Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reading Guest

We were surprised Tuesday morning with a special lady to come and read to us!  Ethan Ball's grandmother is with Farm Bureau and brought a book to share with us.  It was about growing vegetables and eating them.  The students really enjoyed her!  And I think that Mrs. Staggs enjoyed coming to read to us, as well!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Reading Minutes

I have pondered a way to hold students accountable for their reading every night.  I have been doing the "honor system" since school began, but, after Friday's poor turnout of book projects, I have decided to do things a little different.

In 4th grade, students need to read an average of 60 minutes independently each day in order to grow as a reader.  We took the STAR Reading test last week, and each and every student's report has them reading this much each day so that they can be a better reader.  I gave each student their reading levels this morning.  They go to the library to check out books today.  Each post-it note had the reading level for books in the library and for books in my classroom (Because my library is set up differently than Mrs. Lemonier! :) I do not want students to get discouraged while reading!!!!

With this long post, here is what I am going to require:  Students will have reading homework each night:  READING INDEPENDENTLY.  They will have a sheet to fill out.  They will record their minutes and answer a quick question.  Examples:  What happened to the character today?  What kind of connection did you have to the character?  What was the setting?  Along with writing, students may draw a picture or fill in a graphic organizer.  They are short questions, but they help to comprehend.  They will make students go back and "think" about what was read.  I am crossing my fingers this works!!!  I want students to jump from where they are reading now and to go beyond 4th grade reading levels!

Oh, and, psst....  SHHH...  If students are good...and don't fall behind in math... This reading will be the only homework they will have most  nights.  But, shhhhhh.... I don't want them to know.  :)

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Halloween Party

I have had a lot of people ask about our Halloween Party.  In all of the excitement that was last week, I forgot to send a note home.  :(  I am terribly sorry....  I AM sending a note home on Monday.  Just in case!

Our party will be Thursday, the 31st, at 2:00.  I have several activities planned for us that are Halloween themed throughout the day.  The last thing we will do before the party is have a reading activity called "The Carving of Old Jack".  It gives us step-by-step instructions on how to carve a jack-o-lantern.  At the end, I will carve a pumpkin to light up during our party.

For this party I always do a mixture of whatever parents want to help me out with giving to students.  Chips, dips, cookies, small sandwiches, and candy, along with drinks usually winds students up enough in time to send them home to you.  Whatever you would like to donate to help us would be greatly appreciated!  I know Fall Festival was last week and we were overwhelmed at how much was donated for that big event.  I AM SO IMPRESSED!  So, please give what you would like for this party, please do not feel as though you have to send something!  :)


This Week's Friday Folders

Because Thursday was PTC's and Friday was....well....let's just say CRAZY, I chose not to send Friday folders home on Friday afternoon.  I am going to send them home Monday afternoon.  In Friday Folders will be a calendar with this week's lessons, any notes about upcoming events, and an announcement about the next book project.  I send this home every Friday but most parents said "I'll be honest...I don't look at it!"  SO, I am thinking that I will make sure and post important announcements HERE.  Any ideas?  Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fall Festival....I am so excited!!!

I have been overwhelmed by how much help we have gotten for the Fall Festival.  We wanted to do a different raffle this year.  Usually we ask area businesses for a small donation so that we can raffle $100.  A hundred dollars is not what it used to be.  So, since all of the 4th grade teachers are big on family and family activities, we planned on putting together a basket to engage families in doing things together.  I suggested "Movie Night", since my kids and I enjoy popping popcorn and watching movies.  MY OH MY AT THE RESPONSE WE HAVE GOTTEN!!  I never dreamed that so many parents would help to donate items to our basket.  We have 10 DVDs, cases of sodas, boxes (Yes, boxes) of popcorn, lots of chips, 2 Halloween fleece throws (thanks, Beka Smith), and bags and boxes of candy. AND, my sweet husband is heading to Batesville to pick up 4 family tickets to the Melba.  I am not sure I will have a basket large enough to put all of these things into!  That is a problem that I don't care to have.  We will figure it out and make it beautiful!  Here is a before shot:

I will post an after picture tomorrow.

