Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From My Other Blog

Today with 15 minutes left before the end of the day, as my students were packing their things, writing in their assignment notebook, I cleared my throat and told them I would like to make an announcement.  With 23 sets of eyes on me, all waiting for something cool to come out of my mouth, I stammered, "I would like to tell you something..."  Silence.  I kept going, "Every day, I tell my husband when he asks about my day about you.  Every day I tell my husband how I have the nicest kids, the kids that make me so proud.  I share the funny stories, the things you accomplish and the community we share.  Every day I tell him that.  But I don't tell you and I should.  So thank you for being that class that I can tell people about.  Thank you for being that class where I can step out of the room for a moment and know that you continue to work without me there.  For helping each other, for staying engaged and focused and for thinking school is not boring."    And then I stopped because I got emotional as pregnant women tend to do.  And the kids smiled and I told them it was time to go and so they did.

Just thought I would share

Monday, February 27, 2012

With the Help from Superheroes - A New Writing Unit

Today I revealed the new writing unit to the students; an exploration into how to develop character, plot and setting. What better way to explore all of these tools of writing than through comic books! In this unit, each student will develop a superhero with a backstory, a super villain complete with backstory of how they got so evil, as well as a setting development for the superhero and supervillain to fight.  We will not be creating the actual comic book but just components of it.
Today we delved into the world of these characters by reading our new comic books and we will continue the discussion the next couple of weeks. This project should wrap up just in time for spring break.

We Created A Cool Science Vocabulary Game

We were approached by Wordia.com to check out their new and updated website.  They have created a game building section and we created a science vocabulary spelling game.  The students even got to play it today during computer lab.  Here is the link to play it http://wordia.com/play/452

What a great way to practice spelling!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Little Fun with Dish Soap

We were inspired to try this experiment from the site The Kids Should See This - ours didn't turn out as cool though.  Sean pointed out some of the variables there could be: size of plate, amount of food color, type of milk, type of dish detergent.  I love how natural their science explorations have become.

Some Doodles

The students have until next Thursday to submit their Doodles for Google.  I thought I would share the ones that have been turned in so far, so creative!

Newsletter February 24, 2012

MathWe are halfway through unit 8 and it has been fun to have a big group of students working together.  I particularly enjoy when they have different answers and the ensuing discussion trying to prove their answers.  Missing homework is becoming less of a problem, it is wonderful to see the students use their time wisely. Test is scheduled for March 7th.  Then only 4 units left after that.     
Social Studies – I love the initiative I am seeing with this self-chosen slavery research projects.  We have discussed what it means to research, how to take notes, how to organize them and then how to turn that into a presentation.  We also started using Prezi; wow, after 20 minutes of messing around the students had created pretty spectacular presentations.  I cannot wait to see what their final product looks like, it will be videotaped and students will evaluate their own work as well. 
Science We are almost done with Landforms, which means next week we will finish work on flashcards and do a check-in assessment.  Students are using their notes as well as their memory to do the assessment and they will get two chances to do it.  That leaves us 3 weeks for Google Sketch Up and a very special Grand Canyon Challenge, I can’t wait.
Reading Students are more than halfway through Jump Ship and I do love the discussion and questions we have.  Our student teacher, Meagan, will be leading a discussion next week for chapter 9. 
Writing I am correcting their Secrets stories for students to create a final copy.  These stories will be shared at conference to set writing goals.  Next week begins our next unit which has to do with developing characters and setting, I have a feeling it will be very Super (hint)!  We started grammar this week with a refresher on nouns, we continue with plural nouns as well as punctuation next week. 
Special Notes
*  The students handed in their twin gender predictions, apparently there is a feeling of boys in the air.  We find out April 3rd and I will bring in cupcakes to reveal to the kids.
*  Literacy week is all next week and our book cover committee hit the ball out of the park, I will be posting pictures soon.  It is wonderful to see the creative ideas of the kids as well as them stepping into leadership roles.  More information on literacy week can be found on our website.
* Strep throat letters went home today, please take a moment to read them.
* I run the West Middleton talent show along with Ms. Bodell and auditions will be coming up sooner than you  think, so if your child is thinking of participating please have them start practicing and figuring out their talent.  The show is May 11th this year with audition dates to be set soon.
*  We will be having some sort of birthday celebration for me on March 14th.  I have not decided what it will amount to but there will be treats.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: Literacy week February 27th through March 2nd, PAC Choral Performance Monday, March 12th at 6:30 PM, Spring Break starts after Friday March 23rd and goes to April 1st, No school Friday, April 6th, PTO Bowling Saturday, April 14th.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Slavery Resources Livebinder and Prezi Info

The students wowed me today with their fearlessness in using Prezi.  They made some pretty neat presentations in a short amount of time. Here is the link to Prezi.  The students wrote down my log-in information to use if they would like to access it from home.

