May 2014 - Ideas By Jivey: For the Classroom
Getting students' hands dirty and really INTO science is the BEST way to motivate kids to learn! So I'm linking today's post with my BBB Joanne for Sparking Student Motivation!
We ordered owl pellets again this year- the kids just love it, once they learn it's not POOP! And honestly, it's kind of funny when you think about how awesome the kids still think it is to find bones of dead rodents in a "hairball" ...because it's still pretty gross. :-P

We spent an entire week learning about owls through nonfiction texts and websites while using my OWLS Common Core Nonfiction Unit!
If you are planning on dissecting owl pellets, make sure you visit the website, KidWings! It's very informative, and really cool the way the kids can interact with it!

Before dissecting the pellets, the kids had to learn about important vocabulary, how owls are different from other birds, and also how owls hunt, eat, and digest! We read Owls by Gail Gibbons as well as this very informative website for this info!
Then finally, the moment they'd been waiting for all week... getting to "dig in" to their owl pellet! I learned a funny prank from Joanne, and I did it this year... I smooshed up a brownie and wrapped it in foil. Before giving my kids their pellet, I told them I wanted to demonstrate how to dissect one first. (Are you seeing where this is going??) I unwrapped it, sniffed it (all the kids made a face), then took a bite, shrugged and said, "not bad actually." The room was SO quiet. No one could even speak. I don't think any of them could actually believe I'd just done what I did. I couldn't even contain my laughter for three seconds! The minute I started laughing, you heard a big "whoosh" as they all sighed with relief, knowing it couldn't be real. I told them of course, that it was a brownie, and NOT TO EAT THEIR PELLET!! :-P

Here are some of the treasures my students found:
I would highly recommend doing as much hands-on as you can with science, even if it means getting your (and their) hands dirty! Your kids will always remember it, and of course, we know that's the best way to learn! :o)

Have you heard of Symbaloo? It is a super cool website where you can bookmark websites... think Pinterest meets your Bookmarked Favorites List! I am sharing this cool site for Tried It Tuesday!
We are expected to incorporate online learning in our district, so this is one of the tools I am using to compile games and helpful links for my students to use. Instead of a list of links, this tool allows you to use icons and compile many more links into a smaller area. This is the start of a math symbaloo I'm working on for next year:

Each icon is a math game they can click on and it will go straight there! You can embed your symbaloo into a website, or just share a direct link. It's a free site, and very easy to use! If you are looking for an easy way to share links with anyone, this is a great tool to use! :o)

Also- I almost forgot! Don't forget to go see the awesome giveaway happening at the Teaching Trio! :o)

Happy Memorial Day Weekend! I'm linking up with my BBB Joanne to share something my kids beg for every year!
My third year of teaching, my room mom made me a fabulous end of the year gift:
All of the kids helped paint a ceiling tile! The tiles come right out of the ceiling, and go right back up very easily. She just asked the custodian for a blank one to paint! (Notice I only had 17 kids that year... boy that was the life. Class sizes are up to 28 and more now. SAD!)

Every year since then, either my room mom or I had my kids paint a ceiling tile. I moved to third grade, then fourth grade, and every time I moved rooms or schools, the ceiling tiles went with me!

All year, my kids have asked me if they were going to get to paint a tile, too. They admire them all the time! So last week, we made this year's tile! As you've probably seen, my room has a beach theme so we made a fun beachy tile!
We use acrylic paint, and I actually just traced die-cut shells and fish for them to paint. I hand-painted the crab (which I was pretty proud of, I must say!) They were soooo excited to see it in the ceiling with the rest of the tiles!
This is a very easy thing to do, and it is a great way to "keep" your classes with you forever! :o)

Sunday already? Eek! This week flew by, and so did the weekend. This is upcoming week is actually my last week of school! To keep the kids entertained while still teaching "bell to bell," we'll be doing some fun review of our year. One of the units I always wish I had more time to teach is the solar system... I picked up this book from Scholastic a while back and my kids actually fought over who got to read it first!
Scholastic says... This handy book contains all the info necessary for planning a space vacation, including:
  • What to pack (hint: no bubble bath or juggling balls!)
  • What to expect from accommodations (a sleeping bag attached to the wall)
  • What to do for fun (leapfrog on the moon!)
Which got me thinking... how fun would it be for the kids to create a travel brochure to go visit another planet? Which then got the ol' wheels turning, and I decided to have a whole day devoted to outer space!
We'll start off the day with the solar system passage- do a bit of close reading/interactive note-taking. Then, I am going to set up stations that the students will rotate through for almost the rest of the day. I have printed in color and laminated three sets of the fact cards. The comprehension questions that go with the passage will be a station, the Venn Diagrams with a set of fact cards will be a station, the Planetary Problems with a set of fact cards will be a station, the weight activity will be a station, and the brainstorm for the brochure will be a station (I will have a set of the fact cards there and the How Do You Burp In Space? book as well so students can use them to brainstorm). Then the last hour or so of the day, the students will create their travel brochure! You can grab the unit if you'd like from my TPT store!

