Pencil Challenge

I love my containers for sharpened and unsharpened pencils. They are so pretty. But most of the time, they are empty. Students are taking pencils instead of trading, and I'm burning through my stash. (On the bright side, I do get to use my new pencil sharpener often.) Since our fifth graders switch rooms for every class, they never seem to have their supplies with them. And then they wait until ten minutes into class to tell me that they don't have their supplies. Grr...

Then I turned to my tried-and-true classroom management strategy - bribery. For each student in every class, I wrapped a piece of brightly-colored duct tape around the end of his/her pencil, near the eraser. The next day, I took "pencil attendance" after taking regular attendance. Anyone who had their taped pencil got a small treat, ie. Dum-Dum sucker or Hershey's Kiss. Then whoever had their pencil every day for the week got a "check" to spend at our school PBIS store. This is so that they just don't stash their pencil in their lockers for the week. They have to actually bring it to class every day. Eventually, I'll just do the checks (since it won't cost me anything but is still highly-motivating), but I needed some immediate rewards to get them going.

If a student is using a pencil that is getting close to the end, they can trade in that taped pencil for a new taped pencil.

If a student lost his/her taped pencil, then I will tape another pencil that they provide on Mondays.

Update: I decided to duct tape any replacement pencils in yellow so I could see who still had their original. They may be eligible for extra prizes :)

Update #2: This worked really well this past week. Only a few students from each class lost their pencil during the week. They even reminded me to take pencil attendance :) And a tip - Not all duct tape is the same in quality. The yellow tape that I used kept peeling off. Make sure you use super-sticky tape! I'm also making this my Friday Flashback since it was pretty successful this week!

Native American Corn Grinding Activity

I'm linking up with Amanda for her second Friday Flashback.

When we are in the Southwest region of our Native American unit, I take the kids outside (while the weather is still nice!) and we grind corn to get a feel for what it would have been like.

Materials needed:
One rock per student, fist size or larger
One tub per group to hold materials (I use a plastic dish pan - $1.98 each)
Ears of squirrel corn, two or three per group (I end up getting two bags for ~60 students)
Cup and/or Ziploc to hold ground corn, one per group

I assemble students into groups of four and give each group a tub with the following materials - one rock per student, two to three ears of corn, a cup and a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag. We go outside and choose a square on the sidewalk for each group. I do not offer any advice or tips. I let them figure out techniques and such on their own. I give them about a half-hour, and they need to get the ground corn into the cup/Ziploc. Then we come inside (after stopping by the restroom to wash up) and discuss things like if we would like this for a daily job, if it was harder/easier than expected, what techniques were successful, etc.

This is what I overheard this year:
  • "It was hard because it would go all over." - This is from the first "bashing" technique that they try. They always start with bashing. Then they gradually decide that grinding works very well, just like they saw in a video. What a coincidence!!
  • "I thought that ladies were supposed to do this." - From an ELL student who ended up being really good at it and thought that he would have liked this job. He also said that he probably wouldn't have had the opportunity because he would have to hunt.
  • Discussions of which rocks would be more suitable for arrowheads or scraping, rather than grinding (the smoother rocks tend to work better).
  • "Teamwork is always important."
  • "It's so hard to get in a good position."
  • "Indians worked really hard."
  • "I don't like chunky bread." - I told them the more fine the meal, the smoother the bread. Note: We didn't make this into bread for obvious reasons, but I spoke about it as if we could.
And my favorite:
  • "One hundred kernels of corn on the ground, one hundred kernels of corn. Take one down and smash it around, ninety-nine kernels of corn on the ground." -  This led to a great discussion on why people sing when they work, especially during repetitive tasks.

Using flat rocks and dried corn, students get an idea of how it is to grind corn

Native Americans Linky

Friday Flashback Linky

I am linking up with Amanda for her new Friday Flashback Linky Party. I'm going to elaborate a little more on a post that I previously did, since I didn't talk a whole lot about it. I created a Facebook page template that could be used with any story or novel. We are currently using it with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Click picture to download for free.

The very top long rectangle is to draw a cover picture. We have not done this part yet because I'm saving it for the end. I'm envisioning a picture of the chocolate factory or a family picture.

The smaller square at the top is for the character's profile picture. We drew a picture of Charlie Bucket.

The two rows of small squares are for friends, photos, and "likes." The first six (first three in each row) are being used for friends. So far, we only have Mr. Wonka and an Oompa-Loompa. The kids argued that the other children were not their friends because Charlie would never want to be friends with those kids. I'm guessing that we'll fill in the other four with family members. Or we could do the chocolate shop owner where Charlie find the last ticket because he told Charlie to run home and not sell it. The next three in each row are for photos. So far, we have a picture of Charlie's house, a golden ticket, and the gates of the factory with a mass of people outside. Granted, they are tiny pictures, but they work for students because they don't have a large space to fill. The last three in each row are Charlie's "likes." So far, we have a bar of chocolate and something else that I can't remember right now.

The rest of it is the timeline. We do a status update after every chapter. Technically, we should have started at the bottom and worked up so that the newest was at the top, but I think that would have been too confusing. This is where some of the students struggled. They wanted to write a summary of the chapter instead of Charlie's thoughts during the chapter. We did the first thirteen chapters together until most of them got it. We are now on chapter twenty-five, and all but one student has it down. She understands the summary part, but can't get it into Charlie's words. She is actually one of my better students, so I find that fascinating.

