Sunday, December 22, 2013

Spark Student Motivation in Reading!

I love this linky from my BBB Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching! So many great ideas to get kids excited about school!

Boy, my class sure is full of readers! They have literally been reading up a storm. I think the choice that is part of Daily 5 has a lot to do with it. One kiddo told me the other day, "You're the first teacher that lets me pick my own books!" That choice is a huge motivator! Of course, teaching your kids how to choose good fit books takes time and effort, but I think it's well worth it! Check out my IPICK bookmark freebie in the sidebar!

Another kiddo couldn't believe that I actually stock graphic novels in my classroom library. Bone, Amulet, Kane Chronicles & Percy Jackson, Cardboard, etc. are all great graphic novel choices by the way! My kids wait in line for these. I require my kids to read the entire series in order qualify for a read bead though. And I've noticed a couple of kids who started with the Percy Jackson Graphic Novel and then moved on to the actual book!

The kids really are motivated to branch out to different genres when there's even a slight incentive. I've talked about my read beads recently, so I won't go into a lot of detail there. But I am doing something new along with them this year! My BBB Diane over at Fifth in the Middle created a perfect set of brag tags to go along with the read beads! I have my system set up so that every kid needs to read a certain number of books from each of the genres. Once the kids have have read that number, I award the tag! It serves double duty as a quick reminder of which genres the kids have covered, and which ones they still need to read books from!

How do you motivate kids to read? Check out the other ideas for motivating students in the linky too!

In other news, I just recovered from a looonnng drive from PA to GA to visit family for the holidays. I'm looking forward to relaxing a bit this break, but I definitely have some work to do too! And on a side note, happy anniversary to me! 6 years ago today I married my best friend, Killer B! Happy holidays!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Service Learning - Terracycling meets Math

At my school I am in charge of all of the school's terracycling. If you're not familiar with terracycling, check it out! The down and dirty of it though is that this company takes things that normally couldn't be recycled and "upcycles" them into new products. AND they pay you for the trash. My school collects juice pouches, empty glue sticks & bottles, empty tape dispensers, Solo cups, used toothbrushes, floss containers and toothpaste tubes, and with the help of Diane over at Fifth in the Middle, we collect used writing tools (markers, pens, etc.) 

It's a big job! All of the waste needs to be sorted and packaged for shipping. But the good people at Terracycle want to receive the waste in batches that meet minimum shipping requirements. Each item on our list has different requirements. So I posed a seemingly simple "exemplar's style" math problem to my kids..."How many of _____ does it take to equal the minimum shipping requirements?" I provided scales, pencil and paper, and waste products, they did the rest. 

If you haven't heard of the Exemplar's math program, I'll sum it up. It's basically a way of teaching kids to solve complicated multi-step word problems. Kids are expected to use pictures (diagrams), numbers, AND words when showing their work. Their work can be assessed by the complexity of their answers and the method they used to solve the given problem. 

This problem required them to figure out that they aren't going to be able to just weigh out 21 pounds of Capri-sun pouches. Especially because the scales I gave them measured in either grams or ounces. They needed first to determine the conversion between the different units to pounds. Once they did that they basically determined a ratio for each item (10 pouches = 2 oz.) and went from there to determine how many units it took to make a pound, and finally the number of pounds for the shipping requirement of the item. Phwew!

I had the kids write their numbers anonymously under the different headings to see how close the answers were. We had a great discussion about all of the factors that might have caused different groups to get slightly different (or in one case a VERY different) answers. We canceled out the unreasonable answers and then found the mean.

We decided those would be reasonable amounts to collect before checking the weight to see if we'd collected enough to ship. We agreed that this would be an excellent example of when you'd use rounding up to be on the safe side. 

It was awesome as a teacher to have my kids working together on the solution to a real life problem, while having them critically thinking and doing advanced math skills. Multiplication, division, ratios, finding the mean...these are 3rd graders we're talking about. They didn't have calculators, and they didn't complain even ONCE about doing the math. They were invested in discovering the answers. They need to know how much trash to collect before we can ship it after all!

