Measurement Conversions (A Different Approach!)

Sunday, March 22, 2015
I have always known that measurement conversions are TRICKY!! They are tricky to teach AND to learn.  Even when I am trying to figure out conversions I have to use strategies to help ME with knowing how many feet are in 3 yards etc.... SO, last year, I came up with a scaffolded method for this challenging concept.  I use the chart seen below for the students to use when doing the "math" in their minds.
The students need to start in the square where the information is given.  (Regardless of wether or not the problem states ___ pt. = ___ 32 oz. OR 32 oz. = ___ pt.)  In the chart seen below the students would plug in 32 ounces and then jump on over to the next square (divide by 8) 32/8=4 and THEN jump to their final destination 4/2=2.  

Next, I have students make the foldable seen below.  The thing I really like about the foldable is it offers students the opportunities to visualize real world examples of each unit of measure.  It is easier for students to visualize that a meter is the length of a standard guitar and that a gram is about the weight of a hershey's kiss.  
The following study guide is a great homework companion or intervention tool for small groups.  An important thing to remember when using this strategy is the students need to remember the order of the boxes so they can draw it themselves on a test/quiz/assessment.  I had the students think of mneomics (a learning technique that aides retention of difficult information.)  We came up with some great ones.  For customary length, the students came up with I Feel Your Mustache and I Forgot Your Monkey. The students LOVED coming up with them!  It REALLY helped them on the assessment and they felt successful!
Here is an example of how a student drew the steps.
If you would like to try this strategy out, there is a FREE printable sample (the same one seen below) in the PREVIEW in my TPT store.  I hope this strategy helps your students!  Click on the picture below to be taken there!  
How do you teach your students Measurement Conversions?

Weather Text Features Posters

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My students are learning about weather and a few years ago one of my awesome students gifted me with the book, Extreme Weather (seen above) and I have to say that this book is an absolute treasure! The book provides beautiful visuals on tricky weather concepts and my students can't wait to get their hands on this book!  What I did was make a few copies of each page so that I could distribute them.  I allowed the students to choose partners (I must have been in a tremendously good mood! ;) ) and then I gave each group a different page that had a particular topic ranging from Hurricanes to Extreme Heat. (Which I did not let them choose, so my mood must not have been THAT good!)  Since we are working on text features, each group (to be honest they ALL wanted the Auroras page for some reason) got busy recreating the pictures that related to the captions on their page.  Here is an example of how the HURRICANES picture turned out.
Each page also had a main paragraph that described the particular type of extreme weather.  The students worked on putting the information into their own words.  I must admit, putting information into their own words has been a HUGE challenge.  After modeling and modeling, this is still something my students need to work on...(weep) and some of the students still copied W.O.R.D. for W.O.R.D.  This is definitely something I will continue to work on with them! Here is how the TORNADO page turned out.
Students actually cut apart the article so that they could glue the caption next to the corresponding picture that they drew. My students are such wonderful artists!  I couldn't believe how great their pictures turned out! Here is an example on EXTREME HEAT! The students were really surprised to find out that extreme heat is a silent killer.
The BEST part of this assignment was that they were learning while collaborating and working together.  At the end of the assignment, each group presented their poster on the document reader so that the others could hear how they became "experts" on their topic.  
This is how the bulletin board turned out.  They are so eye catching in our room!
If you would like to try this out with your students, 
click on the link below to grab a copy of the project rubric.
How do your make learning weather fun for your students?

5 Strategies for Improving Student Writing!

Saturday, March 7, 2015
Hi everyone!  Something I have been thinking a lot about lately are different strategies for improving student writing.  So here are the tricks and tidbits that I have compiled.

#1.) Multi-Colored Lined Paper
The idea of using multi-colored paper was something I started using YEARS ago when I was teaching 1st grade writer's workshop.  The idea that students are writing in the white areas and only editing and revising in the grey areas provide an AWESOME visual for students.  This paper is available in my Informational Writing Unit but I have also provided it for free here, for you!
#2.) Taking a Break/Coming Back to IT!
I know I am guilty of writer's block sometimes and get SICK of looking at the same piece of writing!  Sometimes it benefits students to take a break from the writing piece they are working on for a few days (or even a few WEEKS) before revising, editing, AND publishing!! This way, students feel revamped and refreshed when they come back to their writing and can often improve it even more!!!

#3.) A SHARP Pencil
I can NOT tell you how many times I have walked around while my students are writing and I see stubby pencils!  I always have the pencil sharpener open during writing time and remind students to visit it.  It is amazing how much neater a student's writing can look with a sharp pencil!

#4.) Word Lists
I am constantly telling my students to make friends with the thesaurus!!! However, I was glancing at the thesaurus the other day and there were a few problems.
Problem #1) Not all words that you look up are in the thesaurus!!
Problem #2) Not all of the words that are listed would make sense in the context of the student's writing.  SO, often kids use words because they find them in the thesaurus, but in all actuality, the word makes NO sense in that particular sentence!
My solution? A few years ago, I made this sheet called SYNONYM TRAINS.  Students can use this tool to get some unique vocabulary into their writing!
#5.) Putting ALL of the student's work UP!
I know more than ANYONE that this can be extremely difficult to get everyone's work published and up BUT student's genuinely feel good about seeing their teacher post their work AND I think they are more motivated to do the next assignment.
Do you have any helpful strategies for improving student's writing? 

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