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Three Things I Loved About My Week: Memory Moments, Decimals, and Community Gardens

Hi friends!  I'm back to share Three Things I Loved About My Week with you. I can't believe I just sent home progress reports for the last quarter of the school year!  I am really looking forward to slowing down when summer begins.  I love my class, and I loved the challenge of learning a new grade level.  But I'm ready to make more choices about my time!

#1: Memory Moment
This week we used The Day the Crayons Quit as our Mentor Text.  I love how cute this text is!  I know this book has been out for awhile, but I didn't really have a reason to use it as a middle school teacher.  When I picked it up at the library,  I loved that my mind went to the Memory Moment signpost right away! It was perfect the way the author gives the crayons personalities, and they share the memories of how Duncan uses the crayons.
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I used the text for mentor sentence work this week, so it incorporates a ton within one book.  What made me happy was that the first day we looked at the text, our Invitation to Notice day, several of my students noticed that this book contained a Memory Moment!  <HOORAY>!  Imagine me doing the happy dance!

I just recently taught this signpost and we dug deep with our novel Lunch Money.  It was nice to see the information transfer to other stories as well!
Right now we are working on Color Poems.  Students chose their favorite colors, and we are in the process of using our senses to describe them.  I can't wait to see how they turn out!

#2 Decimal Fraction Review
We took our End of Module assessment this week for our Decimal Fraction Relationships unit.  My kids really worked hard. We started our unit looking at how decimals and fractions are similar. Did you grab this FREEBIE that I created as a quick formative? It was quick and easy and my class started the unit with a Win-Win.  As we progressed, we learned how to translate decimals into fractions to add them.  We also plotted numbers on the number line, and learned how to change decimals and fractions between each other in computation and word problems.  One of the things I really love is how our modules build on one another.  They always give students problems that contain multiple steps that build.  I use these problems a lot for team building activities.  Instead of having just one problem that everyone completes, I create multiple problems that are similar.  Students work together in teams to answer each question.  It creates a feeling of anticipation and cooperation within the group.  Plus it makes review a lot more interesting than "Another Math Worksheet" <Insert fourth graders rolling their eyes here>

#3 Spring Gardens
The third thing about my week that I LOVED, was the spring gardens that are popping up around our school.  This is a project that our third graders participate in, but I have loved watching it grow! Every third grader participates in the program.  Once a week, someone from the community food co-op comes out and talks to students about healthy eating, gardens, vegetables, etc.  Each student has a gallon bucket where they have planted different veggies, and the students learn to tend the gardens.  They grow several types of lettuces, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and a few herbs.  When the items are ready to harvest, students help and then participate in a healthy meal together.  Of course there are PLENTY of leftovers, so students go home with two bags of fresh veggies each to share with their families.  I love the community support this program has!
Check out these amazing pictures!

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share a few things I've loved about this week.  I'd love to hear about something that was amazing for you!

Happy Weekend!

Decimals and Fractions Interactive Notebook Sort FREEBIE

We started working on fraction and decimal relationships this week.  My students were pretty excited to leave fractions behind, but are also proud to see how they are related to the world of decimals.

 When I begin my decimals unit, I have my students create a vocabulary page for their interactive notebooks.  It helps them to see the importance of the new terms we will be learning, and gives them a quick reference to use throughout the unit.

On the first day we look at metric units, and how a fraction with a denominator of 10 is equal to a decimal.  We practice going back and forth between fractional unit and decimals.  You can use a digital scale to help with this too.  I give my students several different items that we can weigh on the scale, then we write the numbers as fractions and decimals.  We also use tape diagrams and divide them into tenths.  We practice shading in the tape diagram as a model, writing the fractions, and the decimal lengths. Then we model this on a number line so visually students can see the similarities.

The next day for morning work I give my students a quick check page which helps them sort and practice fractions, decimals, and word form. They match the pieces that are jumbled up on the page. Then I have notebook leaders in my groups who check their notebooks with mine and then check their groups.  They let me know any students who were having trouble so I can quickly clear up misconceptions as I start the new lesson.  Any students needing further assistance get help during our math intervention time.