My terracycling service learning project doesn't stop here though. Later in the year we'll determine how much waste we shipped, how much we got paid, and then we'll write persuasive pieces trying to convince each other how we should spend the money on helping various charities. All while helping the environment! 

What service learning projects do you have going on in your schools? I'd love to hear about them!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday break!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Five for Friday - December already?!

It seems like I was just writing my post for November!

It's been a bit since I've been able to make time for a decent blog post. I have had so many half-written in my mind...but I suppose they only count when I actually type them up to share!

So I'm going to link up to Doodle Bug's Five for Friday and try to cover it all in one post!

1. Vacations

This week was a short one, but a doozy. We had Monday off because it was the first day of hunting season. Last week we had school Monday, a snow day on Tuesday, and a teacher planning day on Wednesday. So needless to say when the kids walked in the door Tuesday morning they were not totally in school mode. I fear it'll only get crazier seeing as Christmas break is just 10 school days away! 

2. Language Arts this week

We finished Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes pretty quickly, and have moved on to reading The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I love this book, though I know it's not everyone's favorite. It's about two kids who run away from home to go live inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That's where they discover a mystery to solve. The book provides a lot of opportunities for teachable moments, and has some great vocabulary.

My mentor sentence activities came from Trouble with Trolls. It's always fun to read a Jan Brett book and point out all of the hidden things, and side pictures. Mentor Sentences are still going really well. I've even turned on some colleagues to using them. My favorite part of the week is Thursday when we write our imitation sentences. The sentences my kids are coming up with are awesome. 

We've moved into informational writing now too! So, Jivey basically writes one out of ten of my lesson plans, because I heard about this book from her blog too. Haha. It's called Animals Nobody Loves, and is great because it packs a lot of interesting information about some unique animals into just a couple paragraphs per page. Because we've only just begun this unit of writing, we mostly used it to talk about the differences between narratives and informational writing, and the idea of choosing "expert topics" to write about. It's surprising how many kids want to write their first piece on something that they know almost nothing about. One of our first projects for informational writing is to brainstorm a list of Expert Topics and Sub-topics. 

I have a product in my store that I've just updated with a couple more cool things. It includes a poster about Informational Writing, a graphic organizer to help kids work on formulaic writing, and my brainstorming organizer. Check it out! Just two smackeroos!

3. If I Had a Million Dollars Project Based Learning

My kids started a new project based learning project this week! They really loved the Zoo Design project we did a while back (from Matt over at Digital: Divide and Conquer) and I really love them having a go-to project to work on as one of their math workshop centers!

So today at the beginning of math I played the song "If I had a Million Dollars" by the Barenaked Ladies, and then explained that the kids would be given an imaginary million to spend. There are rules of course. They have to buy a house, a vehicle, and set aside money for college. After that they get to go wild! We spent some time on today and every kid found a house they would be happy with in the city of their choice. They're excited to see how far they can stretch the million. I think the real compliment was when a kid came over from his class (I teach kids from all the different classes during math time) during indoor recess today to ask me a question so he could work on the project some more. 

I put together the materials I made in a small packet, and have the packet available in my Teacherpayteachers store for just $2.00! Click here to go check it out! 

4. Centering Activities

This year I am part of a team of people in my school who are working on instilling both a growth mindset and mindfulness into our students. As part of that I've begun doing "centering" activities with the kids. These can be as simple as turning the lights down low, sitting in a circle, closing our eyes, and listening to soft piano music while thinking. Today I had the kids sit in a circle with me, we shut off the lights, closed our eyes and I rang a Tibetan singing bowl. When the kids couldn't hear the bell anymore they had to clasp their hands together. 

