Thursday, November 28, 2013

TpT - My Sale starts TODAY and goes until Tuesday!! Plus I added a Freebie link to this Post!! ENJOY!

Merry Christmas & Happy Shopping!! I have my wishlist ready to be bought! I hope you do, too! 

In honor of the season, and this awesome sale (my stuff will be an extra 20% off starting Saturday 11/30) I am giving my Christmas Theme Improper Fractions/Mixed Numbers Sorting Activity away for FREE! I hope you enjoy it, and please leave feedback if you choose to download and use. It is great for group work or centers activity! 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

YES!! I revamped my Store and Ready for the Big Sale!

It took some time, well, a lot of time!! However, I FINISHED!! What do you think?? Click the link below and then come back to my blog and leave a comment (if you are so kind)

The Short Story
I started taking my Teachers Pay Teachers store seriously about 2 months ago. At the end of the summer, a friend told me that I should try it, so I put up a few lessons, and pretty much forgot about it. I didn't even have the settings to get emails! One day I decided to see what was happening, and people had bought some stuff! Wow! For some reason, I didn't really expect that. Then a few very nice people left feedback. All 4 stars and "thank you"s. I got excited, but was so focused on the school year, I didn't really bother with it.

Then, I was planning for Unit 2 in my classroom, and thought, "Ok, I may as well make what I am doing good enough to put online for people to buy." Since then, I created a few more products for my store, and now have 27 items, some for sale, and some for free.

I decided that I really needed to redo my store to make it look more professional. I have the quality work, I just didn't have that "eye-catching" cover, or cute, HUGE clip art that so many on the forum tell me I need. So I took this past week and focused only on creating eye-popping covers, and cutesy clip art to attract more buyers. My work was speaking for itself AFTER people bought it, but I wanted to make each product LOOK at first glance, like the amount of time that was truly spent on it. Hours and hours were poured into my research essay project, but only a few people were buying it. I kept being told I needed a frame and clip art. So I did it. I am keeping track of my statistics on views, previews, and purchases to see if it does in fact, make a difference. Click on the link below and browse my store! You can leave me feedback on here as there is nowhere to do that at my store. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to visit my blog and window shop my store :)

CLICK THIS LINK TO MY STORE or the button to the right labeled "Teachers Pay Teachers"


Monday, November 25, 2013

A Fun Thanksgiving Day Project with 5th Grade!

What I love about teacher blogs is that we can learn so much from each other! Between curriculum design, lesson plans, activities, and holiday projects, I feel like every teacher should be taking advantage of this new way to collaborate! When browsing through the internet for some Thanksgiving Day activities, I saw this Turkey in Disguise idea from Teaching in Room 6

Students are to take a turkey and create a disguise for it. I sent them home on Friday to do just that. Today, to add in some writing because it IS the Year of the Writer at our school, students were asked to write a story where their turkey had to convince a hungry family that they were indeed NOT a turkey at all!

It was such a fun project. Tomorrow the students share and I hung them up already! Oops! I was just so excited about how great they did with the disguise AND the writing. Here are some pictures of what a few kids came up with:

What do you do in your classroom to celebrate Thanksgiving?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Peek at this Week!

In Science, I taught my students about Pingos in Alaska. I showed a quick video, and then we discussed how these form. Students had such a great time building pingos, and Alaskan animals with model clay! Next week, I have an even bigger surprise in store for the students and our on-going learning of Alaska!!

The wonderful Spanish teacher that works with my class twice a week came to me at the beginning of the school year with the idea to have pen pals with 5th grade. We ended up setting it up with the class that I used to teach when I was in Costa Rica!! It just so happens those students are also 5th graders right now! It really is amazing how the universe works out. I miss those kids so much, and it feels great to have a connection to them again. This week, the Spanish teacher had our class write the first set of letters to be sent. My students are getting a kick out the fact that I know their pen pals! It's really an awesome project the teacher is doing!

I attempted these again (I am trying them once a week for now so that I can get my time management down), and this time it went better! I am trying to make it less "pieces" as far as what the students are putting together AND what they have to write. I did this with just 2 pieces of paper to fold, write on, and glue (at the end!!). Then, for the writing part, I had the students do practice problems to show their understanding. Afterwards, students shared with partners or helped each other find the answers while I helped a small group.

What fun things did you do with your class this week? 


Friday, November 15, 2013

A Peek at My Week - LINKY PARTY!

I am linking up with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings to take a peek at teachers' weeks!

Research Writing Started! I am super excited about this unit! First of all, I love Alaska, and hope to visit there one day. I came really close to spending a school year teaching there, but decided that since I really hate the cold and straight cold AND darkness probably wouldn't be the best thing for my psyche, I created units of study on the subject.

