Five for Friday...or Saturday

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for a quick Five for Friday before I jump head first into my huge to-do list for this weekend.

I just finished a great book that I had a hard time putting down!  If I had the time, I would have read it in one day.  It was The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf.  It would be a perfect spring break read!

Another great read I finished last week was The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  If you love historical fiction with lots of misery like my friend Rachel, you will love this one!

It's almost April, and we still have snow on the ground here!  What's not covered in snow is brown and dingy.  Can't wait until things start to green up around here!

In the meantime, this is where we are headed in five days, sunny (it better be!) Orlando! My brother-in-law works at Disney World, and we are packing up and heading for some fun in the sun.  Tower of Terror, here I come!

Last but not least, it is finally fourth marking period!  Hurray!  It is a wonderful but challenging time of the year in a fifth grade classroom.  So, this is when I have to pull out all the stops to keep my kiddos in line, I'm talking money, folks.  I always do a classroom economy system during the last marking period of the year, and it works wonders! Students must earn money by doing their job (being a responsible, hardworking student), and they have to pay bills such as utilities fees and rent.  My students earn cash each morning but also deposit money into their bank accounts for safekeeping.  

Students also have the opportunity to buy privileges with the money they have saved, and the rest of their savings gets to be spent at the auction I hold on the last day of school.  I have never seen kids follow directions so quickly and quietly as they do when they think they might earn a dollar!

You can find my Classroom Economy Set which includes ledger book printables, dollar printables, letters to parents, mini poster, and helpful tips at my TPT Store.

Check out all the other Five for Friday fun at Doodle Bugs Teaching!

Monday Made It on St. Patrick's Day

I'm linking up today on this bitterly cold St. Patrick's Day with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It!  I really did not appreciate hearing on the news this morning that two years ago it was 79 degrees!  I would be thrilled with 45 degrees!  Enough whining about the weather, right?  Onto my made it...

I read my students a cute story today called A Fine St. Patrick's Day by Susan Wojciechowski.

Afterwords we talked about the theme and author's message which is really about kindness and doing things for others.  I asked my students if they knew what Random Acts of Kindness were, and most of them did.  I had one of them explain it to those who weren't sure.  Then I told them that just as the people of Tralee did something kind for someone in the story, they were going to think of three kind things they could do for others sometime within the next week.  

I had come up with the idea to go along with adorable shamrocks I found on pinterest.

All of the directions on how to make them are at Sugar Bee Crafts which you can get to by clicking on the picture above. 

My idea was to have my kids write each of the three acts of kindness inside each leaf of their shamrock.

Then they put the shamrocks together, and we hung them around the room.  

As I was putting my post together and added that Pinterest picture I thought, "Hey!  Ours didn't turn out that cute!"  I should have gone back and looked at the directions again this morning.  What am I always telling my kids?  Oh yeah, check what the directions were before you begin!  Oops!  So, we didn't do them exactly right, but they still turned out pretty cute.  Besides they look much better right now than the snowflakes which were still hanging up until we took them down today!  Hopefully our shamrocks will bring us some luck, and spring will arrive soon!

Okay, my OCD got the better of me, and I actually went in and fixed all my kids' shamrocks!  Like I don't have a million other things to do, right?  But they look so much better!

Be sure to check out all the Monday Made Its at 4th Grade Frolics!


Workshop Wednesday-Opinion Writing

I can't believe it is March 12, and outside it looks like January!  I am home today for another snow day in this longest winter ever! This is what it looks like out my front door right now.  I'm so over it!

I feel like a huge slacker because I haven't blogged since Valentine's Day!  Of course there are a million excuses like being sick, hockey tournaments, being evaluated, parent-teacher conferences, etc.  But I'm still disappointed that I haven't maintained my one post a week goal.  So, I'm taking advantage of this snow day to link up with Ideas by Jivey for Workshop Wednesday to talk about opinion writing.

This was the second year I have taught the Literary Essay unit put together by Oakland Schools and the second year that I have really struggled with it.  In talking with my colleagues, I discovered I am not the only one who secretly dreads this unit.  I'm not exactly sure why we are having such a hard time with it.  One thing that I think is a problem is the type of writing expected in the unit is a huge jump from what they have learned to do before.  So, I decided to back up and do some opinion writing that I felt would give us a better starting point to developing the literary essay.

I read two books to my students, A Bad Case of Stripes and The Wizard of Wallaby Wallow.  

After reading each book, students discussed what they felt the theme or author's message was.  We also discussed how the books are similar.  They both deal with characters who at first are unhappy because they feel like they can't be themselves but at the end realize they have to accept who they are.  The students then write an opinion essay responding to the following prompt:  A Bad Case of Stripes and The Wizard of Wallaby Wallow both show that people are happier when they accept themselves for who they are.  Do you agree or disagree?  Students are expected to write an essay that includes a clear position statement and support for their position from each of the books.  

One thing I like about teaching opinion writing is that it is easy to use Focus Correction Areas or FCA's.  FCA's are a component of the Collins Writing Program.  When you use FCA's you are telling the students exactly what you are grading them on.  My FCA's for this writing assignment were:  1. Clear position statement (3)/connection between stories (3)=(6), 2. 2 details/examples from each story (10-1 point for naming story, 2 for each example), 3. Complete sentences/paragraphing (10).  

When students are done drafting, I ask for two volunteers who are willing to have their paper graded on the document camera.  It is scary, but I explain to them that the advantage to doing this is they will know exactly what to do to get an A on their essay.  I grade the first volunteer paper in front of the class, only scoring it on the given FCA's. Students then grade the second volunteer's paper with a partner trying to get the same score I will give it.  After I determine if any of them matched my score, I go over how I graded it on the document camera.  (Any partners that matched my score get gum.)

The next day, students get with their scoring partner and try to score the way they think I would.  Students follow the steps on this mini poster.

Students eventually get really good at scoring for the FCA's.  Here are some of my students hard at work.

My students use editing phones (or whisper phones) after they conference and revise and are ready for final editing.  They are really easy to make and not much money.  Students can read aloud their paper to themselves in the quietest voice but hear it loud and clear in the editing phone.  

My husband helped me make my editing phones a few years ago.  You just need some pvc piping and a bunch of pvc elbows.  You cut the pipe into sections about four inches long and then put an elbow on each end.  That's it!

Be sure to stop by Ideas by Jivey to see all the other opinion writing ideas!