A few activities my students participated in before our holiday break.

Here are the Christmas trees students made using ice cream cones, white icing ( I forgot the green dye at home), marshmallows, m&ms, and one snowman peep. They worked really hard on their christmas trees, and they came out great.

A Christmas Art activity students created using pre-cut card stock.

This is a picture of my second class of 4th graders performing a reading of "Bob the Goofy Reindeer for the PreK classes at our school.

And here they are performing for a Kindergarten class.

My cheerleaders performing at our 1st annual Winter Recital. They rocked the end of the recital!

The cheerleaders waiting for their turn at the recital. The cafeteria was packed with parents, friends, staff, teachers and more. I think we had about 1200 people in attendance at the start of the recital.

A Christmas gift I received from a student. The cookies were so yummy!

A penpal letter received from our pen pals in New York. It was like Christmas opening our letters. They were so excited to read their letters and learn more about their faraway friends.

So of course here you can see, we got to work right away writing our penpals back. They went into the mail the next day.

Finally, here's a picture of my twin boys with Santa at their breakfast/singalong on Friday.

Hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
We were so excited to receive our pen-pal letters today from our pen pals in New York City. It was like Christmas in our classroom. We loved all the artwork from our pen pals and their letters sharing a little about their life and school. Tomorrow we will begin working on our letters back to them.

Friday we participated in another Mystery Skype with a 5th grade class in Michigan. We learned a lot about their state such as water is not in short supply, the cherry festival is held there, and they are located in the northern part of the United States.

We are looking forward to two more Mystery Skypes that we are signed up for on Wednesday am and pm.

We are learning a lot about the states this year through Mystery Skypes and the postcard exchange.

This week our focus in Reading is on identifying and explaining the difference between folktales, including a myth and a legend.

Today after our long morning of Interval testing, ( Intervals= cumulative assessment of the nine weeks) we began our discovery of myths.

I began the lesson with having students think about movies or books that contained magic, and elicited responses, and then I had students think again about what movies or books that contain magic and which also explain how the world or nature has come to be. I didn't receive many responses from this prompt, which was fine because this led me into my mini-lesson with introducing a short myth of how leaves were created. I read the short myth and asked students how this story was different from other stories we have read. Students talked to one another and we discussed the various differences. Then I passed out the story Arachne's Web to students. We read the story together stopping and discussing the following points: the god or goddesses, the problem to overcome, the journey taken, and the resolution to the problem. Next, students broke out into groups some students worked on questions from the myth Arachne's Web, others used the Mee Genius app on the iPads to listen to the myth Persephone, and a few others logged into KidBlog and clicked on a post I created with several other myths to read. Finally, we came back together to discuss our discoveries and students explained orally the characteristics of a myth.

We also began working on our Louisiana brochures for our in class Social Studies project and to send to our penpals in New York.

We are using Pages on the iPad and Microsoft word (brochure template) to showcase our state.

My 4th graders participated in their very first Mystery Skype today with a 6th grade class in Missouri. Before we began the Skype I gave each table of 4 students a job. One group used the Almanac in their Social Studies book to look up some of the facts given by the other class, some used Google to research the facts, some students used laminated maps to identify the area of the US where they thought the state may be located, and a few students helped out by reading our facts to the other class. After the 6th grade class gave us their facts, they took a guess at where we were from and we did the same. We were both successful!
Some of their facts were:

  • Their state is near the Mississippi River
  • Their state was a swing state in the Election
  • The name of their state contains 8 letters
  • They are near Jefferson City

Then they surprised us by asking if we wanted to guess what city they were from in Missouri and they would do the same. We ended up being successful with that guess as well!

It was such a great opportunity and experience, and we are certainly looking forward to doing more Mystery Skypes in the near future. Here's a look at the 6th grade class we Skyped with today on our Promethean board.

