Monday, January 30, 2012

Newspaper Template

A major part of my social studies curriculum is the study of different Americans who worked to expand the rights and freedoms of many different people.  My students always really enjoy studying about these Americans, and I try to incorporate many different activities to make this unit interesting and relevant to my students.  I know last year I wrote about my students' Famous Americans book they made that incorporates a lot of art into this unit.  Another small thing that I like to do is have my students write newspaper articles about one of the people they are studying.  The picture below is of one of my student's articles on Frederick Douglass.  You can click on the picture to grab a newspaper template for your classroom.  They're great, because they work well with almost any topic.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Center Organization

I just saw that Lesson Plan Diva was hosting a linky party on center organization, and I just had to join in!  I apologize in advance, but I'm going to have to reuse a lot of my old pictures, because I let my camera at school, so I don't have any of my new pictures.

I store all of my centers in 3-ring binders-the really, really, really big ones and keep my materials in insertable page dividers.  I organize the activities by subject and by unit within the subject, and I've found that this is a really easy way for me to keep organized.

I also keep all of my task cards in Ziploc baggies, so they store nicely in the dividers.

I'm pretty selective on the centers/station activities that I actually have out and available to my students.  There are always a handful of activities for our current topic, as well as a few review activities from different units, but I don't like to have too much out at a time. I organize these into different tubs that I bought from Really Good Stuff.  The were pricy but worth every penny.  I LOVE being able to stack things neatly!
Sorry about the picture!  It was taken while I was still setting up at the beginning of the year.  The tubs that I love are on the top shelf, and the ones on the bottom-not so much, but I'm trying to curb my spending.  I number my math tubs (thanks Debbie Diller), which makes them very interchangeable, so when I want to change station activities, I don't have to relabel everything.

Inside my station tubs is everything my students need to complete the station(s).  I like to include sleeves for recording sheets to save on paper and copies, so I have included wipes and dry erase markers in any storage tub that has a recording sheet.

I can't wait to read everyone's ideas, so be sure to join the party!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Magnet Activities

I love teaching about magnets, mainly because it's probably the easiest unit I teach all year. My students have some background knowledge from first grade, and the third grade content isn't too difficult. Plus, I get to do really fun hands-on activities with my class. I used my Magnet Investigations Booklet that I made several years ago to introduce the concept. I did make some changes to it, because I can't keep printing in color ink and the black and white copies didn't look that good. You can click {here} for a copy of the booklet.
There is a hands-on activity on every page. The main focus of the majority of the activities is that magnets have a north and a south pole, and that the magnetic field is strongest around its poles. To teach this, students make a magnetic train where they join bar magnets together through their north and south poles. Students also make floating magnets with magnetic rings (this is always the favorite). Of course, I do have a couple activities where students find things that are and are not attracted to magnets. I always make sure I have something aluminum for this activity, because it's not magnetic.

One of the more complicated activities demonstrates how a compass works. This always leaves my students amazed, and it's a great way to review a little social studies!

To implement the activities, I give each of my groups (four students in a group) a kit of magnets and any needed supplies and a booklet. Students work through the booklet at their own pace, but I do encourage them to move at an appropriate pace.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Decimal Pizza

I hope that everyone is enjoying their long weekend!  It's so nice to have an extra day off, and I have so many ideas floating around in my head right now that I hope to get one or two things accomplished.

I have a lot of new measurement things to share in the next week or two, but I also wanted to post a couple of pictures of a really fun decimal activity that my students recently completed.  It was super quick and easy to prepare for, but my students really enjoyed it.  All you really need is a pre made circle divided into 10 equal pieces for your students.  At first, I tried having my students draw their own circle and dividing the pieces themselves, but that was pretty much a disaster!  I could barely do it myself!  I finally just printed a circle out, and that made it MUCH easier.  As a class we customized our own special pizza (see chart below).  We chose a variety of toppings and decided what tenth of our pizza should have each of the toppings, and students then decorated their pizzas to reflect the toppings/decimals.

One clarification I had to make with my students is that the decimal (for instance 0.4) does not mean there should be 4 pieces of sausage on each slice.  It means that 4 of the slices should have sausage.