Saturday, November 30, 2013

Free Editorial Graphic Organizer and Thanksgiving Break

Happy Turkey Day! I hope you have all had a relaxing break from school.  As much as we all love our jobs, I know that we love our breaks too.

Here is the Editorial graphic organizer freebie I promised (in this blog post) , it is also posted on my "Freebies" page on my blog: 

Editorial Graphic Organizer

Don't forget about the Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Monday sale coming up on Monday and Tuesday next week!  Save up to 28% off on your favorite stores:

One more day before we get to go back to school to be with our kids!  I don't know about you, but I am definitely feeling refreshed after a break from school, but will still be counting down to winter break.  My school gets two full weeks off this year!  Before break, I want to wrap up my students current inquiry projects so we can come back from break with a clean slate.  It is hard to believe that we go back on December 2nd, so I will have to make sure I get everything done in the few short weeks I have.

What is something you want to do/get done in your classroom between now and winter break?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Keeping Writing Exciting in Fifth

My district has been working on unpacking the Core Standards for the past couple of years.  A lot of hard work and time has gone into ensuring that we are helping understand what kids know and figuring out what to do if they already know it or if they do not know it.  The rigor of the curriculum is not a bad thing, but I worry about kids working so hard to learn that they forget to be kids.  It is our job as teachers to help keep the classroom fun and engaging. 

I have learned a lot about sales through teaching in my classroom.  The excitement of the students typically relates back to the "'pitch" given to them.  Being a fifth grade teacher, I know that my students have written many persuasive essays over the years and it isn't exciting by fifth grade, so I need to spin it different to engage them while covering the Core.

The past few years my students haven't written persuasive essays...they have written editorials...yes, pretty much the same thing.  Letting fifth graders know they get to do something that other grade levels don't get to is a great way to hook them right away.  When introducing persuasive essays editorials, I give my students a few high-interest and engaging editorials to read that I know will grab their attention and get them excited.

One of their favorites every year is written by a teacher who wants to ban homework, that gets them talking!  I try to find editorials that show both sides of a view and some heated discussions typically occur.  Seeing my fifth graders excited about writing and the topics they have chosen is awesome!  Writing time is usually a struggle, so I love seeing how passionate they are about their ideas and how much they get to learn during the process (even if they don't realize they are learning, which is the best type!)

I will post my editorial graphic organizer on here in the next few days as a freebie!

How do you keep your students engaged during writing??

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Parent/Teacher Conferences

Conference season is upon us. Some of you are already done with your first set of conferences and some of you have them coming up. Conferences have definitely changed over the years, but I am happy with the way I do conferences now. My students come to their conference with their parents to celebrate their learning. They lead the conference for half of the time, sharing their learning, and celebrating their hard work. Then the students step out of the room and I have a little bit of time with the parents, this is often to continue celebrating, but it provides an opportunity for the adults to discuss anything they need to without the child hearing it.

One way I encourage my students to reflect before sitting down with their parents is to fill out a 3-2-1 Reflection. This reflection asks them to celebrate three pieces of learning, set two goals, and determine one way they can reach the goal. 

3-2-1 Conference Reflection (Freebie)

Click here to get a FREE copy of this reflection to use with your students.

 I am overt in discussing student behavior in front of the student, because I think they should take responsibility in their actions. When it comes to discussing more sensitive issues like friendships and self-esteem, I take advantage of the students being out of the room, because I want conferences to be a positive experience for them. If there is an issue that needs to be handled, I will schedule another meeting with the parents (and possibly the student).

What is your favorite thing about conferences?