This week in Reading students learned how to analyze and evaluate an informational text to identify evidence and opinions. They worked really hard analyzing the texts given on this Monday -Wednesday while discovering the different types of evidence used by the author to support their claim. They also had the opportunity to think about their own opinion in comparison to the author's and decide whether they agreed or disagreed with the author. They were also given thinking stems of I think...... and I would.... to elaborate on their explanation. Today they took their learning further by writing a persuasive letter to Santa using opinions and reasons stating why they deserve the presents they are asking for for Christmas. They also learned today while typing their paper on Microsoft Word how to add clipart.

Here's a sample letter to Santa.

Here's a peek at our week so far and it's only Tuesday!

This week students are learning the importance of taxes. Today students engaged in an activity where they had to determine the sales tax on items they chose from different ads. What a better week to do this since Black Friday was just last week! We had tons of ads to share with students.

Here is the example that was given to students.

Check out this student's wish list!

I am so excited to showcase our postcard exchange bulletin board. Check out all of the postcards we have received so far. We are looking forward to learning more about the rest of the states in our country.

A shout out to my partner teacher, Mrs. Allelo for creating our holiday board for the hallway!

My students and I are truly going to miss our student teacher. She has made Social Studies come alive for the students. Her lessons have been engaging, collaborative, involved critical thinking and many of the activities she planned were project based. A few weeks ago she created a collaborative and product focused Social Studies lesson on the types of government and the rights of citizens here. They learned about the different types of government such as limited and unlimited and participated in many activities where they could apply their learning.
Towards the end of the week students collaborated to create their own country as their final project. They decided who would lead their country, the type of government they would have, and decided how the citizens were treated. They even created their own laws and rights, and they created a flag to represent their country. Once students planned each assigned part of the project, they were given an iPad to use the keynote app to create a slideshow to showcase their country to the class. Students really took ownership of their project and were excited and nervous presenting it to the class. Here's a look at a few projects.

The first activity was creating a slideshow using the Keynote app. The students used their outlines from a previous week's lesson on bats to pull important facts from to showcase in their powerpoint. First, students were taught how to gather photos and save photos to the iPad from the internet. Then students were given choice on their background design and instructed on how to create the first two slides. They took off after that. How much fun it was being the facilitator throughout the remainder of this center!

The next student centered learning activity was centered around word work. The lesson was adapted from the site www.fcrr.org. Students were first paired with their shoulder partner and were given a handout containing four boxes, which students were to fill in with a target word, definition, synonym, word parts and to formulate something special about the word. Students were given a list of target words to choose from with their partner. After student pairs agreed on four target words from the list, the iPads were distributed and students were off to discover the word's meanings using the dictionary app.

What student centered activities are your favorite?

Yeah! We received our very first pen pal letters Monday. Students were excited to carefully open their envelopes and read all about their new faraway pals from New York. Thanks to Jen and her 4th graders from New York for the pen pal exchange.

I am looking for one more 4th grade class to pair up with my second class of 28 4th graders. Leave me a message in the comments below if you are interested in being our pen pals!

Students also worked collaboratively this week in Social Studies learning about Louisiana's Regions to create a poster and a short commercial showcasing their region. First, they gathered information from an informational article to answer questions on their region. Then they took the information gathered and filled in a script. Finally, they worked collaboratively to create a poster depicting their region and rehearsed for their commercial to present to the class. Check it out!

Thanks to my awesome student teacher for putting together this experience for students. Students became active learners and were encouraged throughout to problem solve, communicate and make decisions.

Our trucker buddy Mr. Eason also came for a visit on Friday. Both classes had the opportunity to meet with him and tour his truck. Check it out!

So what is Theme? Theme is the underlying message or Big Idea of the story. Theme was our focus this past week in Reading, and students were introduced to a various selection of texts including fables, folktales and myths. Students evaluated text through a shared reading discussing the plot to determine the theme. We also focused on the following questions: Did the character grow? How does the title relate to the theme? What did the characters learn? Throughout the week, students turned and talked to discuss these questions as well as responded to them in their reader's notebooks. When responding to the text this week lots of modeling was done on how to justify your answer using text evidence. Finally students also discussed how some of the themes covered would apply to their own life.

