Sunday, October 19, 2014

Photosynthesis Craftivity

I am excited to share my newest bulletin board and product with you guys!

Isn't it cute!!!

I switch off every month teaching our content block.  Our first month in school, I taught Social Studies and we focused on geography and California regions. This month we are full speed ahead into Life Science.  It amazes me how much kids love science.  I always look for ways to make it interesting and hands on.  Our first chapter talked about photosynthesis.  The kids had a lot of background knowledge from learning about plant structure and growing bean sprouts in 1st grade.   The text book had very little information about this important process, so I supplemented with a few of my favorite online resources:  Study Jams, Brain Pop and Gooru! We did several CLOSE reads to reinforce the content vocabulary.

To test their understanding of photosynthesis we made a visual representation of it as a science craft.  I don't know about your upper graders but mine still love crafts and coloring.  It engages them and helps them focus.

I copied a leaf stencil pattern on green paper for each student.  They cut it out and traced it onto a piece of green construction paper.
Then, they glued the bottom half of the construction paper leaf on top of the green paper leaf pattern.

They folded back the top part of the lead that was not glue down and drew the leaf's veins.

I passed out the inside of the leaf diagram and they colored  and cut out the pieces. While they colored and cut, I passed out the stems that I cut from the remaining pieces of construction paper.  
I asked them to think about where each piece should go on the diagram. They got a lot of the pieces correct and we talked about why each piece needed to go a specific place.  I asked them guided questions to further their thinking as well as posed mistakes to have them correct my thinking.

The next day, they had to explain the process in writing.  This is such a struggle for my students because not only is it expository writing but it includes a explaining a process with difficult vocabulary and my class is full of second language learners.  To make the process easier, I had them explain it in the form of a recipe…. The Recipe for Photosynthesis. 

They really wrestled with this task.  Having the sentence stems made the task not so daunting for them because the sentence stems helped them frame their thoughts and be more focused.  However, after I saw their final products, I realized that they needed even more support-  so I created a word bank for them.  

I was so proud of my students because they were able to explain their craftivitiy and hearing them use the difficult science lingo was music to my ears.  

You can grab my Photosynthesis Craftivity{CLOSE Read & Writing} here, on sale 
this week.

Next week, food chains, webs and then ecosystems! Off to plan and create! I'd love to hear how you teach these! 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

California Relief Maps

The past 2 years I have assigned a California Relief Map project as an at home assignment but with any at home assignment, there is a lot of parent involvement and sometimes too much if you know what I mean.  This year I decided to do the project in class with my students thanks to the help and guidance of a few other CA 4th grade blogger buddies who coached me through the process (Thanks Emily from I Love my Classroom).

The process only took 2 days!  We studied the 4 regions of California and made a foldable that summarized our learning.

Then we made a rough draft of what our salt and dough relief map would look like.

First, they drew California and the bordering states (and country).

Then, we made the dough:  1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of water sealed in a freezer gallon size ziploc baggie.  They "massage" the contents of the bag,  mixing it so all the ingredients are doughy.  Then came the messy part: Applying the dough to the outline of California.

The students made sure to build up there maps in the areas where the mountains are.  

We did this on a Friday so that the dough could dry over the weekend.

Day 2- we painted!

After they dried we labeled the map and made a legend for the regions.

I am so glad that we did this in class! It was a great way to way for them to interact with geography and see all that they had learned from our Social Studies CLOSE reads.  I can't wait to do it again next year!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October Currently!

Can you believe it is October? I can't… especially because it was 100 degrees here today! YUCK!  You know it is the beginning of the school year when you haven't blogged in almost a month, you have several paper cuts and you are 5 days late to the fantabulous Farley's Currently Linky.

So here goes…
Listening:  In our house, we are baseball fans… and by baseball I mean Angles fans.  This past Friday we went to a playoff game and we root, root, root-ed for the home team

 BUT in the 11th inning… we lost…. And today, we lost again, which means we are out.  