 I would love to hear how you start your decimals unit!  Let me know in the comments below, and be sure to grab the interactive notebook sort page for FREE by going {HERE}! I've made it two levels so I can use a similar format a little later in the unit.

Stress Less with Stress Away: My Essential Oils Journey

So I recently shared with you a little about the beginning of my essential oils journey.  Today I wanted to share a little bit about the essential oil that I use called Stress Away.  At this time of year when we are all up to our necks in state assessments we all tend to get a little short and sassy with the way we treat each other and our families.  We may over-eat,  over-caffeinate, or over-binge on something we don't normally do just because our stress levels are at their max.

Stress Away has been my Go-To oil for anxious situations.  A little dab "neat" (that means a drop or two on each wrist) at the beginning of the day and a lunch time, when I'm REALLY anxious about something completely does the trick.  It helps take that panicky feeling away.  You know the one you get when the copier is jammed, the pencil sharpener is broken, there is no air or wifi, and it is a week before testing?  yea THAT feeling... it GOES AWAY!

When I'm not feeling super anxious and don't need the full scale of stress away, I use an essential oil blend I call Calm.  It is made from stress away and lemon which add the perfect lift to my day.

I put it in a glass roller bottle that I ordered from Amazon and add a carrier oil, like Coconut Oil.  I roll it on my feet in the morning before I put on my shoes and socks.  Your feet actually have the largest pores, so it is a perfect place.  I also add some to my wrists and rub them together.

I have had a few people ask me if they can use other essential oils and not Young Living, and of course you certainly can.  I just like Young Living because of it's seed to seal guarantee.  They use certified organic farms and watch over the entire process from start to finish.  That makes me feel safe when I am thinking about what I'm putting in my body.  I don't have to worry about what other things are processed within the oils, and since I'm trying my best to live clean and be healthy, I don't want to add any extra stuff in.

Do you use essential oils to help with stress?  Are you interested in learning more about the oils? You can go here: bit.ly/CCLPYoungLiving to find out more about Young Living and their oils.

Notice and Note: Memory Moments

This week my class tackled the Notice and Note Signpost for Memory Moments.  When a reader is tracking her comprehension and she comes across a situation where a character's thoughts are interrupted by a memory or flashback that comes to the character, they are having a Memory Moment.

Memory Moments help readers understand  the plot, theme, and relationship between the character and the plot. They give us insight into the character's motivation behind some of their thoughts, words and actions.  When we encounter a Memory Moment in our books, I teach my students to stop and ask WHY might this memory be important?  The answer will tell us about a conflict, or development  that may be upcoming in the plot of the story.  The conflict may involve just the character, or may be alluding to something that will be forthcoming in the story.

I love when author's are really good at their craft... I mean, isn't that WHY we want to read their books?  Gary Paulsen starts Hatchet right out the gate with a Memory Moment within the first 3 pages of text.  Brian is sitting in the plane and he says "The thinking started."

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My fourth graders are currently reading Lunch Money by Andrew Clements.  In chapters 5 and 6, Greg Kenton, the main character, shares two memory moments when he flashes back to the first time he meets his arch nemesis Maura.  As readers, we learn about why there is a conflict between these two characters.  I use these chapters in the book to talk to my students about internal and external conflict, and what that teaches use about a character as he/she is developing.  In this particular book, Clements shows Greg remembering something that troubles him, his competition with Maura.  This helps us to see the back story behind why Greg dislikes Maura so much.  It also helps us to make inferences about the plot of the story.  This really helps give my students a deeper purpose for reading.  They look at the novel more closely, because they are reading to prove if their inference has foundation.

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When I first introduce the Memory Momentnt Signpost, I show my students an anchor chart, and we use our tabbed Notice and Note booklets.  We write examples of key words or clues we may encounter that will help us  recognize the signpost.  I also show them this video.  It gives them another overview of the signpost.

Then we use this video to practice the signpost with visual media.  It is easy for them to recognize.

I also like this video from Rataouille

If you have older students they will recognize this quick 20 second scene between Katniss and Peeta from the Hunger Games which gives great insight into the connection between the characters.

