Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Made-It Nursery Edition

Happy Monday everyone! I'm excited to link up for Monday Made It this week. It's been so long since I've "made" something to share for this linky.
Technically, I didn't exactly make what I am going to share today, but I did help to build (Actually, I just held things for my husband) and I did organize/ that counts....right?

Many of you know I am very pregnant. My little girl is due at the end of July, although we had a big scare about a month ago and thought we may be having her two months early. Thankfully God is in control, and she is still "cooking." She will be 36 weeks tomorrow, so we are just about full term, and if I am honest, it is fine by me if she comes anytime.After our scare, we went into full setting up the nursery mode. We had everything, just needed to finish washing, building, and organizing everything. With the help of my parents, we were able to finish it in a weekend. So here's our little girl's room...ready for her whenever she decides to make her appearance!
Don't mind my yoga ball...

All that is missing is a view of the large bookshelf that is full of picture books husband thinks I may have a book addiction problem. Don't tell him, but I think he may be right.

What have you made recently?

Don't forget to enter the giveaway I'm running this week!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Social Studies Simulations Giveaway

When I was a student in high school, one of my favorite teachers was a history teacher, because he was the first teacher that made history come alive for me. When I decided to become a teacher, I knew that I didn't want my students to have to wait until they were in high school to have social studies come alive.

This past year, I discovered that most of my class (all but one if I am honest) hated social studies through a graphing activity I use in the beginning of the year. I decided I needed to do a little more to liven my curriculum up even more than I have in the past.

Early in the year the students had their first experience with an Underground Railroad simulation that I found on TPT the year before. It was a perfect way to make things come to life in a short time period.

Throughout the year I made three new simulations for my students to enjoy:
Pilgrim Dice Simulation
Oregon Trail Dice Simulation
Gold Rush Dice Simulation
Each of these simulations comes with a list of suggested books, a writing prompt, and the actual simulation. The simulation takes about 15 min, (it may take longer if you have a larger class.) I normally use the rest of the class period having the students work on their writing prompt and debriefing from the activity. I use these simulations as a wrap-up for our unit...however some teachers prefer to use them to kick off a unit. It is totally teacher's choice!
It can get a little crazy with all your students walking around the room at the same time, since they move from station to station at their own pace, so it is really important to lay down some ground rules before you start. I have found that the simulations do leave a lasting impression on the kiddos. They remember their results of the simulation more than other things we do in class.

Since I've had such a great experience using simulations, I want to give you all a chance to use them as well! I'll pick two winners on Friday, they will be able to choose any two of the three simulations for themselves.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One more thing...
Now that I am taking time off to start a family, I'd love to make more simulations. What topics would you love to have a simulation for? If I use the topic you suggested you will receive a free copy of that simulation when it is completed as a thank you!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Reading Skills-Teaching Cause and Effect

Happy Friday everyone! It is nice to be putting two posts up in the same week. I hope you are all enjoying your summer vacation so far!

I know many of you are like me, you are always trying to find a fun new way to have your kids practice a skill. This year, I had a group of really bright kiddos, so I found I didn't need to spend a long time on teaching the skill, but rather found it more useful to do quick reviews throughout the year. My normal quick reviews are to make a SMART Board activity or play a quick game, but I found I was using the same ideas and decided to switch things up a bit.

When I decided to review cause and effect, I took situations from Sign of the Beaver, the book we had been reading together as a class. I typed up the causes on one colored paper, and the effects on another color.

The students had to match up the causes with the effects. As they worked on them, I walked around the room to "check" their work and guide them if they matched up something incorrectly or were stumped on something.
The kids enjoyed the activity, and it only took 10-15 min. It was an easy and fun way to review a concept.

What are your favorite ways to review a skill with your students?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Word Splash: A Pre-Assessment Activity

It is amazing how quickly time passes by...I can't believe it has been months since my last post. Life has totally gotten away from me, so blogging had to be put on hold for a little while. Now that summer is here and I am awaiting baby girl's birth, I have a little more time to work on the blog posts that I started but didn't finish!

I don't know about you, but I have always had the hardest time pre-assessing my students in science and social studies. I didn't want to give them a test...and unfortunately I don't have enough time in a day to have a conversation with each of my students about a topic, so I tried to think of a better way. Because of this, I want to share an activity I love to do with my fourth graders, and with adults when I am leading a workshop. It is a strategy I picked up from a dear friend of mine, and I have used it for years now, Word Splash!

Word Splashes are a fun and easy way to take a quick assessment of a large group of people. The beauty is, that it can be used for any subject matter. With my students I type up a list of words that I feel are most important to our unit of study. For example my kiddos and I were beginning our study on New England. I gave my students words like; Plymouth, Pilgrims, 1620, Textile Mill, Puritans, etc. Once my kiddos have the words, they work in groups to organize them. They can organize them in whatever way they see that the words fit together. I do allow the students to have up to three words in a category called, "I have no idea" This allows me to see what topics or words they really don't know anything about.

Once the kids have their words organized we travel together as a class from table to table to listen to each group explain how they organized the words.

As we travel, I just listen. I don't give any suggestions or opinions on their categories or placements. They will learn the correct meaning of words as we work through our unit...this just lets me see any misconceptions they already have before we start the unit. It is always amazing to me how the kids do pick up on things. I will often have students say, "Oh, that is what that word means." When we are working through our unit, and it is because they remember the word from this activity.

When I work with adults, I will modify it a little. I do not give them the words on paper, instead I put the words up on a Power Point and have them jot each word on a small post-it. Since it is at a workshop setting I normally have them arrange their Word Splash on a piece of chart paper to hang around the room for the day, just so they can look back at it throughout the day. Adults will often get up and rearrange their word splash as they learn something new...which is a neat way for me as a presenter to see who is really getting what I am sharing.

Have you ever used Word Splashes before? What strategies/activities do you use to pre-assess your kiddos in science/social studies?