Thursday, April 17, 2014

What if our Characters were on Social Media?

 Let's face it - all of our students (okay most) are active  participants of social media daily. I can testify this is true about my class because I get a follow request from one every day! I decided to apply their love (and admiration) for social media to our literature circles. Small groups are finishing up their small book clubs and as they finish, I've asked students to draw conclusions about their characters and imagine what it would be life if they had a Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter page. I heavily stressed the importance of making the posts, comments, and pictures represent what happened IN the story. I prompted my kids with questions like, "what would their friends post on their wall? What events from the story would be shared on their page?" It was great overhearing the conversations and analysis of the characters after reading the book. 

Below the pictures you will find the links to each template I used. 
Needless to say, the kids have LOVED this activity and have asked to complete more!

Fakebook Template
Instagram Template 

How you do you integrate social media into your instruction? Share with me!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Using TodaysMeet

It's me, again! Let me introduce myself: I'm Jordon. I teach 5th grade. Welcome to my blog. The snow has left the Midwest (for the time being) and my blogging was given a swift kick in the ...behind. However, I'm back - for a few minutes. :)

We are wrapping up our force and motion unit (so many blog posts to add!!) and we have spent the past few days preparing for our final test. Tuesday morning I was racking my brain trying to think of an engaging way to help my students study and then a little lightbulb went off! In my eMINTS class, we used the online tool to generate a discussion about our session. The purpose in eMINTS was twofold, we learned about a new web tool and were able to use it purposefully for our classwork.

In the five minutes I had remaining of my plan time, I created a "room" on and ran down the hallway to pick up my students. Once we finalized all of our questions and answers on the study guide, I paired students up on laptops and gave them the link for our room. I gave them some time to get out their silliness- which was very necessary - and then we got to work. I typed all of my questions in CAPITAL letters so students could distinguish my text from the others. I reminded students that they were given time to be silly in our "online room" and during our study session, silliness would not be tolerated. Honestly, I did not anyone who was off task or trying to be sneaky. The engagement and excitement was through the roof - this turned out to be one of the best study sessions we've had. Since then, students have been begging to hop on TodaysMeet again! 

What tricks do you have up your sleeve to help students study for assessments? Are you preparing for state testing as well? Post your tricks and wisdom in the comments below!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Putting the Students in Charge! Simple Machines Activity

To begin our simple machines unit, I had my students take a pre-test showing me what they already knew about the different types of machines. This was great information to have, because when I introduced our force and motion unit I heard many, "WE ALREADY DID THAT LAST YEAR!" Now, after their pre-test I have proof of whether or not they remember. :)

After the pre-test, students filled in a pie chart showing their mastery of simple machines. Some were filling in 1-2 slices of pie, where others were able to fill in the entire pie! [email me and I will share the pie chart with you!] Since I found that I had several resident experts of simple machines. I wanted these students to have a chance to teach their peers a little thing or two on simple machines. Today, I had my experts leading the building and assembling of simple machines.

A few years ago, our 5th grade purchased a Simple Machines kit to build examples of each type of machine. Each kit has enough materials for you to assemble one example of each simple machine at time - which makes it great for students to move around to different stations and build each one. 

Purchase the kit here

 While I was doing a mini-training with  my experts, I had my students logging examples of simple machines disguised as common household items on the whiteboard. (This was an extension activity from the previous day)

Check out our Instagram video to see the fun that was had today!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Teacher help! Suggestions for Next Lit Circle?

It's 8:30 AM and I'm blogging from my couch. Why, you ask? Well, it is snow day number 8 for us Mid-Missourians.

On Friday, my students finished reading Wonder - what an excellent way to end the week! Our hearts were full as we walked out the door into a snowy weekend. While I have a few things I would like to do with the book, I'm starting to think ahead.... (blame the snow days!)

