Friday, May 31, 2013

Great App for Teaching Symmetry

Recognize this face?  I use this image to teach my fourth grade students about symmetry.  Of course, Abraham Lincoln was known for his asymmetrical face, and the above image showcases lines of symmetry beautifully!

(An added bonus:  I teach at Abraham Lincoln Accelerated Learning Academy, so my students are extra enthusiastic about this lesson!)

In the past, I've had my students snap photos of each other and then run off multiple copies plus "flip" copies so that we can create similar images of the students with a left side+flipped left side image, the original photo in the center, and a right side+flipped right side image.  The kids love this activity so much, but it is REALLY TOUGH to accomplish in a single math period.  It also can become a tad confusing and usually it takes a student a few tries to get this correct.

In the end, we put the images onto a large set of classroom posters entitled:  The SymMEtry of ME!  When posted in the hallway, they're a real crowd pleaser.

I'm always on the lookout for ways to incorporate great apps into my curriculum, so imagine my surprise when I found an app that could take a student's photo and create symmetrical images...

Enter Face Symmetry Tester HD for iPad.  This FREE app allows the user to take a photo and then create images with the left side and right side of the face.  What used to take my students over an hour now takes 20 minutes for a class of 25 kiddos.  PLUS...I can make a cool slideshow of the students since the images are saved with my photos.  How cool is that?

Here's a sample of one of my lovelies...Rylee!  This is what she created:

Face Symmetry Tester HD is an excellent resource that you and your students are sure to love!



An Uncommon to the Core Teacher

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Made It Monday-May Edition

Holy cow!  I can't believe it is time to link up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for another Made It Monday!  If you haven't checked out what all the hubub is all about, you need's just that great!

As my fourthies and I are becoming more familiar with CCSS, we are also finding lots of ways that CCSS and Smarter Balance are different than our current state tests.  The "ante has been upped" and questions are certainly a skosh more robust than what we are used to.

Case in point:  questions involving area and perimeter.  Gone are the days when the diagram gives you the measurements on a quadrilateral.  The questions contain more steps and require students to dig a bit deeper.

In trying to prepare my kiddos for the rigor and reach higher than what is asked, because that's really what I'm aiming my students much more that what they need and really encouraging them to think beyond...I put together today's Made It.

I'm living the dream...truly.  (No sarcasm here.  I love what I do and I love my kids.)

So enter the "Pop Your Top" card decks.  I'm giving you access to the file of four pages with teacher notes here.

I bought these great tin coasters at Target in the Dollar Spot for $3.00.  They were a little spendy, but so stinkin' cute that I walked away with 6 packs of them!  They had "classroom learning center" written all over them!  Of course, when I opened them at home, they had this written on the inside:

While I do love the sentiment, these do not make for wonderful center tools...unless you alter them a bit.  Here's my take on them:

You could also create a small deck (think Spot It) and use them as flat disks or back them up on cardboard coasters in order to better reinforce the cards.  Lamination in this is instance is, of course, a must.  I used the great tin coasters that look like ginormous bottle caps.

I left the activities open a bit for teachers to use as they see fit.  I totally envision either earning the cards by completing them correctly or even a match it game for your advanced learners.  I have this 24-card deck set up to be played either way or...better yet...come up with your own version!  (There are 12 pairs with identical answer/responses that could be matched up!)

The answers are embedded into the QR codes, so a reader is a must.  (Always looking for a technology satisfies my inner geek!)  I used as a resource to make the codes.  It works really well!

So what are you waiting for?  Why not download this deck and get a move on!

Happy Monday!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Language Arts Must Read Mentor Text Linky: Arnie the Doughnut

It's Sunday, which means another great linky party with Amanda and Stacia over at Collaboration Cuties.  This is always an opportunity to learn about great books that really work in the classroom.

Why not join in the fun by clicking on this link?

A favorite of my students is Arnie the Doughnut, by Laurie Keller.

Where to I begin to sing the praises of Sweet Arnie?  He's a doughnut who doesn't realize that his job...his sole purpose for to be eaten.  So, when the nice man comes and takes Arnie away from his cozy home in the bakery case to his new home, a comfy "bed" is created with a soft napkin on a lovely plate...and then...

You get the picture.

I use Arnie the Doughnut to teach the following:

  • dialogue
  • point-of-view
  • tongue-in-cheek humor
  • puns/plays on words
Arnie's just too stinkin' cute to not use.

He's a great read aloud with lots of little "side commentaries" that make the kids laugh out loud.  (I can never have too much of that!)

So put yourself and your kiddos in a sweet mood and pull out Arnie the Doughnut today.  He's a sweet treat you'll find yourself going back to again and again!

Have a Sweet Sunday!


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Guided Reading Recommendation for Workshop Wednesday this is two posts in one day, but it's a great day to be linking up and this one is too hard not to weigh in on!

I love Guided Reading with the 4th and 5th grades because you are helping your kids become fluent and MATURE readers, so this tends to take on a Literature Circle feel.  

Another opportunity to work with this age of students is in the form of "Anchor Texts."  Using Anchor Texts with the whole group helps the teacher to better model what goes on inside a fluent and mature reader's head as they read more complex/sophisticated texts.

This year my teaching partner, the AMAZING LINDA, and I chose Jerry Spinelli's book, Maniac Magee, as our Anchor Text with our fourthies and were totally floored by how our kiddos responded to this text!

In addition to being a Newberry Award winner, Maniac Magee is also chock full o' great similes and metaphors.  Spinelli really has a way with words and many of our kiddos try to emulate his style in Writer's Workshop.  Needless to say, Linda and I get a ton of bang for the buck with this book!

In order to do Anchor Texts well with our kids, we purchase each student his/her own copy of the book.  Not only does the kid own the book, but he/she is encouraged to make "tracks in the snow" by underlining text that appeals to them and making notes in the margins.  Our kids get really involved in reading the book and go much deeper than we ever thought possible.

How does this translate over to Guided Reading?  Well...we don't allow our kids to write in the copies of the book, but we do encourage them to take those "tracks in the snow" over to their books by making notes on sticky notes and putting them in the book.  The kids love this and stay super-engaged during the process.

I'd love to hear how you use Maniac Magee in your classrooms!  Drop me a line and let me know!

Have a Wonderful Workshop Wednesday!


Art Snacks

Holy cow!  I can't believe May is already here!

I'm always looking for great ways to engage my fourthies in meaningful and fun activities that allow them to put their listening skills to good use.  I'd like to think I'm highly entertaining, but my kiddos constantly remind me that I should always be on the lookout for "better material!"

A fabulous resource that I love putting up on the Smartboard is Art Snacks.  Kevin Honeycutt is the narrator and "artist in residence."  His offerings include lots of kid-friendly things to draw...sharks, bugs, and even the occasional cartoony looking cat locked in the car.

My kids love Art Snacks and this is a great way to pull them together as they come in from recess.  I have this up and running as they walk through the door.  Needless to say, they come in quietly and look foward to drawing with Kevin.

Just like any good snack, Art Snacks are short...usually about 10 minutes or less.  They always leave you wanting more!

They cover some of the CCSS (listening standards) and they engage and motivate just about every kiddo in the room.

What are you waiting for?  Why not try out an Art Snacks with your students today?  You'll be glad you did!

Happy Tuesday All!