Tuesday Tried It - Ultimate Blogging Calendar

A month or so back, I purchased the {Ultimate Blogging Calendar} from Gina at {Third Grade Tidbits} and immediately three-hole punched it and put it into a binder. It has been very useful in keeping all of my blogging ideas in one place! There is a page where I can record all of the post ideas that I have for the month or the TpT items that I want to create. Another helpful page allows me to keep track of what I've donated or promised to donate to other bloggers' giveaways. And there's a fun little page where I can keep track of my stats from month-to-month. So if you need something to help keep your blogging ideas in one place, I think that this $5 item might do the trick for you!


Instagram, Giveaway, and SS Mentor Texts

Well, time to hop on the Instagram bandwagon. I've had the app on my phone for a while not, but I've never used it. I just didn't see the point when I could do essentially the same thing on Facebook. Now with this {new linky} starting on Tuesday, I feel that this is something that I can get behind. As of right now, I have no pictures to share. But I will. My username is Fifth in the Middle. I know. Big shocker.
I am helping out Jessica with her giveaway at I {heart} Recess. This is a great giveaway because everyone will "win." No Rafflecopter, no following requirements, just leave your email and you'll get a copy of everything that has been donated. However, it's only TODAY!

I am also linking up for the social studies mentor text linky. I'm glad that there is something socials studies related, since that's the majority of what I teach!
I actually won (or bought, I don't remember) a unit to go with Encounter from the Collaboration Cuties :)
Here's what Amazon has to say about it:
"When Christopher Columbus landed on the island of San Salvador in 1492, what he discovered were the Taino Indians. Told from a young Taino boy’s point of view, this is a story of how the boy tried to warn his people against welcoming the strangers, who seemed more interested in golden ornaments than friendship. Years later the boy, now an old man, looks back at the destruction of his people and their culture by the colonizers."

Before I read it to the kids, I showed them each illustration and had them write down any predictions about what was going on in the picture. The illustrations are really great. Then we read it through as a class and talked about it along the way. We had some wonderful discussions about point of view and what we previously learned about Christopher Columbus. After reading it, we did a few of the pages in the Collaboration Cuties' packet about figurative language.

Go link up with any or all of these great linkies!


Spark Student Motivation - Coupons

Two weeks ago, I shared my "secret person" thing that I'm doing with the prize line. Right now, my prizes are down to school supply items and baggies of suckers. But two of the most popular items don't cost me a cent!


Specifically, coupons for trading desks for a day and using a special chair. (Click on either picture to download your free copy.)
We are departmentalized, so students don't actually store their items in their desks. Well, they're not supposed to anyway. So trading desks for a day is really easy. First, it's just in my room, so the other teachers don't have to deal with it. Second, I don't have to deal with them sitting next to their friends all day. It's only a period or two. Totally tolerable. And free. It cracks me up to see how other friends negotiate with someone who has the coupon so it's a win-win situation for the displaced student as well. Or if they trade places with so-and-so, then so-and-so gets to sit by his "girlfriend." Too funny.

The other coupon is for a "special" chair. A few years ago, all of the rolling chairs in the computer lab were replaced, and I snagged one or two to use in my classroom. The intent was to use them for when I sat at the overhead or guided reading table or whatever because, hey, they were padded. Turns out, kids don't like sitting in hard chairs all day either. So earning a coupon to use a more comfortable chair for a day is pretty motivating, too!
Free classroom coupons



Pronoun Foldable and End-of-the-Week Linkies

The weather is finally starting to improve this week and it should be a beautiful weekend in the Midwest! I am so excited to have the chance to get out in the garden and get some new things planted. And it will be great to let the girls play outside!

1. Early in the week, we wrapped up our study of pronouns. As we did with {nouns} and {verbs}, we made a foldable. I've really embraced foldables this year. With this class, the more that I can get them cutting and folding, the better they are. They are such a fidgety class that I need to put some of that behavior to good use.
2. I've been working a LOT in PowerPoint this week. I'd like to thank everyone who has posted tips and tutorials over the past few months. I have learned so much! Tonight I made my daughter's birthday invite. Now I need to learn how to make my own clip art!

