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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Narrative Writing- The Heart of the Story

Hello Buddies-

How's it going? Life is pretty busy here as we enter the final inning of the "big game". As I write this blog post I am currently in the middle of PARCC testing(yuck), my DRAs are due in two days (double-yuck), and somewhere in there I am trying to teach.  But this ISN'T a complaining post (I promise).  This post is all about my recent Narrative Writing Celebration.  Thanks to a dear colleague of mine and my extreme fear that for my looping class I would be the last writing teacher they would have before middle school (PANIC!)- I dived deep into Writers Workshop and it has been a HUGE success.  Seriously, like my kids are writing better than any other class I have ever had and the district keeps sending teachers to my classroom to see my writing instruction.  Not too bad for year two of Writers Workshop.  

Celebrations are a HUGE part of Writers Workshop and this time around I chose to publish our books hardcover using a great website called where you can order a variety of blank templates to write in.  They look great when finished and the kids talk about having created a "real" book. LOVE THEM!

Look at my writers and readers with their hardcover books
Although our book were fantastic, and they were.  I wanted those in attendance to see behind the published piece so besides a video of my kids explaining the writing process and answering some pretty challenging questions about writing we created exposition boards. An exposition board included samples of our work with post-it notes showing off some of our techniques and the changes made to our writing throughout the process. 

Here one of my writers teaches our second grade buddies about the process behind his story.

An exposition board close-up- (and sideways! LOL)

The boards are really impressive and help my kiddos to guide the conversation when parents, kids, administrators, or other teachers stop by their station in the APR. The post-its show what they want to showcase and help them share what happened, in some cases, weeks ago in our classroom.  God bless my classroom para who photocopies the samples for the kids to use on their boards.  

In the end our celebration was a HUGE success and my kids were so proud of their writing and a few people (including myself) teared up as the read the HEART of their story aloud in small groups.  

How do you celebrate the writing that your students have completed? Is your school using Writers Workshop? I'm dying to know!

'Til next time!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


Hello friends-

Remember us, The Reading Buddies? We probably hang out at the bottom of your blog feed.  Oh, now you remember us!!!!!

Well we are back.  We are working hard dot spruce up our blog and post on a regular basis- It's our new resolution.  

I was wondering how many of you run a "class blog" that your students can read and respond to? I do.  Here's a particularly profound post that I wanted to share with you that I just finished writing.  Check it out and don't forget to let me know what you do as far as "class blogging". 

Nice to touch base again friends and we promise to pop by more often. 

Here is my most recent class blog post: 

What do those numbers symbolize?

My age? (I wish)

Years teaching? (not yet)

They actually symbolize the final days of the school year.  As I write this post (Tuesday night) we have 27 days remaining in this school year which means we have spent the last 333 days together learning, laughing, and loving being around each other. As I have mentioned before I was really nervous, yet incredibly excited about having a looping class. However, I can honestly say that you have alleviated all of those fears and and surpassed any expectation that I had of our time together.  Although I know that you are ready to go, it will be hard to let you go on that final day in June. 

It's a weird thing, teaching. You are partnered up with a group of people who you will spend six hours a day, five days a week, for 180 days (and for us-double that). Then, some warm day in June as the sun blazes and the desks empty, it's done! That's it! We say goodbye knowing that we will never be part of the same group again. WEIRD, right?

The end of the year is a time to reminisce, to look back at the good times we had together. Let's look back at all we have learned and the fun we have had.  In your comments below answer the following question:

What's one experience you had in FOURTH grade that you hope to remember for a long time?

The Reading Buddies
Damien & Kelly

Monday, December 8, 2014

Fall Fun

Hello Buddies!

I know it's been a while but life just keeps getting in the way of our little blog here.  As I type this I should already be asleep because I have been tired for the last two hours, yet here I am!  

I thought we would share a simple and fun activity the Reading Buddies got together to do the end of last month. We had all been working our little behinds off with SGOs, preassessments, data collection, report cards, parent/teacher conference, and you know-TEACHING that it was time for a little fun. As they say, sometimes you just have to pull out the paint. 

I found some lovely autumn colors in my closet and a sheet of card stock for each student (regular paper would have ripped or dried weirdly).  I poorer the paint to each table and Q-tips as paint brushes. This way the little ones couldn't over do it with the paint and I could throw the Q-tips out which means no paint brushes to clean and dry and put away.  Everything we used just went in the trash.  

Here are just a few of our lovely Fall Trees. 

Hope you've had some fun in your classroom lately, if not...IT'S TIME TO PULL OUT THE PAINT!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

My Favorite Math Activity- Just in time for October

Hello buddies-

This blog post (believe it or not I remember how to do this it has been soooooooo long) is about my favorite Math activity- PUMPKIN MATH. 

Pumpkin Math is something my students arrive in my class wondering about and has become a 5th grade rites in passage at my school. During Pumpkin Math the kids apply a variety of Math strategies and skills around finding what make sup the average pumpkin. 

In the day the students examine their pumpkin, write about it, find the height, weight, and diameter among many other Math skills. I give my kids a variety of supplies including, but not limited to:

They use whatever materials they think are necessary to find the appropriate Math data. 

Students working with pop cubes and rulers to find the diameter of their pumpkin. 

Collecting data on the "old" Pumpkin Math form. 

I borrow the scale from the Nurse's Office to have my students weigh their pumpkins. I "fib" and tell them that the pumpkin is too light to go on the scale alone and that they must come up with another strategy to find the weight. Eventually, they figure out to weigh a member of their group with the pumpkin and without
the pumpkin and find the difference. SEE, Math everywhere!

On Day 2 of our project we all get a little messy. It's time to cut open the pumpkin and count the number of seeds. I usually have a table-clothed every aspect of the room as possible and warn the littles to dress to get messy. We collect our data on a group data sheet to use later. 

