Monday, January 28, 2013

Stepping Back in Time

Have you heard of the Infinity Ring series? It was brought to my attention by my fellow 5th grade teachers and my kids LOVED IT. We read the first book as a read aloud and they ate it up. I highly recommend it. It's going to be a seven book series - which would be great to get your kids hooked on! I have several in my room reading book number two now. 

In social studies, we're finishing up our study on the American Revolution (so fun!) and I wanted to do a little creative project.  After pulling some ideas from all over the internet, I decided to tie in the American Revolution to the Infinity Ring. I gave my class the prompt below:

Imagine you have an Infinity Ring just like Dak and Sera! Ms. Furnell has asked you to use the device to travel back to 1773 in Boston, Massachusetts. You travel back and realize that you’re a colonist who has a vital decision to make. Will you join the rebels and participate in the Boston Tea Party? Will you decide to stay loyal to the British King? Write a diary entry in which you explain your decision. 

On Friday afternoon, we dunked sheets of white paper in tea and set them out to try for the weekend. Today, my class began writing their final copies of their diary entries. They were so excited! I heard several times that THIS was their favorite project so far. Who knew writing could be so fun? :)

Reading the letters has been the best experience. I'm amazed by their creativity. As part of the prompt, they had to include 4-5 factual reasons why they picked their "side". All of my students took the prompt and RAN with it.. creating an alternate life in the 1700's with family members such as Betsy Ross, Sam Adams, and George Washingtion. One student even took credit for firing that famous, "shot heard around the world". 

Another big highlight of the day was our brand new pencil sharpener. It was a BIG hit. 
It's the little things in life.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Our Spin on Chicken Taco Pizza

Last night, my bf and I were craving something a little different than our Sunday night Soup tradition. After bouncing several ideas, we decided to create our own version of a Taco Pizza. If you have a Casey's General Store in your area - you've probably experienced one before. :) We borrowed ideas from this recipe at Jo Cooks here

Chicken Taco Pizza

You'll Need:

  • Pizza Dough (we picked up the premade kind)
  • 1 cup refried beans 
  • 1 pound of chicken breasts, cut into strips 
  • Shredded cheese
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 package of chicken taco seasoning

    Toppings (go wild!)
  • Lettuce 
  • Tomatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Salsa
  • Cilantro
  • Plain Greek Yogurt (substitute for sour cream)

Make it!

  • Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. 
  • Begin assembling your pizza from the bottom up. We covered the pizza with refried beans and salsa while the chicken cooked in the taco seasoning. 
  • In the mean time, cook your chicken in a skillet with the taco seasoning. We followed the directions on the packet of seasons.
  • Add the cooked chicken and shredded cheese to your pizza. 
  • Pop it in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
  • Polish off the pizza with toppings of your choice. We went with: lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, green peppers, cilantro, and yogurt. 
  • Slice your pizza up and enjoy!

I don't mean to toot our horns or anything... but this was a delicious dish. I'm looking forward to the leftovers tonight for dinner. We watched ours with an episode of Walking Dead and the NFL playoffs. Are you a fan of Walking Dead too? We are catching up on season three and things are getting emotional. 

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

For the Love of Quinoa!

I felt it was time to dive into the quinoa phenomenon since I've pinned hundreds of recipes already. Many of my Sunday evenings are spent enjoying a delicious bowl of soup, so this week my bf and I decided to make a little vegetable soup with quinoa. Thanks to this recipe found here

The recipe has all of your classic vegetable soup staples (and then some) to enjoy on a chilly evening. Naturally, we had to make a few modifications because I thought I had all of the ingredients. Soon enough, I found they were missing from my pantry. We also made this into a slow-cooker soup by letting the vegetables, spices, and broth cook all day then added the cooked quinoa at the very last minute. 

In addition to the soup, we also added a few other spices and whatnot (which means I don't have an exact measurement.. just go with it).

Frank's hot sauce
red wine
lime juice
minced garlic (more!)

After an afternoon of smelling vegetables simmer all day in the crock pot, I can assure you that this bowl of quinoa soup was enjoyed with the Golden Globes (and the playoffs!) playing in the background. 

Enjoy your evening, folks!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Newton's Laws of Motion & Angry Birds

Do you ever walk into your classroom in the morning and have a weird feeling about the lesson you've planned? I had this idea in my head and it was partially written in my plans, but I felt like there were several holes in my "idea". I kept thinking thinking thinking about how to make it just right. Granted, this was all this morning around 7:00 AM.  Have you ever felt this way? Oy! It happens often to yours truly. Today, actually worked out in my favor because the lesson turned out to be quite delightful. Jam packed with collaborative thinking, group work, and whole group time. Here's what we did:

I wanted to connect the reading strategy of cause and effect to our science lesson about Isaac Newton's 3 Laws of Motion. In our text book, it offered a suggested passage and graphic organizer as an intro to the topic but I wanted to take the thinking a bit further. 

To start, I displayed a new anchor chart in our room relating cause and effect to the oh-so-popular game Angry Birds. Coincidentally, three of my students were actually wearing Angry Birds t-shirts. Talk about timing! I borrowed the idea from this blog post here. We chatted about the game and how it relates to cause and effect. 

