Friday, April 17, 2015

My First Adventures with PBL (project based learning)

Hallelujah!  State testing is done.  Everyone was a little anxious this year since we were making the transition to the computer-based testing (out with the old standards being assessed and in with the new ones)!

As a way to make our time in the classroom less stressful, I have had students studying caves in a mini project-based learning unit.  Our driving question was: How do caves form?  This was my first go with a PBL unit and having no real formal training in the area, I do find my classroom results match what the research has to say about motivating students and keeping them engaged despite what a highly exhaustive week this was with AzMERIT testing and all.

My 5 for Friday showcases my attempt to transition to a PBL classroom since we're breaking up with the Math and ELA rigid block schedule.  Hooray for freedom and the independence to integrate science and social studies more freely across the curriculum!

1. - PBL (project based learning)

PBL = Project Based Learning.  This is my PBS Focus Wall - sets a purpose for our study!  From the visuals I had seen posted, you need a driving question as well as a Know/Need to Know... chart.  The other thinking maps we used as we took notes and this has helped to scaffold and organize new information into digestible bites for the kiddoz.

2. Student Generated Cave Posters

I loved assigning my ADHD boys the role of "engineer."  I sent my engineers to gather supplies from the "building table" loaded with tubs of PlayDoh, construction paper, cardboard recyclable items, and let their imagination run wild!  The Lava Tube Cave engineer really thought creatively with his use of half of an egg carton to represent the Earth, Play-doh for the lava, and red pipe cleaners to represent the lava tubes that would cool and dry up over time.

3. Cave Day - Draw Like a Caveman (Towel Spread Out on Floor Beneath Desk)
Luckily my local grocery store was completely understanding of my request to have them "donate" paper bags to my classroom for our Cave Day art project.  After testing had wrapped, we celebrated with Cave Day - I had kids bring in old towels, pillows and flashlights.  Kids laid on top of their towels underneath their desks as they created cave art while on their backs.  

4. More Cave Art Fun!  (I had them connect to Rafiki's tree sketch of Simba from The Lion King)
This girl said she wasn't finished but I think the "less is more" really works well on her cave art.  She did an excellent job rubbing the pastels to create a more authentic feel to her artwork.  Pikachu, anyone?

5. Did I graduate with my Masters Degree to turn into a full-time test proctor? {apparently so}
Had to officially log-in and give students an online testing session ID on FIVE different occasions this week.  So long state testing and a week-long of proctoring, I'm ready to get back to teaching!!! Poor, over-tested kids all in the sake of "more accountability."  Who's winning here??  No way did my cell phone go anywhere near the computer lab, talk about an automatic "invalidation!"

Friday, March 13, 2015

LUCKY YOU! St. Patrick's Freebie

So, I've teamed up with Layla from Fancy Free in Fourth for a St. Patrick's themed blog hop giveaway!

Can you believe it's the second Friday 13th this year? Two months in a row!!  I guess it's time to count my blessings, and truthfully I would be so lost without my supportive family.  Just had to packup my life in boxes, the house that I was set to close on fell through, and I now have a relaxing and comfortable place to stay because of my great familia!  So lucky I live so close by to them! :)

Last year, I created a St. Patrick's Day Printables pack for the Big Kids.  My GOLDEN FREEBIE comes from this set.  You will be able to enjoy the Shamrock Shimmy page to assess your students' knowledge of multiplication facts and prime/composite numbers.  Enjoy this St. Patrick's Day goodie by clicking the image below and downloading this sample from my TpT store!
See what other Golden Freebies you can find by hopping on over to Layla's blog (click the button below)!!
Fancy Free in 4th
May the Luck of the Irish be with you! :)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy 2015 [FREEBIE, Thoughts, & Currently!]

As I thought about how soon it will be Monday morning, and the official end to winter break, I considered how highly unmotivated I will be to spend time (in line) at the copier!  Therefore, I figured I'd do a no printable required New Year's Traditions activity to expose my students to the various customs of countries around the world. 

Also, I want to know if they have any unusual family traditions for ringing in the new year.  This also builds classroom community - BONUS!  For example, my childhood neighbors had a tradition of clanking pots and pans at the stroke of midnight, whooping and hollering at the start of a new year.  I think it must have been a way to ward their home of bad spirits, but who knows, I never did ask!  My family and I always usher in the New Year with a fresh batch of menudo and a midnight toast.  

