Saturday, August 25, 2012

Scholastic $1 Ebooks

Scholastic's Teacher Express runs a great $1 ebook sale several times per year.  I usually hit it up, and I've collected many of their books for 5th graders.  I recommend you WAIT for the sales!  There's usually one before Labor Day and Memorial Day and one around the beginning of January.  Sometimes there are more!

Here are some of my favorites, click on the picture to be taken to the page:

All of the Scholastic Success ebooks (Spelling, Vocabulary, Fluency, and Grammar (6th grade))


 All of the Hands-On History ebooks.  These are GREAT for Social Studies notebooking, which you'll see many posts about in the future!  (Available: American Revolution, Colonial America, Civil War, Explorers, and Pioneers)


Great States Quilt Math- a fun math facts and concepts review



Grammar Cop- silly stories to read and then check for grammar


Any of the Literature Circle Guides  and Literature Guides (lots of books available: The Cay, Shiloh, Bud Not Buddy, Bridge to Terabithia, From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, The Giver, Maniac Magee, The View from Saturday, Hatchet, and MORE!)


Standardized Test Skill Builders: Reading- quick read and respond pages.  I use these for morning work a few days each week.


Cursive Writing Practice with Inspiring Quotes- another great thing for morning work


Kaleidoscope Math


I've found several more great books during the $1 sales, and they put some new ones up during each sale, so keep checking their site!  I print the really good ones out and put them into folders.  You get 3 downloads when you purchase the ebook, so make sure you save it after you open it the first time!

Classroom 2012-2013

I meant to get these up much earlier, but the first few weeks of school is always chaotic and all I want to do when I get home is lay on the couch and watch tv.

I love to search blogs and see classroom pictures.  I like to see what other people are using, how they set things up, and what classrooms across the country look like.

Here are some pictures from my room.  As you'll see, I work in a district that really values the use of technology in the classroom (our district got our first SmartBoard when I was a student in 5th grade!).  I am in an eMINTS type program, so I have 1 computer for every 2 students. 

I've also been lucky to receive many, many, many wonderful items from Donors Choose.  If you don't yet know about this site, check out some of my previous posts.  Donors Choose requires a little bit of work, but you get a huge return on your investment.  Try it, and if you have ANY questions, just ask, and I will try my best to help!

Here's our Reading Zone.  Bean bags, blue ottoman, little tables, book tubs ansd books (on the shelf under the Morning Work basket), and supply cubbies ALL FROM DONORS CHOOSE!

Mail boxes from Donors Choose.  Notice the 3 huge stacks of notebook paper!  I love the built in, room-length shelves, and the wall of windows! Although, the windows do make it hard to see the SmartBoard in the afternoon.

Rolling easel/chart stand, book boxes, books, and big blue tubs all from Donors Choose!  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having this divider in the room.  It provides LOTS of storage and blocks the view of the coat hooks behind it.  Messy coats and back packs hanging up aren't seen when people walk into the classroom. 

The Writing Center with all types of materials available for student use. Blue tubs, electric stapler, electric pencil sharpeners, and electric hole punch all from Donors Choose!  Plus, if I opened up both sets of cabinets, you would find LOTS of reading and art materials from Donors Choose! The parts of speech posters will come down when we start putting up anchor charts made during Writing Workshop.  Scout is our class guinea pig.  We bought her last year with Box Tops money! 

Front of the room.  SmartBoard, computer cart, my desk and shelf cubby/closet (to the right of my desk, but not in the picture).  That big gold box is our treasure box.  One of my best garage sale finds ever!

Following Directions is Important!

This is by far, my most absolute favorite beginning of the year activity!  You've probably done this in school before, but many kids have never done it!  It's the "Following Directions Test."

I begin by having students completely clear off their desks, except for a pencil.  Then I tell them that today in science, they will be taking a test.  After all the groans, I go on to tell them that this test will let me know what they can do.  I repeat this a few times as I pass out the papers, face down.  I tell students that they may not turn the paper over until I say "begin."  I make a big deal of the test being only 15 minutes long and 1 page long.  A few ask about directions, and I tell them that everything they need to know about the test is on the other side of the paper.  When they flip it over, they will see what to do.

Then, we shake off some nerves and I tell them to get started. You see, the very first number on the paper says, "Read everything first."  Students SHOULD read all steps 1-20 before doing anything else, but of course, you don't tell them this, and of course, most of them don't.  Students then proceed through the steps, making fools of themselves.  IF they had read everything else, they would not have to do anything silly.  Since the majority don't read all the directions, most of them are working on hard math problems, writing the alphabet 3 times, flapping their arms like a bird, crumpling up their papers, etc.

