Five for Saturday: Theme, Crawfish Boils, Books, Geometry Video, and Field Trips

  We have had a really busy week in the land of Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans!

1)  We have spent our ELA time talking about the characters in our novel, Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher, and discussing possible themes.  I love when it gets to this time of year in sixth grade.  Yes, it is stressful because testing is coming up.  Yes, it is difficult to keep everyone on task and paying attention, but YES they are capable of digging deep into literature and THINKING about the nuances of what they read.  I live for these moments, and we had one this week when we were talking about THEME!  I had previously done an intro lesson, discussing the difference between a theme TOPIC, and an actual theme.  I also show my students a video that has a pretty straight forward message to make sure they "get it."  These lessons are from Erin at I'm Lovin Lit.  They are in her Interactive Notebook for Literature.   She also has them individually {HERE}

  After a day or so with the basics, I used the same tree visual and gave my students five themes from Flying Solo.  We talked about how each theme would relate to the story.  Then I picked one of the five, and gave them the theme sentence.  They had to work in pairs to come up with four pieces of evidence from the book to support the sentence.  This my friends is where the magic happened.  They dug deep!

For example, a theme topic for this book is Grief.  I gave them the theme statement  Grief is about loss and a return to life.  We talked for a few minutes about the OBVIOUS, LITERAL evidence that would exist.  (For those not familiar with the book, a classmate dies, and the class during the novel is still dealing with and grieving for him).  But they dug deeper!  They talked about the grief another student was carrying over having to quarantine his dog, and even deeper over the grief a third student had over the time he does not have with his father.  I was so proud.  Fear not teachers feeling the push of testing. Students are digging deep!  Be a guide..don't give up on them!

2) We went to a Crawfish Boil last weekend at a friend's house. Being a native New Yorker transplanted into the South, this was a totally new thing for me.  Everyone around here is talking about crawfish lately.  I think the season for eating them is starting.  Our friends have a HUGE pot to boil the crawfish and invited us over to join them.  My kids were in awe over this!  We loved every single minute of it.  If the season is just starting, it is going to be a good one!

3)  I finished reading the first book in The Testing Series by Joelle Charbonneau.  If you have students that like the dystopian literature, I think they will love these books.  The heroine Cia, is a great problem solver, and intuitive thinker.  I great role model to teach character traits and the Hero's Journey circle.  Speaking of the Hero's Journey, if you teach this common story analysis in your classroom.  I used it last year while teaching The Lightning Thief and there is a freebie {HERE} if you need a graphic organizer.   The blog post contains a video that I used to introduce the concept, and a link to the organizer.  I hear they will be making movies out of the series.

4)  We started Area this week in Math.  I introduced it with this neat song to help students remember the difference between Area and Perimeter

5)  Finally, at the end of the week I took my class on a field trip to learn about The Bankhead Tunnel and Geology.  My students thought the tunnel was really cool, although we had to walk down about 4 stories of steep steps to reach tunnel level.  Yikes!

We also went to the University of South Alabama to the Archeology Museum.  There we participated in a huge geology lab, identifying rocks and minerals using scratch tests, observations, and even taste.  We also learned about how archaeologists study people, and layers of earth to learn the history of our city.  My students LOVED eating in the campus dining hall.  If you have a college campus near you, check out the programs they may have to offer.  It was an amazing field trip!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs today!  


Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold Book Review

I was recently contacted by a book publisher to have my students review an adventure mystery series by Iain Reading called Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold.  Below is a summary of the book, and my sixth graders thoughts.  If you are a Canadian reader, this book may be of particular interest to you as it covers Canadian Provinces and history.   My students enjoyed making connections between the Canadian history and US history, and this may also interest some of your students that enjoy research projects.  

Drako thought:  "I really liked the character of Kitty.  I thought it was cool that a yound girl could learn to fly, and I liked the titles of each chapter.  Sometimes I thought the sentences were long, but I liked learning about the Yukon."

Chloe thought:  "I liked when the author introduced the character of Charlie.  I think the adventure really got started then.  Kitty was a funny, strong-willed character and it made me laugh when she wanted Starbucks."

Bhumi thought:  "  Kitty Hawk is funny, creative, determined and loving.  I love how she cares about the environment and their creatures.  Kitty Hawk has a true heart and I liked how she became friends with Charlie, Jay Will and Buck.  They started off not trusting each other, but they used their strong will to achieve their goal.  I enjoyed that Ian Reading used real life places and history like Amelia Earhart to keep my attention. It was funny to read about Walmart, McDonald's and Starbucks in the book.   My only complaint is the text style.  The font was small, and at first I was afraid the book would not be good.  But I worked through it and found I really enjoyed it!"

