Thursday, October 31, 2013

5th Grade Math Project idea

Did someone say math project


Even better...  it's one that the students can do with no parent help.  

Still's easy to grade, and it's a fun project to share with the entire class!

It's called "___(student's name)________ by the Numbers"

Essentially, the students get to choose significant numbers in their life that mean something to them.  There is a specific rubric and direction sheet to follow, and they can be as creative as they want in the final project.  

Let me show you some examples of this year's projects:

I love this project for a lot of reasons:

1.  It's a great back to school activity to learn about your students.
2.  It is easily differentiated so every child is successful, no matter what their math ability.
3. It makes the children think about significant numbers in their world.
4.  It lets children be creative, and show some artistic license.
5.  It's a great sharing tool to build classroom community.

When we shared our projects, I had each student use the overhead doc camera and walk through the pages they wanted to share.  Some kids were shy and only wanted to share select pages, and it's OK!  I want them to all feel comfortable with their peers and be able to share their world with each other. 

I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this fun activity! You can grab your copy here for FREE!!

And this is exactly how I feel about Halloween:

Just change Wednesday to Thursday and you've got it!!  On Friday morning, we're going to have a lot of sugar-crashed zombies sitting in front of us! Can't wait... Happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Total eclipse of Room 5

My kids are smack dab in the middle of their study of the moon and its phases.  In our district, we don't have a science book.  Well, that's a lie.  We do, but it's copyright date is somewhere in the early 80's.  In fact, I think it's the exact same one I used when I was in elementary school.   So, we don't really have a science book. 

I have compiled a bunch of materials from online, print, and created activities to  make a unit on the moon.  Today, we did one of my favorite interactive science lesson to teach eclipses.  

So, here's a refresher: 
Lunar eclipse:  The earth casts a shadow on the moon.

Solar eclipse: The moon casts a shadow on the earth.

Ok you're up to date.

So to do this experiment, my kids needed a pencil, a "moon" and a flashlight.  Their head was the earth.

Basically, their partner shined a light on the other partner's face.

The partner's face becomes the earth, and they have to manipulate the moon (a styrofoam ball on a pencil tip) to show a lunar and solar eclipse.  

So here, he was trying to show a lunar eclipse, using his head (the earth) to block part/the whole moon.  They have to keep their arm straight out and witness a complete eclipse to be successful in this activity.

The pictures of the boys above are great because you can see exactly half of the "moon" lit up right before he moves it in the shadow of his face.  

In this picture, she is lining up her moon to come across her face to show a solar eclipse.  

I love when I can get the students up and moving, and it's so neat to see those "lightbulb" moments when they really see something in action.

Today my students continued by playing a matching game with the phases of the moon (matching the name and the picture).  AND, coming soon, we're going to do an amazingly yummy and fun moon activity with Oreos (if I don't eat all them first).

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Making our way through theme

Right now our class is right in the middle of our study of theme.  It's one of my favorite units to teach because you can do so much with it!  Because I teach 5th grade, there's not a lot of opportunity to share picture books (which I love).  BUT, with theme, I can!  This week, I shared these books, and here's some of the themes my fifth graders came up with:

Theme: It is better to give than to receive.

Theme:  Good things come to those who wait, or don't judge a book by its cover.

Theme: Dream big!

Theme: Everyone is special in their own way.

Theme: Some things aren't as good as they seem.
Let me tell you, they LOVED hearing these stories, and some brought back memories of when they were younger!  I loved reading them and it was a great start to each mini-lesson of theme.

I also used the lovely Nicole Shelby's 5th Grade Reading Interactive Notebook  to introduce the idea of theme.  I really enjoyed using the notebook template and she has some creative ideas to teach these abstract strategies. 

As we read these picture books, we would add the theme to the "Common Themes" page.  By the time we finished, we had a list of about 8 themes that show up often in children's literature.  To tie in 5.RL.2, which talks about identifying the theme in literature and writing a summary, we wrote a response together in our guided reading groups.  We talked about the proper way to do this, and we came up with these guidelines:

The theme of this story is __________.  In the beginning, (the character) (feels/acts/does) ______________.  This results in ______________.  At the end (the character) (feels/acts/does)_____________.  The author's message was _______________.

We made a fancy schmancy anchor chart with this (which I forgot to take a picture of) so the students can reference it when they write their responses independently.

