Friday, October 28, 2011

Want to be a contributor?

I am looking for blogs that are interested in being a contributor during Foldables day, two days, everyday...your choice!

Please leave a comment below with the following information:

1) Which days you would like to contribute to
2) Your blog's name and address
3) Anything else you want me to know!!

Looking forward to having you join in!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Foldables Week! Time to Get Your Fold On.

I fold! You fold! We all fold!

I have been very excited about all the foldable possibilities I have been seeing on Pinterest and teaching blogs lately and want to celebrate this new obsession of mine and so.....

Foldables Week was born!

Start getting ready now and get excited! Pass the word around and let's celebrate the world of foldables. Each day of the week will be dedicated to a different subject area so you can join in everyday, one day, as many days as you want. Get that camera clicking and start collecting pictures of the fabulous foldables you are creating with your students.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Look Inside My Classroom

I've taken some updated pictures of my classroom now that we are almost two months into the school year. I started the year with most of my bulletin boards blank so that my students and I could build up our learning materials together with charts and resources that will help them through out the year. Of course it's an ongoing thing and the boards will change as we learn and grow but here's what we have so far...

So these first three pictures are a little hard to see but I'll describe it to you. Each student created a name tag at the beginning of the school year and then I laminated them. I then punched a hole in each card and threaded two twisted pipe cleaners through the hole with a hook on one sad to keep it in the card and a note on the bottom.

Every time my student's finish a book they fill out a short bookmark telling me about their book and then they get to thread a bead on their card. When they reach a multiple of 10 they get an extra special star bead. I have set a goal of 40 books in my class this year after reading The Book Whisperer and doing the book study this summer...but many of my students are going to far surpass that. I think I need to talk to some students about choosing more challenging books! So when that happens I plan to get a third type of bead for the students who have gone beyond the goal.

This is the legend for my word wall. I like to integrate my subjects so this gets students using a legend all year long AND I can put all the words from the subject areas in one place!

Here is my word wall! The "Scrabble" style letters are clip art from Scrappin' Doodles. Love it!

Here is out updated Math board. At the start of the year when we were studying Data Management it had an oversize bar graph on it so we could reference the parts of a bar graph whenever we needed to. We have now moved on to number sense and numeration so the board shows place value information. Above the board you can see our Math Word Wall (which needs to be updated). I put any Math specific vocabulary there.

This is our Work on Writing area. You can see our anchor chart for the types of topics and forms we can write during Work on Writing time. We will continue to add to this chart throughout the year. Underneath you can see the options for what I expect students to do during Work on Writing.

And that's it for now....I plan to re-do my Social Studies board soon and we are starting a new unit on Non-Fiction Text Features and Inferring with Media so keep an eye out for new photos to come!

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts, suggestions or similar ideas. Please comment below, especially with links back to your own blog so I can visit you too!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Got Anchors?

Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes is hosting a fun new WEEK-LONG linky party.

It's all Anchor Charts all week!!

 If you have some anchor charts to share and be proud of then get out your camera and starting snapping now. Starting October 31st to November 4th you will be able to link up your anchor posts and browse through the wonderful ideas posted by others. I'm willing to bet that this linky party overloads Pinterest for sure!

 I've already started taking pictures and am getting ready to share.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Writer's Notebook Assignment- Writing Workshop Freebie

Every year I plan to have my students keep a writer's notebook. Every year something everything gets in the way and they fall by the way side...not this year! I started off my Writer's Workshop program following the structure outlined in Denise LeoGrandis' book Launching the Writing Workshop. 

Now I will be the first to admit that I have not followed it exactly. I have added in some of my own ideas from past experiences with Writer's Workshop PLUS I am launching the Daily 5 at the same time so that has taken up quite a chunk of class time. (To be totally honest, I am a month and a half into the school year and I am on Day 5 of the plan outlined in the book!! I feel that it's okay since it's working for me and it's my room! I get to make the decisions...LOL) 

In terms of the Daily 5 my class is up to 20 minutes for Read to Self (R2S)and 16 minutes for Work on Writing (WoW). During our WoW time the students have been creating an I Am Poem, adding jot notes or long writes (ideas from the book), writing from prompts for the book Unjournaling, or writing of their own choice.

This year I have also added a "Try It" section to my homework board so that any students who are looking for extra practice have some ideas of what they can do. So far the only things I have listed are R2S and adding ideas to their Writer's Notebooks but some of the students have told me that they are doing it every night! Go kids!

I am responsible for covering a variety of text forms each term as part of the plans my Grade 4 team put together- this term we are doing recounts, narratives and reports! However, I also wanted to give my students lots of time to write on topics and in forms of their own choosing...hence, the draw to start the Daily 5 in my room. BUT...I am also responsible for reporting on my student's writing progress. Yeah for marking and report cards.

