Friday, February 28, 2014

Nursery Rhyme Remix

I use poetry in my classroom in many ways.  I found a new way to create poems called the remix.  (I don't know where it originated.  I found it on My Name is Not Bob Robert Lee Brewer's blog.

Here is an example of a remixed Humpty Dumpty.  I took words and ideas from the poem and changed the form into a lune: 5 syllables, 3 syllables, 5 syllables.

Humpty Dumpty fell
off a wall
Could not be repaired
Here is another one remixed from Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater.
Peter and his wife
Had a very nice life.
They lived very well
In an empty pumpkin shell.

I shortened and rearranged the lines, but kept the quatrain form.

Here is a Google Doc with four nursery rhymes.  I find that my students do not always know these traditional forms and it helps to have a few printed out for them to work with.

I hope you enjoy remixing nursery rhymes with your students.

Here is a related paid product:

Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Monday, February 24, 2014

Problem Solving During Class Meeting

I want to share how I have students solve their own problems during class meeting.  I want students to be able to take responsibility for their side of the issue.  At the same time, I can keep track of ongoing situations and problems where I need to step in.

When a student has a problem with another student, they put their name on the agenda.  My agenda is simply a spiral notebook with a pencil attached.  I usually have them put a word or two next to their name to remind them of the situation, but no other names.

During class meeting time I call on the student to describe the problem.  For most situations I have the student not use names of the other children in the situation.  The focus of the meeting is to come up with strategies for the reporter to try.

Other students raise their hands if they have suggestions. The first child calls on four students to give their suggestions.  Once again the focus for the meeting is what the first child can do to solve the problem.  I emphasize that the only person whose behavior you can control is your own.

(There is no magic about the number four.  You could just as easily have the student call on three or five people.  Four works for me.)

After people have made the suggestions, I ask the first child, "What will you try?"  Usually the child says I will do Jeremy's or Susan's.  I redirect with the question, "What will you do?"  I want the student to focus on the action they will try not the person who gave them the advice.

These steps work well for most minor problems between students.  If I hear something reportable, usually the other students recognize it as serious and recommend the student gets adult help. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Quote of the Week -- February 23, 2014

"One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done." -- Marie Curie
(I completely identify with this statement.)

Friday, February 21, 2014

When Good Fairy Tale Characters Go Bad

My students were finishing up our Writing Fractured Fairy Tales Unit and I needed to change the bulletin board in the hallway.  Voila! I modified my Wanted Poster (available here as a free Google Doc) and had my students illustrate an aspect of their story.

I teach fractured fairy tales, because it helps them see the elements of a story and what happens when you change a part.  I considered adding this activity to my existing paid product, but decided that I would just present it as a stand alone freebie.

Yes, I do enjoy writing quirky lessons for my students.  I hope you enjoy them, too.

You can purchase all ten forms I use for creative writing assignments and bulletin boards here in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and here in my Teachers Notebook store.  I have included at least two suggestions for each form that are not here on my blog.

Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pi in the Sky by Wendy Mass

I was looking for new resources for Pi Day March 14 when I found Pi in the Sky by Wendy Mass.  I am more familiar with her Willow Falls series.  Because I have loved everything she has written so far, I thought I would give it a try.
 Joss, the seventh son of the Supreme Overlord, loses his best friend Kal when Earth is ripped from the space-time continuum.  Annika, an earthling, appears in his place.  Can Joss restore Earth to its proper place?

See what my rating scale means, by reading this post here.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Happy Police

Is your school run by the Happy Police? Take the following survey and see:

Are you able to express opinions freely at work? 

Must you always smile even when smiling isn't called for even in the faculty lounge?

Are you allowed to have a bad day at work?

Must you only pretend to have well behaved students who are making adequate yearly progress?

Are you required to maintain fidelity to the curriculum by a predetermined pacing calendar and yet differentiate based on student need?

Is your school filled with imaginary rainbows and unicorns?

If your school is run by the Happy Police, you know the CORRECT answers to these questions.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Quote of the Week -- February 16, 2014

"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand." - Woodrow Wilson

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Heart Pattern Page -- Happy Valentines Day

I started creating this by hand when I taught first grade.  Now that I'm a little more computer savvy, I have created several.  The idea is a shape traced onto graph paper.  Students color following a pattern inside the shape and a different pattern on the outside.

I have this heart printed on three sizes of graph paper in this free Google Doc.

If you are planning ahead for next month already, visit this post where I linked the Shamrock version of the same activity.

Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Summer of Moonlight Secrets by Danette Haworth

One of my fourth grade students wanted me to read this book so much, she bought it for me at the school book fair.  Because I know her particular obsession, I knew before I read the first page what the moonlight secret was.  I still enjoyed this book.

Allie Jo Jackson works with her parents at a run-down but historic hotel.  She forms friendships with two of the guests her age.  They meet another girl who has runaway.  She begs Allie Jo to keep her secret.

This book is now a part of my classroom library. 

