Paul Janeczko is another artist with words I am sure to include in my classroom instruction. A Poke in the I shows the possibilities of concrete poetry. A Kick in the Head introduces many different poetry forms and gives expert examples of each.
Although these books are tough to read aloud, I find them worth sharing whole group with the document camera.
Over the last several months, I have been sharing a series of five in a row games called Gomoku. The rules of the game are simple: roll two dice, perform the given operation, find a square with the answer, and the winner gets five squares in a row first.
When I was searching for new poetry books to share, I found Maybe I'll Sleep in the Bathtub Tonight and Other Funny Bedtime Poems. Debbie Levy understands children and the way they take things literally. I enjoyed the humorous look at bedtime this collection presents.
My colleagues and I are predicting a teacher shortage. I don't know what it's like in your area, but here north of Seattle, we often have substitute jobs that go unfilled. At our school a maternity leave has been filled with someone without the correct endorsement.
Everywhere I went over spring break, I saw help wanted signs. More than one employer has told me recently that they are having trouble filling jobs. As the stress of teaching continues and teachers see other options, I predict we will have more than just substitute jobs going unfilled.
Last year and this year I have been working on teaching my fourth graders the five paragraph essay format. The freebie I'm sharing today is my latest version of the printable forms I use to teach and grade this form of writing.
Using the gradual release of responsibility model, I had my students write a five paragraph essay about school. We filled in the graphic organizer for three activities we do at school. After we filled in the information for the body paragraphs, I modeled how to create information for the lead and conclusion.
Next, I modeled how to take the information and put it into paragraphs. More advanced writers used their own information and worked ahead at this point. I use yellow legal pads for student rough draft and have them copy onto notebook paper or type up their final copy.
At the beginning of the year, I collected all the rough drafts and edited myself. As we are nearing the end of the school year, I am asking students to peer and self-edit.
Here is what my rubric looks like. By giving similar assignments throughout the year and evaluating them using the same rubric, I can easily record my students' growth in writing.
I confess that my taste in poetry leans toward the humorous poems. Eloise Greenfield's books about family relationships definitely are the exception. Her careful observations about how families work is never stereotypical. I know many of my students can find themselves and people they love on the page.
I discovered Eloise Greenfield's work when I moved schools and a copy of Talk About a Family was in the library. I was happy to see recently that it was still in print.
Here is an anchor chart that has been hanging in my room since the first or second week in school. I know I tried to sit my students all down and talk about building stamina or endurance or whatever the buzzword is today. Someone or something distracted me and we never got back to this. This chart is a symbol of my year.
A couple of months ago I read a blog post about the pressures on teachers and that sometimes we put those pressures on each other. It is so easy as a teacher blogger to present only the good things that are happening, so you think I'm better than I really am.
Pinterest and teacher blogs, etc. bring an unreality to it all. No one can be the teacher in the photo with the good lighting and engaged children all the time. We discard so many photos to show you our best selves. What we think is a good idea, might just be discouraging.
Today, I wanted to show you that I'm real. I start projects I don't finish. I'm good at managing my class most of the time, but sometimes my lessons go off target. I've learned over time not to try to be perfect. It's okay to be good enough.
Today I am finishing up Spring Break. I thought I would share my pretest and posttest for multiplying and dividing large numbers. I use similar versions of the same test to show student growth. I have included answer keys for your convenience.
I love to play with words and teach my students to play too. Since April is poetry month, I want to share some of my latest finds in poetry books.
Lemonade and Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word is an opportunity to see how a professional plays with a single word and creates a work of art. I haven't yet introduced this book to my class, but I can see it inspiring poetry and art projects.
To see the other poetry resources I have on this blog, click the poetry tag at the end of this post.
What are your spring break plans? While some of my colleagues have travel plans, I'm getting caught up on the boring stuff this week like laundry, meal planning and sleep.
Usually, I make it a point to get 7-8 hours of sleep. Last month, I had a cough that lasted several weeks and disrupted my normal sleep patterns.
Coincidentally (or not) I kept reading articles like this one and this one about increasing productivity by getting better sleep. One article recommended taking naps during the day. (This was not written by an elementary teacher.)
The other half of the equation is getting more exercise. A regular exercise routine promotes sleep. Guess what I will be doing this week.
On a related note:
I'm looking for articles about teacher burnout written by someone who is still in the classroom. In other words they are successfully avoiding burnout, not preaching to the rest of us after leaving the profession. If you know of any (including your own posts) please post the link in the comments. Thank you.
Today's Friday Freebie is a two-page mini-research project that I give my students for help. The first page is a list of questions and the second is the rubric I use for grading.
Some years I have made this a group project and other years an independent one. I always have students give short oral presentations for projects like these. I let them have a buddy stand with them and hold any visuals. (My students love to help each other give presentations, and it makes it more comfortable for beginning public speakers.)
Currently I am listening to the rain outside. I'm hoping the students will have outdoor recess today. I am enjoying a quiet morning before I go off to work. I got up at five so I would have some quiet time to write.
Seven creative, lively boys in a clubhouse in Mammoth Falls use science to create inventions and solve mysteries. The stories are set forty to fifty years ago, but I know students today will enjoy these adventures. (With the disclaimer: don't try this at home.)
The boys try to hatch a dinosaur egg, save a downed Air Force Pilot, enter a balloon race, and create a sea monster.