Is It Break Yet?!

What an exhausting week! First of all, I've been fighting this nasty cough since Thanksgiving. The running joke is that "I can quit smoking whenever I want!" I don't smoke, but I have *that* cough.

And my kids have been very talkative and rude to each other this week, so I put them on a class point sheet. In previous years, I have done point sheets for specific kids that have had problems with behavior, and I have done point systems for my class when they go to other teachers, but this is the first time that I've done a full point sheet for my whole class. Each day, one student will be responsible for getting it filled out by the teacher. We'll see if that can get me through break.

To start, I expressed my frustration with having to constantly redirect behaviors. It put me in a negative mood. Then I said that I thought that some of them felt the same way, too. So we had a Festivus-style airing of grievances (without using names, of course). From that list of grievances, I created five goals for the class. They can earn up to two points per goal per class, with a total of sixty points for the day. If they achieved 80% of that total, or 48 points, then they earn one day towards our class party (which will be a PJ/electronics day). I randomly award PBIS bucks to a student for every extra point above 48, so four extra points means that four randomly drawn students would get a PBIS buck. For every point that they were short, they owed me a minute after school with their heads down and no talking. The earned exactly enough on Wednesday, owed me four minutes on Thursday, and today is looking good. Here is what the point sheet looks like.
We spent most of the week preparing for Thursday's explorer test. One of the favorite review games is Wordo, which is pretty much like Bingo. Students fill in their own boards with terms and phrases that I project on the board. Then I read sentences or definitions that go with each term of phrase. Five in a row wins. For the first few rounds, I let students raise their hand to answer the questions so we can all hear the correct answers. After they have heard each clue once or twice, then I don't call on anyone, but I do allow them to quietly help their neighbors. This allows the lower-ability students to still participate (and win). I allow the students to win more than once. However, when a student who has already won that day wins again, I still let them get a prize. But instead of making everyone else clean off their boards, I keep going with the game until we get a new winner for the day. It helps to keep the mood positive if the same kids (who probably studied at home for the test) keep winning. Another variation that I do with about ten minutes left in class is to let them trade boards. Then when someone wins, the person whose board s/he's using wins, too! So if John won, and John used Mary's board, they both get prizes. They love it, and it gets them cheering for each other!

I also started my TpT store. It's pretty weak, but I wanted a place to put things that I wrote about on Fifth Grade Freebies. I don't know if I'll ever have anything that would cost something, since I'm still trying to get a handle on what fonts and clip art I can and cannot use for commercial use. And if buying the commercial license would be worth it...
And we started using Kristen's Season's Readings. The kids really like the one where you design the ornaments. Of course, they love anything where you get to draw!

Ten more days until break!

I'm linking this post up to a Friday Flashback :)

December Monday Made It

I have three things to share for this edition of Monday Made It. I will say that they were all adapted from things that I saw and they are not my original ideas :)

The first one is similar to last month's project. Tara made a "Be Merry" banner, but I redid it to fit my pennant theme. The background is from Maree Truelove, and the font is DJ ChunkM from DJ Inkers.
The second one is an adaptation of something that I saw on I Love My Classroom. I wanted to change them a bit so they would work with my class, who I only see three times a day. I wanted to make a color image that I could display on my board, and then have something that students would have to turn in to me to be accountable (sometimes they have a hard time being nice to each other, which is why I wanted to do this in the first place). I made task cards for five days, and then they will draw new names next Monday and the following Monday. The clipart is from Melonheadz and the font is DJ Holly Days from DJ Inkers.

The last one is something that I found on Pinterest. The original picture is much prettier, but all I had was a pink tomato cage (I'm not sure why my husband bought pink for his tomato plant. I HATE tomatoes!) and colored lights, some of which don't work, which I discovered after wrapping it all up first :/ Oh, well!

Noun Foldable, Turkeys in Disguise, and Gift of Giving

This week, we are working on a noun foldable that I found on Pinterest (of course). Here is the original link. We just finished up our nouns unit, and I thought that this was a nice summary of what we learned before they are assessed.

I also assigned the take-home portion of our turkey in disguise activity. I got the idea from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6. I can't wait to see what they do! We will be doing a persuasive writing activity next week. So far, I've gotten the Kool-Aid Man, a rainbow with clouds, Blake Shelton, and a soccer goal keeper with the face of Taylor Lautner. I'm also finding out how weird some of my students are...

Update: Here they are!

One students made my neighbor teacher this cute little turkey. Maybe my girls and I can whip some up for the grandparents...

Wednesday was our readathon for the fundraising that we did to sponsor four district families for Christmas. Our entire fifth grade (approximately 130 kids) took on this responsibility. Later in the month, parent and teacher volunteers will help the kids go shopping for the families using the money that was raised for the readathon. Following that spree, there will be two days of wrapping during study hall. This is my first year that I've been involved in the project, but another fifth grade teacher has been doing this with her class for years. We decided this year to take it on as a grade level and try to help out four families in need. We ended up raising $1500!

It's hard to believe that we're halfway through another quarter, which means another round of conferences on Monday. I'm not sure that I ever got a break during those four hours last time! I met with twenty-four sets of patents! Hopefully things will be slower this time.
This week we also looked at new basal textbook series that are aligned with common core. One was Houghton Mifflin. Do any of you recommend a series?

Fun Friday, Friday Flashback, and Vikings

And linking up with Amanda for her Friday Flashback.

This week we focused on the Vikings in social studies. The highlight was writing with Viking runes.
First we talked about the runes and how they compared to our letters. They said that some of them look like our letters and some stand for more than one letter. We also talked about why we thought that they were primarily composed of straight lines. Then I wrote them a message that they had to decode. Their assignment was to write a message about Vikings back to me. They thought that this was awesome and wanted to know if they could keep the sheets so they could write secret messages to each other.

