Wow! Over the last month my 4th graders have participated in many exciting technology projects.

 International Dot Day

My 4th grade class and a 1st grade class celebrat- ed “International Dot Day” together on Friday, September 16. This is a global celebration of creativity, courage, and collaboration centered around Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot. Students read the book then created beauti- ful artwork while they listened to The Dot Song. 

Oreo Project

The oreo project is an oreo stacking contest created by Jen Wagner.  My students were challenged by three other classrooms around the world through a Google Hangout to see how many oreos they could stack before the tower fell. I began the project with the anchor chart to the left and had students estimate about how many oreos they thought they could stack.
Then we began the challenge with the other classes via Google Hangout. 

Here's what a few students had to say about the project. 

The Math teacher even took the project a step further by using student's collected data to determine the average number of cookies that were stacked by classes. 

Poetry Project

The poetry Project is another project created by Jen Wagner in which students each month learn about a different form of poetry or poet. We participated in a Google Hangout with two other classrooms and shared poetry. We read a poem about Hurricanes which is the topic of our current unit of study in Reading. Then we played a Kahoot game on poetry with the other two classes.

Today I hosted my first techie club which will last for approximately 8 months. My club's theme is Game Design using the platform Google CS First. Students will learn how to code and create their own game. 

      Students in 4th grade are expected to draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support their analysis, reflection and research. This is where the Assess Your Response strategy comes in. This is a strategy I practice with students weekly.

The anchor chart to the left shows the three steps to this strategy. I call it the SSP strategy. Whenever students see a constructed response on their test or during a weekly assignment they are to put SSP in the margin of the response. The first step is to STEAL words from the question to restate and answer very simply. Students are not allowed to use "because" in the very first sentence. This comes later. Then a SENTENCE to explain the "Power Word". Last to PROVE their answer with evidence from the text. Once student write their response they Assess their response by using colored pencils to check for the three components of the response.


Below you can see the daily Writing goal on the Smartboard and my modeled and guided response.

Here's a sample of students completing one in their notebook.

Close Reading is a strategy I begin practicing in my classroom at the beginning of the year and continue to practice with students with every text we read. Close Reading allows students to gain a deeper understanding of the text in order to extract details and most importantly to make connections. It is all about the connections students can make with the text to deepen their understanding and become successful 4th grade readers and writers.

Here's one Close Reading strategy that we use when reading a text. It is the UNERD strategy.

U= Underline the title and make connections

N= Number the paragraphs

E= Evaluate the questions

R= Read the text and annotate purposefully

D= Determine the Answers

Let me break it down for you with a text on Hurricane Katrina which is fitting for the day since it is the 11th Anniversary of the storm.

STEP 1= Students should WRITE UNERD at the top of their text

STEP 2= UNDERLINE THE TITLE & Make Connections AND EACH PARAGRAPH (underlining each paragraph is something new I added this year. This helps students chunk, or break down the text and gives them stopping points  to THINK about what they have read.) 



For this text, our GUIDING QUESTION was 

Is this a firsthand or secondhand account? Support with evidence. 

Below you can see we annotated the text for purpose. We noted the key word Hurricane Katrina and that the author provides us mostly facts about the storm, how it came to be and its effects on the New Orleans area. 


(Stay tuned for how to answer a short response question.) 
Have you heard of Kwik Stix

They look just like glue sticks, right? But they're not! They are solid tempera paint sticks that dry in 90 seconds. 

My boys used them to make Father's Day cards and loved them, especially my 2 year old. They were very easy for him to grip and utilize. 

They also come in neon and metallic colors. If you'd like to purchase a pack 
go to The Pencil Grip , shop for products and Enter the Coupon Code: YOUWIN15 at checkout
to automatically receive 15% off your total purchase. 

Or you can enter my giveaway below for a free pack! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
What are we going to do today? This is the usual daily question I get from my boys during the summer.

Well, do I have a surprise for them. Today we are going on a Sno-ball Hoppin' Adventure. I googled the top sno-ball stands in the New Orleans area and saved them to google maps. (See below) Here are a few sites that I retrieved information from about the most popular snowball stands in the New Orleans area from here and here.

The plan is to visit each site, take a picture in front of each one, purchase a sno-ball the most popular flavor of course, split it amongst myself and my 4 boys using Mardi Gras cups, and then rate it with a smile or frown from my boys. This should be fun!

So first up today was the Cold Spot (2837 Barataria Blvd.) in Marrero because this is the closest one to our home and the only snowball stand we ever go to. This is our usual Friday treat after school or when we are just looking for something sweet and cold. The boys usually get flavors such as Pokemon, Rainbow, Orange, Strawberry, and Ice-cream, but today after some research I found that Chocolate is best here at this stand.

Here is our votes on Chocolate………. I thought it was pretty yummy! It was rich tasting and the ice was soft. Definitely one I may order next time I'm looking for something sweet. 

Hansen's was our next stop across the Crescent City Connection to 4801 Tchoupitoulas Street in New Orleans.  This was a new stand for us as well as the rest coming up. I loved the ambiance of this place. There's lots of homemade sno-ball flavor signs, and they are even pet-friendly. Here we tried the flavors Satsuma, Grapefruit, and Watermelon. They were all natural flavors, delicious, very light, and not too rich which is perfect in my opinion. Hansen's was my favorite of all today!

