Wednesday, December 17, 2014

2nd Annual "State" Fair (Science Fair)

It was a success!! We just had our 2nd Annual "State" Fair today. My students have been each studying a different state for the past 6 weeks. In class, they learned how to read and gather information with nonfiction texts and then wrote a 5-paragraph research paper. At home, they were to complete a science experiment that relates to their state in some way.

Here's what they came up with!

Refreshments Table

Tall or short building, which will fall first in a wind storm?

Which dam will create more hydro-electric power; tall and skinny or short and wide?

Can a solar powered oven cook a s'more?

Does gender make a difference in the strength of a blue crabs pinch?

Does salt have an effect on making ice cream?

What would grow better for industrial farmers, GMO or Organic corn seeds?

In an earthquake, which would stay up longer a cross-bracing building or a non-cross bracing building?

Which stone will erode the fastest?

Will brine shrimp hatch faster in warm or cold water?

Can a concrete wall redirect lava from your house?

Will different temperatures affect the tornadoes? 

Will ice melt faster in the shade or in the sun, but at the same temperature?

Why do the Sandia Mountains turn pink?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Teaching about the 7 Continents, 5 Oceans and Globe Features

As part of our geography unit, I wanted to teach my fifth graders about the seven continents, five major oceans and give them a better understanding of how to read a globe and use a map. It was difficult at first because all of the ideas I was finding on the web were really for much younger students. So I decided to make a hands-on lesson that can be adapted for nearly any age!

Day 1: First, I had my students create a Continents and Oceans book. This was to assess their background knowledge as well as give them a good starting point for this part of the unit. They had already learned the 50 states and capitals, now they were ready to explore geography in a "bigger" way. 

Day 2: Next, I reviewed with students the following vocabulary words: equator, prime meridian, northern, southern, western, and eastern hemispheres, and north and south pole. I had a great handout that has diagrams and I also used a globe to point out each area. 

I then paired students up and gave them a balloon (which I blew up), permanent markers and handouts with diagrams of the hemispheres and north and south poles. I also allowed them to use their Continents and Oceans book that they put together in the lesson before. Their task was to create a globe that depicted the following:

1. Equator
2. Prime Meridian
3. All 4 Hemispheres
4. All 7 Continents (labeled)
5. All 5 Major Oceans

It was wonderful to see them working so well together and really get a good grasp on their world! There was a lot of vocabulary words being used as students discussed with each other how they were going to draw out their balloons. Some students worked really well using the diagrams from the handouts, while others referred to the globe often. They all seemed really proud of their work afterwards and now I have a great addition to our classroom - handmade globes!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Chris Van Allsburg - Author Study Center

I am so excited!! I finally got a chance to put together my Chris Van Allsburg Author Study Center today! 

I have an activity included for the books:
The Mysteries of Harris Burdick
Just a Dream
The Stranger
The Garden of Abdul Gasazi

I love sharing this author with students because he is both an artist and writer and his stories always seem so magical. I want my fifth graders to continue to read and appreciate picture books and I think Chris Van Allsburg is the kind of author that kids can love at any age. Heck, I still love him and I am 31!

I set up my center with the activities for each book in a separate folder and the materials right on the desk here. There is a mini box that students can fill up with the supplies they need and then take the book, supplies and activity folder with them to anywhere in the room to work. 

This is something I allow them to do either during Independent Reading or if they finish working early in Writing or Reading this could be an option (depending on the day).

I have so many creative thinkers in my class and I can't wait to see what they do with this! 

There is room for one student to work at the desk, but I am thinking they most likely will want to take the materials and go to somewhere else in the room to work. 

This envelope is for The Stranger activity (click here for this freebie!). The students write a letter in the point of view of the stranger and send it to The Bailey Family. I get to write them back!

I am sure if you are familiar with Chris Van Allsburg then you know the Mysteries of Harris Burdick story. Peter Wenders was the publisher that Harris left his stories with. Students will write their own stories after being inspired by the pictures Harris drew and place them in the box for Mr. Wenders to review. 

