Saturday, August 31, 2013

Spark Student Motivation: Science Experiments

Whoop Whoop! It's Saturday and time to motivate each other and our students!
 I have made a commitment to myself this year to conduct more hands on experiments for science! My students are loving learning about the science process and it's great for team building and cooperation too!
First we made Paper Helicopters, my class is on the second story so this was a perfect experiment!
We met up with my son's fourth grade class, don't worry I don't have 40+ students!
When they released their helicopter they let out such a squeal that my principal came out to see what was going on! haha
It's hard to see the photo below, but the white things coming down are their helicopters. We did this twice: once with a paper clip and once without. 
Click the link to the paper helicopter activity. They loved this!
Yesterday was my favorite because I broke out my class set of lab coats!!!
They couldn't get them on fast enough!
(I had a mad scientist party for my middle son a couple of years ago and I saved them because I knew my students would love feeling like "real" scientists! 
This experiment was the "Bears Afloat" from AIMS. They had to work cooperatively to see how many bears they could get on piece of aluminum foil without it sinking. They could shape it any way they wanted, but they had to discuss their plan first.
They loved being able to scream, "We need more bears Mrs. Miller!"
I have enough goggles for half my class, building my collection through the Lowe's Saturday workshops! :O)
They were all engaged and working great together!
Oh, who's this? This is the mad scientist who runs this class! 
I really needed several mad scientist teachers! I couldn't get to every group fast enough to see their progress! 
 My favorite part of these science experiments is when I see my students leaning in, encouraging each other, discussing why something worked or didn't worked, cheering, taking turns, and eyes wide!
If you think about it...have you ever seen a student NOT MOTIVATED to do a science experiment?
They think they're playing!
We're discouraged from having a "Fun Friday" (recess time), so I'll be doing an exciting hands on experiment every Friday afternoon! And, we'll come dressed for success! :O)

I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do or plan to do to get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!

Two of my buddies, Diane and Amelia, are having a GREAT GIVEAWAY you might want to check out!
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Fifth in the Middle and Where the Wild Things Learn!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tried it Tuesday & Workshop Wednesday: Candy Comprehension

I'm linking up with two of my favorite girls Holly for Tried it Tuesday and Jivey for Workshop Wednesday! Both of these teachers have such great ideas to share so be sure to check them out!
They continually inspire me!
I'm so glad I remembered this lesson (I forgot about it last year)! I TRIED it a couple of years ago and it was definitely a SUCCESS!  I created this lesson a couple of years ago when I was a reading intervention teacher. I had to create fun and engaging lessons because I pulled students during the day for an extra 45 minute reading block, so I wanted them to get excited about reading and coming to see me!
Last week I interviewed my students individually using my Reading Interest Inventory
 and learned a lot about my students as readers. This week I met with them as groups for the first time and I wanted it to be fun, yet give me some insight on their reading comprehension too.
I present to you...
I used a picture book for a mentor text for their first guided reading group lesson. I had all these Starbursts in a bag so they couldn't see them. Each student was able to pull a Starburst from the bag two times. When a color repeated they had to add on or say something different from the previous student, which showed me which ones were good listeners. Of course, I told them they'd have to work for that Starburst, so I did my "teacher" probing when they gave me answers I thought could be stretched. The questions require them to be thoughtful, but the candy makes it a little less threatening!
Want to try this in your reading groups?
Leave a comment with your email address and I'm glad to share!
This will be part of a larger unit soon to come!
Thank you for commenting and reading my blog! :O)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Must Read Mentor Text: Coretta Scott and A Peek at My Week

Excited to be linking up with the cuties Amanda & Stacia for their Must Read Mentor Text!
I picked up Coretta Scott at the Scholastic Warehouse Sale at the end of last year and have been excited about revealing this beautifully illustrated picture book biography!
The illustrations are realistic and inspiring; beautiful imagery.  It's written in verse and requires readers to read carefully.  It tells the story of her childhood, her marriage, American history, hardships, dreams, and beliefs.  The book ends with a fact page of Coretta Scott King. I plan to use the fact page for a close read lesson. It's perfect to show students two medias in one selection! This book celebrates the life and efforts of a black, female leader in American history and I can't wait to share it with my students!
I plan to introduce my new Interactive Character Analysis Posters this week! **Another product for all my Post-It Fans! :O) I put them all around the front of my room on Friday.
Mine are displayed all over the wall in front of my classroom where I call them to the carpet to read, so we can be on the lookout for these traits when I’m doing my mini-lessons. These posters will allow me to teach new traits and have students interact with the text. The posters with post-its are a great visual of what traits have already been found. Great to compare/contrast characters too!
This product is perfect as a year long resource! My students and I will refer back to these posters every time we meet a new character!
I'm also linking up with my friend Jennifer for her new linky party A Peek at my Week because I plan to implement/model how to analyze characters with  my new posters this week!

 I really wanted these posters to be completed before the Back to School TPT sale, but it's been crazy at my house with this first week back to school! So....I'm offering them at 20% off until Tuesday evening.
Of course, we should play Pin to Win, so we can give one of these new creations away! I'm very excited about this product and using it as a year long tool!

After you pin, copy your URL, and paste it in the comments. Make sure you leave your email if you are not a blogger so I can email you your prize!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Spark Student Motivation: Happy New School Year!

Happy Saturday Friends! Let's get this PARTY started!
Well, this was my first week back to school and last year I bought these on clearance in January and was so excited to use them for the first day of school!
 I bought this sign at Dollar Tree when they had all their graduation merchandise.
 I didn't decorate or bring out any party favors until the end of the day when they got back from special area. I found this really cool New Year's Ever countdown timer that I projected on my board.
I got them ready at the 20 second mark.
Several ran to the board to start the countdown!
Happy New School Year!