I also take pride in my organization skills and love the set-up I created for students. I came up with the Steps for Research that I think makes the most sense and can be used throughout students' entire lives, and Research Collection Folders which is the way I am guiding my students through the Steps of Research. The folders are the "Brainstorm" part of the Writing Process where students list questions, categorize the questions to create the categories of study within their topic, and collect facts for each category. For example, all of my students are researching a different US State, their topic. One student is studying Nevada and decided on Life in Nevada as one of her categories. She has a bunch of green index cards with the questions about life there (one question per index card). Eventually, students decide on which 3 categories will become their Body paragraphs in the essay. This is done based on which categories they gathered lots of facts for.

 For a copy of this unit (all materials included)

Interactive Notebooks! So this is how it goes, one day the Interactive Notebooks are awesome and really meaningful learning is going on, the next day, I feel as though it is so much "constructing" we run out of time to really spend on the teaching part of it all. I am reflecting each time on what it is that creates this difference. One thing I decided is that the less "parts" to the page there are, the better! From now on, one of the things I will do when planning my Interactive Notebooks is make sure I don't have a lot going on with the construction of each page. I really want to have a lot of time on the part where kids are reflecting on what they learned and "proving" what they learned. Any ideas out there for how to better my time when I use Interactive Notebooks?

Readers' Workshop Nonfiction Style! We are working on learning how to read nonfiction which ties in with the Research writing stuff so well! Students are using their nonfiction texts about the state they are studying and completing graphic organizers or reading strategies that I model in the minilesson. They are really taking to this! I couldn't be more pleased with how hard they are working, and how well the organizers I put together fit their needs! Bonus: I get to learn about 17 of our US States while conferencing and reading their work! For a copy of the unit, click here

For a copy of this unit (all materials included)
click here

Science Experiments Week 1! I assigned a science experiment for my students to complete as part of the culmination of our state research unit. Their job is to do an experiment that relates to their state in some way. One student is studying Wisconsin, and trying to decide on an experiment that relates to cheese. Another student is studying Texas and wants to do something that relates to the effects of greenhouse gases (Texas apparently lets off the most in the country). I will admit that I am not the most scientifically inclined person, so I asked our Middle School Science teacher to come in and speak to us about how to think about an experiment, etc. Man! Was I reminded of so much! He talked about INDEPENDENT VARIABLES, DEPENDENT VARIABLES, CONTROLLED VARIABLES, how to graph data, predictions, inferences, the works! He even came with a handout for the students! I am really lucky to work with such a great teacher! In the meantime, while the students are home putting together their projects, I will be in the classroom demonstrating the entire process of what I expect from them with my own little experiment that relates to permafrost. Will the amount of blankets I put over ice "insulate" it so that if it were permafrost, I could use it as a refrigerator? So to think of it like a SCIENTIST, I will need to think what my variables will be and so on! I got my trifold board this week! Very exciting stuff! I a little bit nervous about pulling it all off right before Christmas break. I am asking for help from my parent volunteers. I am thinking a State/Science/Holiday/Winter theme..

Our Read Aloud - JULIE Our class just finished our first whole class literature circle with Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighhead George. One of my students gave me the fabulous idea of reading the sequel! I am not even 15 pages in because of the awesome conversations we keep having about Julie's conflict of wanting to accept her life with her father and also wanting to hold onto her Eskimo heritage. Her father is now married to a white woman, a gussak as the Eskimos say, and so that also brings up a lot of issue for Julie. And of course, since there is some learning of Alaska under their belts now, students are able to really connect with the vocabulary and have a much better sense of the setting. This was such a great idea, I am glad I have such smart students!

My Units of Study are "PUBLISHED" I finally finished completing my Readers' and Writers' Workshop Units that I am using in the classroom! It was such an awesome feeling to print out all the pages and have them bound! I can easily just flip to the lesson I am teaching and copy the organizers, or make notes on the side, or even just highlight page numbers and things like that as I prepare for the next day! I am planned and ready all the way up until December 18! I am really proud of this, and can't wait to start the next unit which will be Biographies and looking back at civil rights of all types of people (Native Americans, Japanese Americans, Black History, and the Rights of Students with Learning Disabilities)! For now though, I am enjoying this because it is a huge accomplishment for me!


What was your week like? Did you have as much fun as me?? I hope so!! 


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Activities Like - LINKY Party!!

               Hello! So I am really excited about this one!

I am excited to share with you how I teach completing research in 5th grade! I came up with this idea when I was struggling how to get students to ORGANIZE their research information. When I decided that I was going to attack a research unit with older students (I had always done it with 3rd graders), I knew I had to come up with a way that would make it more independent, but yet I could still guide them all the way through. I wanted my students to have the freedom of choice, but still have specific steps that will lead to understanding of research, and of course, an awesome essay!