They also started their research using a Livebinder I had created for them.  The link to that can be found here.
Or just press here

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Social Studies Project on Slavery

The students have started their self-chosen research topics under slavery.  The project will run for the next two weeks with Prezi presentations hopefully in the beginning of March.  The students will be using my prezi account to create their final product and time will be given in school.  They ahve each chosen whether to work with a partner or not, what their topic under slavery should be, and how their Prezi appears.

The goal of the presentations are for them to:
  • Be familiarized with the process of research: writing a topic statement, brainstorming questions, using books and evaluating web sources before writing commences.
  • Students will be asked to create a Prezi as their final project to go along with their presentation.  This tool allows them to have keywords visible for their audience while the "meat" of their presentation will be on their notecards.  We are working on not reading our presentations to the audience.
The process in school is as follows:
  • Pick a topic and pick a partner or not.
  • Brainstorm possible topic statements - what is they are hoping to learn about and then teach their audience.
  • Create a list of questions to guide their research.
  • Start a list of keywords for their Prezi anchors.
  • Utilize library books to begin their research, everyone taking notes of their found information along the way.
  • Organizing notes and realizing where holes are.
  • Using some provided web resources as well as evaluating proper resources for usage.
  • Once all research has been gathered, start work on Prezi and notecards.
  • Practice presentation.
  • Give presentation.
I am excited to showcase Prezi as a tool for the students, as well as giving them a bigger insight into how to do proper research.  The students seem to really be loving the project thus far.


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Newsletter Fenruary 16, 2012

MathWe finished unit 7 with many students successfully completing the unit, though some students are having a harder time with the concepts as they get more abstract and more reliant on prior knowledge.  We start unit 8 tomorrow which covers more fractions and ratios, with the test tentatively scheduled for March 7th.    
Science We are interpreting topographical maps and comparing aerial view photos to them.  This week we focused on Mt. Shasta in California which has some pretty interesting features.  Since the students are working so hard in this unit and we are getting through lessons quickly, we will have some time before spring break to do some of our own science experiments, which is always a thrill.
Social Studies – This week I got to keep the whole class as we dig into the southern colonies, discuss slavery more in depth as well as tie it in with Jump Ship to Freedom.  Although I have lectured more so far, the kids told me they didn’t mind because they found it interesting, phew.
Reading Jump Ship to Freedom keeps leaving us on cliffhangers and the students are asking to read more.  Chapter 7 will be due for Monday as well as the summary for the chapter.  I love how this book ties in with our social studies curriculum as well and the discussions it generates. 
Writing We have been sharing our secrets and trying to guess who’s they are.  All I can say is that some of these students have some pretty funny secrets.  I will be correcting the papers and handing them back to students to polish so that we can share it with you at conferences.
Special Notes
* What a great week it has been, we are in a groove, the students are working hard and we are enjoying what we are learning.    It is a joy to come in and be their teacher every day.
* Thank you so much for an incredible Valentine’s Day Party.  The students loved it, the food was incredible and the kids ate way too much candy.
*  Thank you all for signing up for conferences, notes will be sent home with available times if you have not signed up yet.  Please indicate 3 choices of those times and I will get you scheduled.
* I am sad to be missing the carnival this weekend but will make up for it on April 14th at Bowling.  I hope to see some of you there.
*  My literacy assessment meeting went very well and we had some great discussions of how to move forward challenging and reaching all students.
*  If your child will miss school around spring break, please let me know.
*  We know have more than 2,000 comments on our Kidblog and our map is filled with pins of places we have connected with.  If you haven’t been on the blog for a while take a moment to visit it; the students are sharing great writing on there.  www.kidblog.org/mrsrippsclass/
* Spelling will be on hiatus soon as we focus on grammar in the morning.  We still need to dig into those conventions as seen in our writing assessments, and the morning provides us with time to do so.
*Looking for parent volunteers to help decorate our door for literacy week starting the 27th.  I am not very artistic so hoping someone out there will take pity on me!
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: Sub all day Friday, February 17th, Carnival Saturday, February 18th 2 PM, and finally The Family Feast February 22nd at 12:20 PM, Literacy week February 27th through March 2nd, PAC Choral Performance Monday, March 12th at 6:30 PM, Spring Break starts after Friday March 23rd and goes to April 1st, No school Friday, April 6th.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Literacy Week Info

Monday, February 27-All school DEAR.  Following morning announcements, we will have 15 minutes of Drop Everything And Read. 

