Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Preparing for THE TEST

Hello friends! Workshop Wednesday's topic today is: how do you teach students test-taking strategies, or what are some things you do to prepare for the "BIG" tests?

Our test is April 30-May 6 (five school days) - one test per subject... so we've been trying to get in some practice but I'm also still TEACHING CONTENT. We have soooo much to get in (especially in Science, Social Studies, and Math), there has not been a year that I'm not still teaching something the day before the test. It's a bit stressful to say the least. But I think the BEST thing you can do to prepare the kids is to NOT stress them out. Let them know that as long as they do their best and show everything they've learned, they'll be fine. That's another reason why this ABC calendar comes in handy- it helps the kids relax and have fun, even during a stressful time.

Some things we do to make practice a little more fun is use SMART Response Clickers.
All of the teachers in the upper grades at my school have a set in their classroom. They are pretty awesome because 1) kids have another way of answering questions besides circling or bubbling, and 2) it is instant- I can see on my screen who did or didn't get the answer correct, so I know who needs more help with a certain skill.

I also teach them strategies they should use to do their best when taking their test. I got these posters from someone who teaches in my county, and the language really helps the students remember what to do.
I would love to hear your ideas! I know some of you have already tested, so feel free to link up a past post that would help us prepare!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Must Read Mentor Text: Who Was Sacagawea?

Happy Easter! I hope you enjoyed your weekend! I wish we'd had Good Friday off to make it a 3-day-weekend, but sadly, we didn't. I stayed pretty busy with friends and family, so this weekend flew. I can hardly wait til SUMMER!! But for now, I'm linking up with my friends Amanda and Stacia!
Please tell me you've heard of the "Who Was?" books! They are so awesome and the kids ABSOLUTELY love them. The series is an excellent way to get students to read nonfiction. My kids just recently found this one:
I didn't even prompt them! They found it on their own because #1, they love this series, and #2, we were finishing up Westward Expansion!

Here is the Amazon description: Sacagawea was only sixteen when she made one of the most remarkable journeys in American history, traveling 4500 miles by foot, canoe, and horse-all while carrying a baby on her back! Without her, the Lewis and Clark expedition might have failed. Through this engaging book, kids will understand the reasons that today, 200 years later, she is still remembered and immortalized on a new golden dollar coin.

Speaking of Sacagawea... Did you purchase my Louisiana Purchase and Lewis and Clark Unit on TPT in the last few weeks? If you did, lucky you! You just got a freebie! ;o) I added Sacagawea to the pack- she now has an article as well as a questions page and a character traits graphic organizer! Make sure to go download the revision from your purchases!
This unit offers a great way to integrate your Social Studies into Reading Workshop! This is the only way I can ever get in all of my Social Studies information before THE TEST- through integration.

Speaking of THE TEST, I actually shared Workshop Wednesday's topic on Wednesday like I was supposed to, but it somehow got all tangled up in the html for the link-up so you couldn't read it. :o( But if you were looking for the topic, here it is:
Come back Wednesday to share your test-taking tips: how do you teach students test-taking strategies, or what are some things you do to prepare for the "BIG" tests?

Our test is April 30-May 6 (five school days) - one test per subject... so I'll be sharing some things we are doing next week to prepare! Can't wait to get some ideas from y'all too!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Bubble Gum Day!

I can't believe it. The year is coming to a close... and we have less than five weeks of school left...! I'm linking up with my sweet BBB Joanne to share one way I keep things fun and exciting as we wind down the year!
Remember I shared with you last year about our ABC Calendar Countdown? We are doing that again this year! Here is my calendar for this year, in case you need any ideas... obviously if your last day isn't the 22nd, it doesn't really help you to download it- sorry!
Yesterday was Bubble Gum Day! We used my Bubble Gum Day TPT Unit to have some educational fun. :o)
We started off the day by learning about how gum was "invented" and changed over the years with the bubble gum passage (and chewing gum of course). It was great to practice our test-taking strategies with the questions. Then, we sorted the parts of speech gumballs into their correct gumball machines (adverbs, adjectives, and prepositions). Each gumball has a sentence with a word underlined.
I had my kids work in their table groups to complete this. (I made four sets of the game.) They all took a couple of the gumballs and took turns reading their sentence, and telling where they think the sentence should go and why. They had such a good time- honestly! It makes me laugh because if I had given them a worksheet with these sentences on it, they would have groaned...