Long story short, that's how my NEW YEAR Traditions Presentation was born!  But, for those of you in need of a note-taking guide or something that shows your admin team that students are truly learning, I've added this companion freebie, which is indeed a printable! (Click IMAGE above)  

 I've seen posts similar to the one above on Instagram recently and feel like there's a lot of good energy and signs pointing to 2015 being a GOLDEN year.  It will mark ten years since my high school graduation, and 2005 was a great year for me, so I feel like this decadent anniversary will only have grandeur to offer!  Also, I have found so many cute gold home decor accents, which I LOVE!!

Currently 2015 - I guess I should make it a resolution to participate in all the monthly currentlys this year.  If I do it within the first 5 days of the month, I can treat myself to a glass of wine!  OMG... I am so like the children, MUCH better inclined to follow through when bribed!

CHEERS to the NEW YEAR!  Oh, and don't forget to visit Farley's Currently linky for January 2015!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Mummy Lights and Power Words FREEBIE!

Well I'm so happy that it's fall time - but not so happy that my fall break is coming to an end!  Anywho, I've decided to share a little bit of my latest "Made-Its".

1. Mummy Lights
Using empty baby food jars, gauze, hot glue & googly eyes  I was able to craft these spookishly cute jars!  Just add a tealight candle or a flickering LED candle and you'll cast a spooky glow wherever you desire. :)

2. Power Words poster freebie
Recently, I attended a PD on Larry Bell's 12 Power Words - since I'm a retro 90s NBA fan I kept calling it Larry Bird's Power Words when discussing them with other colleagues.  Either way, I'm so happy that other creative minds have created gestures and uploaded these videos to school tube so my class and I can cement these academic words even better into our minds!  Here's the video I've been showing to my students.

Basically these are power words because they often appear on high-stakes testing and may serve as an obstacle for overall achievement if this vocabulary is unfamiliar.  Still not sure why trace is such a POWER-ful word - but I'll go with it.  You can download this freebie at my TpT store by clicking here.

Venture over to Tara Eiken's blog and see the gems that others have made for this month's Made-It LinkUp!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

5 for Friday and a Learning Scale FREEBIE!

First time linking up with the 5 for Friday teacher linky party.  I will be sharing five random things from this past week in my classroom.  Also, I am sharing a Friday Freebie of my Learning Scale Posters available in section one below!

Had to decorate my room with some fab 90s nostalgia, not to mention TMNT is all the rage with my kiddoz!
To update my Marzano learning scale so it would better fit with the "Rate my Learning Response Cards" described in my previous post, I printed the posters shared above, then mounted on black cardstock, attached a yellow star post-it to the 3rd level of proficiency which is the goal for students to reach on the learning scale.  Finally, I just laminated / stapled 'em to the wall above the SMARTboard where I do most of my teaching from.
 This is part of a new product I will be adding to my TpT store this upcoming weekend, it's a quick math bulletin board activity to reinforce the concepts of rounding.  You'll also see the Rounding Rap which I love chanting / gesturing out with the kids to make this math concept more engaging!
Each student rounded out a different number 5 digit number with their Rodeo Boy or Rodeo Girl on the outside of the flip-books.  Then, they explained how they knew their solution was mathematically correct on the inside - great for having students justify their reasoning!
Wednesday, 9-17 was Constitution Day!  We dressed up in red, white and/or blue, how about you?
How cute is this little darling with her BLING-ed out shirt and that patriotic flower pinned to her hair!
On day 1 of reviewing fractions with my 4th grade Math Intervention group, I had students quickly jot down notes on the vocabulary we would be using.  Then, we got to play Fraction Shake!  Students compared fractions by using the raspberry / blackberry / blueberry / strawberry containers I had been having family members save for me.  Using the 2-sided counters that came with my district-provided math curriculum, I had students choose a total number of counters that met our denominator guidelines for 4th grade: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10 & 12.  This simple game kept students engaged and boosted their understanding of fractions!
P.S. If using up to 12 counters at a time, the strawberry containers work much better but consume much more storage space than the tinier ones!
To enhance our study on the Water Cycle, students and I ventured outside to create & observe "Water Paintings."  At the end, students water paintings should have nearly evaporated showing that evaporation occurs when heat (from the sun) caused the liquid water to rise into the air as water vapor.  I loved how simple this little water experiment was and it is definitely a keeper for the future. Don't mind my Halloween buckets - that's all I had available in my classroom to transport the water outside!! =)