Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Simple Sign Language in the Classroom

This year I'm incorporating a little bit of sign language into our normal classroom routine.
I found this idea from Education Oasis and thought it would interesting to try.
When a student wants to raise their hand, they raise a sign:
That way, I know when I ask "what is 8x5?" I can easily see who:
"A" - Has the answer
"I" - Has a question (I for "I" have a question)
"C" - needs to make a comment about something

It really helps to guide me as to who to call on if I don't want to break the train of thought of the class. 

The "B" sign (for bathroom) has helped tremendously. The students raise the "b" signal and I can just nod at them without interrupting our lesson.

If you would like to try this simple system, you can download these symbols HERE for free :)

Hop on over to "Second Grade Sugar and Spice" to see what other teachers are sharing!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Car Assembly Lines...Candy-style!

In History, we've been discussing Henry Ford and how he revolutionized transportation with the implementation of the assembly line in the creation of his cars. 

Here's a video that briefly explains the genius behind the assembly line and how it made cars more economically and efficiently:
I decided to put our learning into action by using the assembly line format to make cars...made completely out of CANDY!
Yes, yes, I know - I'm the coolest teacher ever :)
Here are the supplies you will need for each car:

*You'll also need some glue dots to stick
all of the different parts together.
Here's a diagram of the completed "car"
 I had the supplies organized ahead of time in buckets for each "assembly line worker":
 We divided into "factories" and each student got a "job."
They did their job and then passed on the "car" to the next student down the line.

The gummy bears weren't part of the original diagram, but I think adding a 20th century driver to our Model T was a nice touch :)

 This was the final product:
The kids took their "cars" home and were only allowed to eat them after they told their parents 5 facts about early transportation and Henry Ford's Model T!
Definitely a memorable day in fifth grade! :)

I'm linking this idea up with Holly from "Fourth Grade Flipper" for her Tried-It Tuesday linky:
Hop on over to see what other teachers have TRIED in their classrooms - and link up an idea of your own! :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Fun and Easy Get-to-Know-You Game!

Howdy friends!
Well I survived the first two weeks and I couldn't be happier with my group of kiddos! They are sweet. eager, and cheerful - a teacher's dream! :)
I come home pooped each afternoon
...but it's a good kind of tired.
Photo: Amen! I slept for more than 12 hours last night! So tired, but it's so worth it :) #teacherlife
Amen! I slept for over 12 hours last night! :)

Today I want to share a quick and easy way to get to know your class. I started out with a regular inflatable beach ball:
Then I wrote a bunch of get-to-know you questions all over it:

We went outside and gathered in a circle.
A student threw the ball to a classmate and wherever their right thumb landed, that was the question they had to answer.

The kids had a blast and it was a fun way for them to learn interesting things about their new classmates. I loved seeing them let loose, laugh, and open up with one another. It really helped to gel our class - and set the tone for an awesome school year!

I'm linking this idea up with Joanne from "Head Over Heels for Teaching" for her Sparking Student Motivation linky:
Hop on over to see what had motivated other students
around the country!

What is your favorite get-to-know-you game?!?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Fuel Your Faith: My Struggle With Arthritis

Throughout my life, God has been leading me on quite a journey. And while it’s been fun and exciting to see new places and try new things, it’s also been difficult, fraught with difficulty and pain. I have had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis for over 20 years. I feel like I should be in my 80s saying that :). When I was three, I would constantly complain about pain when my mom would put my socks on. She thought I was just being a little bit whiney until I developed consistent high fevers and my knees swelled up like grapefruits. She took me to the doctor and I was immediately sent to a juvenile rheumatologist. My childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, surgeries, and occupational therapy sessions. But while I was always very swollen, I had minimal pain. So medical students would often be invited to sit in on my appointments and feel “Jessica’s Juicy Joints” – they could squeeze and feel an arthritic joint without hurting me. And believe me, I basked in their attention. I had the unique opportunity to meet with families who had children with the same disease, to talk with nurses and doctors who became our friends, and to share the hope that we have because we believe that God has a purpose in all of this. The Lord showed me that His ways are not mine and His plans are higher than mine. I pray for healing, but more than that, I pray for strength, for perseverance, and for opportunities to share my faith through my struggle with arthritis. God could take this away in an instant – and the fact that he hasn’t healed me shows that He has great work to do through my disease. And I would be remiss to pray for anything but God’s will.

In Bible class, my fifth graders studied the Old Testament story of Joseph, a man who was despised by his brothers and sold into slavery. And despite his difficult life circumstance, he was able to claim Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” 

I have two boards in my classroom: one for prayer requests and one for praise reports. A couple of weeks ago I wrote “My car was hit” on the praise report board. The students were confused, demanding that I put it on the wrong board. But I explained the story to them: One day I came out to my car in the apartment parking lot and the back end was smashed. Of course, there was no note. So, I took it in to get checked out by a mechanic. At the shop, the mechanic asked me if I had been worked on before (which I had when I was rear-ended - in almost the same spot - about a year earlier). Apparently the damage had not been properly fixed - and my car was in serious danger of breaking down any day. So, if I had not been hit in the parking lot, I wouldn't have taken in the car and could have had serious problems in the coming weeks. God is faithful. This experience resonated the idea that God is in control and has a plan to work good out of every situation – this was certainly a blessing in disguise.

