Sunday, December 30, 2012

4th Grade Common Core!!

I have recovered from Christmas and have been working on several school projects over vacation. I am really excited to share my latest addition to the TpT website. I have been looking to make math assessments for each of the common core standards to use with my 4th graders. I wanted them to be simple and sweet--a quick way to assess student mastery of each standard. I am proud to share that they are finally completed and available on my TpT site. While this was made to assess the 4th grade standards, it could also be useful in 3rd grade for enrichment or 5th grade for remediation. I will be working on the other grade levels over the next few weeks. When you visit my TpT store, there is a downloadable preview. Go Common Core!
...And, Happy New Year!

Friday, December 14, 2012


We finally squeezed in a fun Christmas activity with math. To practice identifying 2D and 3D shapes and evaluating data, we completed Laura Davis' Mathtivity called Geome-TREE found on TpT. The students constructed a Christmas tree decorated with different ornaments with shapes and figures in them. We cut, colored, glittered and hung. They are too cute. The activity is geared towards primary students so I created our own data sheet more adaptable to 4th grade. Now they are hanging in our pod and I look forward to doing this activity with my students each year!
Oh, and if you're wondering why our trees are my previous blog post! = )
P.S. 5 more school days until Christmas Break!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Christmas Season... upon us! To get into the festive mood, I'm sharing a photo of our classroom Christmas's black! Happy Holidays to all!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Class Writing Journals

These are our class writing journals.

We do writer's workshop each day that is separate from our Daily 5 stations. Work on Writing is still an occasional weekly station. These class journals are great for that station. You can download the sheets for FREE from my TpT store. The students add entries and we read some aloud. They are a simple and fun addition to any writing classroom!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Part 2: How can you grow a potato plant without a seed?

Several weeks have passed since I posted about our science guided inquiry activity involving potatoes. Thankfully, the experiment is over and the classroom smells better. Yes, beware of 2 week old potatoes fermenting in the classroom! Stinky aroma aside, we learned some interesting things after completing the experiment. On our Day 7 observation, there wasn't a whole lot to report. A few of the potatoes had begun sprouting tiny buds in a few places on the skin. The students made and recorded their observations. We shared some of our inferences about the water traveling through the inside and skin of the potato and helping new buds to form. The students also recorded predictions about what they might see on Day 14.
Day 14 is when we finally observed some real changes. Here are a few photos of our 2 week old potatoes--

The students recorded their observations.

Aside from the buds, we noticed the smell. We actually noticed the smell a few days earlier. They smell like they are rotting. We talked about the exposure of the inside of the potato to the water and the air. We discussed why the buds continued to grow and theorized about what we might see if we let these go another week. In fact, a couple students volunteered to take the potatoes home but I suspect they went into the garbage when parents saw/smelled them. The students learned a lot about making obsrvations, conducting a study, recording information, and making inferences and predictions. Good work all around!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Graphing Chips at the Fall Party

We had a short, 3 day week last week that ended with celebrating our fall party on Wednesday afternoon just before Fall Break! For the party, the students voted on having a chip party. Several students brought in different kinds of chips for everyone to sample. At the end of the party, each student voted on their favorite type of chip. I created this graph on SMART Notebook to share with the students today--
As you can see, Flaming Hot Cheetoh's was the unanimous winner in our "official" taste testing poll, with 9 students choosing it as their favorite. We'll review and discuss the results at the start of math today. I'm sure the results will stir up some interesting conversation and possible debates!

Thank you to all the parents who sent treats and goodies for our fall party! We enjoyed them all! Happy fall!

Friday, October 19, 2012

How can you grow a potato plant without a seed?

This is the exact question we are attempting to answer right now in C107! We have set up our potatoes (cut about 1/4 off and soaking in plain water for a couple weeks) and have begun to observe, infer and predict about the growth we expect.

Each student is keeping track of their information on one of these recording sheets. We will check back in a few days and again at the 2 week mark. We are anxiously awaiting the results!

In the mean time, it makes a pretty cool display in the classroom! If you're a teacher who'd like to try this experiment with your kiddos, you can download the lab sheet for FREE in my TpT store!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Anchor Charts for Writing

If you would've asked me my thoughts about using anchor charts in the classroom a few years ago, I would've said something along the lines of them being more appropriate in a primary room--not so much 4th or 5th grade. I've come to learn that anchor charts are just as necssary in intermediate classrooms--and may even be more beneficial--than in a primary room! Anchor charts are very big in my school and the students here have learned to look for them in their classrooms over the years. My students in the past couple years really rely on these charts and I am always pleased to see a student referring to one when they are working independently. As usual, Pinterest has an adbundance of anchor chart ideas and I have chosen some of those ideas to use in my classroom. Here are a few of our favorites for writing (along with a link to show you where the inspiration came from in the first place!):
These are two of the first charts we do together during our Launching Writer's Workshop unit. Plus, they are just fun charts to have hanging up in a classroom. My students were impressed with my drawings. The inspiration for both charts can be found at Life is Better Messy Anyway.

As we began the writing process for our first piece, we read the book, Little Monster Becomes an Author, and then created the following chart to help us through the process. I made color copies of the pages to add to the chart. It's quickly become my favorite writing chart and we will use it ALL the time! The original post about it can be found here.

When I got to the revising and editing minilessons, we made the final chart below. The inspiration came from Confessions of a 4th Grade Teacher. I've been teaching for just about 10 years and NEVER heard of these acronyms--they are genius!