I borrowed one of these from my teaching bud down the
hall. It's a Tibetan Singing Bowl.
I think the kids really enjoy doing the activities, which serve as a great 4-5 minute brain break, though I have found that some of the activities don't mesh well with one of my students with autism. I'm eager to keep experimenting though!

5. Japan

This week we finally started our Japan Unit! We had a fun activity where I placed artifacts from Japan at centers around the room and the kids rotated as they tried to discover the items' uses. They also were asked to determine if the artifact is unique to Japan or if we have something like it. This activity led to a great class discussion afterwards.

I also read "The Way We Do It In Japan" to the kids. It's a great book that meshes narrative and informative writing. It's about a boy whose family has moved from America to Japan. A lot of great comparisons are made throughout the story.

And that was some of my week! What great resources do you know about for teaching Japan? What about Informational writing? Do you take time to get your kids centered? Any great tips to share? I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tried It Tuesday on a Snow Day

Well, much to my dismay I'm sitting at home on a Snow Day, so I'm linking up with Holly over at Fourth Grade Flipper with another Tried It Tuesday! 

I know, I know, a lot of teachers love a snow day every once in a while. The problem is that I had a bunch of awesome things planned for today that kind of won't make sense when we get back in December since half of them are Thanksgiving related. And I was hoping to wrap up some ongoing projects today that have to be pushed back too. 

Of course, tomorrow is a "Records Day" here, so the students stay home but the teachers report to work on progress reports and catch up on planning and classroom things. (But we may have that day canceled now!) Most of our teacher planning days are taken up by planned professional development, so I was looking forward to a planning day that I could actually use for planning. Plus, if we get called off tomorrow I STILL have to do the progress reports and the planning...just on my own time! Sigh!

And we have to make this day up on December 20th too. So, yeah...not a fan of snow days. But I digress...

I thought I'd share a little about the research projects my kids have been doing. In my district in 3rd/4th we've had the same social studies and science units for nearly 20 years. With the push for math and language arts, our units just haven't been updated. So it often falls on the teachers to take the basic theme of the unit and update the activities from our old units to match the current standards. One of the units we study is Africa. Africa can be a really daunting subject to take on due to size of the continent and the dramatic differences in culture from one side of it to another. It's really hard to teach kids generically about "Africa" because of those differences. 

So, along with another teacher on my team, I decided to break the continent up into 8 pieces, assign triads of kids one of the regions each, and provide them with materials to do research on that region. Having another teacher onboard was great because we could divvy up the responsibility of finding the different research resources. Kids have taken the last several weeks to do their research, and the last week preparing their presentations.

One kiddo brought in this
homemade smashed banana
treat from Madagascar!
This turned out to be an excellent example of how a teacher can set high expectations for the kids, and the kids will rise to meet the challenge. I asked kids to present about at least 9 out of the 12 topics I had them research, and they had to present using at least 3 forms of media. They rocked it. Every group ended up preparing at least 4 types of media, and several presented on all 12 topics!

Media types ranged from iMovies, Google Presentations, and ComicLife comics to homemade food, dance routines, reader's theatres, illustrated folktales, travel brochures, and posters.

Couscous (from Morocco) lovingly made,
but unfortunately smashed on the way to SMELLED delicious at least.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous that I'd set the expectations too high for the amount of time I was able to give the kids to work, but they did it by working on it (unasked) from home and during recess. I had parents ask to come and watch the presentations, and I think they were happy with what they saw. In the future I think I might take the number of research topics down so that the amount of time needed for the project is less, but otherwise I'd call the project a success! I was hoping to wrap up the last two presentations today, but just had to snow...Oh well!

Not the prettiest lady...
So I'll leave you today with a chuckle. We had one of our infamous "too cold to go outside" inside recess days yesterday, so some of my kids got another chance to work in the Book of Awesome Tasks that I made for them. So I present to you a couple of pictures from one of the kids' favorite pages. Apparently, monster, ninja, robot, etc. just wasn't interesting enough, so they decided to draw me as "other."

