Five for Friday on Saturday - Sept 20, 2014

It seems that my goal of being ready for Five for Friday on Friday isn't quite working now that the school year has begun, but thankfully my favorite linky is still open on Saturdays!

We have been really busy in the classroom, getting in to the flow of everything. I refer to myself as "September Swamped" because I'm still doing work from sun up to sun down every day, though today I am actually going to take some time for myself! It's a good busy though, I'm really enjoying my year so far and my students are super awesome, so no complaints here. I'm just not blogging and creating items as quickly as I had hoped to.

Ok, now on to my favorite weekly linky:

We've begun to work on personal narrative essays in my class and I've finally embraced what is turning out to be a really fabulous resource, The Trait Crate! I don't know why I didn't open this box up sooner. I love the resources that are included! If I know one thing, it's that I will be using everything in this box this year! If you have never used The Trait Crate, it is an awesome way to break down the traits of writing (ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions) for students using picture books. 

Our first essay is a personal narrative. This week, I started with a discussion about ideas as I prepared my students for their brainstorm. Some of you know that I read Lucky Calkins over the summer. I loved all of her ideas, so I am pulling as much as I can in to my writing instruction. I already love writing, so teaching it is a blast for me and my students are always excited to write because I pass my love of writing on to them (or at least, that's what I tell myself). I haven't been great about consistently pulling mentor books in to my writing instruction, so it's one of my goals this year. The Trait Crate includes a few goodies, so when it came time to talk about ideas, Nothing Ever Happens on 90th Street was my go-to for a read-aloud. We had a wonderful discussion about seeing stories in everything we do. When I read the story aloud, I asked students to consider the advice that Eva receives about her writing.  They quickly saw how the advice she receives could help them as well. We talked about how Eva takes matters in to her own hands to fully create the story. I explained that I want them to be just like Eva, starting with small idea (a seed) and growing the story from there. After our discussion, they were excited to return to their seats and get started with their brainstorm. Happy writers = happy teacher!

My students received their first pen pal letters this week. I am so thrilled to be paired with Aimee from Ms. Fifth Grade. My students are so excited about their pen pals and it makes them want to write even more. Woohoo! I'm sensing a theme here…are we going to be excited for writing all year? Yes! Yes!

A huge shout-out to Kelley from Teacher Idea Factory for the hours that she put in to matching up bloggers for this wonderful pen pal experience. We are already loving it and we've only swapped one letter. Thank you, Kelley, for a wonderful pen pal match-up! 

I MUST shout out this awesome resource that I found this week. Deb Hanson has tons of wonderful resources in her TpT store. This week, as I began to think about reading groups, I was looking for something for our "buddy read" or "book talk" time that would be great for fluency too. We have lots of reader's theater, but when I want two students reading together, there are far too many characters for them to handle. Last week, I bought Types of Sentences Task Cards from Deb so I thought I'd head back to her store and see what she had. I swear a did a little celebration dance when I found these awesome partner plays, which are PERFECT for my buddy read time. My students will read the play, switch parts, and then read it again. I also have Voice Cards that I purchased so that they reread the same parts using different voices.  We practiced with these on Thursday and my students LOVE them already! I couldn't be happier with this fantastic find! 

I worked out my reading groups! It took me about 4 hours, but they are done, just in time for me to have found out that I need to change them again due to pull out form our reading specialist! But you know, I'm just laughing it off right now, because I know I'm still swimming in the September seas so I'm ready and willing to be flexible! I plan to do a full post about these in just a couple of days! Of course, you know I made all of my groups based on Snoopy! My groups are Joe Cool, Snooperman (Snoopy as a superhero), Red Baron, and Snoopy. My students love these groupings! 

We've been deep in discussion about The Scientific Method and I love to wrap our week up with a hands-on activity f, so I was super excited when I found this activity from Mixing it up in Middle:

I prepped everything and spent a bit of time talking to students about how they should consider the steps to the scientific method. I presented them with a question: How can you build the tallest tower in the classroom? Then I asked them to research it by having a discussion about what they all know (schema) and putting their brains together to draw out a plan and  come up with a hypothesis. After about 10 minutes of planning, I set them off to experiment, and they worked for about 30 minutes, with a lot of trial and error. They worked so well together, though! They were encouraging, patient, and had great communication. I am so proud of them! We had varying levels of success with some standing on their own for my measurement, but falling down just a few seconds later, but our highest one was 35.56 cm! 

Here's some pictures from our lab:

Here were some of the plans: 

I love this one because it shows that each lab group member got to share their idea!

Work in progress:

It was great fun for all. On Monday, we will debrief and connect our work to the scientific method. Then we'll start to discuss variables! I'm sure that the students will have ideas for what they might want to change on this experiment! I'm all for trying it again and changing a variable because I have 5 boxes of pasta and 3 bags of marshmallows left. To say that I overbought would be a bit of an understatement! :-)

Wishing you all a wonderful, relaxing weekend!



  1. I completely understand about being swamped in September! This week we had Open Houseand Grandparent's Day, and next week we have Conference Day until 7 at night! It's too much! Love, love your Scientific Method lesson! Do change the variables and repeat it- my STEM Lab students beg to repeat challenges after we finish.
    Teachers Are Terrific!

    1. Oh Carol, that is a lot! Our conferences don't start until the end of October but that's always a really busy time too so I know how crazy things must be with all of that back to back. I hope that things are a bit less busy for you soon!

  2. I love your Snoopy groups! When I taught 1st grade, I did a Peanuts theme and used some of the characters for my groups. I hope things start calming down soon!

    Don't Let the Teacher Stay Up Late

    1. Thank you so much for being a faithful reader and always leaving me a positive comment. You rock!

  3. I am so glad that you liked the tower activity!! I had a lot of pasta and marshmallows left over, too! I am trying to decide what to do with them! :) It was really neat for me to see it used with younger students! Thank you for the shout out!! :)
    Lori :)
    Mixing it up in Middle

    1. Thanks to YOU for the amazing resource! I figure that if my students take the marshmallow variable out, then I will just make a lot of rice krispies treats! :-)


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