Saturday, December 24, 2011

Winter Wonderland

Check out our penguin bulletin board! 
Sorry it's not the best quality, but it's a long bulletin board (actually it's 2 smaller ones put together) and whoever installed it put it near the ceiling! That means I have to stand with my back against the other wall and crane my neck and camera wayyy upwards to get a pic!

This picture is from before it was finished. I added white paper for snow and the other 14 penguins! Students had to write one way they were going to be a penguin in the new year. If you have no clue what "be a penguin" means, you should definitely read my post The Last Lecture: Be a Penguin!

I get to spend part of my break with my beautiful baby niece right here! (Yes, it was Pinterest inspired!) Anyway, hope you have a Merry Christmas Eve and find that you were on the nice list this year!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Let it snow!

Okay, so it's about 60 degrees and raining in NJ...but one can wish! Elvis the Elf was very busy these last two days! On Thursday morning, we found him chilling with the characters from Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

We voted and recorded our data using Create a Graph.

After gym, we found him reading the definition of elf in the dictionary...upside down!

After lunch, we found him eating my Godiva chocolates! He didn't even throw away the wrapper.

Today we came into school and noticed that he used the "follow directions" stamp all over post-it notes, lounged in an empty tissue box, and changed "ALOHA" to "HA" on the magnetic dry erase board! Because we knew Elvis was watching, our behavior got even better!

We made these cool wreaths for our specials teachers and school V.I.P.s! First, we traced our hands on green construction paper, wrote our names, and cut them out. Then we taped them in a circle. My OCD is making me focus on the two hands that were taped a little bit high...oh well! Next, we added a second circle slightly higher than the first. Last, we added a bow.

We had a great holiday party! We did a mug exchange and drank crock pot hot chocolate with marshmallows in our pjs and slippers with stuffed animals (even third graders aren't too old for that!) 

My students gave me tons of gifts and couldn't wait for me to open them. I couldn't even see my desk, so I think I must have been on the nice list this year!

We ate all sorts of yummy fruits and veggies and decorated ornaments thanks to our great room parents.

No one complained about the healthy food! Most of what was left over was the cookies! Can you believe it?!

...and I had to kick my students out of the classroom! They didn't want to leave me or Elvis the Elf on the Shelf. They asked if they could come back next year to see him when they are in fourth grade. I love this class!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

All Aboard the Polar Express!

My goal for the last day before winter break (which starts on Friday - the first year it isn't a half day):

My students have been really great, so we're going to spend the afternoon watching The Polar Express. I decided against having them wear pajamas (since we're an intermediate school), but I am allowing them to change into bring a stuffed animal and wear slippers and a bathrobe on top of their clothes.

 I read them the book today, so we'll compare it to the movie tomorrow using a graphic organizer from this packet.

However, they have to earn their ticket in the morning to see it after lunch.

I plan on doing this to the floor with simple black electrical tape and brown packing tape:

I pinned this from Room Mom 101...our snack is going to be rice krispie coal!

And my gift to them will be a bell!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Elf on the Shelf

Our Elf on the Shelf arrived yesterday - wayyyy late! I showed my students the box with the book and elf inside, but left it on the table overnight. When we got to school, they found him fishing in our classroom fish tank!
I read the book out loud this morning and we watched the movie this afternoon. The kids say that he fell off to the side of the tank near the pencil sharpener during indoor recess, but when I brought them back to class after lunch, he was sitting back up there! We're going to use Create a Graph to vote on our favorite names tomorrow. My personal favorites are Poppy (my deceased grandfather) and Elvis (my childhood dog). I mean, come on! Elvis the Elf does have a nice ring to it. 

It was a busy day, and our behavior was much better yesterday and today, so students will have tomorrow to earn their ticket aboard The Polar Express on Friday (check the blog tomorrow to see what we'll be doing!) They worked so hard today and finished everything I had planned, even though I didn't start teaching them until about 10:30 because we had special and the second holiday concert of the week. I promised I'd post our Class Dojo results after days 2 and 3, so here they are: 
I am loving the fact that less students are coming in late, especially from lunch, and more students are writing in their reading logs. We're looking for 100% for each of those categories, plus completing homework and journal each day.

