Teaching the Body Systems!

Monday, December 28, 2015
Circulatory System
Circulatory System Introductory Video: Circulatory Video by SCIENCE KIDS
I LOVED using this video to introduce the CIRCULATORY SYSTEM because it was a great way to show the students a red blood cell traveling through the body and back again as it deoxygenates.  This video was short and sweet and a GREAT intro.  Click on the the link HERE.
Circulatory System Foldable: The students used their textbooks and a CLOSE READING article from my Body Systems Unit to fill out the following foldable.  Students reported on the different parts of the Circulatory System to include the HEART, BLOOD VESSELS, and finally the BLOOD.  Students also had fun illustrating the oxygenated blood (red) vs. the deoxygenated blood (blue) on the front cover of their foldables.  Click on the picture below in order to download this FREEBIE!
Respiratory System
Respiratory System Introductory Video: Respiratory System Video by Akron Chrildren's Hospital
This video does an awesome job of introducing the different parts of the Respiratory System while providing great visuals and information with a question/answer format, all while providing a little humor that the kids LOVE! 
Respiratory System Newspapers: One of the focuses in my school right now is to come up with activities that are considered to be rigorous on the Depth of Knowledge scale where the kids can design and apply information that they had learned.  I looked at all of my resources and most of them were just question/answer type formats and I just couldn't find WHAT I was looking for! (I HATE when that happens!!!!) So, I started thinking about having the kids create NEWSPAPER articles about the RESPIRATORY SYSTEM.  I made the following template to help the kids get started.
Student template for students to complete a project on the RESPIRATORY SYSTEM! <FREE> DOWNLOAD!!!
Students researched the RESPIRATORY SYSTEM and then wrote NEWSPAPER articles and drew a diagram all in ONE! DOK 3/4 activity!
Here is how the whole display looked!

Digestive System
Digestive System Introductory Video: This site offers a great intro video to the digestive system (although a tad bit corny!) Also, from the Akron Children's Hospital, click HERE to be taken to the video. 
Digestive System Activity: After completing the CLOSE READ on the Digestive System from my BODY SYSTEMS unit, I had the students illustrate the foldable labeling all of the organs that are involved.  One thing my grade level was having the 5th graders do was write a narrative formatted story about the journey a piece of food takes in your body to be digested. Here is a pic of the Close Read!
Here is a picture of the foldable that I had my students complete last year. You can click on the picture to get this free download.  This is what I had the students do last year, and this year I changed it up a bit! Keep reading below to see what we did...
This year I put my students in partners of 2 and I gave them a blank sheet of large white construction paper and said, "GO TO IT!" The instructions were to diagram the digestive system and to include all of the parts necessary.  Then, students wrote about the journey that a particular piece of food takes through the digestive system on a separate sheet of paper. 
Example #1 
Example #2 
Example #3
Here is a glimpse of the entire display!
If you need articles for EACH body system to build your students background knowledge, click on the pic below to be taken to my pack…Happy teaching! Do you have any unique or unusual ways for teaching Body Systems???

Teacher FREEBIES

Sunday, December 20, 2015
I am dedicating this post to some FREEBIES and goodies I have for you all so check back from time to time to see what I have added! I like to think of this page as an online file cabinet where you can find all of your goodies in one place! I will be linking this post to the side bar so that it is easy to find!

APRIL HOMEWORK DATA CHART
I LOVE using this HOMEWORK DATA CHART daily with my students.  As soon as the students walk in in the morning they lay out their homework on their desks so that everything is laid out and someone can see that they have completed their HW with just a bird's eye view.  They circle the YES/NO depending on whether or not they have completed their HW and write in the missing assignment(if they have one.)  I walk around to give them a stamp or smiley face to reinforce. On Friday, if they have a perfect homework score, they earn a 20$ bonus with our classroom dollars. They LOVE it! As the year progresses, I choose different monitors to stamp their homework logs.  They LOVE this and it makes them feel super responsible. Also a great tool to show parents. Click on the link below to grab it! 



4th and 5th Grade Common Core Charts
These common core standards charts are great to use when planning! I have even run these off in the past for students to keep in their folders so that students can check off the standard we are focusing on in the beginning of the lesson.  I used these with my state standards far before common core came along and they were a great way for my students to stay focused (as well as myself!)  They also helped me make sure I was "fitting it all in" and were a good visual for myself to see what I still needed to cover!  


I will be adding more soon! 

NEW YEAR 2016!

