Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Science Week Day 2- Favorite websites and videos

I missed out yesterday on favorite science books, but I am linking up today to share some of my FAVORITE Science Websites and Videos. Teaching Science is one of my favorite parts of the school day. I am fortunate to team with another fabulous teacher (author of Learning In 4th).  I get to teach both of our classes Science and she teaches both of our classes Social Studies. LOVE this arrangement!

My ALL TIME favorite website with videos to use is Scholastic's Study Jams

Study Jams has many Jams/videos on a variety of Science and Math topics. Many of the videos have karaoke style songs to help teach concepts. Each video also has interactive quizzes at the end of each segment. My kids love Study Jams and are always excited to hear we will be watching one!

Discovery Education is another favorite! It is a subscription site, but I know many schools who subscribe. This website has thousands of videos! The videos are broken into segments making it easier to choose the exact parts I want to use!

Wonder of the World- has great activities and experiments!

Looking forward to seeing everyone's favorites and adding some new ideas to my Science bag of tricks!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Super FUN Give-away!!

Mrs. Saoud over at Primary Graffiti is having an AWESOME giveaway that I am super excited about! I had never heard of this tool. It is the Easi-Speak USB Recorder! Wow how cool is that???  I can think of tons of ways to utilize this in my classroom! Hop on over to Primary Grafitti and check it out!

Presenting with Prezi

So this past summer I had a short hour long professional development introducing me to Prezi. I am just now getting around to trying it out! My students are studying animal adaptations in Science to help us prepare for our upcoming overnight field trip to the Cincinnati Zoo! (LOVE this field trip!)
Tomorrow we will be learning about behavioral adaptations. I created my very first Prezi to help me present information. I love being able to add youtube clips! It is VERY easy. I found great clips on hibernation, migration and mimicry to include. Check out my first attempt and see how easy and FUN Prezi can be!!!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fun with Character Traits!

This week we have been focusing on character traits. We have learned that we can identify a character's traits by studying their thought, actions and words. To culminate our week, the students created character trait cut outs. WHAT FUN! ( I am pretty sure I saw this idea on pinterest....I would love to give credit where credit is due!) The students chose a character trait from our character trait anchor chart, cut a large circle for their face in a white piece of paper, titled the paper with their chosen character trait, and finally added thoughts, actions and words someone with this character trait might think, do or say! They got very creative! We took lots of great pictures and even got a few students to do a video portraying a character with their trait. Definately a lesson I plan to repeat in future years. The students really seemd to grasp how to identify character traits! Here are some photos to show off our fun and amazing learning experience!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Site Visits......A Favorite Thing!

Today I had an opportunity to do one of my favorite things.....visit another school in a neighboring district. Our goal was to observe strategies they are using with their ESL population. We have a growing number of ESL students in our district, and were observing to find strategies to help us close the gap. I LOVE LOVE LOVE going to visit other classrooms! I always learn soooo much! I know we are already doing wonderful things in the school where I teach, but there is always room for growth and new ideas! What better people to learn from than our colleagues! If I can walk away from a site visit with one new fresh idea, I always feel like it was worth it!   Guess what... it was worth it!  While many of the things I observed, I already knew, sometimes it's nice to have the reminder and refresher and see ideas in action! The following are a few of the strategies these teachers are using with their ESL population that they shared and feel are the most effective:
1. Build background knowledge
2. Vocabulary, vocabulary, vocabulary
3. Slow down your rate of speech
4. Extend wait time
5. Peer conversations (turn and talk)

All of these are things I think we know as teachers, but it is definitely nice to have the refresher and see these strategies in action! In addition to seeing ESL strategies in action, I also picked up a new writing strategy/frame I am anxious to try with my language arts class..... The 3.5 paragraph! Be watching for more information on this writing frame as I try it out in my classroom!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A New 4th Grade Blog

A quick shout out tonight to my teaching partner,(and partner in crime) Mrs. Vance!  She has made her debut post! Check out her amazing ideas at Learning in 4th .Welcome to blogging world! Can't wait to see what you have in store!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Science Fun!

Ok..... so yes it has been several weeks since I've posted. No... I don't really have a valid excuse, other than school started! However, I am finally feeling like I am getting into the swing of things! Hopefully I will do a better job keeping up with blogging now. Lots of exciting experiments and fun has been happening in science! (I do admit it is probably my favorite subject to teach.)  I am lucky to get to teach 2 sections of Science!
We began our year with plant structures and functions and have now moved into animal classification.
Our first experiment involved the students creating clay structures to represent vertebrates and invertebrates. Students created vertebrates using clay molded around a straw to represent a backbone, and invertebrates using clay without a straw to mold around to represent the lack of a backbone. They were quickly able to see the differences!

