Tuesday, April 30, 2013

How it's Made

I hope you've caught the Science Channel's show, "How It's Made."  I find it completely mesmerizing to see the process that makes so many everyday objects: from laundry machines to apple pies.

As part of our economics unit, we teach the concept of specialization.  In class we do a demonstration of specialization in an assembly line production, but I wanted to let the students see specialization by machines and people in action.

I'll share a few of my favorites with you.

1. Baseballs!  Did you know they take a week to make?

2. Crayons!  (Who doesn't remember the video from Mr. Roger's Neighborhood of the crayon factory?  Classic.  Here's the H.I.M. version.)

3. Who knew baseball gloves were SOOO labor intensive?  This one clearly shows how each worker has a unique role in the production process.

4. Donuts...I dare you to watch this and not get hungry!

There are so many more on the How It's Made website.  Consider me addicted.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Girls are Running

I went to a Girls on the Run training event this week. Sweet student and I are going I rock her first 5k in a few weeks!

It was so inspiring to see these awesome girls training so hard do their race...and encouraging each other so well along the way!

There were so many great touches...awesome mentors, moms and dads running with their daughters, healthy snacks at the finish, and more. The girls also got a styling bracelet for each lap around the track to help keep count.  I mean, is there a better for motivator than jewelry?!

But my favorite touch was the way the coaches had written encouraging chalk messages on the track, including personalized shout-outs to each girl. 

The sweeties even called some of them out to each other as they ran by! Nothing like hearing, "We are beautiful!" when you're sweating it out!

I'm still pondering how to steal this idea somehow for my classroom, maybe during testing... I'll keep you posted.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Poems for Two Voices

My little poets have been so impressive throughout our poetry unit.  So I've been adding some fun challenges as we wrap up our unit and they continue working on a piece to publish.  Up next: Two Voice (or Double Voice)Poetry!

We looked at examples from the master, Paul Fleischman.  Fleischman was the first poet to win a Newbery for his book, Joyful Noise.
Our study mostly focused on the poem "Fireflies."  In order to hear a two-voice poem read aloud we watched this clip read by a high school speech duo (names unknown).
Then students partnered up to create their own two voice poems.  It's always a fun way to hear different viewpoints on a subject.  And even more fun to perform!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Happy Week-Before-Testing-Week Week!

Here's a little gem for you:

How are you getting ready for testing?  Yesterday we created some awesome Show Me presentations.  Check them out!  It was way better than the way I used to review these skills and the students love watching their classmates themselves.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Challenge Accepted

Blogger Chelsea at wheredidthebirdgo.com is incredible. Inspired by her daughter's autism diagnosis, she created a forum for moms to encourage and inspire one another.

She has issued a challenge, not just to moms, but anyone who loves kids, to create letter in just 25 words. It can express love, wishes, affirmations, and more. Whatever comes from the heart! Think of how this simple act and a few minutes can impact the lives of children. And maybe even change the world.

I took the challenge for my students. I'm going to read it to them soon and have them try the activity writing to someone they love as well. Are you with us?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Girls on the Run

I am horrified by what happened today at the Boston Marathon. It is terrible and sad and I have no words. Only prayers!

So I will use the inspiration of Jon Stewart who said after September 11, "The reason I don't worry about the world is nineteen people knocked down two buildings and killed thousands. Hundreds of people ran into those buildings to save them. I'll take those odds every day."

In that spirit, when I heard about the tragedy, I had just finished running with one of my students. She asked me about a week ago to run a 5k with her and I was honored to say yes.

She has been training with the amazing group, Girls on the Run. Their mission is to promote healthy body image, friendships, goal setting and more through running. I just love it and can't wait to be a part of the race in about a month.

So that is how I will try to remember today.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A Child's Garden of Poetry

Good morning, reader!  What a fun time of year this is at school.  I know my students so well and they know my expectations, goals, routines, and sense of humor.  I just love it and try to take moments to appreciate how far we have come as individual learners and a classroom community. 

Specifically, it's been really fun to rejoice in these moments throughout our poetry unit.  I love the little poets that are growing before my eyes! 

Yesterday we watched "A Child's Garden of Poetry."  It's a 24-minute special from HBO and just lovely.  It's basically children talking about the power of poetry and sharing their favorite verses, which are then read by actors such as Liam Neeson, Julianne Moore, Dave Matthews, and more.  Check out more or order your own copy here.

You can also preview some of my students' favorites below.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Question Blitz & Quick Research

We're doing a Document-Based Question (DBQ) this week on Westward Expansion. (Check out my page on Teachers Pay Teachers for your very own copy!)

The last two days we looked at the documents and I was struck by how many great questions the students asked. So today we explored these questions in a "Question Blitz." I gave the students five minutes to see how many questions they could come up with.

Then we took about ten or fifteen minutes to find as much information as we could to answer our question online. I mean, isn't that how we do research these days anyway? Have a question...ask google!

It was awesome to see the students so engaged and eager to see what they could find. And I learned a TON, too!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Poetry Stations

We had lot of fun last week doing SEVEN poetry stations, including discovery, interpretation, creation, and performance.

One of the favorite stations included magnetic poetry. I bought my set of "Really Big Words" on Amazon.

Some students even added the twist of combining magnets with written words.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Mood Music

This week we've been learning about mood in writing.  I introduced the concept with a tweaked version of this anchor chart.

Then we practiced finding the mood in our own texts and used this graphic organizer, a clever play on "Mood Rings," to add in text evidence.

The next day we watched this short animated video and talked about how music is often used in movies to convey mood.

"The Piano"

To practice, students have been given one of twenty passages to find accompanying music.  Here's my sample (text from Ray Bradbury's short story The Long Rain).

Where did I get that awesome somber music you may ask??  Freeplay Music is perfect for this assignment.  It's a database of free instrumental music that's searchable my genre, tempo, instrument, and feeling.  Perfection.

I can't wait to hear what my students share!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Show Me

Have you heard of the app "Show Me?"  It's rocking our world at school.

Before SB my students and I tried it out for story mountains.  I am in L-O-V-E.  It was so fast and easy and a great way to informally assess each kiddo.  Follow us!  http://www.showme.com/Amy-Sheets

There are so many great ways to use it.  I'm excited to try integrating it into our poetry unit soon.

So jump on the bandwagon!  You won't be sorry.

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fools

Today one of ATP's sweet students brought in cupcakes for her birthday! 

They sang and wished her a great day, and then she said, "April Fools!"  I was so impressed with the wit of this fifth grader!  What a fun (and yummy!) way to play a clever joke.

Any other teachers out there have a great April Fools story?  I'm always stumped!

Whole Class Journals

A few weeks ago I came across this blog, and her brilliant and EASY idea of whole class journals, including FREE printables and directions.

So I created this quick set of eight notebooks to get it started right away in my classroom.


So far they have been a big hit and gotten students excited about writing.  Plus, stickers are involved:)

Each writer signs his or her name and then puts a sticker on the cover to show how many entries the journal has.  I'm hoping they last a few years and develop a great collection of student work.

Plus I'm counting on them being worth a good deal of money when my little authors start publishing books someday!