Several of my former students leave early to be safety patrols, and they stopped by my room because they heard all the horns and noise! (It was kind of loud, but just for a couple of minutes!) A COUPLE OF MINUTES THEY WILL NEVER FORGET! They wore that hats, beads, and leis down the hallways to go home and I heard them telling other students and teachers, "We already had a party!'
I'm so glad I thought of this idea when I saw those decorations on clearance last January, this "3 minute party" to welcome the new school year will definitely be replayed year after year!
I think they're pretty MOTIVATED about 4th grade!

Confession: I was nervous to have a "party" the first day, but I waited until the very end of the day and you really can only have a Happy New School Year the first day right? So, I decided to be a risk-taker like I tell my students, and just go for it! I was just worried I'd set the tone for parties everyday! haha
Link up any idea, lesson, trick, strategy, incentive you use in your classroom. It can be an activity that your students loved or a tip to get your students to complete their homework!
** Don't forget to grab my button and this post when you link up.
While we're here, let's share some blog love and "motivate" each other by following/commenting at least one person's post! :O) I can't wait to read everyone's ideas!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Five For Friday: Back to School

I thought this Friday image would be fitting! :O)
I'm sooo exhausted! It was our first week back to school with students and I'm worn out! I have a nice bunch, but you know how mentally and physically draining that first week is!
Time to recap my week with Doodle Bugs Teaching!
Here's a peek at my classroom:
My reading corner! Yes...those are high heels chairs! Shut up, right? Love them! (The kids do too!)
This picture is taken from the back of my classroom.
My colors are black and white with splashes of bright colors.
I got this package all the way from Canada from my sweet friend AMC at Looking From Third to Fourth! I just loved her post about Terry Fox, it was so inspirational and moving and I can't wait to use this biography with my class-check it out here-it's a must read! She also included the book Only One You, perfect for the beginning of the year, and beautiful decorative tape!!! I so lucky to have her as a blogging friend!!!
I always have my class make their own class rules so I get buy in from them-they're usually better than anything I would come up with and it gives them ownership. In cooperative groups, they make a list of all the rules we should have for our class. (They need to be written in a positive manner and should be different from procedures). After each group makes their list, they have to star their top 2-3 rules, which is how we compile our class list of rules.
***Every year since I've been teaching, there's always at least one group that will say something about "Respect"...respect each other, respect the teacher, respect each other's property, etc.
This is where I break out in song and dance to Aretha Franklin's R-E-S-P-E-C-T!
I always get a little nervous to get too crazy that first day because I'm trying to be structured, but I can't hold back! My students in high school still ask me..."Mrs. Miller, do you still dance on the desks the first day of school?" hehe
At least they'll remember the "Respect" rule if nothing else!
We did the Save Fred activity/introduction to science process and they LOVED it! They were screaming, cheering, and high-fiving! (It was loud, but it was awesome!)
Thanks to Gary from Scrappy Guys who was so nice to share
 his activity sheet with me!
Before my students left today, I had them write on a post-it their favorite thing about this week for an exit slip. I love to know what they think was the "BEST" part of the week!
They loved the Save Fred experiment! My favorites of course were being with Mrs. Miller, seeing u Mrs. Miller, and dancing on the desk! LOL!

Don't forget to link up with me tomorrow for Spark Student Motivation! Share ideas, tips, incentives, strategies, a lesson that got kids excited....anything! Hope to see you at my party!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Independent Reading

Hope you're having a wonderful Wednesday...time to link up with my sweet BBB Jivey for her Workshop Wednesday!
My students started on Monday and we wasted no time diving into reading! Before I start independent reading, I talk about expectations with my students. I ask them, "What kind of expectations do you have as readers in our classroom during independent reading? What do you want our classroom to look like? Sound like? What do you think I expect?"
Here is their list they came up with on their own:
These responses excited me!
(Disclaimer: they didn't know the word stamina, but before we started reading I told them we would add a few minutes each day to our time so we could build least someone was listening!)
After our first day of independent reading (15 minutes), I knew we had to talk about what "real" reading looks like. More importantly, I wanted my students to know that I know what "fake" reading looks like! LOL! Here is the anchor chart we made today before we read.

The great thing about this mini lesson? They know I know all their tricks!!!
Great discussions and perfect time to discuss my expectations for independent reading.
Does your school have independent reading built in your school day?
Go check out Jivey's post and link ups for other great ideas!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tried It Tuesday: Felt Covered Chair Legs

It's Tuesday and time to link up with the one and only HOLLY for Tried it Tuesday! So many great ideas that are tried and true!
Last year my floors were HORRENDOUS by the end of the year...scraped, pencil markings, no wax left, you've probably had those floors too at the end of the year!
I've seen people use the tennis balls, but they are pricey and I heard they're pretty hard to cut. So...I decided to try the felt at the bottom of the chair legs!
Now, our custodians (who are amazing) are teasing me because I made "shoes" for my chairs and they're not HEELS! (Maybe next year I can get more creative!)

I didn't have any pattern or directions for my covers, so there might be a better way out there...but I used one piece of felt per chair. (Hobby Lobby 4/$1). I cut the felt into fourths.

I folded the strips in half to double them for added strength and durability.
Then I wrapped them around the bottom of the chair with a rubber band (black to match of course!).
I've only TRIED this for two days and we've had a couple fall off, but it's so much quieter and I can already tell it will keep my floor in better condition for so much longer!
I'll keep you posted! Even if they only last for a few months I think it would be worth $6!
Have you ever tried this before or do you know a better method?
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