Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Planning for January

This is one of those years when we have almost no time off in January, since teachers and students return to school on the 2nd.  I sure miss inservice days, because it was so nice to have time to get organized for the second half of the year.  I'm excited to have something new for my students to help them refocus their minds on school and to help them develop some new goals for the 2012 school year.  I tried doing a few goal activities at the beginning of the school year, but they pretty much flopped.  I really don't think my third graders understood how to write a goal, since most of them wrote very vague and/or superficial goals.  I've since created a few new things for the new year that should definitely help students understand the purpose of a goal and how to write goals, as well as improve their general self-reflection skills.  I've added the activities to TpT, so you can check them out if your interested by clicking on the pictures.  The product includes S.M.A.R.T. goals and how to write goals.  There are also a few activities on goals where students have to sort examples and non examples of S.M.A.R.T. goals, and there is a 2011 reflection form and a 2012 goals form, as well as an action plan or students to fill out on how they are going to try to achieve their goals.  I also added an idea on a cute goal setting bulletin board.

I will also continue using my Weekly Word Problems with the January version.  When I shared the November version, I was first getting started with the word problems, and I have seen a huge improvement in my students' word problem skills since then.  I've added division problems to the January edition, so now students will be choosing from all four operations.

I've also made another creative writing booklet for January that you can download for free by clicking on the picture.  It should be interesting to read some of the responses my students write for the questions.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Winter Wonderland

I am officially on Christmas break!!!  Woo Hoo!!!  I'm so excited to have time to actually get some things accomplished and to sleep until the sun comes up.  I have to say though that despite it being the week before Christmas break, I really did have a good time with my students last week.  We got to do a few things that we very rarely are allowed to do (unless I can relate them to our standards and curriculum map), but I did set aside some time for the fun stuff last week, and I'm so glad I did.  Decimals can wait a couple more days.

One super easy project was to create a snowy day silhouette with aluminum foil and white construction paper. The only preparation needed for this activity was for me to pre cut the aluminum foil.

My students also made pictures to give to their parents.  I had some OLD picture frame matting paper, and my students made a crayon resist for four corners, and I took their picture for the middle section of the frame.  They ended up looking super cute.

However, my favorite thing is definitely our snow globes.  I wanted to do something for our door for the winter months, so I didn't want to do another Christmas activity, so we made winter snow globes.
  To make them I bought clear paper plates and artificial snow (although I was asked at least 100 times if it was real), and I already had turquoise and red construction paper and a glue gun.  We traced the plates on the turquoise paper and cut it out (it's best to make the circle just a bit smaller than the plate).  Then I gave my students a picture of themselves that they had to cut out and glue on their paper.
Then, they had to create a winter scene on their construction paper and make a base for their snow globe by tracing and cutting out the base on red paper, and they glued the circle on top of the base.  When the glue was somewhat dry, they placed a handful of snow in the plate and their construction paper on top of the plate to hold the snow (make sure they face their picture TOWARD the plate).  I hot glued the backs of the plates to the construction paper and made sure they were completely sealed.

The end product was a door full of adorable snow globes!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Weathering & Fractions

I don't know about everyone else, but my kiddos are getting a little anxious for Christmas, and it's getting harder and harder to keep them focused.  They're LOVING the Christmas activities, but we still have a lot of curriculum to get through too.  On a spur of the moment decision today I had my students make our weathering and erosion anchor chart.  I knew they would get a kick out of it, but I had no idea just how much they would get into it.  They were ALL so engaged and worked so hard on their charts.  This is something I will definitely keep in my bag of tricks for when I need a little something extra.

It was funny to see how their charts mimicked the organization and layouts of the anchor charts that I create.   I think I saw a few future teachers at work today.

I just finished a fraction concentration game that you may enjoy.  You can click on the picture for your copy!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Science is Dirty Work

My students got dirty today while learning about different types of soil.
I gave them a homework assignment to bring in 3 baggies of soil that was gathered from 3 different places.  We then used our soil samples to complete a soil observation book.

In their books, students had to observe different properties of all three soil samples.

They had to describe the color and texture of the soil, and they added water to the soil to determine if the soil held its shape when it was wet.  Students listened to to the soil as they rubbed it between their fingers, and they looked for broken pieces of rocks and other items in the soil.
During the lesson, we had several surprising discoveries!  We found 5 worms and 2 Roly Polies.  I absolutely loved watching my students get so engaged and excited about learning, and I think they will remember this lesson for a while.  I'm sorry that I can't share any of the forms we used, but they are something I bought from AIMS.