Unfortunately, we didn't get to complete the fun bubble gum writing activity included in the pack because we are trying to get our biographies finished!! But we did get to have some bubble gum fun in math. Students saw how many bubbles they could blow in one minute (I gave them all some Dubble Bubble) and we made a line plot to display our data:
Then they completed the activity using the information from the line plot:
We had to add a plus sign next to the 10 to make it 10+ bubbles because we had some friends blow more than 10! I have some talented kids! :-P

We also had another activity we had to get in during math, so my kiddos didn't get to play the Sticky Angles game, but my neighbor teammate's class did! She ran the game boards on the big 11X17 white paper so that all of her kids could play it as a partner game!
You can also print them in color and put them into file folders (laminated) to make a quick file folder game for your kiddos to play anytime, not just on Bubble Gum Day! :o)

If you want to grab this unit to have your own Bubble Gum Day, you can get it for only $3.00 just for this weekend! Enjoy!

Go check out the other ideas linked up with Joanne, too!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Writing Biographies

I am so excited for this post! It's going to be so jam-packed with information, you will definitely want to pin, pin, pin!! :-P
(not that you didn't know that already)
Today's Workshop Wednesday will be all about biographies... mainly writing biographies, but of course, you can't teach kids to write them without reading them, too!
So first, here are some ways to get in some good biographies in READING:

Courtney from Ramona Recommends got us started off this week when she so graciously did a fabulous guest post for me about her favorite biographies! Check her post out here!

Then, JACKPOT! On Monday, thanks to Manic Monday at Classroom Freebies, I came across these AWESOME freebies!
It truly is a wonderful resource with NINE lessons! Very cool.

Now onto biographies in WRITING:

To write a good biography, of course, research should occur. I was able to incorporate this fun unit from Free to Teach:
It had a great article about Harriet Tubman (one of the women we are learning about), but also has a fun organizer to use for research! We used it to collect information for the biographies:
Informational pieces are so hard for my kiddos to write... mostly because they are soooooo borrrrring. They just want to rewrite all of the facts they learned, not putting in any voice or style! Which then makes me an unhappy teacher when I have to grade all those borrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring papers.

One of the best ways to get the kids to make a biography more interesting is to teach them to use a strong lead. **I cannot take ANY credit for the activity you are about to read about!! My awesome literacy coach at my old school did (and gave me) this lesson for my class and I have used it every year since. It's AWESOME! But because I didn't make it, I won't be sharing the document... but you could easily make your own for your class!** Mentor texts can be used for SO many things in the classroom across all contents. I think the best way to teach kids to become better writers is to point out good writing (hence, the reason for mentor sentences). Why not point out awesome leads in the stories we read? My coach compiled a powerpoint with a plethora of leads from a variety of genres of books. I taught different kinds of leads earlier in the year, so we pulled out that list.
The leads I teach are:
Author Talks to Reader Lead
Tell When Lead (Create an Era, Time Period)
Dialogue Lead (Conversation)
Fascinating Fact Lead
Question Lead
Setting a Scene Lead
Startling Lead
Tug at Your Heart Lead
What If...Lead (Imagine If...)
Using your Five Senses Lead
We also pulled out our handy-dandy expo markers for some desk writing!

I displayed a few of the leads that were compiled in the powerpoint and the students tried to guess what leads were used with their dry erase markers. The cool thing they find out is that often, authors use multiple kinds of leads at one time.
One of our favorite books about one of the women we learn about in 4th grade is Elizabeth Leads the Way, (Elizabeth Cady Stanton). 
Tanya Lee Stone has an AWESOME lead in this book!

"What would you do
if someone told you
you can't be what you want to be
because you're a girl?

What would you do
if someone told you
your vote doesn't count,
your voice doesn't matter
because you're a girl?

Would you ask why?
Would you talk back?
Would you fight...
for your rights?

Elizabeth did."

The kids identified the leads in this one:
(What If Lead, Author Talks to Reader Lead, and Questions Lead)

They decided these leads were their favorites, so they had to try them out in their own biographies!

Pretty good right? Definitely more interesting than, "Sojourner Truth was born in 1797 and died in 1883," or worse, "I'm going to tell you about Harriet Tubman."

So now it's your turn! I can't wait to see your ideas! 

An InLinkz Link-up

Come back next week to share your test-taking tips: how do you teach students test-taking strategies, or what are some things you do to prepare for the "BIG" tests?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tried It Tuesday: Stitch Fix!

I'm excited to link up with my BBB Holly for Tried It Tuesday to tell you about something I have recently tried!
Do you LOVE getting packages on your doorstep? (Ok, really, who doesn't?)