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We're thankful for our followers!

A bunch of bloggers have joined up to say THANK YOU.  Thank you for following us.  Thank you for your support, encouragement, and friendship.  We have learned so much from you.  

So we wanted to say thank you with a Gift Card Giveaway.  

Simply fill in the rafflecopter below and you have a chance to win one of 3 prizes. 
(You can fill in the rafflecopter on any of our blogs, it's all the same one.) 

3 lucky winners will win a $25 gift card to TPT.  

Good luck!  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Favorite Chapter Books - Workshop Wednesday

So, when my BBB Jivey mentioned that the topic for this Wednesday's linky was to write about ONE chapter book that we use in class, I knew that I'd have a really hard time with it. 

I mean, of course I want to write about Wonder by RJ Palacio, but I've already done that! Go check that post out if you're interested in hearing more about that awesome book, and check out my novel study unit for it while you're at it! I can't rave about this book enough.

I could always talk about Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger too, which is a super fun chapter book to do with kids, but I've done that already too! I made another novel unit and lapbook set for that book as well.

So, I figured rather than rehash the same info about those two books I'd talk about one that won't just sound like an advertisement!  ;) 

Picking just one chapter book to focus on is impossible! We always have a novel going on in my classroom, whether it is a full blown study of the novel or just a class read-aloud. I have so many favorites! I know a lot of teachers have some old stand-bys that are favorites of mine as well like Frindle, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Phantom Tollbooth (which this very blog is named after!), Holes, etc. but in the end I figured I'd share about our next read-aloud, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.

We are about to begin our next Social Studies unit, which is all about Japan. So obviously this is a perfect time for me to read this book with the kids, but you could read it whether you have a Japan unit or not! It tells the true story of a girl named Sadako Sasaki who was two years old when the bombs were dropped, and ten years later develops leukemia from living in Hiroshima. In the hospital she set the goal of folding 1,000 paper cranes, but only makes it to 644 before she succumbs to her illness.

Sadako's memorial
I've read this book with my 2nd graders when I taught the Japan unit in GA, and I think every year the kids were absolutely shocked that this book doesn't have a happy ending. We're reading Gooseberry Park right now, and I have several kids worried sick about Stumpy the Squirrel (who has gone missing during an ice storm)...but today I overheard one of my boys say to a girl, "Chill out, you know everything's going to work out...these stories always have happy endings." The story of Sadako doesn't end happily, but I think it does do a great job of showing kids that sometimes our actions can have lasting implications. Being exposed to a story that doesn't end with everything wrapped up in a nice bow is a good experience for them, and this piece of historical fiction really cements one of the big ideas behind why we study not repeat the mistakes of the past.

The book is pretty short and easy to read. I will probably finish it with the kids in a week and a half. I usually use it as a whole class read-aloud, and will model some of the CAFE strategies as I read it with the kids. Noting the point of view, character traits of the characters, cause and effect, and making predictions based on evidence from the text are all good places to go with this book.

There are a ton of activities available to go along with this book out there on the web. I've included a couple of sites you might consider checking out if you plan to read the book with your class!

Kids Peace Station - an illustrated timeline of Sadako's brief life.
The site also has a place to send and read letters to Sadako, and lots of other information about the bombings, Japan, and peace.

Fold a paper crane - this includes step by step videos for folding a perfect crane. In past years my classes have folded 1,000 cranes and shipped them to the shrine in Hiroshima.

Don't have time for the chapter book? Consider checking out the picture book version! Sadako by Eleanor Coerr is illustrated by Ed Young, and tells the story in a somewhat shorter version that the illustrations make up for greatly. 

Be sure to stop by all the other links to learn about some more great chapter books!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Monday Made It - Capitalization poster freebie!

Just a quick post today to link up for Monday Made It!