I precut the pumpkin tops before school so we are ready to dive in.  Although I
love the educational pieces, this is MY FAVORITE PART. 
This group of smarties decided to build groups of ten to work more efficiently. 

Here is a shot of my room during day 2 of Pumpkin Math.

By this point in the day the smell of pumpkin is EVERYWHERE! and we are
COVERED in Pumpkin guts. 
The final day, usually planned for the morning of Halloween is for data collection and analysis. Since it's Halloween there is little chance they would focus on much else, so Pumpkin Math calculations is the best way to spend the morning. I also take the seeds home, bake and salt them, and bring them in for a data time snack. 
Data Analysis gets serious! 
Depending ont he year we take a little time to create jack o'lanterns
from our emptied pumpkins. 


I ABSOLUTELY LOVE Pumpkin Math and would love to share it with you.  You can get it here, at my TPT Store. It's a great way to apply your Math skills and have fun all at the same time. A 5th Grade tradition at my building and hopefully you can bring it to yours as well. 

Happy (almost) October, 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Narrative Writing FREEBIE: Show...Don't Tell

Hello buddies-

We are a workshop class.  I LOVE both Reading and Writing Workshop.  

My class is currently revisiting our Narrative Writing Unit where our goal is to elaborate our writing and to tell all the little pieces of the small moment.  As part of our revisiting of the unit I wanted to review some of the criteria of a Narrative but in a differnet way.  

I told the gang to think about the story they were going to tell and what emotion they felt in the story.  Then they drew a picture of themselves showing that emotion.  

She looks quite happy!

This little guy is QUITE an artist!

After they finished drawing it was time for some writing.  First, my students had to write about that moment in a "telling" kind of way.  Some of their telling statments were "I was so excited to be walking down the aisle at my aunt's wedding" or "I was very nervous getting ready to take the field".  Then it was time to become a storyteller.  Their task was to show the emotion as opposed to tell about it.  

Let's take a look at some of the finished products. 

Here is our display outside of my classroom.
I can't remember the inspiration for this activity but I am hoping to inspire you by giving away this activity for FREE at our TPT Store.  

Keep checking back to our blog for another FREEBIE later this week!


Sunday, March 16, 2014

Memories: Pi Days of the Past

In my school we are no longer allowed to have food.  So one of my favorite activities from the past is now someonthing I am not allowed to do.  :0(  

Take a walk with me down memory lane for my delicious, edible, and enjoyable Pi Day. 
Pi Day Revisited

The Reading Buddies

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Northeast Road Trip- Hershey Park

Fourth Grade in my district studies the regions of the United States in Social Studies.  That meant, being new to 4th grade, I was going to have to figure out a way to make the regions more fun than they seem at first sight.  After some creative juices got flowing I saw the entire year as one massive Road Trip.  This marking period we have been studying the Northeast region.  After I introduced the region via a Prezi I created, my kids dove into research about the points of interest in the various Northeast states, what would need to be packed for the trip, and much more. 

One day, since I couldn't actually take my kids on a Road Trip, I brought the Road Trip to my kids.  We took a trip to Hershey Park.  I started by making Hershey Park uniforms (aprons and bandanas) for myself, my para, and my co-teacher.  I also littered the room with Hershey Kisses. 

When the kids came in that morning they had no idea what was going on, but the excitement was off the charts.  

We started the day doing some nonfiction reading about Milton Hershey, the man who created Hershey Park.  We learned quite a few interesting facts and focused on applying our questioning and predictions strategies to nonfiction.  We also identified the theme and made sure to have text evidence for the theme. 
The Milton Hershey article projected on my SMART Board
with my kids jotting their predictions. 

Here is the organizer we used.

Next, we watched a video on how Hershey Park makes their chocolate and how Hershey Kisses are made.  
Papers in hand as they documented what they believed to be the most important
thing they learned from the video.
At this point the room smelled like chocolate, we had been reading about chocolate, and watching chocolate being made.  I was SERIOUSLY craving some chocolate and so were my kids.  So, we broke some rules and had some treats.  We dove into some of the Hersehy Kisses on the conveyor belt (thrown on every clean surface of the room) and had a Chocolate Milk break.  

Good to the LAST drop!
Now it was time to take write about our trip in our Social Studies scrapbooks.  The whole goal of the entry was to write as if we have actually been to Hershey Park.  We reflected on the activities we've done and what we learned throughout our Hershey Park experience. 

Rubric says points off for spelling mistakes- hope
she caught her oops in "journal".

After lunch we went back to work. It was time for Math and I told the class that in Math today they would be spending time as Hershey Kiss factory workers.  I opened the activity by showing them a clip from the most famous chocolate factory worker I know. We watched I Love Lucy and her famous chocolate factory scene.  You have to love Lucy, every person in the room was laughing as the chocolates came speeding down the factory belt. 

Next it was time to get to work. I had previously cut small aluminum foil squares for my kids to use to wrap Hershey Kisses. We set the timer for one minute and collected the data from our experiment. 

The data from 1 minute of wrapping. 
Then we got our multiplication on by finding out: 
-How many Kisses each student could wrap in one hour?
-How many Kisses the class could wrap in one minute?
-How many Kisses the class could wrap in one hour? 

It was some SERIOUS multiplication but they really worked very hard on it.  We ended the day by riding a virtual rollercoaster from Hershey Park!

All-in-all it was a really GREAT day. Nothing beats when learning can be accomplished in a fun and exciting way.  I think one of my kids summed it up best by saying "I can't believe how much fun I had in school today. I can't wait to see what we do next."

I'll leave you with some finished journal entries from our Hershey Park day. 

Have a SWEET day!