Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tell Me When It's Over

Wow, I wish I could say this is going to be a fun and relaxing Memorial Day weekend, but I'd be a LIAR!

Then, I saw this free printable sign on Taidye Original and I felt a bit of comfort knowing there are others out there swamped like me...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

It's So Nice to Meet You, Meg Cabot

I LOVE going to conferences!
That's me chillin' at the Peabody.
This week I went to IRA's Annual Conference in Orlando and it was a blur... er... a blast!
No really, I had a great time. It was three days chock full of sessions, speakers, authors, and vendors.

Here are some things I LOVED hearing during my sessions:
1. Running Records are good (get rid of fluency testing: aka- DIBELS)
2. reading and writing go hand and hand (get those kids writing more!)
3. background knowledge is key to comprehension
4. get rid of levels on books (book stores don't level books for adults)
5. provide feedback to your students about their reading/writing often

The sessions were refreshing and inspiring BUT the exhibit floor was the place to be! Free books, posters, and authors waiting to be drooled over.

I nerded-out big time!

I will have to pull together some more information I learned for y'all. Good stuff...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Rockin' Good Time

Rocks, man, rocks!
How much fun does teaching about rocks sound? About as much fun as teaching about soil!
 Thanks to Reading A-Z, an Aims science project, and our iPod Touches, we managed to learn a lot about rocks and enjoy ourselves at the same time. Oh, thank Heaven!

We began with the question: What makes rocks break?
Reading A - Z has this great little book about rocks. It is a level C book, but it is totally appropriate for the lesson.
Screen shot of the book. is awesome!
I love their leveled readers.
This book is great for building background knowledge and learning the proper vocabulary on the subject. Many of my kids have never seen a "mountain" mountain (landfills don't count) in their lives, so reading the word boulder was brand new for them.
Then, we matched the vocabulary words with the proper sentences and added them to the anchor chart.

On to the science project...
The project is called Ice Breakers and it is from an Aims activity book. First, we discuss how rocks can break in nature. The kids speculate how rocks break to make boulders, stones, pebbles, sand, and dust. When one of them finally brings up water, I asked them how would water break the rocks? Do you think it will break if it was frozen?
We fill out the prediction chart:
For the project, you will need water balloons, plaster of paris, and the freezer. I prepared the water balloons ahead of time. I called the kids up one at a time and had them help me mix the plaster of paris and add it to their model rock.

We let the rocks dry in the classroom. Then, we put them in the freezer for two days. After the two days, I took the water balloons out and the kids were amazed to see that the plaster had cracked off and the balloons had broken.

We concluded the activity by using our iPod Touches.
The kids had to verbalize the activity and explain what they had learned using the app Sonic Pics.

The app has them add pictures, text, and their voices to create a little video project (like a power point.)
*I'll have to add one of their projects in another post.

Then, for some writing fun, we wrote about what we would build with a bunch of rocks. They were cute and enjoyed thinking about how we use rocks.

Here's a copy of the writing activity:


Sunday, May 1, 2011

I Want My Mummy!

Mummy Anchor Chart
Each spring, my school holds its annual Multicultural Language Arts Fair. For the past couple of years, my class has studied and created projects on Ancient Egypt.
Mummification is a major part of the ancient culture. Some people think it is rather gross, but we love it! I make sure to go to our local library and check out as many books as I can on the subject. My library will let me check out 20 books for two weeks, so that works out perfect!
Here's a few of the books that I like to read to my class:

We complete the anchor chart together and then I have them make their own mummy. We use white construction paper, tracers, and gauze (my husband works at a medical supply store so he can get me a whole bunch!)

Then, we completed an expository writing piece about our learning. I like to do this part with the kids as we discuss the mummification process. It can be lengthy, so I help them narrow it down to four parts.
Download (604 KB)

Have a great week!