Sunday, 3 November 2013

Halloween

 One neat thing about teaching at a rural school is that the students all have farms.  Many of our students grow pumpkins on their farms.  So, as October progressed, Mrs. Nowell and I ended up with just over 30 pumpkins between the two of us.  What a perfect buddies activity for the morning of Halloween!

We used the multipurpose room at our school.  It has 5 large woodworking tables.  We covered those in garbage bags and set up our stations.

The kids rotated through:
- How tall is your pumpkin (estimate and measure with unifix cubes)
- How much does your pumpkin weigh (we brought in our bathroom scales)
- Does your pumpkin sink or float 
- How many lines does it have (which the farm kids all informed me are called ribs - not lines.  Who knew?)
- What is the circumference (estimate then measure with string)
- How many seeds (save this one until last!)

You might notice in the pictures below the students had a recording book.  I found this awesome one on TpT for free!  It had pages for most of the stations we did, and those it didn't, the kids just wrote on the back.

 This took us until recess.  After recess, we carved the pumpkins.  You've gotta carve!  All the little buddies got to take home a pumpkin.

It's interesting how many seeds are in those little guys.
I expected this too be a lot messier than it was.  No soaked shirts!
The best part!

Friday, 1 November 2013

November Currently

November already!  That's exciting, but scary all at the same time.  Report cards are soon!  What will I buy for Christmas gifts? Why hasn't it snowed yet? And, of course, it's time for another Currently from Oh Boy 4th Grade!
 

Listening: I've been recently watching How I Met Your Mother.  I've seen nearly all of them before, but I'm chain watching them on Netflix.  Currently part way though season 5.  And, my pup is chowing down on a chew toy.  <3 him!

Loving: That there's no snow.  Some people are wearing flip flops!  It's insane.  It did snow once, but it melted and it's all gone.  Last year on this date, we had over a foot of snow outside.  Loving this!

Thinking: Last weekend I got sick.  Like a truck ran over me sick.  I'm feeling okay now, but this darn cough won't go away.  I coughed so hard I cried last night.  My throat hurts and I don't like it.

Wanting: Adam lives really far away.  I see him once or twice a year.  We need a visit.

Needing: Printer ink.  I have some math stations I want to print.  And some word work stuff.  And I'm sure if I get going, I could find all sorts of other things.

A Yummy Pin: Just discovered this one today.  Unfortunately, it's just an image- no website.  If you know where it's from, please let me know.  Too bad thanksgiving is over for me already.  I'll need to save it for next year.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Stone Soup


A few weeks back, we had a "Stone Soup" week in my classroom.  This was leading up to Thanksgiving (which, of course, occurs in October in Canada).  I really wanted to tie in the ideals of "thankfulness" and "gratitude" throughout the week.  

Monday




I started the lesson by introducing some vocabulary from the Marcia Brown version of "Stone Soup".  The class  did not know what book we were reading.  There were 4 words - one per chart paper.  Students were split into 4 groups and rotated carousel style, brainstorming ideas on each word.  Once we had discussed as a class, we moved on to a new task: Text Graffiti.  I saw a video about this on someone's blog recently, and can't remember where.  If you know the video, please let me know.  In this task - I selected 22 (one per student) lines from the story that didn't give away the "big idea".  Each line was taped to the centre of a paper.  Students sat down at a desk and read the line.  They then wrote any ideas about vocabulary, characters, setting, big idea or questions they had around the text.  They were not to put their name.  We did 4 rotations.  Looking back, I probably did not need to find 22 lines, but it did work well to provide everyone with different context clues.

Then, using the vocab words, and the text they had read students had to create a prediction of the story we were reading with justification.  Some thought we were reading "Shrek" (because of the term village), others invented stories about kings and soldiers.



Throughout the story, we paused to discuss story elements.  Afterward, students had to provide their thoughts about the "big idea" of the story.  Again, with justification.  To the right is a list of my favourites, which I typed up and shared with the class the next day.  We also worked on reflecting on goals of the lesson.  That part was a bit tricky for them.   

Tuesday


On Tuesday, we repeated the activity.  Again, I gave vocabulary words and we did the text graffiti activity.  This time, I used the "Stone Soup" version from Ann McGovern.  Student predictions were more accurate today as they had heard this version in a previous year, and they also were expecting the "Stone Soup" theme.   Below is my favourite piece of thinking from the text graffiti activity.  Student connections are so hilarious sometimes!




