Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall Conference Treat

I decided to take in the last fleeting moments of warmth and sunshine yesterday afternoon by sitting out on our front porch and putting together this little delight in preparation for our upcoming fall conferences that begin tomorrow afternoon. Hard to believe it is that time of year already - as I feel (like I do every year) like the year just started!

I put together each fall themed treat bag using the following supplies:

You can grab a copy of the "treat so sweet" tag as well by clicking here.
Fonts and Graphics: Kevin & Amanda, Krista Wallden

I've got all my treats packed up and ready to deliver to all of my lovely families beginning tomorrow afternoon!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Introducing the Scientific Method

For the past week we have been working hard to develop our understanding of the process scientists use to conduct investigations. 

We started by watching a short video on Brainpop Español to introduce the Scientific Method.
(Note: It is actually a free video right now (for those who do not have a Brainpop subscription), so get it while it's hot!)

After developing some background knowledge, I highlighted each of the steps of the Scientific Method with the students by creating a flow chart with these adorable little freebie posters from 

The students copied down each of the steps as well on this printable I created for them to store in their science folders and utilize throughout the school year.

After the initial lessons with this process, I wanted to gather a bit of information about my students' understanding thus far. So I asked each student to share something that he/she had learned on a Post-It in regards to the steps we will be carrying out as scientists this year in the classroom. We then did an inner/outer circle share activity so that each student had the chance to share/hear the ideas of others. After sharing, the students added their post-its to a class circle map shown below.

Here are a few of their ideas:

Next, it was time to put these steps into action. 
With Halloween just a few short weeks away and chocolatey goodness everywhere you turn, I figured why not embrace it in our hands-on effort to understand the process a little better.

I am sure that the whole "sink vs. float" experiment is not a new concept for any of you - it is however, a truly simple one to not only set up, but also introduce students to the steps of the scientific method because it doesn't overwhelm them with new/difficult content at the same time. 

Yes, my former science lab of a classroom is quite handy for investigation set up!

Below is the printable that my student's utilized as we walked through each step of the method together in determining which of our favorite Halloween treats sink or float. We completed the investigation in 2 days. 

Day 1: Observations, Question, and Hypothesis
Day 2: Experiment, Data Collection/Analysis and Drawing Conclusions

Here are some of their conclusions based on the results:

I absolutely loved hearing/reading their thinking as to why they believed the items either floated or sank. They truly used their schema and observations to draw their conclusions!

At the close of our investigation, we had a quick think-pair-share about what we now understand better about the Scientific Method post-investigation. It was clear my students had further developed their learning,  and I look forward to seeing how it continues to grow as we grow as scientists this school year.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Book Character Day

Happy Book Character Day!

Can you guess who I am?

I love Robert Muncsh, the story "The Paper Bag Princess", and cheap costumes! 
Thus, this costume was a done deal the minute I ran across the idea.

A leaf bag, a few holes for my head and arms and a quick paper crown, and I was all ready for the day!

When the kids arrived this morning, they were beyond excited to see all of the costumes they had worked so hard to put together. I must admit the variety and creativity was quite impressive.

During our morning meeting we greeted one another using our character names and for our class activity we utilized our "Just Like Me" activity to think like our characters and reflect on how they are all alike or different. If you haven't played "Just Like Me" with your class, it is a great way for them to get to know one another. You simply read different phrases that reflect the kids interests, backgrounds, hobbies, etc. and if the phrase you reads pertains to them they stand and in unison with others that share the same quality they say "Just Like Me". Simple community builder, and it worked perfect to get into the minds of our characters today!

After our morning meeting, we worked to analyze our characters and put ourselves in their shoes a bit more by thinking through their thoughts, actions, feelings, etc. I ran across this great little organizer and activity idea from Laura Candler and tweaked it a bit by having my kiddos freehand their characters instead of utilizing the actual printable. They had the brilliant plan of using their iPads to looks up images of all of their characters - and I was not only on board, but amazed by the quality of work they produced!

Each of their pieces was organized utilize the following key phrases:
Head: The character thinks...
Mouth: The character says...

Heart: The character feels...
Hands: The character likes to do...
Feet: The character goes...

Yes, my friend who drew Marty from Madagascar even wore a brightly colored rainbow afro to school.

So proud of this creative bunch.

Does your school celebrate Book Character Day? What are some of your favorite activities to do?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What do you like to read?

Over the past few weeks, my students and I have been focusing a great deal on selecting good fit books and building our reading stamina. One of the things we have talked about in great length is choosing books that we find enjoyable. On one of our first days of school, I asked my students to share with me on a post-it what types of books were their favorites to read.

As you can see, they shared everything from non-fiction biographies to books in a series like Harry Potter and Junie B. Jones.

I issued them a challenge to continue to read those books and genres that they find enjoyable, but be open to testing out new genres and series this school year as well to continue exploring! I am looking forward to seeing how much they grow as readers in a variety of ways throughout the year.

