Friday, November 30, 2012

Adjective activity

Short post tonight since we are still celebrating Loy Kratong with fireworks every night and parties all around!  It has been so fun to experience festivities in new countries.

Anyway, we have begun discussing adjectives.  I have a few students who had nooooo idea what adjectives were.  So rather than jumping right into workbook pages, we decided to do something fun.

I got out our handy purple football, similar to a talking stick!  The students then requested to go outside so I went with it.  We got in a circle to play our game.  I chose a noun that we were going to describe.  Then, I tossed the ball to a student who had to name an adjective describing my chosen noun.  It worked out quite well.  Some of the kids had some great adjectives.  We did this for a couple rounds and then we got hot.

So we decided to walk around the playground.  Students would call out a noun and their partner had to name three adjectives to describe it.  It was quite enjoyable to watch them be creative and outside of traditional learning!

I was very pleased with this very spontaneous activity.  But it worked well and the kids loved it.  That is really all that matters right.  Sometimes you just have to throw the plans out the window and go with what is working!

This is one of our "fireworks" from last night.  The base is a clay pot that makes this fountain of fire. It was so so so coool!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Geography Introduction

As usual this is not an original idea but it worked so well for my class that I thought I should share.

We just started our unit on Thailand.  Side note: it is terrifying teaching about a country that the students know more about, through personal experience or life, than I do!!  Anyway, we started the unit by discussing the geographical features of Thailand.

I wanted the students to be able to explore this on their own without me lecturing about it.... Boring!!

So, I was given 4 sets of the same map of Thailand cut into pieces.  The pieces for the most part were countries or bodies of water.  Each piece was colored, with marker actually!  Each set of the map was put in envelopes so the puzzle was hidden.

I told the class that we were going to do a puzzle to help us learn about Thailand. They were intrigued.  Then I said that we were going to race to see who could do it fastest.  They were stoked.  Then I said they were going to do it without talking.  They were stunned and confused! BUT it totally worked.  It honestly took some of them a long time to figure it out. It was quite interesting.

This is the put together map

After everyone had completed the puzzle we looked at our blank map of Thailand in our notebooks.  We were able to use this map to help us learn about the neighboring countries and bodies of water.

We then went on to discuss the rivers and mountains in Thailand.  I do wish that our map would have had these things on it as well.  Instead I pulled up a political map and we figured it out that way.

Anyway, I had never thought about using a map as a puzzle to help students figure out neighbors and bodies of water and what not.  I thought it was a great idea.  Also, the coloring helped some students figure out what pieces went together easier.

Finally, I wanted to share this bulletin board I made.  It is completely for show but I think it turned out quite nice.  I kept putting things on and when I stepped back I surprised myself with how great it was! We have a bulletin board in the hallway that I was told needed changed this week in time for our visitors that are coming to school......tomorrow. So I had to throw some pictures up on the board.  At least we will be talking about these things so hopefully it is for some learning value too :)

Monday, November 26, 2012

TPT Purchases

TPT sales are a life saver.  I am so in love with my purchases this round. My classroom is in for some major changes for the good!!  Today, I am linking up with Erin from Tales from Room 112 and my home country, OHIO!!, to share our purchases from Cyber Monday Sale.

I have been soaking up every post that Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6 has done about calendar math.  Here is the link to all of those posts.  I have been dying to try this with my students but did not know how to get it started or what to create for the worksheet.

Because of the sale I could finally get my hands on her Calendar Math for Upper Grades BUNDLE Pack!! I am so excited to use this in my classroom. I am very happy to get the bundle pack because it will help me know where my students should be and where they are headed!  I am stoked about this.
I am also very very excited to have finally gotten 101+ Writing Prompts from Katie Jones Dirty Hands and Lesson Plans.  My kids will never be able to complain again for not having anything to write about!!

Finally I got the Math Enrichment Worksheets and Nonfiction Text Features Task Cards from the lovely Rachel Lynette atMinds in Bloom.  I just realized that I have purchased many of her things but am not following her blog.  Don't worry that has been corrected now!

Whew!! Can you tell I am excited about these things?!?! I wish my other Christmas shopping would be this easy and fun! 

On a side note, I had a fantastic weekend and got to experience this unforgettable festival!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Stars Aligned!!

