Sunday, September 29, 2013

A Peek at My Week, Starting with a Must Read Mentor Text

Hello, Everybody!  Today, I am linking up with Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for A Peek at my Week.

This week, our comprehension focus is questioning.  I'm linking up with Collaboration Cuties for Must Read Mentor Texts to share some wordless books that I will be using this week.

I love using wordless books for a variety of comprehension strategies, but they work especially well for questioning.  After we spend a couple of days on questioning, I will break out the wordless books.  I always love the discussion on whether or not your can "read" a wordless book.

As I turn the pages of the book, students call out the questions they have about the illustrations.  As you can imagine by this picture from Tuesday, by David Wiesner, the students are full of questions about these books.

After sharing a wordless book with students, I will leave a variety of them out for students to share with a partner and discuss the questions that they have.  They will be accessible to students all week during daily 3 time.

There are many great wordless books out there, but here are some of my favorites.

The ideas for using wordless books for questioning came from Comprehension Connections.  I just love this book for teaching comprehension strategies.

This Thursday is our first night of parent/teacher conferences. I will be working hard this week to finish up final preparations for this night. 

Friday is our annual Walk-a-thon.  Last year, I was able to run/walk 36 laps around the track (9 miles).  This year, I told my students that my goal was 36 again.  Well, my students decided that I need to push myself a little further this time, so my new goal is 40 laps (10 miles). We will be on the track for about 2 1/2 hours, so this is doable, but I'm going to have to watch my pace more closely this year.

A good friend of mine is hosting a party for the OSU vs. Northwestern game.  I'm looking forward to visiting with a lot of college friends. Now, I'm not a huge football fan, but I do have two degrees from Ohio State.  Plus, just living in Columbus, you can't help but cheer for Buckeye football.

Those are some of my highlights for the upcoming week.  I'm off to check out what everyone else will be doing, as well as some great language arts mentor texts.

Thank you, and have a great week!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Five for Friday & Freebie Friday

Hello, Everybody!  Today, I am linking up with DoodleBugs for Five for Friday.


Here are five random things from my week.

This week, we focused on questioning during reading.  I'm linking up with Teaching Blog Addict to share some resources on Freebie Friday.

Picture of Free Teacher Downloads at Teaching Blog Addict

This freebie bundle includes two foldables, a list of thinking stems to paste in reader's notebook, and a graphic organizer. (I will share how I incorporate these resources, as well as some great mentor texts, in a future post.)

You can download all four of these here.

My students took their first social studies test this week.  All the activities we did paid off.  I am extremely proud of my students' performance on this test which covered the basics of the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War.  You can read about some of the activities we did here and here.

In the past, I have had my students use Wordle to create word clouds that share some information about themselves.  This week, I tried Tagxedo.  I heard that it was better than Wordle, and it is!  Tagxedo allows you to go back and edit, if needed.  You can also pick the shape of the word cloud, so it is very personalized.  This site automatically fills in the picture with words, repeating as necessary.  Here is the one I created.  (I have a pet cockatiel.)

Parent/teacher conferences are coming up on October 3 & 8.  I have been working hard scheduling and preparing material to present to parents.

This week, I made Fresh Tomato Shrimp Pasta from This recipe turned out great.  I added extra spinach and some hot pepper flakes to give it a little kick.  Love it!

Fresh Tomato Shrimp Pasta Recipe

Well, that's it for me.  I'm off to check out what everyone else has been up to.

Thank you, and have a great weekend!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Tried It & Techie Tuesday - iMovie

Hello, Everyone!  Today, I am linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried it Tuesday.

I would like to share my experience using iMovie during a social studies unit on the French and Indian War.

Because this is a technology Tried it, I'm also linking up with Technology Tailgate for Techie Tuesday.

We started off the unit with some reading, discussion, SMART Board activities, and a Brain Pop on the French and Indian War.  After several days of these activities, we brainstormed the most important reasons/causes of the French and Indian War. I typed up the students' ideas and handed out the skit requirements to each group member.

I divided the students into three groups.  Each group had to write a skit from either the French, British, or Indians' point of view.  Each skit was introduced with a photo of a colorful, student-made sign.  I recorded all the skits on an iPad.

We did not act out the war for obvious reasons.  However, I had students make signs for some of the major battles. I took photos of all the signs and incorporated them into the movie. The last sign stated that the war was over, and the Treaty of Paris was signed.  The final part of our movie was an interview with all three groups.  In the interest of time, I scripted this one.

With the help of my tech committee, we were able to add some fun sound effects.  My students especially loved the suspense and footstep sound effects.

If you are interested in using iMovie, but don't know how to get started (like I was), here is a great video with the basics.  Having a crew of tech savvy students is also a huge help!

My students LOVED this activity.  It was highly motivating, and they learned a lot.  

I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone else has tried.  I just love seeing all the new ideas on this linky!

Thank you!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Peek at my Week, Starting with a Must Read Mentor Text

Hello Everybody!  Today, I am linking up with Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for A Peek at My Week.

I'd like to start by sharing a fabulous mentor text that I will be using this week.

Hooray!  Today, I get to link back up with Amanda and Stacia from Collaboration Cuties for Must Read Mentor Texts.  (I missed the last two weeks because I no longer teach science or math.)

We have been working on our "Conflict and Settlement" unit in social studies.  Our current focus in the Revolutionary War.  One great mentor text for this unit is George vs. George, by Rosalyn Schanzer.

This book starts off by showing how the two Georges (George Washington and King George III) are alike.  

Soon, the reader sees the sharp differences between these two. The book takes the reader through the entire process of the colonists' fight for independence: from unreasonable taxes, to the Boston Tea Party, to the Declaration of Independence, to the the end of the Revolutionary War.

What I like best about the book is how it uses a variety of easy to read maps and cartoons to make some very complex concepts understandable to my fourth graders.

I don't read the entire book to my class, but I share portions of it as we cover significant events.  The book is also available for students to read during Daily 3 work time.  If the Revolutionary War is in your curriculum, I highly recommend this book!

Here are a few other things I have planned for this week.

On Tuesday, we will have our second monthly school assembly.  We decided to have monthly assemblies to build the sense of community in the school.  At each assembly, we will be honoring a community leader. This month, we will honor our superintendent.  

I have used the book The Best Part of Me in writing for several years now.  I have seen many great versions of writing inspired by this book. One of my favorites is from Kelly at Fabulous in Fourth.  I love how she mounted the photos on black and white paper.  Here is the picture I pinned from her blog.

On Wednesday, students will work on our version of this project, using this inspiration.

I'm off to check out all the other great mentor texts and plans for the week.

Thank you, and have a great week!