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Saturday, 26 November 2016

TPT Cyber Sale 2016



Did you know that TPT is having a Cyber Sale this Monday and Tuesday? You can save up to 28%!
It is the perfect time to fill your cart with things to use in your classroom during the months of December and January!

Here is what I have planned in my own classroom.

During the month of December, both of my French as a Second Language Classes are going to go on a trip around the world! They will sample tourtière in Quebec, Père Noel will leave them treats in their shoes while visiting France, and they will even get to learn about the REAL Madagascar! For more information on this fun trip, check out this blog post for some FREEBIES or check out the full product here.



Once we come back to school after Christmas Vacation, we will be starting to learn about Canadian History in Social Studies! This is one of my favourite units because we get to incorporate Interactive Notebooks, Research AND Project Based Learning! The entire unit cumulates by creating a Museum of Canadian History. The kids are always SUPER engaged and they blow me away with their exhibits. To check out this unit, click here. 



I am giving away a $10 TPT gift card to one lucky teacher! The contest will close on Tuesday and I will be emailing the lucky winner on Tuesday morning so that you can shop the sale!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, 20 November 2016

French as a Second Language Christmas Around the World

December is my favourite month! Christmas carols, holiday parties and gorgeous decorations make for a terrific combination! :) One of my favourite parts of this month is bringing a little holiday magic to my classroom.

A great blog post about Christmas Around the World in the FSL Classroom!


My French as a Second Language (FSL) classes travel around the world to see how different countries celebrate Christmas. There is a French twist to this adventure as we focus specifically on how Francophone cultures celebrate the holidays. This gives the students the opportunity to notice the differences, but also the similarities of these unique cultures. It is one of my FAVOURITE units to teach!

To start off the"journey", each student gets a passport and a package of boarding passes.



Next we fill out our boarding passes!  Students fill in the departure and arrival dates, cities and times. I even let them pick their own seats on the airplane. Many of my students have never flown on a plane before so this a fun new experience for them.

Once all of our boarding passes are prepped and ready, students make their way out into the hallway. I have them pretend to carry heavy suitcases. They pass me their boarding pass and I cut off the "airline copy" as they walk into the room, also known as the "airplane".

A great blog post about Christmas Around the World in the FSL Classroom!


Once all students have boarded the flight, I play an airplane take off video on our SMART board. Students lean back and pretend that they can feel the flight lifting up into the air. I model the airplane take off dramatically because the kids find it hilarious.

The first stop on our tour is always Québec City. Once the plane lands, our adventure begins!

We start by watching this video. I have students record any Christmas traditions that they see on their scrapbook page. (Grab this page for free here!) Then we have a discussion about the different traditions that they saw.



Some possibilities include:
  • Santa Claus
  • Elves
  • Real Christmas Trees
  • Carols
  • Ice Skating
  • Sledding
  • Playing in the snow
  • Christmas lights
  • Christmas Markets
  • Church
  • Festival of Lights
  • Skiing
  • Outdoor Concerts
  • Fireworks
Next, we talk about traditional French Canadian Christmas foods. I like to provide students with samples of Maple Syrup pie and Tourtière. They then circle the statement on their scrapbook pages that describes how they felt about the dish. We also practice saying these statements to one another. For example, their exit slip for the day might be to say "J'aime la Tourtière". This is a great way to build oral language development into daily routines.

Note: I usually ask families to donate the treats.

A great blog post about Christmas Around the World in the FSL Classroom!

Another important aspect of Christmas in Canada is the Christmas Tree! Did you know that Canada has 2 381 Christmas tree farms? To recognize the importance of the Christmas tree, we create Christmas Tree ornaments. Throughout this unit, students create a small craft for each country that we visit. I usually turn some of these crafts into ornaments and hang them on our class Christmas Tree. 

A great blog post about Christmas Around the World in the FSL Classroom!

If you are interested in traveling to Canada this Holiday Season with your students, check out this FREEBIE

I also have the full blown product available in my store. The paid product includes visits to Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, Madagascar and France. You will also get boarding passes, passports and passport stamps for your students! Check it out HERE!

I hope that you enjoy bringing some magic into your classroom this Christmas :) 
Have a sweet week and don't forget to pin the image below!
A great blog post about Christmas Around the World in the FSL Classroom!



Saturday, 5 November 2016

The Tiger Rising

This is my first year using the Lucy Calkins reading workshop. We just finished up the Grade 4 Fiction unit. This unit uses The Tiger Rising as a mentor text. It is truly a beautiful book and many of my students were able to relate to it!

The book talks a lot about Rob's Suitcase. This "suitcase" is where he keeps all of his "not-thoughts". This can be a hard concept for students to grasp. To make it a little bit easier, I found an old suitcase at Value Village and as we read the book together, we filled it with all of Rob's not thoughts. This helped students to understand that Rob's suitcase is a metaphor. They were also able to look back at the suitcase to find evidence to support their opinions about Rob as a character. This was especially important because Characterization is the focus of this unit!

Lucy Calkins Grade 4 Fiction - The Tiger Rising understanding Rob's Suitcase

What's your favourite activity to do with The Tiger Rising? Let me know in the comments below!


