Thursday, May 31, 2012

End of Year Survey

It would be a huge help to me if you would take the end of year survey.  This survey greatly helps me grow as a teacher.  Thank you so much.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Newsletter May 25, 2012

MathUnit 12 test was today and we do the end of the year test Tuesday and Wednesday next week.  Overall, I am impressed with the growth in skills and confidence I have seen in all of my students this year in math.  Math facts will be huge in 6th grade so if they are not secure, I urge them to be practiced.
Social Studies – We finished our simulation on how a bill becomes a law and the only one that made it past all three legislative branches was the law that we should have a la carte at the elementary level.   What impressed me the most was the debate the two chambers of congress had over the bills; way to do some quick thinking.  We are finishing the final chapter in the social studies book as well and will present our biography extension projects starting Tuesday.
Science – We tried to hatch brine shrimp but they died right away.  A very sad day for science observations, indeed.  We get to discuss why we think they didn’t survive as well as present our biomes.  I cannot wait to see how the students will be as teachers and how they will assess themselves.
Reading Reading time has been dedicated to script writing or our biography projects.  I have ordered books for summer from the recommendations of the students and our library committee is itching to get started on the annual library clean up, which will happen next week.   
Writing The final blogging challenge has been posted and is due next Sunday.  With more than 2,000 comments and over 650 posts created, I would say that it has been a successful year of blogging!  Students have started filming their videos for the incoming 5th graders and I love the enthusiasm with which they attack the challenges.  There may be only 10 days left of school but we still have a lot to do.    
Special Notes
* Students voted on their top 10 in Mrs. Ripp’s room and as always it is fun for me to see what really stuck out to them. A committee will be creating the poster for display for next year.
*  Advanced math testing has taken place for the year, if you have any questions please contact Amy Weber.
*  The lock out takes place on Wednesday, June 6th.  Students do not need to bring anything with them as lunch will be at Rocky Rococo’s.  I am really looking forward to this fun day.
*  All library books were due today so now would be a great time to sweep your house for any missing library books either from our classroom library or from Mr. Powers’.  Thank you for your help!
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: No school Monday, May 28th, Sub in the afternoon Wednesday, May 30th, Lock Out Wednesday, June 6th, 5th grade graduation Friday, June 8th 1:30 PM.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Jacob's Stop Motion

For Innovation Day, Jacob did a stop motion video n battle tactics of WWII. I think it turned out pretty cool.

Innovation Day 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Picture from the track meet

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Epic Egg Drop

Pictures from Art Club

Mrs. Hyland was nice enough to share some pictures from art club, looks like a lot of fun!

Newsletter May 18, 2012

MathThe final unit of the year will be wrapped up next week with the test scheduled for Friday.  It has been wonderful to see the mathematical concepts taught throughout the year come together to form new meaning.    We will also do the end of year test but not until after Memorial Day. 
Science We were busy building our egg drop contraptions, check out the video of the build on our website.  A video from the actual egg drop will be recorded and posted on our website as well.  As always the ingenuity of the students was wonderful and especially those that realized midway through the build that their device would fail and then changed it. 
Social Studies – Students and I have met to discuss their first drafts; what growth in writing we have seen.  A common problem is the amount of details needed for the report, either too much or too little, so we are working on finding a balance.  Depending on how many students I get to confer with, the deadline may be moved to give everybody more time.  We also started our simulation, “How a Bill becomes A Law,” with students acting as both concerned citizens and the Chamber of Congress.  It definitely deepens their understanding of why the Constitution is such a big deal.
Reading We use reading time to work on scripts and social studies.
Writing Great blogging this week on what a principal does.  Next week’s challenge will be posted later today and comes from a Journaling prompt we did two weeks ago.    I hope to have students print out all of their kidblog entries and create a journal of their year, as their accounts will be deleted come August.
Special Notes
* Please make sure to send in the two photos needed for the 5th grade graduation bulletin board by Monday.
*  All of our box tops have been going to Mr. Getz, we hear there is a very good chance he gets a pie in the face, wahoo!
*  Doodle for Google winner was announced today, unfortunately none of our students won, however, it was a 2nd grader from Wisconsin who did.  It can be seen today on Google’s homepage.
*   We will finish Junior Achievement and Guidance next week, where has the year gone?
* For graduation, students are being asked to wear their tie-dye shirt or West Middleton shirt.  A note is going home today with more information.
*  New on our website: a couple of pictures from the talent show taken by Mrs. Hyland, a video of the egg drop build, top 10 free educational game websites for kids, biome project information, as well as a list of different reading summer programs that have incentives for the kids.
* Technology party will be next Friday after lunch.  Students are solely responsible for whatever tech device they bring in.  For more information see our website.
* I have some dates for you to put on your calendars:, Junior Achievement Tuesday, May 22nd 1:10 PM (final one), Technology Party Friday, May 25th 1:00 PM, No school Monday, May 28th , Sub in the afternoon Wednesday, May 30th, Lock Out Wednesday, June 6th, 5th grade graduation Friday, June 8th 1:30 PM.