In literacy, we focused on writing number notes using the Write Tools program by Alice Greiner. I highly recommend this program for writing. Number notes is a pre-writing outlining strategy. Here is an example that we did for Native Americans.
From here, you write four different kinds of topic sentences - declarative statement, number sentence, question, and situation/stance. Pick one to be your topic sentence and one to be your concluding sentence. If anyone is interested, I can go into further detail in another post.

So that's what's been going on this week. Thanks for stopping by!

Seven Reasons for Exploration

A few years back, I started using Hands-On History: Explorers by Michael Gravois to use with our textbook to make things more hands-on for my early explorers unit. I also use his Colonial and American Revolution ones as well.

The first activity that I use is the Seven Reasons for Exploration activity. You start by making a cute mini-book out of a sheet of paper. Here are the visual steps.

You can use this book for anything! After filling out each reason (curiosity, wealth, fame, religion, national pride, better trade routes, and foreign goods), students glue their booklet on the first page of their explorer notebook and title and decorate it.


Vocabulary Foldable

I found this great vocabulary foldable on Pinterest which took me to Laura Candler's website. The best thing was that it was free! My students love using it during literacy, but it could also be used in other content areas. There are two versions. One version has all of the boxes labeled so you know what goes where. The second version is for after you have done these awhile and do not need the labels. In either version, you write the word, draw a picture that represents it, use it in a sentence, and define it.

November Monday Made It - Give Thanks Banner

This is my first attempt at creating a pennant banner for my classroom. While it isn't the best thing out there or even my own actual design, I am proud of it! I got the clip art and frames from The Digital Bake Shop. The font is DJ ChunkM from DJ Inkers. I did it all in MS Word, since I don't have Photoshop or anything like that. I couldn't figure out how to crop the background paper image into a pennant shape, so when I printed them out, it looked like this.

It was easy to cut them into a pennant shape, and I used the extra scraps to Mod Podge onto some clothespins for hanging the pennants on the line. And of course I laminated them before hanging so that they would last.

So if anyone knows how to crop images into certain shapes in MS Word, please comment with the instructions! :)

Is it sad that this is the only thing that I have for this month's Monday Made It?

Candy Elections

I bought several election units through TpT, and the ones that we primarily used were Election of the President of the United States - Social Studies Unit and Election Lesson Plans, Reproducibles for Intermediate Grade. We thought that Election Resources & Printables had nice printables, so we used that one as well. A couple of the units had typos, so if you decide to purchase them, hopefully the authors got my emails and fixed them!

The units focused on the process of becoming president - qualifications and duties, candidates, campaigning, conventions, voting, election day, and inauguration. All had very nice visuals and worksheets to go with them, so we didn't have to make any of my own to use. Bonus!!

We saw a few units on TpT that dealt with candy bar elections. They were pretty good, but we wanted to make some changes and take things a step further. We started out by choosing two parties of six candy bars. We tried to balance out the more popular ones, and then we stuck in one or two that were less popular or even unknown by the students. Students then decided with which party they most aligned.

The next day we held caucuses. That's what we do in our state, and every other unit suggested a primary. Caucuses are more fun for the kids, anyway, because they get to move around. I hosted one party's caucus, and the other social studies teacher hosted the other party's caucus since we both had third, fifth, and seventh hour classes. That allowed students to mix with other classes. They were able to see what it was like when they were the only one supporting their candidate or what it felt like to be part of the majority. Students chose one delegate for every four students for their candidate.

The following day was the national convention, where we were able to gather all 120ish kids at the same time for a few minutes. We divided back into our parties and the delegates came up front to announce for whom they cast their delegate vote. Luckily, both candidates got the majority of their party's delegate votes. Our presidential candidates were Kit Kat and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

After national convention, we went over the electoral college with a game from one of the TpT units. We announced how we would apply this to our candy elections. The "states" would be the first letter of the students' last names. We posted each letter and how many students had that last name. So if thirteen kids had last names beginning with D, whichever candidate got the most votes in their "state" would get all thirteen electoral votes. Their minds were blown! So then we talked strategy, like doing polls to see if they had to waste time on a certain letter or not. How would they handle groups that only had one person because their vote would count automatically? What if your group has an even number, like two? It would be in your best interest to vote the same as each other or your vote wouldn't help either candidate.

We had two days of campaigning, and we referred to the list of ways that we had seen political candidate get their names out this year. We figured out what we could do in our school, and what we probably couldn't pull off. They actually came up with some surprising ways that they could do those things as well.

One candy bar did make it onto the ballot by petition. We required ten percent of the student population to sign the petition to make it a candidate, and students could only sign one petition. This student brought in samples to "remind students how good it is" or introduce them to it if they never had it. From now on, Crunch will forever be known to me as the Ross Perot of candy bars! :)

Halloween, aka Election Day, arrived, and the excitement of the election overshadowed the holiday, especially since our school Halloween mixer was last Friday. We set up a couple of voting booths in our rooms by using stand-up desks and privacy shields. They had to show us their voter registration cards for which they applied earlier in the week. We checked them off and coded the ballot with the first letter of the students' last names. They did their voting thing and we gave them a cute little I Voted sticker (and I forgot to turn off the gridlines before printing - d'oh!). As the votes came in throughout the day, we updated the electoral votes from "states" where everyone had voted.
Kit Kat won by a large margin!

Out of the three-week election unit, the candy portion lasted about seven days. I think that this is the hardest that I've worked on a unit in a long, long time, but the lessons my students learned made it worth the effort. I feel pretty good that they'll somewhat understand what is going on next Tuesday and how those candidates got there.

Check out these linky parties. While you are over at Teaching Maddeness, check out her fun giveaway!