Thursday, February 9, 2017

Having a Growth Mindset in the New Year

This year, I put a large emphasis on having a Growth Mindset. Like many teachers across the country, I have been utilizing this to help students focus on fulfilling their fullest positional in learning least that is the goal ;) 
I started the year off with some fabulous resources from TPT teachers that really got the kids thinking of what a Growth Mindset and how to achieve it. After coming back from Winter Break, I wanted to give the kids a chance to revisit this, to look at old goals, and set new ones for the New Year. 
First, we reviewed our classroom and school expectations. I gave students a power point page with questions that reviewed expectations for a specific setting (example: the hallway, the carpet, the library, etc.). They then worked with their partner to create one of the following to help us review: 

  • Create a skit or play 
  • Sing a song 
  • Create and perform a rap
  • Make a poster and explain it
  • Pose a question and choose answers from audience members

These were my two rappers - did you notice the one on the right's shirt? Yes, it does say "AND PEGGY" which translates as "She is a Hamilton Fan" which means, she is obviously cool ;0)
It was fun to see the different presentation styles the students chose. 
Question and Answer style 
Skit in action! 
Once we did that, I borrowed a fantastic idea from Create.Dream.Explore. I wrote growth mindset vocabulary on large chart papers - as a class, we discussed the meaning behind these words and thought about why they connect to having a growth mindset. Using that knowledge, we then went around with our pencils and jotted down, around the words, what those words meant to us and how we felt they could help us be successful. 
I just loved all the thinking they shared and encouraged them to start using these words throughout our learning time. 

We also wrote our current classroom growth mindset goal on a banner to hang with our vocabulary. If you are interested in this packet, you can purchase it from Christina Winter here

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Valentine's Craft Idea

In our school, teachers sign up for evenings to help watch the kiddos during PTO meetings. Recently, it was my week and I decided to go crafty with the little gals that I had. I was inspired by THIS pinterest craft from Crafty Morning's Blog. This is a simple and totally adorable Valentines Craft for just about any age. The little ladies I did it with were 5 and loved it! 
Materials Needed: 
Googly eyes 
Black Sharpie marker
Red solo cup 
Red, Pink, and White construction paper 
Small, medium, large heart templates for kiddos to trace (if you are doing it with little ones) 
 How stinkin adorable are these little guys ???
We used our scraps to create Valentine's Princess Crowns as well as heart garlands with glitter :) 
From now on, I am always picking the PTO meeting near Valentine's Day for babysitting *grin*

Monday, January 23, 2017

Christmas Economy

Economics is rarely something eleven year olds think about - however, our state testing system believes strongly  in their young abilities  har har and has made it clear that they are to know quite a LOT about it. However, it is not a fifth grade social studies skill...

Solution: Create a mini-economics unit during the largest money making time of the year - CHRISTMAS. 
Have you ever heard of the Christmas Price Index Express? Well, it is just about the cutest, greatest thing for teaching economics during the Christmas season. This cute little train travels through a train set sharing the prices of the 12 days of Christmas items - what they cost and how much they went up or down from the previous year. 
Disclaimer: The site, unfortunately, has prices from 2011, however, it allows for a fun estimation activity at the end to figure out what it would be total today.
Using this site, I turned my classroom into the "Economy Express" and had each stop along the site around my room. I love how it utilizes the different terms and vocabulary! 
Each day before Christmas break, we made a stop at each junction - learning something new about economy. I made THIS booklet to go along with our travels. 
Stop #1: Inflation Station 
Stop #2: Percentage Peak 
Stop #3: Inflation Station 
Stop #4: Fluctuation Farm
At Fluctuation Farms, we worked as analysts to determine price data increases and decreases. I actually paid them a Santa Buck or two this day since they were "hired" by the tree farm to determine sales information for the following year. 
In reading, we are always learning about story elements around this time, so I incorporate that by having the students read a Christmas Tree story with a partner and determining the different plot elements. 
Previous story mountain work with our basel story. 
Partner work plotting the Christmas Tree Story. 
Final assessment later in the week with an additional story. 