In order to mesh these two responsibilities I have taken to teaching the text forms during the periods I have dedicated to Writer's Workshop and then allowing the students to write on their own during WoW. I have been very impressed with my student's dedication to writing, conferencing and editing/revising during WoW. Sometimes I feel like I am running a little publishing house out of my classroom! I have created an assignment that will allow my students to showcase their writing while still fulfilling my text form requirements...go me. (As of right now, we have only covered recounts so that's the only text form you will see on the assignment sheet. I am moving on to reports next but the students will be completing an integrated assignment in Science for this text form.) 

Now I should preface this assignment sheet/freebie with the fact that I teach in Ontario so the attached rubric has been created using the Ontario Curriculum for Language Arts. Also, we assess using for different categories of achievement- Knowledge and Understanding, Communication, Thinking and Application. These categories are common across all our subject areas and I create my assessments based on these categories. I do not give my students one overall mark on any assignments, but rather they get up to four different marks based on the categories. I am planning to do a post soon on my assessment methods if you are more interested in how this works!

So without further is my Writer's Notebook Assignment for my Grade 4 class.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below or to email me at thinkingofteaching {at} gmail {dot} com. If you are interested in an editable copy of this assignment (without the clip art of course!) please feel free to email me as well!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Things I Am Lovin'...

How about a weekly Linky Party?? I find a ridiculous amount of fantastic ideas on other teacher blogs, Pinterest and the internet in general, and I am sure you all do too! So....I thought a weekly link party where we can all share our "Fantastic Finds" would be just the thing. Consider yourself invited, no RSVP necessary- just show up and have a great time.

Here are the rules/suggestions:
1) Grab the Linky Party button and display it proudly on your blog or post!
2) If the Fantastic Finds Linky Party has a theme...follow it
3) Please link to the actual POST where your fantastic find is...not just the blog.
4) Have fun!
Any links that do not fit the linky party or are not related to education will be removed.
Here are my fantastic finds of the week:
1) Linneyville- this amazing blog taught me how to make the super cute button for this shindig! I am so proud
2) How about this awesome literacy related halloween costume!

3) Create Teach Share has a great Status of the Class freebie that I will be implementing TOMORROW in my class. Talk about accountability!
4) Do you Daily 5? 4th Grade Frolics has a fantastic idea for Work on Writing. Check it out.
5) A. Mazing.Ing Literary Device posters over at My Teaching Spirit. Putting these babies up for sure!
6) I've adopted this classroom helpers method in my room this year and I loving it! Thanks to Ashleigh's Education Journey!
Join in on the fun below.
TBA's Ultimate Linky Party

Monday, October 10, 2011

Everything I Ever Needed to Know...

... I learned at campfire? It sure seems like it when you read through the lyrics of some of my favourite songs. There's nothing like a good song to teach you a life lesson, eh?

It's this time of the year, as summer is really truly fading (although the weather sure was warm this weekend) that I start to get nostalgic for the summer months, the sunshine and the warm weather. I do love a good fall day but nothing beats the fun of summer camp and everything I learned there!

All My Life’s a Circle

All my life’s a circle, sunrise and sundown
The moon rolls through the night time
Till the day break comes around
All my life’s a circle, but I can’t tell you why
The seasons spinning round again
The years keep rolling by.
It seems like I’ve been here before, I can’t remember when
But I got this funny feeling
That we’ll all be back again
There’s no straight lines that make up my life
And all my roads have bends
There’s no clear cut beginnings, and so far no dead ends.
I’ve found you a thousand times, I guess you’ve done the same
But then we’ll lose each other
It’s just like children’s games
As I see you here again, the thought runs through my mind
Our friendships like a circle,
Let’s go round one more time.


Mm, mm, I’d like to linger
Mm, mm, a little longer
Mm, mm, a little longer here with you
Mm, mm, its such a perfect night
Mm, mm, it doesn’t seem quite right
Mm, mm, that it should be my last with you
Mm, mm, and come December
Mm, mm, I will remember
Mm, mm, our campfire bright and friendships true
Mm, mm, and as the years go by
Mm, mm, I’ll think you you and sigh
Mm, mm, this is goodnight and not goodbye

Frog Kissin'

Do you remember in the fairy tale, how the wicked witches spell
Turned the handsome prince to a toad?
By the power of a potion, she handed him the notion
He was lower than the dirt in the road.
And though she left him green and warted, her evil plans were thwarted
Their chanced to happen by a young miss
Who inspite of his complexion, offered him affection
And broke the wicked curse with her kiss
So if you've never been frog kissing
Then you don't know what you've been missin',
There's a wealth of opportunity under each and every log.
And if you've never been charm-breakin',
Then you've never been handsome prince makin'.
You've got to slow down, turn around, bend down,
Kiss you a frog!
Once upon a time ago, I was down and feelin' low
Like a lonely frog in a pond
My life was just a joke, and I was just about to croak
Cuz I'd be zapped by life's wicked wand.
But in the depths of my depression, there came a true expression
Of love from a person so sweet.
She gave me warm fuzzy feelings, feelings that were healin'
And she knocked me off my little webbed feet.
There's a happy-ever-after-land, deep in the heart of man
Where a prince and princess abides.
But all we get are glimpses, of the happy prince or princess
'Cauce they're covered with a green warty hide.
Though they're full of life's potential, they're lacking one essential
To enable them to shine like a star.
That's a handsome guy or missus, to smother them with kisses
And love them just the way that they are.

