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.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Math is Fun & Games

Well, we survived our first week back to school (after 3 weeks off!) and it rained. EVERY. DAY. Now to some of you, that may be normal, but for us in southern California, we've been in a serious drought for 5 years. That means MOST of my kids don't remember it raining consistently . . . they were more than a little excited about this rain! So how to review and keep them focused? Mixed Operations Jenga!!
Browsing through the Target Dollar Spot, I found "Stacking Blocks" for $5! There are so many cute classroom Jenga games on Pinterest, but I wanted to figure out a way to reuse this set in multiple subjects. I painted  the ends of each block six different colors. 
You can also just use a marker to color the ends; I happened to have a lot of acrylic paint at home.

The object of the game is to build the tallest tower without it tumbling over. Students push or pull out a block; this is tricky. Kids become good at testing which blocks are looser than others.
Depending on the color block the student picks, they pick that same colored task card. Each color is a different operation: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and mixed operations. Purple is "free choice".

Saturday, January 7, 2017

(Star)bursting for Rocks!

There’s nothing like candy to motivate learning. . . our fourth grade earth science unit focuses on patterns in rock formations and fossils in rock layers (4-ESS1-1) and the effects of weathering on the rate of erosion (4-ESS2-1). We’ve conducted many hands-on experiments (read about them {HERE} and {HERE}), but this Starburst rock cycle is definitely the most visual (and yummy) & one of our favorites!
Give each student 4-5 Starburst candies and a sandwich-size ziploc bag. Model cutting them into smaller bits, forming sediment. Stop often for students to draw diagrams and take notes in their science notebooks
With the heat from your hand, squeeze the sediments into a ball, forming a sedimentary rock. The Starburst are colorful and the layers are visually evident.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Giving Away $75 to Spend for Your Classroom

Yesssss! $75 to spend in teacher resources? I know money is tight after the holidays, so this is the perfect time to win a $75 gift card to TpT!   I'm so excited to join with a fabulous group of TpT authors and bloggers to offer this opportunity! Details and Rafflecopter below.


Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), The Chocolate Teacher, Ms. K, Teaching in the Heart of Florida, It's a Teacher Thing, Jackie Crews, Momma with a Teaching Mission, Planet Happy Smiles, Katie Roltgen, A Plus Kids, Heart 2 Heart Teaching, Tried and True Teaching Tools, Growing Grade by Grade, Peas In A Pod, Pam's Place, Teach with Hope, Teacher Gameroom, Amanda Kristofferson, Elementary at HEART,Teaching Biilfizzcend, Jewel Pastor, Kamp Kindergarten, Rebekah Sayler (A Better Way to Homeschool), Claudia's Classroom, and Reading and Writing Redhead.

Host: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. Giveaway ends 1/13/17 and is open worldwide. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Idioms? Go figure!

Idioms and figurative language are always so much fun to teach, although they can be confusing to our English learners (or any of our students who don't read very much). 
As an introduction to figurative language this year,  we started with a class play from Bad Wolf Press, Alice's Adventures with Idioms.  "Alice follows her cat and dog down the rabbit hole and arrives in...the land of idioms! And a crazy place it is. All the familiar Wonderland characters -- the White Rabbits, Tweedledee and Tweedledum, the Mad Hatter and March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the King and Queen of Hearts -- are there to share their kooky wisdom as they help Alice and her pets navigate the mysterious world of the English language."
My kids LOVED performing this musical, with catchy songs and hilarious lines. We used the script to close read, highlight and annotate all the figurative language.