Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin

I love reading books by Grace Lin.  Both her realistic fiction and her retelling of Taiwanese folktales are beautifully written and beautifully illustrated.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon was the first book I read aloud to my fourth graders last year.  All of them were mesmerized by the tale.  Her newer book, Starry River of the Sky reads the same way. The main character has a quest, and the plot is interwoven with other magical stories.

Rendi notices the moon is missing from his small village, but no one else seems to know.  A mysterious story teller comes to stay and eventually Rendi is inspired to tell his own story which may give more answers than he knows.

Here is a graphic organizer for students to create their own story.


To find out more about my rating system for books, click here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Magnified Inch for Mixed Numbers

Last Monday, I shared how I used the Magnified Inch lesson to introduce fractions.  This week I am explaining how I extend the lesson for mixed numbers.

This came about, because so many problems for Common Core fractions required students to plot fractions and mixed numbers on a number line.  My students struggled with this, and I believe that when they construct the model with my guidance, it helps them so much more than just viewing a model an adult has already constructed.

So I redid the original Magnified Inch and then had them make a second one in a different color.  As you can see in the picture above, we added ones before each of the fractions.  I had them tape the two strips together to make a continuous number line.

(I didn't do this last school year, but I was thinking about extending this number line with mixed numbers up to 4.  I don't know that I would do this with every student.  I'll get back to you on that.)

It still didn't sink in for most students until we started reading the numbers left to right aloud as a class.  They could see the pattern in the numbers.

If any part of this isn't clear, or you have questions, please ask in the comments.  I hope you find this lesson helpful.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quote of the Week -- July 27, 2014

Sharing a book is (almost) as good as writing one. ~ Seth Godin

I truly believe this quote.  As of today, I have 121 book reviews on this site.  I'm still reading and reviewing.  I usually publish on Wednesday.  Lately I have been making them more pinnable on Pinterest.  Here is my board Books and Authors.
Follow Mary Bauer's board books and authors on Pinterest.

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

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back to School Freebies 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.
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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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Myth-o-mania Series by Kate Mc Mullan

I am so glad to see these books back in print.  I know Kate McMullan published them in 2002 with a different publisher.  I read them with my stepdaughter when she was in grade school.  (She just graduated from high school.)  People assume she learned about Greek mythology from Rick Riordan's books.  Nope. She learned from Myth-o-mania.

Have a Hot Time, Hades! has been nominated for an award in Washington State this year.

The premise of the series is Zeus lies in his original telling of the myths and brother Hades wants to set the record straight.  The books are funny and appropriate for ages 8-12.  I plan to read one of them aloud to next year's class.

Here is a link to other books about Greek Mythology.
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Monday, July 14, 2014

Using a Meter Stick as a Number Line Part 2

Here is a post where I explain how I teach placing fractions and decimals on a meter stick number line.

For awhile, I had the meter sticks out and several sets of clothespins for students to practice ordering fractions and finding equivalent decimals. Then I realized what other math concepts I could teach with this model.

I know I am not the only fourth grade teacher who has students who struggle with rounding.  I wrote this post about rounding whole numbers with a 100s chart and it is one of my more popular posts. 

Later in the year, we started rounding decimals to the nearest hundredth, tenth, and whole number.  Because we had already used the meter stick as a number line for decimals, I used it again as a model for rounding. The whole meter is one.  Decimeters are tenths, centimeters are hundredths, and millimeters are thousandths.

Now that I have a class set of portable number lines for decimals, I also use them for adding and subtracting.  I still teach adding and subtracting the traditional way, but I have an additional model.

You can purchase 12 meter sticks by clicking the affiliate link below.


Can you think of other uses for meter sticks beyond measuring?

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