I Wanna Iguana and Persuasive Paragraphs

Saturday, February 28, 2015

We have been reviewing different types of writing this week.  We reviewed the important ingredients for good paragraph writing, and have been using organizers to make sure that the paragraphs are strongly written.  We finished up the week with a lesson on persuasive writing and the book I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloff

I Wanna Iguana is the story of Alex and his desire for a baby iguana.  The story is told through notes that Alex and his mother write back and forth to each other about why he should or shouldn’t have the iguana.  The kids loved the story (even though it’s a pretty simple picture book).

After reading the book, we talked about the reasons Alex gave for wanting the new pet, and connected that to persuasive writing.  Then it was organizer time.  I found an organizer based on the hamburger model which is available here.  I explained what “elaborate” means and how it adds detail to their writing and makes it sound more sophisticated (which required a definition, too).

Then the kids got started planning and writing.  Their topic was “Ask your parents for something extravagant” in a way similar to Alex in the story we read.  I told them it could be as extravagant as they could imagine.  Students are asking for cars, phones, mythological creatures, and fancy vacations.  Their paragraphs aren’t due until Monday, and  I’m excited to see how they turn out!

American Revolution Jingles

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

We finished up our American Revolution unit last week and are ready for the test this week.  To review, we created jingles to help us remember the important events!
We started out by watching a short video clip on YouTube in which Payton Manning sings about his daily activities to the Nationwide jingle.  

I explained that we’d be using the same concept to help us remember important events from our chapter.  The kids brainstormed a huge list of events and people that they needed to know, and then they got to work.  I required two jingles, but a ton of the kids wanted to do more!  

After 15 minutes of work time, we gathered to share their creations.  Everyone had to share one of their jingles, and they all sang them!  I think they got a kick out of singing in class – even if it was just a seven syllable tune.

Some of the crowd favorites were:
“Lost my feet at Valley Forge”
 “Don’t give up! We’re going to win!”
“We surrounded Cornwallis” (About the Battle of Yorktown)
“Please don’t take our land away” (from the perspective of Chief Little Turtle)
“Man we just lost all our land” (About the Treaty of Greenville)
“I rode more than 40 miles” (About Sybil Ludington)

All in all, it was a fun lesson, and the kids will probably remember a few more bits of information for the test!

Sunday Scoop – February 22, 2015

Sunday, February 22, 2015

This week, I’m linking up with The Teaching Trio for The Sunday Scoop. 

3 things I have to do…
* Grade my mountain of papers – I had the stomach flu on Thursday and Friday, so my grading took a back burner to sleep.  Then, I spent yesterday lesson planning.  So today is grading day!

* Prepare for Monday’s swim meet – I am coaching the middle school swim team, and our first meet is Monday!  (It was supposed to be last week, but wind chills of -25 closed school and cancelled the meet.)  I need to enter my lineup (which is finished!) into my database so everything is set.  However, this will require a trip to school….so I may wait until tomorrow morning for that.

* Vacuum – I have a golden retriever, so I have to vacuum just about every day.

2 things I hope to do…
* Finish my book – I’m reading Eleanor and Park byRainbow Rowell, and it is fantastic!  I’m hoping to finish it this afternoon.

* Brush Nellie – The golden retriever I mentioned REALLY needs a brushing.  But she HATES being brushed.  I am hoping to win the battle today.

1 thing I’m happy to do
* A little bit of relaxing! – This coming week is going to be a busy one, with two swim meets in addition to practice and school.  I’m happy to do a little reading and relaxing this afternoon to prepare for the crazy week ahead.

Presidents Day

Thursday, February 5, 2015

With President’s Day rapidly approaching, I have been trying to find some fun things with the kids to learn   I wasn’t having a ton of luck finding anything that focused on ALL of the presidents.  Most things I found focused on Washington and Lincoln (who were both very important!), but I wanted to teach the kids about everyone, not just the two they’ve already spent years learning about.

Since I couldn’t find anything, and I was feeling motivated, I got to working making something of my own!  I did tons and tons of research to find information and fun facts about each president.  Along the way, I learned that President’s Day isn’t even the real name of the holiday!  The federal government still recognizes the holiday as George Washington’s Birthday.  All of my research turned into a huge collection of activities for the kids.

I wrote two short reading passages for the kids: Facts about the Presidency and Facts about President’s Day.  Close Reading is a huge thing at our school this year, and I decided that the kids could put their skills to use on these passages, so I wrote close reading questions to go with each one.  I wanted the kids to be creative and use research skills, so I made a template for them to make Presidential Trading Cards.  I’m really excited to see how they turn out.  I am thinking of making them do the lesser known presidents, so we can learn more about them.

Perhaps my favorite part of researching for this packet was for the Presidential Fun Facts list I created.  I learned all sorts of things.  For example, did you know that William Henry Harrison gave the longest inauguration speech of any president (on a cold rainy day), and then died of pneumonia 31 days later, giving him the shortest term as president.  And Zachary Taylor never voted in a presidential election – even when he was running!

I’m really excited to share all of my learning with the kids on President’s Day, and I’m hoping to have photos to share afterward!  If you are interested in these activities, they’re available in my TPT store here.

Februarly Currently

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Today, I’m linking up with Oh Boy, Fourth Grade for this month’s Currently.

Listening – My NYE playlist on iTunes
I made a huge playlist for New Years Eve this year, because I was staying in and wanted a list of music  that would keep me entertained for several hours.  I have very eclectic taste in music, so there’s a little bit of everything on it: lots of Muse, Fun, Amy Winehouse, Ingrid Michaelson, Lorde, Ra, The Band Perry, and tons more. 

Loving – The start of a new swim season
In addition to teaching fifth grade, I coach the boys and girls swim team for one of the middle schools in my district.  Last week was try-outs week, which is always stressful (especially cuts night on Friday).  But now, I have my team established and we’re ready to go.  It should be a pretty great season!

Thinking – I’m going to have a lot of snow to shovel today!
We are supposed to get hit hard with snow today.  Nothing like the storms out east, but at least 6-10 inches, with blowing snow on top of that.  I’m not looking forward to all of that shoveling, especially since it’s supposed to be wet heavy snow on top of that.

Wanting – to sleep past 5 am
I have been a morning person most of my life, but lately, I am waking up between 4:00 and 4:30 every morning, which is just ridiculous!  It’s kept me productive, because I’m waking up motivated, but I’m exhausted by 8:00 at night!

Needing – a good book to read
I’m in a reading slump.  I just can’t find a great book that keeps me hooked.  If you have any suggestions, PLEASE help me out!

Pageant title – Coffee Queen
I drink coffee all day long, which lately means starting around 4:30 and going through 3:00.  I know it is a lot, and probably isn’t super healthy, but it is what it is.
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