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Thursday, February 28, 2013

African & Hispanic American History Program

Today our school came together to show off their learning of African American and Hispanic American history. What. A. Show! Take a peek- you'll be impressed!

Great job, everyone!

Kindergarten- Martin Luther King Jr Freedom poem

1st grade- Harriet Tubman poem

2nd grade- 

3rd grade- Still I Rise by Maya Angelou
4th grade- Yes We Can! skit
5th grade- Drum Group

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Junior Achievement Day 2013

Today was one of my favorite days of the year- Junior Achievement Day!! I love JA day! It's an entire day full of activities that I don't have to plan and are centered around a social studies standard. The third grade standard covered is on maps, commerce, and banking skills. I really appreciate that the skills are not only academic, but life skills also.
My class was lucky this year to have one of my friends be our JA representative. You might remember Mrs. Jana Kruse from the BIG PLANS segment last Saturday.

My students had lots of fun! You could tell Ms. Jana had previous practice in the classroom. :)

Here they are working on their "zoning" projects- creating their version of a perfect classroom. Students working in pairs, or triads. 

Students also learned the difference between residential, industrial, business, farming, and multipurpose zones. They created buildings and decided in which zone their building belonged.

One activity I didn't get pictures of was where students had to start their own business. They had to decide upon a restaurant concept, decide where to build, hire help, and advertise. *whew* My class had a good time, but you could tell they had never really thought about what goes on behind the scenes in a business.

Here are my students' writings from one of the last activities. Each student was assigned a section of the newspaper for which to write a story.

I really liked this activity. I might try this again when we review author's purpose.

When Ms. Jana left, we were sad to see her go. We decided to take some time to let her know that we appreciated all she taught us today.

Thank you, Ms. Jana for visiting us today!
Thank you, Junior Achievement for helping our community!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Charlotte's Web- All chapters and activities

It's done! It's done!
Here is a listing of all the chapters- each one has a vocabulary activity included. Thank you to all my teachers who were willing to be a reader!
 ** Mrs. Wann, Mrs. Smith, Ms. Williams, Mrs. Ritchey, Mr. Russell, Ms. Toles**
Special thanks to Ms. Toles for going above and beyond the call of duty. Ms. Toles found the majority of the vocabulary words and was an enthusiastic reader. You rock, Toles!

Charlotte's Web chapter 22 with activity

Can you believe it's finished? Thank you to all the readers, and especially to Ms. Toles for being willing to do so much!

Charlotte's Web chapter 21 with activity

Brought to you by Ms. Toles!


Saturday, February 16, 2013

BIG PLANS- UNUM Research Analyst

Next Thursday is our Junior Achievement day, and this year we have a special person coming to be our JA guide- my friend from church, Jana Kruse! She agreed to volunteer ONLY if she could be in my room. I am feeling the love! So, Ms. Jana decided to visit us Wednesday afternoon to get the feel of the class dynamics.

Little did she know we would be interviewing her for today... hahahahaha!!!
Ahem- she was a great sport when put on the spot! Thank you, Ms. Jana!

side note here- this is our second person from UNUM to be interviewed! What a cool company!

1. What is the highest degree needed for this profession?

 2. What are some specific classes or skills you had to work on?

 3. What does your work day look like?

 4. Do you use any special equipment in your field?

  5. What specific position do you hold in your company/ job?

  6. How long did you have to practice before you got your job?

  7. What is the starting salary for your profession?

Thank you, Ms. Jana for your awesomeness in letting us spring this on you! We'll see you Thursday!

Poetry Corner- Parade

I'm starting a new phase of homework- weekly poems and comprehension questions. I know this strategy isn't new, but it is new to my students. They were expected to practice the poem each night and complete comprehension and vocabulary questions. The culminating activity would be each team reciting the poem at our new Family Area. (I have to take pictures of the new room arrangement! It's awesome!)

We are using the Fluency First series the school bought years ago. Thank goodness we don't throw anything away! Here is the poem from this week:
The best part was having everyone find the beat and read along. Here is everyone as a group.

Then teams had a chance to show off one at a time. You'll notice my class is a little smaller than usual- it was a half day yesterday.

Team 1

Team 2

Team 3

Team 4

Well done, Teams! I can't wait until next week!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Literacy Strategies to Boost Your Test Scores

Teachers- how many times have you had to sit through a professional development on a topic you know inside and out?
How many times have you said, "We already know this! I could have told you this information!"

Well, today was our chance at CHES to share what we already know works in our classrooms. Grade levels were split K-1, 2-5 and teachers were encouraged to bring their A-game ideas. What works for them? What encourages their students to do their best on the test? Here are some ideas from grades 2-5!

