Sunday, February 25, 2018

Sneaking in {extra} Science...

I don't know about you, but teaching Science is my nemesis.  While I love to teach it, I just don't have the time it takes to do it all.  In 5th grade in Minnesota, students take a "high stakes" test on science....and this year the test is being given the end of March, the week before spring break.  This test encompasses all the standards they should've been taught and have built upon from Kinder-4th, not to mention the new material they are to learn from the 5th grade standards.

There is a heavy weight on 5th grade teachers' shoulders to fit it all in; to review science from previous grades that may not have been mastered or a standard that may have been overlooked by a teacher, as well as make sure students are up to speed with 5th grade learning.  It's a lot to digest.

As we head into the final 3.5 weeks before we take "The Test," I have thought a lot about how I am going to sneak in that review,  bring topics to the forefront of my students' frontal lobes, and in general, just make them curious about the world.

Here are a few ways I am going to amp up science, while also making sure we continue our progress through the gajillion other 5th grade standards:

1) Science Reading
I have a plethora or articles and resources involving science topics.  We will work on these to not only learn/review the science concepts, but also to look at text structures, vocabulary, tone, etc.  Many of these I got from TpT from some of my favorite teacher-authors!  Its a win-win when I can do cross-curricular activities with the students; killing two birds with one stone.

2) Bill Nye

Not gonna lie, I love Bill Nye.  A lot of good videos can be found on YouTube to discuss concepts that I can't necessarily create a lab for in my classroom, or will at least provide them with some exposure to concepts I don't understand (like Black Holes...I just don't get them!)

3) Quiz Wiz

We have been doing this all school year, actually.  Daily, my students have a question to look up as homework (it takes approx. 2 minutes each night for them to complete!)  My students love finding out new terms and information...often they will find the answer and continue researching about the topic or will come with new questions to ask me!  I have a TON of questions, but have created Weather, Animals, Human Body, and far!

{Find all my Quiz Wiz Sets on TpT}

4) Study Island
My school has purchased this to use for all 5th graders.  I plan to assign a task each day to complete, something they can get done during the school day, hopefully.  I don't find this platform to be super user friendly, and some of the games students get bored of quickly, but if I can make earning badges/trophies a competition, I think they will buy into it and get something out of the review!  My school is Beta testing some reading and math programs for the Edmentum company, which I really like.  I hope that the company can get Study Island on track with those (called ExactPath) soon.

5) Mystery Science
This "show" and activities have been a game changer for me this year!  My students are curious about the world and this platform helps to solidify that it's okay to be curious and answers their questions in a straight forward, kid-friendly manner.  We have done a few of the activities they provide, like creating an "Xray" of the human hand, and my students always have a blast!

How do you sneak in {extra} science, or amp up any other curriculum exposure for that matter, into your day, when there is just not enough time?

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Capitalizing on the Super Bowl in My Classroom

The Super Bowl is coming to MN and I couldn’t be any more excited! I am a huge fan of all things celebrity, and I love my home state, so this is the perfect mash-up in my world!  And although I am bummed about the Vikings not being a part of the Super Bowl, I thought I would capitalize on this and throw a Super Bowl themed “party” in my classroom!  The entire week leading up to the big game, I am going to transform my room with a football theme. #SetTheStageToEngage

For ELA, Math, and Social Studies/Science we will be doing all things related to the big game!  Below is my general plan; I have linked to some awesome resources from great teacher-authors on TpT!  These are both Free and Paid Resources.  (note: I am not getting anything in return for mentioning these resources, I just love to share what I am using in my own classroom!)

To start, I actually reached out to parents in my classroom to supply football themed snacks and drinks (orange gatorade) as well as fun decorations!  The response I've gotten have been pretty overwhelming, so my students are going to walk into a fun, decked-out room on the 29th!

Monday, Jan 29

I am actually going to start by breaking my class into a few teams.  I have 24 in my class, so I am thinking 6 teams of 4 would work well.  In the Close Reading Packet below for Reading and Language, Shelly Rees included a page that has students naming their own team and designing a jersey and such.  I am going to use that page from her packet and have students create a team TOGETHER, including a jersey, helmet, mascot, and team cheer/song!

Although there are no “standards” I can check off with this, the group collaboration, teamwork, communication, etc. is invaluable.  As a 5th grade teacher I need to remember I am helping to mold PEOPLE who will someday contribute to society and run our country; I need to make sure they have the skills they need!

In these teams, students are then going to work through various activities to earn points to help their team win the Super Bowl!

Reading and Language

Brief history on how American Football came to be and has changed throughout the years.  With close reading tasks to complete along the way, the students will be practicing good reading strategies while learning about the sport.


We complete one of these Solve and Colors monthly and my students love trying to figure out what the mystery picture is while practicing their multiplication and order of operations

Social Studies/Science

Using the reading passage above, I created a "breakout" challenge for the teams to complete using Google Forms.  The students have to find the right answer in the reading and submit it to the form.  Their are 4 questions (label 1st Quarter, 2nd Quarter, 3rd Quarter, 4th Quarter.)  When the teams enter the 4th correct answer, It says TOUCHDOWN with this graphic:

It will be the students' first opportunity to earn points throughout the week!

