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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Classifying Clouds by Make-Up and Altitude

We are in the middle of a science unit on weather.  One of my favorite parts of this unit is when we learn about the different types of clouds and what weather they predict.

I found a really neat example of how to make a visual representation of cloud types on The Inspired Classroom blog.

We focus on (in order of lowest altitude): Stratus, Cumulus, Cumulonimbus, Cirrus.  We add little blurbs about actual altitude and what type of weather we can expect from each cloud just beneath the visual.

I've also used cotton balls in the past, but it tends to be a bit time-consuming and messy with all the glue.  Trust me, Fourth-Graders still use too much regardless of how many times you remind them!  If you want to go that route, here's a picture of of a cloud flip book from Crazy for First Grade.

What do you use to teach clouds?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Westward Movement Lesson

We recently wrapped up a unit on Westward Expansion after the Revolutionary War.  We focused on the Thomas Jefferson's efforts as president to increase the territory owned by the United States.  Our Lesson Essential Question was:  What geographic factors influenced Virginians to move to the western frontier of Virginia and beyond?

We started with an anticipatory video about the Louisiana Purchase.

Then a little longer video about using the Cumberland Gap as a gateway west.

This video is a little "grainy," but I found that it's kid-friendly and they really understood what the Cumberland Gap was after this video.

We review:
  • The capital has already moved three times (Jamestown, Williamsburg, Richmond).
  • Reasons for wanting to move west (tobacco destroyed the soil, new economic and land opportunities).
We fill out the chart below.  I give them 10-15 minutes to work in pairs to fill in the blanks and then we talk about it as a class.

Why Did People Move Westward?


All of the sudden, the reasons we discussed are more challenging because we are using different vocabulary terms (political, environmental), but with guidance, they quickly pick up on it.  They need to recognize and be able to use these terms interchangeably for testing purposes.

Do you have any great resources for this unit?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Restitution Consequences

While aimlessly pinning one afternoon, I came across a post on "Restitution Consequences" for siblings.  Basically, it's a way to teach children to sincerely apologize through acts of kindness related to the thing that got them in trouble in the first place.  For example, if children are being too rough with each other, they will comfort each other until both parties feel better.  You can read the whole article by clicking here.

I then saw another pin about something called a "chore bucket".

Basically, if you don't do your part to help keep the house clean, you have to draw a chore to to make up for it. 

The article and picture got me to thinking.  We are a classroom family.  My students often behave like siblings.  One day they're best buds and the next... not so much.  They choose to do random nice things and sometimes they choose to do things that hurt each other's feelings. 

The combination of the restitution consequences and "chore bucket" seem like a great natural consequence and in my mind.  So I created a list of consequences that would help with consequences and fostering a sense of caring and community at the same time. 

I'd love to hear if you do something similar with your kids at home or in the classroom!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Donors Choose Project Funded!

I just had my fourth Donors Choose project funded!  If you are unfamiliar with Donors Choose, it's a fabulous resource for teachers to request materials needed for their classroom.  Generous donors choose what projects to which they'd like to contribute.  When the project is fully funded, the materials are shipped to your school.

For more information on the vendors from which you can "shop" and request materials, click here.

This time, I requested math literature that would match the rest of my curriculum from Kaplan Learning Company.  You can check out the whole package below by clicking here.

Not only is this book great for teaching the various kinds of graphs, but I also had students use it to help them create a line graph to chart the changes in speed for our ramp and toy car experiment in science.
This is an excellent book (The Moon is Broke Together)!  It talks about the phases of the Moon and how each phase is actually a fraction of a whole (full moon).  The Making Literature Connections - Manual with Books - Grades 4-5 kit that comes with these books has a great activity that has students sort the phases in order of their fractions of the whole.
Another great perimeter and area activity goes with Spaghetti and Meatballs for All using snap cubes.
Students can also learn to build, compare, and order decimals with the book above. 

I haven't finished creating/copying all the activities, but I'm telling you, it's well worth the money even if you choose to purchase it with your own money!

How about you?  Do you have any good books to link all the subjects together?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Resources for Teaching Fractions

Throughout my teaching experience, I've always felt that fractions was one of the most difficult things for me to teach.  Maybe it's because learning fractions as a student made me miserable.  Maybe it's because most of my teachers didn't use concrete materials or explain why fractions are important.  Whatever the case, I want to make this unit as fun and practical for students as possible.

I've been pinning quite a bit of resources to help me with this effort, and I'd like to share them with you.  You can browse the entire board on Pinterest by clicking here if you'd like, but I thought I'd share a few of my favs.

Songs.  Songs for teaching anything are awesome!  This is a video about converting mixed numbers to improper fractions.  This tough concept is vital for being able to recognize equivalent fractions.

Candy.  Candy will pretty much motivate any kid to want to do math, no matter how difficult the concept.  Since Valentines Day just happened, you might even have some extra lying around just waiting to be used for such an occasion.

Fraction Strips.  Yes, Fraction Strips.  Those obnoxious things that get torn and misplaced but wait....
Is that a really ingenious solution to all those problems?  Why, yes!  Yes it is!

Put a brade in one end so they're always together.  I also have my students put them in a plastic baggy and staple it to the front of their math notebooks.  No more tearing, no more misplacing them.  Thank you, Pinterest!

Please feel free to add your own ingenious solutions to teaching fractions.  I need all the help I can get!