The stars truly aligned for me and my class today! It was BEAUTIFUL!!!!

I had checked out the book Just A Dream by Chris van Allsburg from the library a few weeks ago, but it wasn't until last night that I actually read it.  You can get your copy of the book at amazon.  The book was perfect for what we were doing!!
Initially I had thought it was related to persuasive writing, but I did not get that at all!  I did however think it was perfect for our pollution centers that we were doing AND for inference that we were studying in reading.  Did you hear that.... it aligned with TWO, 2, dos, song (Thai for 2), subjects!!!

I was inspired by this picture from Stephanie at My Life as a Third Grade Teacher.  It isbeautiful and she gave me/everyone the advice of pre-planning the Evidence parts so that is what I did.

It sounds like I did the rest a little different than she did though.  I found wonderful places for inference throughout the story Just a Dream.  I made my chart like she did and placed my evidence sheets in the book so I wouldn't forget where we needed to stop!  I read my piece of evidence and asked what I already knew about the topic.  Then I asked what my inference could be!  I wrote the last two sections as we discussed them.  And I had my helper student glue it on the paper for me.  I wish I would have had the students write the other two pieces of chart so they had more ownership of it.  But it turned out great!!

While I was reading this book, some of the students were able to catch that it was about pollution!! I did not mention it, the book does not actually mention it.  I was so so so proud of them for being able to make that connection.  After we were done with the book, we did discuss pollution and they all finally got it.  We also discussed how Walter changed the future by choosing to recycle, throw things away, and plant trees.  We talked about how we could change our own futures!!

It was beautiful. My class enjoyed it and I truly thought the stars aligned to make 2 subjects that we were focusing on appear in one book!  Hope your day is beautiful as well!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Units of Time Matching Game

This week we have started our math unit on time.  Our last chapter was quite boring in depth, so I wanted to make this new chapter more fun.  We were able to go to the computer lab one day and play time math games.  For the most part the kids enjoyed it, even though for a few it was 'boring' still.

Anyway, we have been talking about units of time such as minutes, seconds, hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc.  I wanted to do something other than look at the chart the entire lesson, so I made these flash cards to use in a matching game.  I placed the cards on the floor and had students come up one by one to choose to cards and see if they matched.  It honestly took a lot longer than I thought it would because they did not watch carefully enough to see what cards had been looked at.  BUT they loved it!  They later asked if it could join our May Do list to practice on their own.  OF COURSE!!!! I said.  Now it is a race to see who can get to it first.

Another fabulous use:  I had a student who was really struggling with these concepts.  She is ESL and struggles with this vocabulary.  I printed off an extra set for her to take home and practice.  I made sure to label them so she knew which ones matched so she could study properly.  She enjoyed it and her mother was very pleased.
It brought me such joy that hopefully it will you as well.  I am very new to selling/offering things on TPT so please let me know if something is wrong with it!  Get your freebie here

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Class discussion and Pixar movie

Today my class had a discussion about diversity and tolerance.  Our school focuses on virtues as a way of solving problems and focusing on positive behavior.  After struggling with how isolated some of my kids are and how many cliques are in my class, I knew that we needed to address this issue head on.  I brought it up with our school counselor and she gave me this wonderful video to share with the class.  It is an award winning Pixar short video called "For the Birds".  It is only 3 minutes long but full of laughter and GREAT teaching points!

I don't want to ruin it for you but in case you don't have 3 minutes here is the gist.  The little birds are happy all bundled together but a bigger/different bird comes along and wants to join the group.  The little birds make fun of him and try to get rid of him.  The end is somewhat ambiguous but I like to think that the little birds end up needing the big bird at the end and they all get along!

Anyway this led to wonderful discussions about how we are all different and even though someone in our class might be different than us that does not mean we should not include them or work with them or play with them.  We should be tolerant of everyone regardless of differences.  I was so proud of my kids for making connections from this movie and our class.  They seemed to take it to heart and realize that things need to change!!

Just thought I would share this video.  Even if you do not need to use it for issues in your class, it will definitely provide some laughs! Enjoy

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thankful blogging linky party

Today I am linking up with Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6 for a linky party about my favorite thing.... being thankful.  What a great opportunity to share with others what you are thankful for.  Thanks you Stephanie for hosting this.  Make sure to check out her great blog as well.

