If You Lived in Colonial Times {Plus a "Duh" Moment or Two!}

Friday was my official observation that is required in my district every three years for tenured staff. I decided to throw caution to the wind and have my administrator observe the organized chaos of my newest centers that go with the book If You Lived in Colonial Times.

As I was preparing the materials ahead of time (as opposed to the quick print outs, let the kids cut out the pieces, and toss in the trash when done type of prep that I normally do), I decided to laminate everything and keep them for next year. I don't have a lot of time for centers in ELA, but I do in social studies, so I knew that this would be a keeper.

I am sure that I am late to the party on this one, but as I was trying to figure out the best way to organize things for this dog and pony show, I had a revelation. File folders! I attached the laminated title pages on the front of the folder with sticky dots.

On the inside, I used the sticky dots to attach the pockets for the sorting activities...

For the task card centers, I punched a hole a few inches from the top of the folder and fed a paper clip through to hold the cards. I don't have a picture of that for some reason, but it's pretty snazzy.

Now I'm not sure how you do centers, but I do them all at the same time and rotate the kids every 15 minutes. That way I can walk around and answer questions instead of being stuck with a small group like some people do during ELA. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with that. This is just the way I prefer to do them.

And here is another a-ha moment. Instead of making the five centers and having groups of five to six kids at each one (which never worked for me because the three kids that can't see just tune out and talk with each other), I made three copies of each center so the kids could work on them in pairs!!! They still rotated in a group, but since I also have a class set of books, there were enough copies of everything so that each pair could have their own set of materials. Genius!!! I'm not sure why it took me so long to figure that out!

These kids are working on sorting what colonists did and did not eat.

This pair is answering some multiple-choice questions with QR codes.

These ladies are sorting the features of colonial houses.

I just walked around while they were working and answered questions as I went. When the timer went off after 15 minutes, they rotated and started the new center. I told them that I would be grading them on three things - staying on task (SOOO hard for this group of kids), working together (I have some kids that take the lead and the others just sit there), and doing your best. If they didn't finish the center in 15 minutes, no big deal (unless I had already marked them down for not staying on task). While a few were concerned that they would get a bad grade if they didn't finish, I assured them that I was just grading them on the three things that I mentioned. So if they were working the whole time, they were fine. This also solved the problem of the slacking group members. I just walked around with my clipboard and made tallies after the kids' names who were off task when I went by them (which really wasn't an issue for most students). These centers took me two days to complete with checking and a little bit of discussion on the second day.

I think that the centers were a nice break from the textbook, and I will definitely be making more for the other sets of these books that I have. Each of my three social studies classes really enjoyed them, and the discussions that they were having as I circled were really much more involved than our typical class discussions with the same five or six kids that always participate.

If you are interested in these centers, click on the picture below.

13 Colonies

Oh, and my observation went well :)

Sparking Student Motivation - Colonial Crafts

I love teaching about the American colonies. There are so many fun activities and things that you can do with it to create connections and memorable experiences.

Early in the week, we completed two colonial crafts that I've done for years and years. I actually put these two together with a few other activities (two more of which we will do next week) in my {Colonial Craftivities and Activities} product.

We were doing a lot of reading last week about colonial jobs in New England. I had the students choose a profession and then make a shop sign for it. There were three criteria - the student's name, the name of the shop, and a large picture. We discussed how it was important to include a large picture so that those who couldn't read would be able to identify what kind of shop it was.

Many of my students this year are very talented artists, so it was difficult to just choose a few to share here. We spent about two class periods on the shop signs, as I made them do a complete rough draft first. I find that they always make their first pictures way too small.

On Wednesday, I gave them a blank quilt block. They were to look for some sort of pattern to color. I love how so many different variations come from the same blank page. I will take each square and assemble them into a class quilt. I think that the bottom left is one of my favorites of all time. I have never had a student color it anywhere near that pattern.

Look for more great ideas to spark student motivation by clicking the picture below!

You can also find more ideas for teaching the thirteen colonies by clicking this picture!

13 Colonies

Friends on the Fives - Techie Turtle Teacher

Today's guest blogger is Cheryl from Techie Turtle Teacher. She has lots of great technology tips and a fun university link up!

Hello Fifth in the Middle followers!  I'm Cheryl from Techie Turtle Teacher.  I currently teach 2nd grade but I've taught 5th for two years.  I love using technology in my classroom and finished my Masters in Educational Technology last year.

I run a series on my blog called Tech Tip Tuesdays.  I want to share one of my favorite tech tips with you.  It is about how I use Google Earth in my classroom.

My students love when it is time to explore Google Earth!  They love telling me everything they know about it.  My favorite part is when we study space.  You can turn look at stars and constellations and you can view the moon.  You can also see what happens across the Earth when the sun sets and rises.

I think my students would say their favorite part is watching the sun rise and set.  You can turn on the sunlight and see what happens when the sun rises and sets each day.  I introduced timezones and what they mean to my second graders.  They loved it when I fast forwarded through time.  They were so excited to see what the sunlight would look like at different times during the day.  I zoomed in on our school so they could get a feel for it.  They liked going backward in time too to see the sunlight earlier in the day and week.

Click here if you want to read more about how I use Google Earth in my classroom.
Thank you for reading!  Please stop by my blog, Techie Turtle Teacher, to see other technology tips and resources.  Feel free to link up with us if you have a technology tip to share!  I love seeing how other teachers incorporate technology in their classrooms.
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If you would like to be a guest blogger, fill out this form.

Early Colonies - Roanoke, Jamestown, and Plymouth

I have starting this post so many times. Between no school and late start days due to cold, getting sick, professional development days, and other things that keep me from remembering to take pictures, I'm finally determined to get it done. For reference, it is currently Wednesday the 22nd. We'll see how long before I actually publish.

As I have {posted before}, we do a lot from Hands-On History: Colonial America by Michael Gravois.
I also use some of the graphic novels that I received through a Donors Choose project.
January 30. Hopefully I will remember to take pictures tomorrow...

...Monday, February 3...

Finally took some pictures! :) All of these activities came from the project book I mentioned above.

Roanoke Island Data Disc

Jamestown Web and Shutter Foldable

Plymouth Web and Accordion Book

13 Colonies