Before having my students find and discuss the Memory Moments in Lunch Money, I also remind them of previous picture books we have read that contain Memory Moments.  These include:
Saturdays and Teacakes
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Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox
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A Chair for My Mother
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Another book that I just recently found and am adding to my collection is The Day the Crayons Quit. 
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I know this isn't a new book, I had just not thought about using it with Memory Moments until I pulled it out for our Mentor Sentences.  I LOVE when I have an AHA moment too! 

If you are interested in checking out how I help my students stay organized as you teach the signposts, you can go {HERE} and see my tabbed notebook for the signposts.  It has the sign post anchor charts inside, or you have the option of having students write themselves.
Do you have other books that you use to teach the Notice and Note Signpost for Memory Moment? I would love to hear about any new books that you have found that help students!

Teaching with Balance: My Essential Oils Journey

As teachers we all know how totally stressed our jobs can be.  We have demands from students, parents,  coworkers, and admin on a daily basis. I know many of us do our best to try and eat healthy, exercise and drink  as much water as possible during the day. I try to eat as much organic produce as possible, avoid carbs and sugars, but let's be honest, when its report card week and we have papers and conferences up to our eye balls, that doesn't always happen.  I'm always looking for other alternatives to continue my healthy lifestyle and remain calm, cool and collected.

At Christmas time, my sister bought me a diffuser for my home and as a homemade Christmas gift made me three bottles of essential oils blends.  One was called Healthy.  It contained Thieves essential oil which helps you to keep colds and flu at bay.  Another was called Calm which helps to take the stress away when the going gets tough.  The third was called Fun which just, well, smells happy.  It made me start to think about our needs as teachers to maintain balance, and I began to research a company called Young Living.  They appealed to me because they monitor everything they do from the time the SEED is planted on the farm to the SEAL of the jar.  Everything is monitored and tested for purity.  At first I was like meh.. seriously, it's OILS, but then I went to Marshall's and I started SMELLING some of the oils sold there.  I'm not saying there is anything wrong with them, but I could smell the difference in the oils from Young Living, they were cleaner, and stronger, and well, that appealed to me, so that's what I went with.

Since then I've been looking up different ways I can use the oils to promote a healthier environment for myself and my family.  I bought a starter kit which gave me a second diffuser for my home as well as 11 essential oils that I could combine in various ways to help relieve stress, help me sleep better, build up my immune system, help with sore muscles, aches and pains, and use to keep my home fresh and clean.  Using the kit  I've also found a much better balance using essential oils in my daily routine.  I've created blends and used oils to help me with stress relief, dark circles under my eyes, grow my fine hair, and to cook with!  My daughter has used products at softball that have helped her sore muscles after games, and we have gone the entire cold/flu season with literally a ONE DAY stint with not feeling well.
I wanted to take some time and just share that I was beginning this journey, and I was wondering if there were other teachers out there who use essential oils?  My goal is to share what I have figured out in a blog post once or twice a month, and maybe this will help you as a teacher find more balance in your life.  If you have found something amazing to use, please share with me in the comments below, and we can together find out more information about using essential oils.
If you want to find out more about Young Living you can go to: bit.ly/CCLPYoungLiving

Namaste my sweet friends!

Three Things I Loved About My Week: Mardi Gras Fractions, Friends, Facing a Fear

Hello friends!  I wanted to share the Three Things I LOVED about my week last week!  

#1: Celebrating Mardi Gras in the Classroom
This Friday we celebrated with a little Mardi Gras Fun in our classroom.  Fat Tuesday is coming soon, but we have our big state writing assessment on Monday, and I wanted to spend the last 45 minutes of the day relaxed, happy, and ready for the weekend.  Because I still have to teach curriculum and I teach math in the afternoon, I pulled out my Mardi Gras Float Fraction activity.  Students were told there are 12 krewe members on their Mardi Gras Float.  They worked in pairs to answer 10 questions relating to equivalent fractions and easy percents.  These questions told them what each member of the krewe had to wear on the float.  For example, one item said that there were twice as many girls as boys in the krewe.  Students had to figure out that meant there would be 8 girls and 4 boys on the float.  Another was that 75% of the boys had to have dark hair.  Students had to figure out that meant 3 out of the 4 boys.  When they were finished with the 10 math questions and had them checked, they were allowed to draw their floats. They LOVED this activity,  and I loved sneaking in a little extra math practice. The floats while having the same information were all completely different.  So many ways for them to be creative and practice mathematics skills at the same time! Math and art, you can never go wrong.  I love these pictures! 

