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Open House 2015

Here we are, the fourth annual Open House post!  This is when I show off all of the hard work that my students have done the past few months with a plethora of pictures.  There are a lot of pictures below.  I have written a bit of text so you have some idea of what is going on, but if you click on the pink links, it will take you to a more indepth explanation of the project.  So, without further ado, here is Room 6!

This is a full view of the right side of my room.  You can see the cabinets and student desks.
A view from the left side of the room. 
You can see several things here in this picture.  The Colony Balloons are hanging from the ceiling.  Our Walking the Colonies map is painted on the cupboard (on butcher paper) and the Paul Revere lesson is on the far left.  You can also see our letters to the First Lady about the Walking Classroom on the right.

Above the cabinets, you can see student writing (we used a Paragraph of the Week, informational style, and the kids wrote about one specific colony) that is backed on soda containers.)

Here the students wrote letters to "relatives" about their stance on the Revolutionary War.  You can read in greater detail about how we did it here.

Students wrote weather reports about weather maps that they created using different weather scenarios. 

The students researched one colonial trade and wrote a report, created a sign, made an artifact, and drew a portrait of that tradesman.

Portraits of signers of the Declaration of Independence.  The students wrote biographies, then drew and painted a portrait of the famous signer.

Students learned about the hidden science found in regular colonial activities.  They had to determine whether chemical or physical changes occurred by reading about it.

For this writing assignment, the students wrote about a typical colonial child's day.  Modeling their writing after Sarah Morton's Day, they wrote their own photo journals.  Read more about it here.

The students created "quilt squares" using addition, subtraction, and multiplication of mixed numbers.  I wrote about it in more detail in this post.

Here is our Wonder Wall of Precepts.  Here is the blog post I wrote about it.

So there you have it.  Pretty much all of the pictures that I took of my room.  There were a few other boards, and some close ups I could have posted, but I probably have exceeded your bandwidth already ;)  I hope you enjoyed the tour of my room!

Soda Carton Student Work Holder

Today is a short and sweet post.  I just wanted to share with you an easy way I found to display student writing.

I have this little space above my cabinets that I wanted to display some student writing on for our Open House, but I couldn't think of anything that would be sturdy enough to hold up the writing, yet be cheap enough for me to actually obtain...until one day it hit me.  Soda can cartons.

They are about the size of a half sheet of paper and are rather sturdy...and exactly the right size for what I needed!  So I asked the students to bring in any empty containers they had (and since so many people are giving up soda nowadays, it proved to be pretty hard to get as many as I needed!)  But I eventually did get about 14, so I was good to go.

After backing the final drafts of the paragraphs they students wrote in construction paper, I stapled them onto the soda cartons.  Each carton fit two paragraphs. 

Then, I lined them up above the cabinets and had a nice display for student work!

What is one unusual or different thing that you have used to display student work?

Mixed Numbers: The Various Operations

The theme of my classroom as of late has been hard work.  Seriously.  My kids have been impressing me one assignment after another....and this is just the latest one to have me thinking, "Wow, that was a rather difficult thing I asked them to do, and they did it!"

So, what did we do this time?  We learned how to add, subtract, and multiply mixed numbers.

One of the new things that I found myself teaching this year in greater depth than I ever had in the past was operations with mixed numbers. We had talked about it in past years, but I really never concentrated on it.  But when I saw the released questions when we were practicing for our new computerized state test, I actually had a mild panic attack.

Mixed numbers are just hard to deal with.  They have rules, but the rules seem to be just *slightly* different than regular fractions and regular whole numbers.  They are just different enough to make kids (and their 5th grade teachers) shutter.  Which is probably why I never really went full throttle on them before.  But now, there simply is no choice.  The kids have to be able to manipulate them.

So, over the course of a few weeks, we set about learning the different rules, algorithms, etc, associated with the three big operations (we don't need to work with division in 5th, so I am leaving that to the 6th grade teacher.)

Once I was sure the kids had the basic idea of all three, with lots of regular old practice, I broke out some simple task cards I made (you can get them for free here...the answer key is coming) which asked the kids to work on all three of the operations in more of a rigorous way.  Not simple problems, but problems masked around words. And, once again, the kids LOVED the task cards.  Seriously, I am still stumped by just how much kids like task cards, but they do, so I will keep giving the cards to them!