Saturday, 29 October 2016

Teaching the Difference Between Fiction and Non Fiction Texts

One of the first units that my students study every year is genre. This is because I want them to be able to record the genres of the different books that they read so that they can keep track of their reading lives.

Before we can even jump into genre, we start with the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Surprisingly enough, many of my students in grades 4 and 5 do not know the difference.

I used two books to help teach this lesson. We started by reading The Perfect Nest. 


This hilarious story had my upper elementary students laughing their heads off. After reading the book, we recorded all of the characteristics of a fiction story that we noticed in our Venn Diagram.

Next we read Farms. Then we recorded the characteristics of a Non-Fiction text in our Venn Diagram.



Finally we put characteristics that describe both types of texts in the middle of the Venn Diagram.

Here is what our final anchor chart looked like. This is now hanging in our classroom as a reminder for students. I am actually surprised at how often they reference it!

Teaching the difference between fiction and non fiction. A great lesson for upper elementary students!

Have a sweet week :)



Sunday, 23 October 2016

Marble Jar - A simple classroom management idea!

Today I am going to share with you a super simple classroom management idea!

My upper elementary students LOVE earning marbles.

The class earns marbles anytime EVERYONE is:

  • on task
  • transitioning well
  • demonstrating respectful behaviour
  • persevering
Essentially anytime that I want to give positive reinforcement for what the whole class is doing, I give marbles. 

Once our marble jar is filled, the students get to vote on a reward.

Rewards that they have chosen in the past include:
  • movie afternoon
  • read-a-thon
  • wear your slippers to school day
  • chew gum in class say
Simple and effective classroom management idea for upper elementary teachers. Perfect for grade 4, 5 and 6! Marble Jar Incentive

Do you have any tips or tricks for classroom management? Share in the comments below :)




Saturday, 22 October 2016

Respecting First Nations, Metis and Inuit Cultures in the Classroom

The Rationale:

I work at a very multicultural school. Over the years, I have found that one way to build classroom community is to learn about our many different cultures. I have several First Nations students in my classroom and these are some of the methods that we use to learn about their culture. 
Beautiful Alphabet Cards for Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada  Read Aloud

Read Alouds:

Who doesn't love a good book? Here are some of my favourite read alouds for introducing students to First Nations, Métis and Inuit cultures.
Beautiful Alphabet Cards for Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada  Read Aloud

Inuit Culture:

Northern Lights: The Soccer Trails
Beautiful Alphabet Cards for Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada  Read Aloud

Baseball Bats for Christmas
Beautiful Alphabet Cards for Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada  Read Aloud

A Promise is a Promise
Beautiful Alphabet Cards for Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada  Read Aloud


Métis Culture:


Dancing in my Bones
Beautiful Alphabet Cards for Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada  Read Aloud

Fiddle Dancer
Beautiful Alphabet Cards for Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada  Read Aloud

Jenneli's Dance
Beautiful Alphabet Cards for Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada  Read Aloud

First Nations Culture:

Beneath Raven Moon
Beautiful Alphabet Cards for Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada

Berry Magic
Beautiful Alphabet Cards for Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada

The Salmon Twins
Beautiful Alphabet Cards for Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada

Classroom Decor

I love to showcase my First Nations, Métis and Inuit Alphabet Cards in my classroom. Not only are these cards beautiful, they make for great discussion points when studying First Nations, Métis and Inuit Cultures. You can pick up your own copy of these cards here.  

Beautiful Alphabet Cards for Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada


Independent Reading Time:

My FAVOURITE series to teach kids about First Nations, Métis and Inuit Cultures is Raven Tales by David Bouchard. You can order these books on the Scholastic Website. I have the entire set and my students LOVE them! They are all graphic novels and even my struggling grade 4 readers enjoy these books. 
eaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada

Integrating Art (Residential Schools):

There are many fabulous art projects that you can do with your students to learn about First Nations, Métis and Inuit Cultures. I think that the most meaningful project is Project of Heart. 


Materials:

Each student in your class will need a small wooden tile.
You will also need a variety of Sharpies. (Note: don't use regular markers because the colours will bleed!)

Procedure:

Introduce Students to Residential Schools.
  • Two books that I have used in the past to do this are Fatty Legs and When I Was Eight.
    • I use both of these books in my upper elementary classroom. 

Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada Read alouds about Residential Schools

Explain to students that in order to remember what happened in Residential Schools and in order to move towards reconciliation, they will each be creating a tile. Then all of the tiles will be put together to create a beautiful mosaic. These tiles are to commemorate all of the children that died in Residential Schools as well as all of the survivors. 

The Project for Heart has a great guide on their website. You can access it here

Here are some sample mosaics:

Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada Project of Heart

Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada Project of Heart

Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada

I hope that this gives you some ideas that you can use in your own classroom! Feel free to pin the image below so that you can come back to this post when you need it. 
Teaching Upper Elementary (grades 4, 5, 6) about First Nations, Metis and Inuit Culture, Alberta, Canada
Have a sweet week :)




Classroom Chemistry - A Ghoulish Good Time!

