## Wednesday, December 31, 2014

### The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman

The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman was the first book I read aloud with my fourth graders this year.  Gil Goodson wants to win the games, but he is hampered by his father's scandalous dismissal from the company.

We spent time during each read aloud session, talking about the characters and how the author used their dialogue and actions to make each distinct.  (Here is a graphic organizer to record the character sketches.) We also analyzed the plot twists as Gil continues toward his goal despite obstacles.

I know that reading aloud entire novels was out of fashion for awhile in elementary education.  The discussions I had with my students affirmed that I should continue this practice.

## Monday, December 29, 2014

### Quilt Square Project #2

A couple of weeks ago I shared a paper quilt square project I did with my students.  I want to give them some art projects that use the skills we are learning in measurement, fractions and geometry.

For this project I gave them more colors and sizes of right triangles.  The only rule that I gave them was they must use just right triangles.  They could combine them to create other shapes, but that was the basic shape to start with.

Here is our class display. (We keep adding to it.)﻿

Have you visited Math Spies?  This post right here introduces Quilt Square Codes.  Students use the fraction of each color to solve a code word.

The full paid product has 32 task cards and is available at TPT and TN.

## Sunday, December 28, 2014

### Quote of the Week -- December 28, 2014

You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try.

Beverly Sills

Have a good week,

## Friday, December 26, 2014

### Trading Cards for Mini-Research Projects

I have some old Kids National Geographic Magazines in my classroom and my students covet the animal trading cards inside some of the issues.  I decided to use their interest to create a mini-research form.

These can be adapted for any animal, real or imaginary.  You can require a certain number glued to an index card with illustrations.  I like having open ended projects like this for students who finish other work.

## Wednesday, December 24, 2014

### Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

I was familiar with Brian Selznick's work as an illustrator and was pleased to find his novels this year.  I inhaled Wonderstruck, the tale of two children growing up fifty years apart.  Ben's point of view is told in words.  Rose's part of the story is told with pictures.  Each has a quest that eventually connects.

## Monday, December 22, 2014

I was making a list of math choices for my students when they were finished with the main lesson.  I started describing the choices like the items on a menu:

Main Dish -- I want everyone to choose one of the items from this section.

Side Dish -- Once they have completed a main dish, they may choose items from this section.

Dessert Menu -- Only after completing items from the previous two sections, a student may choose from this list.

I use this format for computer time and writing choices also.

I schedule different subjects for different times of the day and the choices for fast finishers correspond to those subjects.  I explain that I want my students to have a balanced diet across all subjects.  They accept these choices from this structure.

## Sunday, December 21, 2014

### Quote of the Week -- December 21, 2014

Indecision and delays are the parents of failure. -- George Canning

Have a great week,

## Friday, December 19, 2014

Today I am starting a series of posts about a set of five-in-a-row game, I created for my classroom.  I went a little crazy with the seven different versions, and I have since shared this game with my colleagues at different grade levels.  Gomoku with Addition is the easiest level.

Students roll two dice, add the numbers together and put a marker on a square with the answer.  The goal is to get five markers in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally.  I introduced the multiplication version to my fourth graders.  I had them teach this version to our first grade buddy class.

## Wednesday, December 17, 2014

### Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka

I found Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor on the new books shelf at the local library.  I am so glad I did.  Frank lives with his grandfather Al Einstein. (No, not that one.)  He invents a robot in the garage which initially doesn't work, but in an accident develops artificial intelligence and recreates itself.  Klink and his less intelligent counterpart Klank help Frank with his inventions and his science competition with T. Edison.

I completely enjoyed the characters and plot.  The best part for me was the references to classic Sci-fi and famous scientists.  I'm excited to track down book two.

Here are printable directions to make a three-dimensional scene. This activity is suitable for any book.

## Monday, December 15, 2014

### Quilt Square Project #1

Over the summer I created a series of quilt square projects for my fourth graders.  I want them to have some hands on experiences with measuring, geometry and fractions.  These activities require them to measure, cut and see relationships between the geometric shapes we study in math class.

For this first project, I gave them four three inch squares and a six inch background.  I chose our school colors: teal and purple.

I showed them how to fold and cut the squares into right triangles and recombine them into squares.  They had to completely cover the background.  I had them create several combinations and show them on the document camera.  I stapled the resulting squares on the back wall of our classroom.

Here are some of the vocabulary words that naturally came up in this activity: right triangle, symmetry, parallelogram, square, and quadrilateral.

I'm in the process of photographing and writing up the other projects.  I promise I will share them when I am done.

Have you visited Math Spies?  This post right here introduces Quilt Square Codes.  Students use the fraction of each color to solve a code word.

The full paid product has 32 task cards and is available at TPT and TN.

## Sunday, December 14, 2014

### Quote of the Week -- December 14, 2014

If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.
~Oscar Wilde

Have a good week,

## Friday, December 12, 2014

For one of the assignments in my unit Letters that Matter, I teach students how to write business letters to complain about an unfair situation or bad service.  I use the template below to help them format their letters.

Also this weekend, December 12-15, I am giving away one copy of Letters That Matter from my Teacher's Notebook Store.

## Wednesday, December 10, 2014

### Destiny Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice

Are you ready for a sweet story who has questions about her past decides it's her destiny to find answers?  Eleven-year-old Emily Elizabeth Davis wants to meet her father.  When she loses a poetry book with the only clue she has to his identity, she and her friends search the bookstores in Berkeley, California trying to get it back.

I loved the main character and all the connections to poetry throughout the book.

## Monday, December 8, 2014

### Some Concerns about Test Scores

I won't recap the entire article, but I want to share the few that resonated with me, because I feel they affect us in elementary schools.
2.  The richer you are, the better you do.
I work in a school that has fairly wealthy and fairly poor students.  How poverty affects test scores concerns me.
4. We get the answers wrong on our own test.
This is true of most standardized tests.  I don't want to be judged like this.
7.  We're not the best predictor of your college success.

We want our students to be "college and career ready," yet test scores don't really predict this.

Having given standardized tests to students as young as first grade, yes, I believe this.  This is not how to show what you know.

I encourage you to read the whole article.

## Sunday, December 7, 2014

### Quote of the Week -- December 7, 2014

Happiness does not come from doing easy work but from the afterglow of satisfaction that comes after the achievement of a difficult task that demanded our best.
~ Theodore Rubin

Have a good week,

## Friday, December 5, 2014

### Ornament Order of Operations

This is one of a series of math worksheets where students first predict an outcome, then solve to see if they are correct.  I want them interacting with the problems in a way that is not just computation.

I have also created Pumpkin Math for adding and subtracting with regrouping and Valentine Math for multiplying a single-digit by a two-digit number.

I also have a paid product called Coded Messages: Order of Operations that practices the same concept.  Coded Messages is available here in my TPT store and here in my TN store.