Tried it Tuesday: Creating a Donors Choose Project

I'm linking up with one of my BBBs today, Holly, at Fourth Grade Flipper, to talk about something new for me: a Donors Choose project.

Have you heard of Donors Choose?  It is an online charity that connects teachers who need items for their classrooms with donors who want to help children in need.  It is very simple and easy to set up.  If you are looking to have a project funded, you set up an account and Donors Choose walks you through the process of creating a project.  You choose the materials that are needed from various vendor sites, write about why you need the items for your room, and submit.  The project gets reviewed, and when it is approved, you have about four months for the project to be funded through donations.

My library in my classroom is basically nonexistent.  Don't get me wrong, I have books for my students, lots and lots of books that I have collected from Scholastic points, library sales, yard sales, donations, all kinds of things.  But I literally have one rickety book shelf.  When I came to my new school I had to put my books in plastic crates, or keep them in the boxes.  I was so disappointed because I knew that great books weren't getting chosen.  With the "brown box" system, books were also getting thrown into the nearest open box, causing pages to get lost, or covers to be ripped.  When I read about Donors Choose, I knew I had to give it a try.

I mean seriously, look at this space!

So when I heard about Donors Choose, I knew that I needed to ask for some books shelves and a rug to define the space.  I want my students to be readers, and they need a place to find interesting books, and then be able to relax and enjoy a good book.  For the time being, my library looks like this:
Hopefully, my project will get funded soon, and I will have the new shelves before the school year starts.  If you are interested, I would love for you to check out the project.  You can go {HERE} to read about it.  Until Saturday, August 1st any donations made are doubled using the code SPARK.  It's a great tax donation if you are looking for something, and even donating $5.00 helps out a fellow teacher!!  Or, if you are on social media and are willing to share the link, that would be amazing too! 
Thanks to Holly for hosting this!  


A Teacher Field Trip About World War II and The Raft

I think summer is the perfect time for teachers to scope out potential field trips for their students.  We have traveled a lot recently with my daughter's softball playing, and I've taken the opportunity to take in the local area and see what I can add to enhance my classroom.  I had an opportunity this summer to meet up with one of my favorite clip artists, Scott, from Messare Clips and Design at the Pensacola Naval Base.  I was so excited for this meet up, not only because Scott is an amazing graphic artist, but also because I will be teaching social studies again this year, and I wanted to learn more, and find ways to make my curriculum more authentic for my students.

 We went through the museum and learned a lot about the Blue Angels fighting squad. Scott, a pilot himself, was the perfect companion, and I found a lot of useful information for some nonfiction texts
I'm working on.  I also took a ton pictures to use in PowerPoints.
The naval air museum is FREE to get into. I think I may look into bringing my class there on a field trip. They have American planes from WWI and WWII as well as Japanese and German planes. 
Check out this Japanese flag!

I loved taking pictures of all of the propaganda posters.

I use these a lot when I get into my social studies units. This year I'm going to try and teach my argumentative writing unit at the same time so I can do some cross curricular writing that is meaningful.  Then when it is Dr. Seuss/Read Across America week I'll use them again.  Did you know that Seuss created posters for the United States during the war? This is a great way to participate in Read Across America activities with upper grades.

Something else I thought was pretty cool was a display about The Raft.

Apparently I group of three naval airmen were stranded in the Pacific for 34 days in only a small inflatable life raft!  The museum has the actual raft on display.  It was amazing to see how small it was, and I could not imagine living a month on it with two other people with no food, no water, and no shelter from the sun.  These men actually collected the rain water in the crevices to drink and   When the men were rescued they had their memoirs written and published in a book.  The Raft, by Robert Trumbull was first published in 1942, and is told from Harold Dixon, (one of the three airmen's) point of view.

As I was reading the information, the wheels in my head were spinning,  Think of the possibilities this saga has for the classroom!  Measure out an 8 x 4 foot raft, and imagine being able to only live in THAT space with two other people.. oh and you can't all stand up, the raft might tip!  Determine what a typical amount of water consumed is, compared to what the men would drink.  Lots of possibilities!

This book is currently in my Audible queue for the next car trip we take.  Interested in learning more about Audible?  Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks
I use Audible all the time in my commute to work.  I usually listen to nonfiction or education/school related books on my way to work, and fiction or something else on the way home.  Right now you can sign up for a free month of audible and get TWO books for free!

You can also check out The Raft by clicking on the picture ( it will take you to Amazon)

I am definitely going to share it with my class.

Do you take summer time teacher field trips?  I would love to hear where you have gone and what you have seen!  Leave a comment below to help me find my next destination!


Earth Science Rocks and Minerals Bundle

Hi friends!  Happy Hump Day!  I just wanted to pop in and write you a quick note that I have bundled my two Earth Science products for Rocks and Minerals.

In the Bundle you get 7 reading passages that you can apply Close Reading strategies to.  I've given you directions as to how I handle this in my classroom.  There are 10 interactive notebook foldables, two labs, studyblock reviews, and two assessments, and of course answer keys (including suggestions for the foldables).  The easiest way to check this out is to download the preview and get and idea of the 80+ pages that are included in the bundle.  You can click on the picture about or {HERE} to take a look.
I hope you will find it useful with your students!


Squared Away on a Sunday: Earth Science PD, Rocks, and Painting

Hello friends!  I think I've finally recovered from Vegas and I wanted to let you know a little of what I've managed to Square Away on this beautiful Sunday.

