Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Breakfast Club

Our school participates in the Accelerated Reader {AR} program. I realize there are mixed feelings out there about this reading program {I, myself, have not been the biggest fan over the years}. I've seen this program work well for some. I've also seen it totally turn some students off to reading {example: my two younger sisters} in due to teachers who require students to participate and require them to reach a certain number of points each grading period as part of their average. When I came to a school that used this program, I decided that I would never use it in this way. I did not want to make my students hate reading.

Therefore, I have only encouraged them to read for AR and give them a set DEAR time, but I do not require them to take AR quizzes. The choice to participate is ultimately up to them. I set goals for all of my homeroom students each six weeks based on their level, but I have some students that do not want to participate and that is ok. For instance, this six weeks I only had 8 students who met their goals. {Of course, more students than that participated, but they did not reach their goals.}

I decided that students who put forth effort to read books and actually take quizzes on what they've read deserve to be rewarded so I started a breakfast club. The fourth six weeks recently ended so I rewarded students who met their goal with doughnuts and juice that they got to have during morning work time. I plan to do the breakfast club again at the end of the fifth six weeks and I can already tell that the last one was an incentive for other students as most of my kiddos have been reading up a storm any spare minute they get! The only problem {well, sort of problem} now is that they are practically fighting over the computers so they can take AR quizzes. Ha!

doughnuts = a great reading incentive...not to mention a great way to start a Monday! ;)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wish List

Don't get me most teachers, I spend a ton plenty of my own money throughout the year on classroom stuff. However, our school received our classroom allowance money this week so I have $100 to spend - like soon {plus a little fundraiser money left from something else}. Yay! I've gone over several possibilities on which to spend this money and am trying to narrow it down.

1. Lakeshore Learning All Purpose Teacher's Organizer - I can only imagine how wonderful this would make life and planning/organizing each week!
2. chapter books from series that my kiddos will not put down right now including The Magic Tree House, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, etc. I already have several of these books and want to fill in gaps in my classroom library because my students can't get enough of them! Love it!

Fresh scent Clorox wipes are my favorite! 
 3. practical items we are currently running low on like tissues and Clorox wipes - not as much fun, but necessary so it will probably come first
         4. some goodies from our local teacher supply store -
        I can ALWAYS find something in there I "need" for my classroom!

5. Ok, the next one is not even a real contender, but I'm seriously dreaming of this! {Too bad $100 doesn't come close to covering it.} I've taught with them in my previous jobs before I came to my current school and they are such amazing interactive tools that keep students engaged!

Would love to have a SMARTboard!

Most schools in our system have them, but then again most schools are also Title I schools and receive additional funding that can provide these. We, unfortunately, are very borderline-ish when it comes to meeting Title I guidelines and miss it by just a little which means we do not receive this funding. Sigh. It would mean hiring aides which could make a huge difference for our struggling students. I've been working on raising funds for a SMARTboard, though, so hopefully more to come on that later. :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

For Every Action...

We recently wrapped up a science unit on force and motion. We did a rocket experiment using film canisters, water, and Alk-Seltzer tablets to demonstrate one of Newton's Three Laws of Motion. {See explanation of experiment below.} However, before we did the experiment, I had my students use their textbooks to help them fill out a foldable I made about Newton's Three Laws. They had to write the definition and illustrate each law with a real life example. I included the page numbers from our Scott Foresman science book with it, but if you wanted to use this foldable you could very easily white them out and/or write your own page numbers.

After they completed this foldable, we conducted our experiment. I had done this experiment a couple of years ago with a summer camp group I taught, but we were able to go outside then and they shot off pretty high. However, it's still winter here and we had to conduct ours inside this time so I was a tad bit concerned that we might do damage to the ceiling {although obviously not too scared as it didn't stop me from doing the experiment with them!}. I had leftover film canisters that I had gotten Walgreens to donate back when I did that summer camp I mentioned before. They were very nice about doing so especially when I told them what the canisters were to be used for so call up your local Walgreens. Tell them I sent you! ;)

I put a few paper towels on the floor and had my students sit in groups on the floor around the paper towels. I had already filled the film canisters with about a quarter of an inch of water. Then, I passed out half of an Alka-Seltzer tablet to each group. When I said "go" they had to quickly drop the tablet into the water and seal the lid {keyword being SEAL here as it must be sealed tightly until they hear it snap or it won't work}. Then, they have to turn the canister upside down so that the lid is touching the paper towel, step back, and wait for the rocket to shoot off! They thought it was the coolest thing ever and, luckily, the ceiling was fine. :)

Then we got together to discuss what happened and record our data on a lab sheet. The experiment illustrated Newton's Third Law of Motion which simply states:
"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
action = dropping the tablet in the water
reaction = carbon dioxide was created and the pressure built up inside caused the rocket to "blast off"

I highly recommend this experiment especially as spring approaches and you can get outside with your kiddos! Have fun!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Hi there! I was inspired to create this blog after reading some of the AMAZING teacher blogs out there. I've found tons of wonderful K-2 blogs as well as some great 3rd grade blogs, but not quite as many designed by 4th and 5th grade teachers. I also thought this would be a good way to keep thoughts, ideas, and tips organized {even if they do not always turn out as "fabulous" as I had planned!} for future use.

This is my fourth year of teaching, but my first year teaching 5th grade and let me tell you, I have learned so much this year! I have previously taught K, 1st, and 2nd and honestly thought I'd never want to teach anything above second back then. I've grown to LOVE 5th, though, because the students are so much more independent. However, having said that, students are also so much more INDEPENDENT...meaning they have a mind of their own sometimes and many have middle school attitudes already. This seriously makes for some challenges sometimes, but I still wake up each morning loving my job. I thank God for it every single day and know there is absolutely nothing else I would rather be doing...even on those not so fabulous days.