Saturday, November 8, 2014

Grandparents' Day Program 2014

Yesterday, we held our annual Grandparents' Day Program, and I wanted to share with you the skit that my 5th graders performed.

To read more about Grandparents' Day and view last year's skit, click HERE.

While my students set up their props on stage, I greeted the audience and introduced the skit.  I reminded the crowd, "If you have come to our Grandparents' Day Program in the past, you know that 5th grade usually performs some type of skit.  What you may not realize is that each skit is unique and different and reflects my current group of students' grandparents.  I gather my students together each year and ask them to share with me what they love most about their grandparents, what makes you all special, etc.  They answer my questions and tell stories about you, and based on that information, I write a script.  So today, as my students portray grandparents and grandchildren in this lighthearted skit, be aware that you may recognize yourself on stage!"
I must say, writing skits is not my forte, and I had a few stressful moments as we prepared for this event.  We had sound/microphone issues during rehearsals, and on the morning of the program, I learned that two students would be out sick.  Panic!  Thankfully, one of my students came up to me and said, "I know ______ isn't here today, but I memorized her lines last night and am ready to step in and play her part."  Relief!  I was SO impressed that this child had taken the initiative to memorize her friend's lines.  She saved the skit!!  We also rearranged a few more students in order to make up for the other child's absence.  I learned, "The show must go on!"     

Considering all we went through, the students did a fabulous job, and I am so proud of their flexibility, perseverance, and hard work.  I hope the grandparents were blessed! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

1st Mystery Skype of 2014

On Tuesday, my class participated in their first Mystery Skype of the school year.  If you are unfamiliar with Mystery Skype, the concept is simple: two classes Skype with each other and try to figure out each other's location by asking only yes/no questions and using maps.  Students must keep up with "clues" they are given, narrow down possible locations, and guess the correct state and city (and sometimes the correct school--although we didn't get that far this time).  This geography activity is perfect for helping my students master their map skills and usually takes around 20 minutes to complete.

Here are the jobs I gave my students:
Greeter--This student greeted the other class politely and got the "game" up and running.  He/she then joined the Think Tank.
Inquirers--These two students asked yes/no questions of the other class and answered questions from the other class.  They sat in front of the computer camera the entire Skype call. 
Clue Keepers--These two students kept up with information from the other class and wrote clues down on the dry erase board.
Think Tank--A group of students who studied maps and worked together to create questions for the Inquirers. 
Runner--This student kept communication going between the Think Tank and the Inquirers.
Photographer--This student took pictures and video of all the groups/happenings.  He/she eventually joined the Think Tank.
Computer Mappers--These two students used the classroom computer to search maps online.  They worked closely with the Think Tank.
For their first Mystery Skype, the students did a wonderful job!  After the Skype session, we had a time of reflection.  I asked the students two questions: "What went well?" and "What can be improved?"  
I have to say, I agree with their assessment:
What went well?
  • We knew our cardinal/intermediate directions.
  • We were good sports.
  • We were cooperative.
  • We communicated well.
  • We tried to create good/effective questions.
  • Clue Keepers worked very well together and did a great job.
What can be improved?
  • We need to stay in our assigned spots.
  • Our volume needs to be lower.
  • We need to get better at using Google Earth and online maps to find locations.
To see a brief video of this session, click here:  1st Mystery Skype of 2014-2015

For more info, see my posts about previous Mystery Skype sessions: CLICK HERE.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cereal Box Book Reports 2014

Each month, my students are assigned book reports.  The genre changes monthly, and the students are given freedom to select a book; I then approve it to make sure it's on their reading level.  For September, students were to choose and read a fiction book and complete a Cereal Box Book Report.  I usually change my book reports each year, but the Cereal Box Report has been so successful that I've used it for a couple of years now.

For more information, click the links below:
Cereal Box Book Report Directions
Templates for Left/Top Side of Box  (This includes the template for the summary and title, author, and rating)
Template for Right Side of Box  (This includes template for the characters and setting)

This year's boxes:
These three were based on the following books:  Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, and Huckleberry Finn
The students were required to create a game (that related to the story) on the back of the box:
Based on:  Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. and The Secret Garden.
Other examples:
The students could either write or type their information, but most chose to write on the template I gave:
Finally, the students presented their reports in a 2-3 minute presentation.  Some even chose to share their report in a "commercial."  The students did a wonderful job!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Grammar ER Activity 2014

A couple of years ago, I transformed my classroom into an Emergency Room for a grammar lesson, and the students operated on "sick" sentences.  I decided to bring this activity back, and it was a huge success!  The students took it seriously and were so engaged!  This was a culminating activity for what we've been learning about in grammar, and I used it as a formative assessment.  The students had to identify vocabulary; use correct punctuation for various types of sentences; recognize synonyms/antonyms, types of analogies, nouns, etc.  They did this using their own unique "patient."  Click the link above for more info on this activity. 

This assessment was fun for the children, and I now have a better idea of what the students are understanding and what I need to reteach.

Without further ado, here are the pictures from today's "surgery:"
I set up the classroom while the students were at P.E.
Prepping for surgery: 
I had "hospital sounds" playing in the background while the students prepped.  I had the sound of a beating heart playing while they worked.
This year, I had the students use tape instead of glue.  This seemed to work a little better, though some of the students had a tough time with the tape.  The glue, however, was very sticky and made the papers soggy last time.  If/when I do the activity again, I'll stick with tape.
The children even stayed focused when we had a friendly visit from the administrators.
These kids were completely engaged!
"Is he going to make it?!" 
Whew!  We were all so happy that the surgeries were successful! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Landform Projects 2014

In geography, we recently finished our unit on landforms.  Last week, the students completed their in-class landform project.  I paired the children up, assigned each pair a landform to research, and then they had to construct the landform in class and give a 2-minute presentation on it.  The students researched information for homework, using THIS HANDOUT.  The project was graded using THIS GRADE SHEET. 
This year, I decided to have the students build their landforms inside pizza boxes.  Last year, we used cookie sheets.  While the cookie sheets worked okay, the pizza boxes allowed more depth and could easily be moved around.  A local pizzeria near our school generously donated the boxes for us to use. 
Construction time:

Okay, so I know that the grade sheet says, "A paragraph should be written in cursive with the following included..." but we typed the information instead using the iPads.  Then, we just printed the documents from the iPads.
Presentation time:
Peninsula (Baja Peninsula, to be exact)
My friends from New Mexico corrected me--"Mesa."
No matter the name, they did a fantastic job!
This creative duo decided that their glacier should move!  Of course, right?  They cut a line in the pizza box and built their glacier around a popsicle stick.  They somehow used wax paper and Mod Podge as well.  When they pulled on the popsicle stick beneath the box, the glacier moved slightly.  So cool!
I was so impressed with this year's landform projects!
P.S.  On the lid of the box, the students were required to have a picture of their assigned landform and a map--showing where their "famous" landform example is located.