## Friday, January 31, 2014

### Geometry Printable #4 & Super Sale

Today I am sharing Odd One Out with Polygons.  This is the fourth one-page geometry printable I have shared on my blog this month. To download the free Google Doc, click here.

This page will give you two sessions of the activity.  I put my students in groups of three or four and gave them half of the printable above.  They needed to discuss which shape they would leave out of the group of four and justify their answers.  They listed the shape they left out and their reasons why on a sheet of notebook paper.  Then they discussed why another shape in the group might be the odd one out.

For example, in the top group, a student might say that the pentagon is the odd one out, because it has an odd number of sides.  Students then move on to discuss another shape.

Update: these are available in my 22 page paid product at TPT and TN.

## Wednesday, January 29, 2014

### Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

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I have to confess that Zita the Spacegirl was not my favorite, but my classroom copy has been passed around my students so much, that its worth mentioning.  Zita's friend is taken to another planet and so begins her journey through an alien universe.  My students love it.

It's a graphic novel and I allow some of this genre for independent reading.  I don't allow it to become a steady diet.  I talk about different types of books like different foods.  Just like your body needs a mix of foods to be healthy, your mind needs a mix of ideas and formats to grow.  I want them to have a balanced diet physically and mentally.

Here is a blank story board form where students can create their own graphic novels.

## Monday, January 27, 2014

### Groundhog Day 2014

Update 2/2/15 -- Check this post for current Groundhog Predictions information.  The links to the freebies should be the same, but we aren't doing the website this year.

The last several years I have made a huge deal about Groundhog Day.  I wrote a seven page packet using the science experiment format: Question, Prediction, Materials, Procedure, Data, Conclusion.  I set up a website to record our data and invited other classes to participate.

At first I wasn't going to do this unit with my students this year, but then I gave them a science test and realized we need to practice the parts of an experiment in as many ways possible before they complete their science fair projects at the end of March.

So I'm a little behind this year, getting it set up and inviting others.  If you want to see what we have done in the past, visit http://groundhogpredictions.blogspot.com.

The seven page packet is a free download in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and my Teachers Notebook Store.

## Sunday, January 26, 2014

### Quote of the Week -- January 26, 2014

"Your role as a leader is even more important than you might imagine. You have the power to help people become winners." --Ken Blanchard

## Friday, January 24, 2014

### Geometry Printable #3 & Giveaway

My students have no trouble telling me which polygons are congruent.  What they do struggle with is using geometry words to describe why.  Here is an activity that I have used with my students to encourage their writing in math.  Click here to download a copy of Congruent Polygons.

I expected my students to fill out the bottom of this sheet independently far too soon in my unit.  I needed to model with some and allow partners with others.  I was surprised how few used the anchor chart hanging in the room or the glossary in the back of the math book.

Sometimes struggling through an activity like this with my students teaches me more than it does them.

Classifying Quadrilaterals is one of my bestselling items in my Teachers Pay Teachers and Teacher's Notebook stores.

## Wednesday, January 22, 2014

### Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell

Several of my girls have been reading this series, so I had to check it out for myself.  I was concerned at first that the main character was too absorbed with shallow popular culture, but soon I realized that the message of the book is to be yourself.  (Although this is not as clichÃ© as I present it here.)

## Monday, January 20, 2014

### Real World Teaching and Learning

I was out for a walk the day after Thanksgiving when I noticed some birds in a pond about half a mile from my house.  I go by this pond several times a week, but I hadn't seen these before.

I pulled out my phone and started searching what they might be.  I wasn't having much success when I looked across the pond and saw someone taking pictures with several thousand dollars with of photography equipment.

I decided that anyone who invests that much money in something must:
1. know more than I do.
2. not mind a couple of questions.

I walked around the pond to where he was standing and asked about the birds.  In five minutes I knew that what I had been looking at were some cormorants.  I also learned about the other birds -- including a hybrid Mallard that has a green head and a white body.

This spurred me to go home and look up more about the birds in my neighborhood.

This type of learning is what I hope for my students.  I want them to notice something in their world and begin to ask questions.  I want them to see the role of technology, but I also want them to seek out experts who don't mind answering rookie questions.

So many lessons I teach seem contrived.

## Sunday, January 19, 2014

### Quote of the Week -- January 19, 2014

"Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers." --Josef Albers

## Friday, January 17, 2014

### Geometry Printable #2

Today's free item is a simple matching activity with vocabulary terms and their defini

I have used this at the beginning of the unit as a pretest, but my students have more fun with it when we review the words like a game show.
I put them into small groups and have them make sure that every member of the team knows the definitions of the words.  Then I call on students randomly to match the words and give team points for every correct answer.
Just in case you need the answer key, here it is:
1. G; 2. E. 3. A; 4. I; 5. H; 6. J; 7. B; 8. C; 9. D; 10. F

Classifying Triangles is one of my bestselling products in my Teachers Pay Teachers and Teacher's Notebook stores.

## Wednesday, January 15, 2014

### Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast Series by Clete Smith

"Was talking to girls always this tricky, or only when you were hiding visitors from outer space?"

This quote by the main character sums up the series.  Imagine the stress of adolescence compounded by helping your grandmother run an Intergalactic Bed and Breakfast.  David is supposed to help the aliens visiting Earth blend in so they won't become someone's research project.  This is exactly as difficult as it sounds.