Wednesday

We had a big assembly with a special guest this day so no "Stone Soup" activities!

Thursday

We read a third version of the story today: "Bone Button Borscht".  I really like these spin off books - shows so much creativity!  I hadn't ever heard of this version before.  I found a copy in our Public Library.  This story has a longer text and beautiful illustrations.  It's a nice combination of the two stories I had already read.  A stranger comes to town and tricks the towns people into creating the soup.  The entire town works together to make something delicious and has a huge celebration.


We didn't repeat the activity of previous days as we were short on time.  I think next year "Stone Soup Week" might become "Stone Soup 2 Weeks". 

Friday

On Friday, I read "Cactus Soup".  This Mexican version of the story is very similar to the Marcia Brown version.  Again, we just read the story.


Friday was the culmination of the activities.  Of course we had to make soup!  I had two wonderful parents come in to help out.  Students all brought in items for the soup.  I made pumpkin biscuits (with a pumpkin grown in a student's field) and another brought in homemade buns.  Yum!  We had so much food we ended up making two kinds: beef barley and cream of potato.  Throughout the morning 5 or 6 students at a time went to the foods room to help the moms peel, cut, stir and season.  The smells through the school were amazing!  We had so much extra soup, we shared with some of the other adults in the building.  There is currently 10 large Ziploc bags of soup in the freezer waiting for us on a cold winter day.  I think we will go skating on the school rink and then warm up with the soup leftovers.  I am so happy we made the soup - it brought us all together as classroom family.  Parents came in to eat as well.  It was a great event. 


Mrs. Nowell texted me this picture of her bowl of soup.  She got a stone!  Lucky lady.


A student had her cousin spend a few days with us that week.  Her cousin was from Switzerland.  We shared some amazing Swiss chocolate for desert.


Mrs. Holland, our principal, wrote us this thank you note.  Seriously, she has the best teacher printing ever.  I'm really jealous.


What did you do for Thanksgiving?
Check out my Pinterest Board for more great Stone Soup ideas!
Find this post inspirational? Use the image below to save to Pinterest.


Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Professional Development

*HUGE AMOUNT OF PICTURES AHEAD.  OKAY, YOU WERE WARNED*

Friday, October 25 was a Professional Development day for the entire province.  Crystal and I applied for some funding from our Pro-D committee to go to a SMART Learning conference in Penticton.  We were very excited to be approved and head down for some inspirational learning.

We had to fly to Vancouver first as there was no direct flight.  We had a few hours between flights.  As I'm from the coast, and have been to Vancouver many a time I decided to take Crystal on the Skytrain for some shopping.  The picture above was texted to her husband who asked if we were riding on a rocket ship.  No, we were not.  Although that did make it sound more fun.

We stopped first at Vancouver City Centre.  That takes you right downtown, to Granville Street.  We were STARVING.  I figured this was a better choice for food than the mall - who likes eating at a food court? Not me.  So, we were on the search for something to eat that we couldn't get at home.  Something different.  We stumbled across this place:

The sign said "all food only $4.95 all day".  Sounds pretty cool.  The outside looked kind of vintage.  We went in.  We walked into a loud music, dark, snowboarders on the tv, waitresses with lots of tattoos bar.  I looked at Crystal and said "are we cool enough to be here?" She responded with "no."  We shrugged and went in anyway.  
Two teachers skipping school and this is what happens.  That wine bottle has water, by the way.
We ate some amazing food!  Wings, mac and cheese (with cornflakes.... weird but tasty), some awesome foccocia bread, soft taco wraps.....  It was under $20.  Delicious and affordable.  I'm cool enough for that!

And, so with full tummies we head to Metrotown for some serious shopping.  I needed pants.  A lot of pants.  I couldn't find pants.  They were all skinnies.  I am not a skinny pant person.  I nearly had a meltdown.  (Ask the woman in Winners.)  Luckily I had my good friend to keep me going and I ended up with 4 pairs.

We began our sky train journey back to the airport for our second flight.  Simultaneously, both of our phones went "bing!".  We looked.  Our flight was cancelled.  It had been rescheduled for 10:00 the next evening.  Well, that wasn't going to work!  The conference would be over.  After some serious rescheduling, we were on standby for a flight to Kelowna, which is an hour away from Penticton.  We figured we could rent a car and get there.  No big deal.  That is, if we got on.

