Friday, April 27, 2012

STUCO Elections

As the year is winding down (3 more weeks!), we're starting to prep our kids for 6th grade and the transition to the middle school.  We will be shadowing current 6th graders, we're sending home summer school and 6th grade academy registration forms, and we're holding an election for STUCO.

My co-teacher and I worked together to create a Gold Seal (Quadrant D) lesson about the election process.  We've spent the entire week working on this, almost all day.  We've covered reading, writing, social studies, and math.  We've made campaign posters and iMovie commercials.  It's been a great experience, and I feel as though our kids have a really great understanding of elections.

Each 5th grade teacher (2 of us) chose 4-5 representatives to run in the primary election.  We based these decisions on behavior, academics, and responsibility.  We then divided the rest of the classes into groups, with each primary candidate being a leader of a group.  We further divided the classes into political parties.  I hosted the Republican Headquarters and my co-teacher represented the Democratic Headquarters.  During the week, we made Venn Diagrams comparing the two parties, but for our election purposes, we just used the names of the parties.  We discussed the fact that for STUCO elections there really are no parties, but by dividing the classes, we made it more "Relevant."

Each group's goal was to get their candidate elected.  They created posters and a commercial in support of their candidate.  They worked on writing speeches and were there as moral support.  It was great to see kids from the different classes working together as a team!

This was a fun lesson, and I know the kids enjoyed working on it.  I enjoyed it, but I don't mind if my classroom gets a little noisy while they're working (as long as they stay on topic!).

Congrats to Jessica from my co-teacher's class who was nominated for STUCO!  And, congratulations to Shaylyn from my class, who was runner-up for STUCO! She'll represent our school if one of the other elementary schools does not elect someone!   It was a close race and we had a lot of great candidates!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dairy Cows at School

Woah...this new layout for Blogger is's taken most of my plan time to just figure out how to post.  Blah....

Yesterday, we were visited by the Mobile Dairy from the Southwest Dairy Farmers organization.  It was a really good presentation, and even though my kids don't live in an urban environment (a small city of about 50,000 people), most of them had never seen a cow upclose.  They explained how dairy farms operate, differences in cows, and how to milk a cow by hand and by machine.  It was pretty interesting, as my farming family never had milk cows, only beef cows!

And of course, one of my LOVELY 5th graders asked the most asked question by little ones..."How do you get chocolate milk?"  And he asked it in all seriousness.  Honestly, I was surprised that 5th graders still think chocolate milk comes from a chocolate milk cow.  They never cease to amaze me...The presenter told him, jokingly, that he feeds the cows a Hershey bar and then, pop!  chocolate milk!  He then explained that you can only get white milk from cows, and you have to add flavoring later.

Our county's dairy association then handed out cheese samples to each kid, which was probably the highlight of the presentation!
Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Warning--- Tears Will Flow

I received a mass email message sent out by Charles Best, founder of DonorsChoose. The title was simple, "Remembering three girls." I clicked and read the story of Matthew Badger, who lost his three daughters on Christmas day to a house fire. His girls, Lily (9), Sarah (7), and Grace (7) were killed, along with their maternal grandparents, when a fire broke out in the grandparents' house early Christmas morning. How awful. How truly awful.  You can read more about their story in the New York Times here.  

Matthew Badger has created a fund to support art education and integration in America. His fund, Lily Sarah Grace Fund, has a giving page set up on DonorsChoose. As of this writing, $2,165 have been donated. I know we are all teachers, and we all face tight budgets, but even $10 would make a difference to a classroom in need, and it would honor the memories of these three beautiful little girls.  Click on the picture below to choose a classroom to donate to.  As a bonus, there are several matching codes available.  You can double your donation by using any of the following codes:  CHASE, UPVOTE, FINSLIPPY, BREADPIG, or SHOUT.

This is the project I donated to. I recognized several of my friends' projects on the giving page, but I decided to pick a project from a teacher who had never before been funded. Express Yourself!!

Matthew Badger has created a video for each of his daughters. They are wonderful and truly capture the essence of each girl. I encourage you to watch them, but have a box of tissues nearby. You will need them. Here is Lily's video. The other videos are available on the giving page.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Wow, the last 2 weeks have been a blur of test-prep...not my ideal way to do things, but I put my own spin on it, and tried to make it enjoyable for the kids.  I definitely didn't want to make them do worksheet after worksheet and practice test after practice we created some Glogs, a figurative language comic book, and learned some annoying songs about science.

I told my kids today that they have been working for 8 months to prepare for the test, and I can really see some improvement, and I know that they will all try their best!  I could see that it relieved some stress, just by me telling them that I know they can do well.  My class is a group that doesn't get a lot of encouragement or support-- from other teachers or from family.  They need a little support sometimes!

For the record, I LOVE Glogster.  You can register for lots of separate accounts at, or you can pay to have all your accounts linked.  I paid for mine, and it's great.  I can see what everyone is working on, what they have completed, and comments their posting on each other's Glogs.  (If you've never heard of Glogster, it's a site that lets you make posters.  We've made Branches of Government Glogs, animal classification Glogs, and Water Cycle Glogs)  Check it out, your upper elementary kids will love it (I have several who create Glogs during free choice time and even at home!)

Monday, April 2, 2012

What's Your Classroom Management Plan?

We use a clip chart method in our class.  Everyone starts at 3 every day, and can move up or down based on their actions.  They can move up to 5 and down to 0.  There is a different consequence for each level below 3, such as walking at recess, writing procedures, visit to the buddy room.  There are also rewards for students who move up the chart.  It's worked well all year, until my class came back from spring break!  They've been noisy, disrespectful, whiny, and downright mean to each other.  I don't know if I should continue the next 33 school days with the clip chart or work on implementing something different.

What I really want to know about is other classroom management plans.  My co-teacher doesn't have a set system, and just doles out any punishment he thinks is acceptable.  I think this is where my discipline problems have really come from.  See, my class goes to the other classroom for math and while they're there, it's controlled, but it's also inconsistent.  Drives me crazy, but my co-teacher's the type of person who's only interested in their way of doing things.