Loving: Fall flavors.  Though I am sad to say farewell to watermelon, avocado and tomatoes…. as an avid cook and pintrest'er. I am loving these new Fall flavors.  I am just wishing, and hoping and praying that Fall finally decides to set in in Southern California.  

Dear Fall, 
Please come.  

Thinking: I am thinking about Halloween.  I host a kids Halloween party at our house right before we go out to Trick-or-Treat- I need to: send Evites out, secure our kid's costumes, buy candy and that is just for our home party… what about our school??!?!? My new school allows kids to dress up for Halloween. I am so excited about this, but in the last 8 years of teaching, I have never had a school participate in costumes or other festivities.  Needless to say, I am excited to celebrate with my students!

Wanting: See above. It is 100 degrees here. It is hot. It feels like summer. I want to wear scarves and boots. I want to drink hot coffee again. My favorite food is soup and the thought of eating soup makes me want to crank up my air conditioner EVEN more! I want SEASONS!

Needing: To run. This past July, I turned the big 3-0 and I set a goal to run a half marathon within the year.  I coaxed my husband to run with me and then we decided to make it our 5th year anniversary trip. SO, this coming weekend will be our run! We thought we would have more time to train… but with a 3 year old, a 1 year old and 2 teachers in Back to School Craziness we have not ran as much as we would've liked…. BUT we will be fine… fingers crossed!

Trick or Treat: TREAT. I am excited to share with you my newest product- Character Traits {Word Bank and Frames}

as a TREAT- it is on SALE for the next 24 hours!!!  Let me tell you more about it:

These graphic organizers, posters and word bank will  help your students identify character traits in an organized way.  The students will have opportunities to look at events surrounding the characters in the story, as well as through examination of the character's behaviors, words, feelings, actions, and/or thoughts and interactions with other characters
They will be able to support their claims by  providing evidence from the story, with the help of these sentence stems and activities.  

3 anchor posters:

4 Pages of Character Traits WORD BANK:
36 words with 5-7 synonyms for each word to help your students excel in identifying character traits.
Not only will they be able to identify them, they will be able to express their ideas and defend their claims.

As a treat, this will be on sale ALLLLLLL week!!!!  Grab it now.

Now I am off to check in on some of my favorite blogger's Currently posts!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Collaborative Conversation Sticks {for MATH}

    Olivia from Liv and Learn asked if I would create Collaborative Conversation Sticks {for Math} and a one of my Instagram followers asked for me to bundle the ELA and Math Collaborative Conversation Sticks- SO, I DID!

    These 20 Sentence Stem sticks will provide your students with sentence stems to help them be active participants in group discussions during Math. These will also hold the students accountable to contributing and foster critical thinking. The response starters and prompts will focus the academic conversation and keep the students on-topic.
I plan on using these next week, our 3rd week of school, to help guide my kiddos to not only think like a scholar but to talk like on too!

Simply Print, Laminate and attach them to a popsicle stick for students to grab while working in groups.

You can grab the Collaborative Conversation Sticks {for Math} here… but if you want a better deal….

 I mentioned above, thanks to an Instagram followers suggestion/request, I have bundled these with my Collaborative Conversation Sticks {for ELA} so if you buy them together you save!

I loved this last Sunday. so, for some pinning fun the first 3 people who pin my Collaborative Conversation Sticks will get these for free!!!! Just leave a comment below saying you pinned it along with your pinterest address (for example mine is pinterest/laylawhenry) so I can verify, and I will email you this set tomorrow! Ready, Set... PIN!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Polka Dots, Chevron, and Owls, Oh My: My 2014-2015 Room Reveal and a Pinteresting Giveaway!

Happy Sunday all!  I survived my first week of school and in all the Back to School madness I realized that I never shared pictures of my new classroom!  So here goes...

Awhile back I mentioned that I was moving to a new school. This picture was taken in June, on my last day of work, at my former school. This is my entire classroom packed inside 53 boxes!

Thankfully, the district moved all of my boxes and furniture to my new school for me. It took my husband and me 2 entire hours to move everything from the MPR, upstairs and into my new classroom.  The first time I saw my new school and classroom I feel in LOVE.  Goodbye portables and Hello AMAZING classroom!
This is the first time in my teaching career that I have ever had matching desks!!! 

