Sunday, February 1, 2015

Harris Burdick and Inferences

So, every year I do this lesson on inferences. It's my favorite lesson.

Have you ever heard of The Chronicles of Harris Burdick? If not, do yourself a favor and head over to Amazon and buy it right now. You're welcome. It'll change your life.

Anyways, the story goes a little something like this, Harris Burdick walks into this book publishing company and drops of some bizarre illustrations. He claims to have stories to go with each of them. The company loves them and wants to sign a deal, only Burdick never returns. As you can imagine, this gets the kids pretty pumped up.

Let me backtrack a minute. I start this lesson with a breathtaking game of Guess What's in My Bag? I add 6 predetermined items to my purse and call the students up one by one to pull them out and decide what they are and what do they tell them about me. (I did NOT come up with this part on my own... I have seen this idea all over Pinterest from other teachers!) This leads to some great real-life connections.

We them go right into a little Harris Burdick Scoot action... I have some of the illustrations posted around the room with the titles and samples from the stories by some of Chris Van Allsburg's famous author friends. Think Kate DiCamillo, Walter Dean Myers, Louis Sacher and Stephen King. I know...

Kids use their charts and clipboards to gather information. They then use this info to answer the writing prompt. It's all pretty simple and you would be surprised how well it helps the concept stick!

Just Desert is my favorite of all the illustrations AND the stories... The kids will want to hear all of the stories and they will harass you over it. I recommend sharing Just Desert, it's just the right amount of suspenseful without being too scary!

I have also used this as a creative writing activity, equally as fun!

If you're anxious to get started, check out the pack I made:
Head over to my shop to check it out!

Happy inferring!!!!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Genius Hour in a 5th Grade Classroom

I've had a lot on interest on my Instagram page about how I run Genius Hour in my 5th grade class.

For some general information on Genius Hour (Passion Projects and 80/20 time) CLICK HERE

Let me be the first to say, I am by no means, an expert in Genius Hour.  I have read NO book on the subject, although there are a couple on my TBR list. I have, however, read many articles and blog posts about Genius Hour and how real teachers are using this motivational research tool in their classes.
If you know me, you know I'm self taught in many areas. I wanted to make more cool things for my classroom, so I taught myself. If I want to try something new in class, I research it and then make it work for me. There is no exception when it comes to GH. I have turned it into something all my own and now that I have just one session with 5th graders under my belt, I have some tips.

1. Have an Objective
What do you want your kids to get out of GH? Every classroom is different and there is no "one size fits all" when it comes to this approach. I have found that buying materials from TpT is no help on this one. What one teacher does in his or her room may not work for your kids, but then again, it might. For my first session, I wanted my kids to develop their researching skills. I wanted them to be able to choose something they love and find out more about it. Plain and simple.

2. Be Organized and Prepared
Does your school have the technology to support you starting a GH endeavor? Our school has an iPad cart that is shared between grades 3-5. If I want the cart, I can use it on days it's available to grade 5. If I get to use it, that means my Science, other ELA and Math teachers don't get to use it. I have to be organized when getting the technology into my room. I can't (on the fly) decide to grab the cart if we don't get to GH on the day we are supposed to. I had kids choose to do PPT presentations and they needed lab time. Be prepared for that as well. Also, be flexible. There's nothing worse than a teacher who can't go with the flow. Be willing to share materials with other teachers and have students work with technology tools on certain days.

3. Be Ready for a Loud Classroom
If you're like me, you like a nice, quiet and orderly room. Well, I had to throw that out the window for GH. I had kids practicing drumming, shooting anti-bullying videos, watching YouTube videos and organizing Lego Stop Motion Movies. It was NOISY. Who cares?? Get over the need for the perfectly compliant room. The room is noisy, but I bet your kids are engaged AND actively learning!

4. Be Willing to Offer A LOT of Support for Some Students
Guess what I was not prepared for? Kids not being able to choose a topic. BOOM!
I thought it would be easy for my kiddos to pick something they are passionate about. I even used this example in class: "When you start to daydream in class, what are you thinking about? What is always on your mind, what can you NOT wait to get home to do?" I thought I was so inspirational. I was wrong. Some of your students, particularly kids that don't have ideal home situations will need help. Some of your kiddos that struggle academically, will need help. You need to be there and willing to guide them along. What games do they play? What sports do they like? Is there a career that they want more than any other? Be ready to ask a lot of questions and encourage your kids to THINK about it.

5. Students Should have an Essential Question to Guide Their Research
This is part of where I went wrong this year. The students that listened to my original directions and had a guiding or essential question, were the students who were most organized in their research. Your kids have to HAVE A PLAN. This is not something that they can "wing it" on and be successful.
Guiding questions help focus their GH time, it's the question that they want answered by the end of the project.

