Saturday, February 27, 2016

Five for Friday - Accuracy Anchor Chart & More!

An anchor chart, an iPad buddy, a school fundraiser, pendulum fun, and a kindness tree! This is what you'll find when you get a peek at my week in this week's Five for Friday!
My third graders needed a tune-up in the accuracy department. 
One day I did a mini-lesson on accuracy in reading, and another day we discussed accuracy in writing.
Hopefully these reminders will make some kind of impact.

 Another staff member and I lead a STEM Club for third and fourth graders once a month.
This month we had some fun with pendulums.
Students worked with a partner to count the frequency of the swings in a thirty-second time period.
Then their challenge was to change one variable to increase the frequency.
They could shorten or length the string, increase or decrease the weight of the bob, or change the arc of the swing. It was a fun investigation with little prep!
I have seven iPads in my room which my students take turns using.
I found this cute and cuddly iPad buddy at Office Max for $5.00!
Students earn a chance to use the iPad buddy if their homework is in, they have their assignment notebooks signed, and they have all of their supplies for the day.
The students love this incentive!  They've named this guy Rascal.

Our guidance counselor created this tree for our lobby to recognize students that do kind things for one another.  It's called the Kindness Tree and it supports Random Acts of Kindness Day. 

Our PTA organized a Mardi Gras bingo night last night complete with a silent auction and loads of prizes.
The silent auction items included Disney passes, and two signed Green Bay Packer footballs.
The event was so well organized!

Hope you had a great week!
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

How to do a Mystery Skype

For the past three school years my class has done a Mystery Skype with a friend's class in Alabama.
Because I teach in Wisconsin we often do this during the winter months, 
when there is a drastic difference in the weather in our two states.
My students are so surprised to learn that in Alabama the cut off for indoor recess in 40 degrees.
For us, the cut off is 0 degrees!

A Mystery Skype is a way for students to go beyond the classroom without taking a bus trip!
During a Mystery Skype students are learning about geography, weather, life in other places, and so much more!
Classes of students ask each other yes/no questions to discover what state they live in.
We have also done questions to find out the grade of the other group.

How can you set up a Mystery Skype?
First, you need a camera.
The first two years we did the Skypes I used a Web Cam.
I asked my principal about this, and he loved the idea of the Skype so much he purchased a Web Cam for my classroom.
(It is available for anyone in our school to use, too.)

Since that time, our district has updated our document cameras, and the new ones have video and audio capabilities.  If you have a document camera, you probably are able to use it for a Skype.
In the picture below you can see the students sitting in front of the document camera, which is directly in front of my desktop computer. These students are asking questions of our friends in Alabama.
 If you have a projection system, you can project the Skype on the screen for all in your class to see.
They love seeing themselves down in the bottom right corner.
 A few days before the Skype session, my students come up with questions they want to ask our Skype partners to find out what state they are in.
I project a map of the United States, and students create questions about  whether the state is landlocked, in the north, south, east, or west, if it borders Canada or Mexico, if its east or west of the Mississippi, and what time zone they are in.

Students have also asked questions like:
Does your state's name begin with a vowel?
Is your state in Tornado Alley?
Does your state have a professional football team?
Once students have generated an individual list of 5-6 questions, I go through the questions and select the ones I think might work best during the Skype.

I usually group students in pairs to ask the questions, looking for students who had similar questions of the ones they submitted.
Then I strategically order the questions, so that each person will have a turn to ask a question (with a partner or alone) before we take a guess as to what state our Skype friends are in.

During the Skype each student has a map, and they cross out states that don't fit the clues we've received in the answers to our questions.

After we discover the state, we usually leave time to ask questions about each other's school situations.
My students have asked questions like:
What is your school's mascot?
What are your school colors?
What grades are in your school?
Do you ever have indoor recess? 

At the end we always wave a thankful and friendly good-bye!

Now, you  may be thinking - how do I find a classroom to Skype with?
You can go to a website called Skype in the Classroom to find many teachers that looking to Skype.
My Alabama teacher friend has used this site, and has had her students Skype with a forest ranger and a scientist.
My class has also been able to Skype with scientists at ExxonMobil because of connections I have with the company through MEMTA.

I have also found teacher friends to Skype with through my Instagram account.
I put a post out about our Mystery Skype earlier this week, and now have dates set up with teachers in Missouri and Pennsylvania.

