Friday, April 11, 2014

Five for Friday! 4.11.14

Happy Friday! Man alive, we made it another week and the weather in Wisconsin was just plain old gorgeous this week! Thank the lord!!!  :) Excited today to be linking up Doodle Bugs Teaching for the weekly linky 'Five for Friday!'

This was my last full week of school before my maternity leave starts.  Based on my 2 hour long doctor appointment today I'm just going to be happy to make it through next week's 4 day week.  Cross your fingers for me.  Here's my fab 5 for the week! Enjoy!

We started our geometry unit this week and the first part of the unit was on angles. The kids did a really great job with them, however we did need some practice.  So we used straws and the edges of our books to practice making angles.  They had a blast!  We are all experts now!.

I've posted a few times on our end of the year pioneer simulation lately and we are well on our way!!! We started our diary's this week to help us write about our journey along the way.  The first entries were due today, and we started to share, but didn't get them done.  I will have to share a few next week in a post. They were awesome! Here are a few of their diary covers that were created.  (All of the names that you see are their fake pioneer names.!)

In order to also keep track of our journey, we also make timelines to track different experiences along the trail.  We left for Oregon in early May.  Our first timeline is of the experience that we had when we left our homes to all meet up at Fort Independence.  Each time they do a timeline they answer the same questions and the color a picture of something that has happened.  We focus on land-forms that they pass by, a quote that someone in their wagon would say about something that has happened, something that they have seen, something that they have done and lastly how they are feeling.  The first one was fun to do and the kids really got into it! 

We are just all about the pioneers this week.... and the last thing that I want to share about it is that we really did add up all of the kids points that they've been earning to leave Fort Independence and head out on the trail.  We are just about at our first stop, which will be Prairie Wells.  Along the way we had a 'fate' though, which delayed us quite a bit.  The pioneers were starting to run out of water already because it had been really dry.  They had to get out their packing lists and make sure that the packed 2 or 3 water barrels.  If they did then their wagon was ok.  If they packed only 1 they were delayed 200 points and had to do a mini-research project for homework to get that cleared away.  If they didn't pack any then they caused their wagon to lose energy.  They are now worried each time I ring the bell in my classroom to tell them something that has happened to them!

On a personal note this week, my husband and I got our maternity photos done in Lake Geneva.  I wanted to share a few of my favorites with you!  Have a happy weekend all!

Photo credit: Whitesand Images

Photo credit: Whitesand Images

Photo credit: Whitesand Images

Sunday, April 6, 2014

A Peek at My Week {4.7.14} Wagons Ho!

Happy Sunday, Friends!  I'm refreshed, rested and ready to head back to school after an awesome SPRING BREAK!  I also am excited because as I planned this week, my official countdown of 9 days of work left will start tomorrow, and then I start my maternity leave.  I'm linking up today with my fabulous co-worker, Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings.  Her weekly linky 'A Peek at My Week' is a great way to share what you have planned.  Be sure to stop by her blog and see what everyone has going on. 

As I posted on Saturday, my team and I are leaving for Oregon tomorrow, to travel like the pioneers did!... Ok, well we aren't really leaving for Oregon, but we're pretending that we are. I'm even dressing up like a pioneer teacher, and signaling the start of the school day with a small bell ringing like an old school house bell..  My pioneers and I officially start our journey tomorrow.  This week we've got a lot to do to start moving on the trail.  Here are a few of the highlights:

**We're tallying points for the first time as teams this week.  Each team needs a certain number of points to travel dots on our map along the trail.  It depends on how big the teams are.  A team of 4 needs about 175 points to move one dot.  We keep track of team points, and delays on the board (see below).  It's hard to do at first, because we take into consideration a team's energy factor (which is 50 at its highest) and also their delays or fates (things that happen to them along the trail). I'll share how this looks when we actually do points for the first time. 

** We're writing our very first diary entries this week on the start of our journey.  Students need to share the following in their first entry: describe yourself, your family, and your animals.  Explain why you're going to Oregon on the trail.  Tell about your last home and your feelings about going west.  Mention your last job and what you plan on doing when you get to Oregon.  Describe your trip to Fort Independence.  Explain what you expect will happen to you on your trip.  I know, I know... a lot.... but we'll start small and use some graphic organizers to put our thoughts into order and I'm also having students use their email addresses for the first time this week to email me and answer some of these questions ahead of time so that they already are thinking about this.  I did have students draw pictures of what their house looks like to use for this entry too.  We looked at old sod house pictures and log house pictures to discuss what houses looked like back then to help us. 

**We are also making timelines about our journey to document important events along the trail.  We will start our first timeline segment about leaving Fort Independence in early May.   

I hope you all have a great week ahead! I'm excited to hear what you'll be doing. :)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Saturday!!! A Pioneer Edition....

Happy Saturday!

I know that I said yesterday that I had a lot to blog about this week, so I'm going to start with what we've been up to in class to motivate our students for the 4th quarter. I'm linking up with Head Over Heels for Teaching for the Spark Student Motivation Saturdays!!!  I love this linky--- I always get some great ideas from it. Please be sure to stop by.

My team and I focus a lot of 4th quarter on non-fiction reading and writing.  To get students motivated we have adapted a pioneer simulation where students are given fake identities and families, and actually imagine that they are a pioneer who is traveling West.  We spend a lot of time building background for students, and I've talked about it in a few blog posts here and here if you want to get up to speed. Today I thought I would share the ways in which we prepared for this unit and how we got ready to be pioneers on the trail.  Building background is so so so important, especially since I have a lot of ESL students.  The kids had a blast, and I have to say that this year I feel so prepared to officially leave 'Fort Independence' on Monday with them all.