6. Materials are Needed for Student Support
My kids kept all of their GH stuff in two-pocket folders. These worked well, but next year I may try to use binders. They will be harder to store, but they will be able to house more than one session. As far as handouts go, you will need some papers to keep their thoughts on track while working. I recommend a sheet to fill out initially for a project proposal, a log to keep track of work time, a parent letter and maybe even a choice board for some kids that might need a lot of help. A friend on IG recently recommended this LiveBinder site for GH materials and I have started collecting freebies and making my own handouts for our next session that starts in February. Please share any resources in the comment section below!

7. Help Students Determine an Effective Way to Present What They Learn
Guess what, guys? A lot of your kids are going to want to do posters. I'm serious. Let them loose and see how many say their presentation will involve a poster. It's so bizarre. I think our kids have been so trained to do Shoebox Dioramas, Posters and Note Cards. I actually had one student tell me he was going to present his findings by writing an essay about it. I was like "Um, you hate writing." It's the truth, the dude DREADS writing. Why would he pick that as his final presentation? He didn't know that there were other ways out there to show me and his classmates what he had learned. Explore options with your class.

8. Inspiring the Class is not Difficult
Show them videos, here's a great blog post with a lot in one spot: CLICK HERE
My kids were OBSESSED with the Panyee Football video, and it may or may not have made me cry in class. Who am I kidding? I always get emotional in class, because I'm passionate, Guys!!
Once you have a session under your belt, you can also share pictures and stories from your first group. I know I have many examples for my classes next year.

9. Set a Schedule and Don't be a Flake
Teacher Confession: I can be flaky. True hallmark of a new teacher: wanting to try anything and everything you get inspired by. Do your class sessions the same day each week so kids can expect it. Make sure to have materials ready. Don't freak out about not being able to use one whole hour of class time. Our sessions were once a week or once every other week for about 30 minutes at a time. It was plenty of time to get started and get some quality work under our belts and I never felt like it was taking away from Language Arts. We were cultivating our typing, researching and reading skills the whole way along. It's a win-win!

10. Be Prepared to be Blown Away
You will be so impressed by what some of your kids come up with. We had everything from a student making lavender soothing sachets to a complete Anti-Bullying Mini Movie by a group of students. This is where kids can shine. I had my doubts while in the process and I have a lot to work on to be prepared for the next go around, but there's no way I'll get rid of this GH time, because the kids love it AND they really took ownership over their learning.

Overall, I am excited to start our next session in February. I feel a little more prepared than last time and the last thing I really need to work on is our materials. Especially a rubric for presentations! When I come up with something, I will be sure to share it. Please follow me on IG for contestant updates about our Genius Hour journey! Don't forget to comment below with any resources that you have found useful!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Made It #7

Watch out!
My second #MMI in a row...
I'm linking up with Tara again and I don't have much to share this week, but it's still something that has been hanging out on my to do list ALL SUMMER. The best part about this Monday Made It is that it cost me approximately $10. WINNING.

I made some a ton, of crate covers. I got a little crate crazy. These are the two that I started putting together this weekend. I'm planning on making it up to school at the end of the month and having these done at home is just smart. Work smarter, not harder, right? That's what I tell my kids!
These neon crates are less than $4 at Wal-Mart. They're even cheaper than the ones at Target, and the colors are much more appealing... in my opinion.

I had the orange ribbon at home, and the bottom ribbon I picked up at Wal-Mart, too.
I had the page protectors and I made the crate covers and printed them on card stock.

Sorry the pictures are so awful, the lighting in our living room is terrible!

Well, there you have it! If you're interested in NOT making crate covers, go check out the ones I made. There's pretty much anything you could want in the pack AND some blank templates!

This one HARDLY counts as a "made it," but it is something I did this week to make the school year go a little more smoothly. I saw someone on IG washi tape their weeks (trimesters) in the Erin Condren Teacher Planner. I thought that was a great idea, so I did mine for our four quarters. I love how it turned out! It looks really nice when you look at the planner from the side. Nice and colorful!

Don't forget to link up with your Monday Made It!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Monday Made It #6

Whew! I'm FINALLY linking up this summer for Monday Made It from Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics. I have been making things all summer, but with two little ones and a husband that works quite often, it's hard to get one project completed in one week's time. 

Does everyone else out there look forward to MMI like I do? The summer before my first year as a teacher (a few years ago) I found this linky and it helped me connect with other teachers and get ideas and freebies for my classroom. It also helps hold me accountable for getting some work done while relaxing in the summer. In the words of Sally O'Malley "I looooove it!"

My #1 would be those great whisper phones you've seen all over Pinterest! Are you following me on there? Here's a link to my page. I love Pinterest and all the amazing classroom ideas and resources I find on there. Who doesn't? 

I'm calling these Fluency Phones, because that's what my big kids will be using them for in 5th grade. A colleague let me borrow her set last year in 4th and my kids LOVED THEM. Hey, they like hearing themselves talk. They are MY students after all. :)

I used the tutorial found here, got all of my supplies from Home Depot and finally got these puppies finished. 

