Sunday, May 10, 2015

Human Body Review - Concept Mapping

The Human Body science unit. You either love it or hate it, right? And sometimes it is very day by day.

Digestive system? LOVE it. Circulatory system? EH. Reproductive system? Well....

But no matter what, a Human Body unit seems to be a staple of most 5th grade classrooms these days. Our classroom is no exception. We have been studying the human body for several weeks now, taking time to learn as much as we could about each one.

We researched. And made models. And participated in simulations. For each system.

Here is a snapshot of what that looked like:

And then it was time for the dreaded assessment. Even though I knew they were prepared, I figured it might ease their minds to have a review.  I thought all weekend about how I would like them to review for their test. Since the learning targets for this unit were all about how the body systems interact I thought that a concept map would be the perfect tool to review.

This wasn't something I had used with them before (I'm in a try-something-new-every-day phase) so I looked for a few resources to help me introduce the idea to my class. After googling around a bit, I found this video on the BrainPop website.

We watched the video to familiarize ourselves with the idea of concept mapping. It has a great example and they do have an online tool that students can use, if you have the technology in your room! Unfortunately, we didn't have any access to tech that day, so we used pencil and paper and it worked out just fine.

Before they started mapping their human body concepts, we made one together and practiced linking the ideas. That seemed to be the hardest part - figuring out which ideas went together. But, as the video said, linking the ideas turns the "information into knowledge!" Once they had the hang of it, they started making their Human Body Concept Maps.

Boy, was I impressed!

I had them start off by writing down whatever they could from memory. Turns out - they remembered a lot!

Then, they could use their notes from our several weeks of learning. (This was a bummer for a few people who didn't think that when I said, "Make sure to take notes as you research," that it applied to them.) But for those who had their notes, it was amazing! They were able to fill in the blanks on some things they had forgotten and it helped quite a few of them makes those tricky links that they weren't sure about.

They worked for quite awhile and did an amazing job connecting all their information and turning it into knowledge. It was a great way to review for the assessment!

How do you like to review concepts before a big test? I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Addition Strategies

Is it Sunday evening already? Maybe I am in some sort of denial. But I really feel like this weekend should be at least one more day. Regardless...

Lately, my math instruction seems to be lacking some excitement. We have been mired in the bog of fractions and it seemed like we needed a little pick me up. I thought it might be helpful to review some skills and concepts in math centers last week, so we broke out this activity to practice addition strategies!

First, we used a simple problem to review how to write a number story. Or word problem. Or story problem. Whatever you want to call it. We discussed getting a visual picture of the problem, and then practiced writing one together. As a class, we even reviewed what would constitute a proper number story.

Then, I showed them how to use the graphic organizer that would be a part of the center. They got to choose a card, and then use that problem to complete the organizer. For each problem, they needed to write the addends with expanded notation, write the number story, word problem, story problem (you get the idea), use partial sums to solve it and then another strategy that works for them.

I put the directions in the center so they had a visual reminder of what to do when they got there.

(Sorry for the terrible iPhone picture quality...)
And then the class had a new center! It was a great way to see what kids remembered about addition, and a great way to assess their understanding of addition in general from their responses to the questions.

I was glad to be able to have a review with my class to see what they have retained about addition. This also helped me to see which students I might need to pull into a group for a little more help.

Does this activity seem like it might be useful in your classroom? If so, you might want to check it out in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I have made a few changes so I think many different grade levels could use it, or if you have students at different levels in your class they can all be successful.

There are 8 sets of cards with addition problems ranging from single digit addition all the way to adding decimals to the hundredths place. There are also 3 different graphic organizers to meet different classroom needs.

There *may* be a flash freebie coming soon, so be sure you follow me on Facebook and Instagram to get the latest updates!

I'd love to hear from you! How are you spicing up your routine this time of year?

Have a great week everyone!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Fun Times Ahead - CO Blogger Meet Up!

How was your April Fool's Day?? Mine was pretty uneventful actually.

Except that I *may* have convinced a pretty good percentage of my class that today was March 32nd.