Tuesday, February 28-Read a Shirt Day- All staff and students are encouraged to choose a shirt with words to wear to school.

Wednesday, February 29-Teacher/Book Swap Day (2:10-2:30)- Students will be given an opportunity to sign up to hear some great stories read by staff members. 

Thursday, March 1-Book Character Day and Parade (8:30)-Encourage students to choose a favorite book.  They can plan to dress in costume or bring a prop that represents the story.  It  is best if they bring the book to school, as well.  Following morning announcements we will do a school wide parade, starting with kindergarten.  Teachers will have their students line up outside their classrooms and join in as the parade passes.  Once the parade has made an entire loop around the LMC square, students will return to their classrooms.

Friday, March 2-Wear Red for "READ  READ (red)" Day-The PTO is planning a TOP SECRET assembly for the kids and they are asking that the entire school wear red.  Assembly starts at 1:30 PM.

Newsletter February 10, 2012

MathWe are almost done with unit 7 and have certainly covered a lot of territory in this unit.  We have practiced the concepts a lot and keep being reminded of just how often we use our math facts.  The unit test has been moved to the 15th of February to allow for two days of review.  We will not have math on the 16th due to the assembly and will then start the new unit on the 20th.    
Science We built mountains this week and started drawing topographic maps.  Eric, in particular, had a lot of background knowledge on landform terms for mountains and shared his knowledge.  We have also started working on flashcards as a study tool.
Social Studies – We have dissected Benjamin Franklin’s sayings as well as created our own self-chosen project within the Middle Colonies.  I was able to introduce Prezi.com to some of the students who are using it rather than PowerPoint with great success. This is a free presentation tool that really takes your presentation to the next level.  I hope to introduce it to all students at some point.  We start the Southern Colonies on Wednesday.
Reading We have continued with our Jump Ship to Freedom exploration.  Most students are really engaged in the book and are writing very strong chapter summaries.  We will be discussing “To My Old Master” – a fantastic primary source document that you should read as well – just Google it!      
Writing Secrets of a 5th grader were due this week and today we shared our secrets and tried to guess the person.  We have also started a small “Heart Poem” unit this week where we discuss what poetry means to us and write our own freestyle poetry.  I just ordered materials for our next reading and writing unit, it will be an exciting one!
Special Notes
* I will be in Michigan on February 17th to see my sister who will be having surgery.  I have requested Mrs. Johnston as my sub.  I will therefore not be at the carnival but will miss it; I hope all of you have a wonderful time.    
* Don’t forget about our Valentine’s Day celebration.  All students can bring in a Valentine to pass out and they can also attach a candy to it if they would like.  We will start our celebration on the 14th at 9:30 AM. 
*  Spring conferences will be March 12th, 13th, and 15th.    The link to sign up can be found right on our blog www.mrsripp.blogspot.com If you sign up through here, it will even send you a reminder two days prior.  However on the 12th I have to leave at 3:45 for a dentist appointment, there will therefore be other days available.  If you have already scheduled yours after that time I will be contacting you to reschedule.
* This was the week of the cold, we have been hand sanitizing and disinfecting but it seems to be spreading.  I also ended up with an ear infection thus the sub Friday afternoon.
* If you haven’t heard the news; Mr. Getz revealed that he and his wife are expecting a baby in June.  This will be their 3rd child and they will have 3 under the age of 3 – wow, they will be busy!
*  If your child will miss school around spring break, please let me know.
*  Literacy week is coming February 27th!  I have posted more details on our website.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: Valentine’s Day Party 9:30 AM February 14th, Early Release February 14th, Assembly February 16th, Sub all day Friday, February 17th, Carnival Saturday, February 18th 2 PM, and finally The Family Feast February 22nd at 12:20 PM, Literacy week February 27th through March 2nd.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Shhh....Secret Valentine