Next up was that amazing Mini Anchor Chart Stand that I've been seeing everywhere. I found a couple of different options for them out there, and in the end, the one I made ended up being slightly different than all of the others. You can really do your own thing here. Here is the one I liked most from Head Over Heels for Teaching and here are some pictures of the two I made! I love how they turned out, but I love what I'll use them for even more! 

Nicole Shelby makes these amazing CCSS Notebooks that we started this past year in 4th grade. My kids LOVED them and I picked up the 5th grade set to do this year. I kept a teacher binder filled with my pre-made journal pages for the students to reference all year. I will still do that this year, but I'm planning on taking it to the next level by storing our weeks pages on the stand for students to reference during class. I may even use both of the stands for this... We had a lot of frequently absent students last year. I'm hoping this will help cut back on notebook make-up traffic!

The notebooks in action this past year:

I can't wait to use these notebooks again this year. Right now I am planning out daily {possibly weekly} mini lessons using picture books: to teach the concept, then a hands-on portion and then these notebooks for independent practice. I'm hoping that it will transform them and make them even more meaningful this year!

This last one is actually available as a FREEBIE in my store! Have you read The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate? I have and I LOVED it! There are so many great quotes from the story and I have quite a few written out to display in my classroom this year. This one is one of the quotes from Callie Vee that really stuck with me. If you like this quote too {I'm sure you will} then head to my shop and become a follower, download the freebie & be sure to leave feedback! It's just polite to leave some nice feedback on free products {on all products... for that matter!}

Head over to my TPT store to get the nice looking version without the "preview" written over it.
Remember, don't forget to leave me some love.

That's it for me, folks! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ramona Recommends July Book Club

So, I have a really fun Book Club for you to check out! Courtney from Ramona Recommends has started a great summer book club for teachers. This is our second month and Lessons Learned is the blog where July is being hosted!
This month we're reading Wonder by R.J. Palacio... This has to be one of THE books of this past year. You've seen it everywhere. Have you read it?? Here's my confession: I haven't read this book yet.
Back before my maternity leave I used some of my (extremely coveted) Scholastic Bonus Points to purchase a beautiful Hardback copy of Wonder for our 4th grade class. I come back from leave and it's missing. I asked and asked and asked the kids, and no one would admit to reading it, borrowing it, stealing it, losing it, whatever! GONE! SAD CITY!

This is my second chance with Wonder. I'll be buying this book soon and checking it out. I've heard great things and our counselor actually used this as a read-aloud for our fifth graders last year. I'm excited to get started, but it will probably take me all month to finish as a good friend of mine are also starting the Divergent series together ASAP!

Join us and then link up! Follow us on Instagram too to keep up with the reading!
IG: riedmillersroom

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

July Currently

This is the first time I've linked up with Farley for Currently in a year and a month. WOW!
I've had a lot going on, but have a smackerel of time on my hands, so here we go!

Listening to Sid the Science Kid. L is trying to fall asleep so we are watching a rerun that we have probably seen A MILLION TIMES. Oh well. It's almost over. :)

Loving Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller. Have you read this book yet? It is really inspiring me as a NEWISH teacher. I think my reading block will be looking very different this Fall. I'm getting a ton of great ideas and I can't wait to see up our reader's notebooks with more of an independent reading focus for the school year. My only regret? Not having this book sooner. I've been with the same group of kids going on year three and I feel like these practices really could have made a difference in their time with me. Better late than never, right?

Everyone is sick in my house, and I am HOPING that I don't get it. I've got too many things on my to do list for a virus to slow me down!

I really need to get out of this house. Like I said, everyone is sick and it's been since Friday that I've really gotten out to do anything. I have made two trips out to stock up on Lysol wipes, Laundry Detergent, paper towels and what not. I really would love a nice long Target trip. Maybe even a hot chocolate from Starbucks since I don't do coffee.

Hopefully everyone will be back to their normal selves in time for the 4th. We usually go and watch Fireworks at the same place every year. This year I'm kind of hoping for something more low key and a little less crowded... We'll see how that pans out for me.

Have you linked up for Currently??

CTP Giveaway

Wow, shall I knock the dust off of this blog?
That's better.

Creative Teaching Press is doing an amazing giveaway for 10 lucky teachers to win $200 to spend on their classroom. The best part of this giveaway? You don't have to be on Facebook to enter. I'm not on Facebook, I have no interest in being on Facebook and I find that a GAZILLION teachers and companies use it for giveaways. Kind of annoying since I can never enter. This giveaway does involve Instagram and Twitter, which are my two favorite ways to connect to other educators anyways, YAY!

Head over to Inspire in Style to learn all about the giveaway and to enter!

Here are some great products from CTP that I would get if I won this giveaway.. Some are on my list to buy anyways. :)

These letters are the first thing on my list. My local United Art & Education had the uppercase letters in stock, so I still need to order the lowercase! These sets are stickers, even better!

This border would be PERFECT for my Genius Hour area!

The InspireU posters may be my favorite thing that CTP has out right now... I almost snagged this one at United also.

Here are some other borders I love! These colors would fit right in with my class decorations:

So many great products. What would you use in your classroom??