Here is a free printable form for students to create their own alien trading cards.

## Monday, January 13, 2014

### Central Planning at Its Finest

A colleague who transferred to our district told us about a parent teach conference week that was interrupted by a snow day.  That district heated the classrooms the week people weren't there, but refused to turn on the heat while the teachers were making up their conferences.

This is just one of many stories I have about my frustration with top down decision making.  We recently received an all district email about white board cleaner that I am still processing.

A homeschooling friend shared with me this quote:

"People who are very aware that they have more knowledge than the average person are often very unaware that they do not have one-tenth of the knowledge of all of the average persons put together. In this situation, for the intelligentsia to impose their notions on ordinary people is essentially to impose ignorance on knowledge." -- Dr. Thomas Sowell

Top down administration doesn't work, because collectively we have more experience and wisdom than the one who thinks he is too smart to listen.

## Sunday, January 12, 2014

### Quote of the Week -- January 12, 2014

“Basing our happiness on our ability to control everything is futile.”
Stephen Covey

## Friday, January 10, 2014

### Geometry Printable #1 & Giveaway

I’ve been focused on geometry in my classroom lately.  I have been trying to align curriculum with Common Core and I am ending up writing my own lessons.  For the next four Fridays, I am sharing some one page freebies I'm using to teach geometry to my fourth graders.
Geometry Printable #1 is called Odd One Out.  Click here for a Google Doc of the page below.
This page will give you two sessions of the activity.  I put my students in groups of three or four and gave them half of the printable above.  They needed to discuss which shape they would leave out of the group of four and justify their answers.  They listed the shape they left out and their reasons why on a sheet of notebook paper.  Then they discussed why another shape in the group might be the odd one out.

For example, in the group of quadrilaterals, a student might say that the rectangle is the odd one out because it is the only one that has right angles.

Students get to use their geometry vocabulary and reasoning skills in this activity.

Update: these are available in my 22 page paid product at TPT and TN.

## Wednesday, January 8, 2014

### Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

I had this book on my list of must reads and then I watched one of my students devour it in a couple of days.
The author was a refugee from Viet Nam during the fall of Saigon.  She ends up in the deep south.  She describes her journey in a lyrical style that hooked me from the opening page.  My husband also read it cover to cover in about a day. (So it isn't just a girl's book.)

Thanhha Lai noticed that the generation of her family who grew up in America didn't understand this time period, so she recorded her experiences.  I would consider this an excellent read aloud.

## Monday, January 6, 2014

### The Case of the Missing Snowman Revisited

"You build a snowman and come inside for some cocoa.  While you are warming up, you are looking out the window when you see your snowman come to life.  Write what happens next."

Last year, we were invited to decorate our doors as a contest and I had my students create snow people characters out of construction paper first.  Then I had them fill out the missing poster based on the character they created.  Here is what our display looked like:

We started with the prompt which led readers to study the Missing Posters.

This led to the door where the snow people were having a party.
I have no idea why one is sideways.

I had several students stop by and try to match the missing poster with the snowman in the scene.  The writing assignment and the interactive bulletin board were a hit.

Caution: the year I taught sixth grade, the snowmen became characters out of a horror movie.  I had to set strict limits on writing assignments for school.

## Sunday, January 5, 2014

### Quote of the Week -- January 5, 2014

"The great end of education is to discipline rather than to furnish the mind; to train it to the use of its own powers rather than to fill it with the accumulation of others." -- Tyron Edwards

## Friday, January 3, 2014

### Artifact Analysis Form

I took this picture a couple of summers ago at the British Museum in London.  While we were there I observed school groups having their end of term trips.  I have to say I was a little jealous of the opportunities these schools have with all of the amazing museums to visit.

A little closer to home, my teammate has rented two trunks from the Museum of History and Industry (in Seattle) to share this year.  My students have had the chance to observe and handle artifacts from local Native American tribes and explorers without leaving our classroom.

I looked for some Artifact Analysis forms that my students could use to make detailed observations and inferences.  I combined some of the questions I found and made the boxes large enough for fourth grade handwriting.

Here is a Google Doc version of my Artifact Analysis form.  This could be used for trunks that you borrow or to study at an actual museum.

## Wednesday, January 1, 2014

### Happy 2014 -- It's January Currently

Hello all,
I'm enjoying a slow, quiet morning to start off 2014.  All too soon life will get busy again.

Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade is hosting her monthly blog party.  I'd love for you to join us.

Currently, I'm listening to the Oldies station.  They have a marathon of 500 songs A to Z.
I'm loving the time with friends we have spent this break.
I'm thinking about where I want to go for my walk today.  I've been walking every day of break and I want to keep it up into 2014.
I want and need nothing today.  I am so content with my life right now.
We have Christmas Eve at our house because that is when my stepdaughter is available.  It was a nice time with extended family.

So how about you?  What are you doing on this first day of 2014?

### The Ordinary Boy Series by William Boniface

Imagine living in a town of superheroes and being the only one without any super powers.  Meet Ordinary Boy, the protagonist of this series by William Boniface.

I am constantly looking for books that encourage reluctant readers.  Superheroes are popular right now and my students can identify with trying to figure out their gifts and talents.

Click here for a related writing activity called Heroes and Villains.  Students create one of each and use them in their own story.