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Friday, June 29, 2012

Read Alouds that Compliment Curriculum

Amanda is hosting a "Fiction Friday Link-Up" at her very cool blog: The Teaching Thief.  This is a great opportunity to share some of the fiction books we all love to use because, let's be honest, no one can tolerate ONLY nonfiction books all the time!

I chose to stick to Virginia Studies and Science for my read-aloud books this time.  I could do an entire post on nothing but Language Arts books, but I'll save that for another day ;)

Historical Fiction

A Friendship For Today by McKissack, Patricia
This is a chapter book about integration in the 1950s and a friendship between two girls that overcomes prejudice.

A Good Night For Freedom by Morrow, Barbara Olenyik
This is a picture book about a family of Quakers that house runaway slaves and describes the resulting danger in which they find themselves.

Freedom On The Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins by Weatherford, Carole B.
This is a picture book about the integration/desegregation period and passive resistance. 

Sounder by William H. Armstrong
This is a chapter book about a sharecropping family that is torn apart when the father is imprisoned for stealing food.



The Great Kapok Tree by Cherry, Lynne
Not only is this great for discussing ecosystems (rainforest in this case), but it also has a great tie-in to writing.  The animals are trying to convince the human not to cut down their home.  I use this to discuss persuasive language and which styles/phrases are most effective and human impact on ecosystems.

What fiction books do you use for read-aloud?  Come join the link-up and share your favorites!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Music for Learning and Bonding Link-Up

I know I already posted about this, but Amanda at Teaching Madness is having a music Link-Up.

I have always been a big fan of using music to set the mood in the classroom. This past year, I really started exploring using it as more than just "background music."  Here's some of the songs I love and the ways I use them.

To signal that it's time to transition or clean up.  Usually, these are upbeat songs with heavy rhythms.  They dance their way to their seat or the next station until the music stops.  These are just some of my/their favorites.
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Time by Kidz Bop
  • Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Pokerface Hits
  • I Like to Move It by Madagascar Team Players
  • Born This Way (Lady Gaga Karaoke Tribute Instrumental Version)
  • Celebration by Kool & the Gang
  • Rockin' Robin by Bobby Day
  • Mambo No. 5 by (Karaoke Instrumental Track) in the style of Lou Bega
  • Whip It (Karaoke Instrumental Track) in the style of Devo
To reinforce math concepts
  • Lemonade Stand (Liquid Measurement) by Teacher and the Rockbots
  • You Can Multiply by Twelve by Teacher and teh Rockbots
  • Long Division by Karl Roemer
  • Nonagon by They Might Be Giants
 To reinforce science concepts.
  • Things in Space (8 Planets) by Teacher and the Rockbots
To reinforce language arts concepts.
  • Prepositional Phrases by Mr. Duey
  • Synonym Antonym Homonym by Rockin' the Standards
  • Writer's Song by Rockin' the Standards

Monday, June 18, 2012

Watching Movies AND Teaching the Curriculum

As more and more expectations were piled on my plate at the end of the school year, my grade level colleague and I came up with a plan to get it all done.  We had read many of the same authors and/or books during our read-aloud time.  Why not show the movies that went with those books?  Our two classes watched the movie in ONE room.  This freed up one of us to go other places if need be (to the office to get student files, for example). 

Of course, I didn't want it to be all fluff and no curriculum.  Here's how I made that happen.

  1. Read the books during read-aloud or small group time. 
  2. Have your normal vocabulary, comprehension, author studies, etc. discussions.
  3. Watch the corresponding movie.
  4. Compare and contrast the movie with the book.
 To extend this idea, I thought about doing the following activities after watching the movie.
  1.  Create a "sequel" to the movie:  Brainstorm what happened to the characters after the end.  Create a play, skit, or short story to demonstrate. 
Here are some tools:
    • Use Storybird to create a story with pictures.

 You can see how I used all of this in more detail by clicking here.

2.  Create a commercial advertising the sequel. This is a great opportunity to review or teach persuasive writing.  You could film this if it suits your needs.

Here's a list of the books/movies I have done at least part of this with or would like to:

I like the "old school" version of this movie or the BBC version. 

I wish there were more movies to go with Kate Dicamillo's books!  And on that note....

Our school has the 1985 version of this movie. The newer version might be too "racy."

Do you use movies in coordination with your curriculum?  If so, which movies do you find most closely adhere to the book?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Favorite Websites

If you're an upper-grades teacher, you probably already know about 3-6 Free Resources blog.  If not, you NEED to check it out!  What you may not know is that they do a "Show Me Sunday" every first Sunday of the month.