3. I can't help it. I have to reinvent the wheel. My kids LOVE the Reading Olympians root word study program, but I had to make some additions and changes to fit this group of kids. Now, please understand this, when I get something stuck in my head, I have to do it even though the original is perfectly fine. It all started when I wanted to create a recording sheet for each set of roots so that students could write down words they find and earn beads. And of course I had to have the cute clip art on it, so I bought the set from the 3 AM Teacher. This is what I made and copied on orange paper to match the set color:

This is actually an older version. I tweaked a few things in the list of root and the size of the font for the name line. What can I say, I'm OCD. Anyway, then I thought, wouldn't it be better use of my limited paper if I could put six cards on a page for their binder rings? And my kids punch holes way too close to the edge of the paper, so I put little circles where they punch.
Then, of course, some of my kids needed to retake the Nike quiz, and I didn't want to give them the same one, so I made a retake version. And since everything has to look the same in my world, I decided just to redo everything I use. So, hours later, I finished recreating the wheel for the Nike set. And since I was in a groove and everything would be fairly easy to swap out, I did the Poseidon set, and so on. So that is what has been eating up most of my week. Totally unnecessary, but yet something my brain said that I had to do.
4. My Donor's Choose materials arrived! It's hard to believe that all of this cost $350. I'm a little nervous about the thank-yous that we have to prepare. Any tips that you have for me would be greatly appreciated!
5. An obligatory shot of my garden this week. The daffodils are blooming!!


Student Motivation - What's Working This Week

I've done the whole "secret person" thing for about twelve years, but usually just during May when I'm desperate. It was highly motivational because I would take the student and a friend out to lunch at Subway, Wendy's, whatever was close to the school. It was expensive, yes, but totally worth it. This classroom management strategy seems to be more common now, but I drew a stick every morning and kept it a secret. Throughout the day I'd say things like "I'm looking to see if my person of the day is on task" as I scan the room. Of course, they try to figure out who I'm looking at, but I'm very good at it :) And then at the end of the day I'd say who it was if they made it, or say that the person didn't make it and not reveal the person.

Well, now that I'm at the middle school, I don't have my kids all day and we only have a half-hour lunch. So instead of trying to secretly communicate to each of their teachers who the secret person is that day, I decided to do this by period. Instant gratification. So each period, I draw a stick and a back-up for the class that is currently in my room. If at the end of the period if the secret person has behaved appropriately, he or she gets to choose two items off of my prize line.
My prize line contains school supplies, coupons, chips, and other little random things that I've collected over the years. I decided to string the line at the front of the room where I do my whole-class teaching so that the prizes are constantly in their line of sight. If the first person didn't make it, then I determine if the back-up made it. Of course, I don't reveal who it was if they don't make it. So far it's been working very well. Yes, I've given away around eight prizes a day, but only a few of those things cost me money. And even those things have made it worth it.


Tried It Tuesday - Truffula Trees

This week for Tried It Tuesday, I'm going to share something that I did last year. When The Lorax was out in theaters, there were a whole bunch of Lorax-themed projects floating around Pinterest. I did The Lorax with my fifth graders for Earth Day, and I made these truffula trees for my room. The original pin is {here}.

Here are my trees:

There were pretty easy. The most difficult part was to figure out how to make them stay on the wall. I actually used the tufts as decoration in my room this year. You can make them out in the corners of the room from my first day of school picture.

And on another totally unrelated note, it drives my Type-A personality bonkers when I'm using a teacher-made unit that has so many inconsistencies in formatting that I just want to redo the entire document. Even if that document is hundreds of pages long (which it is in this case). Does that bother anyone else, or just me? Like, how hard is it to align things so that when I cut them out it doesn't take forever? And if you're color-coding something, why can't you use the same shade of that color throughout the document? Rest assured, none of this is directed at any of you (I don't think - I guess I don't know who might be following me...). I'm too passive-aggressive to actually say anything to the teacher. ;) And along those lines, if you ever download one of my products and you see inconsistencies, PLEASE let me know! I promise you that I will NOT be offended or think that you are being nit-picky!