This is where acting skills come in to play.  YOU must walk around the room, as you would during a real test, and try not to laugh at your students making fools of themselves!  This is so hard to do, and I find myself staring intently out the windows, trying to suppress my giggles.  It's hilarious.  It's a lot of fun.  It makes an impact.

At the end of 15 minutes, some students are finished making fools of themselves, some are bored from drawing pictures for 15 minutes, and some are still trying to make it through the strangest test ever.  But, call time and tell students that you are ready to grade the test.  Ask for a student to read the directions.  Then ask for a student to read #1.  This is where kids groan and can't believe they fell for it!  Then, proceed to talk about what would happen during a science experiment if you didn't read all the directions, and why it is ALWAYS important to know what to do before you do it.  Like I said before, this test makes an impact.  During any following lesson throughout the entire year, you can bring it back up. "Remember how important it is to READ EVERYTHING FIRST?"

I wish I had pictures from this, but I forgot to take them.  Maybe next year!

I am posting the "Following Directions Test" in my TPT store as a freebie for you to use and adapt to your class.  

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Save Fred!

The link to the Prezi SHOULD be working now! 

Save Fred! is one of my favorite beginning of the year activities.  I like to use it as our first "real" science activity.  We did this today after spending the beginning part of the week going over procedures and the importance of following directions (using the wonderfully hilarious "Follow the Directions Test," I'll make a blog post of this next!).

I found Save Fred somewhere a few years ago and used it as a lesson I had to teach in my college "Science for Elementary Teachers" class.  It's fun, builds community, gets kids to work together, and reviews the Scientific Method.

Basically, Fred is a gummy worm who was on his boat (a cup) when it started to sink.  Fortunately, Fred had a life preserver (gummy Lifesaver) in his boat!  Unfortunately, it was still in the boat (under the cup).  The goal is to get Fred into the Lifesaver without touching him, the boat, or the life preserver with your hands.  Each person in the group gets a paper clip, though.

I created a worksheet to guide my students through the Scientific Method.  This sheet will be on my TPT site.  I also made a Prezi that explains this in greater detail.  It's not fancy, but it works!

I introduce the worksheet after the Prezi.  We go through each number on the worksheet, talking about the Scientific Method and how it applies to this activity.  I then put students into random groups of 3 and pass out the papers.  I tell each group that they have to fill out #1-4 on the sheet before they can get their materials.  This requires them to plan what they will do before actually doing it.

Once groups get their materials, the classroom can get a little loud!  Each group is so excited to save Fred, and they have lots of great ideas.  There is also a lot of laughter and cheering!  Get your camera ready if you plan on doing this, because you get some great pictures!






Fred is SAVED!

After saving Fred...the groups got to eat him and his family members!  With this activity, you just HAVE to let them eat some gummy worms!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

First Day Back!

Today was our first day back to school!  It went AMAZINGLY well, and all of 5th grade got tons of compliments for line procedures and hallway procedures!  Our school has really pushed the school-wide procedure this year, and as of Day 1, it has already paid off!

The first day of school is my LEAST favorite day of the year.  It's always so boring, and my throat always hurts from all the talking.  Procedures, procedures, procedures...all day long...plus a few ice breaker games thrown in.  Luckily, our day is really chopped up with specials, RTI, lunch, and recesses.  So we only have one long chunk of time to fill, and our counselor is coming in this week to work on a project with the kids. Awesome!

We spent most of our morning working on morning routine.  I introduced the morning routine, then we practiced it step by step, adding the next step, and then starting over to add the next step.  They thought it was hilarious to repack their backpack and go back into the hall over and over.  But, I think they have it down and will do a great job tomorrow.  I also had my class log in to edmodo, something new I'm trying this year.  We're using edmodo for communication and for morning work/daily question.  They all successfully logged in and got morning work completed! My principal was so amazed!

Games and ice breakers were the best part of the day.  Lots of talking, smiling, and laughing go on!  We played "Would You Rather..." (school appropriate ones!), People Bingo (I think everyone's played this game at some point in their lives...), and "Teeth, Teeth."  This was a super silly, funny game that my kids loved.  The premise of the game is to introduce names.  I started the game by saying my name twice.  Then it passed on to the person on my right.  He repeated my name twice and then added his name.  The third person said my name, 2nd person's name, and then added her own name, and so on and so on.  The trick, and the silly part, was that you couldn't let your teeth show when you said the names!  You had to look like an old man who lost his dentures!  Kids LOVED this!  If the speaker showed their teeth when speaking or smiling, the others called out "Teeth, Teeth" (sounded like "Teef, teef!) and we started all over again!  We did eventually make it all around the circle, after many, many, many tries, but I think everyone knows everyone's name now!