Sunday, July 29, 2012

Regions of the United States Project

This year, I really need to do something to liven up my Social Studies lessons. While most 4th graders are busy studying their states, we are learning about the entire United States. The scope of our standards is HUGE, and I don't feel like my students get much out of what study.

In order to help my students get more out of Social Studies, I want to do something to connect them to peers in the various regions of the United States. I am still on the fence about exactly what to do. I have thought about doing a postcard exchange, but I really would like the activity to have a bit more depth. I am hoping to find classes around the country (at least 1-2 in each region we study) who are willing to do a few different activities with us throughout the year that aligns to our standards. I think the postcard exchange could be one great component, but I think I'd like to plan some other activities such a questionnaire or survey, letter-writing, and some technology activities. I want my students to have some ownership of this activity, so final decisions about activities will not be made until school starts. My hope is to have three or four high-quality activities to share with our sister schools that do not take immense amounts of time.

If you are interested in being one of the classes we connect with, please leave a comment with a way to contact you (blog or email would be great!) and what state you live in! I'd really love to work with 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade classes in the Northeast, Midwest, Southwest, and West regions. We are in Southeast region, but would love to connect with other Southeastern classes as well!

Map found on:

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Preventing Crazy Behavior :)

Today I wanted to share a few things that I do in my classroom (along with my 4th grade team) to keep the students' behavior on track. I was blessed with such an awesome class this past year, but I know that our rising 4th graders are very talkative and active, so I have a feeling I will get some major use out of these behavior ideas this year!

Whole Class: 

Behavior BINGO-The students earn "BINGO" numbers for various positive behaviors including all students staying on green on our behavior chart, all turning homework in, walking in the halls silently, etc. Each day (or every few days), we draw numbers and they mark them on the hundred chart we use as a BINGO board. When the students earn BINGO, they get to choose from a variety of whole-class rewards like class outside, extra recess, free computer time, etc. I might change up the BINGO slightly this school year, as it seemed to take a long time for the students to actually get a BINGO. One idea I have is to use a slightly smaller grid (maybe 8 x 8 instead of 10 x 10). The students loved the excitement of drawing the numbers,and they really worked hard so that they could enjoy the rewards.

Bucket Fillers-We use Bucket Fillers school-wide in conjunction with our guidance/character education. This year, I plan to have each student decorate their own paper bucket for use on a bulletin board. Students can write kind things about each other, and this will allow me to give students "Bucket Filler" slips which are used for a weekly drawing for a special seat at lunch, a certificate, and some other small rewards.


Card System-I used to think that card systems were "babyish" for 4th grade, but after using one for the past 2 years, I really think it works for my students. It makes communicating w/parents about student behaviors much easier. Students can monitor their own daily behavior. Everyone starts on GREEN each day. The other card colors are YELLOW for a warning, ORANGE for a consequence like sitting out of recess for a few minutes, and RED which means a phone call home. I was fortunate to only have a student get to red twice all year this past school year! This year, I think I will add a form to the student binders so that they can mark their color for each day to keep track.

What are some of the things you do in your classroom to help keep things running smoothly? 

Monday, July 23, 2012

What a Bunch of GREAT Deals!!!

I am SOOOOO excited about everything I found at the Dollar Tree today! Last year, I waited too long and the good stuff was gone. Today I found:

 1. Supply bins for my table groups

2. Lots of clothes pins

3. Erasers

4. 200 packs of ruled index cards

5. Cute word strips

6. Ziploc bags for my "Duct Tape Quilt" to show off student work (I also picked up this duct tape at Target. I wish the Dollar Tree had some.)

7. And my absolute favorite find: Book baskets for all of my students!!! (Well, if I don't have a huge class, that is!)

I also got some things at Target's $1 section, but I wasn't terribly impressed this year. What great deals have you found this year???

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Blog Awards and Crazy Week

First of all, I want to say THANK YOU! to those who have nominated me for the various blog awards over the past few weeks. I am so sorry I have not had time to "pay it forward", but hopefully today or tomorrow I can search through "teacher blog-land" and find some worthy nominees :-) This week has been crazy already! I had jury duty on Monday, and was chosen to serve on a jury for a trial that started yesterday. Funny thing was that out of the 12 jurors...4 of us were teachers! Anyway, we all arrived for the trial yesterday, sat and waited for 2 hours, only to be called in and dismissed because the person on trial accepted a last minute deal to plead guilty to a lesser charge. It was my first time on a jury, and it was very interesting to see the judicial system at work. Today, I am heading to my school to help a dear friend pack up her classroom :-( She will be transferring to TURKEY! It will be a super-exciting journey for her. So, on my list of things to do this week is to search out some great new blogs to nominate for awards! I promise I will get this done by Monday :)

Sunday, July 15, 2012


In 2010, I received a MAEd in Instructional Technology from a local university. Over the past 2 years, I have been working on a graduate certificate in Computer-based Instruction. Eventually, I'd also like to get a graduate certificate in Distance Learning and Administration. Even with this background, I feel like my knowledge of using technology in education is lacking. I really want to stay on top of things, especially since technology grows at such a rapid rate! Does anyone have suggestions for really great Instructional Technology blogs or websites? In my school, it is unlikely we will have access to tablets anytime soon, but we are blessed with several classroom computers, SmartBoards, and document cameras. I really feel out of the loop, and I'd love to learn and share with my colleagues at my school who feel the same way!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A giveaway!

Sara at Fourth Grade Fanatics is giving away some great prizes! Head over to her site to check it out :)
Fourth Grade Fanatics

Losing my summer motivation

Uh-oh! Just 3 weeks into summer break, and I am losing my motivation to get things organized for next school year. Actually, I am sure it was the one week of painting my children's bedrooms and then 2 weeks of vacation that caused the motivation to disappear. Oh well, it has been fun! Time to start planning for next year...I will be teaching Reading/Writing/Language Arts again, so that is going to be my main focus. This past year, we "teamed" and I taught Math to two groups and my partner teacher taught the Reading/Writing/Language Arts. I am really excited to be back to a "self-contained" classroom this year. I loved working with two groups of students, and my partner teacher was great, but our schedule was so fixed and I missed being able to integrate lessons easily and to take extra time for those teachable moments. I really want to try Daily 5/CAFE in my classroom. Does anyone have any great advice for doing this in 4th grade? It seems a lot of the resources out there are geared to the primary levels. However, I can totally see the value of Daily 5/CAFE in the upper-elementary grades as well. I figure I will adjust the "5" as needed (I have seen some 4th/5th grade teachers suggest doing 3 of the 5). Well, just sitting down to write this blog post has given me some of my motivation back :) I need to research Daily 5/CAFE for 4th grade, then I will post any great resources I find here!