Saturday, December 19, 2015
Since the year is rolling to an end, I have been working on updating my NEW YEAR'S file for you all!  It is actually ready for you to re-download and have at your fingertips.  If you are not already familiar with this file, I will share with you now what is included.
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION POEM
First, I wrote a poem a few years back about New Year's Resolutions! I like this poem because it is dedicated to teaching the students about what a resolution is in a unique and different way, through poetry!  I also added some complex vocabulary to up the rigor and get the students thinking about how they can change for the better in the upcoming year!!! Some discussion questions to accompany the poem:
#1) What does it mean to be your own opponent?
#2) What does "out with the old, in with the new" mean?
#3) What will make moments in the upcoming year "precious" for you?
#4) What are your top 3 goals for this year?



TROUBLES SQUASH
After the poem, I like to have the students make a list of troubles they would like to "squash" this year. Students write them down and "crumple" them up.  Next, students need to find a partner and tell them one trouble they will "crumple" this year and how they will do that. The students LOVE this of course because they get to crumple their papers….;)  
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION FLIP BOOK

On the next foldable, students identify their goals/resolutions and EXPLAIN how they will achieve their goals.  This is a great way to incorporate writing into the first day back AND to get the students thinking again about providing details and evidence in their writing! 
NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS NEWSPAPER
Finally, here is a 2016 Newpaper that the kids can fill out. They LOVE this of course because they get to write and draw pictures about themselves…also a great keepsake for parents! I love when my own daughter brings this kind of stuff home, absolute gems to stuff away (and laugh about) later in life!!!


Happy NEW Year to all of you! BEST wishes for a great year ahead!!!

5 "BIG KID" Holiday Projects!

Sunday, December 6, 2015
The holidays are approaching and that means……HOLIDAY PROJECTS!!!! I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you (for the BIG guys!)
#1) Snow Globe Dreams Project With SO much turmoil and negativity out there these days I wanted to create a project that would create positivity and good vibes. Here is a FREE Snow Globe Dreams project where students draw their dreams for the world inside the globe and even have a little space to write about them below. These are great for the main office bulletin board or even in the hallways! Click on the picture below to get the free printable!
   
#2) All About Me Holiday Ornaments
The next project is great for part of their holiday gift to their parents.  Students fill up 2 sides with "about me" type topics that serve as a great keepsake and will be something that goes up on the tree year after year! Click on the picture to grab this free printable! 

#3) Holiday Wishes Cube Project For this next project, I thought, why not focus on the goodness that the holidays can bring…no matter WHAT holiday a child celebrates??? Whether or not the students celebrate Kwanza, Hanukah, Christmas, Diwali, or St. Lucia……holidays are about common feelings of celebrating goodness, hope, faith, and family!!! So rather than focusing on the holiday itself, I wanted to focus on the feelings and memories that center around the holidays.  Therefore, the HOLIDAY WISHES CUBE was born! Here students can write about their wishes for there family, things they love, express what it is they believe in, their wishes for peace, their wishes for a joyful life, and finally a picture of how they celebrate the holiday.  What a GREAT way to get to know each student and how they will celebrate the holidays.  Also, as a mommy, I would LOVE to have this as a keepsake from my daughter!!! Click on the pic below to purchase this project (it is part of a bundle of projects!)

To make a sturdier keepsake that can be possibly saved for years to come, I thought about using a cardboard box for students to glue each side to instead of constructing the cubes themselves… I found these boxes from THE BOXERY on AMAZON and the boxes were $6.50 for a set of 20…. Click HERE to grab the boxes!
#4) All About Me (Right Now) Holiday Stockings
This next project is a FUN way for students to be CREATIVE! They answer questions about themselves and make a mural type collage of words and pictures.  This is relatively little prep (I just had the stockings pre-cut on large white construction paper.)  The template that I provided in the link will work, but I liked having them do the project on thicker paper so they could add color with water color paints.  The questions are in this download ready for you to go! Click on the picture below to get this printable! 

#5) Holidays Around the World 3D Globe
This next project is a FUN way for students to be CREATIVE! The students will read an informational passage about 6 different holidays people celebrate from around the world. They include Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, St. Lucia's Day, and finally Las Posadas!  The students will the write and draw key facts about each one.  In the end, they will have a beautiful 3D globe that look GREAT hanging in the classroom! I made this little video below to show you what they look like! (Although it got cut off at the end….RATS!) :)
video
Click on the pic below to be taken to this holiday project (part of my Holiday Project Bundle!)
I hope you ALL have a WONDERFUL holiday! Happy Holidays from me to you!

Division Division Division!

