May 30, 2014

Five for Friday and Sparking Motivation

Where did this week go? It's hard to believe that it is Friday already. That means it's time to join Doodlebugs for...

First... Did you know the tree pollen counts have been higher this year in the Great Lakes region than in like twenty years? I KNOW they have! I am one of those unique allergy sufferers who doesn't sneeze and cough. OH NO! This is what happens to me...

I finally broke down and took a Benadryl which meant that I would not be able to wake up in the morning which meant I had to take off a day from school... sigh!

Second... I had to take a day from school anyway because my  crotchety, old queen was also suffering from allergies coupled with an infected tooth that lead to a sinus infection. She is feeling a bit better. She tried to wake me up at 5:45 AM today to be fed... normal behavior (yes) but I couldn't haul myself up and awake for 30 mins. thanks to the allergy medicine, so for 30  mins. this was my view this morning.

5:45AM view
Third...We did our Quiet Hour Journal activity this week! Sweet blessed time!!! Little do the kiddos know it's really an activity for their teacher.

Fourth... Because I took the day off, I needed a sub. Guess who it was? None other than Ms. Murphy, the student teacher I had earlier this year. She's all graduated and ready to start teaching. The kids will be delighted to see her again.

Fifth... There is nothing that motivates my sixers like a fun, interesting science investigation that's why I'm also linking this post to my bloggy friend Joanne's weekly party...

During the last quarter of each year I involve my sixers in a Kitchen Chemistry unit. We study atomic theory, learn about the periodic table, perform chemical reactions, and test for ph level. They LOVE it!

This week we tested common household/kitchen chemicals to determine whether they were an acid or a base. Keeping with the kitchen theme, our indicator is purple cabbage juice rather than the more typical litmus paper. We tested drain cleaner, sugar water, lime juice, bleach, and more. The students had no concept of acid or base at this point, they come to the conclusion after the investigation that there is something causing the items to turn color. From their own background knowledge some deduce that the items that turn red are acids. They then begin to question what causes the other colors. It is not until we complete the experiment that we return to our text and read what we've figured out, putting names and scientific concepts to our discovery.

It's a terrific investigation for deductive reasoning, making connections, and just being awed! Look at their faces...

They are engaged they are learning... they are MOTIVATED! Yes, all during the last week of regular classes.

FIVE more days... THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS!!!!!!

May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday 5.29.14 Quiet Hour Journals

It's time for another installment of Throwback Thursday. Look through those PURR-fect Previous Posts, perhaps a particular favorite of yours and re-post it! Then add this badge to your post and link up below! Purr-fectly easy and simple!

My PURR-fect Previous Post for this week is a wonderful idea for this crazy time of the school year. I first shared this idea on March 13, 2013... Quiet Hour Journals.

I've been up to my elbows in things from my old Teacher's Desk website. Sorting through all the drawers has been tedious but also a trip down memory lane. For instance, one of the activities I found in the English drawer is called Quiet Hour Journals. I remember a class of sixers that I had about 26 years ago. Goodness, were they ever chatty! Every one of their teachers complained about the incessant talking whenever they were in their class. We talked about strategies to help them overcome this behavior. Our principal even had us trained in Lee Canter's Assertive Discipline Program. However, nothing seemed to work. Out of frustration one afternoon came this brainstorm of an idea  Quiet Hour Journals.

  1. Give each student a sheet of 9" by 12" construction paper. Have him/her fold it in half to form a booklet cover.
  2. Instruct each student to take five sheets of loose-leaf paper, fold them in half, slip them inside the cover, and staple all the pages together.
  3. The Quiet Hour Journal is now completed and ready to go.
  4. Give each student ten bingo chips and these instructions:
    • For the next 60 minutes, no conversation is permitted. All communication is to be done via writing. Write any message or question in your Quiet Hour Journal and pass it to your intended recipient.
    • The recipient is to read your entry and respond in kind.
    • If the recipient catches any proofreading mistake you made, he/she may take one of your bingo chips.
    • If anyone catches somebody talking, he/she may take one of your bingo chips.
    • If at any time you run out of bingo chips, you may no longer participate in the activity.
    • At the end of 60 minutes, the person with the most bingo chips is awarded a small prize.
I use to participate with my students.  Sometimes, I was called upon to settle a dispute. If a student challenged another's proofreading correction, I acted as a moderator, communicating with the pair through my journal. If the challenger was correct, he/she took back the lost bingo chip plus one of the student's chips who was challenged. This makes for more careful initial writing and proofreading.