That's the secret of frog kissing
You can do it too if you'll just listen
There's a wealth of opportunity under each and every log.
That's the secret of charm-breakin',
That's the secret of handsome prince makin'.
You've got to slow down, turn around, bend down,
Kiss you a...
You've got to slow down, turn around, bend down,
Kiss you a...
You've got to slow down, turn around, bend down,
Kiss you a frog!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Habitats and Communities Game

I know science week was last week...but I am not teaching my own science this year and really didn't have anything to contribute UNTIL I went on a field trip with my class yesterday. We went to an outdoor education centre run by my school board as part of my teaching partner's Science program. The kids has a great time being outside, constructing a grouse shelter, feeding chickadees, and petting a snake (GROSS!). My favourite part was the game we played at the end of the day.... Squirrel Wars!!

The basic premise is that the students become squirrels. In our case they were divided into 2 different types of squirrels- Red Squirrels and Grey/Black Squirrels. After a short lesson about the behavioural adaptations of the two squirrels we headed out to the woods to play. Here's how it all worked...

Red Squirrels- These squirrels are small, feisty and aggressive. They hide all their nuts in one place and will fight any animal that comes near their stash. The students in this group were given 12 beans (no nuts of course! allergies!!) and instructed to hide all their beans in one spot in the woods.

Grey/Black Squirrels- These squirrels are bigger and more laid back. They hide their nuts in multiple places and don't get too upset when one stash is stolen by another animal. These students were instructed to hid their beans in many different places in the woods.

So once the students had hidden their beans they returned back to home base. The guide talked a little about how the squirrels have to fight to survive the winter by storing and finding their food. In January when it's just starting to get cold here in Ontario they are still pretty strong so the students needed to go back out into the woods and find three of their beans. They were given a time limit and anyone that didn't return was considered "frozen" by the winter and dead (a little brutal but part of real life). Also, any student that didn't return with three beans didn't survive either. We tacked the alive and dead squirrels for both the Red and Grey/Black groups (yeah, data management integration) in order to see which type of behaviour was more successful.

This continued for February where the students had to bring back four beans, and then March where they had to bring back the final five beans. It was very interesting to see that some students brought back more beans then they were asked to in the first 2 rounds and then they didn't have enough food/beans to survive the rest of the winter. Also many students forgot or had their beans stolen and also didn't survive the winter. We played a few rounds of this game and then the guide introduced the idea of scavengers (yeah food webs/chains!). Two students became a chipmunk and a blue jay and were instructed to steal the squirrel's food stores.

Here is the chart used to keep score for the game- The first chart shows the results of the game played by my class and the second is a blank for your own use. The data can be used to create a variety of graphs after the game as been played and used for further discussion of how the behavioural adaptations of the two squirrels affected their survival.

All in all it was a great day at the field centre and I think my students really learned a lot from the experience. I hope this all makes sense for you in case you are interested in playing the game. I think that it is easily modified to fit animals in your region should you be lucky enough to live where squirrels do not!! LOL...I am not a huge fan of them myself.

Happy Science Learning!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Building the Routines

I am trying very hard not to stress out....very hard!! Here we are a month into school and I feel as though we are already so far behind. I am implementing the Daily 5 (or 3 in my class) for the very first time. It has been going well and the kids seem to be enjoying it. We are up to 12 minutes for Read to Self and just introduced Work on Writing last week and are up to about 6-ish minutes. So far so good...

The problem comes in because I also have a student teacher in my classroom (which I did not know about until a few days before the start of the year) and I need to balance his learning as well and give him time to teach lessons and learn as well. He is only here for three more weeks and we are building up to full days for him to be teaching but I keep feeling as though my Daily 3 routines and time is getting pushed to the back burner. I want him to have a good practicum and learn as much as possible from teaching in my classroom...BUT...I also want my routines and schedule for the Daily 3 set in place because I am going to be here all year!!!! Such a dilemma.

I would love to hear from anyone else that is implementing the Daily 5 on how fast/slow you are setting up each of the rotations so I can start to judge if I really am going too slow or am on track. HELP PLEASE!!
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