Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Why is Government Important?

...Quite possibly the most difficult question for fifth grade students to understand. The number one goal for many kids is to break consciously or subconsciously every rule that they can at home and at school. Therefore, explaining to them why RULES are important can often be a daunting task. 
However, there is a trick ...I introduce government by sharing with them that tomorrow no teachers are coming to school, there will be no recess monitors, and Mr. Principal is not coming. They will have the opportunity to do WHATEVER they want be prepared for the whoops, hollers, and cheers. I then ask them what they are planning on doing ... the list is always entertaining. Inevitably, there is always someone who says it would be the best day at school ever! Now it is time for the real life senarios that are going to play out during the day. The kids pull out of a hat: "Someone is going to get hurt accidentally at recess", "A strange person will not be stopped and comes into the school since there wasn't anyone in the office and takes a kid", "A bully doesn't get stopped at recess because there are no people to watch them or stop them." I ask kids what other things could happen without any of our rules in place - this list gets darker, and while sometimes humorous, I can always tell that the kids aren't sure this new found freedom is really a good thing. I always have a couple kids say they just wouldn't come, they would like to avoid the chaos. This leads into a great discussion about how having the freedom to do WHATEVER you want also means that mean, unkind, and hurtful people can as well. This leads to a discussion about chaos and fear which is exactly what no government is - ANARCHY. 
A great read aloud is What if Everybody Did That, it allows students to see why rules are important.


I use this great sheet from Ashleigh's Educational Journey to have the kids map out what broken rules look like. It is a free download - go check it out! I had the kids draw a picture of the rule being followed and then not being followed. 
This leads well into why the Founding Fathers felt the need for a national government that would help make rules and the most important document for running our country - The Constitution. Much like a video game instruction book for Mine-craft which my kiddos are OBSESSED over The Constitution lays out what our Founding Fathers believed would build a good government. 
Anchor chart is an adapted Pinterest idea from One Teacher's Take
We summarized the major sections of the Constitution and then created video game covers that summed up the Constitution's purpose. Some students even included the Federalists and Anti-Federalist arguments ;0) Federalists argued FOR strong national government and Anti-Federalists wanted citizen's rights protected.
Yes, my husband made fun of me for printing a Playstation 2 cover ... they've come out with two more of them???...We don't play video games, give me a break, I'm trying to relate ;0) 

We even made it into the newspaper for Constitution Day!! 
 The Federalists and Anti-Federalists finally came up with a compromise - THE BILL OF RIGHTS. In this way, one could have a strong national government and not worry about it taking away the rights of it's people. Much like a Super Hero needs a trusty side kick - see my lesson HERE on the Bill of Rights. 

 To see more posts on Government Visit HERE, HERE, and HERE

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall Poems and Leaf Rubbings

Using figurative language, along with the different parts of speech, we wrote Fall poems describing HOW the season of fall comes and WHAT it brings with it. 
First we filled in a graphic organizer labeling NOUNS, VERBS, ADJECTIVES, and PHRASES that reminded us of Fall (or Autumn)When doing the verbs, I liked to have a bucket of leaves on hand to be able to throw them up and have the kids write what the leaves are doing (dances, twirls, spins, floats, etc.) 
 Once we have completed the boxes, students then use their brainstorming to fill in the figurative language poem. I provide sentence stems for students to fill in. I feel that this helps students get a feel for good poetry, gives them practice, and still allows for freedom within correct poetry structure.
If you are interested in getting the handout, check out my TPT for a FREEBIE! 
 Then, we did leaf rubbings and placed them behind the poems.  
Do you ever do "sentence stem" poetry with your students? 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Gummy Bear Government


We have been studying the different types of government that can be found around the world today and throughout history. The most common include, Anarchy, Monarchy, Dictatorship, Oligarchy, Theocracy, Democracy, and Republic.

In order to better understand these systems, we first applied hand motions to them (See THIS post to watch these in action), created a flip book with their definitions, and finally, ACTED them out with GUMMY BEARS! I found the idea for 

this off a pinterest picture and decided that it could make a great review activity!

