I held my first annual Identity Day on Tuesday, May 22nd. I first came upon this idea from a colleague and friend Paula Naugle. My students began this project by first identifying their passion and then answering 10 reflection questions on their Kidblog. I divided the questions up over a three week period and students answered in a weekly center. Then when the big day came, which was our last full day of school, students brought in items to showcase their passions. We set the desks up in a circle and used the desktops to display their items. Finally, we invited a few classes to come to our Identity Day.
Thursday of last week my partner teacher, Mr. Martinez facilitated an explanatory writing lesson. The lesson was adapted from LessonPlanSOS. He began the lesson by distributing a piece of gum to each student. Students were immediately engaged! He had students describe the taste of the gum and then explain in detail how to blow a bubble. They were also allowed lots of practice with blowing bubbles.

I was at my twins Pre-K 3 closing ceremony. Here they are with their favorite teacher.
The last few weeks of school my Shining and Shooting Stars have been working collaboratively and diligently on a plethora of Reading and Technology Centers. This past week students wrapped up their projects by putting the finishing touches on each and every one.

Students worked effortlessly and collaboratively at the Animal Research center. My students used a template that I purchased from Lifein4B's TPT store to fill in using the Kids World Book Encyclopedia and an animal brochure as their resources to gather information about their chosen animal. Once they filled in the template, they then published their report on their blog. Finally, I taught them how to copy and paste their information into a Word Document and add a picture of their animal from the internet. Here's a look at the brochure and the completed projects hanging up outside our classroom.

Students also wrapped up their Book Report Paper Slideshow on their chapter book James and the Giant Peach. We watched the movie on Thursday and during the movie I called a few students out in the hallway to film them presenting their Book Reports. I used my iPhone to record this time because the 4 flip cameras I have are no longer working. They just stopped!!! So crazy! If anyone has an answer to this please let me know. Here's a sample of a few of the slideshows the audio is very low, but I think you will get the idea.

After the movie students folded their Inferencing Cootie Catchers I purchased from Runde's Room's TPT store. These were a hit! Students were engaged in purposeful talk for no kidding at least 15 minutes. They first paired up with the person across from them and then after the 3 minute timer went off I called, "Stand Up, Hand Up, Pair Up" and they found a new partner. We did this several times. I even had a guest walk in the room to ask me a question and they took charge and found new partners. I guess they can run the room without me.

BTW... I am so proud of my Shining and Shooting Stars. We received our state test results on Friday and they did awesome!!! My 4th graders this year are the highest scoring group I've had in nine years. I have to thank all the wonderful blogs I follow for the many wonderful ideas I have implemented into my classroom this year, my assistant principal Mrs. Howard and Title 1 colleague Mrs. St. Romain for the PD they have given us this year, Maria our Balanced Literacy Coach, Mr. Martinez my ELA partner teacher and Mrs. Wilson my other partner teacher.

We are Shining!!!
Are you a fan of words with friends? I certainly am. I have about 8 games going with family friends right now. I love the challenge of creating new words and the competition, especially when I play my father-in-law.

Mr. Martinez our ELL teacher brought in some alphabet cubes for students to roll, and create words. Students had a great time making words and competing against one another. What a great and simple way for students to build their vocabulary and practice simple math. This game was incorporated into my centers for the week as our word work center or as I called it "Words with Friends."
I would like to begin this post with congratulating one of my 4th grade students. Aliyah's writing was selected to be published in the prestigious annual students anthology, Award-Winning Young Writers of America-2012! She received a golden envelope with details explaining her award. Congrats Aliyah!

Our Friday began with students sharing their Genius Paragraphs they wrote on Thursday. Here's a look at our Top Three Writers for the week. They were very excited about their award! Students will continue to practice their writing this coming week and the Top Writers will be chosen again this coming Friday.

Then out for our Field Day Event, which was almost cancelled completely due to the rain. The PE staff ended up working out where we were able to participate in 3 of the 6 events held under our covered pavilion. We will complete the remainder of Field Day tomorrow due to the rain on Friday. 

The Egg Race Relay

 Basket Ball Throw

Not pictured was the bean bag toss, which I competed in. I ended up in the finals, but lost to Mr. D another 4th grade teacher.

Then our Trucker Buddy came to visit. He shared a few pictures of his travels and answered a lot of questions from the students. We were all excited about his visit, and are looking forward to communicating with him during our last week of school through Edmodo.

Finally, my partner teacher Mrs. Wilson had a lawyer come and speak to the students.

What a FUN filled Friday we had!
Today my fourth graders and I hosted our Ma Spa Day! My students invited their mothers, grandmothers, aunts, teachers and our administrators to attend our Spa day for a special Mother's Day treat. Our guests were pampered by having hand massages, back massages, refreshments, pleasant conversation and their nails done. We had a special treat during our morning session with having high school cosmetology students from Cullier Career Center provide nail treatments for our guests and students.

Here's a look at our day!

