Saturday, January 30, 2010

Who Wants To Be a Millionaire

I just found an excellent website where you can make your own questions for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. In my classroom I am using it as an assessment, as each student will be writing down the answers to the questions, while only one is in the "hot seat". Once you have created your game, it gives you your own URL to view it in. I made mine on perimeter, volume and area, with a few questions thrown in there just on shapes. Click here to view my game.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Graphing Paper

Next week my class is learning about perimeter and area. I knew there had to be some free printable graph paper somewhere online. The problem I ran into, however, was that I wanted the squares to be larger than that of typical graph paper. I found a site that allows you to adjust the size of the squares, color of the lines, and paper size as well. Here it is. Enjoy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jan 25 Reflection

As of this point in my student teaching I have taken over math, word (similar to spelling, yet different), and this week I began with writing workshop.

Today in math the goal was to learn about similar and congruent figures. I started off the lesson with a video clip from United Streaming (a wonderful resource if you have access to it through your school). This short video clip (2 minutes and 15 seconds) is great because it introduces similar and congruency through the use of something the students see every day: flags. Then we went into a SMART board lesson next, which did not upload correctly, sorry (you may email me at if you would like it). All was well with both of those activities, but then came the challenge. Next on the plans was paired practice using geoboards and rubber bands. After an adequate explanation of safety rules, we began by one student making a shape and the other making a congruent or similar shape, depending on my direction. Part of my expliciate directions were to keep voices at a whisper, which the class had a hard time doing. I had to stop them several times in order to bring them back down to a reasonable level. Don't get me wrong-they were excited about the activity, their excitement just got a little out of hand.

Word was next. We were looking at January's words and breaking them apart into root woods, prefixes and suffixes in order to better understand the meanings of the words. The students took right to this activity and enjoyed discovering the meaning of larger words this way. Normally, the students have some in between talk during word time, but today they were completely engaged. I love that feeling when they are all on task and I can see their little minds turning.

Later in the afternoon came the first time I had taught writing workshop completely on my own (planning and teaching). Today we began a new unit on essay writing. When I told the students what we were going to begin learning, I got about 5 groans. Not the best way to start out a brand new subject for me and a brand new unit for them. After the groans, I deviated from my lesson plan to find out the source of the groans. It turned out to be the result of prompts the students had a hard time writing from. Good thing we are not starting out with writing prompts. we will get there, but we will spend time writing about ideas that hit home with the students first. My hope is that after we learn how to write good essays we can branch out and come up with ideas from other people's ideas. I think Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop book will lead me, and the students, in the right direction, and get them back to loving essays.

So, all in all, a good day, with a few rough patches. But hey, isn't that what teaching is all about?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Current Events

Today a fellow student teacher clued me into a great website. If you have students who are interested in rap, this website could be your link to engaging students in current events. The makers rap the week's current events. This week it was everything from the aftershock of Haiti to the California mudslides to the solar eclipse to Scott Brown getting elected to the Massachusetts Senate position. The rap is done via a video and also shows news clips.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


This week is the first time I "officially" took over one subject in the fourth grade classroom. I have been teaching lessons since fall, but seldom had I planned and taught mostly on my own. I say mostly because my mentor teacher is wonderful and helps by guiding me (helping me to determine how long to spend on a topic) and offering me resources.

This week I am implementing math. It is probably the subject I am most hesitant about, as I do not view myself as a strong mathematician. The way I see it, by starting it first, I have that much more time to learn how to teach it and sharpen my mathematical skills. Today our lesson was on quadrilaterals. I had a neat SMART board lesson planned with interactive activities throughout the lesson in addition to a flow chart on various quadrilaterals. I had looked online to see if the SMART tech website already had a lesson on quadrilaterals before I created my own. I did end up using one slide from another teacher's creation and I added to it what I wanted to cover. Upon getting to school I realize that the flash drive I had saved my SMART slides on was still in my computer back at my apartment. Whoops! Thank goodness I write lesson plans so that a substitute should be able to pick them up and read them. Because of this, I had the questions and material on each slide written into my lesson plans and I was able to improvise. It was not as fun as I had planned, but it worked and the students learned the information. The students were able to do the sort the quadrilaterals slide, that I had used from the SMART tech website, so not all was lost. And I have a great SMART lesson on quadrilaterals for the future :D