Update - Here is our finished Facebook page.

And now I have a question. What are the rest of you doing for Monday's mandated lessons about the Constitution?

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Every year I begin my literacy class with a whole-class reading of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I'd like to share what I like to do with the class, and if you read this book with your class, I'd love to hear your ideas as well!

First and foremost, it is important that every time Charlie gets candy, the kids get candy :) I usually use Hershey's Kisses. The first one they get has to be eaten the way Charlie eats it - first, only smelling it. Then taking tiny nibbles. It drives the kids crazy :) Each student will get about eight pieces over the course of the book, plus however you want to celebrate the end of the book.

I also pass out a word collector to gather fun and potentially useful words. I think that this is from the CAFE book? After every chapter, I have three kids share a word that we all must have on our collectors. Then we figure out what it means. Every so often, I make up a sentence that uses one of those words and pause where the word fits. They have to guess which one makes sense in the sentence.

Another fun activity that can be adapted for almost any book is the Facebook sheet that I made. After every chapter, we summarize Charlie's thought from the chapter and write a status update. I also included places where they can draw profile pictures and pictures of friends, photos, and likes. It was hard for them to think of status updates at first, but they got the hang of it around chapter thirteen. You can find a more detailed description here.

So both of those things are ongoing throughout the book. There are some other activities that I do during specific parts of the book. Some of the ideas came from The Mailbox, but I don't remember which issue.

After chapter two, we make a list of the impossible candies that Grandpa Jo describes to Charlie. They are never named in the book, so I have the kids choose one of them to name and draw in a picture.

After chapter six, we talk some about inferencing and how Grandpa Joe knew that Veruca was spoiled without the article saying it.

Before reading chapter seven, get a stack of 100 index cards. Put a small mark or sticker on one of them and keep that one separate until chapter eleven. Every time Charlie gets a chocolate bar while looking for a golden ticket, pass out an index card to each child. Tell them that one of the cards has a sticker and that student will win a prize. Talk about how they're feeling before flipping the card over and the odds of winning (1 out of 100). Are the excited? Anxious? Nervous? Then have them flip the card over and talk about their feelings after not winning. After chapter nine, hand out from the stack of remaining cards. Talk about how their chances are better now and their feelings. Before handing out the cards for chapter eleven, slip in the card with the sticker. Award the student that gets that card with a small prize. Alternatively, you could put a sticker on each of the remaining ones for chapter eleven so that all students win something. This idea was adapted from an activity that I read in The Mailbox.

After chapter sixteen, I have the students take a piece of blank paper and divide it into thirds. In one third, students draw their interpretation of a hornswoggler. Then in the other two sections will be the snozzwanger and whangdoodle.

After chapter twenty-seven, make a list of the letters of the alphabet on a piece of paper. Students will make a list of vitamins and what they do. Vitamin A makes you _______________. Vitamin B makes you _________________ and so on.

As a culminating activity, students invent a candy and create a one-page written advertisement for a new candy that does something amazing and impossible. They also create a picture to go with it. Then I have my husband's coworkers judge the entries and decide which ones are the most creative and the ones that they would buy. I award the top three or so with a candy bar of their choice.

Pencil Cans and More...

Seems that everyone is posting about their pencil cans (sharp and dull) and I finally got around to making mine as well. It only took a week's worth of lost pencils and pencil shavings on the floor to motivate me to get these done!
I chose to use empty fruit cans, mostly because that's what was sitting in my recycling. They have the pull-top lids, so I ran my fingers along the inside to make sure that the edges were okay to the touch. Probably not smart on my part, but my shots are up-to-date :) Anyway, I carefully peeled off the label so that I could use them as a template to measure my scrapbook paper. I was able to get both pieces from one piece of 8 1/2 x 11 paper. Perfect! I Mod Podged them onto the cans. The flipped labels are courtesy of Ladybug's Teacher Files. I cut those out with my circle cutter, and I actually had to cut off a little more of the outside or they wouldn't fit on the cans. Then I Mod Podged them onto the can and sprayed on an acrylic sealer. Voila! I'm going to pair it with my new sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies (which will be completely off-limits to the students!)

I also wanted to share a bulletin board technique that I saw on Pinterest (of course). Instead of stapling everything flat against the board, you use straight pins to create raised areas. Stick the pins all the way through the corners of your item until the heads are touching the item. It's a little hard to explain, but you can refer to the pictures. Then you stick the pins into the board just until they are sticking in securely. This will give your display a 3-D effect. Pretty cool, huh?
Click above to download these notes
And now I have a freebie. It was inspired by yet another Pinterest find (which must now be down because I couldn't get to the page to link to it - weird). Since I show several videos with my social studies curriculum, I wanted to find a fairly easy way to hold students accountable. This 3-2-1 sheet has spaces for students to write three things they learned, two things they're wondering, and one picture dealing with the video. It's not a lot of writing, which is good for my IEP kids, and there is an opportunity to draw, which is good for my visual kids. I was particularly impressed with student responses for the two things they're wondering. There were some fairly deep thoughts! I think it made the assignment totally worthwhile. And it can be adapted for guest speakers or other presentations. Hope that you find it useful!
3-2-1 organizer for note taking during videos or other presentations