Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Social Studies Menu {Tried it Tuesday}

I've read about choice menus forever, but never tried it until just recently. I decided to created a menu to use during social studies review when students finish with stations early or we have a few extra minutes in class. 

I introduced the menu a week ago and you would've thought I'd given my students gold! They were thrilled!! I asked if they'd seen a menu before and we talked about a fast food restaurant menu. Then I asked what they would buy if I told them they had $5 to spend at the fast food restaurant. We played around with that a few minutes and then, with great drama, I introduced the social studies menu. I told them they had 50 points to "spend" and they were beside themselves - some even wanted to know if they could "spend" more! 

As we were going over the points values for different items one students even said, "All the fun stuff costs more points, but the boring stuff doesn't cost as much." I really had to pinch myself! How did this happen?!?! 

We've had a week to work on the menus and they have really been successful so far. I've been amazed at the creativity my students have shown. It's also been really interesting seeing which people and time periods they choose to work with. 

I think this is a strategy I will try to use again. Maybe next time I'll try something with reading - after a class novel or maybe even for their self-selected texts. 

You can click on the picture to download a copy of the menu. It is specific to 4th Grade Virginia Studies, but it might be a good place to start for a menu specific to your social studies standards.

I'm linking up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for another great Tried it Tuesday linky. 


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Freedom Summer {Must Read Mentor Text}

I'm linking up with Amanda and Stacia at Collaboration Cuties for the first Social Studies edition of their Must Read Mentor Text linky. Since Social Studies is near and dear to my heart I am really looking forward to seeing what everyone else recommends today! 

Segregation and integration are two topics that I find my students really struggle to understand. The concept is just so foreign to them and its so difficult for them to even imagine society treating people in such a horrible way! I always find that books help students get a better grasp of this concept and today I'm going to share one of my favorite books to use when talking about the struggles of integration. 

This book tells the story of two young boys during the summer their town is integrated. They have such high hopes for doing things together that they never could before, but they are met with some very harsh realities. It does an excellent job showing children the difficulties faced by African Americans even during integration. It is also a beautiful book about friendship. 

I hope you enjoy sharing this touching book with your students. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Inferences, Prefixes and Suffixes, and a Dollar Store Find {Five for Friday}

We made it! It is finally Friday and time for Five for Friday at Doodle Bugs Teaching.

1. Have you ever had one of those weeks where you are just thankful to have made it to Friday all in one piece? I didn't even need to look up to know that there was a full moon this week! W-O-W did we have a week....not following directions, way too talkative, and some very smart mouths. I am glad it is over and also glad that Monday will bring us a fresh start. 

2. We worked on inferencing this week and took some time to create these fun foldables from A Teacher's Treasure

3. We also did this great prefix/suffix sort from Mrs. Lesser's Classroom.

4. I found this great tub at the Dollar General for $5 and plan on using some vinyl to turn it into a clipboard tote. I'll post more pictures when I get it all finished! The DG has some very fun, bright things out right now for Spring and Summer! 

5. We are celebrating three birthdays this weekend, so I'm looking forward to some much needed family time and relaxing. 

I hope you enjoy your weekend! 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Fun Geography Review

I wanted to share a fun new station I am using this year to help with social studies review. 

We cover a lot of geography skills in 4th grade and I wanted to get in as much practice with that as I could before our state test. To create this station I started with a cheap shower curtain from the dollar store. I taped the curtain to the wall, projected a map of Virginia on the curtain, and got busy tracing with my Sharpie. 

Next, I went through our standards and created task cards that would help students review all of Virginia's geography SOLs. I also created some labels for states, water features, important cities, etc. I laminated the task cards and put them all on a ring. Then, I labeled large manilla envelopes to match the task cards and put the materials needed for each card inside the envelope. I also added in a Virginia atlas. I stored it all, including the map, in this handy box. 

Here is a picture of the center in action. For this task card students are labeling the states that border Virginia. 

I think this activity has been a big success and the kids love it! However, I would recommend investing in a sturdier shower curtain. This one is still holding up okay, but I have to make sure the kids are very careful with it and we all know that isn't something 4th graders are very good at! 

Do your students have to learn a lot of state specific geography?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Context Clues {Tried it Tuesday}

Last week we talked about context clues AGAIN. Anyone else have kiddos that just can't seem to get the hang of this? 

This time I had my students write sentences that contained context clues. I had students work with their talking partner on this activity. I created a list of 8 words before the lesson (previous vocabulary words) and pairs chose their word from that list. Each pair was assigned a specific type of clue to use in their sentence and they got to work! 

