Thursday, October 24, 2013

Ice Cream Bribery....Recent purchases

This week we did our benchmark assessments with Fountas and Pinnell which I dread. They are so tedious and I really feel like they waste so much time. I give up 8 hours of instruction listening to kids read the same books over and over again. I listen to my kids read all the time in guided reading so I feel like I already know their strengths and weakness but I don't complain:) I do as I am told. Telling a child they are a "T" or a "U" means nothing to me so that is why I don't enjoy them. Star testing is however growing on me and this week I had excellent results! Of course, I use bribery as motivation and it worked!! I have 22/25 students improve on their STAR reading test and I believe 20/25 (give or take 1 or 2) improved on their STAR math. I was excited. It is so hard to get students to care about their testing when it really means nothing to them. Our district tracks our classroom STAR testing and compares our scores with all 5th grade classes within our district.. Pretty scary huh!?

On a more exciting note, today is (or was) my 25th birthday! WOO HOO! This beauty arrived at our classroom this afternoon from my very thoughtful boyfriend. I love how they added Gert to the corner. She is my favorite. Obviously we are cheering for the Cards to win!

As a gift to myself I've done A LOT of TPT shopping this week! Today I was given a $100 check from our PTO to purchase TPT resources and I couldn't be happier to spend it. Let me share.

I've been wanting this for a while and I finally broke down and purchased it. I think it is going to be really beneficial once I sit down and read through it. I'm going to actually use it tomorrow for practice over theme!

I've purchased all three of her writing units and they are WONDERFUL!!! I don't know how I would have made it through narratives. I can't wait to use this for opinions.

I shrunk these bad boys down to 65% to glue into our math journals. We did two of these today and I really think they helped my students understand our standard better. They allow for great math discussion. After a couple more times of practice I'm going to have my students break down into groups to do them together. I quickly added these to my unit.

I printed all the stories out of both of these for my kids to read next week. They are differentiated (that's why I bought both) I think it will be a fun switch up and they will enjoy reading these during silent reading.

With all the wonderful resources I've purchased recently I don't know how I could ever make anything ever again. I have a ton of items on my wish list too so If you would like to send me $$$ let me know and we can have that immediately arranged. This weekend I'm headed back to MIZZOU for Homecoming! I'm super pumped to see all my friends from college. We have a big weekend planned. Hooray hurrah mizzou-ah!
I hope I don't have too many typos! This Cardinals game is out of control!!

I was flattered to be mentioned in the Top 50 Elementary Teacher Blogs by Teacher Certification I came in #43. I'll take it;) Check out all the other WONDERFUL blogs, they are so deserving.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Organizing Units of Instruction

Organizing our "Units of Instruction" will be the death of me this year. We have to create units meeting state wide criteria throughout the year and turn them into our district for "grading". If you ask me it is a huge waste of paperwork to fill out but it has a good purpose---to organize a unit that you can reuse year after year.

At the beginning of each unit we have an outline of the standards. I believe that we used these.

 Next, we put copies of the I can statements. We post these in our class on our "I can" wall.

After  that, I have my student checklist of standards. This allows me to do a quick assessment while walking around the room or doing an exit slip. I can track all this for RTI. These came from here, I think!

My co-teacher has helped me become extremely organized this year and I can't imagine doing it any other way. We write out our daily plans which has helped me TONS.

After that we put all of our resources, practices and assessments in order of the standards under each day. 
Life is easy. (Until you have to plan the next unit of course)

How do you organize your units? I did them online the previous two years but this year I went back to paper. I think it is much easier to understand what you are teaching if you can actually hold the papers in your hand..but maybe that is just me!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Teaching Theme in 5th Grade RL.5.2

I finally feel like I'm starting to understand 5th grade curriculum and actually know what I'm teaching now. For the past two months I have been so lost---but the more I read and study CCSS I have a better understanding of what is going on in the 5th grade world. With that in mind we started on identifying theme this week or as I would like to call it... RL5.2.
For theme this week we introduced it by looking at Story Line Online. I was observed during this lesson and it went PERFECTLY. I passed out post-it notes for students to write down their thoughts of the theme during the video. After they were finished they "turned and talked" with their partner to discuss their understanding of the theme. (I really liked this video that facilitates reading discussion, excellent example) While they are watching the video I moved around the room to check understanding on "theme"- is their theme too narrow, is it correct etc. I use a class checklist system to identify students who are struggling with this to pull during RTI time.

Moving on..

We are also looking at these two books for interactive read alouds (This is the book list we use). We are doing balanced literacy in my building and I'm really falling in love with it. The more I do with it the more I enjoy reading with my students. I have such a good group of 5th graders and they LOVE to learn. These are the books I do my guided practice with at the beginning of the week. I'm doing the I do, we do, you do model.


For shared reading, we are using THESE task cards.
This is what we are using for homework. I think I will only use the multiple choice parts of the packet though. I bought the whole 

In guided reading (small group instruction) we are using

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Performance Assessment Freebies

In my Master Of Administration class we are currently learning about Performance Assessments. With the big push of Common Core into the classrooms more performance assessment are necessary in order to help our students become proficient in more rigorous skills. I'm working on a super boring project but thought I'd share the websites I've visited throughout my research that have free performance assessments. Most of these websites align the assessment to the specific Common Core strand... So if you are looking for an exam aligned to what you are currently teaching these are perfect. Enjoy! Because they are all FREEEEE! Most contain scoring rubrics as well.

5th Grade Performance Events

DESE’s Smarter Balanced summative assessments in mathematics. These assessments are designed to measure the range of student abilities in the Common Core State Standards. Students must prove evidence with concepts and procedures, problem solving, reasoning and modeling.

14 Common Core aligned performance assessments for 5th grade created by Georgia Department of Education.  Along with intervention, differentiation, and technology ideas that go along with each assessment. 

Several different performance exams aligned with Common Core standards. Contains assessments, student samples and grading rubrics.
Performance assessments created by the New York City Board of Education. These assessments are were prepared in order to not only teach performance assessing but also to engage students in learning. They are scored based on solving the problem and critiquing the reasoning of others..    

35 different performance assessments with grading rubrics created by Mathematics Assessment Resource Service. Contains a teacher friendly outline that is common core aligned.

Five performance assessments to provide the classroom teachers with resources to assist in learning about and implementing performance-based math assessments in their classrooms. Assessments are also available in Spanish.

 One assessment for upper elementary students involving calculating passed time. Multiple problems.

Are you already using these in your classroom? Am I years behind the rest of the world? I'd love to know.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Teaching Inferences in 5th Grade RL.5.1

We don't reinvent the wheel in my building. We don't have time for it. We call it using our resources. We just finished up a week on inferences and it went so well. We dug up everything we had, reviewed our standards and came up with a plan. In our Balanced Literacy program we are doing Interactive Read Alouds and Shared Readings. We start each unit with an IRA. To teach Inferences we chose the book The Gardener By Sarah Stewart. My students loved it and it has so many opportunities to make inferences. Truly a beautiful story. Before the read, we pulled a really easy Smart Notebook activity to introduce inferences, here.

We get our list of books from this guide called Interactive Read-Alouds. It has lesson plans for each book that it list. Our school bought this book with each book that it has a lesson plan over several years ago. It is a great resource. Although it is pricey it would be totally worth it if you are looking to do IRAs in your class. You would just have to purchase each individual book on your own. The lesson plans are already made up so we just grab them and go with it.

In small group we used these free worksheets from They are simple to copy and use in a group.

We used this poster as a model for providing evidence.

& this for independent work

Next, we are teaching theme and summarizing.