A few students and I set up the classroom at the end of the day Thursday by preparing each station. Here's a look at the room before.
 Here's our principal, Jackie Daniilidis having a back massage by one of my fourth graders.
 A picture of the nail station, where guests and students had their nails trimmed and filed.

Even a few of the boys had their nails sharpened up.

Then to the polishing and drying station.

Some even enjoyed a paraffin wax.

Here's our assistant principal on the left and one of our school secretaries on the right getting their nails polished.

 This was probably one of my favorite stations of all. Here students wrote a blog post on Kidblog answering reflection questions with their parents. You can read some of their posts here. Check out Jonathan's post, it is sooooo sweet!
Here I am getting my nails done and finally relaxing for 5 minutes.

Thank You Cullier Career Center for the wonderful experience you brought to my Shining and Shooting Stars. We are looking forward to working with you again next year!

And of course a slideshow to recap our wonderful day, Happy Mother's Day!

Ma Spa Day on PhotoPeach
Check out this wonderful article written about my student teacher, who was honored by her University.

Click here!
Today we worked on our Genius Ladder. This teaching strategy comes from Whole Brain Teaching. I began using this writing strategy in January, and it has really helped students develop their writing skills. Today students worked independently on their Genius Ladder, and were allowed to write their own "Blah" Sentence and then build upon it moving up the ladder. Here is one student's paper from today. You can see the rubric that was created on the side.

Here's Mr. Martinez the ELL teacher reviewing students' final copies.

According to Chris Biffle, from Whole Brain Teaching the Genius Ladder is essentially a scaffold structure to teach sentence and then paragraph construction. The bottom rung should be the simplest kind of complete sentence which we call the "Blah".

The second rung should be the Spicy...add an adjective and we also add a where. Students should work in pairs to orally create a Spicy sentence and then share out.

The third rung we call the Extender Complexor. An Extender Complexor is anything that extends the Spicy sentence...a prepositional phrase, a conjunction, an adverbial phrase, an appositive. You can be as specific or as general as you wish on what you want kids to use at this level. Again have students work in pairs to orally create as many Extender Complexor alternatives as possible.

The fourth rung is the Genius Paragraph. Students take one of the Extender Complexor sentences as their topic sentence and add as many adders as possible...detail sentences. At this point, students should be writing. I have students add a Hook, simile and a conclusion.

As you can see the Genius Ladder can vary but the key idea is to move from a simple sentence to complex, give kids lots of oral reps at the lower level and finish with paragraph writing.

Here's two videos with Chris Biffle facilitating the Genius Ladder. He is awesome!

This afternoon our school's Cheerleaders, Choir and Ballroom Dancers performed. Here are a few shots taken from the performance.

The Fun Never Ends in Room 3. My Shining Stars will compete against the Shooting Stars on Friday during Field Day. So, to prepare for the big day we began with tie-dying our shirts for Friday. I really thought my bright idea of tie- dying was going to be a complete mess, but it actually turned out incredibly awesome. Each of the six fourth grade classes chose a color and ours was blue. I really couldn't remember how to tie-dye a shirt considering the last time I did this was when I was in middle school. So of course I went to my great friend Google to search how to tie-dye, and of course I found a great video that showed us how to make spirals. So we did just that! You can see below how some of our shirts
came out.

Here is one of our parent volunteers who came out to help us tie-dye the shirts. You can see here the Shooting Stars color, red, for  Field Day.

While was I calling tables out to come and dip their shirts the rest of the class was completing their Genius Paragraph for the Day and then moving on to centers.

Here is one group using WorldBook Online Encyclopedia for Kids to write a report about their animal. We are really learning a lot about animals. Did you know that a ladybug plays dead to protect itself and emits blood from its legs to scare away its predator? That is so cool!

Here's the next group using the iPads to create a presentation using the Keynote App. I gave them choice today to either use the App or post their Genius Paragraph on their blog. Most of them chose to create the slideshow presentation.

Next, is a picture of students working on their passion project. Something else we are all looking forward to on the second to last day of school. They are responding to the next set of reflection questions on their blog. We would love some comments! Click here! 

Here the students are working through Edmodo on their chapter book. This week they are watching a preview of the movie, answering a poll, and taking a quiz. I've been having trouble with the quiz maker on Edmodo. It is not accepting all my students answers. Not sure why? I haven't figured out if it is the a student error or Edmodo error. Due to the error, though, my students are going to have to take a paper and pencil test on Friday instead. 

Last but not least here is a group working on their paper slideshow. We will try to complete this project by  the end of this week or middle of next. My plan is for students to use the flip cameras to record a partner and then we will upload to Edmodo for our book club classes in Kansas and Colorado.

Did I mention we are having a Ma Spa Day on Thursday? We are really looking forward to pampering our moms and some of our teachers. Tomorrow our Choir, Ballroom dancers and Cheerleaders perform. Like I said in the beginning the FUN NEVER ENDS!

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