Technology Party

Technology Party

We are having a technology party next Friday after lunch.  This means the students may bring any personal electronic devices they wish, however, they are responsible for whatever they bring. 

In the morning I will collect the electronics and put them into a secure location and will then hand them out after lunch.  Please use your best judgment for what you want your child bringing to school.  

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Summer Reading Programs

As many of the students continue to cherish their books this summer, I thought I would highlight a few summer reading programs which can give them free books or other incentives.

  • The public library always has a great summer reading program. We do get to have a presentation next week on what they have to offer, but otherwise check out their website for more information.  Often students can earn books or participate in book events throughout summer.
  • Barnes & Noble are offering up their summer reading program as well.  This program runs  between May 24th and September 6th and any child can sign up.  With a kick off event here in Madison on June 2nd, students can pick up their logs and then earn books throughout the summer.
  • Half Price books also offers a program from June 1st to July 31st.  This program called Feed Your Brain Summer Reading Program offers students a $5 gift card to use at Half Price Books if they read 300 pages.
  • Scholastic has a program they call the Summer Challenge.  Either educators or parents can register kids and then they can log their minutes of reading.  They can then enter to win prizes or do challenges on the Scholastic website.
  • Amazon runs a 4-for-3 program where you can purchase 4 books and get the lowest one for free.  While this isn't an incentive program it is nice way to get more books.
  • The blog, My Frugal Adventures,  also has a list of a variety of other reading incentive programs being offered if you are interested.
I hope this is helpful this summer; happy reading!

Egg Drop Build 2012

Yesterday the students did their egg drop build, tomorrow we throw them off the roof to see if they protect the egg. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

10 Great Educational Websites for Kids

Angela Watson published this great list of educational websites for students and I thought I would pass it on.

1. Utah Education Network has curated a collection of free games from all over the web. Basically, the UEN has done the hard work for you and pre-screened the sites so every game they link to is useful and developmentally appropriate. There’s something for every subject and every grade, and the interface is attractive to kids and easy to use. Look in the sidebar on the righthand side and click K-2, 3-6, or 7-12 interactives.
2. Sheppard Software has top-quality games for every subject spanning preschool through middle school. Fun and easy to use. There are ads on the site, so be sure to teach young students not to click on anything to the left or right of the game.
3. BrainPOP’s GameUp is a collection of free games for grades 4-12 in social studies, science, health, and math with no advertisements and no login required. The team at BrainPOP looks through hundreds of online games by various publishers and selects the ones that are of the highest quality, so only the best games make it onto the site. BrainPOP also lists corresponding movie topics you can play if you have a BrainPOP subscription, and provides a lesson plan (written by yours truly!) to show how you can integrate the game into your instruction.
If you like a particular game on GameUp, click the game developer’s icon on the game page to see their full list of offerings. Most of the partners have a bunch of additional high-quality games on their sites that are available for free. I particularly recommend:

Awesome sites that your students will want to use on a daily basis

4. ABCya has K-5 games on language arts and math, as well as various other topics (both educational and just for fun.) There’s also a large collection of games available as apps if you have an iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch in your classroom.
5. BBC UK features a kid-friendly landing page which makes learning look like all fun and games, or use the schools-games page which organizes activities by subject area.
6. Hooda Math is an up-and-coming site for gaming that also has a separate section for interactive whiteboard games. There are also some PDF worksheets for some of the games and some math tutorials for grades 3-7.
7. GameStar Mechanic not only offers free games for students to play, but allows kids to make and publish their own games. Very cool!

