Thursday, March 6, 2014

Putting the Students in Charge! Simple Machines Activity

To begin our simple machines unit, I had my students take a pre-test showing me what they already knew about the different types of machines. This was great information to have, because when I introduced our force and motion unit I heard many, "WE ALREADY DID THAT LAST YEAR!" Now, after their pre-test I have proof of whether or not they remember. :)

After the pre-test, students filled in a pie chart showing their mastery of simple machines. Some were filling in 1-2 slices of pie, where others were able to fill in the entire pie! [email me and I will share the pie chart with you!] Since I found that I had several resident experts of simple machines. I wanted these students to have a chance to teach their peers a little thing or two on simple machines. Today, I had my experts leading the building and assembling of simple machines.

A few years ago, our 5th grade purchased a Simple Machines kit to build examples of each type of machine. Each kit has enough materials for you to assemble one example of each simple machine at time - which makes it great for students to move around to different stations and build each one. 

Purchase the kit here

 While I was doing a mini-training with  my experts, I had my students logging examples of simple machines disguised as common household items on the whiteboard. (This was an extension activity from the previous day)

Check out our Instagram video to see the fun that was had today!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Teacher help! Suggestions for Next Lit Circle?

It's 8:30 AM and I'm blogging from my couch. Why, you ask? Well, it is snow day number 8 for us Mid-Missourians.

On Friday, my students finished reading Wonder - what an excellent way to end the week! Our hearts were full as we walked out the door into a snowy weekend. While I have a few things I would like to do with the book, I'm starting to think ahead.... (blame the snow days!)

 Before we started Wonder, I kept asking myself, "how do I get my kids to talk deeply about the book?" I kept wondering what I wasn't doing to help them have genuine conversations. Finally, because I ran out of ideas, I just let them talk to one another. I pulled back my forced conversation starters and just let them enjoy the book and discuss on their own. What do you know? The minute I stopped trying so hard was when things started to click for them (work smarter, not harder... right?!) I realized all they really wanted (and needed) was to READ the book. Once they became invested in the story, they weren't relying on me to lead the conversation and I'm pretty sure they wouldn't have noticed if I had walked out of the room. I noticed a dramatic change in the way my students were communicating and talking about the book. THEY were asking deep questions on their own and making inferences without me holding their hand to do so. At the end of each (okay most) reading sessions, I would pull everyone to the carpet and we would discuss our reading. One morning, we were having a full-fledged debate on whether or not we agreed with Miranda claiming Auggie. It was so incredibly powerful. I get goosebumps just thinking about it!

I want to keep the momentum flowing after we officially wrap up Wonder with another literature circle. However, I'm stuck on book options. With this next club, I want the students to have a choice in their book selection versus all of us reading the same book. I have a few books to suggest for my students, but I am hoping to have a few more suggestions. I want this one to revolve around choice - however, I want my students to have a few great choices as well. :)

Here's what I have so far:

Snicker of Magic

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda

Now, this is where I need you! 
What books would you suggest for an eclectic group of 5th grade readers? What books have your students loved? 

Sunday, March 2, 2014


A few weeks ago, I was lurking on Twitter and a few teachers were tweeting about using GoNoodle with their students. Of course, I had to figure out what the hype was all about. 

I signed up for a (cough FREE cough) account and before I knew it, I was training for the 100-meter dash at the Olympic trials! 
Watch the video below for a tutorial on how to get started with GoNoodle.

Right now, we are using GoNoodle first thing in the morning and transitioning in after recess. I let the students pick our morning activity. On Friday, we were throwing the javelin! The "Airtime" and "Maximo" features have been great transitioning back from recess. They are calming exercises to bring the focus back to the classroom. 

The verdict with my funky fresh kids (yes that's our nickname): we dig it!

Screenshot of our Champion

Have you used GoNoodle in your classroom? When do you find it is most effective?

Happy Sunday!

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