We moved on to classification of vertebrates. I was fortunate enough to find a frog in my coffee pot while camping over Labor Day weekend. (Don't worry...the coffee was cold!) He was the perfect way for the students to make observations of an amphibian! His name is Max...short for Maxwell. Afterall, it was Maxwell House Coffee!  We will be setting him free on Friday!
And if you think that was luck...imagine our surprise when a grasshopper decided to attach himself to our classroom window screen at the precise moment we are completing a compare/contrast activity of insects (a grasshopper) and arachnids (a spider). he only hung around for one class period, but he was captured with my iphone to share with the other class!

                      I LOVE Life Science!

Friday, August 12, 2011

First Week Fun... Saving Fred

School started on Wednesday and I am tee-totally worn out now that it is Friday! I have a great new group of 4th graders and am looking forward to watching them learn and grow this year!
As one of two 4th grade science teachers, I am always looking for new ideas. I think I hit the JACKPOT! One of the terrific ideas I got this summer from either bloggy friends or pinterest... (can't remember which since I stalked both on a daily basis) was the Saving Fred experiment for my 4th grade science classes. WOW! What fun and a terrific team building and problem solving activity! The plan I followed comes from here.
The goal is to save fred (a gummy worm) by retrieving his life preserver ( gummy life saver) from under the boat (clear plastic cup) using only 4 paper clips. Fred is stranded on top of the cup!
See what I mean... Poor Fred!
But never fear..... I am happy to report that ALL 20 Fred's were saved today at Huntertown Elementary, thanks to some amazing 4th grade problem solvers!
After the students completed the experiment, they completed a flowchart, in their Interactive Science Notebooks, showing the steps they took to save Fred. They then had to include a written description, and answer questions about problems they encountered.
All I can say is this is a definate repeat experiment for next year! I can not wait to get all my photo releases in so I can post pictures of the kids. If you could have only seen their faces! And of course each pair wanted their picture taken with Fred once he was saved! I do admit that their affection for Fred did not last long... he and his life preserver ended up in their tummies! What fun!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Classroom Pictures Update

This will be my second year teaching 4th grade after many years in primary. I am really looking forward to the new year. Like all of you, I have been busy the last couple weeks getting my classroom ready. I decided to stick with my hollywood theme and just add some new things.
Here are a few pictures of some of the additions/changes.
This is my front door.
My desk and small group meeting area. I opted not to use the crates for storage, so they are simply crates turned upside down with chair cushions tied on.
Here is our homework/assignment board
Student work- Bravo board
Student check-in center and mailboxes.
It is finally feeling homey again. Kiddos come tomorrow! Very excited!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Currently I am... Linky Party

Oh Boy Fourth Grade is hosting a fun Currently I am... linky party. As I know we are all super busy right now, I thought this would be a GREAT way to get a post in!
So.... Currently I am...
Listening to my beloved summer morning quietness... coffee dripping, dogs rousing, and the hustle and bustle of OTHER cars racing up and down my street on their way to work. Oh is it really true, that this is my VERY last morning enjoying this for the summer? sniff sniff
Loving my new iphone! Long story short. My last "hoo-rah" of the summer weekend trip resulted in my beloved Blackberry taking a bath. I had been wanting an iphone, but am having to take tutorials from my son on how to use it. It really is amazing though!
Thinking about how I really need to be getting dressed and going to school to prepare for Meet and Greet tonight. Last minute touches!
Wanting the ability to wiggle my nose. (Remember Samantha from Bewitched???) Wouldn't that make beginning of the year preparations a snap?
Needing to get ink cartridges for my printer! Wow I go through A LOT! And of course school color ink has disappeared as well.
1. Oh Boy Fourth Grade
2. Yearn to Learn
3. Go Fourth! With Mrs. Owens
Ok, so I have NO idea why half way through this post I lost the ability to highlight items for hyper-linking and font changes. (Sorry) Even tried a restart. Hmmmmmmm.... Guess it's time to go to school! Have a GREAT day everyone!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