I had never really considered reversing the roles and having students do the writing, but I do think it made them more conscious of how and when authors use context clues in their writing. It was a bit challenging for them at first because it caused them to think in a new way, but we worked on it for two short mini-sessions and they finally got the hang of it. This is definitely an activity I'll do next year when I introduce context clues and then continue to build on it from there. 

Here are the anchor charts we created after the activity. They came up with some decent sentences considering this was their first time. 

The idea (and others we did throughout the week) came from this book from Scholastic.

I'm liking up with Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for another wonderful Tried it Tuesday! 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Reading Stations, Task Cards, Dioramas and a Freebie {Five for Friday}

Its time for Five for Friday at Doodle Bugs Teaching.

1. I am thankful to have made it through the first official week of review. I have to confess that I really dislike reviewing for Social Studies. I feel like a broken record and we have 5 weeks of review, so this year I decided to really step it up and create review stations for Social Studies and reading. I've got to admit that I was very nervous on Monday morning, but I'm happy to say that the stations have been a big success. 

2. During reading review stations we used two of the activities from the Spring Language Arts and Math Centers for Big Kids by Collaboration Cuties. They were a big hit with everyone! Don't those little chicks just make you happy?

3. I also used my first ever set of task cards in a station and I've got to say that I'm in love! I was so impressed with how the cards were appropriate for all my learners. Even my fastest workers were busy and engaged! We used Rachel's Context Clues task cards this week. 

4. We have been reviewing our standards on First Americans and I thought it might be fun to make these "dioramas" showing how the First Americans got their food in each of the seasons. You can click here for the freebie if you'd like to try this in your class. My kids were amazed with this activity and I'm pretty sure I gained a few steps on the coolness ladder because I knew how to fold paper like this! Hahaha 

5. Scholastic Teacher Express is having a sale on pocket charts!! The hanging file organizer I love is on sale - I picked up two for $17.24 including shipping! Click here to shop the sale and use code PC50. Sale ends on Saturday 4/20. 

I hope everyone has a relaxing and enjoyable weekend! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Cardinal and Intermediate Directions Review

In 4th grade I do a review of cardinal and intermediate directions at the beginning of the year and we are usually set for the rest of the year. This year...not so much. I felt like my students were really struggling with test questions that required them to apply their knowledge of directions. 
I created a few quick and easy activities to use with my students in review stations this week and thought I'd share them with you. These activities were for a station that is teacher-led.
First off I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut out some simple shapes that we used to create our own compasses. We used our creations in the other activities.

Next, I put some copies of these simple worksheets in page protectors and we used the dry erase markers with them. Instead of using the directions at the bottom of the page we all took turns coming up with directions to move around the maps. 

After that we got out the big Virginia maps and started practicing some of those test questions we have such a hard time with. Things like, "If Rachel traveled South from Richmond which state would she come to first?" To spice it up a little we moved dinosaurs around our map. It was something different and I was surprised at how much the kids liked it! I even had them talking to their dinosaur and taking it on a "walking tour" of Virginia's regions. LOL It was really fun! 

I also recently learned a new trick for keeping East and West straight. We wrote the word "WE" in big letters on the map and used that as a visual for helping to remember which side was which. I think its a pretty helpful trick! 

Do you have any tricks for teaching directions? 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

For all Rubrics {Tried it Tuesday}

Its time for another Tried it Tuesday with Fourth Grade Flipper. Tuesday is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogging days. I just love reading about what everyone else is doing in their classrooms!
I recently discovered an AMAZING site for creating rubrics - For All Rubrics. If you use rubrics in your classroom this one is a must for you to try and its free!! That's every teachers favorite word...yippie! 
This site not only allows you to create some very snazzy looking rubrics, but it also lets you enter your students (and classes) and score the rubrics online. There is a tutorial, you can use it on the ipad, I set it up in a matter of minutes, and I love it so much this is my 2nd blog post about it. Enough said. Click the picture below and check it out for yourself. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ideas for Teaching Sequence

This week was the last week of instruction before we begin our 5 week-long review for THE TEST. We have discussed sequence a number of times while studying other skills, but I decided to take the week and focus in on just that skill. 

We started the week with an activity from the Reading A-Z comprehension skill packets. We read an article about the Titanic together, circled the clue words, and then put the events in order. Then students worked with their talking partners to read an article about Albert Einstein and do the same thing. I really liked the passages for this activity because the events were out of chronological order, so that led to a discussion about how authors sometimes use an important event to hook their readers. 

Partners hard at work on their A-Z passages. 

Next, we started working on a writing piece using sequencing words. Last weekend I found this Spring Break writing activity from The Techie Teacher and thought it would be perfect since this was our first week back from Spring Break. The graphic organizer that went along with this freebie was really helpful and the cars turned out great!  We've been getting lots of compliments on them from other teachers in the building.