1.  First of all I am very very thankful for this blogging community.  Although I am a newbie in every sense of the word (whether blogging or teaching), I have felt welcomed and encouraged in starting this new journey.  I am so blessed to learn from such amazing teachers and women.  I already feel a better teacher for being able to learn from the best!

2.  This might be cheating, but I am super thankful for TPT and Pinterest and all the goodies I have gotten from them.  My files are full because of these wonderful sites.  

3.  This year because of blogging I have begun using anchor charts.  I have been quite encouraged by everyone that uses them successfully.  Not only that but I have been able to see them and copy/recreate my own because of the awesomeness shared!  Here is my focus wall the first week we started using anchor charts.  The class made the Math chart and we wrote the writing chart together!

4.  Finally, I am thankful for the countless ideas and resources gained by being part of this community.  It is truly a pleasure to learn from everyone else's successes!

Check out what everyone else is thankful for and then make your own list.  Don't forget to link up here!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Persuasion in commercials

This week we are looking at persuasion in multiple forms, specifically reading and writing.  But today we looked at it in the media as well.  I somewhat wish we would have done this a few weeks ago to look at the elections, but thankfully we did not have to deal with that here!

Anyway, I youtubed a bunch of commercials for us to look at as a class.  We talked about how commercials often try to get us to buy something, or believe something, or help someone, or all kinds of things.   We discussed that some commercials even try to show you how you will feel if you buy that one item.

I honestly had no idea how this would go because I am unfamiliar with television here and what prior knowledge my students have in relation to media.  But we went for it.  We looked at 10 commercials and filled out this worksheet, mostly on their own.

I was quite surprised with how it went.  Although our initial discussion was a struggle, when they saw the commercials and had to answer the questions it came easily to them.  It provided a great conversation for the power of the media and how careful we need to be with it.  BUT we also discussed how some commercials are wonderful because they get our parents to buy us stuff ;) Oh the joys of 4th grade!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Harvest Party fun

Today was our school "Harvest Party"  basically a mix of a Halloween party and a Thanksgiving party.  It was quite a day filled with craziness, excitement, and fun.  It started with costumes but sadly I forgot to get pictures of the costumes :(  We were supposed to dress up as something we are thankful for.  We had princesses, and bears, and skateboarders, and pirates.  I myself was a cook/chef because I am thankful for others who can cook!!  But again sadly no pictures.  I might have to beg some parents for pictures.  That is allowed right!?!

We began by doing a scavenger hunt where they found things they were thankful for.  For some this was the first time doing a scavenger hunt.  Most got the hang of it fairly quickly.  I had clues like "Lunch is when I get my nutrients for the day.  I am thankful I can eat at the ______"  They would run to the cafeteria and find their next clue.  It took them all over school, well the outside part at least.  Most of the kids were running and having a great time.  I tried to put them in groups and that was a bad idea.  Some of the groups did not work well together and left their slower group members.  So next time I won't do that.... I think.

I DID manage to take some pictures later in the day though.  This website was the inspiration for my day.  I did the craft shown here.  The website has a great tutorial for how to make it.
Our class used orange and yellow paper.  Plus we made our own stems rather than using pipe cleaners.  I think next time I will use the pipe cleaners.  It just adds a little touch of cuteness right?! I had the class write 10 things that they were thankful for, one for each paper.  Here is how they turned out!!

This is a close up of the one that I made to show the class.  

Here are some more of them.  
Aren't they adorable!!  I was very very pleased with the whole thing.  The kids enjoyed them too.  
 Then we made some toilet paper roll people or monsters.  I basically said you may use anything in the classroom and they went nuts.  They were so creative.  These were the only ones I was able to capture pictures of but the kids were having a blast with these.  We had all sorts of creatures :)

Last period was our actual 'party'.  We had lots of parents and lots of food.  We ate until we were happy and then played a game... probably should have played the game first though.  The class was separated into groups of 3 and they had to wrap one of their teammates in a roll of toilet paper.  The goal was to see who could do it the fastest, but some were very slow.  After they were wrapped, we had a race to see which mummy could move the fastest.  It was a simple game and the kids enjoyed it also.