For the WHOLE. DAY. Like, they were writing it on their papers and having spirited conversation convincing people that March 32nd was definitely a REAL thing.

I think some of them were crushed when I finally came clean. They couldn't believe that I fooled them! Some of them had a look of real relief on their faces - like everything was right in the world again. I love 5th graders!

As fun as April Fool's Day was, it also means that it is already APRIL. As in the craziest time of the year is right around the corner. The LAST day of school is next month. I can't believe that it is April already.

Luckily, my friend Ashley from Teaching In Bronco Country had a great idea to give us all something fun to look forward to!

We are having a Colorado Blogger Meet Up! I can't wait!

Are you a Colorado blogger, TPT'er, Instagram-er or blog-stalker?? If you are, then come and join us on May 30th! It will be a fun time to meet new people, eat delicious food and get some awesome stuff!! (Think: SWAG BAG!) Oh yeah, and there will even be a raffle with prizes!

What: Colorado Blogger Meet Up
When: May 30 @ 12:00
Where: Rio Grande Restaurant - Park Meadows

Check out this Google Form to give us your details and RSVP! We can't wait to meet everyone!!

OH! I almost forgot...we will also have a Favorite School Supply Exchange! Bring your favorite can't-live-without-it school supply for a White Elephant style exchange.

So...if you are a part of the Colorado blogging world, fill out the Google Form, spread the word to others, and come have a blast on May 30th!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

One of THOSE Days....In a GOOD Way!

Whew! Productive days are exhausting....but OH, so satisfying! I love it when you get into a groove and your day seems to click by like clockwork.

It doesn't always go like that for me, but when it does I like to bask in the glory of a well-planned and well-executed schedule. (Can you believe it?? And on a full moon too boot!!!)

My daily schedule is looking a lot like this these days:

Here's a little bit of what we did today:

During our "soft" start, I noticed several people without chairs...sitting on the floor, standing, using pillows. I'm not sure why we were boycotting chairs today, but I wasn't going to make a big deal. Ain't nobody got time for that.

They're a stubborn bunch...only one gave in and got a chair before the end of the day.
This week we started our new science unit on the solar system and stars...we created a Circle Map and started doing some planet research with our Chromebook carts! Do you think there were some Uranus jokes?? Of course there were. (You can't prove that I laughed.) Gotta love 5th graders...

During literacy today, I was so excited to start using this AMAZING freebie from Diane at Fifth in the Middle. We are participating in Liberty Day at the capitol on March 16, so we are using her product to start learning about the Constitution!
Click on the picture to grab your copy of Diane's freebie!
The best part? The whole thing is differentiated, and includes text-dependent questions! My kids are LOVING it. It has been great in my small groups.

After lunch, we tackled writing. We are DEEP into opinion/persuasive writing, and yesterday we made a list of the attributes of effective opinion writing. Today, we analyzed 2 pieces to see if they contained the items on our list...and we even found some more ideas to add to it! Because procrastination is how I usually roll, I did come up with a graphic organizer for them to record ideas on. At the last minute. (Read:on the fly.)

What? You didn't expect that the whole day went perfectly, did you???

I would love to hear how your days are shaping up!! Anything awesome? What's making you feel super-productive??

Friday, January 9, 2015

Free Your Time Blog Hop and Giveaway!

I am so excited to be a part of my very first blog hop!!

The wonderful folks that started the Fifth Grade Freebies collaborative blog organized this awesome freebie blog hop...

to help you free up some time!! I hope you'll hop through all the awesome blogs and get some great time-saving freebies. Not to mention there is an awesome giveaway at the end!!! So make sure you hit all the stops.

We all know that right after Winter Break is the perfect time to review expectations and remind students about their responsibilities. This week, my students have been doing just that.

One of the best things about teaching 5th grade, in my opinion, is how much ownership and responsibility they take for their classroom and school. They seem to be very invested in the being the "top dogs" and being role models for younger students. So, I put their enthusiasm to use with this back-to-school-after-break activity!

