Friday, July 25, 2014

Mars Colony -- What would life on Mars be like?

Click here to download printable directions to make a 3-D scene.

Writing Prompt: look up a piece of technology that scientists are developing, but hasn't happened yet.  Write a story including this fact.

It's opening night! I've spent the last two weeks working with a group of teens who are putting on a musical about a colony on Mars.  The musical is written by family friends who are also directing.  I always learn so much when I spend time working on a production. 

Shannon West wrote Mars Colony 2054 after researching the true plans of Mars One to put a colony there by 2024.  She decided to set the musical a few decades later and keep the production science fiction: something that could happen if there was new technology.  (In other words, there were no little green men.)

This is a process I want my students to think about.  They can research a new technology and write a story from the facts they find.  The three-dimensional scene will illustrate the setting or maybe a scene from their story.  Here are the steps:

First, cut a square from a 9 X 12 piece of paper, by folding one corner to a point on the opposite side three inches from the bottom.  Cut off this three inch extra, but save it to create the scene.

Next, fold the square on the diagonal both directions and cut only half way up one of the diagonal lines. Do not cut the paper all the way through.

Now fold one of the flaps onto the other and glue them together.  You should have a triangular pyramid with one side open.
Now add the details for your scene.  I keep a paper scrap box around so that I'm not cutting up new paper for every project.
In addition, I will be giving away a copy of Coded Messages: Order of Operations July 25-28.  Students use what they know about PEMDAS to complete function tables and solve coded messages.

Freebie Fridays

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Christmas in July at Teacher's Notebook -- July 25-27

It's Christmas in July at Teacher's Notebook July 25-27.  I'm participating by marking everything in my store 20% off.  They are giving double reward dollars during the sale.  Normally, for every $20 spent, teachers get $1 to spend on a future sale.  This weekend, buyers will get $1 for every $10.

In addition, I will be giving away a copy of Coded Messages: Order of Operations July 25-28.  Students use what they know about PEMDAS to complete function tables and solve coded messages.

Many stores will be participating in this sale.  I hope you find something great for Back to School.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back to School Freebie and Bloghop

I thought I would share in a single post the freebies I have created that I plan to use at the beginning of the year. 
The first assignment I have on student desks when they walk in the door is Time Capsule project.  Students fill out the questionnaire and write a letter to themselves the first day of school.  They receive it back the last day of school and compare answers.
I want a writing sample for the first week of school.  I keep this all year to see growth.  Click here for a writing prompt with printable stationery for students to write about one event from their summer.

My first math assignment is the Birthday Graph.  Students survey their classmates to create a bar graph of birthdays by month.
 In order to start establishing classroom climate, I have small groups look up the definitions of rights, responsibilities and privileges.  Then they list some examples.  I use this as a starting point for classroom rules.
At the end of the first day, I send home a questionnaire to parents.  I keep these forms at least until parent teacher conferences so I review any goals or comments parents had at the beginning of the year.
I have students create this name patterning project early in the year for a bulletin board.
 Another project appropriate for this time of year is the apple patterning page.


 After I have introduced the rules and routines, I use this organizer to quiz students on how the room works.  I don't necessarily do this the first week of school, but I make sure I have introduced these procedure and that they know how to follow them.

I hope you have a great school year.

The Red Thread Sisters by Carol Antoinette Peacock


Although this book is fiction, I could tell that the author had spent time interviewing families that are created by overseas adoption.  The situations and emotions the main character experiences were similar to children I know who have been adopted.
Wen is adopted from a Chinese orphanage into an American family.  She was old enough to remember her birth mother leaving her at the gate.  In the orphanage she meets Shu Ling and the two girls promise each other that whoever gets adopted first will help the other find a family.
This is where Peacock's research came through.  She presented an accurate picture of the problems of finding a family for an older child and current adoption process.
I have to say that I probably wouldn't read this book aloud, because it is such an emotional issue for me.  I can see having difficulty reading through some scenes.  I definitely would recommend having my upper elementary students read it.
For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Magnified Inch for Fractions

I heard about the Magnified Inch lesson from a colleague about ten years ago and then read about it in a book called Family Math.  The authors put this lesson in the measurement category, but I find it helpful when teaching fractions.  Here is my version of the lesson:

I start by cutting an eighteen inch strip of construction paper for each student.  ( I always make extras.)  I have students fold the ends together to make half.  I label it with a fairly long line, but I leave enough room to show equivalent fractions.
Next, I have the students fold each end to the center.  We talk about cutting each half into half.  I label each part with a slightly shorter line like you would see on a ruler and mark the lines 1/4 and 3/4 respectively.  I tell them that 2/4 is the same thing as 1/2 and write in that label as well.
The next part is where I lose some students.  I need to fold each fourth into half.  I have found that the simplest way to do this is to fold each end of the strip to the 1/4 mark and then to the 3/4 mark.  I label the new marks 1/8, 3/8, 5/8 and 7/8.  I explain that 2/8 = 1/4, 4/8= 2/4=1/2, and 6/8 = 3/4.  Decide how much guidance your students need with labeling equivalent fractions based on how much experience they have had.
I use this tool as a number line.  We talk about which fractions are greater or less than others.  I let them use it as a tool as we go through the unit. I find that because my students have created this tool, they understand it better than a number line printed in a book.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Quote of the Week -- July 20, 2014

"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing."

Have a good week,

Friday, July 18, 2014

Play Production Rubric for Readers' Theater

As frequent readers know I enjoy being involved in drama.  (For the record, I enjoy being involved in the drama onstage for an audience. Not the other one.

I run the drama club in an afterschool program.  Here is a link that will get you started on other resources I have posted about that.  Each summer for the last four or five years, I have helped with a musical production.

This year when I worked with my classroom students on plays, I wanted to give them specific feedback that would also relate to their general studies.  Here is the rubric I created:

You can download Play Production Rubric for free on Google Drive here.

This rubric may be used with any play or readers' theater.  Students build fluency with practice.  I hope you find it useful.
Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
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