Do you LOVE getting new clothes?

Would you LOVE someone else to do the shopping FOR you for your new clothes?

If you said yes, then Stitch Fix is for YOU! (And no, they aren't paying me to say that!) I am hooked. With as busy as my schedule is during the school year, this is the perfect way for me to get new clothes without doing anything but trying on the clothes when I feel like it! (Which let's face it.... it's as soon as I can get the box open because it's just so fun! I get to try on all the pieces with my OWN clothes from my closet! Not like trying clothes on at the store... I dread that actually.)

Here's how it works. First, you visit the website and fill out your Style Profile. There are quite a few questions, but it's to help make sure your personal stylist (you can say you have a stylist! hee hee!) is picking the right clothes for you. You can even share a link to your style Pinterest board if you have one! (You can check out or follow my board here if you want! I just got mine started...)

Each time you get a box shipped to you, it's $20. This $20 will be applied to any article of clothing you end up buying/keeping. I haven't met anyone that didn't keep at least one item from their box yet! They will ship you five different pieces. (And PS, if you keep all five items, you get a 25% discount!)
They take such care to pack your box! You even get a personalized note from your stylist! They also put a prepaid envelope in the box so you can ship back anything you decide not to keep for free.
They send you a styling card that shows ideas of how to wear the items they sent you. It's like when you see those cute outfits on Pinterest, but you actually have the clothes in the picture!
Sooooo here is what they sent me in my fix!

This time, I kept only two things. I've heard the more fixes you get, the more they know what you like and the more you will keep...! 

The first outfit (in the first picture) was a total keeper. I loved both the chevron shirt and the jeans! The shirt is so soft... adored it! 

I liked the flutter blouse, but wish it was a little smaller actually... or just more fitted. I felt like it was kinda maternity-ish. It was also a little expensive for what I would have liked to have spent. 

And I really liked the purse. You should be proud of me that I said no! LOL I just do NOT need another black purse, so I am returning that. 

The cardigan was just so-so to me. I had a hard time finding anything in my closet to go with it, actually. 

You might ask, how does Stitch Fix know what you are keeping, and why? When you have made your decision, you log into your Stitch Fix account and tell them exactly what you thought of each item! Here is some of my feedback:
Have I convinced you yet?  Go sign up! It really is such fun, and it won't be TOO addicting because you only get one shipment per month. :o) The worst-case scenario... you're out $20, send back all the items, and you tell them you don't want any more shipments after your first one. (I'm getting mine monthly!)

Do you get a fix already? I would love to hear about/see yours! Share in the comments! :o)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Ramona Recommends: Love Her!

Hi friends! I am sharing a fun new blogger with you that you MUST check out (and follow)! When she heard my Workshop Wednesday was going to be about biographies, she was so excited to share some of her favorite biographies and I was so excited to let her share them with you here!! Don't forget to come back Wednesday to share how you teach students to write biographies in Writer's Workshop for Workshop Wednesday!

And now, without further ado... meet my friend, Courtney!

Hello! I am so excited and honored to be a guest blogger at Ideas by Jivey. I’m Courtney from Ramona Recommends. Nice to meet you! A few months ago, I started recommending books on my personal Instagram and received a quality amount of interest. I have always loved reading other teacher and fashion blogs. Ramona Recommends started on a Saturday night in November in front of the TV. At Ramona Recommends, I share my favorite children’s literature, and I hope you will open the MAGIC.

Like Jivey, I heart children's literature so much that my official count as of 3 minutes ago is 1331. WOW! I'm glad we share the same sentiments. If you are a collector as well, or want to start collecting, let me give you a tip. Start a digital database. I created mine in excel and each time I buy a new book or 10 I input the book(s) into my system. If I buy a new book, I must put it in my system that evening. #imakedealswithmyself. My spreadsheet is simple. It has the book title and author. That is it. Simple!

Today, I want to share three of my favorite children's literature biographies. Each biography I chose describes a little piece of me. Biographies warm my heart. I love learning about history through pictures and poetic language. Not all biographies have to be novels. They can come in picture book form too! Isn't it great!

Did you know that if you were a slave you didn't use your last name? Do you know Mumbet? In 5th grade, we learn all about the Revolution Era. I suggest Mumbet's Declaration of Independence be added to your book-shelve. Come learn about one woman's heroic fight for freedom in Massachusetts during the Revolution Era. The pictures are breath taking. When I hear picture books are just for 1st graders, it makes me so upset. I believe picture books are for ALL ages. Multiple perspectives and feelings can be drawn from pictures. This book is written for upper elementary+. The language and content is much suited for students who want to dig deep into the language and discuss the meaning of, "If she could have one minute in her life, just to say I am free..".

