Saturday, April 22, 2017

Angle Art

Other teachers are some of my best teachers. Inspired by my friend, Layla, over at Fancy Free in Fourth , we practiced making and measuring angles (while creating a cute bulletin board display!)
This is a great activity for using up scraps of paper. . . I sliced up strips of neon paper. Students created straight, right, acute, and obtuse angles. They used a particular color for each type of angle, then noted the color on the key.
The neon colors really pop on the black paper. Next, they measured each angle with a protractor. They LOVE using this math tool, and I love that they're practicing one of the eight CCSS standards for mathematical practices: Use appropriate tools strategically.
My students were also very  motivated to borrow my "special silver Sharpie" to record their angles on the black paper :) Voila! A cute geometry display and a greater understanding of angles!
How do you reinforce learning angles and using protractors?

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Integrating Music, Science & Technology

There's nothing like music to get students motivated and hooked on learning.
Have you ever heard of Soundtrap? It's a FREE program to make music online!
Soundtrap works on almost any device and projects are stored in the cloud so you can access them wherever you are. (ie. students can start this project at school, but work on it at home) And students can collaborate to create music together!  Here's how it works:
Every single one of my kiddos was successful in creating a theme song. I love how each of their songs sounded uniquely like them. Since we were learning about sound waves in our NGSS physical science unit, we printed each student's theme song so they could actually see their longitudinal wave patterns. They could see how (or if) their patterns repeated, the length of their phrases, etc.

But then, if that wasn't cool enough, we spoke to our art teacher and she had the brilliant idea of turning their waves into art! She had each student draw 2-3 horizontal lines across a piece of art paper, depending on their song and the number of sections it had. Next, they took their unique printout and copied the waves with a Sharpie.
Using colored pencils, keeping warm colors or cool colors together, kids copied and extended the black wave lines. They came out so beautiful!!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Magic of a Circle

What's the big deal about a circle, you ask? A circle is MAGIC! This lesson is always THE best introduction to our geometry unit!
First, students cut out a circle. As I give directions while folding my circle, students follow along with their own circle.
We stop after each step to write their own definitions in a small Geometry Vocabulary Book (Simply made out of a half sheet of manila tag for the cover and 5 or 6 half sheets of printer paper, folded in half & stapled down the center) We use this book throughout our geometry unit, to keep adding terms and illustrations.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Writing Strategies Book you MUST Have

Do you own The Writing Strategies Book yet?  It is a MUST-Have for anyone who teaches writing! It is teacher-friendly, chocked full of mini-lessons and sample anchor charts, and arranged by writing unit of study (genre), as well as specific topics. I'm thrilled to partner up with some terrific teachers to give away a copy to a lucky winner, as well as to participate in a book study this month!

Prize: The Writing Strategies Book by Jennifer Serravallo

Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher),

Co-hosts: An Apple for the Teacher, Momma with a Teaching Mission, Kovescence of the Mind,TeachingLife, Tried and True Teaching Tools

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 4/6/17 and is open worldwide. Good luck! I hope you join us in this book study!
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Interacting with History

After teaching fourth grade for the past 20 years (!), I was getting a little tired of assigning (& reading) a typical California missions report. I just discovered Thinglink, an interactive platform that can make learning come alive!
Fourth grade's history/social studies standard 4.2: (3) Describe the Spanish exploration and colonization of California, including the relationships among soldiers, missionaries, and Indians and (5) Describe the daily lives of the people, native and nonnative, who occupied the presidios, missions, ranchos, and pueblos. Students researched information & took notes about their specific mission before I introduced Thinglink. Next, they wrote a rough draft about each required section.

To use Thinglink, students first chose an image of their mission to use as the main background image.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Harnessing the Wind

New science standards. . . this year has been a learning curve for me! Not only are there the new Next Generation Science Standards, but I hadn't taught science in 20 years!! There was a science teacher at my last school & for the past 10 years, my partner & I departmentalized science & social studies (& he taught science!) So I was nervous to say the least. . . 

My students LOVE the engineering component to the NGSS. From the NGSS Appendix: "Providing students a foundation in engineering design allows them to better engage in and aspire to solve the major societal and environmental challenges they will face in the decades ahead." One of our fourth grade standards, 4-PS3-4 is: Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another. I read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, the true story of William Kamkwamba & how he figured out how to bring electricity to his village in Malawi during a drought. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps.
My kids were fascinated by this book. We had been learning about various types of renewable energy and it was awesome for them to see how this determined young man solved his village's real problem of needing energy. Students formed groups and given a limited amount of materials, they were to build a wind turbine.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Getting Inside Character

Asking students to describe a character or write about a character often leads to physical descriptions: "The boy is 9. He has black hair and brown eyes. His name is _______." BORING! How do we get students to move beyond this? Teach inside & outside character traits.
Our read aloud was a delightful adventure book, Roxie and the Hooligans by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.
Roxie Warbler is the perfect character to study both "inside & outside" traits, as well as to see a character change and develop through the plot. One of my fourth graders drew Roxie on chart paper. Next, we divided her in half and students listed all the physical traits  (that could physically be seen) to describe her. This was fairly easy for them, and we had the text to use as reference.