Sunday, January 19, 2014

It's Already 2014?!?!

It's already 2014?!? Quite a bit into 2014, actually! Wow. I can't believe my first year of teaching is halfway through! It has seriously FLOWN by. It's been so much fun- and so much work! Before I know it, it will be time for the 5th grade writing test, then all the rest of the tests, and then it'll be May and school will be ending! Two weeks into the semester, and I know it's going to be a whirlwind!

I didn't get a chance to blog during the holidays, so I've got a backlog of pics to share!

Here's a panorama of my classroom with Christmas lights! One of my sweet students brought in all these lights because he wanted our room to be festive. He even stayed after school to help put them up!

We do monthly Currently papers and I display them here. I love doing Currently's with my class. It gives the kids a chance to talk about themselves and what they are interested in inside and outside of school. We share our responses during our morning meeting, and they can decorate the papers as much or as little as they want. 

Here's a view of outside my classroom door. I made a fireplace on my cabinet! It took so long, haha! But I love the way it turned out- it looks cozy and festive! The stockings hanging up have book recommendations on them. I still have the fireplace up (but not the stockings). I think I'll take it down once the weather warms up!

We had SO much fun at our holiday party. We spent a lot of time eating (yum!), but we had some time for a few marshmallow games! I found the ideas through google- one was picking up marshmallows with a straw and putting them in a cup- all without using their hands! They loved it, and I could not stop laughing! They were concentrating so hard! 
 (Pictures with blurred faces look weird to me, but I wanted to share how cute they are!)

After we had played all the games, I had them scatter the marshmallows on their desks and we played "Hungry Hungry Snowman." It was way too funny! I told them they didn't have to do it, but what do you know, not a single person chose to sit this one out! :)

One of my favorite things we did during the holiday season was make these adorable reindeer! We used patterns and directions from a book called "Cut and Create! For all the Seasons" that my teammate let me borrow. I didn't explain how to do it at all- I actually took a reading grade on how well they read and followed the directions. 
We were studying Fantasy Fiction at the time (in both reading and writing), so we took the opportunity to give our reindeer a special, magical power! They named them, and then wrote a few sentences describing the power. 

I love having these laminated black sheets of paper with their names on them to display their work. We do a new craft/activity every so often, usually that reflect the season. It really brightens the room up, and I love seeing their creativity displayed. I feel like it shows our classroom community and gives students a sense of ownership and responsibility. 

We started the year by doing self portraits. I had them write 3 similes about themselves to go with their drawing. We used these awesome crayons from Lakeshore Learning that have 24 different skin colors to complete their portraits.
My classroom is very diverse, and their faces absolutely lit up when I showed them these crayons. They were so excited that they didn't have to choose between peach and brown for their skin color! This was a great opportunity to talk about how everyone is different- hardly anyone chose the same crayon for their self portrait. 

Next, we did a jack-o-lantern graph from Anna Colley. Find it here! I actually don't have pictures of this one, but they were perfectly festive for Halloween!

When we came back from Winter Break, we made Alliteration Snowmen to replace our reindeer. 
I got my inspiration from Michelle at Apples & ABCs, and had my kids write 2 alliterations to go with their snowman. They turned out so well!

I'll leave the snowmen up for a while (it's kind of a pain to change them out all the time haha). The next thing we do will probably be St. Patrick's Day or maybe spring inspired. Any ideas?? 

The last thing I wanted to share was my sticky note bookmarks! I turned the anchor chart I made about stickies into a bookmark, then copied them on bright paper and had them laminated. Now, if students aren't sure what to make a sticky for, they can use this handy guide that's right inside their book! We've been pushing stickies for a while now, and I have been SO impressed with my students' progress! Their books are filled with sticky notes now. We used the symbols as a starting point, and now they can use a symbol (or not) and write a little to explain their thinking. I actually had a Donor's Choose project that was funded (yay!!!) that included lots and lots of SUPER STICKY post it notes! Something as simple as fun colors has really inspired them to use their stickies! 
During my read aloud books (right now we're reading "The Lightning Thief"!), I always use stickies. I pause and walk them through my thoughts as I make a sticky note. I show them what I wrote and leave it in the book. This, more than anything I think, has helped them continue to increase their sticky note volume and thought level. Modeling is super effective in this situation.  

These bookmarks are actually available in my TpT store! Check them out!

Whew! What a long post! If you read the whole thing, bless you. If you didn't and just scrolled to the end, bless you as well, and thank you for even visiting my blog!