Cuteness: My favorite writing said something to effect of, "Then, my mom said she wasn't leaving the house again." LOL I can so remember my mom saying that and I have definitely thought that myself a time or two! 

In our small groups we worked on some test taking strategies using a workbook called Ladders to Success 2. It was good practice for them because my kiddos seem to rush through sequencing questions and often times get them wrong because they "think" they remember the answer and don't go back to check.

We finished out the week by reading one of my favorite books, The Great Fuzz Frenzy! If you haven't read "The Fuzz" you've got to get your hands on a copy - it is too cute! 

After reading through the book once I gave everyone a 1/4 piece of paper to take notes on and we skimmed through the book again. I told them we were going to be writing the sequence of events and they needed to take a few notes to help them remember what had happened. Of course, some students wrote enough to cover every inch of that little paper, so this was a good place to have a reminder about determining the importance of details/events. 

I then gave them this flow chart I found online at Freeology. I'd never heard of this site before this week and it has some pretty neat FREE stuff on there. After we filled in the flow chart students used it to help create a summary of the book. 

Overall I felt like we had a very successful week with sequencing. What are some of your favorite activities to use when teaching the skill? 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Oreo Moon Phases, Personal Spelling Dictionaries, Bottle Rockets, and a Government Foldable {Five for Friday}

I made it through the week after Spring Break and it wasn't too bad. We had a very productive week and I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday to give you a recap!

1. We have been working on the moon phases and had some fun with Oreos. The kiddos loved it!

2. I was finally able to track down some small, durable address books at the Dollar Tree. I gave these to a few students who are significantly below grade level and struggle with spelling. These students are always asking for help spelling during our writing time and I am hoping these personal spelling dictionaries will help them be more independent. As of now, I am using these as a personal word wall - when the student asks me how to spell a word I help them record it in the address book so its there for future use. There is a certain novelty in these books that a regular notebook doesn't have, so that is working in my favor right now!

3. Every month we get a visit from our 4H Extension Agent. He always has a fun project for us to work on and this month was no exception. We started working on bottle rockets that we'll be launching next month. I'll keep you updated on how this goes - we are really excited about it! 

4. We began studying the 3 Branches of Virginia's Government this week and created this foldable. 

5. I love snail mail and this week I got a wonderful surprise in the mail! I won this Flip Flip Foot Repair from Run! Mrs. Nelson's Got the Camera. Yay!! It feels oh so good and the smell is great too. The temperature has been in the 70s all week, so its definitely time to break out the flip flops!

What have you been up to this week? 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Live Binders - Tried it Tuesday

I'm back again with Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for another great Tried it Tuesday linky party! 
Today I'm going to share my [limited] experience with LiveBinders. 
Over the course of my teaching career I have heard/read about LiveBinders several times, but never had the need or desire to create my own. That is, until I came across this post from Purely Paperless. (PP is a great blog...check it out as soon as you finish here!) 

Kate over at Purely Paperless created a live binder to house all of her planning materials and I thought that was a great idea, so I made one too!  

In my binder I created a tab for each subject area I teach and then sub-tabs for my standards, pacing guides, and websites/resources that I frequently use when planning. Talk about helping to lighten the teacher bag at the end of the day! 

Now when I want to plan at home or check something on my standards, I just pull up my live binder and all the information is right there in one convenient location! 

Click on the picture below to get started created your own planning binder! 

How do you use Live Binders to help simply your life? 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Graffiti Review Game

Just wanted to take a minutes to share a quick activity I used during my social studies class today. 
Have I mentioned that I have a really challenging class this year? One group of my 4th graders has a very difficult time retaining social studies information and since we are nearing testing time, I am always looking for a fun, different way to review. You can expect to read about many social studies review ideas in the coming weeks. 
The idea to use this graffiti style review game came to me while I was working with a small group of 6 students. I had already created a paper with 6 boxes, each labeled with one of the people we were studying. After a lot of review, I had the students sit in a circle with a clipboard and their blank sheet. When I said "go" they each wrote one fact on their paper. After everyone had written one they passed their papers on to the left and wrote a different fact on the new sheet they had. My kiddos couldn't write fast enough - they were really into this review activity! 

Because it was a small group we went around the circle twice. After two trips around the circle, students read over their papers and double checked any information they found suspicious. When the game was over it was really easy for the students to see which areas the group needed more practice on. 
It just so happened that I had already created papers that worked perfect for this activity, but it would work just as well to have students fold their own papers and draw a grid themselves. This would be a great time filler if you have an extra few minutes at the end of the class. 
 Anyone use this game in your classroom? Any other ideas of how it could be used? 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...