The Adventures of Ma and Pa-

We brought in a great learning experience for kids called 'Adventures with Ma and Pa.'  We have done this for several years.  This great interactive experience helps kids understand how it was like to pack a wagon to leave on the trail.  Ma and Pa bring in everything from seed to plant, tools to use in the fields and items for the kitchen.  They talk to us about the importance of packing and also show what it would look like to pack in the space for a wagon.

The start off by talking about their feelings with moving West, and express all of the things that they would love to take with them (including things that they want to but cant.....)  The kids are all for Ma bringing her organ, until they realize how big the wagon really is. 

Things quickly change when they can only fit a small amount of things into the wagon.  Pa and Ma do a great job showing us all sorts of things that we could possibly bring and express the importance of some over others. This really helps our kids pack their wagons for the trip. When we pack they are allowed to pack up to 1,000 bulk weight units.  This is hard for them to understand so the visual of seeing Ma and Pa pack really helps us with this!  (I'll spare you the details on wagon packing for the pioneers in the classroom... it's a rough day! But we always seem to figure it out!)

Route Information-

We spend a lot of time going over our map and route possibilities for the trip on the Hacker Trail.   The map is so important.  There is a map that is hung up in the classroom and then they get a copy of it in their pioneer books.  We spend time talking about the different things that could happen to us along the trail based on the names of trails and landscape.  It's important for them to know all possibilities, because at some points along the trail they have to make decisions on what way to go. 

Each team is a color and they are represented by a thumb tack to match their color as we travel.


Vocab has been the hardest part with my group this year.  We're really trying to work on not skipping unknown words, and going back to figure out what something means.  They are making progress but it's been a long road.  I've been making kids really stop and work with words so much this year, so that they get used to realizing how important it is to know what something means.  Our pioneer unit has so many new words that we will be using that I thought the best way to learn them was for them to become the expert on a word or two and teach the rest of us about it.  We started small... some got words to look up and some got words that had the definition attached to it to look up and check that their meaning was in the dictionary.  The kids LOVE looking up words in their new dictionaries that were given to them by our K-Kids group.  They use any excuse they can to use them.  

After they looked up their word, we made vocabulary boxes for each word that they would end up sharing with the class.  I've talked about these before, and they are awesome for kids to use to help really understand what a word is, and what it is not.  If you're interested it's available at my TpT store.  

When we were done we did two things with our new list of words.  We made a word wall with all of them on the back board so we can go back and revisit words.  If we have a second between a transition, I call on a student and have them share a word from the word-wall and tell us about it (what it means, use it in a sentence, or how it relates to pioneers.)  I'm thinking of doing one for each quarter next year like this with a theme.  They also have a copy of the abc boxes in their pioneer books and have the words written in.  Their vocabulary pages are hanging around the room so we can refer to them. 

We also created a synonym board with the words so we can practice using them in our writing.  If we aren't sure what it means or need help, the colorful words that go along with each vocabulary word can help us do that.  I'm hoping this encourages them to use the words when they write their diary entries of what is happening along the trail. 

I'm going to stop there for now... I know it's a lot, but I am just so excited about this and also the kids are so pumped and motivated for the end of the year.  At first it seemed like so much work to get something like this going, however with it being such a big motivator for this time of year it's so worth it.  The kids love it, and I'll be sure to share our journey along the way!!!  Thanks for stopping by and have a great rest of the weekend! 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Currently APRIL!!!!

Hello Blog World-

I have been absent and I apologize for that... kind of! :) I have used my week of Spring Break to do a whole lot of NOTHING, and it has been amazing!  I have a long list of things that I plan on blogging about this week, so I will be back in full force with the new week.  However, I really haven't kept up since being off. I'm linking up today with Farley for the monthly linky Currently!  I just love reading what everyone is up to and thinking about at the beginning of each month! Be sure to stop by and check it out. 

Listening-  I'm still on SB '14 mode and I'm sitting back with my swollen (ick....36 weeks preggo feet) feet up and watching Friends on TV while I start to get a plan on what I need to do to get ready for next week. 

Loving- Spring Break came just at the right time for me. I'm starting to feel the down in the slumps a bit with this winter weather and I really needed a day... good thing I got a week!  Too bad it didn't feel like Spring. That's ok though, It was much needed me time!

Thinking- While I enjoyed every ounce of break, I didn't get a lot of school work done including report cards.  They are due on Tuesday.  I also have a lot of prepping to do for a long term sub and our pioneer unit which officially starts on Monday.  No fear--- it will all get done. It always does. :)

Wanting- I'm wanting warm weather. I think I've said that several times now. But this is it. I need it.  I want it.  I must have it. March was wayyyyyyy too much like a lion the whole month.  

Needing- A glass of wine.  I'm nearing the end of my pregnancy, and I'm really just craving a glass of vino.  A relaxing kind that you have while watching the sun goes down.  I think that goes with the wanting above as well.  ;)  4 weeks away!

Last Day-  My maternity leave starts right before Easter.  We have off on Good Friday and Easter Monday, and my sub will take over for me the Tuesday after break.  So that makes my last day Thursday, April 18th. It's bittersweet. I'm excited but really going to miss the end of the year with my kiddos. 

Hope everyone has a great start to the month!!!  :)