This past Sunday, it was about favorite websites.  Here are some of my favorites:
  • PlanbookEdu :  This website has practically saved my life this year.  Yes, it's not free, but it's worth every penny.  You can input your state standards above your lessons and it keeps track of how many you've covered in your lessons.  You can attach files that you need.  You can print and email the whole plan book or a selection.  In a word, priceless.
  • Online Timers :  You set the amount of time and choose what type of timer you want (egg timer, countdown, bomb, etc.).  I project these on the screen to help students keep track of the time while working in pairs/small groups.
  • Classroom Booksource: You put your ISBN numbers into an online database, and it allows students to check out books from your classroom library.  It shows the AR, small group, and grade level of the books.  It allows students to search for books.
  • What Should I Read Next?:  This website allows students to type in the title or author of their favorite books and it recommends other titles based on the style of that book or author.
What websites do you use that save your time and sanity?  I'd love for you to link up at the Show Me Sunday post.  I can't wait to see all your great websites!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Angry Birds End-of-Year Activitiy

I wanted to do a fun math activity that wasn't completely "fluff" for the last week of school.  So I did some poking around on the Internet, and here's what I found.

I started by showing the class this video.  This is an EXCELLENT 9 minute video from  The guy in this video is so funny.  Some of the video addresses teachers directly, but the students loved watching it to get an idea of what would be expected of them.

I had the kids bring in their Angry Birds stuffies and various shapes of boxes, which they then wrapped THEMSELVES (hurrah for intermediates!) in bulletin board paper.  I also had them use poster board and 3-D shapes to make their own "nets" and cover them for the shapes that weren't represented.

They then labeled them with the 3-D shape name and money amount they thought the shape would be "worth" if it was knocked down.  We went with $0.25, $0.50, $0.75, and $1.00.  This helped them practice adding decimals and writing money amounts correctly.

We measured a "safe throwing distance" with a meter stick and converted it to feet.  Gotta love anytime you can sneak in converting measurements!

Each new team got to set up the tower in any way they wanted, resulting in about 5 completely different set-ups. 

The team that knocked down the most money won, but everyone had a great time.  No one seemed too worried about who actually "won."

Have you used Angry Birds in your curriculum?  I'd love to know how!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Daily 5/CAFE Book Study--You're Invited!

Calling all Upper Grade teachers!  Several Top Teachers just like you are getting together this summer to do an online book study of the Daily 5/CAFE books, and you're invited!

Summer Book Study Details
What: Book Study on The Daily 5 and The Cafe Book

Who: Grade 3 - 6 Teachers

When: Starts July 1st
Want more details?  Go to We Read, We Blog, We Teach.
As if that isn't cool enough, Laura Candler is giving away a Daily 5 and a CAFE book!  Check it out at Corkboard Connections.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Concious Discipline--A Totally Different Behaviour Management Model

Heather at Heather's Heart has been blogging about her journey through Dr. Becky A. Bailey's approach to classroom management.  I just got my copy of the book in the mail, and it couldn't have come at a better time.  I NEED HELP TO HELP MY STUDENTS!!!  There is a lot of animosity and violence going on in my room.  I have to do something different because what I'm doing isn't working... 

What is this all about?  Well, I'm just beginning my journey, but a lot it revolves around the teacher showing children how to be compassionate and make good choices simply for the fact that those choices are good and not for extrinsic rewards.

What are just a few of the resources the website provides?

So, as part of Heather's book study, I'm answering the following questions: 

*What are most discipline models built on?
A system of rules, rule-breaking, and consequences for the rule-breaking.  It rewards compliance and punishes rule-breaking in the hopes that both approaches will make students more obedient.  If the consequences don't work, the student is removed from the class or school (AKA: rejection and removal).  It is based on the belief that we can control others, children learn what NOT to do by being disciplined, and that any conflict will keep all students from learning.
*What is the goal of the School Family?
The teacher, students, and school coming together in moments of conflict to communicate and overcome conflict.  Instead of shying away from conflict, everyone works together to make it a teachable moment/series of events.

*What 3 premises are CD built on?
  • Controlling and changing ourselves is possible and has profound impact on others
  • Connectedness governs behavior
  • Conflict is an opportunity to teach
*Since change must begin with ourselves, which belief speaks to your heart?
"Conflict is an essential part of life.  It presents us with the opportunity to learn a missing skill or let go of a limiting belief."  Several of my students are having a hard time when they hit any kind of roadblock to what they want to do.  They are already so angry with the world, that they lash out physically.  I would love to teach them perseverance!

*Why is self control such a crucial part of CD? What does this mean to you?
This is what I call being "warm and fuzzy."  It means that you cultivate your own garden, so to speak, before you try to teach it to others.  You don't just pretend to be happy all the time, you actually embrace the fact that conflict will happen and there are healthy ways to deal with it.  Why is this so important to me?  Well, because I NEED to learn how to do this!

*What is the purpose of the 7 Powers? The 7 skills?
The 7 powers state that each person is in control of their attitude, but not necessarily of what others will do.  When conflicts arise, they should be met with love and treated as teachable moments.

The 7 skills are learning how to say "no" when the arises and helping children learn from their mistakes, but it is also about catching those teachable moments when the conflict occurs.