Here's a look at the anchor chart used with the students throughout the week, taken from Juice Boxes and Crayolas

Here's a look at some of the literature that was used this week to discuss Theme.
I began on Monday with a Shared Reading using the text Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters, an African Tale. The theme in this text was "Kindness is rewarded over cruelty." The theme was given to students before the shared reading, and throughout the text we stopped to discuss the kindness that was exhibited by one of the daughters and the rewards she received. 

Tuesday and Wednesday, I used the basal to introduce students to another folktale, The Roadrunner's Dance. Tuesday and Wednesday we charted the plot to determine the theme.

Wednesday, students watched 4 short Aesop Fables on Discovery Education including: The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The Grasshopper and the Ant, and The Horse's Mistake. We also discussed how a fable is similar and different from a folktale. 

Finally, on Thursday, I used the myth King Midas to teach theme. We once again discussed how a myth is similar and different than a folktale and fable.

Next week, I will use fairytales, fiction and nonfiction selections to teach author's purpose, word choice and how the author's life influences the text. Some of Louisiana's Fairytales include: 'T Pousette et "T Poulette: A Cajun Hansel and Gretel, Jolie Blonde and the Three Heberts a Cajun Twist to an old tale, Petite Rouge A Cajun Red Riding Hood, On Mardi Gras Day by Fatima Shaik - (this book I will use to show how the author's life influences the text.)

This coming week is also our last week for Geography Skills, and we will culminate the Unit with a focus on the regions of Louisiana and it's culture. Students will collaborate in groups of 3-4 to produce a commercial on their Louisiana region. Stay tuned!

We would love to share some of our commercials with you through Skype! Leave a comment below so we can set a date and time to Skype with you, for us to share a bit of Louisiana culture and heritage.

Also, what fairytales or folktales are common in your state?

Review, Review, Review is what the Stars have been doing this week!

We began with putting all the Elements of Fiction together. I read a loud the book A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon. The students have been begging me to read this book, which has been sitting on the bookshelf since the first day of school! I promised them it was coming soon, and Monday was the day. They really enjoyed the read-aloud. We stopped throughout identifying the Elements of Fiction using a narrative organizer I borrowed from Working 4 the Classroom, she offers it as a freebie. We also used the vocabulary in this book to determine word meanings using context clues. Before reading, I introduced students to 10 words we would encounter throughout the book. I told them to listen carefully as I read and raise your hand when they heard one of the words read. After reading, I used this awesome powerpoint I found at Classroom Magic to teach determining the meaning of words in context. At our writing center this week, student's are practicing their first Reader's Response Letter using the read aloud text by writing a summary of the plot and adding some thinking while they are reading.

In Social Studies this week, we are also reviewing all of the Map Skills we have discussed thus far. My student teacher and one of our inclusion teachers created power points for us to use as a review with the students. You can check them out here and here!

We are also working on our first Social Studies Research project. Last week, we introduced the class to their topic the Appalachian Mountains. I modeled for students why we would want to generate questions on a topic. After I modeled, students turned and talked to their partner to generate 3 questions on the Appalachian Mountains. Then we brainstormed resources we could use to answer our questions. Since this is our first research project, we are focusing on using only a non-fiction book on the mountains. So, this week the students are creating outlines from their questions they generated. Then they created a Flee Map from the information in their outline, and finally wrote their final paper. Most students finished Friday and posted their informational report on their blog. You can check them out here!

During our English block this week, we are studying how to write titles and correct run-on sentences. The students learning goal was I can write titles correctly using capitalization and underlining and I can correct run-on sentences by separating the two sentences with a period and then capitalizing the first word of the second sentence. It is very important they understand the purpose for the lesson and be able to ask themselves at the end of the lesson if they accomplished the goal. Here's a sample of what the students were working on.

After they completed a few titles independently, students were called to the board to correct a few titles using capitalization and underlining.