In the waiting room, we met two men who lived in Kelowna, but worked in Fort St. John.  What are the chances?  We told them our story and the one went and sweet-talked our way on to the flight.  We couldn't sit together - but no big deal.

Crystal sits down and hears the woman behind her say "I'm so happy I got on.  I have a huge conference to give tomorrow".  She turns around and says - "are you Susan Close?"  The woman says "uh, yes".  So, they got talking and she scored us a ride to Penticton with the Key Note speaker and developer of SMART Learning.  Now that's amazing luck.  What a spectacular ride that was.  An hour alone with Susan Close chatting about the program we were off to learn more about.  Super cool.

We checked into the hotel and passed out at 1:30 in the morning.  We awoke at 7 and were ready to learn!

Here we are just before the conference began!
There were so many inspiring things about the day, I can't even begin to pick the best one.  So sad the day only went 9-3.  
The morning after the conference Crystal and I went to the Penticton airport to head home.  We had an uneasy feeling as it was once again very foggy outside.  We arrived early in case there were troubles.  Things seemed positive.  About an hour before our flight, we overheard that the plane took off from Vancouver, but it was unlikely to land.  They put everyone through security as normal.  We were hopeful.  The room was small and had no air.  We were both annoyed, because they took away our bottles of water.  Then, we heard the plane roar over, and.... not land.  A lady came in and told us that they would try again.  Second try didn't work.  Our flight was cancelled. 

Everyone was understanding and we all filed out, cellphones ready to make new plans.  We knew that we were lowest of priorities and investigated things on our own.  There were no flights from Kelowna or Kamloops.  We tried to rent a vehicle, but both places were franchised and would charge us a $600 drop off charge in Vancouver.  We weren't even sure that if we got to Vancouver that flight would even take off.

I was sick before the conference, and feeling very ill that day.  Crystal needed to get home to her children.  We did the only thing we could justify.  We took a charter van to Kelowna, rented a truck and drove home.  Fourteen hours.  You'd think things would start to look up from this point.  But, you'd be wrong. 

The trip started out very foggy.  And that fog turned to rain.  At a few points, we had intense rain and fog together.  You know, just for fun.  Worst of all, we had issues at every stop we made.  Starbucks had no cups, there was no toilet paper in the bathroom, no restaurant we went to had any soup (and I really just needed some soup).  But, we persevered.

The final trial we went through occurred around midnight just past Chetwynd.  We drove up the hill, and it suddenly began to snow.  And, of course, not just little tiny flakes.  Big flakes.  Lots of flakes.  We are talking about white out conditions.  It appeared as if we were driving backwards and sideways.  Luckily Sylvie (we had named the truck at this point) had some awesome headlights and we were doing this.  (There was no safe place to stop or turn around and it seemed ridiculous to stop an hour and a half from home.)

And then came 100 deer.  Truly.  They were panicking about the snow and all out for a last feast.  They were everywhere. 

It took us 3 hours to drive the last hour and a half.  We made it home at 3:00 in the morning. 

Truly, this was the best conference we could have asked for.  We'd repeat all that chaos again for it.  Now, off to implement new ideas!

Friday, 4 October 2013

And the winner is....

And the winner is...


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Congrats Liz P!  Send me an email with what you'd like from my TpT store and I'll get it right to you!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Currently October

It's that time again!  Here's my October Currently for you to enjoy!


I'm not going to blog a whole lot about this... (see my "thinking") as I've got some work to do on a lesson for tomorrow.  Why use what you did last year, when you can start completely over the night before?

Before you go.... enter my giveaway!  If you win, you can choose any item from my TpT store for free!

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Monday, 30 September 2013

Feeling loved

I just love my job so much!  This morning I was greeted with two gifts from students.  Just because.  Aren't they sweet?  I love that they would think about me on their weekends when out and about.  How kind and generous.  One sweetie gave me the nerdy Hello Kitty stuffie in the picture below and another gave me a roll of owl duct tape.  They know me so well.   So now I have 3 desk buds.... my Hello Kitty, my handmade sock owl from a student last year, and my owl eraser I love so much, also from a last years' student. 

