Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fall Themed Mentor Text-The Stranger

I love fall, the cool weather, the pumpkin spiced coffee, and the changing color of the leave. Since it is my favorite season, I like to do fall themed things with my kiddos.

One of my favorite books to share with my students is The Stranger by Chris Van Allsburg. The story is about a man who was hit by a car and lost his memory. There are a lot of strange things that happen in the book, lots of clues that help us infer who the stranger might be. At the end you discover, although it isn't officially said, that the man is Jack Frost.

This book is new to most of my students. Each year I only have one or two that have heard it before. I love sharing new books with them, and this is one of my favorites. This book is great to use when you are wanting to do a close read of a text. I normally read it to my kiddos to start. Once we discover who the stranger is we go back and read it again. When we read it again we look for the clues that most of us miss when we read it the first time that let us know the stranger is Jack Frost. 

What are your favorite fall books to share with your students? Be sure to head over to Collaboration Cuties for other fall book suggestions!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Workshop Wednesday-Setting up a Math Workshop

Happy Wednesday! I'm excited to link up with Ideas by Jivey to share how I have started running a Math Workshop in my classroom this year.

At the end of last year I knew I wanted to change the way I taught math. Most of my math lessons started with whole group and then individual work. I used a lot of task cards and tic-tac-toe boards last year to help me differentiate, but I knew I wanted to give my kids more one-on-one. So this year I started Math Workshop. I've been playing around with it to find what works for my kids and for me. We have 50 min. for math, so I start class with a 10-15 min. mini-lesson. I introduce the topic, create our foldable, or glue in the basics for our day during this time. Then the students rotate every 12 min. to three stations. They normally don't finish what I have at each station-but they have two days at each station.

We started with knowing what Math Workshop looks likes and sounds like. I have the students generate this with me. When they help me create the list I find it is easier for them to "stick with it."

The kids are really enjoying the rotating. I find that with 12 min. at each station the students need to be smart with their time, and that helps them stay focused.

How do you set up your Math Workshop in your room?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tried it Tuesday-Linky Party

It is Tuesday, and I am excited to link up with Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried it Tuesday!

On Thursday last week, I celebrated Talk Like a Pirate Day with my class. I've done it for quite a few years, but this was my first year celebrating it as a blogger. I decided to host a linky party for those that might want to celebrate it with their kids as well. 

I had never created a linky before. I used InLinkz (which is what I think most people use.) I followed this video and it was a piece of cake.

I was so nervous that no one would link up...but four of my lovely blogging buddies celebrated Pirate Day and linked up.

If you've ever wanted to have a linky party, go for it. It was much easier to set up than I thought it would be.

I also wanted to let you know that I recently changed my freebie on my Facebook page. It's one of my students favorite activities, so I hope you swing by and grab it soon! 

What have you tried recently?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Social Stuides Mentor Text and a Peek at my Week

Happy Sunday! Time is flying...I can't believe it is already the fourth Sunday in September! I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties to share a Social Studies Mentor Text suggestion, as well as Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for a Peek at my Week.

My students and I have just finished our geography unit. In this unit we talk about the relative location of both our country and our state. We also spend time talking about the basics of landforms, climate, and natural resources. All of these topics lay the ground work for the rest of our units of study. The National Geographic Kids United States Atlas  is a great resource for those topics.

National Geographic Kids United States Atlas

I wish I had more copies...but the atlas is great to teach kiddos the basic geography topics. It is a lot more interesting to read/look at than our text book.

We started our study of Pennsylvania on Friday. For the next five weeks we will learn all about our home state. I try, when possible, to incorporate writing into the content areas. To do this I created a descriptive writing activity that my kiddos will work on this week. In this activity the students need to pretend that an alien is visiting from space.

They need to describe the relative location, climate, and natural resources that the alien discovers on its journey. I've used it for a few years and it is a fun way for kids to show and explain what they know. I allow my students to refer to the atlas to help them. You can check it out at my TPT store.

Another fun project that my students will be working on this week is Exploring Ireland. This project is from Teaching with a Mountain View. It is a great way for kids to see how they will use adding and subtraction multi-digit numbers in real life.

What are you up to this week?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Shiver me Timbers! Talk Like a Pirate Day Linky Party

Ahoy Matey! Happy National Talk Like a Pirate Day! I don't know about you, but my kiddos and I enjoyed ourselves today.

The celebration started this afternoon. We read my favorite pirate book, Dirty Joe, The Pirate by Bill Harley.
Dirty Joe Pirate

We then created our own pirate names, made pirate eye-patches, then we had to Walk the Plank while we practiced our pirate vocabulary. We also worked on a little pirate math thanks to my lovely blogging buddy, Laura..

We then enjoyed our Pirate Booty (and cookies) and told a tale about our parrot.

So me hearties, what did you to for Pirate Day? Shiver me Timbers and link up below to share your tales from the day. (All those that link up will receive some pirate booty from me.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Workshop Wednesday-Building Stamina in a Reading Workshop

Happy Wednesday! I don't know about you, but this has been a long week. I'm excited to link up with Ideas by Jivey for Workshop Wednesday.
Today I want to share with you how I start my Reading Workshop. After my kiddos and I set up our Reader's Notebooks. My kiddos and I make a chart of what Reading Workshop should look like and sound like. Having Reading Workshop is totally new to them in 4th grade (although the 3rd grade teacher is trying it this year) so we brainstorm together what I should expect.

