Sunday, September 29, 2013

Science Labs

This year we've been told we have 40 minutes in our schedule for science every day (this same schedule also builds in no time for transitions, dismissal preparations, or breakfast clean-up). I found an incredible resource for science labs, Inquiry in Action to teach chemistry that includes background readings and lab write-ups and the materials are totally reasonable for a teacher with a limited science budget and/or resource closet. I also created a rubric for lab behaviors since some of our 5th graders thought it was a good idea to eat some of the materials and we had to ban science labs for a couple days ("But, miss! It was salt and sugar!" It was also EPSOM salts, my dear, misguided student).

Map Skills and Mexican Review Game

I created a game to make the review process more fun for the students after having studied the following topics: the Rich and Poor of Mexico, the Mexican-American War, and the Mexican Revolution (these are all in Spanish). We also just finished up our study of geography including the continents and oceans, latitude and longitude, hemispheres, cardinal directions, and where to find the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and explanation of Alaska and Hawaii. This game is meant to be played in guided reading groups and is in English so that students can apply the knowledge they learned in Spanish to something in English to develop a bilingual vocabulary for the material.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Esperanza Rising Webquest

I just finished working on a webquest for Module 1, Unit 3 ( that asks students to connect the UDHR's articles to the novel, Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. I plan to continue to work on it and tweak it to make sure that it is adapted to student needs. It is bilingual, student-centered and provides for intrapersonal, interpersonal, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Let me know if you find any typos or have any ideas to add on!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Skip Counting to Multiply and Divide

While we teach 5th grade and most students should have already learned their addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts, we're lucky if they know their additions facts by heart. Also, with our curriculum, it leaves little time to spend in class memorizing and, while we send home flashcards, there is no guarantee that students will practice their facts. To help with this, we teach skip counting songs for each number. We haven't made videos of them yet (maybe soon!) but if you youtube skip counting by __ with the song title, you'll find some of the videos I used for the source of our songs. Here's a printable so that students can practice on their own once you teach them how to sing them.

When introducing a new one, we usually follow this practicing routine:

Teacher sings and points to visual of numbers while students listen
Teacher sings a part, students repeat back, until song is finished
Teacher and students sing together
Teacher gives a multiplication problem, models how to sing to find the answer
Teacher gives a multiplication problem, students sing to find the answer
Teacher gives a division problem, models how to sing to find the answer
Teacher gives a division problem, students sing to find the answer

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Memoir Pre-Writing

For our first writing piece, students are currently at the pre-writing stage of Memoirs. They've come up with some seed ideas and, after learning about great beginnings and fleshing out some beginnings for a few of their seed ideas in their Spy Notebooks (Writer's Notebooks), we'll complete some interactive notes together on showing, not telling. I'm posting both of the resources we'll be using. Happy writing!

Short vs. Long A Game

This year, we're using two word study approaches during a 20 minute block of our morning: word patterns (Words Their Way) and vocabulary study (Flocabulary) Because we have three teachers, we have three groups of words study based off of the elementary spelling inventory from words their way. We are also using Flocabulary to make sure our ELLs are learning the much needed tier two vocabulary. We switch off each day from Words Their Way and Flocab every two weeks with assessments on the Thursday and Friday during the second week. For my Within Word Pattern Spellers, I created a "Space Race" game to review their long a vs. short a (sort 7) words. I created the file in PowerPoint because it's much easier to align and organize images than Word (as I've just recently learned about). I plan on adding more games as I create more for the students every new sorting cycle--you can buy the file now for a major discount by the end of the year!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Scientific Method Book

For science this year, we plan on doing science lab centers. In order to introduce the scientific method, I created a book for students to read at home to review the steps. It's very simple and it's bilingual, so I realize it won't be useful for everyone but it will give our students a quick review some night this week. I created this on a PC and set it to "book fold" under Page Setup and it needs to be printed front to back on the short edge. Also, make sure you download the file instead of just printing from Google Docs! The formatting needs to be in word for everything to line up correctly.

Room Set-Up for the First Day

I'm hard at work this weekend, planning, reflecting and creating items! Thus far, the school year has gotten off to a good, if stressful and jam-packed, start. Our room was organized(ish) for the first day:

Our "I can..." statements on my homemade whiteboard! At some point, I'll blog
about how I made this but suffice it to say that it cost me, in total, about $25.

The "front" of our room. Our "CAFE" (Reading strategies) and
"VOICES" (writing strategies) were free printables from Ladybug'sTeacher Files.
She is amazing! We use a bunch of her adorable printables in our room for labeling
and organization.

We use these sentence frames to promote high order thinking
(Bloom's Taxonomy). As we teach them, we also encourage
the students to use the questions with each other.

Underneath our sentence frames, we post the vocabulary for
each unit under each subject so that the students can use them
for easy reference. Old words will be written into a dictionary
for each table group to keep on hand. We plan to continue
"Vocabulary Maniacs," a vocab using incentive chart, again,
this year.

More front of the room!

Student mailboxes as students enter. My co-teacher
found the idea for movable name labels (binder clips) on Pinterest
and it linked to this blog.

I'm sure this has been done before but, while
my co-teacher and I were shopping last year, we
found this lime green shoe holder at Five
Below and, though we didn't have a use for
it, it was only $5 so we bought it to go with
our room. We took the kids photos, velcroed
them onto the colored squares and attached
these to cardboard sticks we had. Then, the
kids can move themselves through the
writing process as they go. It's a great way
to formatively assess where students are. It
allows us to group students based on need
so that we can have guided writing groups.
Another cozy reading spot! Big lots had bean bags for $17!