Minerals Galore! Reading, Interactive Notebooks, Labs and Studyblocks

School finished up for me Tuesday with a Professional Work Day.  I'm so glad to finally be able to be on my own schedule.  My own kids have had school this week, which has left me with Free Time!  I had originally planned on enjoying a few hours at the beach, but it has really been raining here, so instead I used the time to start looking at organizing my science units for next year.
This was the first year I've had to teach science in a very, very, long time.  So it was like being a brand new teacher.  I had to learn the material. I had to wade through the numerous amounts of folders, and plan and prepare.  I was traveling through my science time by the skin of my teeth.  THAT was NOT going to be happening again this year.

I spent some time putting my minerals unit together.  Take a look at what it has to offer:

We all know that there has been a huge push to teach reading skills in the content area, so I incorporated some Close Reading passages into my unit.  I'll have students cold read these and make connections, complete vocabulary picture notes after discussion, and then do a foldable for our interactive notebook.  One thing I love about these foldables is that they aren't all vocabulary based, but my students have to DO something with them.. hello!  and in INTERACT with the interactive notebook foldable!
For example, the first passage we will read is What is a Mineral?  Throughout this passage my students will learn the four characteristics used to classify something as a mineral.  When we have finished discussion and answering quick check questions they will put this foldable into their notebooks:

Inside I have them write down justification for each item.  The inside looks like this:
Last, we color code the items.  In this case we did green for mineral and red for non-mineral.  It was more than just an enter in your vocabulary kind of thing.
We also have a Project Based Lab to complete.  I think PBL is such an amazing tool, and I can't wait to have more opportunities in my classroom for this.  All of the instructions for the lab are included in the unit.  You just have to supply the minerals.  Most schools that have minerals in their curriculum supply minerals and rocks, but if you happen to not have them try contacting your high school or a local university.  I found both very helpful at loaning me items when I was looking for them this year.  You can also buy rocks and minerals kits fairly inexpensively online.  Try www.rocksandminerals.com  It might make a great Donors Choose project.

I also included a studyblocks review sheet and a unit assessment.  The fabulous, amazing, creative, teacher that I worked with at my former school taught me about studyblocks almost 15 years ago.  I love them because they can also be an amazing data tool for you to see what stuck with your students.
Basically, you give students boxes with topic headings.  Independently or with a partner, students fill in the most important information in each heading.  The key is not to use complete sentences, or have information overload.  The key is just a phrase or code word(s) that will help you remember the important concepts.  My students really loved these this year.  It helped them learn what was REALLY an important part of the unit.  I always make these AFTER I make up my assessment, so students know that what is on the studyblocks is ON THE TEST.  After all, my job in not to trick them into studying a whole lot of trivia.  My job is to teach them how to pull out and retain pertinent information.  After my students create their own studyblocks I have them use a different color pen or pencil and I show them my blocks.  They write down any further information that they may have missed and then use the studyblocks as a tool to prepare for the assessment.
Here is an example of the studyblocks for minerals.
If Minerals is on your list of subjects to teach next year, consider checking out my unit.  It will give you a chance to enjoy a little more of your summer vacation!  My Rocks unit is up next in the queue!


Stitch Fix #4: Finally I've Found Jeans!

I was so happy to get my May Stitch Fix box on the last day of school.  What a great way to start summer.  Since I usually only get Stitch Fix boxes every other month, I was really looking forward to seeing some new clothes.  As I've stated before, this gal is NOT a shopper!  Introvert that I am, I like the happiness of getting my clothes delivered!
This Fix was pretty good.  I got a new stylist, Jahna, who finally found me a pair of skinny jeans that were long enough and didn't show the entire world my business when I bent over.  #toomuchinformation.

Here is what came in this box:

1) Kut From The Kloth:  Sylvan Crochet Detail Top:

This shirt fit me ok, but I'm not the Crochet Detail kind of gal. I mean, I spend most of my summer sitting at the softball field in athletic shorts, tanks,and Keens. I know this is a work shirt, but it wasn't for me.  I know some people would like the variation, but I'll stick to my classic white button down. Plus, clearly I need a tutorial on how to pose for a picture without looking frumpy! LOL

Verdict:  Return

2) 41Hawthorn:  Moni Geo Print & Camisole Blouse:

This is a shirt that I got in my last fix.  I almost bought it then, but I thought it wasn't the right size. Jahna sent me a different one, and it was ok, but something about the shoulders just wasn't right on me.  Plus, although Orange is my favorite color, I mean I BLEED orange and blue, I have a TON of orange in my closet, and my daughter says I need to branch out a bit.