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is the thrilling first installment in a new young adult series of adventure mystery stories by Iain Reading. This first book of the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series introduces Kitty Hawk, an intrepid teenage pilot with her own De Havilland Beaver seaplane and a nose for mystery and intrigue. A cross between Amelia Earhart, Nancy Drew and Pippi Longstocking, Kitty is a quirky young heroine with boundless curiosity and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations. 

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales, Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty's adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada. As the plot continues to unfold, this spirited story will have readers anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada's Yukon.

Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold is a perfect book to fire the imagination of readers of all ages. Filled with fascinating and highly Google-able locations and history this book will inspire anyone to learn and experience more for themselves. 

There are currently four books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series: Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (book 1), Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost (book 2), Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue (book 3), and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic (book 4). Each book can be read as a standalone.

“In the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series the heroine finds herself in a new geographic location in each book. The series will eventually have a total of 13 books in it (maybe more) and her flight around the world will be completed in the end,” says Iain. “The books are sequential but one could definitely read any of the later ones before reading the earlier ones.”

About the Author:
Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations.

Iain has published 4 books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series (Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold, Kitty Hawk and the Hunt for Hemingway's Ghost, Kitty Hawk and the Icelandic Intrigue, and Kitty Hawk and the Tragedy of the RMS Titanic). He is currently working on the 5th book in the series. For more information, go to  

Iain is also the author of The Wizards of Waterfire Series. The first book in the series The Guild of the Wizards of Waterfire was published in April 2014.

Connect with Iain on Twitter and Goodreads.


Sparking Student Motivation with Math and Art: A Perfect Pi Day Combination

Happy Pi Day to all my Math Geek friends!

I'm linking up with one of my BBBs, Joanne,  at Head Over Heels for Teaching to share a project that I completed with my Smarties for Pi Day.
In sixth grade we don't teach about circles anymore.  In fact, probably  the closest I get to circles is when we teach a little about percentages, but I still think it is important for students to learn about the concept of Pi.   I started out with an overview video for them that explains what Pi is.  Do you ever watch the Math Bites videos that Danica McKellar creates?  They are amazing and fun for math concepts.  Do you remember The Wonder Years?  She was Winnie.  Now she writes books that focus on girls and math.  This is the one we watched about Pi:

Then we created an art project incorporating the digits of Pi into a Cityscape with watercolors.
I saw this project originally on Pinterest from What We Do Daily and read the post {HERE}.  My students LOVED this project.  I split my class into two groups to make the project more manageable.  One group started by graphing the Pi digits on graph paper.  Some of them chose to do a twilight scene, so they colored their digits black.  I used two different sizes of graph paper, because I still have students with some fine motor skill issues.  When they finished graphing the digits, they cut out the scene so it looked like skyscraper buildings.

The second group I started with water coloring the backgrounds.

When each group was finished, they moved to the area they hadn't completed.  They glued the cityscape to their watercolor background when they finished, and then I trimmed the projects so I can display them in the hallway of our main building.  My friends, it was a WONDERFUL way to spend our time on a half day.  My Smarties worked together and helped each other cut, paste and glue.  It gave them a chance to talk quietly in groups.. what sixth grader doesn't love that!  Some were trying to memorize the digits of Pi as they graphed.  Over all, it was a fabulous way to celebrate!
Check out a few of the final products:

I also wore my EPIC PI DAY Tshirt! 
Do you celebrate Pi Day at your school?  I would love to hear the kinds of activities that you do!
Also, have you entered my Giveaway yet?  You can win a $20 gift card to Amazon, or $10 of Clipart or $10 from my TpT store.  Stop by {HERE} to enter.  The rafflecopter is open until Thursday.
And thank you Joanne for helping me share how I motivated my students this week!


It's March... It's Madness... It's Giveaway Time!

I've recently passed 1100 Bloglovin Followers, and 1,000 Facebook Followers, so I wanted to have a little GIVEAWAY to celebrate!  Are you interested in an Amazon Gift Card, some free clipart, or a few TpT products?  Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, and THANK YOU for coming along with me on this blogging journey!  I will be picking THREE Winners:  First Place $20 Amazon Gift Card, Second Place: $10 worth of free clipart from Messare Clips and Design and Third Place: $10 worth of products from my TpT.  The Rafflecopter will be open until March 19th.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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