1. Practice test taking strategies from day 1. 
Things like read the questions first, get rid of silly answers, and trust your gut. Need some test taking strategy ideas? Here are some posted to help you! Compliments of the teachers at Clifton Hills! See the end of the post for a list of my super smart coworkers who contributed their ideas!

2. Starting small and working your way larger, send home daily reading and questioning passages. 
There are paperback books, ebooks, and pdf files available everywhere that have good sized passages. Check Amazon, your local book store (even used book stores), and your resource room at your school. Some reading adoptions include a book of passages with their sets. Use them!

3. Check out the website
This site can be used by grade or by topic. Type in what you're looking for and have fun from there!
4. Teach Reading like Math.
Think about it, math is easy for one reason and one reason only- there are set rules and procedures. Read the problem -----> work it out -----> find the answer. It's a proven method for math, now try it for reading as well!

5. Use incentives
In other words, bribery. Well placed bribes can work wonders. :)
Students want to impress their friends and their teachers, in that order. Use point charts, stickers, smelly good markers, whatever works! Post student achievement publicly in the classroom. Students who achieve proficient or advanced should be rewarded. Our 4th grade team rewards student achievement once a month. (This past month was with doughnuts) Students have to have a certain amount of proficient or advanced scores to earn the prize. 

6. Word Walls. They're not just for walls anymore!
Why keep words on walls where they can only be used when inside the classroom? Write them on index cards, punch a hole in the corner, and put a loop in them! They can be hung from the teacher's belt loop or the students'!
Need to use the bathroom, kid? Read 3 cards.
Are you really hungry? Put 2 words in a sentence.
Recess? Really? See how many you can read in 10 seconds and you can go play.
Vocabulary, or the lack of it, is the #1 reason students fail standardized tests. This is a quick and easy way to make sure students are gaining new vocabulary. This is good for all subjects. (It works really well if the cards are color coded per each subject)

7. Use what's available.
In the words of Dr. Faber- you can either BS or BA; Borrow Straight or Borrow and Adapt. You read, you attend professional developments, you talk to your coworkers. Make information your own. Side note- if you do borrow from coworkers, give then street cred for their ideas. It's the nice thing to do.

8. National Vocabulary Words
They're available for your use. Use them! They are good for dictionary skills, practicing ABC order, sentence building, and comprehension through illustrations.

9. The app iWorksheet, available on ipad. 
It's easy to figure out and students love taking fast quizzes this way.

10. Quiz Me!
I use this with my students. I have them write down their spelling words, vocabulary words, or words from our language arts skill for the week. (homophones this week) They take the words home for homework- 3x each, sentences, ABC order, etc. Once students have had practice, they get to wear Quiz Me badges. Their goal is to be quizzed by as many teachers in the building as possible. When we're in the hallway, in the cafeteria, recess, or related arts, students will smile and try to get teachers' attention. If a teacher comes up to them to be quizzed, students have to be ready to spell the words, put them in sentences, define them... you name it! If the student can fill the teacher's request, they get Cub Cash in their account.

We teachers need more opportunities to share the wonderful ideas inside us. I'm so glad I have an entire school of teachers who are full of it!.... er, full of ideas, I mean. :)

Thank you, 2nd-5th grade teams for sharing your awesome ideas today!
Mrs. Smith, Ms. Toles, Mrs. Wann, Ms. Williams
Ms. Roach, Mrs. Jackson, Ms. Chastain
Mrs. Anderson, Ms. Hawkins
And our ESOL team- Ms. Vinnie, Ms. Gabriella, Mrs. Ritchey

Field Trip- CSO

That would be the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera for those who were wondering. :)

Third grades from all over Hamilton County had the opportunity to visit the Tivoli Theater in downtown Chattanooga to participate in a kid-friendly day at the symphony.

The symphony was conducted by Music Director Kayoko Dan, with the winner of the CSO Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition also featured. (playing cello)
The title of the program was "Musical Mystery: A Symphony of Unfortunate Events"
There was a new piece introduced titled The Composer is Dead, that had music by Nathaniel Stookey with text by Lemony Snicket.

Can I just say, it was awesome! The pieces chosen were upbeat and invited audience participation. The music of choice included the Pink Panther theme, In the Hall of the Mountain King, songs from Hitchcock, and a cello concerto, featuring the CSO Youth Orchestra winner.The last piece, The Composer is Dead, was a hoot. (How country sounding was that? But it's true!)

My students had mixed feelings, as kids will, but the overall feeling was that they would be happy to go back again and hear some beautiful music.

Wondering what I'm talking about? Here are some youtube videos to help you!

In the Hall of the Mountain King by Greig- performed by the Emory Youth Symphony