Yet another perk of marrying a teacher- we have the same schedule!  My darling husband came in 3 days to help me hang bulletin boards while I unloaded and organized everything. The first thing I wanted to tackle was unpacking and reorganizing my classroom library... I don't even want to tell you how long this took. 

...after.  Check out my Upper Grade Library Labels here.
This is the view when you enter my classroom.

There is A LOT of storage but not a lot of wall space. I will have to get creative as to how I will display student work.  I also have a bulletin board directly outside my classroom, in the hallway that I can and will most definitely use.

I decided to go with a U-Shape desk arrangement.  That way they can collaborate, but they are a little more spread out and I can pull up a chair in the center and work with them as a small group SUPER easily.  I added an extra desk to the center of each table group to store their offices, the Tidy Tub and supply bins.  
Grab this Tidy Tub Owl Freebie here...
This will also hopefully help prevent students from arguing over whose desk the supply bin is on.

I am going to be adding a crate underneath it which will have their work portfolios in hanging folders so we can file away their work easily.

The kids LOVED their Home Depot book aprons.  

This is a view from the back of my classroom looking forward.  This is the first time I have had a projector that is mounted to the ceiling... I am stoked about that because now I wont have that hot fan blowing on me all day.  

This is the left side of my classroom.  Look at those AMAZING windows. I just love all of that natural light.  It makes taking pictures a little tricky :)
notice my amazing Mac desktops- 4 here and a few more on the other side... #luckyteacher
A close up...
Here is where I store some of my Whole Class Journals and centers. I am still organizing and sorting them.  I also have a few that I need to print and laminate.  Oh the life of a teacher!

Here is a math bulletin board in between both windows that go along with my Math Problem of the Week set.  I will showcasing their hard work and perseverance of that on this board.

Here is the other side of my classroom where I have 2 MORE Mac desktops and a lap top too!
All of these computers will take my centers to a new level!

Here is the front of my room... I purchased plastic pocket dividers, cut off the label tab and mounted them on the wall in the dead space underneath the Smartboard/White board.  They are labeled with student numbers and this is where they will turn in their center work.  It is a great way to manage who has or has not turned in their work as well as a great place to put absent work!!!

Here's a peek at a few of my bulletin boards...

I blogged last week about my Brag Tags here... This is where the students will hand their tags when they aren't wearing them. On Wednesday, When I told them about Brag Tags and they were SO excited... see, they aren't just for primary kiddos! Every child loves and deserves affirmation!
Grab these Brag Tags for Big Kids here...
My most popular bulletin board over the past several years is my interactive Synonym Wall. Students can come up and find a more interesting word while working on their writing. Plus, they can add to it as the year moves along.

Grab this bulletin board here... 
This is my Data Wall which will track the student's progress for AR, Math Facts and ST Math.  For AR, I use the treehouse and the students climb up into new rooms as they acquire more AR points.  It's a great visual representation, that motivates them and helps them self monitor and set personal reading goals.  They also earn Brag Tags each time they earn 10 AR points or 10% in Jiji. Motivation!
Grab this adorable Chalkboard bunting here...
I have a TON of white boards in my classroom.  I turned one of them into a GIANT wall calendar where we can track birthdays, assignments, due dates, holidays etc. Thank you Little Lovely Leaders for this set!

I know I have OVERLOADED you all with photos, but I love taking a peek into people's classrooms because it gives me new ideas, it inspires me and it reminds me that I am not the only teacher that LOVES what they do.

For some pinning fun on this Sunday, how about a little giveaway!?!  The first 3 people who pin a picture from my Back to School 2014-2015 Reveal-- can choose any product that is under $5.00 from my TpT store and I will email it to you for free!!!! Just leave a comment below saying you did it along with your pinterest address (for example mine is pinterest/laylawhenry) so I can verify, let me know which product you would like and I will email it to you tonight! Ready, Set... PIN!