Testing DONE...for now! Classroom BACK:)

Hey there!!!!  The big, bad writing test for my 4th graders is DONE!!!! 
As one of my sweeties told me today in Math:
"Mrs. Eiken, that's 1/3 of our testing done and 2/3 to go!"
Yep, we are on fractions:)
THANK YOU <3 THANK YOU for all the sweet words of encouragement and kindness that you all left on my blog Sunday and Monday:)  I sooooo appreciate it:)  You all are so sweet and helped make that day easier!
My kiddos absolutely LOVED their little bag of stars and the letter that I had written them:)
 
Well, if you know me at all, you know that having my room in "test mode" was killingggg me!!!!!
I dislike "test mode" classroom VERY much....no fun, blank boring walls and b. boards to stare at, no fun Ladybug's Alphabet, desks EVERYWHERE, no fun anchor charts, just dull, dreary, SAD!
 
So, you have to know we weren't an hour done testing and I was in high gear to find our normal again:)  Moving and shaking, gluing and pinning during lunch and my planning:)
Here's how we are looking now:
This is our 7 Habits wall:)
Here's my teacher area/guided reading/mess right now:)
Part of our library:)  Some anchor charts back:)
More library and a cozy chair for read to self:)
My writing area (vocabulators, paper, story bubbles, story starters, shared writing journals)
You can read more about this table HERE (but note the giveaway is over...that was for a while ago)
From the front of the classroom.  We are back in groups and I shifted a few things.
LOVE our book recommendation tree:)  Inspired by Molly at Lessons with Laughter:)  Behind that is our math workshop area and Daily 5 rotations wall.
More books for our library:)  LOVE this area.  This is where my precious volunteer comes once a week and runs another reading group.  Love those days!  The kiddos get in tons of reading on those days!
The carpet (you can only see part) is where my kiddos come every morning for our morning math meeting.  I use the dry erase board and put up different problems every morning:)  It has really helped with their Math!  The inspiration came from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6 and her calendar math!  It truly has changed my kids world and the way I teach!
 
I have a few finishing touches to put up but at least we are cozy and back in groups again!!
Now we have a field trip Friday and Monday to look forward to.  A fun reward after the big test!
Happy hump day!!!
 
 

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Pre-Writing Test Treats + Freebie

Hey there!  If you didn't see my last post, our state writing test is coming up.  I have been working hard to come up with a little reminder/encourager/motivator/treat to give my kiddos tomorrow. (the test is Tuesday)  I have seen lots and lots of super duper cute test motivators with candy treats, but I wanted to try to come up with something without candy.  Don't get me wrong, I love the candy treats and will probably use some of those for the reading and math tests, but I am pretty sure my kiddos got enough candy for Valentine's day to last for months!!
 
Enter, these items...
I also wanted to write a letter to them and share my heart with them about how I feel about their writing.  This group of kiddos is so special and have really developed a love of writing.  It shows in the improvements they have made and the content of what they write. 
 
Do I have some stress?  Yes, but not from my kiddos.....my stress lies in the fact that some person who doesn't know my kids will look at their paper and score it.....they don't see what I see on a daily basis, they don't know the kids background, and they don't know how very far these kids have come....so, I really just wanted to come up with something that tells my kiddos
I AM SO VERY PROUD OF YOU!
 
Here is what I came up with:
First I stuffed 22 of these little tiny bags with star confetti and glittery foam stars. 
They are each going to get a little bag of stars with this letter:
I truly mean every word!  I just adore these kiddos and so love the writers they have become.
 
I also made some fun bookmark reminders to give them as well. 
I used these adorable pencils by Krista Wallden at Creative Clips.
I think they will be perfect reminders:)
They are a FREEBIE at my TPT store if you would like a set:)
I think they will be great reminders for writing and also great to use in my kiddo's book luggage.  They are always needing a bookmark:)

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Five for Friday Time:)

It's the little things in life that make me smile.....this morning it was a LARGE PUMPKIN LITE ICED LATTE from Dunkin Donuts at 6:30a.m.
Seriously.....I found myself smiling after that first drink as I'm walking back to my car.....is that sad or good??????  I can't decide...lol.
 

fiveforfriday

So here we go:

1)
My classroom went from fun, bright, and cozy, tooooooooooo.......
bare, cramped, and crowded:((
State writing test is next week....I don't like changing things on my kids at the last minute so I changed their desks from groups to yuk!!!  LOL!  I really hate my classroom like this but can't do anything about it....the walls are bare, see that dark, bare bulletin board in the background??? 
Super ugh!  This is with the chairs stacked and book luggage put away....it's a hot mess when that is all out!!!! 
 