I'm not saying I'm in it for the gifts, but it's heartwarming to know they care.  There's so many moments in teaching where times are tough.  I think this means a whole class treat is in order. Hmm.....

Desk buds!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Teal and Black Literacy Centre Cards

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Math-Rotation-Cards-Teal-and-Black-1932934


These cards are perfect for managing your math rotations. Rotations are an excellent way to teach the curriculum to small groups with differentiating learning.

There are 6 colour-coded group cards, 6 shape-named group cards (3 versions) and 6 rotation # cards. Canadian and American spellings are used.

There are seven different rotation cards:
♥ Math by Myself
♥ Fact Practice
♥ Math Games
♥ Math with Someone
♥ Computer
♥ Word Problem
♥ Work With Teacher

Click on the picture above to take you right to the file!

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Five for Friday

Here's to another week down!  This week we got down to business and started doing some serious work.  Math stations and spelling are in full swing and we've written in our journals twice.  Here's some pictures of what we've been doing.




My shelves came!  At my school, we only get mail on Tuesdays.  So this Tuesday was such a glorious day.  They came built and everything!  I just had to get them out of the box and wheel them down the hall to my room.  Here's my class library all set up.  I have a few bins I'm missing labels for.... just haven't got there yet.


We have been working on building stamina during quiet reading time.  We quiet read after recess every day.  My kids have found it pretty tricky to stick with a book or resist the urge to chat.  To make their progress really clear for them, we've been tracking our progress daily.  As you can see, we started out pretty low.  They are progressing pretty quickly though!



We had the Terry Fox run this week.  I didn't take any pictures.  My job was traffic control at the end of the road.  It was funny wearing my duty vest and holding a big yellow "Children on Road" sign.  The wind was blowing and the sign was a bit tricky to hang on to.



We have been practicing a lot of different word work tasks this past week.  These pictures are from the day I had my kids working through my 3 spelling stations: What's your Word Worth, Scrabble Spelling and Place Value Spelling.  You can purchase them here and read the blog post here

They had a lot of fun working together.  You can always tell kids are engaged when the room is SILENT.  Can't argue with that.  At the end they were begging me to do it again.  Too cute.





Using plastic money to help.


Building with scrabble letters.




We did our second round of math stations this week.  Last week, we were really, really, REALLY LOUD.  This week was much better.  I'm not taking groups to the rainbow table yet, but hopefully will in 2 weeks time.  Our biggest goals of the day were working quietly and getting to work quickly.  I was pretty impressed.

Tens frame war.  An easy one to get the routines down.

Flash cards for fact practice.

Dice games.  Always a fun time.  Like my shoes?

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Books I've Shared


Meg at Fourth Grade Studio asked "What books have you shared with your class so far this year?"  And I thought.... let's blog about that.  So here goes:

1) The Name Jar: I read this in the first few days of school when I had last year's class.  I purchased this book over the summer, and hadn't tested it out yet.  It was really well received.  If you aren't familiar, it's about a girl who moves to New York and has a name that is very hard to pronounce.  She decides she will change her name, and takes suggestions in a jar.  It's a great book about acceptance.  I plan to bring it out mid-year on a day my students are having a rough time getting along.
 
2) Do Unto Otter: This was book 1 of 4 in a classroom community plan I had.  We were working up to building our class agreement.  This book is really fun to read and really gets kids to think about their behaviour and how it affects others.
3) Have you filled a bucket today?: Book 2 of 4 in the plan.  One students said after reading "Hey! Being a bucket filler is just like doing unto others!".  Exactly.  :)
We also do a bucket filling program in my classroom so this was used to introduce those slips.
4) The Juice Box Bully: Book 3 of 4.  In this book they have a classroom promise, which helps lead into our class agreement.  This book also leads to great discussion about why the boy in the story is so miserable and the power of standing up.
5) David Goes to School: Book 4 of 4 in the plan.  This is a quick read.  I love No David books!  I used it just before planning the class agreement as there are so many good non-examples of how our behaviour should look in this story.
6) Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping: In B.C., students in grade 4 do a beginning of the year reading assessment known as the QCA.  To complete this, there is a web graphic organizer they need to know how to fill out.  I read this book so we could do an example web together for practice.
7) The Party: On this list to read this week.  I'm going to start connections in Language Arts.  This book is a great one for students to make connections to.

So, there you go!  What have you read to your class so far this year?