Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Learning About Plants

We're in the middle of a science unit about plants, plant life cycles and photosynthesis. As part of the unit, we are attempting to grow marigolds of our own in the classroom. As of today, we are on day 7 (including the weekend) of this project. Still waiting to see our sprouts and flowers but we're confident they will actually appear and grow. Here is a photo synopsis of how this experiment got started:

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

Step 4:

Step 5:

Step 6:

Step 7:

Step 8:

Step 9:

Stay tuned for updates to this project!


Friday, November 8, 2013

Fall Fun at the Zoo!

We took an awesome trip to Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City on October 22, 2013. It was a chilly day but we had a great time walking around and checking out all of the cool animals that reside there. Many photos were taken and compiled to create a slideshow that we shared with other classes in our school. If you would like to view the photos, please click HERE.

We will begin an animal research writing project next week. Look for more info to come from that project soon! We hope you enjoy the slideshow!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Judges in the Classroom

We had a special visitor to our classroom on September 27th. Judge Katherine Garza, a Magistrate with the Lake Superior Court, Juvenile Division, came to out classroom to talk about her job as a judge. This was part of the program called Judges in the Classroom. In addition, she gave a great lesson to the class on the three branches of government and discussed the Constitution and its importance for us today. Judge Katie took the time to answer many of our questions and even shared what a typical day looks like when she is at work. We really enjoyed hearing Judge Katie speak and we thank her for taking the time to visit us!

Judge Katherine Garza discusses her job as a judge in juvenile court:

Judge Katie teaches us about the three branches of government:

Thank you again to Judge Katie for coming to Harding! We hope you'll visit again!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Our "Human Body Man"

We've just wrapped up a science unit on the Systems of the Human Body. This is a unit I have done for several years but I have been adding and revamping a few things in it the past couple of years.

This year, I found a cute little activity that we used as a culmination to the unit. Each student had the opportunity to put together a little paper man (think back to paper dolls!). This little man has 8 layers--the ody front, skeletal system, respiratory system, digestive system, circulatory system, nervous system, skin and body back (I wish they had included muscles and excretory). The activity is actually called a "foldable" but the cutting and putting together like an accordion would have been a little too much for my 4th graders. Instead, we colored and cut each layer out completely. Then we "layered" the layers and stapled together. Voila! It was a great way to reiterate the information we already learned and see how they all fit together. They turned out really cute! The link to the activity can be found here: Human Body Systems.

Here are the photos of our project-----

My example for the students:

The "unlayered" layers:

The students' final men:

Aren't they super cute?? I'll be keeping them in our unit from now on!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Anchor Charts--2nd Edition

We are a couple weeks into the new school year and everything is going great! Our class of 22 is busy learning routines and procedures and new 4th grade skills. Back to School Night took place this past Thursday and it was wonderful meeting many of our new families. The students were very proud to show off their new classroom to their parents and siblings. I always love overhearing their chatter as they show parents "our meeting area", "my desk and morning work binder", "our classroom library and book tubs", and "the place where we do our attendance and lunch count". They are like little experts already!

One of the new things in our district is the new reading series--Benchmark Literacy. This is far from the traditional basal series of the past. It is always a challenge to get to know something new but I think that once it becomes familiar, it will work well with the balanced literacy framework that's already been in place the last few years. I am no longer following Daily 5 (sad face) but I do think this new program does a good job of setting up the routines and procedures in a way that is similar to Daily 5.

As in the past, this program requires a number of anchor charts to be created and posted in the room for the students to reference throughout the year. If you've followed this blog for awhile now, you know that anchor charts have only become a part of my classroom in the last few years. I would like to share some of the new charts created this past week as part of the new series.

This is a new bulletin board that shows all the Metacognitive and Comprehension Strategies covered in the 4th grade BL curriculum. These are a lot like the CAFE lessons I used in D5. Each week, we focus on one of each. For example, this past week we had whole group lessons on Asking Questions (Metacognitive) and Identifying Main Idea and Supporting Details (Comprehension). We refer to this board almost daily!

The components of Readers' Workshop.

What Readers' Workshop Looks/Sounds Like--
These were things the students came up with and they are pretty spot on. These students are very familiar with the Balanced Literacy framework so they now come in knowing expectations pretty well. We will refer to these often as well.