In addition to the mini-unit, I also set up a 2 week classroom economy. Now, I choose not to utilize a classroom economy for a number of reasons, however, I do like to use it during this mini unit to help kids review key concepts of economy. Students earn "Santa Bucks" for various actions such as turning in homework, arriving on time, doing their jobs, etc. They have to pay tax out of each morning paycheck - I start with Sales tax, then income tax, then social security tax, etc. Students honestly don't believe me when I keep adding these so I show them one of my pay sheets with each tax taken out! ha. This usually begins a brief discussion on what happens if you don't pay taxes and what tax returns are...
Students can purchase items every day from the classroom store. They can purchase either goods (small toys and candy) or services (cards with things such as "sit with a friend" "eat lunch in the classroom" "Teacher's Chair" etc.). 
Of course, if you utilize classroom economy you know, this helps students understand prioritizing, saving, and price fluctuation based on supply and demand. 
The ever changing Santa Buck price board. 
As you can see, sitting in the teacher's chair was a hot service commodity and since there was such a demand, with limited supply, it went up in price! 

Additional Christmas Economy Resources:
  • I purchased my Santa Bucks on TPT HERE
  • Purchased this Awesome Supply and Demand Unit from the Reflective Educator that I was able to integrate. Comes with a fabulous supply and demand market power point that I printed and put around the room for students to utilize like task cards. 
Over all, this is a fun review unit that I believe helps my students revisit an important 4th grade standard in a quick, but fun and educational way! 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Introducing Colonial America

After our unit on early English settlements, I introduce the colonies through a Picture Comparison Walk. 
If you are interested in these pictures, you can download them for free at my TPT site. 
I print the comparisons of houses (interior/exterior), clothing, soldiers/militia, and other aspects of colonial vs. early settlement life and place them on large construction paper. Then the kids rotate around the room with their table groups, jotting down their thinking. Students do not talk during this activity, although, they can communicate through writing on the construction paper concerning someone else's thinking. 
 Nothing compares to a classroom of independently focused students *teacher heart happy*
 What I really like about this activity is that the students are able to make connections between the 1600 and 1700s on their own. For example, instead of saying to them, "life improved for the settlers as more and more people came and they began to make bigger cities, import more goods, and create a stronger economy." Students are able to see that for themselves. Their thinking demonstrates this when they say things like: 
I see that they have nicer clothes, more frills, etc. 
The girls still wear dresses, but they are made out of a nicer material. 
Their houses are made out of brick instead of wood and mud. 
Soldiers have uniforms. 
I also really like that these pictures can be hung up and utilized throughout the unit for students to refer to, particularly when they are drawing pictures of colonial life.  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Candle Dipping an Colonial Research

Warning: Photos galore!!
I feel candle dipping is a colonial unit "must". I can still remember doing it on one of our historical field trips in the 4th grade. However, I have always struggled with the time management of it and educational justification. 
One container of wax to dip into + 53 students = TONS of wasted instructional time and a bit of A MESS!
Therefore, it has sadly never been done in my classroom. 
Until ... THIS YEAR!! 
SOLUTION: Get them working on their colonial research projects with a partner and pull them up to dip candles one group at a time. GENIUS.
What you will need: 
Candle Wick roll 
Wooden sticks 
Candle Wax (10 lb)
*Found all supplies at Michaels and was able to use my teacher discount - WIN! 
Hot plate or Old Crock Pot 
Container of Water

It was awesome, people! Not only did they really enjoy the activity, but it helped make the research process more enjoyable, since they had something to look forward to as they were working. Definitely an activity I will do with them again!
Research - Dip - Research - Dip - Research - Dip 
Our candle growth progress 
They were so stinkin proud of their candles - finished product
 And their colonial research papers turned out great as well! 
Grant it - these took a few more days than the candles ;)
 We also created resource maps of each colonial region.  

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