Here is our votes on Satsuma, Grapefruit, and Watermelon…………. Satsuma was by far the best of all three! 

Plum Street Snoballs was our third stop at 1300 Burdette St. in New Orleans. Their sno-balls were pretty cool because they serve them in pails. Kind of hard to see from the second photo below this one, but because it's put in a pail they give you a plastic bag when it begins to leak. Here we tried the KingCake flavor. It was very rich and had a creamy consistency. 

Here were our votes for the KingCake flavor sno-ball……………… Excuse Bryce's thumb down, he didn't like any of the fancy flavors :(

Our 4th stop was to Pandora's Snowballs at 901 N. Carrolton Avenue in New Orleans. I didn't have any flavors in mind to try here, so we just asked if they had any special flavors. We were told they are the only stand with Sky Blue Cream, so Sky Blue Cream it was.! It was very rich, but pretty delicious! 

Here were the boys' votes for Sky Blue Cream……………………..

Our 5th stop was to NOLA Snoballs at 908 Harrison Avenue in New Orleans. The boys were tired at this point considering we had been in the car driving around for 2 hours since the start of our Sno-ball Hoppin day. Also, Bryce at this point as I stated earlier wasn't fond of the fancy popular flavors, so I caved and let him get a Strawberry Sno-Ball. 

Here are the votes on the Strawberry sno-ball…………… It was good and a regular flavor. 

 Our final and 6th Sno-Ball Stand was Sal's Sno Balls at 1823 Metairie Road in Metairie. Evan, in red, wanted to choose the flavors. We tried Coffee and Lemon-ice. They were both really yummy! This was probably by far the most kid-friendliest of sno-ball stands. They had lots of stumps for guests to sit and shaded areas for you to enjoy your sno-ball.
Here were our votes for Coffee and Lemon-Ice …………….Lemon-Ice was my favorite! 

All in all it was a fun day and the boys really did enjoy the Sno-Ball Hoppin Adventure despite some of their grumpy and tired faces. Thanks to my iPhone for getting us to and from each stand. I don't think I've ever driven through so many back streets throughout the city. 
So, we had 10 Sno-Ball stands on our original itinerary, added one- Plum street snowballs, and made it to six and it costs us just about $20. At most places, we only ordered one small for us all to share. This resulted in me getting asked by the employees if I'm sure I just want one, or them repeating my order in a question when they noticed I had 4 boys with me.  I explained to them that we were on our Sno-Ball Hoppin Adventure and this wasn't the first stand today we've visited :)

I'm looking forward to another Sno-Ball Hoppin Adventure in our future!

When the end of the year begins approaching, the students always become anxious for summer. State Testing is over and grades are in for the final report card and basically school is over, but there's still a week left of school and some sort of structure must still be maintained. So, in order to calm those anxious students I found, borrowed and created 5 EOY projects.

1. Waving Good-bye to 5th Grade Art Project

This idea I found on Teaching in Room 6's blog. This is one fantastic teacher to follow! Students were instructed to trace their hand and then to draw a self portrait. Next they adorned the background of their photo with memories of 5th grade including friends, field trips, best activities, etc. Then the picture was fully colored. Finally, they traced their hand on a separate piece of paper cut it out and used a brad to attach it. Voila! They were now waving goodbye to all of their memories in 5th grade.

2. Word Cloud using Tagul

This idea I was reminded of when sifting through Pinterest. Students rotated out on our 3 desktop computers to create a Word Cloud filling them with 5-6 character traits to describe themselves. I had a list of character traits on the board from them to choose from. 

3. Magnet and Pencil

Here was our EOY gift to students. A pencil purchased from Oriental Trading and a magnet encasing their school photo. The magnets I made for all students since it required using a hot glue gun.

4. Question of the Day

This idea I borrowed from @5thgradeinflorida my students loved! I posed a question with the day of the week for students to ponder and answer on our class board. The students were always eager to come in the class to see what the theme and question would be.

5. Beach Balls for Class Signatures

Another great idea found on Pinterest. Each student received a beach ball which I purchased from the Dollar Tree to collect signatures from their friends. 

State Testing is soon approaching for my 5th graders, so we are buckling down and preparing for the upcoming tests. This week our focus was on point of view and writing in response to a text about the different viewpoints of the characters and how their point of view influences the events in the story.

Monday and Tuesday this week we read and analyzed the text. Monday we read the text the first time to get the gist and students worked in cooperative pairs on text dependent questions. Then we went back and analyzed the text for the main character/speaker's point of view about the text on Tuesday. Students made a 3-column chart in their notebook, noting the three characters, their point of view on the topic, and evidence from the text supporting their point of view. Finally, today we took on writing in response to the text.

Before we begin writing there are a few steps we must take when approaching the writing prompt.

Our learning goal is I can draw evidence from a literary text to write an extended response by :

  • reading the prompt
  • analyzing and breaking down the prompt
  • making a plan 
  • writing in response to the prompt
First we chorally read the prompt. (Prompt taken from i-Ready workbook) 

Then we closely read the prompt for testing verbs and broke down those key words in the prompt for better understanding. We make our plan in the margin and then have a discussion of the text with our partners and share out with the class our thinking on what we may include in our response also noting evidence in the text to use in our response to support our answer. 

Tonight students will re-read the text and tomorrow they will begin their writing response. 

What techniques do you use with your students to break down lengthy prompts? 

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