Turn to your Partner--
These are the prompts and questions we have begun to practice using during our reading discussions. This takes A LOT of practice but it will pay off in dividends later on as the students start to have really rich discussions about what is read!

I'll close this post with a photo of my up-and-coming writing center! It includes posters I began using last year and is still a work in progress--but I'm likin' it so far!

Can't wait to share more information with you soon!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My 2013-2014 Classroom!

It is the eve of a brand new school year and I will be meeting 21 22 brand new 4th graders in about 13 hours! I'm looking forward to the new year. Here is a little tour of my "Pinterest-ified" room--

The view from the door. I have what I call a "pie shaped room"--it's basically like a slice of pie!

My large bulletin board area and half of my library plus the student book bins.

My desk area.

Whole group meeting area and the other half of my library. My books are still arranged by Lexile range but I know the research says not to do it that way. I hope to find the time to redo this system this year.

I've always had my student desks in groups of 4 or 5. I really love this arrangement because we do a lot of small group and partner work and this lends itself well to that. Having fewer students this year allows me to keep an extra desk in the middle of each group for storage. I bought some clearance fabric in a cute pattern to dress it up a bit!

Math morning work chart (Pinterest idea came from Math Workshop Adventures) and writing center (my goal is to get it to look like "The Writer's Eye" featured on Teaming Up to Teach).

Information Wall.

Close up of the behavior chart (switching to the famous color system this year after 10 years of "sticks"!), Homework Brownie points (see here for more info) and my fun magnetic board for tracking where students are.

Another small group meeting area by the sink.

I finally have my 10 class pictures properly hung up! Also, I renamed the 4 student computers after my 4 cats--Bella, Blu, Max and Sadie!

Here's a close-up of the Bella computer--each one includes a picture of the cat. All my cats are black and hard to tell apart unless you're me! I think the kids will enjoy that.

I hope you've enjoyed the tour. I know I love looking at others' classrooms. Here's to a great school year!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Classroom Management Projects

With 6 days left until my new class of 4th graders walk in my classroom door, it's becoming more clear everyday that summer vacation is just about over. Sad face.

But, I do always enjoy the start of a new school year! New people, new colleagues, new kids, new families, new supplies, new ideas--everything feels fresh and new. With that attitude in mind, I've been taking some of my recent Pinterest likes and pins and making them for my classroom. I've learned a couple things in the last couple weeks--
1. There are so many things you can do with duct (duck--the brand name) tape! I bought 3 rolls of the fun polka dot print and I just LOVE it!
2. The Dollar Tree has been a lifesaver in helping me snag quality, but cheap, supplies to make my projects! Without further ado, here are my projects and a link to the original post where I found it:

----Revamped File Box----
I've had these files boxes for over 10 years in my classroom with various uses over the years. Last year, I did not use them for anything so I decided to sell them at a yard sale but kept 1 for this project! I turned my old, drab, white, plastic box into a cute organizer! I found the idea at Fifth Grade Frenzies. I love it!

----Magnetic Student Boards----
I'm really impressed with how these turned out. I wanted a quick visual to see where students are located and help take attendance and lunch count. The original idea came from A Spoonful of Creativity. Dollar store cookie sheets and clear flower vase marbles + spare magnets + adorable numbers and labels from A Cupcake for the Teacher = These beauties!

----Brownie Points----
I'm using this as a whole class incentive for completed homework. I'm hoping that this idea will keep everyone motivated to get that completed homework in on time--everyday!! A brownie can be earned each day all homework assignments are completed by everyone in the class. For every dozen brownies earned, the students will earn some kind of reward. Later in the year, it will take 2 dozen brownies to earn the reward. I'm not 100% sure what the rewards will be yet--nothing extravagant--something simple and cheap but that the kids will enjoy. I'll share more ideas on that later. In the meantime, the idea came from What the Teacher Wants.

I'm looking forward to getting these into my room and finishing up all the prep work in there before the kids arrive next Wednesday. I hope to post some classroom reveal photos before that day. I'd love to hear about your classroom management tips and ideas. Also, be sure to check out my classroom Pinterest board for all the great ideas I've found!
Happy New School Year!