If you want to create this travel brochure in your room, you can grab the brainstorm page for free here!
Have a great week next week! :o)

Happy Weekend! :o) I am going to cheat a little for Joanne's linky today... Instead of sharing how to motivate students, I thought at this time of year, all of us teachers might need a little motivation!
I have used this teacher memory book from Collaboration Cuties the last few years, and it not only gives me a chance to reflect on the year from a student perspective, but it also helps me realize that even when things are so crazy and I feel a bit out of it and maybe a *little* overwhelmed, the kids still love me. :-P
I printed using the "booklet" option under print settings (not sure if all printers have this... but mine does!) to save on paper... My kids completed this yesterday, and after a long week, I sat down last night and read them. These kids seriously melt my heart. I am going to miss them next year!
Anyone else think it's the biggest compliment when they accidentally call you "mama"?
This helps me remember that the little things are what they hold onto... even from the first day of school!
 I am so proud of her for knowing what kind of learner she is, and glad I could be THAT teacher!
 How sweet is this?? Yep, I love minions.........
This student has made sooooo much progress in reading this year, but sadly, we haven't been able to get him the math support he needs yet. Poor guy... so stressed! :(
 Awwww. This is the bad thing I think about bigger class sizes. I try to get as much time in each day with all my kids, but it just doesn't always happen... I wish I could change that!
 This guy has really had a rough time this year with 4th grade... he was pulled out for reading support during my reading block, which helped him... but from his point of view, he wishes I would have taught him reading instead. Again... if we had smaller class sizes, maybe it would have worked...
This makes me smile- and several of them said this for Social Studies- because the American Revolution is my FAVORITE thing to teach in Social Studies... it obviously rubs off on my students. :o)

Do you have your students reflect on the year? I think it not only helps them think about all they have learned, but it helps us to realize what we are doing RIGHT, and what we can do BETTER. :o)

Happy Wednesday!
For the next two weeks, we are sharing our favorite books we use to wrap up the year- you can share book club books, read-alouds, whatever! You can also share activities that go along with the book- please link up blog posts though, and not product links so we can read about and see them in action! The link-up will be open this week and next week. Since next week is my last week of school, it will be the last Workshop Wednesday for a little while... :o)

I was lucky enough to get a class set of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in a Donors Choose project, and we are currently wrapping up our year with it!
My kids are loving it! They got mad at me yesterday when we only got to read one chapter... (we've been reading two a day to get it done... only seven days left...! EEK!) We are reading it as a class as an extended text, and we are using Where the Wild Things Learn's AMAZING product to go with it! Why I love doing this book at the end of the year is because of this product- it has almost EVERY standard we learned included in it!
Last year, I also used her product as I read the book to them and it was good, but not really what I wanted since we pretty much had to do everything together because they didn't have a copy of the text on their own... now that they all have a copy in their hands, they can really dive in to find evidence to support their thinking as they complete their Fantastic Folder. It's awesome! (But, if you don't have extra copies, it's still doable- just much more guided.) We still read it together- I read aloud and they follow along- but they have consistent access to the book for the activities.

My kids' folders aren't as colorful as Amelia's because we are low on the paper supply at the end of the year... but it's still pretty! :o)

Before we read, I have my students define the words on the vocabulary foldable that they will see in the upcoming chapters by finding them in the dictionary. You could easily have them define using context clues as you read, too.

Then we read a couple of chapters and work on some of the pieces (many of them are add-as-you-go) in our Fantastic Folder...

...then we watch JUST that part of the animated movie so they can connect visually, as well as compare the book to the movie! (Since the newer version is rated PG for intensity, we don't watch that one, although I'm sure the parents would probably give permission...) We have a copy of the movie in our school library, but here is the movie on YouTube! You know you want to watch the whole thing right now... LOL It's so cheesy, but my kids have actually really gotten into it!
Do you need a reason to watch movies in class?? Go read my friend Erin's post from I'm Lovin' Lit! :o)

So what books do you love to use to wrap up your school year?

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