Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The One With the Bonus Points

I am not a big fan of extra credit in the classroom. I believe if students are doing what they are supposed to in the classroom on a regular basis, there will not be a need for it.

However, every once in awhile I will give my students an opportunity to earn a few bonus points. Today was one of those days. They had a particularly hard TLI test today. I can't tell you how many students were struggling with it. I really believe it was the wording of the questions that stumped them. I know they know this stuff. All that to say that today was the perfect day for what I had planned.

I do several things in my classroom that I learned from my 4th grade teacher. Those things I remember doing and loving in her class. Every once in awhile she would randomly put post-its on a few test. These post-its had little things for us to do to earn some bonus points on our test.

So today I randomly planted 8 (I have about 85 students) post-it notes on my students' math test. Each post-it activity was worth five points. They say things like "do 5 jumping jacks for 5 bonus points", "hop like a frog while saying ribbit", or "sing your abc's backwards". Lots of fun things to make us laugh in the middle of what is a stressful moment for some students.

Out of the 8 students who received post-its, only 4 were willing to perform for us today. The rules are that it is completely their choice rather or not they do the activity. I won't make anyone stand up and doing something like that. However, if they choose not to do it, they can't pass it to someone else. It's theirs to take or leave.

The students loved it. It was definitely a little fun that was much needed today.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The One With The Atmsophere

**This post is without pictures. I can't get my iPad to cooperate and I'm tired of letting it sit in my drafts. Sorry.

We have officially started our unit on weather. This might be one of my favorite units. It really lends itself to hands on "in the field" observations. It is something the students find useful because they can largely see how weather impacts their every day life.

We always start with our atmosphere. Students learn the different layers of the atmosphere and their characteristics.

Today we did a scale model of the layers of the atmosphere using a meter stick, colored pencils, and adding machine tape. My students really enjoy this activity and as the teacher I love the visual it provides them.

All you need is adding machine tape, colored pencils, and meter sticks.

I measured and cut the adding tape ahead of time. Each person or group (I have done this with both options) needs a strip of tape that measures 3.5 meters. For me it was just easier to do this step for them.

I'm always a fan of lessons that allow my students to get out of their seat and move around. For this particular lab, my students were down in the floor measuring. They loved it! I loved it!

They are able to practice the skills of following directions and measuring which is great.

You can find this activity here. I will tell you though, my students find these directions a little confusion. I have taken some things out and simplified the directions slightly. I've done it both ways for several years and honestly find that we have less problems with my simpler version. You might be able to help me and clarify the original version.

If you would like my version shoot me an email. I would be happy to share it with you.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The One With A New Semester

My Christmas break is almost over. I will be back in the classroom doin' my thang on Wednesday. I have to admit I've missed my students. I cannot wait to hear about their Christmases. At the same time, I've truly enjoyed this time off. I have been holed up in my scrapbook corner just working away. It's been nice.

I had slacked off from the blog toward the end of last semester. I hope to pick back up this semester and continue going strong through out the rest of the school year.

We have some big things planned for the upcoming semester. Things that I hope go as well in real life as they do in my head and plans. We will be starting geometry in math. I must confess, I do not enjoy this area of math, yet it is easy to make hands-on. I like that!

Science brings us to our unit on weather. Lots of outside observations will be occurring.

Benchmark is right around the corner. Do you have any fun things you do to help students prepare?