 
 
2)
Speaking of state writing test, we have done TONS and I mean TONS of writing!  I am not a fan of state writing tests.....these judges only see one "snapshot"......I see where my babies started and where they are now.  I have been truly blessed with some amazing writers this year:)  One of the neatest things about this group is................are you ready for this?????
They LOVE to write!  We have had a blast writing and learning. 
Loving to write is way more important than the stress this test causes both my babies and myself!!
(ok, getting off the soap box now.....)
This is them doing a demand write......
 
 
 
3)
We made these neat science foldables this week:)  We are studying how plants and animals interact with their environment.  On the inside of the foldable half was about plants and how they interact with the environment, the other half was animals.  The kiddos had to draw 2 illustrations of each and then explain their pics in captions. (also working on non-fiction text features)

 
 
4)  Back to writing.........

Since the test is Tuesday, it's polish and hunker down time!  I bought these fun neon gel pens and gave every student one.  I handed out their most recent expository and told them to:
- put a star by anything wonderful (creativity skill, strong verbs, sensory words, adjectives)
- circle any mistakes (no caps, missing punctuation, spelling errors)
- underline transition statements
 
What an EYE OPENER this was for them.  Once they were done and had these bright colors screaming at them either "good job" or "oops!", it really made a difference.  They all tell me over and over again, I did it, I got it....it's all there....then to see it in color.  Right away, they knew what they had to do to make their writing stronger:)  It was like the proof they needed to see:)  I really think this will help with some last minute changes they need to make:)
 
 
5)
I'm gonna have to wrap this up with another "little thing in life" that makes me smile....don't know why the short week seemed so long (pre-test stress) but it did, soooooooooo
So icky....I know....putting my toes on my blog!  LOL!  Sorry, but this chick needed a mani and pedi after work today:)))  The hubs bought me a gift certificate for Valentine's so I had to use it:)))
(no making fun of my toes.....)
 
Ok, I'm outta here!  Have a blessed weekend:)))

 


20

Explorer Journals - Connecting Reading and Writing

Hey, hey!  Promised I would be back with a post about the social studies journals my kiddos made....I gave a "preview" in my Five for Friday link up with Doodle bugs!
So, before I share, let me say this is NOT my idea. (at the end of this post I share some spin offs of this activity that are my ideas)  This particular activity is right out of our new Social Studies curriculum as an end of unit project.  We have been learning all about European explorers, their reasons for exploring, causes and effects of their journeys and colonization of Florida......lots and lots more.  Anywhosie, our end of unit project was for the kids to choose an explorer and imagine that they were a member of that explorer's crew.  They then had to create a travel log of their journey/experience.
 
Love how these Social Studies texts are set up! (the text is McGraw/Hill Florida Social Studies)
Each chapter focuses on the same reading skills that we work on in reading:
cause/effect, main idea/details,.....Love that:) 
This text also has great rubrics for the end of unit projects!  We use rubrics for almost everything (well, not quite but it's heading that way)
 
Here are some pics of the covers:)

The student's books had a checklist of everything their journal should include. 
Some of those items were:
5 entries
dates of the journey
any challenges they faced on the journey
why they came to Florida
at least 2 illustrations
and a few other things:)




I really love how the writing helped them connect to what they have been reading.  They did a good job putting themselves in that time period (which I have to confess I thought would be hard with them living in the techno era....)  and talking about challenges they faced on the ship and on land, their interaction with the Native Americans, their purpose for exploring.  I was also able to assess their understanding of the unit overall with their responses. 
I love using reading/writing connections and am trying to add more and more of that to my instruction and activities.  This writing was purposeful and helped them better understand what they had been reading.  I think I will be adding more of this type of writing to my Work on Writing rotation.  I love the creative writing too.....but do want to add more of this type of writing.
As I was reading these, other ideas were popping into my head as ways to use this type of "purposeful journaling":
- In Science, if they pretend to be a scientist or the helper of a scientist and journal about that experience and what they are studying and learning
- they could "put themselves" into any chapter book they are reading either becoming one of the characters or create a new one and write about that
- they could even journal each day's lesson of Math with examples and their explanation of the skill
 
Jessica left a neat comment when I previewed this saying that she loves to have her kids write as famous historic people or book characters:)  Thanks Jess!  Those are awesome ideas too!
 