Saturday, December 5, 2015
DIVISION is a STRUGGLE to teach. It is such a hard concept for the students to learn! Why? Because often times we (or maybe it is just me???) want to just show the students how to do it, step by step, and expect the kids to just GET IT! But that definitely doesn't do it! Another challenge? Often times we introduce division and the students STILL do not know their multiplication facts. Sound familiar? How many times have you told a parent that the child needs to work on mastering their multiplication facts??? I know I have felt like a broken record with that one.  Now to top it off, common core math stresses the dreaded "alternate strategies" for a concept that was tricky and confusing to begin with.  Now, students need to know the "regular" way AND some other funky ways.  This is for sure how I felt until I actually taught those other funky ways! The funky ways (I keep that term to myself;)) actually made ALOT of sense to the kids! First let's start with the algorithm.  I like to try to make the algorithm FUN because, let's face it….it's NOT.  So, to let the students practice the algorithm in a fun and engaging way, I have them play Division Tic-Tac-Toe.  Here the students FEEL like they are playing a game when actually they are practicing their skills.  The best part? You can pair students that would be able to act as "peer tutors" because they watch each other complete the division problem with a fine tooth comb-wanting to catch errors in their partners work (and helping each other as well!) It is a WIN WIN!!! Download this game for free by clicking on the photo below.
Now let's talk about the FUNKY strategies… :) 
Funky Division Strategy #1) Partial Quotient
This was just confusing to me.  It sounds impressive and looks impressive and rigorous…..but what does it actually mean???? I'll try to explain it….here it goes! For the partial quotient strategy, students need to constantly ask themselves WHAT NUMBER can I MULITPLY the divisor by to get to the TOTAL dividend without going over.  Why do I like this strategy? Because they do not need to break up the quotient to do this (like in the algorithm.)  They treat the quotient as a total number and I just think that is an easier concept for students to grasp. They repeat this until they can't subtract anymore.  If you are a visual learner (like myself) take a look at the visual below to see this strategy in action.

I also have the poster seen below in the room:
Funky Division Strategy #2) Area Model
Area Model. This took me a while! Am I the only one? If I, the teacher are a tad confused with this, imagine how the students feel? I just kept reminding them…..you will get through this!!! With the area model, it is actually very similar to the partial quotient strategy…just written down in a different way. I think you actually need to just look at the model to figure this one out.  They start by drawing a box and write the dividend.  They write the divisor on the left side of the box and then go through the steps seen on the poster.  See the poster below that I post in my room.
Culminating Activity
To display all of the strategies as a culminating activity I had the students PROVE to me their knowledge. I let them choose a partner.  Partners equal IMMEDIATE fun in my room, even if it is for DIVISION (hee hee!) Partner pairs had a job to do.  They needed to CREATE their own division word problems.  (and write them below on the green post-it note) The only restrictions? I told them that they needed to have a 4 digit dividend and a 2 digit divisor.  Students LOVED writing the word problems since they could "personalize" them. Next, students showed their work using 3 strategies that we had focused on.  They needed to show their work as seen below. The best part? If one of their answers didn't match the others, they knew that they had made an error somewhere and needed to go back and check their work.  Finally, I made them write to explain how they solved the area model and partial quotient.  Most groups divvied the work up and each partner worked to explain.  This was great because they were really more inclined to use their academic vocabulary in order to explain the dividend, quotient, etc….
Again, click on the picture above to get the labels for this activity.
Do you have any tricks for teaching division?

5 Websites for Incorporating Current Events in the Classroom! And a Freebie!

Saturday, October 31, 2015
Current Events Lesson, 5th Grade Current Events
One thing I remember about Elementary School is having to bring in a Current Event article from the newspaper and present it to the class.  While I remember that to be a truly nerve-racking experience (the fact that I had to present), I did LOVE looking through the newspapers to find something to bring in.  WELL, to pass this tradition along to my students, (but to ease the pain of making the kids present to the class), I created a template that encourages students to look for current events, WRITE about them, and IF they are comfortable, SHARE! If students are not comfortable presenting, I usually share for them, but ALL kids end up presenting in the end because they feel prepared and have their thoughts organized on this paper!
 I have compiled a list of my FAVORITE websites for students to visit to look for articles about Current Events.

#1) CNN Student News offers short videos DAILY on topics that are currently happening in the news.  This is usually a modge podge of different topics.  My favorite thing about this website is that there is a new video daily.  The only downside? Videos are supposed to be for middle to high school students.

#2) DOGO News offers relevant news articles that students can relate to and have the option to print.  They  publish an article daily (none on Sunday, but double articles published on Monday) and have ALOT of pictures that go along with each article.

#3) KIDS POST This is Washington's Post contribution to student news and a terrific resource! Titles such as, "Want to be a Pro Basketball Player? That's a Tall Order!" are relevant and interest based articles that will capture student's interest.