When I taught primary I felt like I must have gone over the rules for capitalization a bajillion times. Then when I got to 5th grade and realized all my efforts were in vain for about half those kids, I nearly lost it.  So, now that I'm in 3rd/4th I figure I may as well make a last ditch effort to get as many kids on board with correct capitalization as possible so that at least half have it before they get to 5th!   ;)

It's great to just be able to say the word "Mints!" to serve as a helpful hint to students that they might need to edit for capitalization. This isn't my idea, and honestly I'm not sure where I saw it originally because one version or another of this poster has been up in my room for years, but since I made a new matchy poster for my classroom I figured I'd share it with all of you in case you can use it! It's a forever freebie (as are ALL of my freebies) and positive feedback is all the payment I'll ever request for it! Click the link to grab your copy! Enjoy! 

I know that was a quickie...but can you believe that it was my 100th post?! Thanks so much for reading!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Classroom Management and some new (for me) Whole Brain Teaching methods

I'm a little late to the party, but I'm linking up to Tried It Tuesday with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper! I DID start this post on Tuesday...

So this week I decided to implement another level of Whole Brain Teaching methods in my classroom. If you're not familiar with it, check it out here. Now for the longest blog post in history! I hope you hang in there and earn the freebies I've included!

I have had a lot of success with the "Class - Yes" method for the last several years. I love using different attention getters that have a choral response. October's was the ever popular "Hocus Pocus - Everybody Focus."

For the last several years I have mentored a yearlong intern from Penn State, and each year I am reminded what it is like to be in a classroom as a brand new teacher with limited classroom management skills. This year I was able to attend a brief training about whole brain teaching and it made me think that there were some things I could put in place to help my intern. I decided to give two of the Whole Brain basics a try in my classroom that I had heard of but never tried. I've been really impressed even after just one day!

The two things I'm trying are "The Rules" and "The Scoreboard."

The Rules are simply a list of 5 expectations. The catch is that kids are expected to learn them, and be able to repeat them AND a motion that matches the rule, on command. I modified two of the rules slightly, so here are my "rules" and motions.

Rule #1: Follow directions quickly and quietly. 
(hand shoots out at quickly and comes back as one finger to lips at quietly) I added the "quietly" part.

Rule #2: Raise your hand for permission to speak.
(hand raises quickly then drops to mouth level and makes talking motion)

Rule #3: Always be in just the right place.
(kids point straight to the ground with both hands over and over)
This takes the place of the more typical "Raise your hand to leave your seat" as that goes against other procedures in my class, ie. getting a tissue, going to the bathroom, getting a sip of water, etc.

Rule #4: Make smart choices.
(kids point to their temples and twist their hands back and forth, like winding gears)

Rule #5: Keep your dear teacher happy.
(kids use their two index fingers to make a heart shape on their chest at dear and then do jazz hands at happy)

Whenever kids are sent off to a situation where one of the rules will be in effect it is good to say something like, "Okay, before you go...Rule #1?" Then the kids say the rule, make the motion, and off they go quickly and quietly to follow the direction!

Now comes The Scoreboard!

This has already been a lot of fun. And it is pretty basic. The teacher simply draws a simple scoreboard on the markerboard. One side has a smiley face (that's where the students' earned points go) and one side has a frownie face (that's where the teacher's earned points go.) Whenever the kids are following the rules flawlessly they are given a point. If they aren't following the rules, or something grievous happens then the teacher earns a point. If the kids have more points than the teacher at the end of the day then they win.

Now, here's another fun part of this. Anytime the kids get a point they get to have a "One Second Party" while I write the point. Anytime I get a point the kids have to let out a "Mighty Groan." When the party/groan is over the kids are focused on the teacher. It is recommended that to use the scoreboard correctly, the students should never be more than 3 points ahead, so a little system manipulation is needed. I think breaking that rule occasionally would be okay though, just to show that it can be done.

