Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Show not Tells!

I wanted to share with you one of our descriptive language mini lessons. Using show not tell is an excellent way to be descriptive without actually saying the feeling word. We talked about how to show an emotion without saying it... I modeled being angry, sad, excited, etc. etc. then we described it without saying that word. Next, the students partner modeled to each other these feelings. Then, each student was assigned a word and they had to draw that feeling and write a few sentences about it without saying that word. Finally, I put them on a tree map on my wall to remind us to use show not tells. This was the end project... 

Some of my favorites....

Have a wonderful evening! Peace, love, and teaching! 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

We made podcasts!!

(I wrote this yesterday but it didn't post for some reason...)

I hope everyone is having a wonderful day... I am just praying for NO snow tomorrow. While other teachers are doing the snow dance on the roof of the school, I keep thinking about the fact that we have 15 school days until the writing TAKS. I have been told to try and refrain from stating the number of days but that is what keeps flashing in my head like an annoying blinking neon sign. What has our testing done to us teachers???

Well, on a lighter note... I wanted to share with you all the podcasts that we made for our Alamo unit. Each student had to write a speech from the viewpoint of a Texas soldier (my GT students did it from the viewpoint of a Mexican soldier). They had to prepare their speech with at least 5 facts and their feelings of being there. Then they had to practice their speeches with expression, eye contact, and proper fluency. Lastly, they had to give their speech to the class. While they did this, I recorded their speeches on my handy dandy iPhone to put on a podcast for the parents and other people to listen to. The students LOVED it and they thought it was so cool that they could go online and get their speeches on iTunes.

I thought I might share the link with you so you could hear some of the speeches. There are 2 ways to get there... You can either go through the website http://missradkasclass.podbean.com/ and listen to the speeches on there. OR you can download them off iTunes by following these instructions...

      Go to iTunes
-          Click on ‘advanced’ drop down menu at the top
-          Click on ‘subscribe to podcast’;
-          A box will pop up… in that box type- http://missradkasclass.podbean.com/feed/
-          Then this should open in your podcast tab on the left.
-          Press ‘get’ to whatever speech you would like or ‘get all’ if you would like to listen to them all.
-          Enjoy!
Peace. love. Teaching.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sensory Language for our writing!

So, I was just thinking about how blessed I am to teach writing to my 42 4th graders. Yes, it is a challenge but it is a challenge that I love. Just looking at their writing from the beginning of the year until now is amazing because it really shows their growth. I am a big believer and trainer for 'Write from the Beginning'. A writing program that starts in Kindergarten and can go all the way up to high school. Basically it teaches kids to organize their pre-writing into thinking maps. It teaches the structure of a sentence, paragraph, and then paper starting in Kindergarten. This is wonderful because by the time they get to 4th grade- they are ready to get creative. It has a HUGE success rate in schools that use it and it turns teachers who are scared of teaching writing into confident writing teachers. I am sure that I will post many blogs on what my students are doing with their writing and I will definitely talk more about Write from the Beginning, but I just wanted to give you a little taste first... 

A few months ago we were talking about sensory language. Sensory language is language that makes you feel as though you are inside a paper. It plays on your 5 senses and makes vivid descriptions in a reader's mind. When I first introduced sensory language, I  asked my students to close their eyes and tell me about the cafeteria. What did they smell, see, taste, touch, and hear? They started brainstorming and we put their ideas into a tree map of all the sensory words. Then I asked them to expand and think of other words outside of the cafeteria that could fit inside our tree map. This is what it ended up looking like:

I then assigned each student one of the 5 senses and they had to write a sentence using their sensory language about the cafeteria. We put all of these into a tree map for the cafeteria. The students loved it, the other grade levels thought it was cool, and the staff thought it was very helpful! This project really helped my students understand what sensory language was all about. 

I will take a picture of the cafeteria tree map and post it here so I'm sorry I don't have it right now....

Well, I'm off to a friend's house to watch the super bowl. GO PACK GO! :-) Peace, love, and teaching. 

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Persuasive Writing at its finest...

So, I have now been some getting grief from my roommate because I am apparently now a 'blog head'. However, I quickly wanted to share this piece of persuasive writing with you that one of my students wrote to me in her 'Work on Writing' journal last fall... After reading it, I was almost convinced that I should give them more recess. Almost being the key word... :-)

So much voice for the beginning of 4th grade... now her writing is even better! Good thing too because the TAKS writing test is in a mere 3 weeks and we just had almost a full week of snow days... St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, patron saint of schools, pray for us!

Well, I'm out for the night. Thank you Angela for trying to persuade me that playing with my maltipoo, Miley, and making chocolate chunk cookies were way more fun activities to do on a Saturday night... 

Talk to you later lovely bloggers... I'm out. Peace love and teaching.


HUMPHREY IS ALIVE!!!! I was so nervous to walk in to my classroom because I thought that I may be burying our precious little guinea pig but thank you to our amazing, beautiful, wonderful, brilliant custodial staff... HE IS ALIVE! 

School custodians really are the 'bomb dot com', aren't they?

Peace, Love, and Teaching.