I started out by allowing each of my students to choose which state they wanted to research. I planned on modeling with the state of Alaska. From there, they follow me through the process choosing what specific topics they will include in their essay after the initial collection of research is completed. Here is a little bit of a closer look:

Steps of Research

  1. Decide on a Topic (in this case, a state).
  2. List questions about your topic.
  3. Categorize your questions. (Which ones pertain to the land, the people, etc?)
  4. Answer all of the questions.
  5. Add any new information you learn about any of the categories. 
  6. Review your notes, and decide on which categories will become the body portion of your essay.

A Closer Look at What Happens During Steps 3 & 4:

After students categorize their questions, I developed a system for organizing the categories and the answers to the questions and facts that they gather. I give each student a file folder and library card pockets. They label the pockets with each of the categories they chose (I limited the categories to min. 5, max. 8), and assign a colored notecard to each category. Each card will have a separate question written onto the blank side.

This student is copying down the categories she created in her Writers' Notebook onto the library card pocket, and writing the questions for each category onto the colored notecard.

Next, students will use their research books that they got from their public library to find the answers to the questions they wrote.

After all of the questions are answered, or during that time, students might add information they find that they did NOT write a question about. This allows them to really collect a lot of information about the categories that interest them!

When all of the research is complete, the students will decide on which 3 categories will become their Body Paragraphs of their Research Essay! From there we start the drafting stage of the Writing Process!

I have really enjoyed teaching this to my students. I feel that knowing how to do research is a battle I don't want any of them to face down the road in Middle School or High School. 

This entire unit is for sale in my TpT store or you can click on


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

H is for Helpful Hints (We are THANKful for Linky Party)

It's another LINKY PARTY at Blog Hoppin'!!

Some HELPFUL HINTs that I have learned over the years:

1. If you can make it then MAKE IT! I am a perfectionist when it comes to my classroom, and if I have an idea, it must turn out EXACTLY the way it is planned in my head. After years and years of this problem, hours spent scouring stores and websites, I realized that sometimes you have to give in, spend the time, and make it. Usually it ends up cheaper and it will match perfectly with what you already have because you can design and build it yourself.

Below is a picture of a kidney table that I actually HAD to make because my school couldn't afford one for me, and the cute little crate chairs, I made this year! I found an awesome website that taught me how to do it (I'm sorry, I can't remember the site).

2. Be PREPARED and arrive EARLY! I think this is important because no one wants to arrive as the students do! You need time to decompress, even if that means sitting at your desk logging onto Facebook, you need those few moments before the kids enter to feel relaxed and ready for the day. Giving yourself 15-20 minutes (I give myself about an hour, but I think most people don't need THAT much time) will help you to get last minute things done to feel really ready for the day!

3. REFLECT This is key to any good teaching! Take the time to write in a journal, write a blog, even write an email to yourself to reflect on the week or lesson. Some people like to meditate or even collaborate with teachers (just don't get caught up in the negative). Maybe you had an awful week and when you reflect you realize what you can do to make the next week better. On the other hand, maybe you had a wonderful, exciting week and you don't want to forget how you did that! And how it made you feel! Reflecting on your day as a teacher will bring new insights! 

4. LABEL things! This will help you to stay organized which is also KEY in having a successful yearn and feeling successful! Just seeing nice, neat labels calms a part of me that feels like my hair is standing on end after dismissal. 

5. COLLABORATE with other teachers. I saved this as my last one because I think it is soooo very important. You can learn so much from other teachers, and perfect your own ideas in the process! It is a great feeling when you are discussing a unit you are putting together, an activity, conversation you need to have with a student or parent, etc and a light goes off in your head mid-sentence of how you just solved your own problem! You also have other teachers that know a lot more than you, and have done this for years who can give you insight on what has worked, and then you can tweak it to be your own. The more teachers you meet whether it's online, at school, or friends from college, you have a someone you can talk to about what best practices and cool ideas you can share!

I wish I had more pictures to post, but I am doing this from home. I hope you can use some of my advice! Have a great school year! Can't wait to go back and read what everyone else had to say!

Friday, November 8, 2013

INTERACTIVE Math Notebooks! I couldn't wait!

So as I have been blogging more now that the school year has become more of a routine rather than teaching my students ABOUT the routine, I kept seeing Interactive Notebooks. This struck me as interesting as I had never heard of an interactive notebook before. At first I thought it was a computer thing, but then I dug a little deeper, and found more blogs with pictures, and realized that they are AWESOMELY not computer, and could potentially make teaching math a lot more fun for me and my students.

At the moment, I am struggling with math - it is somewhat boring to me, and I just haven't gotten into my groove with it yet. I was going to hold off on introducing these notebooks because of those reasons, but then I realized those are the reasons I SHOULD bring them into the classroom! Maybe this is just what we need! So we did a practice day with making angles. defining angles, and drawing angles when I realized it was just too many pieces, and that when I do it again, it needs to be shorter with less "pieces". Then I found this activity in my Everyday Math program that lent itself really well to being used in these awesome Interactive Math Notebooks. So I went to Staples in search of 17 spiral notebooks.

