Friday, February 27, 2015

Five for Friday - February 27, 2015

We've been learning about prepositions for the last two weeks! Each year when we learn about prepositional phrases, we write Prepositional Phrase Poems. Students love this activity. They choose an object and where it's located - and it can be anywhere. Most kids choose something in their home. These two boys chose an object at our school and a subway train in NYC {funny, since we live in Utah}. Then, they write lines with instructions on how to get to their object, starting each line with a preposition/prepositional phrase. They draw a picture of the object and write under the secret flap what they were describing.

I love science. It's by far one of my favorite things to plan and teach. We're currently studying Utah Environments, which is our biggest and last unit in our 4th grade science curriculum. On Tuesday, we studied Utah's amphibian's and classified them with a simple dichotomous key. Utah only has 18 amphibians, which amazed my students. I can't wait to dive into our wrap up project - research and dioramas!

I don't know about you, but I thought this was a pretty darn good idea! I made a bookmark for my planner. This makes it so much easier to quickly turn to the current week. I can't believe I didn't think of this sooner. :)

Another "a-ha" moment I had was to create covers / labels / signs - whatever you want to call them - for my file boxes. My students are responsible for getting themselves new graphs for 6 Minute Solution, when they need them. They were always so confused on which box it was and would waste time opening both to see which was which. I made covers for all 4 sides of the boxes so no matter how they're put back, students can quickly see which box they need to pull out.

I am pretty lucky to teach in a place that has so many awesome {and free!} programs for 4th grade. Each year we have classroom visits from the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, KSL Jr Weather Specialists, Utah Mining, and every other year from the Natural History Museum of Utah. Today the NHMU visited 4th grade with their Museum on the Move program. We learned about animal adaptations and classifications - which aligned perfectly with our current unit. Everything is hands-on and inquiry based. We got to look at some amazingly preserved specimen in jars, animal skulls, feathers, and so much more. If you teach 4th grade in Utah, I highly recommend this program. We have the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium coming this Wednesday with their Wetlands van - and they bring live animals!

I've been working this week on updating some files that I've had on TPT for awhile now. If you've purchased any of the following {thank you!}, please redownload!

Monday, February 23, 2015

TPT Teachers Are Heroes Sale - February 25

Be sure to shop the Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Sale this Wednesday, February 25! Use code HEROES at checkout to save up to 28% in my store - and any other store that is participating in the sale.

Thanks to Teaching in the Tongass for the sale graphic! Check out her TPT store - she has cute clip art!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

A Bit of My 2014-2015 School Year So Far

Today I'm sharing some pictures from this year. I'm teaching 4th grade again and have 26 students - 20 boys and only 6 girls!

At Back to School Night {back in August 2014} this was the first year I felt completely prepared for the event.I found plenty of amazing ideas through other teacher blogs to help me make the most of the beginning of year madness. The only thing I'd do differently next year is for those papers that need to be returned to me, I'd write "4th - Ford" on every sheet. I ended up with some of the wrong sheets back from families with multiple children attending our school. Whoops! {Ideas or forms borrowed from: Teacher Intro Letter - Rowdy in Room 300; Getting to Know Your Child Form - The First Grade Parade; Parent Email Contact Form - Mrs. Terhune's First Grade}

Being an entrepreneurial focused school, we apply for jobs each quarter in 4th grade and have a classroom economy system. I absolutely love reading students' job application forms. They take so seriously and their reasons are always fun to read.


To go along with the economy system, we have bankers. Each student has a banking folder where their salary sticky note and banking log are kept.

This year I got more creative / more organized and labeled each banking folder with Scotch Expressions color tape and then put matching tape on the binder clip as well. This allows student bankers to quickly find their banking clients when we bank each week.

I went all out over the summer and redesigned our 4th grade money. We only have 3 different denominations. I love our new money! I also designed money for 6th grade with a sports theme, and it turned out super cute.

This picture is actually from last year, and I've updated the sheet since {I realized that my picture from this year was blurry when I went to upload it}. We use a Homework Hot Spot to turn in homework each day. My homework checkers simply "X" if a student has turned in their homework and leave it blank if it's missing. I can quickly glance at who's missing work and add a "M" to my online gradebook to let parents know immediately. When students turn in all homework on-time, all week, they get their homework card punched. A full card = $500.

I redesigned my schedule magnets this year with Melonheadz clip art. I absolutely love them and I feel like they're easier to read from afar than my old ones.

One of my biggest pet peeves is messy desks. So this year I made a poster for students to refer to as to how their desk should be organized. I got the brilliant idea color-coding their notebooks with a marker on the sides from A Cupcake for the Teacher. I use ClassDojo to award points which students can redeem for rewards at the end of each month. One of the positive / negative points students can earn once a week is Clean Desk / Messy Desk. It's one student's job to check 6 desks randomly a day and award / deduct points for this.

In November 2014 we had a Multiplication Mania Week. We focused each day on two numbers and did a bunch of fun activities throughout the day to practice our math facts. {Gumball Math - Made in 1st Grade; Multiplication Rings & Multiplication Bracelets - Joanne Miller}

After many of my students buzzed their way through multiplication math fact timings, they were ready for division. I couldn't find any assessments that were set up like Gumball Math with 50 problems to complete in 3 minutes, so I created my own and Monster Math was born.

And finally, this past week we took our first "end of year" test...yes, in February. The writing portion of the Utah SAGE test was given early this year so that they could have educators from around the state participate in PD that shows how the writing portion of the SAGE is graded and allow educators to grade essays in their grade level that they teach. We've been focusing a lot on writing this year and it's one of my goals for my professional portfolio. I made my students little treats for the two days of testing.