Then, we jumped in a slightly different direction and pulled out a classic picture book. My original intention was to read, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie..." but alas, at 9:00 (five minutes before my kids returned from specials) it was MIA. Instead, we read "If You Give a Pig a Pancake...". Just as great! While reading, I had students interact with the read aloud by identifying causes and effects of different scenarios. 

Next, I had each student draw the cause and effect thinking map seen below. Each Law of Motion had 6 boxes for three different law of motion scenarios. My goal was for students to identify examples of each law and plug them into the diagram to identify the cause and the effect

I got everyone started with an easy example of a book demonstrating the law of inertia by sitting on a table overnight. After the whole group example, I partnered the students up and had them come up with other examples to fit each law of motion. They had their book as a reference as well as a foldable and Note: this took some time! I wish my science time was longer, but I had to cut things a little short. 

To close the lesson, I brought everyone back to the carpet and told them it was THEIR turn to teach their classmates and me something. While partners were working, I had them pick one scenario to jot down on a post-it to share with the whole group. Once we were on the carpet, partners got up in front of their peers and shared their examples. I loved hearing their use of our science vocabulary and key phrases to describe cause and effect scenarios. They grow up so fast! We stuck the post-it notes on an anchor chart for everyone to see and now it's on my stack of papers to be laminated. :)

Tomorrow, we're going to start our conversations about simple machines. Any tips? Suggestions?
Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Haiku for the New Year

Happy Thursday! Thanks to an inspirational post by Barbara at the Corner on Character, I challenged my students to write a haiku about their New Year's Resolutions last week. I was blown away by their creativity and thoughtful resolutions. I have a class full of students with enormous hearts!

We briefly talked about the structure of a haiku and its origin, then I sent them on their way. The day before we had talked about the word "resolution" and made goals, so each student had an initial idea of what they could write about.

We had haikus about laughter, love, organization, learning new skills, and so on. Several new goals were set for the new year. Now they're proudly on display in the hallway. It was a great activity to jump start the new year on a positive note. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Let's Make an Inference

First! A big congrats to my beloved Missouri Tigers for beating Alabama tonight in their first SEC match up! Big win for our basketball team. MIZZOU-RAH!

This week, our reading time is focused on making inferences and writing thoughtful responses. To start off, I used the 'ol "What's in my bag?" lesson plan. I showed my students a bag and pulled out items one by one. Inside the bag was a pair of sneakers, headphones, shorts, a t-shirt, and water bottle. As I pulled out each object, I asked the students to use clues from the bag to figure out what the purpose of the bag was. They all were able to conclude that my bag was for the gym, a run, or maybe even a hike!

Next, we watched the Pixar Short Film, "One Man Band". In short, the video (roughly 4 minutes long) is about a little girl who has one gold coin to give to street performers. There are no words in the film... only music and incredible animation. We watched the video once all the way through. Then, we watched again and paused to jot down notes on our graphic organizers. After our second viewing, students shared their ideas and inferences with the group.

Here are some great student quotes that stuck out to me. Yes, I prompted them to use "I infer":
"I infer that she's making a wish in the fountain because that's what I always do when I have a coin next to a fountain."

"My inference is that this takes place in Italy because of their clothing and the way the village looks."

"I infer that the little girl has little money because of her clothing and that she only has one coin."

...And so on and so on!

As a closer activity, I asked the students to write in their Reading Spirals to the following prompt: "Describe what you think the little girl did with her new bag of coins. PROVE IT!" (When I ask the students to prove it, it means to use details from the story to support their answer). While reading their responses this afternoon, I was floored by some of the things that I read! I was very impressed by their imaginations and their elaborate thinking and more importantly.. how they were able to WRITE ABOUT IT! 

Now, my teacher friends! How do YOU teach inferences to your students? How do you get them to read between the lines and identify what the author isn't telling us?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Life Lately - Polar Bear Strut 5k!!

In high school, I was on the track and field team. HEAVY emphasis on the "field".  Which means that I was also a sprinter (or tried to be) and not a distance runner. This year, approximately seven years since my high school graduation and last track meet... I've decided to make running a 5k a 2013 resolution. Took me long enough, huh?  

Last year, you may remember my blog post about the Polar Bear Plunge here. Inspired by a fellow teacher and friend, I put on my wig (really) and ran into the freezing cold Lake of the Ozarks. It was INCREDIBLE! Sure, we were quite chilly and wet when we climbed out of the water but knowing that I was doing it for athletes all over the state of Missouri made my heart happy. YOU should consider taking the plunge in YOUR state! I even heard on the radio that Dierks Bentley (that country one!) does the plunge every year. I can't seem to find a list of all plunges around the country, but if you're a resident of the Show Me State and you're interested in plunging click here

Ready to Plunge!

This year, I decided to rekindle my lost love for track and field (emphasis on the field) and try my luck in the "Strut". The Lake of the Ozarks hosts a unique 5k the morning of the plunge. I've rallied some troops to join my team and we're are going to be running in the freezing cold for a reason. 

Since I've been running, I have been capturing some little moments on Instagram. Partially because I'm obsessed and quite proud of myself for going into week three of 5k training!

Running with my BF & Chip

Long Legged Waldo
Have you ever participated in a plunge or strut? What other types of 5ks have you ran in? I am thinking of signing up for more if this one goes well. Now, I must go because I have many thank you notes to write. 

Happy Monday!


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