Next, I wanted the kids to put some of the pencil and paper knowledge to actual use, so I had them put a one inch border around a 12" x 12" piece of paper.  Then, I passed out some rectangles of construction paper cut into various sizes.  They used these as stencils and filled the inside space completely.

Then, the kids measured each of the sides.  This worked out well using inches because all of the sides measured to half inches or quarters or eighths.  Mixed numbers in a snap!

I then asked the kids to find the perimeter of each rectangle (forcing them to add mixed numbers), find the area (where they multiplied mixed numbers), and subtract the length from the width (subtracting).  The kids had to write all of their work inside each rectangle.

Seems easy enough, but this really proved to be quite the challenge for the kids!  Who knew!

I then put them all together "quilt" style.

So there you have it.  Two ways to get the kids practicing how to manipulate mixed numbers.  What have you done to work with mixed numbers?

Recreating Famous Paintings

About 15 year ago, I went to this awesome art show we have in my area called the Pageant of the Masters.  Basically, people come together, get all painted up, and transform themselves into actual famous paintings.  They stand still, altogether, and you literally can not tell that it is a bunch of people standing on the stage instead of the actual artwork itself.  It truly is amazing.
Thank you Ladybug's Teacher Files for this awesome button!
I have always wanted to do something like that in my own classroom and this year, I just went for it. I collaborated with Susie, The Panicked Teacher on this one we both did the same lesson, without our own little twists.  Here is how it turned out in my room. (then head over to her blog to see how hers turned out)

We have been focused a lot on historical artifacts and their accuracy as far as actual history goes (see our lesson on Paul Revere here.)  So for this lesson, I chose three paintings about the American Revolution that were very famous but had some iffy historical roots.  Crossing the Delaware, Spirit of '76, and Declaration of Independence were the three that stuck out to me.  Each of them is engrained in our culture as very patriotic and very much connected to the Revolutionary War.  But each of them has a bit of romanticism behind them.

I had the students choose which of the three they wanted to recreate.  Then, I took a picture of each student in the pose of one of the main characters of the painting.  Most chose Washington crossing the Delaware because, well, it is just kind of a fun pose to get into!

I printed out the pictures four to a page.  I didn't get them developed, as having them printed from my printer in matte form (4 x 6 still) was the best way to incorporate the students into the paintings.  They simply would not be able to draw on a developed picture.

Once the students cut their picture out, I had them place it on a 9 x 12 piece of construction paper.  From there, they drew the rest of the painting around them.  Their own picture decided the scale of the rest of the people in the picture.  Not all of the painting would fit on the construction paper, so the kids did the best they could to get most of it there.

Using crayons, the kids then colored themselves dressed exactly the same as the main character they were portraying.  The rest of the picture was drawn in.

I seriously LOVE how this turned out.  The kids did such a good job at recreating the paintings.  On many of them, you can't even tell there is a photograph in there (which was the ultimate goal...just like the Pageant of the Masters!)
I also had the students write a paragraph about the actual history that was taking place in the picture and why the artist made the choices he did when painting the actual piece.

Now head on over to Susie's blog to see how she adapted this same lesson.

Wonder Wall of Precepts

So this post has been a long time coming.  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know that we read Wonder by RJ Palacio as a read aloud this year.  My students were captivated by it...especially the Julian chapter.

In the book, a major storyline revolves around the precepts that Mr. Browne, a teacher, teaches the students each month. These are short quotes that become sort of "rules to live by".  At the end of the story, Mr. Browne asks each of the students to write their very own precept and send it to him on a postcard.  So that is what we did.

I first had each student create their own "Wonder picture".  You see, each of the chapters are broken up with a picture of the child telling the story.  The picture is drawn with very little facial features and only using black ink.  So that is what we did.  Here is mine I used as an example with the kids.

Then, I asked them to choose a precept that related to their own life.  This could be a famous saying (like the one on my Wonder picture) or something that they made up on their own.  Underneath their picture, I had them write their name and the precept.

Finally, I asked them to write a postcard in friendly letter style to Mr. Browne explaining their precept.  Since they were supposed to be on summer vacation, I had them take on that persona.  A kid, formerly in Mr. Browne's class, explaining the precept on vacation.  They then used the address in the book to complete the postcard.

The kids really had a great time doing this. They connected so deeply with the book, that making their own "chapter" was fun for them.  They loved trying to make their Wonder picture resemble themselves but still keep it within the style of the book.  And writing the precept really brought it all together (and added a more academic element as well).


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