1)  After Vegas I spent last week at a Professional Development session for science.  This is how I am able to get the materials I need for my science labs.  The session was 4 days long, and it had ups and downs as every PD usually does.  One lab that I really loved was making magma and seeing how cool and hot lava affects the creation of a volcano.  When I actually do this with my class this year, I'll blog more about it, because I'm figuring out how to create the magma without the science kit I'm given, but in the mean time, check out these neat pictures of our lab:

2)  All this talk about science  has prompted me to finally finish my Earth Science Rocks Unit.  As great as our science kits can be, they don't cover everything, and I need to incorporate more reading informational text into my content areas.  This unit includes 4 passages on the three rock types as well as the rock cycle.  I do these using Close Reading strategies so we can really dig deep into the text.  I also use foldables for our interactive science notebooks, complete an easy lab-- this one shows the Rock Cycle with Starburst candy, incorporate a studyblocks review, and finally an assessment.  If rocks is something you teach, and you are looking for something complete, check this out.  

3)  Finally, after spending Monday through Thursday at the PD I mentioned above, I dragged my teenagers to my classroom and spent 12 hours painting.  Home Depot was kind enough to donate discontinued paint which I could have tinted.  I had to paint over this hideous blue wall.

I decided on a grey because my color scheme is white, red and black.  Plus grey goes with lots of other colors too and it won't show the dust that appears in my classroom.  We got SO CLOSE to making it on the 2 gallons of paint, but we were just a little short. I ran to HD to grab a quart for touch ups, and guess what happened! Yea.. this...

We had to repaint two of the walls.. can you hear me crying!  Luckily we got hit my a MONSOON rain storm, so we weren't going anywhere anyway, and we knocked out the nasty book cases too.
I have another week of PD and a softball tournament to take my "24" to this week, but then I'll be back in to clean up this disheveled mess.  

Hopefully, the paint will be dry by then! Enjoy your beautiful day!


Prepping for Reader Response and Word Work

Happy Tuesday my friends!  I'm linking up again with Chalk One Up for the Teacher to share some of my favorite products for reading and word work.  Even though I'm heading to Vegas, I have several things lined up on my desktop to make sure I am prepped and ready for Back to School. I'm planning to get into full school mode when I return.  I have just a few weeks of summer break left. These ELA products really help me out because I can use them over and over and over again.  They get a lot of mileage in my room!  They are 50% today through Sunday when I get home from Vegas, and there is a freebie at the bottom, so be sure to read through!

#1:  Reader Response Rectangles
I use these critical thinking stems with the very first story I teach!  We start with picture books like The Stranger  by Chris Van Allsburg, or with short articles from our Scholastic Storyworks.  I always use high quality upper level picture books to get started.  Chris Van Allsburg is an amazing author and I love the variety of his work.  We use the WORK MAT version in groups to get conversation started.  They are a great formative assessment to see how students interact with each other and text.  I learn who my loud leaders are, and who can lead quietly pretty quickly using the work mat version.  As we progress we use the stems in our Readers Notebooks with other articles or novels.  I have also included a booklet version if you don't keep Reader's Notebooks.  There are a variety of questions that cover  the Common Core Standards.  Some questions are easier than others so I can differentiate the rings as I need to.  It starts to give everyone a common language.

 I've updated the frames on the work mats to allow for more writing space, so if you already own this set, please redownload it.  

This work mat example focuses on the emotions of characters.  As my year progresses I use the work mats version again when groups have novel studies.  The work mat becomes my spring board for group discussion.  For example, with this work mat, I would discuss how the author uses the emotions the character is having to enhance a scene or chapter.  That's CCSS standard: CCSS.RL.5, then we can make a comparision to other topics with other novels. (CCSS.RL.9)

#2: Word Work Vocabulary Analogies

I love these cards for my word work center.  My students always need to work on vocabulary skills, but more important, they need to work on making connections between the words.  I use these in both my centers and in my interactive notebooks.  They are a quick and easy way for your students to interact with vocabulary, then expand and have them write about the connections!
I also loved how Erin from I'm Lovin Lit used these in her classroom.  You can go {HERE} and read her post.

Finally, I'm also going to be getting my Book Raffles organized.

This is one of the best ways to get students hooked on reading right when the school year starts.  You can read about how I use book raffles {HERE} and you can pick up the FREE book raffle tickets I made {HERE}

I hope to see you in Vegas!  If you are going please introduce yourself!  I'm a shy gal, but I would love to meet you and expand my teaching PLN!


Reading Comprehension with Bloom Balls

During the school year we read Flying Solo by Ralph Fletcher.  As a way to culminates the novel and review skills for our state assessment we created Bloom Balls.

A Bloom Ball is a 3D project that challenges students to use all of the levels of Bloom's taxonomy.  My Smarties L-O-V-E-D this project!  They had so much fun making each section and talking to each other about favorite parts, character traits, and themes.
This Novel Bloom Ball is a series of 12 circles.  Students create the ball by writing 12 different activities based on the novel.  The questions ask students to discuss the setting, character traits, symbolism, theme, make connections between the book and other text, draw pictures, and look critically at vocabulary. You can make the sections whatever you need them to be, and on what ever topic your students are studying.  They can be fiction or nonfiction, author study, biography, you name it.  This project is so versatile.  Take a look at the pictures below of my student projects, and consider adding this to your "TO-DO LIST" for the next year.

I'm sure students could create amazing projects based on summer reflections or as an All About Me project for Back to School! If you are interested in a Novel Study- Book Report Bloom Ball project, you can go {HERE}.
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