Other fantastic sites worth mentioning

8. PBS Kids is great for younger students. There are educational and just-for-fun games, which you can sort by subject area and skill. Be warned that some games are premium and require a subscription. I also like the PBS CyberChase collection of math games.
9. FunBrain makes the list because I see kids return to the site again and again even when they have the choice to play non-educational games. My own students were always obsessed with FunBrain, especially Mad Libs Jr. and Grammar Gorillas. The online books and comics addition is wonderful. It’s not the easiest site for kids to navigate independently if they’re looking for a specific game, but that’s mostly because there’s so much there.
10. IXL allows students to practice a variety of math skills online. These are not so much games as they are timed drills and practice sessions, which means it’s not particularly fun and doesn’t have a lot of higher-level thinking questions. What makes it worth mentioning here is the fact that it spans practically every math skill and concept from PreK-12 for free.

Some Pictures From the Talentshow from Mrs. Hyland

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Biomes Project Breakdown

Biome Project Breakdown
Goal:  To teach the rest of the class about your selected biome and assess their understanding.

Products:  Research report to Mrs. Ripp, hands-on extension project to use as teaching tool, assessment for class (can be verbal), self-evaluation based on class assessment.

  1. Determine the top 3 biomes you would like to research with your group:  Savannah, desert, tundra, rainforest, grasslands, or deciduous forests.
  2. Within group, research the various parts of your biome, such as: people, climate, plants, animals, locations.  You decide what the most important parts are.
  3. Use sources from the library as well as from our LiveBinder to research.
  4. Once research is completed, write one report as a group - double spaced, Times New Roman, sz. 12.
  5. Work on extension project for teaching, ideas are: PPT, Prezi, Animoto, Posters, diorama, terrariums, movies.  You are the teacher, how would you like to be taught about a biome?  Make it interesting.
  6. Work on how you will assess the students learning.  How will you know you did a good job teaching them about your biome?  Ideas for assessment include: question sheet, asking questions, have students write what they learned,  have students draw/diagram their learning, have them write a song, create a concept map, do a compare/contrast, check their pre-knowledge and then their post-knowledge, true or false, word search, definition match, crossword, write a blog post that talks about your learning, solve a problem, student choice
  7. You need to know your facts as the teacher, figure out who will do what etc.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Newsletter May 11, 2012

MathWe finished unit 11 yesterday with only moderate confusion.  This unit definitely made me reflect a lot on how we best can teach students deep geometrical concepts.  Overall, most students did well on the test and we start our final unit on Monday with the unit test scheduled for May 25th.
Science The plants were starting to yellow which told us their nutrients were running low.  We therefore transplanted all of them, made our final observations and concluded which environments would work the best for growing strong plants.  Next week start to hatch brine shrimp, or try to anyway!  Next week it is also all about the egg drop, which will take place Friday at 1:30 PM by sticking Mr. Rykal on the kindergarten roof.  We can’t wait!
Social Studies – All first drafts were due today and now students will need to work mostly on edits at home since we have another simulation to start that ties in with our final unit; government in the newly formed United States.  I am excited to see the finished products as well as their extension projects.  These will be due May 25th as well.
Reading Reading continued to be focused on our social studies project.
Writing We have been journaling, blogging on ways to use a paperclip, as well as working on our scripts for 4th grade.  Filming of these mini plays will take place the week of May 21st. 
Special Notes
* What an amazing teacher appreciation week this has been.  The students had me in tears many times from their outpouring of kindness and love.  I have the best job in the world.
* Innovation Day was amazing!  A video of it will be posted this weekend later featuring interviews with the kids of why other teachers should try it as well.  We did a gallery walk presentation to show off all of our projects; it was quite incredible to see what the students created.
* Advanced math testing happened this week, I do not know when results will be communicated. 
* The students sent thank you emails to former teachers using the site – many teachers couldn’t believe the gratitude and were touched by the surprise thanks.
* Graduation and the lock out are being planned at the moment with more details to come soon.
* The students have been asking for it all year; a technology party.  This will finally take place on Friday, May 25th after lunch.  I will send more details closer to the date.
Overheard in the computer lab Wednesday: 
What do you mean she is not married?  She has kids!