Click the image to grab the
tags for free!
In my class we decided to implement a leveling system like in a video game. We're at Level 1, and we need 10 experience points to "level up." Each day any points that the kids have over me go into that pot. When we reach ten points we'll level up, receive a reward, and then start over. Just like in a game, higher levels are more challenging and rewards are greater. Our reward for reaching level 2 are these sweet little brag tags I whipped up using the template from Fifth in the Middle!

I'm really looking forward to seeing how these methods play out, and I'm hoping that they are valuable to my intern when she begins teaching some lessons and being in front of the kids more and more.

Now, to toot my own horn for a second, even before implementing these things I have always thought that classroom management is a strength of mine. Disclaimer: Let me start by saying that it is a HUGE pet peeve of mine when fellow teachers discount my hard work in this area when they say things like, "Well, you're a man so kids must listen better." Aaargh!

Aside from basic attention getters, and the whole brain things I've mentioned, I excel at classroom management because I do these things:

I build a strong classroom community.

We take time at the beginning of the year, and throughout the year to learn about and celebrate each other. Positive reinforcement is the norm. Additionally, I make it a mission to get to know each and every one of my kids. I have a kiddo that is obsessed with Star Wars, so I watched all 6 movies again one Saturday so that I could actually talk to him. Otherwise I'd have had no chance of getting to know him. 

I plan for every part of my school day.

I literally have a plan for every minute of every day. I make that plan a week in advance. I then e-mail that plan to all of the paraprofessionals that work in my classroom throughout the day, and all of the learning support teachers that serve any of my kids. I'm not required to do this. If kids are going to need a material for the next lesson, that material was prepped the day before. Little things like "we need index cards for this and I don't have any" or "hmmm...what are we going to do next?!" are the quickest way to wreck your day in my opinion.

I follow through on everything I say to kids.

If I say it, then it will happen. Conversely, I don't say things or fight battles that don't matter or that I can't win or back up. Empty threats are pointless. I'm always ready to follow through on any claim I make. Usually I don't have to back up a "crazy claim" more than once. Case in point, if my kids are riled up on Halloween and having a hard time lining up quietly for lunch...we'll sit down and line up again until they get it right. Late for lunch? Oh well. I'll tell the next teacher to jump us in line.

I have high expectations for behavior, independence, and academics. I expect respect.

I know all of my kids can learn what I need them to learn. I know they can do a lot of activities independently. I trust them to make good decisions, and I give guidance when they don't. I expect students to treat everyone with respect and I let them know how completely shocked and flabbergasted I am when they don't.

I make consequences match the offense.

We don't use a card pulling system or a clip moving system in my room, though I did for many years. I became disillusioned with it for a couple reasons. They seemed to focus on the negative, and the consequences seemed rather static. I know some teachers have clip charts that go in both directions (kids start in the middle and can move up OR down in level of behavior) and I think that helps a lot. 

My biggest problem is when a kiddo moves two clips and then has to lose 5 minutes of recess. Why? What did she move the clips for? In my room the consequence matches the offense. Kiddo purposefully writes on the board in sharpie? She gets to locate the head custodian and ask for the supplies to clean it. After she cleans it, she sends an e-mail to him (CC:ed to Mom and Dad of course) to thank him for the use of his materials. (This activity may have had to happen during recess or another desirable time of course!)

Obviously there are always some exceptions to the rules. There are always going to be those kiddos who just have a really hard time following rules or being kind to others. Special circumstances may call for special solutions. Good classroom management isn't magic.

But while there are always going to be some cases where nothing I know works, I've found that classroom management mostly takes care of itself when I do the things I do. That makes me a happy teacher! What do you all think about classroom management?

And if you hung in this long and want a copy of my rules...grab yourself a set here by clicking the image of Rule #1 to the left!

Friday, November 1, 2013

November already?! - Five for Friday

Surely I'm not the only teacher out there thinking this, right?! The memories of setting up my classroom and anxiously awaiting meeting my kiddos for the first time are still fresh, yet here we are...November! Time flies when you're having fun though I suppose!