Also, in our guided reading group, we are LOVING the Wall Pops for simple responses that don't really require/need paper.  This is one of the best purchases I made this summer, because it's so easy to pull a student to work on a multiplication problem or open ended response when you don't really need any written work to keep.  We are using short stories each day and talking about the theme of each.  This particular day, we read an African folk tale called Head Tree (you can find a copy here) where a man had a tree growing out of his head.  He went to a woman to have it removed, which she did in return for payment of 2 cows.  He didn't pay her, and the tree grew back.  The lesson/theme was to keep your promises.

Here's the various themes the students came up with for Head Tree.

My plan is to use Kristine Nannini's assessment this week to see how they are doing with this concept, and then I am moving on to summarizing.  I'm really pleased with how well the students seemed to understand this concept, and we will constantly be reviewing and talking about them in the following books we read.

How do you teach theme in your classroom?  Have a great week!!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Flash Sale {30%}

Sales are fabulous... and especially sales that you weren't planning on!!!

My entire store is on sale for 20% off, so with the code FB100K for 10% you'll save 30%!

It's a great way to check things off that wish list...which is what I'm about to go do! Happy shopping!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fall Themed Acrostic Poems

My kids had SO much fun today in Writer's Workshop today.  

Why, you ask?  

Because they got to write poetry.

And not only poetry, fall themed poetry.  

Acrostic style.

There were six options for them to choose from: acorn, squirrel, Frankenstein, witch, scarecrow, and an apple.

It was a great opportunity to weave in a mini-lesson on describing words and being creative with our word choices.  They turned out adorable, and I put them on a mini-bulletin board outside of my classroom.  They're in my TpT store for 20% off until Friday, but because I like you so much, I'll give them to you for FREE if you leave me a comment with your email address.
Sharing is so much better... and these are too cute not to share.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Place Value Batting Practice

We have been knee deep in place value over here in Room 5!  We're working our way through NBT.1, NBT.2, NBT.3, NBT.4, and venturing into NBT.5.  All these numbers and letters make me crazy... but we're getting the hang of the CCSS and how it works.

Let me share a lesson we did today and yesterday with NBT.3.  If you're already past this, save it for next year because it's a great and creative lesson for the students.  NBT.3 works with comparing place value to the nearest thousandth.  We talked in depth about first comparing the place farthest to the left of the decimal, and working our way right until we figured out which decimal was greater.  It takes a lot of practice, especially for the students who like to rush through their work.  They end up making a lot of silly mistakes that could be avoided had they just slowed down.  But none of us have those fast finishers, right?  They're all perfect and take their time....

I weaved in NBT.4, which is rounding to the said place (up to the thousandths place).  I have a lot of boys on baseball teams in my class this year, and a huge part of the Common Core is bringing the real world into the curriculum.  Well, they love baseball, I love baseball-- perfect opportunity!  We also have about a 50/50 split of Red Sox and Yankee fans in the room.  I'm a Red Sox fan, and my husband is a Yankee fan ( and I'm totally gloating because they are doing so stinkin' good and he's having a fit!!).

I used 5 current players' batting averages from the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets for this activity.

First, the students had to order the players, based on their averages, from least to greatest.  We then talked about if the newspapers rounded the averages to the hundredths place and how that would affect their ranking.  Additionally, we talked about if a player was out on an injury and how that would impact his ranking.  We made some generalizations about the data, and this led to a good discussion in itself about what the word generalizations meant.  There were a lot of "light bulb" moments in that generalization discussion.

Here's the best part.  They used the baseball data to make a bar graph on centimeter graph paper.  They had to work with a partner and really struggle to figure out such things like the scale, the order, the way they were going to set up their graphs, etc.  The scale definitely caused the most problems in the student's graphing.  They had to really think about a reasonable scale that allowed for all of the player's averages to fit on the graph.  It was also a great review of bar graphs, x and y axis, titles, and how to create a bar graph.

The end product was great!  They worked well together and all the pieces fell into place with the graphing activity and the place value work.  Love it when that happens! If you want a copy of the worksheet I used, you can grab it here.

(About the document above...I had a hard time embedding the google doc, and this was the best visual I could do.  If anyone has any pointers about that let me know!)

Here are some pictures of the students in action:

And I'll leave you with this little gem... and I quote, 
"Mrs. J, this is for you!  I spelled it with a 'k' on purpose.
"Wow, Noah! This is fabulous! Why the 'k'?"
{awkward pause...trying to think of a good reason for his misspelling...}
"It looked cool."
And then he swiftly did a 180 and returned to his seat.  It was awesome, and I now have a kobra hanging on my desk.