Isn't Mrs. Boles' first name "Debra?" She looks like a Debra...

You don't think Mrs. Odgren will retire right, she is only 45...
* With the talent show today I will be taking all participants and stage helpers over to the PAC at 11 AM.  Mr. Powers and Mrs. Stirn will be the chaperones for the rest of the class.  Doors will open at 12:30 or so at the PAC but not much sooner.
 * I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: Talent Show Friday, May 11th 12:30 PM, Egg drop Friday, May 18th 1 PM, Junior Achievement Tuesday, May 22nd (final one), Technology Afternoon Friday, May 25th 1:00 PM, No school Monday, May 28thSub in the afternoon Wednesday, May 30th, Lock Out Wednesday, June 6th, 5th grade graduation Friday, June 8th 1:30 PM.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thank You

These beautiful flowers showed up one by one yesterday morning carried by very happy children; thank you so much, what a wonderful start to the week.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Newsletter May 4, 2012

* The egg drop is coming and we are still looking for someone to donate eggs or Ziploc bags, let me know if you are interested.*

May 4, 2012
MathWe are almost done with unit 11 with the test set for Thursday.  The final unit is on ratio, probability and rates and will take us to the end of the year.
Science We continue to observe our terrariums and even Mr. Meinholz and Mr. Getz are impressed with the explosive growth of our plants.  Apparently we have quite a lot of green thumbs in here.  Next week will wrap up our terrarium observations so students will be allowed to bring home the plants.  I did ask them to check with parents to make sure you want them as well.  The biome project is going well with students being told the final part of the challenge; they have to teach and assess how well they taught it to the rest of the class.  So the steps for the day of the presentation will be; 1.  Hand in group paper with a bibliography, 2.  Teach your biome lesson to the rest of the class, 3.  Assess how much the students now know about your biome, 4.  Group reflection and evaluation of how well you did as a teacher.
Social Studies – All students are typing their drafts of their biography reports and then meeting with me for feedback.  Since this is their culminating writing project for the year expectations are high.  We will also be spending time with the social studies books and finishing those.
Reading We did our MAP test for reading but have not done math yet due to software issues.  
Writing Students convinced me to let them continue to blog and have been doing quite well in their commenting, as well as their creative ways to use a paperclip.  Scripts are coming along nicely and I particularly enjoy seeing what the students represent in our classroom.  It is very eye-opening to get their perspective on how 5th grade is.  We continue working with pronouns in grammar but next move to adjectives.
Special Notes
* What a fantastic, albeit with mixed weather, experience the track meet was.  I was especially proud of how well the students represented West Middleton and our community in their behavior.  It was also great to see all of the parents out there supporting the students.  Hopefully we will hear final results of the meet at some point.
* The talent show is this next Friday and I will be taking all participants, as well as four stage helpers, with me to the PAC at 11 AM.  Mr. Powers and Mrs. Stirn have graciously agreed to stay behind with the rest of our class, getting to lunch, and on the bus.  I will be driving back on the bus with all of the students.
* Innovation day is this Monday, which means students need all of their materials here in the morning.  I cannot wait to document the day.  You are also more than welcome to stop by and see the kids at work if you have time.  As always, our door is open.  We will work all day except for recess time and PE.
* The students also made me proud on our visit to Glacier Creek.  It was wonderful to see their excitements and their curiosity about their new adventure. 
 *  I have some dates for you to put on your calendars: Innovation Day Monday, May 7th all day, Junior Achievement Tuesday, May 8th 1:00 – 1:50 PM, Talent Show Friday, May 11th 12:30 PM,  Egg drop Friday, May 18th 1 PM, Junior Achievement Tuesday, May 22nd (final one), No school Monday, May 28thSub in the afternoon Wednesday, May 30th, Lock Out Wednesday, June 6th , 5th grade graduation Friday, June 8th 1:30 PM.