Hosting our Parent Night: Shark Tank Style!

Every semester each grade level in our Title 1 school is required to host a Parent Involvement Night.
This semester our End of Unit Task involved Inventions and Innovations.  We found an amazing product on TpT to help us out, (you can go {HERE} to view it) and our idea of a Shark Tank Parent Night was born!

To begin we had our students learn the difference between an invention and an innovation.  We had been studying people who had made a difference in the state of Florida, and found that using inventors and innovators kept our students attention.  After learning the difference between the two we introduced the writing/research unit by showing our kids a few videos of Shark Tank that involved kid inventors and innovators.  They were hooked!  They couldn't believe there were kids on the show asking ... and GETTING thousands of dollars for their great ideas!
Each student created either an invention or an innovation.  We went through the development process using the product from TpT, students created a 3 minute persuasive speech, a 3D model of their product, and either a display board or a created a technology presentation on SWAY (which is like PowerPoint).  We invited parents to be the SHARKS.  We asked students to dress up and present their inventions or innovation to the parents who asked a ton of questions and really got involved.  Since we are a PBIS school, we gave the parents our praise tickets as investment money.  When parents saw a product they thought was good, they "invested" in it by giving the student tickets.  Our students were so excited to earn tickets, and really upped their presentation skills to try and get as many tickets as possible.  We have great prizes in our Pelican Post store, and only a few days of school left.  It was a wonderful way for our school community to come together.  Our students really had some great opportunities to practice speaking in front of small crowds, and they were all so proud of their inventions and innovations. 

The kids were so excited about this project, and I think it was an amazing way to end the school year.

Are you required to do Parent Involvement Nights?  I'm looking for a few good ideas for next year, and I would love your thoughts!  Do you do anything similar to Shark Tank?


Mother's Day Books and Projects

Mother's Day is fast approaching!  I love to find fun ways for my students to celebrate the special women in their lives that love and support them.  Today I'm going to share a list of books I'm going to display in my classroom about mother's and families.  We are going to use the books to complete our Mother's Day Craftivity.  I can't wait for the week to begin!

I'll be honest, because as much as I would like to pretend I'm Belle with a vast library at my disposal, my own children would also like to eat more than cereal for dinner, and I don't own every single one of these books.  Some of them came from my school library, others are from my local library. I did link them to Amazon through my affiliate link, so that you can read more about the books. But really friends, check out your local library!

Here are a few from some of my favorite authors:

My students are also working on this fun Mother's Day Craftivity for their moms, grandma's or any woman that has been special in their lives.  I love the thoughts they are putting into each petal of the flower.  We have come up with some amazing character trait words through reading some of the Mother's Day books mentioned above, and I love to hear the stories they tell about their mothers and grandmothers.  Some are so funny, and I'm sure their parent would die if they ever knew I knew. Here are a few pictures of my completed model.  You can go {HERE} if you are interested in the project.


Happy Star Wars Day: Yoda Descriptive Writing and Yoda Swamp Slime!

May the Fourth Be With You my Friends!  I love the first week of May.  There are so many fun and interesting little bits and bobs about this week.
May Day, Cinco de Mayo, and of course Star Wars Day!

I'm going to have a ton of fun with my students on May the Fourth, and I wanted to share with you a few fun things I found to make it a Galactic Day! Of course.. one cannot begin teaching on May Fourth without:
a) playing Star Wars music... all... day...long
b) speaking like Yoda...<LoL>  Let's all admit THAT gets annoying after 20 minutes.

At any rate, I do have standards to focus on, so for reading we are going to finish up our Space Unit, so we are going to read about jobs that are part of the space program.  I assign my students articles from NEWSELA to read and annotate. Have you used NEWSELA before?  This sight is amazing!  I love that my students get the practice of reading and annotating on the computer.  Plus we can adjust the lexile level of the material, so it is a perfect way to differentiate within the classroom while still discussing a similar piece of informational text.  I'm still waiting for NEWSELA to come out with some specific Star Wars articles, so we'll have to read about space and pretend we are heading to a galaxy far...far...away.

To incorporate a little more language work with similes and metaphors, I am going to show my students the scenes where Luke first meets Yoda in the Empire Strikes Back.  I'm using these because it will relate to our STEM activity (Keep reading below).  We are going to brainstorm some adjectives, verbs and adverbs to describe the swamp, and I'm going to throw in some preposition work too.  We are going to incorporate these into a similes activity to describe Yoda and his home. I found this picture of Yoda on a free printables page.  I trimmed off the head and shoulders for a page topper, and then we cut the rest of the body up the middle so we could write on the inside and show Yoda's body.

I'm asking my students to write 3 similes and 3 metaphors that would incorporate a character trait of Yoda.  I'm  pushing them to enhance their work by trying to show the type of character Yoda was through his thoughts, words and actions.

Next Up:  STEM TIME!

I feel like the best part of the day will be our STEM time, because we will be making Yoda Swamp Slime!  I mean, the day can't get any better than that when we make Yoda Swamp Slime!  This is your basic slime craze slime with green food coloring.  For slime you need 1oz of glue, (which is perfect since we are talking about measurement conversions right now in math)which is about a quarter of a glue bottle by the way, 1/4 cup of water, food coloring (optional) and 1/4 cup of borax. You mix the glue and water together, add the food coloring, and then slowly add the borax until you get a good consistency.  The kids will need to use their hands, which of course is always a squishy gross feeling, but they will love making and taking HOME the Yoda Swamp Slime!

You can check out my Instagram and Facebook pages where I'll be posting some pictures of our Intergalactic day!

Do you have any fun celebration days coming up?  I would love to hear any other ideas or activities that you plan around Star Wars Day.. or any upcoming fun days for May!
Until then, May the Fourth... I mean Force Be With You!


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: 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!

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