Thursday, January 24, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr.

All month we had been reading books about Martin Luther King, Jr., and his legacy. We discussed his drive and passion to see a world of equality and peace. As a way to honor him, I decided to have my students complete a brick wall (piece of red paper with lines) throughout the month they wrote down any acts of kindness they performed either at home or school. Some of them really went out of their ways to find ways to show kindness, while others thought doing their "chores" without complaining was doing an act of kindness. I really wish I could say they all truly understood the purpose of the activity, but we will be working on that some more.

The other activity we did was to write Cinquain poems. Most students really understood the structure and the importance of word choice due to the limited amount of words used in the poem. I was very impressed with the results. The following student did not fully grasp the structure, but the use of powerful words was amazing. The other advantage of doing Cinquain poems was that it lowered the affective filter in the class and everyone felt successful on the task. I am definitely doing more poems in the class!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

FREE BrainPop App

I have a subscription to BrainPop because I love their short, educational, fun, videos on all content areas. It is an invaluable resource. They have many videos that you can watch with your kiddos without a subscription and they even have a FREE link just for educators with lots of free resources from lesson, standards, quizzes, etc. Simply click on the link to start.

One of my favorite new features is that you can add an Featured Movie app to your blog. It will play a different educational movie every week along with quizzes for the students. This gives student an excellent opportunity to review concepts at home, preview concepts, as well as have videos on important holidays/events.

And once again, the best part is that it is all for FREE.

Valentine's Day T-shirt, Pencil & Candy Towers

I am always surprised at the excitement my kiddos express over holidays and celebrations we have in school. Valentine's Day comes very close (if not equals), the craziness of Halloween. They come in all wired up, having eaten at least 3 chocolates by the time they walk in the door. They have ants in their pants, and are too giggly. This part is new to me as a newbie 5th grade teacher. I am having a very difficult time wrapping my mind around how much difference a couple of years can make.

Our Valentine's Day t-shirts and pencils were simply too cute!

Boy & Girl Robot 

Curriculum and pacing plans do not stop because of any big or small celebration, but I make it a point to have my kiddos do something fun and special. I had a huge red heart where the kids got to write down what they love.

At lunch we made nachos and hot dogs for them and it was so much fun!

 Our last activity was an adaptation from the O.R.E.O. Project. I remembered they had a blast trying to make tall towers with Oreo cookies and then doing the math (median, mode, mean individually and as a team). I decided to use Conversational Candy Hearts to do exactly the same thing. They were laughing, trying to outdo each others' towers, and reviewing math concepts all at once. For me, that is a win-win situation.

100th Day of School!

Our 100th day of School was absolutely A.MAZ.ING!! My kiddos were so excited and so was I. We had a full day of activities across the curriculum starting with wearing our 100th day t-shirt and using our smarty pencils.

The following are some of the activities did:
  • P.E.: 100 minute obstacle course 
The obstacle course was really fun! They had to jump through circles, jump 10x's using the jump-rope, dribble around some cones, shot the basket, and then kick the soccer ball through the goalie, all in 100 seconds (some got more-shh!)  
  • Cookery: making Zero the Hero donuts--we used biscuit Pillsbury dough and simply put a hole through the middle before making them.
  • Writing: (this was a project) Students wrote a narrative piece on their lives in flashback mode. They wrote about what they accomplished, became famous for, and succeeded at by the time they were 100 years old. They also described the future, what technologies exist, and what the world looks like in 2103/2104 respectively.
          While surfing on Pinterest a saw this PIN from Alycia over at Mrs. Zimmerman's Third Grade that I thought was an awesome idea for the 100th Day of School. The only adaptation for me was that it was placed on the digits. They had to list 5 places they want to visit some day, 5 questions they have about the world, and 5 algebraic equations that have 100 as the answer. We had some very thought provoking responses...Why do some schools have many more resources than us?, Why does it seem like people don't care about our planet?, What is going to happen to humans when so many animals become extinct?, I want to visit the pyramids of Giza, I want to go to outer space, I want to visit the mountains...There were some that really touched me and some that got me very teary-eyed. I learned so much more about them, their hopes, dreams, and fears.

  • Reading: (still looking for an upper grade book)
  • Math: Students will be building towers with 100 cards, cups, and Popsicle sticks. 
The Tower was fun, the cards were a good challenge. They had to figure out the best structure to hold up the top layers. They kept falling, but they realized that foundations is very important.
  • Art: Using a 2-liter soda bottle, they created a model of themselves at 100. I saw this on Pinterest as Biography Bottles @ The Millbrae Library

One of my AWESOME students
It was a great way for each student to shine and use their creativity. While some were asking me whether they could add a cane, others were asking me whether they could have specialty clothing and hoovering wheelchairs. Their projects came out really cute and they had a blast.

Winter Writing Fun!

Coming back from a three week break has been a challenge. Trying to get the kiddos back into a routine and in "working" mode has been an uphill battle, but things are getting better now.

We do art activities throughout the curriculum as much as possible and the kiddos love it. I decided to bring something back that we used to do a lot in 2nd grade--cookery/art. Every Friday, our writing is going to be centered around some kind of art/cookery activity that we will use as a springboard for our writing task. This will give me my kiddos time to review and practice other genres we have covered without deviating from the genre of study that goes with our Treasure Unit.

