Saturday, February 26, 2011

Symbaloo for students

I have been experimenting with Symbaloo and I love it! Symbaloo is a bookmarking site. What makes it so special is the screen is set up as colorful tiles. You add tiles for all the different websites you are interested in collecting for students. I was originally considering Delicious as my choice for a student bookmarking site for our new computer lab. I like Symbaloo so much better for children. All of the tiles are right in front of them in one place. I love that you can color code all of the Math or Social Studies sites together and then put them in one corner. You can also search for other Symbaloos made by educators. I found some interesting websites that way. Here is the link for my Symbaloo so far (its a work in progress).Christine

teach different

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Readathon just for fun

Novelty is so important when working with elementary age students. You need that little hook to pull them in. I decided to have a Readathon during our February school break for my 4th and 5th graders. These bookmark timers seemed like just the hook needed to motivate my students to read during vacation. (Our purpose was to have fun while reading/ not raise money).The PTO purchased class sets from I gave every child a bookmark timer and a log to write the name of the book, minutes spent reading, and had the parents sign it daily. We built in a few contests: boys against the girls, teams of three (my girls wrote a proposal about how the groups should be formed). I can FEEL them all reading at home right now! Christine

Monday, February 21, 2011

virtual owl pellet dissections:
For years I have enjoyed studying owls with my students. The owl pellet dissection is one of my favorite activities to do with kids. This year I tried something new. I found this great  site: where you can do a "virtual" owl pellet dissection. I got the site from Keith Schock's blog:  The big question was should we do the online dissection first or the real thing. I decided to do the online version first since our school just got its first computer lab.After the real experience (an hour after the computer one) our classroom discussion involved comparing and contrasting the two activities. Christine

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Uprising: Character Traits

Wordle about character traits 
 We have done some work on inferring character traits while reading Uprising. I love the idea several of my 5th graders came up with: Highlight the traits that refer to each character in the Wordle. I took a picture of the "key" they made. The worksheet I used with this activity has the students find text based evidence of the character trait. They had to find actions, thoughts( monologue) or words (dialogue) that showed the trait. I did the top one for them (I gave them a page for each of the three characters in the story). Christine
key my students came up with

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A small moment:Saturdays and Teacakes

If you haven't read Lester Laminack's Saturdays and Teacakes go get a copy. I just love it! It is Lester's memoir about Saturdays spent at his grandmother's house. Its a great mentor text for teaching writing to elementary age students. He also wrote Cracking Open the Author's Craft which is full of writing lessons geared toward the picture book. Cracking Open the Author's Craft comes with a DVD of the story Saturdays and Teacakes. We watched  on our Smartboard as Lester read the book to us. I used the pages on baking teacakes with his grandmother as springboard for teaching a small moment: Baking cookies with someone special. Christine

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


It It is possible to watch Fallingwater on Vimeo as well if your school dept. blocks Youtube (as mine does!) Christine

The Japanese Paper House: MCAS

 Children have virtually no background knowledge about traditional Japanese design. They have never heard of the famous American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.That is what makes this MCAS question so difficult to tackle. I have to admit my mental file cabinet is pretty empty on the subject. Knowing that drove me to produce a Smartboard lesson to go along with the article The Japanese Paper House.
While reading,you need to INFER that Frank Lloyd Wright was inspired by traditional Japanese design. He built Fallingwater in PA as a result. We watched this awesome Youtube video, a virtual rebuilding of the architect's masterpiece on our Smartboard. The video of Fallingwater combined with the Smartbook Notebook lesson on Japanese design features filled our mental file cabinets up. We are now able to visualize on a topic that was abstract before. Success! Christine

Here is the Smartboard lesson:

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Word Sort: Uprising

 We are reading Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix and loving it! The children are learning so much about the life of immigrants in NYC in 1911. They keep arguing over the cover: Which girl is Bella? Which one is Yetta? The book is great for classroom discussions on unions, strikes and suffrage. I put together a Word Sort and told them to really think: Could these words fit into MORE than one category? Is the strike part of the problem or the solution? Is Jane just a character or is she part of the problem? It was an interesting discussion that made them THINK.... (see my other post on Uprising. It is under favorite books and Smartboards) Christine

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Building Background Knowledge

Vietnam is not a topic most fourth graders know much about. The story, Two Lands One Heart is in our Trophies anthology. It is the story of a family separated by war. The mother and son go back to visit family in Vietnam. To acquire background knowledge on the country before we read the story, I like to use this site: The work on the website was produced by kids at Pocantico Hills School in Sleepy Hollow, New York. I was able to show the slide show to my whole class on the Smartboard. When you look under their BEST WORK you can also find topics such as:
  • Ben Franklin
  • Abe Lincoln
  • The American Revolution
  • Harriet Tubman
The kids like this because it was written by other children. Christine