I think it's safe to say that using anchor charts has changed my classroom!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Literacy Night Goodies!

Literacy Night is being held here at Harding tonight, Thursday 9/20, from 4-5:30 in the cafeteria (following a short PTA meeting)! A note went home earlier this week! I can't wait to see our families there. Every grade level will host some kind of literacy activity for students and their families. Our grade level will have a bookmark making station. Students can decorate a bookmark that includes a sticker reminder about the "Five Finger Rule". Here is an example:

And here is a close up of the sticker--I always encourage the students to use this in my classroom (in addition to keeping track of their Lexile and F&P reading level).

Finally, each family will receive one of these handy dandy little bookmarks as a parting gift:
These are great for parents or older siblings to have when working with a child who is reading. If they come to an unknown word, use one of the prompts to help them!

**If you are a teacher, you can get the templates for the stickers and parent bookmarks in my TpT store for FREE!**

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Teacher Binder

So many papers, so little time! But--I am going to share my teacher binder so you can see how I try to keep my "teacher life" organized. I have kept variations of this before but really put together a set system this year after seeing other ideas on Pinterest. I really like the one put together by The Teacher Wife so a lot of my inspiration came from there. Here is the binder--not a fancy front but it is my favorite color.
It looks better when it is open. You will see the FREE lesson plan book I got from Lakeshore Learning this summer and the cute (and FREE) cover page I got from The Curriculum Corner.
I made tabs to divide my binder into the following sections: schedule/calendars,student/parent information, guided reading plans, assessment data, common core checklists, curriculum guides, meetings, and IEPs.
Schedule/Calendars--Our daily schedule and school and district calendars for the year.
Student/Parent Information--I have a sheet with the pertinent contact info for each student in my class, a parent contact log, and a weekly tracking sheet for each student. Another teacher in my building made the tracking sheets and they are great! I keep track of missing assignments, behavior issues and reading goals for each week of the trimester.
Guided Reading Information--Paperwork and plans for my leveled guided reading groups will be housed here when we start this the week of 9/24. We are still building our stamina this week and next!

Assessment Data--My data dissagregation sheets along with all assessment recording forms are kept here. This helps when I plan my lessons.

Common Core Checklists--This is my lifeline this year! I am still feeling my way through CCSS but I took the time over the summer to create these checklists for my grade level team to track when we cover each standard. I have them for sale in my TpT store. There is also a checklist for 5th grade available.
Curriculum Guides--I have mapped out my curriculum for Daily 5, CAFE, Everyday Math and Writing. I keep those guides here.
Meetings--Staff meetings, plan team meetings, committee meetings, etc.! All agendas and notes go here.

IEPs/Behavior Plans--This important paper work is here for quick reference.

Whew! I am really fond of this binder and consider it to be my "school bible". = )

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Literacy Strategies

I love these posters that are now a feature in our literacy rich classroom! We refer to them often and we talk about when and how to use these strategies. I found them linked to Pinterest and they can be downloaded here for use in the classroom.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Scholastic Book Orders

Want to order from Scholastic Book Clubs? Use the link below and your order will send a free book to our classroom library! Please contact me if you have any questions!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Must Read Article for Parents!

I came across this great article about how to help your child choose books to read. We talk in class quite a bit about choosing "Just Right" books. This article gives great tips for parents that will be helpful to you in a bookstore, library or wherever! Thank you for supporting literacy in your home!

Selecting Books for Your Child: Finding 'Just Right' Books | Reading Topics A-Z | Reading Rockets

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Newsletter for You!

The first monthly newsletter of the school went home on Friday. Hopefully, you found it in your child's folder sometime this weekend! This newsletter is just another way that I let you know what is going on in our classroom. It will usually come home the first school day of each month.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Into the Second Week

We have made it to the 6th day of school...and it has been a busy six days! First, thank you to all the parents for returning all the important school forms back so quickly. I know it is a lot to sort through and I appreciate the time you spent on them. I especially enjoy reading the parent surveys. YOU are the best expert on your child and I really value your input and any suggestions you give for making each day at Harding a successful one for your student. A few tidbits from the last 6 days--

Every student got a free backpack with school supplies inside! This cute little mascot made a visit with MDWise to provide these items to our students. We were very excited and the kids love the bags!

We spent a good chunk of time on the first day of school answering these questions and share our opinions. We had great discussion! These charts will hang in our room all year to remind us of the expectations we have set for ourselves and our classroom.
As you are already aware, the students are responsible for maintaining their homework planners each night. The homework is always written on the board each day for them to copy and they are reminded several times throughout the day. This may be a new routine for many but it is a very important one that each 4th grade student must learn. Your signature in the planner tells me you have discussed or seen the homework your child has completed. I remind the students it is THEIR responsibility to have you sign it--not mom and dad's to remember!

DON'T FORGET! Back to School Night is tomorrow, Thursday, August 30th. It begins with the PTA meeting at 4:00pm and ends at 5:30pm. I hope you are able to make it! I look forward to meeting our families!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Welcome to a NEW School Year!

A new school year has arrived and I am very excited to meet a new class of 4th graders! If you are visiting this site, then you have already begun reading through the many papers that come with your child on the first day of school. Thank you! I really try to keep you informed and up to date with the goings on in our classroom and at Harding. I look forward to meeting you and working with your child this year. Back to School Night is on Thursday, August 30th from 4:00-5:30pm. I hope you can make it! Please contact me at school if you have any questions. Happy New School Year!