I haven't done this activity in a few years. Actually, I haven't needed to do it so I pushed it to the back of the desk drawer. I'm glad I spent time today cleaning. This is the PERFECT activity for this year's sixers, another chatty bunch. Can't wait to try it this week!

Here's a little FREEBIE if you decide to do Quiet Hour Journals with your class. I made it to match all the cute Polka Dot/Monster themed decor I made this summer. You can download the cover HERE or by clicking on the graphic. ENJOY!

I hope you'll join in the Throwback fun and share one of your PURR-fect Previous Posts. It doesn't have to be from long ago, it can be from last month or last week! Just join in the fun!

Freebie Fridays

May 28, 2014

Wordless Wednesday 5.28.14

Do you have your students share their writing with the class? If so, what are some ways that you have them share? Here we are sharing our poetry imitating a 1960's poetry reading at a coffee shop: low lighting, a stool on a stage, and clicking our fingers instead of clapping... my kiddos LOVE this!!!!!

Be sure to stop by Miss DeCarbo's blog for more fun Wordless Wednesday posts!

May 27, 2014

Tried It Tuesday: Julep, Calling All Nail Mavens

It's been quite some time that I've joined Tried It Tuesday hosted by Holly over at Fourth Grade Flipper.  

If you're looking for something school related this post is not; it's ME related, and I'm not being paid to promote this item. I'm just having fun and LOVIN' it!

I love having brightly colored, funky, fun nails! Years ago I would do the acrylics with crazy designs! My kiddos LOVED it, even to the degree they would make suggestions for colors and designs! Wild, hunh? Kids notice the wackiest things about us teachers. The only problem is that I often have to play the guitar for worship services or liturgies at school. 

Long nails and guitars do NOT mix! Never mind that you see Dolly Parton playing guitar with her three inch nails!  Mine are as short as can be so I can get the job done. For years I've shied away from even polishing my nails. 

For several weeks I have been noticing ads in the sidebars for a company called Julep. They specialize in beauty products, especially nail colors.

So, out of curiosity I decided to click on the link. I was taken to the Julep website where I was confronted with...

The first that I noticed was that many of the nail models' hands had SHORT nails. SMILE! I was definitely intrigued.

Of course I took the quiz (about twenty questions for a total of five minutes of my time) and I discovered that my style profile is...

What I saw I liked! I was intrigued... I could receive a supply of funky, fun polish each month. Hmmm? Why not! I took the plunge and signed up. I was going to be a Julep Maven.

I received my box within a week!
Inside was...
I tried it immediately...

*The polish goes on smoothly and one coat (teal colored polish) covered my nails well!
*The one coat lasted for four days of washing dishes, showers, piano playing, and teaching before it BEGAN to wear off... not chip, not peel, it just began to fade away in places. I've NEVER had a polish with this kind of staying power.
* It's a little harder to remove with nail polish remover than typical polishes.
* The cuticle serum is divine. A little goes a loooonnnggg way! And after a week I'm noticing softer, more pliable cuticles... better yet, my hangnails are becoming less and less.
* Two coats of the lavender polish is wearing like armor! I've had it on for three days so far- no chips, no wear and tear yet.

So far I'm sold!!!!!

I'm looking forward to my June Maven shipment. I had the opportunity to preview and change (if I wanted) its contents. I opted to keep the original contents and add a mystery polish. Here's what I'll receive soon (I got an email today stating my Maven box was in the mail)

I can NOT wait for my next Maven box!!!!!

Are you intrigued by Julep? Want to become a Maven? Just click here and begin exploring. Be sure to take the Maven quiz to discover your style...
... then come back and share/compare.

May 26, 2014

Anchors Away 5.26.14: Story Matrix

I use many different visual teaching resources in my classroom. Some are traditional Anchor Charts while others are not. I'm not sure if this classifies as an Anchor Chart; it's called a Story Matrix. I decided to share it for Anchors Away regardless. A Story Matrix is nothing more than a chart made of butcher paper to organize or classify information about a story, non-fiction article, text, or novel. Whatever literary techniques or aspects your students are studying can be incorporated into the matrix. I've used these matrices for eons, literally!

Here you see one that my students constructed for "My Side of the Mountain" by Jean Craighead George. We were interrupted so frequently by the extreme winter weather as we were reading this book that this was the only way that we were able to finally complete the book.