Right now in Science, we are studying Classroom Chemistry. I wanted to incorporate a little bit of Halloween fun into our unit! Students LOVED the labs and I LOVED how much learning was happening!

Here are some of the activities that we did:
Classroom Chemistry Engaging Halloween Experiments for Upper Elementary Classes - Grade 5 Alberta

Separating Mixtures:

First we watched these videos about separating mixtures. (I skip over the parts that talk about distilling alcohol). 

Next, students worked towards getting their magic potions certificate. They had to follow the recipe that I gave them exactly. (water, staples, sand, salt, rice). Then they worked to separate the mixture so that they were left with only water. This was a great critical thinking and perseverance activity because students had to keep trying, even when their original plan didn't work. In the end, all groups were successful. The trickiest part was explaining to their potions professor (me) how they planned to separate the salt from the water.
Classroom Chemistry Engaging Halloween Experiments for Upper Elementary Classes - Grade 5 Alberta
Here are the materials that students used to separate materials. 


Types of Mixtures:

We also learned about different types of mixtures by cooking up some delicious treats!
Classroom Chemistry Engaging Halloween Experiments for Upper Elementary Classes - Grade 5 AlbertaClassroom Chemistry Engaging Halloween Experiments for Upper Elementary Classes - Grade 5 Alberta


Students had to identify the type of mixture that each recipe made (homogeneous, heterogeneous). Then they sampled the treats!

I created some simple Interactive Notebook Activities to go along with our lab. This way, students can record their learning AND use this information to study for our quiz.
Classroom Chemistry Engaging Halloween Experiments for Upper Elementary Classes - Grade 5 Alberta

Next week we are going to be making halloween crystals and growing ghosts with a vinegar and baking soda reaction.

The kiddos are loving this unit so far and it is amazing how much they learn when they are super engaged!


Interested in trying this unit out in your own classroom? It includes 5 fun labs with instructions, labels and interactive notebook pages! Check it out here. It's 50% off for the first 10 buyers. 

Have a great week!



Sunday, 25 September 2016

How do I organize my math block?

Over the past few years, I have played around with different ways to organize my math block. This past year, I found a method that really works for me and more importantly, for my students!

Timing:

  • My math block is one hour long. However, by the time the kids get inside from recess, it's more like 55 minutes.



Days of the Week:

Math Schedule for Upper Elementary Classrooms - Whole Group, Small Group, Games, Fun!

Whole Group Lesson:

This lesson usually uses a PowerPoint presentation. I try not to use manipulatives on Mondays because it takes soooo long to get them out and distribute them to every kid in the class. (I prefer using manipulatives during my small group instruction time.) During the whole group lesson, we do lots of practicing on our mini white boards and tons of turning and talking with our math buddies.


Whole Group PowerPoint Presentation to Introduce Representing and Describing Numbers to 1 000 000.

Workshop Days:

Each workshop day starts with a quick warm up game to get the kids in the "math zone". The warm- up lasts for 10-15 minutes and I try to make it as fun and active as possible.

Place Value - Expanded Form, Standard Form, Chart form and Word Form (fun, games, small group, whole class)

Next, students go through a set of stations with our math teams. My math teams are consist of homogeneous groups of kids that are at the same level so that I can differentiate the activities if needed. I teach a combined class (grades 4 and 5) this year so most of my stations need to be differentiated.




Place Value - Expanded Form, Standard Form, Chart form and Word Form (fun, games, small group, whole class)


Groups visit two stations every workshop day. Each station lasts for 20 minutes. My stations include a variety of games and activities to practice the skills that we are currently working on in class. I also try to include at least one station that spirals back to something that we have already learned. In grade 4 and 5 I find that I am often including activities on multiplication and division facts.

Place Value - Expanded Form, Standard Form, Chart form and Word Form (fun, games, small group, whole class)


One station is always the teacher station. This is where I work with a small group of students, at their level. I review concepts that were taught on Monday, we practice problems together and in 20 minutes I can get a LOT accomplished! This is the time where my students use manipulatives as it takes so much less time to distribute manipulatives to 5 students, than to 30!

Assessment:

We usually start each Thursday by reviewing and correcting the work that we have done that week. I give kids an opportunity to ask any questions that they may have.

Next we write a short summative assessment. It is usually one double sided page and is directly related to the skill that we learned that week.

After the assessment is completed, if we have extra time, my class loves to play extra math games!

Review and Re-Teaching:

On Fridays we use technology to review our week's work. I LOVE using the program Mathletics in my classroom. I have a blog post about Mathletics that you can check out if you are interested in more info!

While the kids are working on Mathletics, I re-teach and extend learning with individual students or small groups based on the results of yesterday's assessment.

Interested in this type of math instruction, I have a place value unit in my store that follows this model. Click here to take a peek!

Place Value - Expanded Form, Standard Form, Chart form and Word Form (fun, games, small group, whole class)

Next week, we are going to talk about how I organize all of my math manipulatives and station supplies. Be sure to pin the image below so that you can come back to this post!

Place Value - Expanded Form, Standard Form, Chart form and Word Form (fun, games, small group, whole class)