#4) BBC NewsROUND This site from the British Broadcasting Company offers student articles such as School Children Get Creative with Coding which are extremely HOT TOPICS for students these days!  It is nice for kids in the United States to get a worldly view on different topics as well!

#5) Time for Kids This is always a go-to for information about what's going on with space, sports, and other hot topics. Very student friendly and formats very well for printing!
Current Events Lesson, Using Newspapers in the Classroom
These are all excellent websites for students to gather articles on different current events. Click the pic above to grab the template to use for students reporting about current events, if you haven't already! Do you incorporate opportunities for students to search or write about current events?

TRAINING UPPER GRADE STUDENTS to CHOOSE the RIGHT BOOKS!

Saturday, October 24, 2015
upper grade libraries, choosing just right books, 5th grade library organization
Getting students to read books at their appropriate level is CHALLENGING in the upper grades! Sometimes, I am frustrated as a teacher that students are reading books that look like they are too EASY.  Knowing and familiarizing myself and students with lexile levels has helped me as a teacher realize that some books that may LOOK easy are actually 5th grade books (and vice versa…books that look HARD because they are thick or longer, may actually not be at their grade level!) The first thing I did to show students and parents what the LEXILE scale looks like was post it in my classroom library where the students check out books. (Click on the pic below to print out this chart!)
exile levels chart, lexile level chart, lexile measures
Next, since my library did NOT have books labeled with Lexile levels, I made the LEXILE LOG seen below so students could actually look up the current book they were reading to see if it fell in the range of where they should be reading for 5th grade.  This was VERY eye opening for students.  I had a student kind of CONFESS and ask me if he could choose another book since his book was more of a 3rd grade level. (SUCCESS!!!)
Just Right Books, 5th grade reading, 5th grade library
Another teacher at my school has their ENTIRE library organized by Lexile Level! I knew it would be a LONG PROCESS and something I needed to tackle, so my next step was to get the books labeled. I made the labels below for FICTION and NON-FICTION so I can have the books somewhat labeled by GENRE too.  Click on the picture below to print out the labels. 
(They print on 5160 standard address labels!)
exile level labels
I definitely think it will be easier getting students to choose the right books when they are actually labeled! Using sites such as LEXILE MEASURES or SCHOLASTIC BOOK WIZARD are helping label each book.  I am having early finishers sitting with the IPAD in the library looking up books and writing the lexile level in the inside cover….(of which I added the labels later) which is making the whole process go MUCH faster! Here is what my WHO WAS Collection is starting to look like!
classroom library, 5th grade reading
How do you get your students to read books at their appropriate level?

Candy Corn STEM Towers

Saturday, October 17, 2015
My school has 2 STEM nights per year where teachers offer different STEM activities in their rooms for the students to complete.  Since Halloween is approaching, I was looking for something Halloweenish for students to work on…and I found the perfect activity from CREATE TEACH SHARE.   Her Candy Corn Stem Investigation sheet, was just PERFECT for our STEM night!  Students had the opportunity to build the TALLEST possible tower using trial and error.  I did make one modification to the investigation.  I used marshmallow shaped candy corns.  When I tried to do a run through with regular candy corns, the candy corns kept shattering.  I think candy corns may have been doable with my 5th graders since they could have built and smooshed the candy corns together for the towers to work.  However, since I was hosting the activity for a large group with students of all ages, I found marshmallows SHAPED like candy corns. The marshmallows were flexible and malleable so they worked perfectly! 


The recording sheet from Create Teach Share started the investigation perfectly! The GOAL of the investigation was for the students to build the TALLEST structure.  The students were not allowed to TOUCH the materials (toothpicks and marshmallows) for their investigation until they had formulated a written plan.  After they wrote their plan, I asked the students to sketch what they ENVISIONED their tower to look like.  After all of their preparation, students were ready to build!
STEM, Candy Corn Investigation
Take a look at how some of their towers turned out.
Example #1)
STEM idea, October STEM ideas, Halloween STEM
 Example #2)
Candy Corn Activity, STEM Candy Corn Tower
Example #3)
Fall Experiment, Fall Science Experiment
Example #4)
Marshmallow Towers, Marshmallow experiments, 5th Grade Science, 5th Grade Science Investigation
I really LOVED the recording sheet.  On the back, the students were able to sketch how the towers actually turned out and they were able to reflect on their work. This was perfect for the moth of October.  Do you have another favorite Halloween or Fall Science Experiment? I would be interested in hearing about it.  Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, or bloglovin'.