 Before we started Wonder, I kept asking myself, "how do I get my kids to talk deeply about the book?" I kept wondering what I wasn't doing to help them have genuine conversations. Finally, because I ran out of ideas, I just let them talk to one another. I pulled back my forced conversation starters and just let them enjoy the book and discuss on their own. What do you know? The minute I stopped trying so hard was when things started to click for them (work smarter, not harder... right?!) I realized all they really wanted (and needed) was to READ the book. Once they became invested in the story, they weren't relying on me to lead the conversation and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have noticed if I had walked out of the room. I noticed a dramatic change in the way my students were communicating and talking about the book. THEY were asking deep questions on their own and making inferences without me holding their hand to do so. At the end of each (okay most) reading sessions, I would pull everyone to the carpet and we would discuss our reading. One morning, we were having a full-fledged debate on whether or not we agreed with Miranda claiming Auggie. It was so incredibly powerful. I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

I want to keep the momentum flowing after we officially wrap up Wonder with another literature circle. However, I'm stuck on book options. With this next club, I want the students to have a choice in their book selection versus all of us reading the same book. I have a few books to suggest for my students, but I am hoping to have a few more suggestions. I want this one to revolve around choice - however, I want my students to have a few great choices as well. :)

Here's what I have so far:

Snicker of Magic

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Now, this is where I need you! 
What books would you suggest for an eclectic group of 5th grade readers? What books have your students loved? 

Sunday, March 2, 2014


A few weeks ago, I was lurking on Twitter and a few teachers were tweeting about using GoNoodle with their students. Of course, I had to figure out what the hype was all about. 

I signed up for a (cough FREE cough) account and before I knew it, I was training for the 100-meter dash at the Olympic trials! 
Watch the video below for a tutorial on how to get started with GoNoodle.

Right now, we are using GoNoodle first thing in the morning and transitioning in after recess. I let the students pick our morning activity. On Friday, we were throwing the javelin! The "Airtime" and "Maximo" features have been great transitioning back from recess. They are calming exercises to bring the focus back to the classroom. 

The verdict with my funky fresh kids (yes that's our nickname): we dig it!

Screenshot of our Champion

Have you used GoNoodle in your classroom? When do you find it is most effective?

Happy Sunday!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Theme Resources Round-Up!

Yesterday, I blogged about our current study of Theme. In addition to using fables and poetry, I've also utilized video clips and music videos to help students visualize theme - everywhere. Plus, these videos led us to great conversations about Sally (not a real student...) and John having different interpretations of the same video. They didn't have to agree on one specific theme - instead, they had to back up their thinking with evidence (or proof) from the video, story, or poem. 

Below you will find some of the videos we used. These led to great conversations - and often times had us rushing to the box of tissues. 

P&G "Thank You Mom": Grab your tissues, you'll need them for this one. 

Death Crawl: Prepare to be motivated. Oh, and... you'll need those tissues. 

Christian the Lion: You'll need more tissues. 

Music videos: Using songs like "Brave" by Sara Bareilles and "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson, we discussed the way artists use songs to share a message. We have a growing list of songs that "teach us" something. Other notable songs include: "Happy" and "Compass". 

DirectTV commercials: sure, the idea is to purchase DirectTV... but what can you learn from these clips? 

How do you practice determining the theme of stories, dramas, or poems in your classroom? 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Determine the Theme of Fables

Throughout our literature study of Wonder, we've focused our energy towards determining the theme of a story, drama, or poem. Based on our pretest data, I found that many of my students struggled with theme. They were unable to tell me what the definition of "theme" was and most were unable to pick one for a poem. The teacher side of me was perfectly okay with this, because teaching theme is one of my favorites. We have been able to use an incredible variety of media to practice this skill. 

Today, we used Speakaboos website during our mini lesson. In small groups, students picked one fable to view (their choice). The objective was to identify the theme and provide two details to support their thinking. 

Fables Speakaboos Page
After viewing the fable, students logged their thinking on our Padlet wall. Before jumping into Wonder, we met on the carpet and shared (and viewed!) our interpretations of popular fables. As always, this led to great conversations!

Adding to our Padlet

Check out our Padlet below. How do you use this tool in your classroom? Share below!


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