And today I thought it'd be fun to link up with Doogle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday linky! It's been a full week since I have last blogged, so there's plenty to share! It's that whole time flying problem again!

1. Best Idea Ever:

Today is actually a district-wide in-service day for elementary teachers! Whoever thought up having a professional development day the Friday after Halloween deserves a prize. I love Halloween as much as the next teacher, but the lack of routine and all the excitement of the day makes me need a nap! 
PS - I will never wear this costume again. Questions like, "Are you a penguin or a fly?" got a little bit old. Haha. I'm a SPIDER! Geez people! ;)

I'm actually presenting to a small group about using Social Media for Professional Development today! This someecard sounds like a joke, but it's actually true! Where would I be without blogging, Pinterest, Facebook, or Teacherspayteachers?! Seriously though, sharing ideas and finding great ideas and products is one of the best benefits of reading teaching blogs. I think I could easily say that I've gained more insight from reading the blogs of my colleagues than all the trainings I've been sent to in my 13 year career combined! Props to all those teachers out there who did this job pre-internet is all I have to say! 

2. New Read-aloud beginning!

We just finished up our reading of Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger, so on Monday we'll be starting a new favorite of mine, Gooseberry Park by Cynthia Rylant. I've read other works by Cynthia Rylant, but had never read this one until it was recommended by a colleague this year. As an avid reader of children's lit, I was kind of surprised I hadn't heard of it. If you're like me, head on over and read the summary here.  I think it'll be the perfect book to read as Fall gets colder and colder. Even better, when I pre-read it I was able to find a ton of opportunities to address my CAFE strategies with the kids! Our next book will be the ever-popular "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes" to go along with our Japan Unit. 

3. Baby Trout are on the way!

We'll be raising Brook Trout, which is
Pennsylvania's state fish, and the only native
species of trout in the state! I'm learning already!
Well, eggs really...but still! I've worked really hard to get my trout tank all set up, and the eggs will finally be arriving Tuesday afternoon. I've been learning more about trout care than any one man should know...Who knew that caring for trout was so complicated anyway?! I'm really nervous that something will go wrong and we won't have any survivors! I'll be sure to keep you updated on their progress!

4. Science Mentor Text for Animal Adaptations

I picked up this fun book at my school's recent Book Fair to go along with our Ecosystems Unit. We've talked a lot about biomes, producers, consumers, etc. But we're finally getting to the really fun stuff...adaptations! This book presents a variety of different animal teeth and shows how those animals use their specialized teeth to survive. The illustrations alone would keep the kids engaged, but the information presented is great too! I think it's best to read some selections from the book, and then let the kids explore the rest of the book later. My intern is required to teach three science lessons this semester, and she is teaching them next week. They're all about animal adaptations, and I know the kids are going to love them. 

5. Two Random Non-Teacher Things

I recently invested in one of these Ninja blenders, with the cup that can be blended right into, and I love it. I used to drink a smoothie every morning for breakfast, but fell out of the habit because I just got sick of cleaning the blender every morning and the time it took to make them. Now I throw some stuff into the cup, put it right onto the blender base, hit the button for like two seconds, and then switch out the lid. Rinse the cup when I'm done and it's ready for the next day! I'm usually so busy in the morning that I won't take time to eat breakfast, so having a smoothie in the morning now is like a treat. It's really been brightening my mornings!

Speaking of bright... Please tell me that all of you other teachers out there are also dealing with this newest fad? The fun loom/rainbow loom bracelet thing has gotten out of hand. This kiddo has this many bracelets on both arms. It's all the kids want to do at recess. And I have like 20 tiny rubber bands on my floor every day after school. I keep telling myself it's better than those silly bands from a couple years ago at least. Those the kids had to take on and off all the time, (to see the shapes of course!) and at least these they just leave on!

The real question? Why couldn't I invent this?

Til next time!

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