Can I just say WOW! I was reading through my blog list (late) last night and found out I won a GREAT set of math task cards from Denise over at Yearn to Learn! Yippppeeeee! Thanks Denise! I must say my 20 and 22 year sons were a bit overwhelmed by my enthusiasm, but heck my name or number NEVER gets drawn! (My 20 year old will get it soon... he's an education major! Ha!)
The task cards are wonderful and will be very useful. Check out her task cards at
Thanks again!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Time Is Near

It's hard to believe there are only 16 days of summer left... where did the summer go???? While I can't complain too much because I have had my share of summer adventure (NASCAR races, camping fun, pool time and motorcycle trips etc.), it IS hard to let go!
I have learned sooooo... much this summer from teacher blogs and have really enjoyed trying my hand at it! Not to mention my new addiction to pinterest...WOW! I could spend hours.
Now... how do you choose which of the many WONDERFUL ideas to implement?????
These are my "plans":
1. Implement a more structured multiplication facts daily homework program.
2. Make 6 crate seats for guided reading table.
3. Use anchor charts more....I have found many wonderful models on pinterest.
4. Improve my writing workshop with Lucy Calkins Units of Study.
5. Do more hands on science experiments and utilize interactive science notebooks better.
6. Integrate technology seamlessly throughout my curriculum.
OK...I'm overwhelmed even typing it. This is only my 2nd year in 4th grade. I taught kindergarten and first grade for my 1st 17 years. So...... look out 2nd year of fourth grade... here I come! Thank you all for your sharing of wonderful ideas!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Blog Mixer Linky Party

Yearn to Learn is hosting a TERRIFIC blog mixer party! I've had a great time looking at all the picks!

Here are my discoveries...

1. New Kid on the Block: ME! Fourth Grade Fanatic I began blogging earlier this month and am really enjoying...

2. Same Grade Level: (4th) There are many great fourth grade blogs that I am learning so much from. I especially enjoy Fourth Grade Frolics!

3. Different Grade Level: One Extra Degree- She has some great ideas

4. Cutest Blog Button: Set This Circus Down

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Woo Hoo! Success! I am very excited this morning because after several tutorials (thanks to all), and many attempts, I have a blog button! Feel free to grab my button! Thanks so much for all the welcoming comments during my induction into blogging world!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Top Ten Things About Me :-)

I am joining my first Linky Party with Mrs. Owen's 10 Things About Me.

10. I am the proud mother of two amazing young men. Tyler-22 and Trevor-20. They have hearts of gold and are my strength and inspiration!

9. I am happily married to an incredible man!

8. I am an animal lover. We have 2 dogs and 2 cats.

7. I have lived lots of places: Born in New York, moved to KY, then to New Jersey, back to KY, then to California, to Maryland and FINALLY back home to good ole Kentucky! (and I am never leaving!)

6. I have naturally curly hair and straighten it EVERY day. (I am hair obsessed)

5. I am directionally challenged! (Thank goodness I live in a small town)

4. I love camping, motorcycling and summertime cookouts with friends and family.

3. I think Dairy Queen Blizzards are the bomb.

2. I tend to get too many little projects going at once. I have to be busy.

1. I LOVE my job! I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. (My apologies to all my friends I use to MAKE play school with me for hours when we were kids!)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Common Core Standards Anyone???

So how many of us are implementing the Common Core Standards this coming school year? My school district has been working diligently to break down the math and english/language arts standards into student friendly targets. I was fortunate to work with a few other 4th grade teachers in my district to help with the break down of the english/language arts standards. I feel pretty comfortable in that area. Math not so much. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with the amount of math content to be covered. Lots of content has been moved down a grade level or so. In fourth grade I am noticing LOTS more fractions! If you have been working with the common core standards... what are the biggest changes you notice? What resources have you found that will help with the implementation? I found these websites for math and They have practice activities in each grade that are correlated to the common core standards. Feel free to leave a comment with any resources you have found!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hollywood Theme Classroom

So I guess this will be my first official blog!!!! :-) I moved from Kindergarten/First grade to Fourth grade last year after 17 years. I absolutely LOVED it! (Can't believe all you intermediate people kept such a good secret!) I decided on a Hollywood theme for my fourth graders and will be adding to it this year. Have a look around my classroom! Would love to hear suggestions on things to add! Already thinking about the beanbag chairs someone blogged about! They look so comfy! Really looking forward to blogging and the upcoming school year!

About Me

My photo
I have been teaching for 20 years. This year I am beginning a new adventure as I move on up to 5th grade!