We had a little more than half the book completed. I divided the remaining pages of the book, except for the very last chapter, into four sections as well as the class into four groups. Each group was asked to read a particular section and report the characters, setting, plot, and predictions for their section. The groups then shared and posted their information in the matrix for all to see and use. Finally we all read the last chapter together, ending our study of the book. The matrix helped us collect our thoughts, make connections, and comprehend the missing material in our minds. What would've taken more than a week's worth of reading classes was reduced to just two days thanks to the Story Matrix.

Be sure to stop by Crafting Connections for more great Anchor Chart ideas.

Before you set sail, be sure to stop by this blog post for a chance to win two fun and engaging "games" that will help your budding scientists learn thirty of the most common elements. The giveaway ends tonight!

May 25, 2014

Summertime Top Ten To-Do List

I discovered this fun linky whilst hopping the blogs! It's hosted by none other than Deanna Jump. Deanna challenges bloggers to think of TEN things that we would like to do this coming summer. I don't know about you, but in these last few days of the school year, I can't keep my mind from wandering to those lazy, carefree days of no school and ALL the things that I would like to do. So here goes...

1. Practice my piano... If you've been following me for a while you know that I mention my piano from time to time. It was a gift from one of my school families. I've been teaching myself how to play, and I must say that I'm pretty proud of what I've accomplished so far. In two years I've reached the fourth/fifth year level. This summer I want to build more fluency in my playing which means I just need to play... not a chore at all!

2. Learn how to use my new LG G2 Smartphone. There are many FUN features that I haven't tapped into YET!

3. Read for fun! My Kindle is loaded with more than 1000 books. Do I need to say more? 

4. Read the 2014-15 English Festival books and prepare a few lessons for each. 

5. Read a few professional books. 

Number one on the professional to-read list.

6. Rearrange the furniture in the house. I'm tired of the same-old, same-old!

7. Give the kitchen a second coat of paint. Last spring into early summer we did a quick re-do of my kitchen. I changed the color scheme dramatically, from dull yellow and white to caramel and red! LOVE it, but we ran out of time and gumption (there had been LOTS of remodeling going on throughout the house). The red could use a second coat... maybe this summer.

New counter (and Keurig) to match the new color scheme.

8. Spend some quality time with my fur babies and family. My poor fur babies are a bit neglected during the school year. They are sooooo sad when I leave in the morning. Summertime is the time to spoil them! It's also the time when I don't have to tell my family "NO, I can't do that, I have schoolwork." I can say "YES to just about everything!"

Daisy Mae
Lulie Lu

9. Create a new design for my classroom. I'd like to keep the teal and perhaps the green. Instead of the purple and black/white polka dots, I'm thinking I'd like brown paisley. Hmm? Decisions, decisions, decisions! Here's the OLD look...

10. Turn off the alarm clock and not turn it back on until mid-August!

I'll have to do a Throwback post in mid-August to see just how many of these items I really do accomplish! Hopefully, it's all ten and THEN SOME!

May 23, 2014

Five for Friday 5.23.14 INB Poetry Freebie and a Science Giveaway

It's that time again... time to join Doodlebugs for...

First... I had my yearly teaching evaluation this past week. PHEW! Glad it's over! You'd think I'd be use to this after 33 years; however, I still worry and fret. It really is a painless process and does serve as a tool for continuous improvement. It's just that... well... I am REALLY glad that I'm DONE!

Second... Poetry continued this week, spreading to all three of my grade levels. My sixers have been investigating rhyming poetry, particularly couplets, tercets, and quatrains. Besides learning the forms, they spent time reading many and creating their own. Here you see them making INB foldables of the poetry forms. You can grab a copy of the foldables by clicking HERE or on the foldable pic below.

Meanwhile my eighth graders became enthralled with page poetry. You can read more about this interesting, free-form poetry HERE.

Third... My sixers had THE BEST TIME with a simple science experiment. We are currently involved with my Kitchen Chemistry Unit during which we investigate matter, atomic structure, chemical reactions, and acids and bases. This week we placed stainless steel and copper scrubbies in jars filled with vinegar. Our classroom smelled horrible, but our brains were working in overdrive.

Fourth... I had a little time this past week to put together a SCOOT game for helping my students learn the names and symbols of common elements as well as an I Have, Who Has game for the same skill. Boy have my sixers had a great time this week practicing their science skills! No complaints other than not having enough time to play! You can read more about each item by clicking on their pics.

If you'd like a set of these items to add to your teaching bag of tricks just enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below by 11:45pm EST on Memorial Day, May 26, 2014. I'll announce two winners shortly after. Good luck!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fifth... NINE days left... ONLY nine!!!! Egads, I have about twenty days of work to squeeze into nine! I think I can, I think I can, I think........

Freebie Fridays