All in all it was a great day.  We had lots of fun and the kids left with smiles on their faces and stories to tell.  I left one happy but EXHAUSTED teacher :)  

I hope you had a good Friday too.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Newbie Questions: Writing

Do you ever feel this way??  That is me.  I have been trying to stay positive for a long time but the past couple days have gotten the best of me.  I have realized I need some help!!

Ya'll know that I am a new teacher, so often changes in units or topics scare me as it is something new I have to figure out.  Well, writing is one of those areas that I am struggling with.  The past couple weeks we have been doing expository/how-to writing.  I quite enjoy it and have gotten my class to take ownership over it as well.  It has been a fun and major growing time.  We have discussed voice and organization and word choice.  Their writing has already progressed so much since the beginning of the year.

Generally our writing time is focused on a particular type or piece of writing and the whole class stays on the same page.  I haven't been able to figure out how to do a writers workshop yet... maybe next year.  We are able to do mini lessons that discuss the six traits and different genres of writing.  For the most part I do not mind how things are moving with writing.

BUT  the next topic in writing is persuasive writing.  I am terrified for this.  I don't know where to start or what to do.  I try to stay on the same pace with my co-teacher lady and she wants 5 to 6 weeks to work on persuasive writing.  That seems like a LOT to me.  I have no idea how to fill 5 weeks with one type of writing.  For our How-tos it is taking us 2 weeks.  What on earth am I supposed to do for 5 weeks?????

Please help!!!  How do you teach writing?  How do you teach persuasive writing?? What can I do to fill the next 5 weeks?  I am at a total loss and any advice is more than welcome!  Thanks in advance for being there and helping out when needed :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

November Currently

November is here!!!! I love November.  I am linking up with Farley and her November Currently!  She is so fun and creative.  I can not believe I didn't recognize Lexi from her picture the other day.  Anyway, here we go:

I finally joined the bandwagon and have been watching How I Met Your Mother.  I am very pleased :)  It makes my nights so much better!!  

Even though I am in Thailand the weather is starting to get cooler and it is wonderful.  

My puppy Chico is adorable.  Even though he bites everything when he is calm he is irresisitable!! 

Planning...ugh.  Sometimes it just comes to me.  Today it is like pulling teeth!

I think I have set a record.  I have been here for 3 months WITHOUT a cell phone.  My students can not believe I don't have one.  I havent bought one here because I want to use my Droid from home but I havent gotten around to that yet.  Hopefully soon though.  

Music.  I want to play music in my class often.  I just dont have much. Sadly pandora doesnt work in Thailand.  BUT I have found Grooveshark to be wonderful if not better.  I love the Electronica station and that is what I play most often while the kids are working.  

That is all for now.  Check out the amazing currentlys and remember the rule of 3!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tree of Thanks

Oh man I am on a roll with this blogging thing this week!  I hope to have an awesome post for you tomorrow too or the next day!

Sadly in Thailand Halloween is not celebrated, so little happened at school.  Some teachers did a few small things but nothing crazy.  We are having our official party next week called Harvest Party where kids dress up as things they are thankful for.... I will let you know how it goes next week.  This is the first year they are doing this so it will be interesting.

Anyway, since we are now in November (my favorite time of year!) we are beginning to focus on things we are thankful for.  I had an idea of making a tree that will grow as the month progresses.  So we started it today!  The kids seem excited about it so hopefully it will help us stay thinking positively.

I wanted the kids to have to think about thankfulness all month so each week they have to add at least 1 leaf to our tree.  They may add more than one but have to add one a week.  Each leaf needs to contain something they are thankful for.  I also wanted them to make their own leaves rather than having the sample ready for them so that they took a little more ownership.  Here is our tree from week 1.  Hopefully I can update you as the month progresses.  And of course I took some photos of the lovely things they are thankful for!

View of our tree.  We made sure to put it on the outside of our door so everyone could share in our thanksgiving!

Love the reason why she is thankful.

Awwwww! Aren't they cute :)

Of course we have to be thankful for food!

And finally a little something to make you smile.  We got a new puppy.  His name is Chico.  He does not really have a blue eyes.  He is a shih-tzu/poodle mix and just got cleaned at the groomers.  

Hope you all enjoyed your Halloween.  Can you believe it is November already!?!

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