Tuesday, January 31, 2012
After attending a workshop with the sisters (aka Daily 5 and CAFÉ and genius teachers) last year, the thing that stayed with me the longest was that their books and ideas were guides not rules. The CAFÉ wall just hadn't worked for me or my class. I loved the idea (and my whole school adopted the Daily 5/CAFÉ framework as a non-negotiable), but at 4th grade, I found it reducing what I taught instead of elevating it. Our reading specialists had worked with one of the fifth grade teachers at my school when she had the same issues/feelings, and seeing what they came up with inspired me to do the same. Here, then, is my non-CAFÉ CAFÉ wall. Like all CAFÉ walls, it is a growing, work in progress.
As you can also tell, my classroom theme is western! LOL
Sunday, January 29, 2012
If this link works, it has a download of the pages for my weather journal. (Not that they'd be hard to recreate, but why do it if it has already been done, right?) You'll note, too, that I added the high and low to the document instead of hoping that the students would remember where to put them.
I have the kids put 14 pages in their weather journals, to watch the weather for 2 weeks, which is enough time (usually) for changes to occur, for fronts to move through, to see that what is happening in CA one day moves into NM a few days later. For the first week, we visit The Weather Channel, look at the local paper, and watch a local weather forecast as a class, to ensure that all the students understand what to watch for and how to record the weather in their journals. The second week, I expect them to do on their own, using our class computers or by watching the local news/reading the local paper.
Sunday, January 22, 2012
Here is the foldable classifying cloud types by their position in the atmosphere. The info inside is kept quite simple and concise for our fourth grade needs.
The book is made from copy paper or cardstock. Cut the 8 1/2" x 11" paper into four strips, lengthwise. Each student will get two of these. Slightly off-set the strips before folding, and fold so they are off-set. This provides the graduated page lengths. The clouds are just hand-cut, though the title one is pop-dotted. The cirrus were kept wispy, and the stratus smoother and more narrow.
Step 2 of preparing my students for our weather unit is ensuring they all have background knowledge of clouds, as one of our lessons has us trying to predict weather using our cloud knowledge. Our first lesson on clouds, then, is exploring what they are and why they look like they do and behave the way they do. I help the kids create the shape book and give them general directions for format and info, but I put the kids into groups and provide readings that allow them to find the info I ask them to include in their booklet. I also leave room, at the bottom and on the back, for the students to come up with questions they’d like to still have answered. If it something I know they can find themselves, I will suggest they jump on our class computer to research it, but if it is something harder (sometimes things I don’t even know), I will help them research it.
We start with a piece of cardstock or copy paper folded in half. Some of the fold must be kept, in order for the shape to function as a booklet. I tell them to use as much of the paper as possible—large clouds give them more room to write, which increases neatness. I ask them to use bullets (which they know from previous lessons) to identify when a new, separate piece of info is being presented, and I ask them to tell me what a cloud is, how they are created, why they move and float, why they are white or gray, and how they are classified.
BTW, I ask them to add color to the cover. As an artist, I spend a lot of time teaching my kiddos to pay attention to the world around them, and part of this is realizing that most things in nature are not a single color. I couldn’t, in good conscience then, let them show me a solid, white cloud!
In a week, my class will be moving on from the scientific method to weather. In order to activate prior knowledge (and also to ensure all my students have this background understanding), we will start by discussing the water cycle. They'll work together to create this foldable that labels, explains, and shows the water cycle.
It is just a regular sheet of cardstock or copy paper folded at 2 3/4" from both ends. This brings the flaps together at the center of the page. The flaps are cut at 4 1/4" or right in the middle, all the way to the fold line. Each step of the water cycle gets a flap of its own, and the image drawn inside, along with the description, go with that particular step.
It is a quick, easy way to ensure all my kiddos have the same background for discussing the importance of weather.
Monday, January 16, 2012
I love foldables. They mean less copying for me (which also saves the school $), and the kids do ALL the work. There are no fill-in-the-blanks or multiple choice guessing. Here, then, is the foldable my class will be working on in social studies this coming week. We have read about the Spanish exploration of NM and discussed our thoughts as a class. Now, the students will create a timeline to help solidify the learning and to give it a time context. I’ll give them time, once the foldables are made, to quiz each other and use them as a study tool.
The base is just a regular sheet of colored, copy paper divided in half length-wise. The “booklets” are 2” x 5” strips that are folded in half. The cool part about creating stand alone timelines like this is that as we make others for later explorers to NM, they can be attached to create a ‘big picture’ of history and exploration in our state!
Sunday, January 1, 2012
January is when my grade level focuses on the scientific method. My class will do several class experiments together, practicing, but in just a couple of weeks, my students will be partnered into groups of 3 to do a science fair experiment for our school science fair. Not all of the 4 grades at my school will do this. Some will just create a class experiment and display board. I just find that letting the students do more on their own really makes for deeper learning and connection/commitment to the procedure and results.
Anyhow, I start by making sure all my students have a background in the scientific method. These foldables are one way I do this. The main foldable is a layered minibook. It has the steps of the scientific method. Above the step name, but under the previous flap, is information that helps students understand the step. I found the info and simplified its vocabulary to make it appropriate for the abilities of fourth graders. You can use this foldable for older or younger students by doing the same. The matchbook foldable is also a flap book. In the main book, the term “variables” is often used. Some of my students will know the basics of a variable; some won’t. However, I’ve never had a 4th grader that really understood that there are different kinds of variables, each with a name. So, we make this foldable to ensure all the students have the knowledge and vocab to use the scientific method.
Hope this helps or inspires your scientific method unit.