As requested by the students we will start a "Secret Valentine" run tomorrow that will last until Valentine's Day.  Each student has been assigned a secret Valentine who they will need to leave compliments for as well clues about their own identity.  Then every day the students will get a chance to guess who their secret Valentine is.  They do not need to give their Secret Valentine anything other than notes.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Colonial Kids

Friday, February 3, 2012

Newsletter February 3, 2012

Math – We are moving through unit 7 with a lot of vocabulary being introduced as well as deeper concepts. We have discussed order of operations (PEMDAS) and powers of 10. Today we even watched the 1977 classic Powers of ten video by Charles and Ray Eames. The test is scheduled for February 14th before the Valentine’s Day Party.
Science – Science was all about student-led exploration this week as they designed their own experiments for the stream tables. It was wonderful to watch them discuss their hypothesis and control their variables. Monday we will be discussing all of our observations to draw conclusions as well as learn how to write flash cards for studying.
Social Studies – What wonderful discussions we have been having in social studies about the big ideas that emerged during Colonial Times that still impact us today; freedom of religion, freedom of speech, all people are created equal, and also how people worship their religion. We have also tried to decipher what in the world Ben Franklin really meant by some of his sayings and will be creating an idiom book written and illustrated by the students. For digital learning day we explored the excellent website http://www.history.org/kids/games/ which has a plethora of colonial day games and information.
Reading – We read chapter 2 of Jump Ship to Freedom and discussed what to include in a chapter summary, the students are also eager to take on research projects to answer all of their questions generated so far. This book explores very interesting concepts of what it meant to be a slave in America after the Revolutionary War.
Writing – Secrets of a 5th grader wrapped up in the classroom this week and is due typed and double-spaced on Wednesday. Students will illustrate their secrets and we will put it all in a class book.
Special Notes –
* What a wonderful opportunity the students had on Wednesday showcasing their blogging to the State Superintendent as well as other educators. At some point, the webinar will be released and I will put it on our website for you to see. I will also be blogging about the experience later.
* Students are slowly handing in their Read to Succeed Six Flags logs, please hand them in before March 1st.
* Conference sign up has started. Please see our website for the link. These conferences will be 15 minutes and will focus on how the goals are being met as well as middle school readiness. All students are expected to attend their conference.
* We skyped with a kindergarten class on Wednesday as well. They had prepared questions for us regarding our winter. It was their first time skyping and our class was a wonderful role model.
* Thank you to all who volunteered for the Colonial Feast, whether you cooked, shopped, cleaned or donated. The students had a wonderful time, the food was delicious and it added one more layer to our instruction.
* The twins are healthy and growing at the right rate. We got a lot of new pictures of them, which I shared with the kids even though they just look like little aliens. Thea continues to give us ideas for names, usually Sheeno and Keemo, or something along those lines. We will be taking her to the circus for the first time soon and she believes she will be riding all of the animals.
* Danny moved to Mr. Meinholz’s classroom this week but will continue to have PE and one music class with us. We certainly miss him.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: Valentine’s Day Party 9:30 AM February 14th, Early Release February 14th, Assembly February 16th, Carnival Saturday, February 18th 2 PM, and finally The Family Feast February 22nd at 12:20 PM.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spring Conference Sign Up

Please click on the VolunteerSpot button to sign up for your conference!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What a Great Digital Learning Day We Had

Today was the first Digital Learning Day that I have participated in and it was fun to see what the students were involved in. Often we have so much technology integrated into our day that I don't even think about how much technology is used in our room. The big moment was definitely when the students did their webinar; I was quite the proud teacher seeing them run through their script, do the filming and everything else. They have worked so hard on it. In the afternoon we then got to Skype with a Kindergarten classroom in Lakeland Florida. They had never Skyped before and we got to show them how to do it. They had prepared questions for us regarding our weather and thought Wisconsin sounded very cold, even with our 40 degree weather. Finally in social studies, my group went to the computer lab to play various games centered around Colonial America. What a great day of learning.

Video of the Students' Webinar

I am so proud of how the students did at the Webinar today. There was a lot of nervousness but I think they nailed it. The State Superintendent Tony Evers even gave us a "good job" on Twitter! David filmed this behind the scenes of the actual webinar.