#2: Time with Friends:  Filling my Cup
I had a few friends from New York visiting me this week.  We got a chance to go out to one of our favorite hangouts, Buffalo Wild Wings, and watch the Syracuse vs Duke game on Wednesday night.  The game was killer!  I mean a win at the buzzer against DUKE is the BEST ever!  But even more important, I had a chance to catch up with friends that I don't often have a chance to see, and well frankly, they "fill my cup." 

Do you have friends who do that for you?  Even though we are far apart I have a few friends that are just... well... there for me.  When I see them they fill up my cup!  I talked to my class about that on Friday.  They know I love Syracuse basketball, and they asked me about the game.  As exciting as it was, I found myself talking more to them about the friends I have who really help me out, and are just fun to be around.  It was honestly a great way to reinforce that Kind is the New Cool mentality, and I saw a lot of my students checking in with each other on the playground and including everyone in their games.  That also was a cup filler!!

#3:  Facing My Fears
My daughter also had an opportunity to "fill her cup" this week by having other friends from NY visiting.  We met our friends at Disney Springs for dinner and to hang out a little.  As a group we decided to go up in the hot air balloon.  Ok, so... yea.... I'm afraid of heights... but I couldn't be the ONLY person who didn't go up in that balloon, so I mustered up a little confidence... yea.. I used my Confidence Essential Oil roller... LOL... and I did it!  8 minutes in a hot air balloon.  I smiled the whole time but inwardly.. I .. WAS... FREAKING OUT!

So that being said, this week after out writing test I am going to read a book to my class called Courage.  We are going to spend some time writing an essay about what it takes to make a person courageous, and how they are courageous about something in their lives.

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Share with me something from your life that you LOVED this week, or a way you had your cup filled, or were fearless.  Any Mardi Gras parades or activities in you week?  I'd love to hear about them!

Have an amazing week friends!

Three Things I Loved About My Week!

Welcome to the weekend friends!  I wanted to take a moment and share Three Things I Loved About My Week.

I hope some of these make you smile or laugh, or give you a new idea for your own life or classroom. Spread the positive my friends... spread the positive.

#1:  Retired Teachers Make the Best Secret Pals
The retired teachers at my school are amazing!  Every month they bring in snacks and goodies for us, and we get a few days of heaven in the teachers room.  They are part of the reason why I never seem to be losing any weight.... ( the other reason may be that I have to get off my couch.. but that isn't something I loved, so we won't talk about it)
How delicious are these cakes looking!  Do you see how they made MANY MANY cakes!  NOT one cake or two cakes that are gone by the time the second lunch round is over, but CAKES for DAYS.....
Do you have anyone who is wonderful to you like this?

#2: World Read Aloud Day!
February 16th was World Read Aloud day.  To celebrate my class found their favorite picture books from my classroom library and a partner that they do not normally read with.  Together they shared their book for about 15 minutes.  Although this wasn't a huge amount of time it was nice see them sit together and read to each other. It brought a sense of calm to the sometimes chaotic classroom that we have, and it made me smile.

#3: Peer Editing and Collaboration
We have been working really hard on our writing skills since we came back from our Christmas break.  We are getting ready to take our state writing assessment in just a few short weeks, and I need my students to have a solid sense of both opinion and informative writing, and how our state will be assessing their skills.  We read a paired text on roller coaster design.  The informative prompt that I gave my students asked them to explain how roller coaster designers are innovative.  I have seen so many improvements in their writing, adding leads, and key details.  Their conclusions are getting stronger too.  One thing that has FINALLY clicked in for them is the importance of peer editing and discussion.  This week I had them practice being both the teaching coach AND the learner.  I pressed them to give specific examples, and we worked on speaking kindly to each other but still giving constructive criticism.  When each group finished students were able to grab a post it note and create a writing goal for next week.  Baby steps lead to giant leaps my friends!

I hope everyone else could find three things that they LOVED about their week!  Feel free to comment below and let me know what you loved!! I would love to hear about it!

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