My TpT Store

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Electricity, Magnetism, and Inventors, Oh, My!

We've been researching the contributions of Benjamin Franklin, Michael Faraday, and Thomas Edison to electricity.  We started with some books and print articles.

  • Now & Ben: the modern inventions of Benjamin Franklin by Gene Baretta (also a short video)
  • Michael Faraday: apprentice to science by Sam and Beryl Epstein
  • Thomas Edison by Paul Joseph
  • Thomas Edison: a brilliant inventor by Time for Kids
  • Thomas Edison: a photo-illustrated biography by Greg Linder
  • I had to supplement the book on Michael Faraday with several kid friendly articles because the book isn't exactly an easy read.

The goal is to find the following information and turn it into a newspaper article:

            Inventor Name

            Contribution to Electricity

            3 Interesting Facts About Their Life

            Illustration of Contribution and/or Inventor
After students get all the information they can from the books, students go to the computer lab to further research using websites.  The ones we use are:
Michael Faraday
Michael Faraday
Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison
Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin

Once the draft is written on notebook paper, students input information into a newspaper generator template.
What alternatives to the basic research report do you use?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I've already taught the majority of what I plan to teach for figurative language through my poetry unit.  This year, I plan to do things a little differently.  I plan to read "reminder" mentor texts and then have students write a paragraph using the figurative language concept from the mentor text. 

For example, I plan to read Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day to reiterate hyperbole.
Students will then write a paragraph (4-5 sentences) about a bad day they've had, but over exaggerate it until it becomes hyperbole.  I have a "cheat sheet" with examples they may use, but they must write it on their own.  I want to see if they can:
A) Answer a prompt 
B) Complete a thought in paragraph form 
C) Apply the figurative language concepts I've taught them

Some other examples I plan to use:
Do you have any great mentor texts for teaching figurative language?  How do you use them?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Teaching Nonfiction Text Features

Normally, I wait until later in the year to teach identifying nonfiction text features.  This year may require me to teach it early and and often throughout the year.

So I decided to compile all the best resources I've found to date in one PowerPoint.  Most of the slides in this PowerPoint are customizable, with the exception of the task cards at the end. It includes the following:
~Teaching how to find "cloudy" and "don't know" words
~Using fix-up strategies to figure out "cloudy" and "don't know" words
~A nonfiction text feature scavenger hunt
~Newspaper/Magazine Center task cards

You can pick up a free copy at my TpT store by clicking here.

What do you use to teach nonfiction text features?  Do you teach them in other subjects besides reading?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Helping Students Retain Math Concepts

In fourth grade, we start introducing some brand new math ideas and ask students to start using the information they previously learned in advanced ways.  For many students, this is stressful and they experience "brain dump."  Essentially, brain dump is where you "learn" something long enough to take the test and then dump the information from your brain for good.

So how do I help them retain the information?  A "Problem of the Day."  I'm working on the problems they will be required to complete after the first couple of months.  I want it to directly relate to what they've already learned, but also what they will be learning.

This is a PowerPoint presentation.  I print the slides and either laminate them or put them in page protectors.  Then I can use a dry erase markers to change the information.  I have students complete one or two of the activities each day as a warm up before math and then we discuss.  You can pick up a FREE copy at my TpT store by clicking here.

Do you use a review activity before each math lesson?  How do you get your students to practice and retain previously taught information?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Celebrating Grandparent's Day

Grandparent's Day is on September 9th this year.  Our school always celebrates this special occasion by inviting our grandparents and caretakers to join us in our classrooms.  My class has been hard at work on poems to let our loved ones know how we feel about them.

I start out by reading some mentor texts aloud to the class that demonstrate how other kids describe their grandparent's and the experiences they share.  One that I read this year was Grandmama's Joy by Eloise Greenfield.

This one is a little sad at points in the story because it's about a little girl who is trying to cheer her grandma up because they are losing their house.  She also lost her parents in a car wreck, so it might not be best for little guys and girls.  It does speak to many of my students who live with their grandparents for various reasons.  I share how I was mostly raised by my grandparents.

Another book I think I'll check out next year is Grandmother’s Book of Promises by Karen Hill.

After reading the mentor texts, students interview their grandparents and use that information to write a poem in their honor.  On Grandparent's Day, the students eat lunch with their grandparents and then read their poem to them.  It's really sweet.

You can pick  up a FREE copy of my unit lessons at my TpT store by clicking here.

Do you celebrate Grandparent's Day at your school?  If so, what mentor texts do you use?  What activities do you do with the grandparents?