To find out more about my rating scale for books, read my post here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Funny Kid Moment--Common Core

I was teaching a math lesson last week and one of my students asked, "Do I have to multiply or can I add?"

The lesson called for multiplying large numbers, but several of my students want to keep doing repeated addition even when it is not efficient.

"The school district expects you to multiply by now.  In fact the State of Washington expects you to multiply.  The people who wrote the Common Core expect you to multiply in fourth grade."

"Just me?"


"Yes, Sam*, just you.  The rest of you may add."


"Just kidding."

(Sighs and groans)

We all multiplied.

*Not his real name

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Quote of the Week -- February 9, 2014

"Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength of the nation." -- John F. Kennedy

Friday, February 7, 2014

Metric Conversion Chart

I have been working on activities that supplement our adopted curriculum in geometry and measurement.  This is a tool that helped some of my students converting metric measurements.  I explain that everything in the same row is equal. 
  1. Find the column that matches the unit you are starting with. 
  2. Move down until you find the space where it shows one. 
  3. Move along the row until you find the equal amount for the unit you are converting to. 
  4. This is the amount by which you multiply.

Here is an example: How many ml are there in 4 liters?
  1. Find the liters column.
  2. Move down until you find the box for 1 liter.
  3. Move across the row until you find the box that shows how many milliliters is equal to 1 liter. (1000)
  4. Multiply 4 X 1000 to get your answer.  (Be sure to label it with ml.)
Dimensions is a set of geometry and measurement activities I created for my students.  Dimensions is available at Artistry of Education @ Teachers Pay Teachers and Artistry of Education @ Teacher's Notebook.
Students begin by measuring the dimensions of a rectangle and find the area and perimeter.  Next, they cut on the diagonal to create two congruent triangles.  They measure the area and perimeter of the shapes they can create with the triangles.  My students became so efficient with this that they could teach the fourth graders in the other class how to do this.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg

Last spring I went to a local writing conference and met the author of this book.  She is a descendant of the main characters and had a chance to meet Clara before she died.

Imagine that you are a teenage girl in the late 1800s and you want more for your life than marriage and family.  Your family is about to lose the farm and your mother proposes walking from Spokane, Washington to New York City to win a bet of $10,000.  This might be an opportunity to get money for college.

Clara and her mother Helga's relationship is complicated.  Walking together along the rail lines for many months doesn't help.

Carole Estby Dagg does a great job of putting herself in Clara's worn-out boots.  I devoured this story from beginning to end.

Click here for a free printable character sketch.

For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Using Geometry Vocabulary in Art

I have focused on teaching geometry in January.  I wanted to share all my posts in one place in case you missed some.  I am adding a couple of extras by other authors I think are worthwhile.
Mini Matisse

I found this project on Pinterest and tried to find the original author.    Here is the post where this geometric project is described.  She has comments from the original artist.
I found this was a great activity to have my students practice their vocabulary.  We talked about how the small shapes were really rhombuses (rhombi).  We discussed congruent shapes and horizontal, diagonal, vertical, and parallel lines. Students had to exercise careful observation while copying the shapes and then I had them create their own.
Create a Star
I featured this product in an earlier post.  Virtually Montessori has created this freebie for her TPT store.  My students say this has been one of their favorite drawing projects this year. Students practice using words to describe lines and angles as they create a one of a kind star.
Here are some of my posts you may have missed:
 I would love hear from teachers who tried these with their students.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Quote of the Week -- February 2, 2014 Go Hawks!

"I have a simple theory.  If the Seahawks win on Sunday, productivity is going to go up." -- Brian Vincent

I live and teach just north of Seattle.  My students are pumped to have their team in the Super Bowl.

My TN store is 20% Off.  Get an additional 10% off everything you buy on the site with no promo code.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

2 Truths & a Lie: Currently February 2014

If you haven't yet experienced the teacher blog party that is Currently, hosted by Farley of Oh Boy 4th Grade, you should head on over.

Currently, I am working at the kitchen table and listening for sounds that other people are awake.  I love quiet mornings.

I love that the Seattle Seahawks are playing in the Super Bowl.  Ever since fifth grade when some of the players visited my elementary school, I have been a fan.

I am thinking (obsessing) about some observation lessons I need to teach.  I had signed up to be a demonstration class, before I found out that my formal observation is scheduled this week.  Why do I feel like I need to create a show?

I want to try a new recipe this weekend.  Lately I have been actually trying the recipes I find on Pinterest.  I haven't picked one out yet.  Any recommendations?

I need to start our taxes, beyond the pile of paperwork growing on the kitchen table.

Now for two truths and a lie:
I was in the U.S. Army Reserves for six years and I made sergeant before I left.
I love spinach and can't wait for warmer weather so I can grow some in the back yard.
I was never a principal, but I earned the certificate.  During my internship, I missed the classroom too much.  I keep finding other teachers who did the same.

So, Happy February everyone.  Thank you for stopping by.  Be sure to leave a comment so I can visit you back.

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