DIY Brag Tags (April Monday Made It)

I recently talked about my experience with ordering brag tags, and I decided that I wanted to see if this was something that I could incorporate fourth quarter to help with classroom management. I am also trying out the Reading Olympians program as part of the Pass the Torch linky, and I think that they have beads and tags in that program, too.

My first thought was, "How are we going to know whose necklace is whose?" I thought about writing their names on the back of one of the tags. But they wouldn't have any tags yet. They have to earn them. Then I wondered if I could have tags made with their names on them, which would be expensive since each tag would be custom. Then I wondered if I could write their names on a piece of cardstock, cut them to shape, and then laminate them. And then I decided to mess with PowerPoint. End result... {names changed to protect the not-so-innocent ;)}

Here is how I made the template:

After that, it was simply print, laminate, cut, and punch a hole for the ball chain. I used a 1/8" punch. I can now make all of the personalized and custom tags that I want. Of course, the quality isn't the same as the original, but it's a good substitute if you want the motivation but don't have the budget for a bunch of tags. If I could figure out how to make a PPT template so that you can edit mine instead of creating your own, I would. So if you know of a tutorial or a way to do it, please email me or leave me a comment! :)

I have uploaded some templates to TpT. Check them out by clicking on the following picture. They are $1.00.

My other project this month was to try to preserve my oldest daughter's favorite t-shirt. You would not believe the lengths that I went through to find this shirt. Her then-bestie showed up to daycare with one, and she had to have one, too! It involved trips to all areas Targets and desperate please for help on Facebook. Anyway, this shirt has been well-loved, and the holes in it showed how much I've had to wash this thing. There is no way that my second daughter would be able to wear this hand-me-down, and it certainly wouldn't have had the same sentimental value.
I bought a cheap white frame at Michael's. That was the only thing that I had to buy to do this. I took the frame back to use as a guide to trim the box the frame came in down to the correct size. This way I had a piece of cardboard to mount the shirt on. I ended up having to trim it a little more to compensate for the thickness of the shirt wrapped around the edges of the cardboard.
Then I cut up the shirt (which was a little painful/stressful - God forbid I should make a mistake to would ruin the project!) and folded it over the edges of the cardboard. I couldn't figure how else to attach it to the cardboard other than staples, which you can kind of see if you look under the edges of the glass. If anyone has a better idea, please let me know! There wasn't much material to work with towards the top where the sleeves and neck were. I guess that I could have done a spray adhesive or something, but I was leery of using something permanent in case I made a mistake.
I think that it turned out pretty well considering the shape that it was in, but the daughter was pleased, so that's what counts!

Classroom DIY
A Teacher without a Class

Pass the Torch Linky

Get Ready for Bloggy Olympics!!!

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Join The 3AM Teacher, the Reading Olympians, and over 80 SUPREME education bloggers as we take you through a tour of the Reading Olympians Root Study Program!!

So now it's my turn! If you are new to my blog, welcome! My name is Diane, and I am a fifth grade literacy and social studies teacher. This is my fourteenth year of teaching fifth grade.

We started the Reading Olympians program with the Nike set. I handed out the cards for the ring as an introduction to the set of roots. Next time I will copy these on orange paper to go with the color theme of this set.
Then we spent a few days working on the graphic organizers together. They enjoyed this because they knew more words for each root than what they thought!
Here are the reading necklaces waiting for beads and tags :) The kids are really exciting about finding the roots in other contexts and situations. I gave them a recording sheet so they can write down ones that they find and so I can initial when I give them the bead. BTW, I'm going to link up with Tara this Monday for Monday Made It to share how I did these DIY brag tags. Make sure that you're a follower so you don't miss it!
Discover the program IN ACTION in more K-6th grade classrooms as you Pass the Torch!! Get ideas, discover the progression of the program, and enter the Raffle for a chance to win ONE of the three prizes listed below!!

First Place Winner: Gold Medal

Prizes: Complete Reading Olympians Program

            $50.00 Amazon Gift Card
            50% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Second Place Winner: Silver Medal

Prizes: $25.00 Amazon Gift Card

            40% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Third Place Winner: Bronze Medal

Prizes: 30% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Pass the Torch!!!
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