Verdict:  Return

3) Olive & Oak: Peyton Dress

This coral shirt dress was NOT for me. I mean you are NOT EVEN SEEING A PICTURE OF ME IN IT! I had asked for a summer shirt dress to be included in this fix, but the material on this one was too heavy. My daughter thought is was a beach cover-up when I pulled it out of the box, and it got no better when I put it on.

Verdict: Return

What I kept, and LOVED:

4) Skies are Blue:  Walli Knit Tank

This chevron tank was awesome. It has a little flair at the bottom which I wasn't too sure of, but my daughter, who is always very concerned about whether I am appropriately dressed for occasions OTHER than the ball field thought it was awesome. I like that I can wear it out to dinner this summer, on those rare occasions when I have time for more than Gatorade at the field.

Verdict: Keep

5) Level 99: Shauna Skinny Jean
These jeans were amazing! Stitch Fix has sent me jeans in 3 of my 4 fixes, and I'm so glad I have finally found a pair of skinny jeans that fit me well.  These were pricey.  More than I would normally pay, and I certainly will be careful wearing them.  I want my money's worth out of these puppies. But I know I won't regret this purchase.  These jeans were a great length and as I had stated earlier in the post didn't share my behind with the world when I bent over.
I also LOVED the red and grey top that they paired them with in the photograph.  I wish Stitch Fix gave you the option of requesting the clothes they pair with your Fix.  Although long sleeve, I love the way that shirt looked.

Verdict: Keep

I love the convenience of Stitch Fix.  I'm not pressured by time or sales people, and returns are so simple.  Consider taking the time to check out Stitch Fix this summer.  You can relax and have something amazing delivered right to your doorstep.  Click {HERE} to check it out.  They even have a blog which gives great clothes pairings and trends!


Last Week of School: Championships, Mean Absolute Deviation and Go Noodle

Friday was my last day of school with students!

I wanted to share a little of why I've been a little busy lately:

1)  My daughter and her high school softball team won the state championship in softball last week.  STATE CHAMPIONSHIP my friends, STATE CHAMPIONSHIP!  I am so proud of her!  She is just a freshman, so we are really honored that she was asked to move up to Varsity for play-offs.  The coaching staff is amazing, and these were a great group of girls. I can't wait to see what 3 more years will bring us!  If you need a tax write off and want to help this team, you can go {HERE} to GO FUND ME and make a donation to the team.  We are trying to fund raise championship rings for the girls!  

2)  We spent time early in the week finishing up our Statistics Unit by completing a lab.  I needed to keep my Smarties engaged and occupied.  Last week we flew paper airplanes.  Instead of measuring how far they flew, I had students design them to see how long they would last in the air, and we measured the time in seconds.  This week we did a second lab to reinforce mean absolute deviation and interquartile range.  I had students long jump, and we measured the distance in feet and inches. I had students convert to all inches and then find the mean, mean absolute deviation, create a box and whisker plot, and then find the interquartile range.  My Smarties were so good!  We had a great time enjoying the sunshine.  If you teach these topics, you may want to pick up the printable worksheets to do both the airplane and long jump lab.  You can grab them for just $1.00 in my TpT store.

3)  We also finished up our Chasing Vermeer mystery unit.  There are so many great clues about mysteries in this story.  The secret codes they have to decipher really kept them on their toes, and they loved playing with the pentaminoes.  I'm really happy with the way their character analysis posters came out! Please excuse the bottom the cabinet in this picture.. there were three days of school left people. :)

The author just came out with a new book using the main characters, Calder and Petra.  Pieces and Players is a great mystery using PRIME NUMBERS!  Love it!  Add it to your summer reading list.  I know you'll enjoy the math/literature connection.

4)  We had a great time on our last day of school with a little Go Noodle!  My class loves the Ice Cream and Guacamole song.  

5) To leave you on a personal note, my son also has had amazing accomplishments this week.  He was asked to be part of the Junior Honor Society, and was then awarded honors for the highest ELA average in the 7th grade.  I'm one proud momma!