Lastly, I want to continue on this theme of God’s faithfulness through seemingly impossible situations with a story from this book Voices of the Faithful.  It’s a compilation of stories from missionaries and martyrs around the world, people who are giving all that they have for the sake of furthering God’s kingdom. The devotion called “Jailed for a Purpose” tells the story of Lay, a Christian in East Asia who was smuggling Bibles and audio tapes across the border into China. He is caught and thrown into jail. The police officers were instructed to listen to and inspect every single audio tape, so while Lay was lying in his prison cell, he could hear the gospel being played throughout the jail. Seventeen of the police officers accepted the Lord as they listened to the tapes! What seemed to the world a punishment, a costly consequence of following God, turned into a divine appointment for the glory of God. Isaiah 55:8-9 says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Thank goodness we serve such a mighty, powerful, and all-knowing God!

Now it's YOUR turn!
Grab this template or just write your own blog post and link up. If you don't have a blog - no problem! Just leave a verse, quote, or song lyric that has FUELED your FAITH in the comments section.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday: September 11th

I'm linking up this blog post from exactly one year ago
Today marks an important day in our history:
September 11th
I can still remember exactly where I was when I heard about the attacks on the Twin Towers. It was a Tuesday morning and I was sitting in a 7th grade math class in Plano, TX. Even in Texas, chaos ensued. People were crying, parents came and got their kids out of school, teachers turned on televisions in class. And I remember the aftermath: The hours watching the news. NYC being covered in a dark, dusty cloud. Many living in fear that their city, their office building, would be next. But with the horror, I also remember how citizens came together and stood proudly as Americans. How we prayed as a nation more than ever before. And how we pledged that this act of terrorism would not break the American spirit.

It's amazing to think that my 5th graders weren't even born in 2001. Most have heard stories, but none of them have a firsthand grasp on the event and the magnitude of the after-effects. So, as teachers, it is our job to tell them, to instruct them, to show them. 

Here's my plan for September 11th.

To start the ball rolling, I'm going to show them this awesome BrainPOP video that gives a detailed summary of what happened on September 11th. It provides good context for vocabulary that is introduced and answers some of the basic questions that students are sure to have. There's also a quiz you can take (as a class on the Smart Board or individually if you print it out) that I'm going to use to assess their comprehension and to address anything they're still unclear about.

After we've watched the video and taken the quiz (whole class), we'll discuss the major themes and plot points as a class. Then I'm going to read them probably one of the best books I've found on September 11th. I really like it because it shows the event from a different perspective than most. 

It's called Fireboat: The Heroic Adventures of the John J. Harvey by Maira Kalman

It tells the story of an out-of-commission fireboat (literally, a boat that is used to put out fires). The John J. Harvey is too old to serve firemen, so it is now considered worthless. A group of friends save it from becoming scrap metal and keep it as a commemorative tour boat. But when terror hits on September 11th, the fire department calls once again on the John J. Harvey to help save the day!

I'm going to use our reading of Fireboat to launch a class discussion on heroes. We're going to create a word web on the board detailing what it means to be a hero and who we consider to be heroes. I'll then give them each stationary so they can write a letter of thanks to someone they feel is a hero.

I recently stumbled onto a new site and it was like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow! (Boy, that made me crave a bowl of Lucky Charms...) It's called "Every-day Edits" and it's free! 

It is chalked full of themed paragraphs for the students to edit - literally one for every day, complete with answer key!!! I will give each student a copy of the paragraph and have them "put on their editor hats" to find all of the errors. Then we'll go over the errors as a class and they can make any necessary changes. I plan to use this about once a week to give them hands-on practice editing on subjects they want to read about. Click here for access to the wonderful world of Every-day Edits. You can search by month to see what themes/topics they have.

Soooo, all that to say: I found a paragraph on Every-day Edits about September 11th, so we're going to end our lesson with that. Click here for the September 11th Every-Day Edit Challenge.

So, that's my plan.

What are you going to do to teach your students about the events of September 11th?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: GENIUS Bulletin Board Trick

Hello friends!
Happy HUMP Day :)

Today I want to share a trick I learned from my Best Blogging Buddy, Joanne, from "Head Over Heels for Teaching"
My Photo
Do you see this awesome bulletin board title:
Yes, I realize it's a tad blurry because I zoomed way in..but! I did it on purpose to show you something amazing!!!
Ready for it?!?
Do you see any silver staple lines in those jet black letters?
It's all because of this awesome technique...
Color your staples black before stapling into a black background!
Okay, it's kind of a "duh" moment, I know - but it's AWESOME!

So I know this post wasn't exactly wordless, but I'm linking it up with the super cute Miss DeCarbo for her "Wordless Wednesday" party anyway :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Greatest Homework Excuse Book Ever

Have you read this book?
If not, zoom on out to the nearest library or bookstore and check this out!
It is a cute and clever book written and illustrated by a real-life fourth grade class!
The book discusses different excuses that a kid could come up with in order to explain why he doesn't have his homework. In the end, the students tells the truth and the teacher is caring and understanding, proving that there will be grace in school and that dishonesty is never a good policy.

We decided to have a little bit of fun with the book.
I challenged each of my students to create their own imaginary excuse.
As you can guess, the students' imaginations went wild:
  We compiled all of the pages into a class book and it's not "published" in our classroom library:
If you'd like to try this FUN and ENGAGING activity, 
you can grab the booklet template for FREE HERE!
I'm linking this fun idea (and great discussion-starter!) with my bud, Holly, from "Fourth Grade Flipper" for her "Tried It Tuesday" linky party:
Hop on over to see what other fabulous teachers have TRIED recently!