I don't know about you, but I love learning fun facts about presidents. Did you know that President Taft weighed 340 pounds? President Taft is Stuck in the Bath is a picture book that came out about 2 weeks ago. This book presents a fun way to learn realistic information through an array of overdrawn pictures, and slap of the knee phrases. According to some reports, it unclear if he actually got stuck, but because of his size you never know.

If you teach 3rd grade, I am sure you know about the series Who Was? I love this series. The books are well written and share a wealth of information about a variety of influential people. I chose to share Who was Walt Disney because Disneyland has brought so much joy to my entire family. Disneyland is such a magical place. Just Fyi- May 29, What is the Statue of Liberty will make it's debut.

To say thank you for reading, I would like you to grab this freebie. Be proud and share in the #iheartpicturebook club! To download click here

Stop by Ramona Recommends to learn about what children's literature you should have on your bookshelf! Come find me on Teachers Pay Teacher, instagram , and Facebook

Thank you for reading! Don't forget to OPEN THE MAGIC!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Peek At My Week... returning from Spring Break... {and freebies!}

Oh boo. I have that dreaded Sunday night feeling again. Alas, my Spring Break has ended. I know that the next 6 weeks will fly by, but the beautiful weather we've had this week makes me long for summer!!

I'm linking up with the sweet Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings to tell you about the week ahead! :o)

First up, we'll be starting animal adaptations and ecosystems in Science. This is one of my favorite Science units! I'm going to link up with my girls Amanda and Stacia at Collaboration Cuties to share some mentor texts and freebies I'll be using in this unit.
The first book is one that Amanda shared today too! Great minds, I tell you.
What If You Had Animal Teeth?! is a great book to use when talking about adaptations and how animals' parts help them survive. As I read the book, my students will fill in this activity (which you can grab for free of course!):
Another great book for adaptations is What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?
Although this is a book for "younger kids," the older kids still love it. It covers a variety of parts, not just tails, so I have them fill in this interactive activity as we go (which again, you can grab for free):
The pages show a variety of different animals' parts, so they should choose one to draw and predict. :o)
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
As I promised my pal AMC at Looking from Third to Fourth, I am going to spend some time doing some Earth Day Activities this year... every year, Earth Day falls on or around our state testing and I always neglect it... but because of the snow this year, or testing was pushed back! One of the standards in ecosystems is how changes in the environment affect an ecosystem, as well as what leads to extinction, so this is where I can tie in my Earth Day activities! One book that I love, and AMC does too, is The Great Kapok Tree.
Don't have the book? I have two options for you! (And you should definitely choose at least one of these because it is such a great story!!)
You can watch/listen to the reading on YouTube:
Or you can have your students read it in a Reader's Theater (found on Timeless Teacher Stuff)! My kids will definitely be performing it as a Reader's Theater after I read it to them. :o)  I will also have mine think of other animals that live in threatened environments. We can do a little bit of research on these animals with Britannica Elementary and then do a quick write about why these animals are threatened and what might can be done to help them. (As you can see, there will be quite a bit of integration going on this week!)

We have a few writing projects going on this week actually! We have also been working hard to research Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, or Elizabeth Cady Stanton (students could choose based on who they wanted to know more about after we learned about these women). We will write our biographies of these women this week. (Don't forget to come back and see what we are doing with our BIOGRAPHIES for Workshop Wednesday, and link up your own ideas, too!)

We will also be writing back to our pen pals in New York (we're paired up with Holly's class from Fourth Grade Flipper)! Hopefully they will have some fun things to share about their Spring Breaks in their letters! I hope that Holly wants to be partners again next year. ;o) If not, I will have to find another class to be pen pals with because this has been so fun, and my kids have really enjoyed it! They have made a long distance friend, too- they are going to share addresses so they can keep writing even after this is over. How cool is that??

We are also beginning our measurement unit in math this week. It is my least favorite part of math. I know I'm not supposed to say that... but it's true. Thankfully, Tabitha at Flapjack Educational Resources makes it more bearable with her fun interactive SmartBoard Pack!
I bought it last year and not only was it fun for my students, but it was fun for me, too! :o)

Phew. Did you make it this far?? It's going to be a busy week. I'm tired already just thinking about it. Those of you who are just starting Spring Break... have a great one! Everyone else... keep on trucking! It's almost summer! :o)