Updated Product! Foldable and Lessons for Prime and Composite Numbers. LCM and GCF

Hello friends!  I just wanted to post quickly today and let you know I have recently updated my Foldables Lessons on teaching Least Common Multiple and Greatest Common Factor.  This product is now 30 pages long, and includes:

1) Mentor text suggestions for Prime and Composite Numbers, as well as video links to share with your students,
2) Foldable for teaching Divisibilty Rules-- differentiated
3) Lesson for teaching Prime and Composite Numbers using a Hundreds Chart
4) Interactive sort activity for Prime and Composite numbers with differentiated sort cards
5) Foldable and Lessons for teaching Least Common Multiple, Greatest Common Fractor and simplifying a fractions using the Prime Ladder Method.  There are several versions of the foldable for this lesson so you are able to differentiate for your students.

If you have already purchased this product, please go redownload it.
If not, it may be something you want to consider.
Have a great Sunday!


Using Close Reading in the Classroom

I have loved using my friend, Fifth in the Middle's, Close Reads in my classroom!  Close Reading has become a hot topic in the last year or so across all areas of literacy.  Last spring I read a fantastic book by Chris Lehman and Kathleen Roberts called
Falling in Love with Close Reading: Lessons for Analyzing Texts--and Life

which gave me a great overview for the foundation of the topic.  I was interesed, and I was passionate about the idea of getting my kids to look at a text with more depth.  I was NOT looking forward to creating text to do this.  I tried finding text, but nothing kept the interest of my students, and with a move looming in my future, I did not have the time to create.  Lucky for me, I didn't need to. My friend Diane, genious that she is had started creating Close Read texts that were related to monthly topics.  These my friends, are fabulous!  She saved my sanity when I began using these!  I love her format because she creates text that I can use in my interactive notebook.  I'm a fan of the clean page with a simple border, and straightforward directions and prompts.

When I have my students use her close reads we do a cold read first, annotating using symbols connections that we are making with the text.  All of thse annotations occur within the border of the text created.  After discussion, we moved into the second and third reads, where there is a very specific purpose and task set for for us.  In our interactive notebooks, we answer questions and annotate for these reads on the OUTSIDE of the boarder.  This works well for me because I can see how students are digging deeper into the text.  We highlight and write as we discuss deeper meaning, and connections.

This week in celebration of her milestone on TpT, Diane has a limited time freebie of her Close Reads on S'mores. You can grab it {HERE}.  My class in particular LOVED this topic.  We read this one in the early September as I was still getting used to moving to Alabama.  They thought it was hysterical how excited I got about s'mores, and meanwhile, I'm thinking.. hello sixth graders.. campfires...chocolate, marshmallows... what's NOT to love about s'mores!  As I watched them complete the cold read, I saw a lot of wrinkled foreheads, and students who began to glance nervously at each other.  ut oh... I thought, are these too difficult?  I had only been in class a few weeks with them but I thought they could handle it.  I mean Diane differentiated them and gave me 3 levels to work with.  Some of them began to annotate furiously on the page, and I relaxed a little, but was curious when it came to discussion.  My students finished, and I had to bust right in and ask them why their brows were wrinkled in confusion?  Well my friends, here was this YANKEES first lesson in being a Southerner... you do not have campfires when it is 85 degrees outside in the summer!  They could not understand the context of WHY I would sit around a campfire in the summer!  I laughed so hard to think that s'mores are a WINTER food down here! Campfires are a WINTER activity in Alabama!  It was a great learning experience for the whole class, and we would not have had that bonding moment without Diane's fabulous work!
Needless to say, I promised them s'mores in class the next day, but fooled them in the process.  I gave them these:

We had been working on the distributive property in math, and I couldn't resist having them practice combining like terms.   Of course, after they finished moaning and groaning, I did give them real s'mores to eat, but I loved the joke, and they learned that it's ok to joke around a little in my classroom.

If you are interested in Close Reads for your classroom, I would recommend Fifth in the Middle's Bundle.  It is your best bargain.  You can go {HERE} to check it out.  Also, if you are teaching Combining Like Terms and need something to make it more interactive with expressions, you can go {HERE} and pick up my Combining Like Terms interactive game.  You can gran it at up to 28% off using the TpT code THANKYOU May 5th and 6th!

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