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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Summer '14 Camp Digest - Day 2

Today students partnered up to work on communication and engineering design skills during a challenge that required one student to give verbal directions to the other in order to replicate a model made from K'Nex.  The partners really rose to this challenge and by the end they were asking each other questions for clarification and being very specific in their directions which resulted in successful rebuilds.

We also finished the timeline that was started yesterday and played some more Smartboard games.
The morning goes by so quickly!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer '14 Camp Digest - Day 1

Today was the first day of summer camp for my students.  This year I am offering 3 weeks for students who were in my homeroom.  I limited it to that group because I am looping up to 5th grade with them and want to offer extra support as we prepare to tackle another year.

Each day will be a little different from the others, but there will always be a bit of every subject woven throughout the morning.  For instance, today we began with a team work engineering challenge.  The 5 students who attended camp today worked together to try to build a house of cards.  They found this to be a bit trickier than they had expected.  After many attempts, they were able to figure out a few ways that would work for awhile but none of the housed stayed standing for long.  We'll try this again and see if they get better with practice.

Our 2nd challenge today was a red solo cup challenge.  I found this idea on Pinterest and was really pleased with they way that the kids worked together to line up 3 solo cups and then stack 3 more cups on top using just 1 rubberband with 4 strings attached to it.  Check out some of the pictures to see how they did.  There are moments when a bit of their teamwork could have included more positive language toward each other so we will work on that.  By the end, they were communicating really well and had defined a strategy that was successful!

Other highlights of the day included math games, reading a detective LaRue book, and working on a timeline.  One of the main emphases for today was to get the kids talking to each other and learning from each other with as little teacher talk as possible.  All in all, I would have to say it was a success.
Stop by tomorrow to read about the next adventure.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Differentiating Spelling Lists

Returning to a self-contained classroom of 24 fourth graders brought plenty of challenges.  How to differentiate for varying levels of spelling proficiency was one of the first things I needed to tackle.  Locating spelling lists at different levels was the first task.
There are actually a number of resources available.
K12Reader had a list that suited my needs.  This link is for 4th grade but there are lists available for other grade levels as well.  This was great because I had students who needed both easier and more difficult lists.
These lists were easy to download and then add to my class Edmodo library.
Edmodo is an awesome learning platform.  With it, I created 3 groups the spelling sleuths, guru's, and spotlight.  Every week I attach the appropriate list and send a link for students to copy their words.
At first I used a simple voice recorder app with my cell phone to record the words and loaded the files to Edmodo for students to play back.  I was even able to have students complete their spelling test this way.
Later I decided to try Spelling/Vocabulary City.
Using Spelling City, we were completely paperless for our spelling work because there is built in practice activities for students too.

What strategies do you use to differentiate spelling lists?  Leave your ideas in the comments section below.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Edmodo Adds Snapshot Tool

Yesterday I noticed a new message from Edmodo.  Did you see it too?  I am one of those people you might characterize as an early adopter so you can probably figure that I immediately tested it out.  Within minutes and I do mean only a few minutes, I had created 2 snapshots: One for reading and One for math.  I had it assigned to my 4th grade class and this morning we gave it a go.  The tool has earned an initial 4 star rating in my book.

  Pros: quick, easy, aligned to common core, immediate creation of reports that guide instruction by identifying student mastery levels while also offering individualized data screen where you can select a student and review the questions they answered  -- truly impressive sets of questions that are randomized to avoid cheating

Cons: some students got "bumped" out or claimed the screen froze (not sure what user error might have caused that or bug in the system even)  -  even so, easy enough work around... close the tab and reopen the snapshot link then select continue snapshot... not so bad.  Students don't seem to be able to go back to a question after they have moved on.  

All in all a very nice addition to Edmodo as an online learning environment for blendend learning!  Oh and perhaps best of all... this is not part of their App Store... IT IS FREE, built-in, and appears to be fully functional with a sufficient data set!

Thank you Edmodo!!

So... if you use Edmodo and missed this new tool... go get a look at it and try it out for yourself.  You'll be glad you did.
If you've already tried it, or once you try it, I would love to know what pros and cons you discovered and how many stars you would give it.

Released just in time for test prep too.  I'm HAPPY!!  :D

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Science Bloggers - Blog Hop

Mrs. Harris is hosting a science teacher blog hop and of course I joined in.  One of the main goals for my website and blog is to locate and share great STEM ideas with others so I am hoping it grows and we all can find some new blog sources for great ideas.

If you found my page through the blog hop, please take time to leave me a message.  If you haven't seen the blog hop then hop on over to Mrs. Harris Teaches and you can find some other great science blogs or even add a link to your own science blog.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

5.L.1.1 - Recess = Science

5.L.1.1 Explain why some organisms are capable of surviving as a single cell while others require many cells that are specialized to survive. 

What will you find in some pond water? Pond critters of course.

We had already completed an initial lesson in the classroom.  I had scooped a bucket of pond water from my neighborhood and we examined the unicellular and multicellular life of the pond. In fact, this lesson was taught almost two months ago but then we had some signs of spring.  The rains came and with it, outdoor recess became a festival of science!  My kiddos found a puddle and were completely enthralled with the life of a puddle.  They begged me to bring out the microscopes and slides for RECESS!!

Of course, being the teacher who wants to make the kids happy, I gave them exactly what they wanted.  Combined with a little mobile technology and we were identifying the organisms in the puddle in no time.  We found that one of the most common organisms was the red fly larvae.  Perhaps the most exciting moment for the group was when two different organisms were sucked up into the pipette at the same time and a real live food chain took place!  You might have already guessed it.  We witnessed the predator/prey relationship.  Talk about exciting!


Red fly larvae
 Here are some tips and ideas for you to try...

How to make a wet mount slide using file folders and tape, plus a student worksheet for observing pond life.

Pond Life Identification Kit

Interactive Virtual Pond Dip

Pond Water: a closer look

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Currently

Alright, I admit it.  I have been chomping at the bit for the April Currently to surface. I thought, this month I am going to move up in the links.  No more linking up as #100+
So what happened?  While I was busy finishing a paper for my current doctoral course, Farley decided to get a jump on April.  I think I still caught the wave earlier than usual but definitely not as close to the top as I wanted to be. Silly - I know.  Maybe next time.  For now, here is the April Currently.  If you want to join in, check out

Allow me to elaborate.  I have been listening to the movie that my kids are watching.  Yes it is late, but hey ... we're all on Spring Break!  Which is exactly what I am LOVING!!  We often head to the beach for spring break, but this year we did not.  I'm thinking it would be nice to spend at least a day or two at the beach before returning to school, so I am stalking our vacation points rental website in hopes that I will get lucky.  I've been letting my hair grow for a long time and don't really want to get it cut, but definitely  need to do something with it.  As for the manicure, let's just say I treat my hands terribly and really enjoy a good manicure once in awhile.
Now on to the Science Olympiad.  I seriously need to plan our activities for practice this week.  Competition is a little less than two weeks away, so it is crunch time!  We have to make the most of the 3 afternoon practices I scheduled during spring break.

As for my advice... don't underestimate yourself.  If you don't put yourself out there, you'll never know what you are truly capable of.  It won't be easy but it will be worth it!  This advice applies to blogging, TpT, teaching, and life in general.

Now it's your turn.  What are you "Currently" up to?