Long live Humphrey, our class guinea pig

So, today is Saturday of the longest week ever. Day 5, snow day, to be exact. Since I grew up in the same district that I teach in now, I can't remember Keller EVER canceling 4 days of school in a row. I have tried to be productive this week but it is hard since I didn't ever anticipate being gone from school the entire week. Therefore, I left my papers to be graded, books, school computer, and last but certainly not least our classroom pet- Humphrey, the guinea pig- all up at school. 

Poor Poor Humphrey. I can only imagine what has happened to him... I feel like they should arrest me for animal cruelty or something, however, as my boyfriend pointed out when I was about to have a break down, there would have been absolutely no way to drive 25 minutes on the thick sheet of ice that blanketed the metroplex. It's devastating because I know that when my 4th grade friends come on Monday they will be looking for our cute, squealing, hay-eating, chubby guinea pig and I can only hope and pray that he is still with us.  

Matt and I are going to brave the lingering ice to try and make it up to school today. Please hope and pray that Humphrey is not in guinea pig heaven. 

So for now, I'm out. Peace, love, and teaching. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

All about Me!

Welcome to my blog! My name is Kristen and I am a 4th grade teacher in Texas. I adore my students and I love coming up with new fun lessons to make learning exciting! I would love to share my lessons, fun class times, and love for learning with you all.

Today was our 4th snow day in a row... Texas weather is ridiculous! I have done everything from watching endless amounts of TV, cleaning our apartment, spending personal time reading my new book Radiant by Marian Jordan (so good!), and now I started a 'teacher blog'. Thank you to my sister Kylie and her BFF Claire for introducing me to the blogging world. Now, I have something to do.

I wanted to introduce you to my amazing family...

Some of my wonderful, beautiful friends,

And my adorable boyfriend, Matt,

Now let's Q&A....

Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a teacher?
A: I would totally be a principal. Actually I have my masters in educational management so that someday this dream may be a reality.

Q: What are your hobbies?
A: Hanging out with my wonderful friends, St. Ann's Catholic Church Teens, shopping, reading loving on my boyfriend

Q: When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: Well, it was a mixture between doctor, teacher, and flight attendant. I kind of wanted to be all three! Can I still do that?

Q: What are your guilty pleasures?
A: WORLDWIDE TRAVELING!!! I love traveling. After spending time in Australia, I definitely have the travel bug.

Q: What is your biggest fear?!
A: Snakes... I hate them. Their slithering disgusting bodies make me shiver in my Banana Republic tan leather boots.

Q: When you’re on vacation, where do you like to go?
A: Anywhere out of the country.This summer I am going to be in a wedding in the Netherlands!

Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."— Mother Teresa

Q: What do you value most in others?
A: Integrity. I think this is the most important quality to have in a person.

Q: If you could choose one of your personality traits to pass down to your kids, what would it be?
A: My joy... I LOVE life. I try to live life as a reflection of God's glory.

Q: If you could have lunch with anyone in the world….living or dead…who would it be?
A: Mary. As the mother of Jesus and of all of us, I would love to just love on her.

Now tell us one random thing about yourself:
I am obsessed with anything Australia. After living there, it opened my eyes to just the world. I have tons of friends there and I was so blessed to have a student in my class this year from Melbourne. Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi!

I also was on a safety video for American airlines DC-10 flights for 10 years... my claim to fame!

Until next time. Peace, Love, and teaching. 

The Best Part of Me!

Since I am still at Starbucks enjoying my warm 'Soy Chai Tea Misto with two honeys and a quarter water' while the snow outside continues to melt slowly, I decided to update my blog again with another post about something I did a few weeks ago in my language arts classes...
The book The Best Part of Me by Wendy Ewald is an awesome book for reminding our students that 'We are all unique and special'.Thank you to my mom for giving me this idea...

I read this book to my students after discussing the Grimm Fairy Tale 'Rapunzel' the previous day. The reason I read this story was because I think it is very important to expose students to classic literature and Rapunzel was the perfect story for this. Rapunzel's best part of her was obviously her hair and with the movie 'Tangled' that just came out in theatres, we were able to compare and contrast the two stories with our handy dandy double bubble map. This was also the first time many of my students had even heard of the 'Grimms'. The loved it when I told them that these fairy tales were very 'grim' indeed. 4th graders, you've gotta love them... :-) 

I also did a lexicon on the word 'anatomy'. A lexicon is when you take apart the word by 'stepping the syllables', looking it up in the dictionary, using it in a sentence, etc. One of these days I will do a post on lexicons. ANYWAYS, we talked about the word anatomy and read the fairy tale 'Rapunzel' before read The Best Part of Me.

This book is amazing because Wendy Ewald (who is a famous photographer) took pictures of what students thought were their best features. Then the students in this book wrote poems about their favorite features and explained why this was the most 'unique and special' part of them. We actually did the same. We took pictures of our favorite features, wrote rough drafts and final copies of our poems, and posted them for the school to see what makes us who we are. My 42 4th graders loved this activity! They thought it was so great to celebrate our differences. We also focused specifically on our descriptive language and vivid verbs. The final results were super cute and I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.... my favorite was the belly button one...

Well, until next time. Peace. Love. Teaching.