That being said, I recently had the opportunity to read and review a story that encompasses a variety of these genres that my students and myself highlighted as being some of "our faves". 

"Adventures of Ai" is a recently released children's ebook by New York Times bestselling author, Craig Bouchard. The story was originally written in English and has been translated into Spanish and Japanese among other languages, which was what made me to thrilled to get my hands on it.

The story is one which intertwines non-fiction with fiction and fantasy all into one, which is what makes it an engaging and exciting read. There are components of history, mystery, math and science within its pages along with a powerful message of overcoming obstacles and facing one's fears. It is a powerful story for any intermediate level reader (grades 4/5 and up would be my recommendation), and I truly believe it is one that would give students an opportunity to explore news genres along with those that they know and love all in one.

You can find a full summary of this adventurous tale here.
In addition to the book, there is also a game available students can play post-read so that they can dive into an adventure of their own! I love this connection between reading and gaming that so many of our students enjoy as it is a fun way to continue to develop their comprehension!

Now for the coolest part  - one of you will have the chance to experience this story for yourself, along with your students/children as well! I am raffling off one free copy of the ebook in the language of your choice (English or Spanish). Entering is super simple - just share in the comments section how you see yourself using the book with the students in your classroom and/or your own children and a winner will be chosen at random on Friday evening at 11:59pm (CST). 

Happy Reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, September 22, 2014

Bathroom Management

I first caught a glimpse of this idea for keeping informed of which students are in and out in the bathroom from Elizabeth in Fun in Room 4B. With a few cheap plastic plates from my favorite place on earth (yes, that would be Target), some velcro and an expo, we were in business!

Once students are given the go ahead via the use of one of our pictured symbols (found here and translated to meet my needs with a lil' label and sharpie magic), they must head over to the door to sign out on one of our plates.

The students must then erase their name upon returning to class so that it's ready to go for the next student, and so that I know they have safely returned to the room.

Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy.
Happy Monday and have a great week!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Library Grand Opening

Our classroom library officially opened this past week with a new sign to boot!

On Thursday morning we did a guided discovery of our library and one of my kids noted how bare the wall above looked. I shared with her that I was trying to think of the perfect thing to put there and she said "Why don't we put up a sign for our library?". 

Why don't we? I thought - What a perfect idea!
Later that afternoon while my kids were in specials I cut out some quick letters and prepped for the sign creation. My kids had NWEA testing all afternoon on Thursday, so I thought creating the sign could not be a more perfect wind down, break break type activity for them.

I let them pick their partners and each grouping was given a letter. I gave them guidelines in which I shared that they could add whatever design they'd like to their letter but it must contain something related to reading or a library. Ie. Author's names, genres, favorite book characters, tools to create books, etc. 

I mean impressive are these!

The sign definitely spiced up the place, and now there won't be any confusion as to where to find the books!

Here are a few more shots of our little reading area:

No library is complete without a "Super Reader" sock monkey.

Some of our bookshelves - organized by genre.

We have a strict no outside rug policy in my new building. This was a tough one for me to let go of as I felt like the rug just made the whole area so much more homey - but I think it still turned out to be a quite the quaint little, inviting space with what we had to work with. And thanks to my student's help - our new sign definitely livened it it up and made it their own!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Super Site Sábado #10

In prepping for our iPad rollout next week, my students and I did a variety of mini-lessons this week about how we can use iPads in our classroom and what the expectations will be when we have them in our hands!

In doing this, it was my goal to not only convey the information to them that they needed to know, but also try and show them a few features and apps that they would be using this year to get them more excited about our 1-to-1 environment.

Enter Popplet.
Popplet is an app that gives you the ability to create flow maps, charts and bubble organizers. I use the lite version in my classroom, which is what I will be sharing today. It's free and provides me with just the tools I need, but there is a paid version of the app for any who are interested in upgrading.

On Thursday, my students and I had a discussion surrounding what they thought our rules for iPad use should be in order to ensure we were using and handling them safely. I used the Airplay feature on my iPad to project an ongoing Popplet on our Smartboard so that the students could see how the app worked at the same time as I was adding all of their newly developed rules to the screen.

Here is what we came up with.

This map started as one bubble and we added on as we went along. 
Here's how:

You can also customize your Popplet by changing the background color of the whole thing.

Or just an individual bubble - which would be great for placing ideas into categories.

In addition to changing the color of each bubble, you also have the ability to add a drawing by clicking on the pencil icon or a photo by clicking on the photo icon.

Finally when you are all finished you can even save and/or send the finished Popplet. If you plan on having students use it as a tool to communicate their learning, this can definitely be a helpful feature!

And there ya have it, folks. How do you think you could use or how have you used Popplet in your classroom? I'd love to hear and share some of your suggestions!