The sky is the limit here people:)  Have fun and I would love the hear how you use them:)
Happy journaling!
 
 

4

Five for Friday Linky:)

Hello all!!!
I am joining Doodle Bugs Five for Friday linky party.  I have been wanting to do this one for a while but can never seem to get my act together!!!  Well I'm joining, but my act still isn't together...lol.
fiveforfriday
 
 
Here are 5 random things from my week and I mean random:)
 
 
1.  This is how my week started (Sunday counts, right?)  We went to my daughter's college to meet the new boyfriend (love him!) and watch them play volleyball in a "Sweet Heart Beach Tourney".  They got second:)  It was awesome! 
BUT, spent all day at Lacrosse (Saturday with my son) and all day Sunday at my daughter's college SO, I have been feeling like the mouse on the wheel......all week! 
 Always behind, never catching up!!!
 
 

 
2. These are a sneak preview of a post I'm going to do later.  These are Social Studies journals that my kiddos made for an end of unit project.  We have been studying explorers.  They had to write a journal with at least 5 entries, as if they were one of the members of an expedition to Florida.
They really enjoyed this and I think they did a great job! 
 
 

3.  Valentine's day.....need I say more....lol! 
If I eat all the chocolate I got I'll be 400 pounds!!!!
 
 
4.  We are working on theme in my classroom right now.  That's a hard one for my kiddos to get so I bought these great Theme Task Cards from Rachel Lynette.  I can't wait to use them in my small groups next week:)  My silly wireless printer refused to work for 2 days.....now it's working again so I finally printed these yesterday!
 
5.  Totally random and not teacher related but my new fave drink!  I have had several of these from Starbucks but about died when I saw you could buy a pack of 5 and make your own!!!!!  Love, love! 
 
My "TO DO" list is a mile long for this 3 day weekend!!
I hope you all have a refreshing weekend!!
Be blessed! 
 
 
 
 
 
 
20

Small Groups, Puddles, and Sticks....Oh My!!

Ok.....lame title but maybe got your attention:) 
We are in FULL WRITE MODE with the state test quickly approaching.
Gotta squeeze in the fun whenever I can:)
Well, this idea was from my teamie and I just loved it so I had to share!
She sent a little bowl of these puddles over with a cute note and magazine clipping.
The kids can use these as they are reading:)
They LOVE this!!!!  So simple (and cheap....hello Dollar Tree), yet fun and at times effective!
Yes, I said effective....
or should I say magical...lol. 
Some of my fluency strugglers read SO well today!
A.MAZ.ING!!!!
Magical I tell ya!!!
They just slide the little puddle along as they read:)  Now I do guided reading/teacher time as I call it, as one of my Daily 5 (4) rotations, so they use these with me.  I may just go buy a bag this weekend so they can keep one in their book luggage to use during read to self....I haven't decided yet.
Now of course, if they "play" with them, I take them back. 
You will also see if some of the pics our wonderful multiple choice fans (sticks).
I have blogged about my multiple choice fans before.  We use them in small groups as well.
I love these sticks!  They are a great way to assess and see where each kiddo is and how they are understanding the passage we are working on, without someone blurting out the answer.  Now, the pic above just shows them holding up their answers but they normally cover the answer until I see it...like this:
Then I nod my head or say "No" and they try again.
With these, everyone in the small group can answer at their own pace.
They are so "into" figuring out the correct answer and then finding the right letter on their sticks, that I seldom have anyone "cheating". 
Read more about the multiple choice fans HERE and HERE.
 
A couple of shout outs to end this post......
Shout Out #1: Thanks Kristen at Ladybug Teacher's Files for
the wonderful tutorial on watermarking your pics with your blog button:)
Her tutorials are the bomb and have taught me so much AND kept me from flinging my computer across the room when I get frustrated...lol!
 
Shout Out #2:  I have to shout from the rooftops, my bloggy bud Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B
was just chosen as Teacher of the Year at her school!!!  I am so excited for her!  If you haven't visited her blog, you must!  Tons of ideas and inspiration!  Pop over there and tell her CONGRATS!!
(Elizabeth, please don't be mad at me for blabbing....I'm just sooooo happy for you!!)
 
Happy Thursday all, the weekend is almost here:)
 
 

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