We also completed our Light the Night writing piece. Students had to choose a holiday that they celebrate (such as Diwali, Ramadaan, birthday, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, etc.) and write about it. It was interesting to see kids trying to write about holidays they either don't truly celebrate or trying to figure out the purpose of the lights to celebrate the holiday. That, to me, means we've kind of lost sight of the reasons to celebrate the season... Anyway, here's the bulletin board (I didn't have time to make it very pretty) and a couple of samples:

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Create a Graph

My students have started a science project several weeks in advance of reading The Science Fair, the story in Lesson 12 of our Journeys reading series. We have been graphing in math, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to teach them how to use Create a Graph! That way they will be all set in making a graph when they do their projects. I'm going to post a little picture tutorial here for them and for you! (Trust me, it's easy once you model it and kids get the hang of it. I've even pre-filled parts of the data, e-mailed it to myself, and opened it on several computers so that my K and 1 students could use it last year!)

First a disclaimer: due to the fact that this is a free website instead of software, the only way to save something is to go to the Print/Save tab. It saves to your computer, not the website. Therefore, you can only open it if you emailed it to yourself or if you use the same computer. You can edit it later ONLY if you e-mail it or save it with the link! Also, hitting the backspace button can cause you to lose all of your work! Hopefully if this happens (and I hope it doesn't!), you should have a written copy and / or you can autofill the blanks by typing the first letter / number or two.

So here we go, your opening screen. Choose a graph type by clicking on its button. If you aren't sure what type of graph to create, read this.

For our purposes, most students will use a bar graph or a line graph. A couple might choose a pie chart. I'm going to do this with a bar graph, since the process is pretty much the same for all 3 types and most kids recognize them and know their purpose. 

Once I've clicked on Bar, notice the tabs that appeared on the right. This is the design tab. I really don't like the kids to change the grid color or appearance because it takes up so much ink and makes it harder to read. I do allow them to choose shape and direction for their graph (and since I'm such a visual person, I'd choose horizontal for things like rolling or moving and vertical for things like jumping or rising).

Now on to the Data tab. We type in a title and label our x-axis (horizontal) and y-axis (vertical). I always have the students write their name in the Source box because they are collecting the data. Then I typed in the item label (what you're graphing), group label (what the bar means) and value (how much).

If you ever want to take a quick peek at what your graph looks like so you know it's correct, click the Preview tab.

My students have to collect data with three trials, so I changed the number of groups to 3. I also selected different bar colors using the drop down menu arrow. Since I used this birthday chart as a model instead of a science experiment, I am going to show you how it would look if I created 6 separate bars (It won't let me do 12 because 6 is the limit).
Notice the difference in the data table and the preview from the other way we did it.

Here's the same data using a pie chart.
As we talked about in class, you should choose the type of graph that best shows your data visually. As you can see, the range of numbers is close and we have so much data, so the pie chart doesn't make it as very quick and easy to see which month had the most birthdays compared to the bar graph.

I hope you found this useful! I will post again in January about easy ways to use create a graph with math, science, and spelling!

For my students, this should help you create your own.
 You will see your colored lines when you add data to the chart.

Don't forget to e-mail me and / or yourself a copy and print it for your project!

Gingerbread Glyph Bulletin Board

We needed to have a little fun on Friday afternoon, so this was our Five Minute Fun activity! (And as we all know, things that normally take 5 minutes take a lot longer when holidays are near!) My students loved the scarecrows they made and wrote about in the fall, so I found a blank gingerbread person from Kidzone and used a glyph direction sheet from Teacher's Mailbox (but you can use this one.) We didn't have the time to cut and glue construction paper, buttons, or yarn, but they still loved it anyway!

Here's a blank gingerbread person:
Click to download.

 There are tons of other glyphs at (awesome site, if you haven't already checked it out!) 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Concrete Poems

As part of our story Max's Words in our Journeys reading series, we had to create concrete poems, or poems that are written in the shape of their topic. They're perfect for any writer because they don't have to have any rhyme or rhythm and they can be any length! Here are some examples I used to show the kids.

Since we were very busy that week, we didn't create them until last week. I asked the children to pick a winter theme so we could use them for our winter bulletin boards. Here they are!

My favorite way of creating concrete poems is to use Tagzedo. Check out this penguin from the gallery!

Need more structure? Try your own woodland themed concrete poems here.

For more Max's Words activities, click here.

For more Journeys posts, click here.


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