Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Finally Figured Out a Spelling Program that Works!

Problem: I have the same students you do-a wide variety of abilities, limited time, and I hate grading spelling homework!
Solution: I found two products on Teachers Pay Teachers and then added my own special twist.

1. The Words: I've always wanted to differentiate the word list but was not able to manage it. I found:
I love these lists because there are three of them for each week. All three share the same sight words. The first couple weeks of school everyone does the same words and then looking at the scores students are placed in list A, B or C. All lists are based on the same spelling rule.
2. The homework: These monthly spelling menus are cute and give students flexiblity. The best part they are good for any list. You choose how many points you want to assign. They also have a Spelling City option too.


3. The Twist: Students who get 100% on list A, B, or 94% (one wrong on the hardest list C) does not have to do the spelling menu the next week. I post the 100% students on the board and my website. The students then study the words in their own way which works because I don't care how they learn them as long as they learn them. This eliminates 25%-50% of my grading spelling homework each week. Students love this!
I do grade the tests the same day, that's the only catch.
I hope you like my ideas!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Do you Hate Having to Rush to Get Ready for Open House?

    Our Spring Open house comes late in the year and often right around testing when teachers are taking down displays or covering them up. It's always a mad rush to get the room ready with student work. I like to have a portfolio of work that students can take home and this is how I do it.

I created a 9x16 construction paper spiral bound book with each child having about 10-12 pages in their book that are size 9x12. In Sept. I photograph each child and add it to the bottom of the large page. This will always be on display. Everytime we do a project it goes on a blank page. I have stick on hooks on all my cabinets and I hang them using binder clips. As it gets close to Open House if there are still blank pages I have photos printed for students to add to their book making it like a scrapbook. This works out well because you always have a student that missed a project or came late in the year. You are adding as you go through out the year so no big rush to get it done. You can even prep the portfolios in June for the following year. Here are some photos. I pick a color scheme to go with that year's color. It is also nice for other teachers coming in to see photos of students.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

California Missions: A Complete Overview with Writing Activity and Cool Art Project

Problem: There is a lot of information available on the California Missions, but most of it is too detailed, too difficult, or too broad for 4th graders. I needed an overview of the mission system that was engaging for kids and worked as a companion for individual Mission projects I would assign later. I also wanted a comprehensive unit that could work for a shorter time period and included all necessary background information, a writing assignment based on the text, and a visual arts component that we could display in our classroom.

Solution: Jody and I wrote our own text which explained why the missions were built, how they were constructed, their physical and political purpose, how they worked as a community, their impact on the California Indian population and their demise. We added a writing activity in the form of a newspaper page, and finished it off with a really cool art activity. The complete package!

Results: Because the text is so visually enticing, I used my Promethean Board to project the PowerPoint slides. We read the text in chunks, as a whole group, discussing as we went. The students loved the bright colors and accompanying photos and artwork.  The foil stained glass mission art project is a favorite every year. I’ve even added a simplified version for the non-artists who still want to do the project but lack confidence in their drawing skills.

      We complete the art project with a Mission Times newspaper that connects with the text. Glue it on the back of the art and you have a project that looks great in windows from both sides!
Coming Soon!

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