Have you ever done a Mystery Skype?
Do you have other suggestions?
Hope you are able to experience a Mystery Skype sometime!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Five for Friday - Non-fiction Writing Project

After a busy week, it's great to be looking at a three-day weekend!
And I'm spending my Saturday watching my favorite golfer, Phil Mickelson, in the Pebble Beach Golf Tournament.  The weather looks awesome there....
 Last week Newsies came to our local Performing Arts Center.
Such a great show!
 Since we've had such a busy week I took the easy route with our valentine bags.
I found these at Hobby Lobby, and I had chalkboard labels that we used for the names.
The students cut some hearts and we called it a day.
We use FOSS for our science curriculum, and one of the third grade units is on Earth Materials.
We dissected mock rocks and worked at analyzing the make-up of the rocks.
The students LOVE wearing goggles for this.
We finished a long writing project at the end of January.
Each student chose a topic, researched it, put the info into paragraphs, added an introduction and conclusion, and then typed it all into a Google Doc.
Then we added images, and put it all into a class book.
The books were finally bound, and the students were proud to receive their copies on Friday.
As the students were reading their classmates' articles, I asked them to write compliments on sticky notes about the passages they were reading.
I loved how they turned out.

If you're looking for a cute, easy book for young students to write about what they love, this is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for $1.50.
This short video shows a few of the pages from the booklet.

Head on over to Kacey's site - Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday posts.
Thanks for stopping by my blog!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Five for Friday - EPIC Reading App

It's Saturday.'s my Five for Fraturday (as Kristin would say).
Do you know about the free Epic Reading App?
An educator can sign up and have access to TONS of books for their students to read.
The cool thing is, you can see just what books your students selected, and how long they spent on that book.
And look at how many pages this boy flipped??
My students LOVE the app, but are almost overwhelmed at the choices.
There are options for searching and rating books.
Parents can also get the app, but there is a cost of home use.
I posted this on Instagram, and someone from Epic commented on my post!
We are working on using text evidence to support our answers when reading, as I'm sure all of you are.
I saw the EAT strategy on IG a couple of years ago, but can't find the original person who posted it.
Thank you, if the source happens to be someone reading this.
My students have really gotten the idea of restating part of the question, telling the answer, and then citing the spot in their book that supports their answer.
Our local minor league baseball team (the WI Timber Rattlers) sponsors a reading challenge
 for children in our area.
The team mascot, Fang, came to our school to kick-off the reading challenge.
If the students read enough minutes, they earn a ticket to a game, as well as a hot dog and soda.
What a great deal!
My district is part of math study being conducted by the 
Harvard School of Education.
Those teachers that are part of the study have to video tape lessons for review.
This is the second year of the study, and I was lucky enough to work with a math coach from Harvard last year.  We skyped about twice a month to chat about my math instruction.
My coach gave suggestions and goals to work toward during the skype sessions.
This study has made a big impact on my students' understanding of math concepts.
We use a Samsung Galaxy to videotape lessons.
Yes, it is a bit intimidating.

I was honored to have one of my products selected for an e-book that is now available on 
Teachers Pay Teachers.
Thanks to Tamara and Naomi for putting this together.
You will find many wonderful products for observing Black History Month!
You can find my Snapshots of History project here.
Thanks for stopping by this week!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Currently - Groundhog Day

I've been on a Currently hiatus the last couple of months, and am glad to announce that the hiatus is over!

Did you by any chance notice that we have a SNOW DAY today??
Hence, the reason for my suspended Currently hiatus.
Winter Storm Kayla has graced my area of WI, and I couldn't be happier.

I just made Cake Mix Cookies because I had the ingredients in my kitchen.
So easy...
My cookies did not not turn out this perfectly, but they were good.
While making the cookies I had Millionaire on in the background.
Former Bachelor contestants were playing - I didn't realize Chris Harrison is now the host of this show.

I posted a Donors Choose project earlier this week, and was sad to realize that there is not a code for matching donations during the first week of my project.
I thought that was standard practice during the first week of new projects.
Does anyone know of any codes that work right now?
I wanted to send the info to the parents of my students, but hoped to send along matching 
dollar amount codes.
Here is a link to my project called......
We would like to go beyond the Hour of Code by programming robotic balls through 
maps and obstacle courses.
Does anyone know of a Facebook page where you can post products?
Thanks for any help anyone can provide.

I presented a Genius Hour type project to my students on Monday.
I have to do some more research on the topic to move forward.
My students are very excited about it!

We have a few new teachers on our staff this year, and they have been great additions.
I have really connected with one, and we ventured out in the snowstorm today 
to have breakfast and chat.  

Hope you're having a wonderful Groundhog Day!
Check out Farley's new blog here!