8 BEST Websites for FREE Comprehension Passages

Monday, October 12, 2015
Free Comprehension Passages, Comprehension Passages
In the past, when I have needed comprehension passages for a SUB or just a last minute lesson, I have ended up spending what seemed like HOURS looking online!  I thought I would share with you a list of some of my favorite websites for FREE COMPREHENSION passages! 
#1) K12 Reader
Format: Half Sheet Passage on Left/Comprehension Questions on the Right
Grade Range: 1st-10th Grades
Genre: Non-Fiction (Social Studies and Science)

#2) READWORKS

Format: Passages followed By Short Answer Comprehension Questions
Grade Range: K-12
Genre: Non-Fiction and Narrative

#3) Center for Urban Education
Format: One Page Passages
Grade Range: 2-10
Genre: Non Fiction and Fiction

#4) Great Schools
Format: Passage/Comprehension Questions
Grade Range: 3-5
Genre: Non Fiction
One of my favorites I have found for my 5th graders is the passage seen below…This is GREAT for interpreting complex text, figurative language AND gives students a peek at some classic literature!

#5) IRCMS
Format: One Page Passages
Grade Range: 3-5
Genre: Non-Fiction

#6) Wordville
Format: One Page Comprehension Passage
Grade Range: K-7
Genre: Informational Text

#7) Have Fun Teaching
Format: Comprehension/Comprehension Questions
Grade Range: K-6
Genre: Non-Fiction

#8) English Worksheet Land
Format: Comprehension Skills and Passages
Grade Range: K-5
Genre: Non Fiction

Do you have a site to add to this list? Please share!

Incorporating ART into LITERATURE!

Saturday, October 10, 2015
I am definitely an art lover, so any chance I get I TRY to incorporate Art into my day.  I am currently working on the NOVEL STUDY "From the Mixed Up Files From Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler" with my students.  In the beginning of the story, my students were fascinated with the fact that the two main characters, Claudia and James, were on their OWN in the big city (when they initially ran away!)  I knew that it was the PERFECT opportunity to work on Cityscapes so the students could try and visualize the BIG CITY.  

A few years back I made this Elements of Art and Principles of Design Anchor Chart for my students.  When I am teaching any art lesson, I am constantly referring to it and it provides a GREAT visual. For the lesson on Cityscapes, we were focusing particularly on Geometric Form, Value, Line, Positive Space, and Negative Space. 
Elements of Art, Principles of Design, Art anchor chart
 But BEFORE we jumped into art, I wanted to build the students knowledge on Skyscrapers since they would be the main subject of their Cityscapes.  First, I showed the students this AWESOME BrainPOP video on skyscrapers to build their background knowledge.  Next, we completed a Close Read on the TALLEST skyscraper in the world, the Burj Khalifa.  
Tallest Building in the World Passage, Tallest Skyscraper Passage, Skyscrapers, Informational Passage Skyscrapers
Students were PUMPED to begin drawing their Cityscapes.  They were taking their role as "architects" extremely seriously. Using graph paper really helped the students sketch and draw. Take a look at a few examples of student's drawings in the early stages.  
Cityscapes, Sketching Buildings
As I mentioned earlier, these are the concepts that I addressed.
Geometric Form
What different shapes can you use to design your skyscrapers?
Is your sketch 2 dimensional or 3 dimensional?
How did you incorporate 3 dimensional shapes in your sketch?
Value
How can you use your pencil to shade darker and lighter areas?
How does changing the value of your sketch change the perspective?
How using a range of values help you with overlapping?
Line
What types of lines help add texture to you sketch?
What different types of lines did you use?
Positive/Negative Space
What objects make up your positive space?
What objects make up your negative space?
Drawing Lines Skyscrapers
I had students get out their whiteboards prior to drawing on the graph paper to plan out what they were going to do.  This really helped them make a PLAN of action!
Planning Cityscapes
Another student (seen below) designs his Cityscape using a 
whiteboard and Elements of Art Anchor Chart.
Drawing Buildings Lesson
Another visual aide that helped students with pattern and design was the chart seen below.  I posted this to help students get ideas for using LINE to build TEXTURE in their drawings.  
 The guide seen below is from Todd Stahl 
(click on the photo to be taken to the link.)  
The finished products turned out beautifully! After the students had shaded in their buildings with colored pencil, they used chalk to fill in the sky.  They smudged the chalk with their fingers for extra texture and effect!  I LOVE how they look in the room! They brighten up our windows and it is such a joy to have them hanging up! I think they all turned out INCREDIBLE!!! Hopefully you are inspired to try these with your students some day soon. :-)
Cityscapes, drawing cityscapes, cityscapes lesson, 5th grade art lesson, cityscape art lesson
How do you incorporate ART throughout your day?
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