Students worked with a partner to create their system of government "scene" acted out by the gummy bears.  

 Once we had recreated the system of government, we drew a matching picture in our flip charts (either of the gummy bears or stick figures). 
 The kiddos REALLY had a great time with this activity and I felt that it helped them solidify the different systems since they were having to create the definition in a visual way. It was SO cute listening to their ideas for how to make the system. Here are a few of my favorite depictions. 
 Oligarchy - ruled by a rich and powerful few
Monarchy - notice the "gummy" throne!
 This group created a voting booth for their Republic depiction :0) 

To see more of what we do during my Government Unit, Visit THIS post and THIS post. 

Learning with FOOTBALL

This last Friday, we had our school homecoming game. With that, we celebrated football throughout our school day, ending with a tail gating party! 
I know that pinterest ideas are not the most original thing to post about (especially if they cost money!), however, these two activities are WELL WORTH a shout out! 

1) Editing NFL players TWEETS
After seeing this article, I KNEW we HAD to do this as a homecoming activity. As suspected, it was an absolute HIT (even got staff members and parents comments!)
WARNINGThe initial prep for this takes a while. I basically went down my fantasy league teams and searched through my player tweets, looking for anything misspelled, inappropriate or missing commas, misused capitals, wrong verb tenses, etc. Some players were very simple to discover errors, on others I had to go through multiple tweets to discover something wrong. 
Of course, we all know that many internet mistakes are honest and due to quick typing and small iphone screens. However, as I told my kiddos, it is VERY important, whether you are tweeting, facebooking, emailing, or handwriting, to ALWAYS reread what you've written because no matter how accidental, they often make one look ignorant and open you up for ridicule... or fifth grade editors ;0) 

2) Root Word Football
Incredible lesson from TPT 
THIS was a perfect activity not only for its engagement but also because we are knee deep in roots, suffixes, and prefixes so it worked perfect as a fun review. It is well worth the money! I even allowed the students to THROW the football during the activity (WHAT?? Mrs. B, we can actually THROW the football in the classroom!?) *Coolest Teacher Award* This activity would also make a great test prep review or fun friday activity. 

Do you do any thing fun for your homecoming football game day in the classroom? 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Walking Classroom

Through a grant opportunity, my class and I have the great privilege of becoming a "Walking Classroom"! This program helps address different learning styles and allows for physical activity within the school day. Students walk, listen, and learn to educational podcasts which are aligned to the Common Core State Standards. I feel it will be especially beneficial for students who are highly active due to its physical stimulation and that being able to get up and move around will enable my kiddos to better enjoy, remember, focus, and understand a lot of the concepts needed to move on to 6th grade. So far, we have utilized this great program numerous times and look forward to using it all throughout the year! 
SHOUT OUT MOMENT! I originally heard about this great program (and the FREE grant opportunity) through the incredible Stephanie over at Teaching in Room 6. Check out her and her class out HERE for a video of them IN ACTION! 
 Students discussing their learning with their partner 
If you are interested in applying for a donated set for either 4th or 5th grade, check out this link for more information. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Extreme Learning: Classroom Tour

Another school year is upon us! and per usual, I am a bit behind in my blogging. 
One month down and my classroom still looks surprisingly nice *grin*

We started this year with an "Extreme Sports" theme focused on Extreme Learning. I had been wanting to do an extreme theme for a couple of years but just couldn't wrap my head around how that would look. This year, after a summer of theme contemplation, I finally decided to give it a try. 
So, I raided our garage and brought all of my husband and I's toys to school - lucky for him, I have decided this year to only have this theme for the first month of school until we start social studies heavy so yes dear, you will have your snowboard in time for boarding... no, you will not have your climbing shoes for another week, sorry. Next week, the theme will be changing to match our social studies units, beginning with Government.

Here is our EXTREME classroom tour - Enjoy!
Decided to try a pinterest idea - McDonald's cup holders as table supply holders! Thank you for visiting the virtual tour of our Learning Conservatory! 






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