Our first activity was on Pointillism, a technique of neo-Impressionist painting using tiny dots, which become blended in the viewer's eye. I found a snow-globe activity on that would be perfect to go with our Winter theme. In their activity, the teacher taught them about foreground, middle ground, and background. I decided to change it a bit so that we could study neo-Impressionist works of art. They were blown away from the pieces of art that I showed them. They couldn't believe that these pieces of art were made from tiny dots. What was interesting, was that they thought it would be so easy to do and they soon discovered that it is difficult and time consuming. I had them use q-tips to make the dots. They really want to do this technique again. I have to figure out where it will fit in again. After that we wrote Cinquain poems about Winter. We focused on strong verbs and descriptive adjectives. This was a great parts of speech review.

Hot Chocolate
The second activity was having the students make some hot chocolate. While navigating through Pinterest (the link gives me an error page, so if anyone knows who I need to credit please let me know), I saw a bulletin board decorated with cups and kid writing on winter fun). I took the same idea simply modified it into a functional piece of writing. We brought in the ingredients/materials, read and followed the directions together. They got to decorate a "cup" with a winter theme, and then they wrote their functional piece. They were so eager to write down what we did, how to make it, and the fun they had making it. I did not have to be on anyone to do their writing-yippee!

Another activity we did involved making these cute snowmen I saw on Dukes&Duchesses. We used the small, white powdered donuts, M&M's, leather fruit, and skewers. I thought that this might be a little to "youngish" for my kiddos, but you should have seen them---the laughter and the joy in the room was too much! My kiddos then wrote a narrative piece about what they like most about winter.

We had a blast making paper snowflakes. We began by following some patterns I found on Pinterest. If you click on the picture it will take you directly to the link. As you can see, they are quite intricate and difficult for some of us. I was having a hard time.

                                                                                Source: via 4everateacher on Pinterest

What I really liked was that even though some of my students found these difficult, they didn't give up. They kept trying or asked other students for assistance. They had unlimited blank newsprint to practice on.

These are some of the snowflakes they cam up with:

After we were done with our paper snowflakes, we began our eatable snowflakes. This yummy activity came from Fun Family Craft. We had to use silver and colorful flakes instead because we were unable to find the white sugar crystals anywhere. I know may kiddos had fun--"This is the best activity yet!"--was a common phrase. I sometimes forget that what I take for granted as common activities are something that my kiddos don't always have exposure to and relish when they do. Definitely doing more cookery! This week we will be working on the writing-Acrostic Poems.

 Ingredients /Materials

 Pretzel sticks connected with white frosting

 Each kiddo got melted white chocolate in a baggie to decorate their snowflake.

 Silver flakes
Colorful flakes

Winter is yet not over and we still have more to do. What do you do to motivate your kids into wanting to write?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Penguin Winter T-shirt

The year started with a bang, and I seriously do not know what happens over vacations. Students seem to have an automatic delete button ready to go. It seems that everything is very unclear to them, they have developed amnesia, or ?????? I have simply smiled, nodded a lot, and concluded there is nothing else to do but review, review, review this week. I KNOW it will get better once again and things will begin roll. Is this something that only happens to me? How do you deal with winter depletion?

On a happier note, our winter shirts came out so adorable. The kids looked great! This month we did not do a pencil. We are now busy working on our 100th Day and our Valentine T-shirt and pencil. Can't wait!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Water Cycle

It has been a while since I last posted and I feel like a newbie all over again. I decided that I would truly focus on my family over the winter break and give blogging a little break. I am so pleased that I did, because during the last 3 weeks, my 18 month old decided to learn crazy dance moves, sing along to songs (more like mumbling), say so many more words (she mutilates most of them still), and most endearing to my heart, she is so affectionate and wants to be with mommy most of all.

We had been learning all about Space and only started discussing the Water Cycle the last week of school in December. While engulfed in Pinterest (that is my teacher addiction), I found this awesome foldable over at The Inspired Teacher that would be perfect for their science notebook. It explains the water cycle not simply with a circle, but in an actual setting. I decided to make our setting a city street. The visuals really help to describe what we had read in our Science Resource text.  

As a follow up to this foldable, we also did investigations on how precipitation and condensation are formed. First, we did the precipitation investigation. We took two cups filled with warm water and each cup had a different food coloring (one was blue and one was green). They then added lots of ice to one of the cups. Students illustrated in their science notebooks and wrote down any observations. They also jotted down any places they had seen condensation before. They listed windshields, mirrors, windows, glasses, frost on plants and roofs, cups with ice, etc. After about five minutes, the green cup formed many droplets on the outside of the cup. I asked students where they thought the water droplets had come from. Some said the droplets came from the atmosphere and some said it was from water in their cups though they couldn't explain how the water had escaped the inside of the cup. We decided to test the hypothesis that water had come from inside the cup. They then took a tissue paper and they concluded the tissue should turn green if the water came from inside. Of course the tissue did not turn green and it became very clear that it came from the atmosphere. (Yippee!) so even though we had already read and discussed that as long as the air stays warm, water will stay in the air as water vapor, but if the air cools (iced watered), molecules of water vapor will form tiny masses of liquid water---Condensation!

Our second investigation had to do with precipitation. Again we took a cup of warm water with food coloring and placed a dome lid on top filled with ice. Soon water droplets began to form on the bottom of the lid. Students were able to observe that as soon as the water droplets are big enough, they will begin to fall (rain/precipitation!). They were so excited about watching the droplets form and then "rain". Fun and learning-beautiful combination!

Here is a video on the Water Cycle that I found on YouTube. It is by Bill Nye the Science Guy. I love the way he explains very abstract/difficult concepts in a very easy and to understand format.

We will be doing other activities that I have found on Pinterest that complement our science curriculum. What activities do you do to help your students understand the water cycle?

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