards is severe weather safety!  Well, with Hurricane Sandy on the horizon as a threat for the entire East Coast, I'd say we studied it just in time.
Hurricane Sandy
So, if you are near the East coast, my 4th graders have some safety tips for you!
And here are some tornado and thunderstorm safety tips as well! 


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Color

This summer I promised myself I would keep this blog updated and blog all about our classroom activities.  Clearly, that hasn't happened!  :(  My home life has just been super busy lately!  Of course, my two and a half year old keeps me on the go-go-go at home.  I had a nephew born about 2 weeks ago, my home church in Tennessee was burned to the ground (arson), I went home for the weekend by myself, we've been doing lots of fall fun activities, and I just haven't had the time to blog.  

We began our Light unit in Science last week.  I also like to teach about ROYGBIV!

Students got to use prisms to try to see ROYGBIV.  We got some great views of it and they were SO excited!

We also watched a video segment from The Magic School Bus: Makes a Rainbow.  The segment we watch is called "Colors Hidden in White Light".
I love Magic School Bus!  

Monday, October 8, 2012

Field Trip to Cherokee, North Carolina

Last Thursday our 4th graders went to Cherokee, North Carolina on our field trip!  Out of state field trip, chartered bus, 2 hours there, 2 hours back...yep, I survived!  We left the school at 7:00 am.  On the way there I heard conversations like "Look at that cirrus cloud!", "Whoa!  It's a mountain!", and "Oh my gosh, we are driving through a stratus cloud!".  Can you tell we have been studying clouds in Science?  We also saw 3 hot air balloons which was neat! We had great weather, good chaperones, and well behaved students!  We started out at Oconaluftee Indian Village.
Entrance to the village
A Cherokee man shows us beautiful bead work.
Our tour guide shows us hand made masks. 
Students get the opportunity to go inside a sweat house.
My favorite part was the Indian dances we were able to see.  This is my 5th year to take students on this trip and we've never had time to see the dances.  I was glad we had the time this year.
After the village, we had lunch at a local covered shelter.  Then, we made our way to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.
Entrance to the Museum
We always take a photo in front of the Sequoya statue.
Clothing from the Cherokee

We had a wonderful time!  Do you take your students on field trips?  If so, where?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Social Studies Notebooking

I am still fairly new to notebooking, but we are getting a little better each year.  Two years old, we were told halfway through the year to start notebooking in at least one subject.  Hesitant, yes I was.  The next year (last year) we did it for Science and Social Studies.  This year our district supply list (I dislike those!) asked for 5 composition notebooks so we decided we should put them to good use.  We now have notebooks for Science, Social Studies, Writing, Math, and one for Family Message Journals.  

I can openly admit, as a teacher, I definitely need improvements in notebooking, but I thought I would share some pages from our Social Studies notebooks.  We call them content notebooks, but I've heard others call them Interactive Student Notebooks.

We start off with a Table of Contents (not pictured).  Our first study was a continent and ocean review.  It's not actually one of our standards, but we feel like students need this before we can cover everything else.  You know, so they realize South Carolina is NOT the continent they live on!  I teach them a little saying to remember the continents:  North America married South America (because it looks like they are touching/holding hands) and they went to Europe on vacation.  They had 4 children and they all started with the letter A: Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antartica.  
Here are some pictures of a few things we've studied:  Land Bridge Theory, Native Americans, and explorers.  



I think the biggest thing I need help with is creating foldables.  I did find this website that has lots of foldables for teacher's to use.  SOCIAL STUDIES FOLDABLES

One idea we got from our 3rd grade teachers is to color the spine of the notebook a different color for each subject.  This just makes it easier for students to identify their notebooks.

Red=Math
Blue=SS
Yellow=Writing
Green=Science (not pictured)
White=FMJ (not pictured)
Another thing with our notebooks is that students do not take them home unless they need to study for a test!  Do you use notebooking in your classroom?  If so, any helpful tricks/ideas?  

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Vocabulary Instruction

A few weeks ago I had a question from a reader (Hey, Lana!) about my vocabulary instruction.  I am interested in how others use a vocabulary program or if you do at all.  So, I thought I'd do a post about our Vocabulary instruction.  A few years ago our school purchased Steck Vaughn's Elements of Reading Vocabulary Series. I've searched all over the Internet for a picture of it and can't find one anywhere.  Here is one that is similar and looks to be more geared to younger elementary.  The one we have for 4th grade is Level D.  

With our series, we get a teacher's guide, R.E.V. It Up books (they have short stories/passages/poems using the vocabulary words), a Read Aloud Anthology book (longer stories with the words), Writer's Logs (workbooks for students), picture cards with the words, a sentence, synonyms, and antonyms on the back, and cards with the words on them (I use for them for our word wall).  Here is what our vocabulary instruction looks like:

Monday:  Read the story for that week and introduce new words using picture cards.  

Tuesday:  Display all the words on the board and give each group 1-2 cards face up (with only the picture showing) and they have to figure out which word their picture card represents

Wednesday:  Review all words

Thursday:  Share sentences from Writer's Log homework

Friday:  Test on weekly words (there are a total of 8 per week)

Now, with our new Reading series, Literacy by Design, we also have vocabulary words in there.  We all debated at the beginning of the year.  Do we only use the words in LBD?  Do you use both our regular vocabulary and LBD?  Can we only use our regular vocabulary series?  But, these words are tested on our Literacy by Design tests so we have to cover them.  So far, it's going good.  Last week I let groups each select a word, write the definition, write a sentence using the word, and draw a picture.  These are all from our Reading series.  





How do you teach Vocabulary?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Catching Up!

It has been a looooong week, friends!  Time to catch up!  First, if you missed by guest blog on the Budding Bloggers Showcase, head on over to Amanda's awesome blog to see it!  
I wanted to go to the SC Bloggers get together last weekend, but it just didn't happen!  It's been a hectic few weeks, the hubs was in Charleston, and it was smack dab during lunch and nap-time for my toddler.  Maybe next time!  I am super excited that a Hobby Lobby is opening near Charleston (that's why the hubs was there last weekend)!  Hello weekend trips to Charleston!

I really try to "keep it real" on this blog and try not to be a debbie downer, but it's just been a hard couple of weeks!  I know sometimes I read blogs and think "Man, their class is perfect!" But, we all know that isn't the case.  I have just had a hard time getting in my groove this year, if that makes sense.  I have had tons of meetings during planning and after school.  I have students who are way, way, way behind a fourth grade level.  But I also have some well above a fourth grade level too, which is GREAT but I literally have both ends of the spectrum and there are days I'm at a loss of how I can provide the intensive interventions some need and still excel and advance those high students.  We also got a new Reading series AFTER school started and it's just a hot mess!  Add in some health issues/not feeling well and you've got another hot mess = ME!  Any advice is welcomed!

Okay, I promise I am off my complaining box.  Now, moving on to some SCIENCE fun!  Our first unit is all about weather, which I have posted several times.  We've finished water cycle and clouds and are now talking about weather tools.  This week we made some anemometers and took them outside to test!
We also made wind vanes yesterday and tested those too!  
They are the most reliable, but they work okay most days and the kids enjoy making them.  Next week we begin our Weather Log where students act as meteorologists and we go outside and describe the weather, identify clouds, check the wind speed and wind directions, check the temperature, precipitation, and predict the forecast for tomorrow!  Fun, fun!