If you like what you see here, you can make your own Chris Van Allsburg Author Study Center!! I have all the digital materials available in my store! Click here if you would like to preview this in my store

Do you have an author study in your classroom? I would love to see it!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Introducing Fractions in Fifth Grade

After tomorrow, my students will be on their Fall Break from school until November 5th! We just finished Chapter 3 in math and I didn't want to start the next one with so many days off coming up. So instead, I did an mini-Investigations lesson. 

I asked students the following question:

James came home from school to find 3 fresh brownies. He had 3 friends with him. The 4 friends decided to share the brownies equally. How much of each whole brownie did each of them get to eat?

I broke the students up into small groups and gave them chart paper and markers. I told students that it was their job to not only find the answer, but to also be able to explain how they know that their answers are correct.

It turned out really well! I was happy that they all did not come up with the same strategies and there was great conversation around fractions, division and equal parts! 

Here is what they came up with:

This group decided to draw the three brownies, then split two in half to divide among all 4 boys (each getting half a brownie). They took the final brownie and broke it up into 4 equal parts and gave each piece to the boys. They then added 1/2 plus 1/4 (mentally) to say that each boy ate 3/4 of a brownie. 

This group did something similar. They drew out the three brownies and then broke each brownie into four parts so that they could divide the pieces equally among the four boys. There was great conversation around what the final answer would be to the question: How much of each brownie did everyone eat? At first, the group answered 1/4, but after discussing it with the rest of the class, they realized they had to add up each of the fourths that the boys ate. 

This group drew the three brownies, broke them up into fourths then distributed to each boy. 

This group also drew the three brownies and then split them into fourths. They said they chose fourths because they knew that 12 can be divided evenly by 4. 

I love Investigations lessons because it allows students to learn from each other. It was great to watch them work together in a group and then explain their findings and rationale with the rest of the class. Great way to introduce fractions and get a sense of background knowledge of each student!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Integrating Reading Interactive Notebooks and Literature Cirlces

At the beginning of every school year, I start out with small group reading (guided reading) using two Jerry Spinelli books. This year I am integrating the use of Interactive Reading Notebooks and Small Group Reading.

The structure of the group is as follows:

First, we discuss what was read prior to meeting, focusing on connections made, predictions, questions and whatever else might come up in conversation.

Next, I focus on a literary element such as plot, characterization or story devices. I do this by creating an interactive reading notebook with the students.

I feel like being able to do a reading interactive notebook with students in a small group is much more effective than with a whole class. As I am teaching about the element, for example, plot, I will discuss it using a story the entire class has read. Usually a read aloud that we have already finished. Then, the students put the notebook together and complete the activity using the book they are reading in the small group. This also becomes are a really great way to assess two things: Do they understand this literary element? Do they understand what they've been reading on their own?

Starting next quarter, the class will be moving away from small group reading and into a whole class literature circle. My hope is to refer back to the reading interactive notebook during literature circles and create activities and "during reading" work with it.

How do you use Interactive Reading Notebooks in your Classroom?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Buddhist Festivals and Holidays - Diorama Style!

I love assigning dioramas to students! The creativity and care that they put into their displays always amaze me. Every year. Every time I assign them. I only get to assign them twice a year (I love to mix things up, so the same project all the time would ruin anything that's really cool!).

Their assignment was to make a diorama that depicts a Buddhist holiday or festival. They had to also include an essay telling about the festival, which country celebrated it and how. I was fascinated by what they came up with! Pictures below :)

The Tooth Festival (Sri Lanka)

The Elephant Festival (Taiwan)

The Tibetan Butter Lamp Festival 

Buddhist New Year (Tibet)

The Elephant Festival (India)

The Festival of the Tooth (Sri Lanka)

The Festival if the Tooth (Sri Lanka)

The Festival of the Tooth (Sri Lanka)

The Buddhist New Year - Purification Ceremony (Thailand)

The Buddhist New Year - Purification Ceremony (India)

Wesak - Buddha's Birthday and Death Day Celebration 

New Year Festival (Tibet) 

The Tooth Festival (Sri Lanka)

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