Next week, we will be studying Theme, working on our first writing prompt, studying Regions, discussing words with Suffixes, and an introduction to Resources.
This past week my student teacher taught her Unit. Her lesson focus was on Sequencing. She created an excellent and highly engaging lesson for the students from learning what Sequencing is all about, to reading a story and students participating in higher order thinking questions. Finally, on Thursday ending with an expository writing.

Tuesday she did a shared reading of the True Story of the Three Little Pigs and discussed the sequence of events within the story. Then students were given a bag including the events in the story in which they were to sequence in their notebooks, and then add to each strip a sequencing word. Finally, to close the lesson students were given choice to write a letter to the wolf giving him suggestions on what he should of done or writing to the governor stating why he is innocent. They did a great job on their letters, and some students even shared!

Thursday students wrote a how to essay on how to blow a bubble. Students were given a piece of gum and 3 minutes to chew their gum, and attempt to blow a bubble while thinking of all the steps to getting to blowing the bubble. Then students used a graphic organizer to write out their steps. A hook and a conclusion was given to students.

Also, on Thursday we had a special visitor. I planned for one of our local meteorologist from channel 4,Carl Arredondo, to speak to the students about his job, the weather and about maps including latitude and longitude.
We were back in the classroom last Thursday and Friday after Hurricane Isaac and I took these two days to have students share their experiences during the Hurricane. I began by reading a story titled Hurricane by David Wiesner to have students make connections with the characters in the story. They then organized their thoughts in a Flee Map, and then took their thoughts and constructed a two paragraph essay describing their experiences and feelings before, during and after the Hurricane. Friday, students published their stories on our class blog at Kidblog. Check them out!

This week we have been super busy getting back into the routine of things and continuing to practice routines and procedures. Monday I taught students how to make a quality comment on a blog post, using the following anchor chart. Then I randomly handed out student's Hurricane stories and had them practice making a comment using a sticky note. Once they made their comment they delivered the writing back to its owner. They really enjoyed learning how to make comments, as well as reading comments made by their peers. I must also thank Mrs. Wilson and Mrs. Faust two teachers at my school, as well as Mrs. Howard the assistant principal and my student teacher Mrs. Ronquille for making additional comments on the student's first blog post. They were excited to know that their experience was shared with others outside of the classroom.

I am looking forward to hosting a Blog Commenting Party for my parents, where students will teach their parents how to log in their blogs and make a quality comment. The Blog Commenting Party is scheduled for Wednesday, September 26th.

Check them out making their comments! They did such an awesome job!

Our focus this week in Reading was identifying and describing the Plot in a text. I read aloud Sarah and the Freedom Quilt and created this Anchor chart with students to identify the Rising Actions, Problem, Climax, Falling Actions and Resolution.

We also practiced going to centers this week.

Here the students are going on a Louisiana Scavenger Hunt on the internet. My student teacher put together a packet for the students with links for the students to locate and use to find answers about their state such as state symbols, population, governor, and other facts.

Here is my student teacher facilitating a guided reading center. She is using the basal to review with students how to identify the plot in a story, and teaching them strategies such as re-reading when they can't determine the answer.

Students below are practicing on our state testing site LAPass. They are practicing Proofreading 1. Students were given two chances to complete the test and then recorded their best score.

Here students are utilizing Brainpop to review concepts we have learned this week such as landforms in  the US in Social Studies, Plot in Reading, and they are watching Harriet Tubman because the story Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt reminded them of Harriet Tubman.

Two other things I am super proud of this week check them out below!

Check out our class Goals. The Anchor chart in the middle is and idea I found on Pinterest and modified. I created Reading Goals for my students such as reading 40 books, reading 140 wpm, learning 150 new words and achieving 85% or higher on tests. I then passed out the color stars you see to students and had them write a goal they wanted to achieve. Some of their goals included changing their behavior, typing faster, passing their tests, making their mom and dad proud ( I loved this one!), doing all their homework, and reading for 20 minutes every night.

Finally, Check out my Super Improver Wall, which is going really well. Students began as a Fan (white star). You can see how many have already earned 10 stamps and have moved up to Rookie (orange star). These students received a free homework pass, as well as changing their star.

Looking forward to another great week!
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