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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Working on Writing

Want to know a secret?   Well, do you? 

Here it is:  I'm not the greatest writing teacher.  

There, I said it. phew! Thanks for listening blogging buddies. 

Well, this year I have decided to do something about it.  This year I am teaching a looping class.  That means I will ahve the same kids in fourth grade that I do when I return to fifth grade. That means I will be the last teacher they have in elementary school and I have two years to kick their writing into high gear.  

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED! 
My entry in my Writing Notebook about a
time I rode Splash Mountain.

One of the things I did was to seek out a thrid grade colleague of mine who is a phenomenal writing teacher.  She just gets it and thankfully is willing to help me out.  
A LONG entry (along with sketches) in a students notebook. 

A student sketching out his ideas to help
create a picture to write about. 

Our first unit of study is a narrative writing.  We started in mid-September and are getting pretty close to publishing our pieces of writing. 

Our curriculum is built on Writing Workshop and I would love any writing tips our blogging friends have to offer.  
What do you do about writing?

Have a Fantastic Day!
-Damien 


Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pumpkin Math-Seriously everyone should do this!

Let's go back....way back....to my first year of teaching!  

My classroom is directly across the hall from a first grade classroom and I watched them celebrate and learn through thematic teaching.  You know what I mean apples on Johnny Appleseed Day, pumpkins around Halloween, you get the idea. 

I was determined to add some of that fun to my fifth grade classroom.  My first activity, Pumpkin Math was born! It has undergone quite a few changes in the last seven years, and now it is ready to share with you. 

On day #1 of the activity my students use a variety of materials to discover the circumference, radius, and diameter of a pumpkin that a parent volunteer has supplied.  We work in small groups and estimate and find the weight.  Students also write a physical description about their pumpkin so that everyone can identify which pumpkin belongs to each group.  
Using pop cubes to find the radius
Collecting our data


On day #2 we get REALLY MESSY.  We take a guess on the number of seeds inside the pumpkin and then start scooping out all of the seeds and pumpkin guts.  Here I am able to see a great deal about my students and their problem solving techniques.  For example who is counting one seed at a time and who is making small groups of seeds.  This gets messy and makes for some awesome photo-ops. I take the seeds home that day and season and cook theme to be shared as a treat as we analyze our data the next day.  
Guessing the number of seeds in our pumpkin 
Emptying out the pumpkin in our to count the seeds
 Creating piles of 20 to count the seeds





On day #3 we analyze all the data that we have collected in order to find the mean of the pumpkins we have in the room.  We also pull out the pumpkin carving kits and create jack o'lanterns out of our emptied out pumpkins.  

This is an activity that my kids have LOVED year after year.  When they come back to visit after leaving my class Pumpkin Math is one of the things we did together that always want to reminisce about.

You can grab this activity at my TPT Store: The Reading Buddies Pumpkin Math 

Can you smell the pumpkin in the air?
Damien