First, they brainstormed their ideas about what it means to be a 5th grader. They started off by writing their own thoughts and then worked with a partner to share and grow their list. We shared as a class and created the chart above. They did a great job capturing the spirit of what being a 5th grader really means. (I especially like "We are mature." That one got a smile from me for sure!)

Once we had our extensive list of ideas, they worked with partners to narrow down to what they thought was most important. They used the discussion questions above to help them decide.

After their discussion with partners, students advocated for what they thought should be included in the classroom "Pledge." They came up with the idea of having a classroom pledge after we had been discussing an essay contest where they were writing about what the Pledge of Allegiance meant to them. My favorite quote from this part of the discussion? "I really like the idea of calling it a Pledge, because that means that people are making the choice about how they behave." YES! It was a great moment.

We recorded the top 5 ideas and slept on it...just in case they wanted to add or change anything.

This is the final product! Tomorrow, we will be using my newest freebie to record the Classroom Pledge AND create their own Personal Pledge. I can't wait!! To grab your own copy, click the picture below...

I hope that this will save you some time and give your class a great way to take ownership of their classroom as we head into the second half of the year!

As you continue on the hop, your next stop will be my friend Jessica's blog, Joy in the Journey!

Joy in the Journey

And don't forget to hop all the way through so you can enter the awesome giveaway at the end! There are three $25 TPT giftcards you can win, plus a bunch of great freebies on the get hoppin'!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sunday Scoop!

I have seen this adorable linky floating around Instagram thanks to Teaching Trio, and I couldn't think of a better way to start off Winter Break week than by joining in!

Christmas Shopping: I'm serious. I haven't finished. I've barely started. I've had the that even an excuse?? I'm saying it is.

House Cleaning: See above where I told you about the flu.... The craft room is a different story. It has been more like a crap-catcher for several months. So I can't even use the flu as an excuse.

Catching Up: I have so many things I'd like to do with this blog, on Fifth Grade Freebies and with some new TPT products! I'm hoping the next few days will be ULTRA productive. I have an addition strategies product and I'm trying to get a few more freebies ready for the holidays AND some long overdue blog posts about Common Core! Fingers crossed that I can get everything done.

Family Time: My wonderful hubby is working from home this week and that means I get to have him home so I can bug him while he works. It makes me happy that we can spend some time together, even if he will be working. :-)

What's your Sunday Scoop? Head over to Teaching Trio to create your post and link up!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

TPT Cyber Monday SALE!

The Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Monday sale starts in a few short hours! I am so excited to empty my overflowing cart...not sure my wallet will be, but oh well!

In anticipation of the big event, I wanted to join up with Ideas by Jivey for her 2+1=TPTCYBER linky!

The idea is to share the 2 most wish-listed items from my store and 1 item that is currently on MY wishlist!! (To be fair, it's probably already in my cart...but I digress.)

My most wish-listed item is my Quadrilaterals: 2D Shape Sort with Shape Cards. This item is also my best seller! In this product, you get a set of quadrilateral shape cards, several graphic organizers and ideas for how to use them in your classroom. Normally $2.00, during the sale it will only be $1.60! If you use the code TPTCYBER when checking out, it will be even less!

If you like this one, you might also like my Triangles: Shape Sort with Shape Cards! It will be on sale for only $2.00! Again, TPTCYBER takes that down even more.

My second most wish-listed item is my newest product: Multiplication Match Up! This products features 144 pages of multiplication cards. For each multiplication fact, there is the fact, the answer, a representation with equal groups and an array! It would be a great product for a matching game, flash cards or a center. Normally, it's $7.00, but during the sale it will only be $5.60. With the code TPTCYBER, it will be less that $5.50!

I can't wait to purchase at least one Mentor Sentences unit from the host of this linky, Jivey!! I loved reading the book Everyday Editing by Jeff Anderson, and Jivey's units will make it simple to implement. I'm so excited!! I might even have to spring for the BIG IS a sale after all!

Mentor Sentences Unit: Second 10 Weeks

Well? What are you waiting for??? The sale starts in just a couple of hours...head over to Ideas by Jivey and check out more great things you need for the rest of the school year and beyond!