Going to Staples is already super exciting, and if I had the money, I would buy probably everything in the pen and paper sections. However, I tried to ignore the post-it notes, tabs, and markers, and head straight to notebooks. When I saw what they had, I knew that it was a sign that I was definitely on the right track with not waiting.. I found these notebooks that are just a tad wider than regular sized notebooks. This is perfect because with all of the gluing and writing in the interactive notebooks, students need more space (which was something else I realized on our practice day).

Check out what our first day with Interactive Notebooks looked like! It was fun, engaging, and meaningful learning. I am using them again next week to introduce division with remainders! I will post more as the year goes on!

Left Side of the Notebook: "Prediction" and "What I Know"

Right Side of the Notebook: the work and "What I Learned"

Have you ever used Interactive Notebooks for Math, Reading, Writing, Social Studies, Science? How did it go? What do you like best about them?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Steps to Research (Anchor Chart Thursdays!!)

I am so excited about this anchor chart because it demonstrates the idea that I FINALLY figured out how to teach students HOW TO DO research! It is such an important skill, and when I searched the internet for how others were teaching it, I just wasn't finding any that worked for me.

I decided that if I teach specific steps to research, and guide my students as much as I can then when they are older, they can fall back on the steps and use materials, books, etc in any way that works for them.

Writing a research paper is part of my thematic unit plan of Alaska. It ties right into the Reading Nonfiction Unit that I also created - all of which are available in my TpT store!

I have a lot more to say about how I am teaching research, but for now, I am sharing this Awesome Anchor Chart!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

5th Grade Book Projects! They did an amazing job!!

In 5th grade, we finished the whole class novel, Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George. I know some people might think this is traditional, and that I should look a little more outside the box. However, this book was our introduction to one of my favorite units of study that really gets kids learning some great content knowledge with fun "outside of the box" stuff thrown in all over the place!!

We are continuing to study Alaska from now until winter break. I introduced the unit by showing students an amazing video called Alaska: The Spirit of the Wild - free to stream if you have Amazon Prime. This video shows some really wonderful footage of animals in the wild, gives a great understanding of the land, and touches a bit on the people of Alaska as well.

About 3 weeks ago, we started to read Julie of the Wolves in order to begin our exploration/research theme. A very different book compared to Wonder, by RJ Palacio (which we celebrated with this project).

The Julie of the Wolves Unit Plan follows this routine that I put into place:
The students read a section at home
The next day we discuss what was read
After the discussion, students complete an activity with partners or independently to show understanding of a specific concept (Example: List a natural resource Julie used and how or what she used it for)
At home that night, students answer comprehension questions based on the whole class discussion. Since I already had the questions written up, I would guide the conversation in that way if, close to the end, I saw no one was hitting on something I needed the class to discuss.

At the end of the book, I sent home a project for Fall break with four different activities to choose from, all of which have a writing piece included. Below is what some of my fabulous students created to show their understanding of Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George. I am so proud of all their hard work and effort. It was so interesting to see which parts they connected to the most, and how they interpreted it.

From here, we will start our state research unit that I am going to model with using books about Alaska. Each student got to choose which state he or she wanted to research. This entire unit involves: a fictional novel (Julie of the Wolves Book Study), Nonfiction Reading Unit Study, Writing a Research Paper, and a Science Experiment AND it all comes together right before winter break!! We are going to present to parents and staff. I have wonderful classroom parents that are willing to decorate and put together refreshments that involve a Science/"State" Fair theme! I am so excited to start this second part of the unit with them, and see the final result in December! For now, enjoy their artwork below! HAPPY TEACHING!

This student showed San Francisco on top and the Arctic below. The display was to represent Julie's choices of either going to live with her friend Amy in California, or staying in Alaska with her father. When presenting, the student discussed why she thought Julie made the right decision. And how cute is the glowing candle?! I loved this one!

This shows the climax of the story, when Amaroq is killed by a gussak hunter. This was the great wolf that accepted and took care of Julie while she was alone on the Tundra. A very sad part of the story. 

This is a Miyax doll (left) with labels to explain what each part of her outfit and supplies are made from. The diorama is a representation of when Nails shows that he understands Amaroq is the leader of the wolf pack.

This is another Miyax (Julie) doll. The paper under it explains each part of her clothing, and what it is made out from in the Tundra.

This depicts the scene of when Julie learns that her father is still alive, and she is on her way to see him!

These kids did such a wonderful job! I was so impressed and happy to see that there was a lot of meaning behind each project. I am so proud! Tomorrow, more of them share with the rest of the class!

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