Once we make our chart we begin to build stamina. The students start out reading for 15 min. at a time. Each day I add a few min. until we hit 30 min. of reading. My mini-lessons for the first few weeks are about genre types, how do we take care of our books, how do we use our reading logs, how do we choose a just right book, etc.

This week my students and I are working on our first real reading skill. "Reading is Thinking." My students and I generate a list of things that they think about while they read.

After we have made a mini list together I give them this bookmark to show them other things they can think about while they read. You can grab it for free from TPT.

What do you do to launch your Reading Workshop and build stamina?

Don't forget that tomorrow is National Talk Like a Pirate Day. If you do anything with your kiddos to celebrate, I'd love to have you join my first linky party!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Peek at My Week and a Mentor Text Suggestion

Well, my weekend is flying by...I can't believe it is already Sunday! I'm linking up with Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings and the lovely ladies from Collaboration Cuties.

This week is going to be an adjustment for me. My student teacher (who is doing a wonderful job) will be picking up another subject. That will mean three for her (Bible, Social Studies, and Language) and three for me (Math Workshop, Reading Workshop, and Writing Workshop.) She isn't my first student teacher so I know how it feels to "not" teach, but it is still a weird feeling.

On Monday this week my kiddos and I will start doing Mentor Sentences. I am really looking forward to introducing this class to the art of "noticing." We use it a lot in Writing Workshop-so doing it with grammar is a natural addition for me.

My kiddos and I will be celebrating National Talk Like a Pirate Day on Thursday. My students and I will celebrate this fun day by creating our very own eye patches. We will read a wonderful story that I shared with you two weeks ago, and we will be doing some fun free activities I found on TPT. You can check them out here. You can also check out this linky party at Frog Spot to get more ideas. I am planning on doing my first linky party to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day.

If you plan to do something fun with your kiddos to celebrate I'd love to have you link up! (Is it wrong to admit that I am nervous that no one will join?)

I'm also excited to share a science mentor text with you, Everything Volcanoes and Earthquakes. I just purchased four copies of this text from Scholastic. I love the National Geographic for Kids Everything Series.
National Geographic Kids Everything Volcanoes and Earthquakes: Earthshaking photos, facts, and fun!

This series presents facts in a fun and engaging way. I love using these books to teach text features as well as content. I'm excited to have four copies...but I think I may order enough so every pair of students can have a book. Good thing I'm a Red Apple Teacher.

What are you up to this week?

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Spark Student Motivation-Magic Squares

Happy Saturday! It is a beautiful day here in PA. I am so excited to have my windows open and not by seating to death! I hope many of you are able to have the gorgeous weather I am enjoying today!

I'm linking up with the wonderful Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching to share an activity that I use to motivate my kiddos during math.

I am always looking for a fun way to stretch my kiddos thinking. Last year I stumbled across Magic Squares on TPT. HoJo, one of my favorite Magic Squares sellers has a lot of great products for all elementary ages. She has a blog post about how to use them here.
This week during our math stations I had my kiddos work on her Place Value set. Because I like to hold my kiddos accountable for their work in their stations so I copy them on white paper, cut them apart, and paperclip all the squares together. When the students solve the puzzle I have them tape the squares down on a blank piece of paper.

The students love doing them. A few of my high kids asked for new squares when they finished the set they were on because they enjoyed doing them so much. I loved it because they were very engaged and they solved 24 math problems in a fun and exciting way.

Have any of you used Magic Squares with your kiddos before? Be sure to head over to Joanne's blog to find more ways to motivate your students!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Writing, Reading, and Monsters...Oh My! (Five for Friday)

Happy Friday everyone! I hope that you have all had a wonderful week. This week was our first full week of school. I'm excited to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday.

It has been a busy week in fourth grade. We fully embraced Reading Workshop this week.

We spent time this week finding our comfy spots around the room to read. One of my boys commented that this was the first time he has finished a book in less than two weeks. When we ended reading time today a few of the kids groaned from disappointment.
This little one likes to sit between my Elmo cart, desk, and bookshelf!

We also wrote our first two mini-pieces in Writing Workshop. The first was an I Am poem.

Then we found Monster's in our Classroom (click the link to read when I blogged about this activity over the summer.) I love doing this activity with my kiddos at the start of the year. It is such a fun way to teach them how to be descriptive.

I'm also excited to share that one of my blogging friends is holding a 100 Follower Giveaway! Gary from Scrappy Guy Designs is also holding a linky to share.

I remember when I had 100 followers. It was in April. I had been blogging for about two months when I hit the "magic" 100 followers! I couldn't believe that there were 100 people that wanted to read about what I was doing in my classroom. I remember the first thing I did was contact Classroom Friendly Supplies to receive my free sharpener to review. (I am still in love with that sharpener!)

What have you been up to this week? Happy weekend everyone!