Tuesday, Jan 30

Reading and Language

Johnny Unitas vs Peyton Manning StoryWorks article
I used this article when I taught 6th grade; since it is from StoryWorks I don't have permission to post it, but you could read any article(s) that compares a football star from the past to one today.

I am going to have students use the information to fill out this Graphic Organizer; similar to a Venn Diagram.  Hopefully, we can then turn this information into a mini writing piece using some other organizers and sentence starters I have! 


Students get to flip paper footballs and try to make field goals.  They then compare the fraction of goals made with each other. {FREEBIE}

Social Studies/Science

Students are challenged to build a field goal that will stand using random items. {FREEBIE}
**Lisa has a whole Football STEM themed pack in her store if you're looking for more!

Wednesday, Jan 31

Reading and Language

Students will be doing some quick writing on their iPads using these writing prompts and then choosing one of the topics to expand upon and turn into a final piece!


Using the scores given, students find the Mean, Median, Mode, and Range of the data. {FREEBIE}

Social Studies/Science

Bouncing Ball Experiment by Laura Candler.  Students go through the scientific method process using various sports equipment, including a football.

Thursday, Feb 1

Reading and Language

Students will use the football phrases (like TOUCHDOWN) to make as many other words as possible, scoring points.  While this activity could be done alone, I may have my students do it in teams and then play it Scattergories style where they only score points for words other groups didn't think of!


Both of these {FREEBIES} look great!  My students are going to love using their knowledge of order of operations to try and score a "touchdown" by finding the target number.  They will also practice their multiplication facts trying to fill out the score cards for various teams with this fun math challenge.

Social Studies/Science

{Nothing planned, we have Band this day so many of my students leave the class.}

Friday, Feb 2

Reading and Language

My first degree is in Advertising so this lesson is very exciting; learning about the power of persuasion and ad tactics!  I hope we can introduce this and talk about it, giving students the task to come back after the Super Bowl with their favorite commercial to analyze! {FREEBIE}


My math class will graph teams' appearances and wins in the Super Bowl and then analyze the data for trends, the MMMR (Mean/Median/Mode/Range,) and Fractions/Decimals/Percents.

Social Studies/Science

We will be looking more into the history of football as well as how footballs are made using this video:  How it's Made: Wilson Leather Football (YouTube Link).  I am still looking for other sites and activities I want to do for this.

There it is, my football themed week!  Do you have any other activities I should sneak in or do the week following the big game?  If so, drop them in the comments below, as I am always looking for fun things to do to engage my class.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Year of Blog Posts on Conversations From the Classroom

January 1st marked the blogiversary of the collaborative blog I am a part of, Conversations from the Classroom.

I have learned a lot from the wonderful teachers and teacher-authors who I work with; through reading their posts, discussions on social media, etc.  These teachers are based in a variety of states and countries; it is enlightening to see how the education system runs and the struggles and triumphs we all face.

I like writing; it's a vice for me.  I get to process through my thoughts and feelings on topics, some more controversial than others. 

Here are my blog posts from the last year on the site.  Click on the thumbnail/picture to check them out (if you haven't read them already,) and let me know what you think.  While there, checkout some of the other posts written that fit your grade level or curiosities!

Valentine's Day in 5th Grade

Why students need adventures like an overnight camp

Are you on summer break but thinking about "next year" already?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Thinking ahead to Valentine's Day...

Last year, I wrote about Valentine's Day in 5th Grade on the collaborative blog I am a part of.  As I prepare for this year, I realized there are two things I realized I had forgot to mention.  These are some of my favorite activities to plan out and use, so I can't believe I forgot them {insert face palm!}


First, to piggyback off the post linked, we DON'T have a Valentine's Day party in 5th grade.  Instead, we spend the day (or close to it) giving back to our community and caring for others, by going to Feed My Starving Children and packing meals.  Since we started this, students have commented that this is one of their favorite memories from 5th grade.

This is my team in 2017 with our lovely hairnets on!


Every month my students spend a math class practicing their multiplication facts and order of operations by completing a Solve and Color.  This is a powerpoint that is set to transition automatically and each slide has the students solving an expression.  The students then color in the corresponding "answer" rectangle with the correct color, thus creating a picture.  They love to try and guess what the picture is going to be!


In this post I wrote about Stocking Stuffers done in December to increase the positive classroom community we have worked on through morning meetings and such.  In February, I like to continue the trend by having students complete a compliment book for each student in class.

I set this up like a scoot...students decorate and write their name on the cover.  Once we're ready, I set a time, and students move to their neighbors seat and write a compliment or kind message to that student.  We continue until everyone has written in each others.  This can take a couple of days to complete.  We, of course, discuss what a genuine compliment or note of kindness is beforehand, and I give student some time to process or think about they may want to write before jumping into the activity.

After all my students have written in each other's, I collect them and spend a few days writing my own notes to students.

I then put these in students' Valentines Bags for them to read!  They love seeing what others have to say about them, and many will flip to the back page to see what I wrote!

I just uploaded this as a new product on TpT, so let me know what you think :o)

A few other FREE products I have found on TpT:

Crankenstein Antonym Activity
Types of Sentences Scoot

If you have any other great products (free or paid!) that I should be using in my 5th grade classroom for February and Valentine's Day, please let me know in the comments.  I love supporting other teacher-authors and bringing products into my classroom!