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)

Trip to the Buddhist Monastery

Last week, I had the privilege of taking my fifth graders to visit a Buddhist monastery only a short drive away in Bolivia, NC. We've been studying each of the five major religions this school year and with each religion, we travel to a different "learning spot" in our area.

This trip was excellent because students got a chance to see Buddhist monks in their living space and we were even given a lesson on The Eightfold Path and Rebirth. Since we learned that monks do not use money and are not allowed to ask for anything, we offered some gifts as a thank you for having us. These gifts included some canned goods, bread, toothbrush and toothpaste. I believe this experience to be one students will never forget.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Teach Discovery Writing (A Poetry Writing Lesson)

In Writers' Workshop, we started our poetry unit this week! Today I taught students how to do Discovery Writing. This is a technique where writers take a regular object and describe it by comparing it to other objects, animals, places, etc.

To introduce the unit, I used Nan Fry's poem, "Apple". I showed my class an apple cut in half so that a star shows up in the middle and then I read the poem out loud. Afterwards, I asked students to point out where Nan used other objects to describe parts of the apple. 

Next, I shared the "Discovery Writing" anchor chart to explain the steps of how to write about regular objects. I modeled with a pencil as my regular object to describe. 

This is what I wrote:

  • bunny's nose
  • green grass surrounding him
  • long fence
  • point to keep the other animals out
Pink bunny nose surrounded by green grass
The long fence stretches to the point 
that keeps other animals out

I handed out an object from the bag to each student (I just went around the classroom beforehand and grabbed a bunch of things) and had them study the object while thinking about other things to compare it to. 

They turned and talked with a partner about their ideas and then went to their writing spot to work on a poem about their object! This ended up being a lesson that the students were really excited about. After most were finished with their first object, they were eager to come back to the bag and switch it out to write about another one! I loved the enthusiasm of describing everyday things!

This lesson is included in my Poetry Lesson Bundle in my Teachers Pay Teachers store! Click Here

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