This makes me want to win this basket!  Chances are 3/$1.00!!  Pretty cheap for a huge basket of goodies!

Monday, October 21, 2013

A quiet house....with SCARY!!

I couldn't find Rider.  I went all through the house looking for him and yelling his name.  Finally he said "What, Mom?" He was hiding behind Riley's barbie house.  Looking at books.  And reading to himself.  :)

Quote of the day...

"When you estimate, you use compatible numbers."  --Ethan Ball

Friday's math lesson was about finding compatible numbers when dividing so problems could be computed mentally.  We talked about what compatible means.  Several students brought up!!!  LOL!!!  But, it was relevant, I was able to connect it to math without veering too far towards online dating...

Anyway, after we discussed estimating, Ethan Ball raised his hand and made his quote.  This was EXACTLY what I was looking for with this lesson!

I am so proud of my students.  They are moving so fast through math, they are understanding deeper, and I have some students teaching others who had a hard time with basic facts just a few weeks ago!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Skeleton Creek!!!

I started my unit on mysteries this week.  I always begin in we can see spooky videos, hear spooky books, and write spooky stories.  As always, Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman is the book I am using to introduce them to mysteries.  This book involves the students so much because it integrates what they love:  a good scary story, and videos to watch on the internet.  This is a mystery story about a town called Skeleton Creek.  Two teenagers want to find the history of their town and begin snooping around, trying to find information that NO ONE will tell them.  Ryan is the writer.  His journal is what makes Skeleton Creek.  Sarah is Ryan's best friend.  She is the videographer.  Her videos are what we watch online.  If you want to see what we have seen so far, go to  The password for the first video is houseofusher.

At the end of the 1st video, we see this "phantom".  Is it real?

Today, we watched the second video.  WE WERE SUPRISED, SCARED, SCREAMING, and begging for more of the story.  This video is the scariest video we have ever seen.  To see it, use the password theraven.

Sweet Surprises are the best

I had a very sweet student bring me a surprise.  He picked a rose from his yard, covered a plastic container with paper, and wrote my name on it.  I love it!  I think it is beautiful!  It really is the thought that counts!
 Thank you Briley Finster!

Parent/Teacher Conferences

We have scheduled Parent/Teacher Conferences for October 24th.  I have made contact with most of my parents, for the rest of you I have sent a note home with your child TODAY.  I am very flexible on meeting with you.  If, for some reason, you can't make it, call me and we will do the conference over the phone.  Most of my conferences are on a 10 minute schedule.  If I have trouble with a student, I am not going to wait until October to talk with mom/dad.  So, they are quick, easy, and USUALLY pain-free.  Please feel free to contact me if you need to change a time or can't make it on the 24th.  :>)

Riley Claire's First Day of School

My baby started HeadStart on September 3, 2013.  We had planned on NOT sending her to school this year.  She was doing so well at Grannie's house, she is very involved at church with the other children, and (even though she is mine) she is pretty smart.  HOWEVER....She had other plans!  She begged me to send her to school this year.  After talking it over with Daddy, we decided Angie Womack would be wonderful for her.  It was a tough day for mom, sniff, sniff.  Dad had a rough time the entire week, sniff, sniff, boo-hoo.  But she loves it and I wouldn't change a thing!

New way to multiply!

Here's a new way that I have taught students to multiply.  Yes, yes, I know...this is TOTALLY different than the way us old people learned to multiply.  Through the years, I have seen this helping SO many students when they move on to algebra.  This is taking the Distributive Property of Multiplication and applying it in the early grades.  We expand the numbers, multiply them, and then add our products.  I have even began doing this myself when I am multiplying.  Old habits are hard to break.  But I have accepted this as MY WAY to multiply double digit numbers!

This is sideways....I couldn't get it to turn.  But we made notes into our math journals about this method.  Here is an example from Jacob Jones...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Using our post-it notes while reading

I found this on  I realized that, as a student myself, I always had to write and take notes about what I was reading in order to understand it.  My students are the same way.  In my mini lesson over post-it notes, I handed out this on cardstock paper and had them glue in into their Reading Response Journals.  We had a HUGE discussion over what they thought this meant.  "Going back and re-reading makes you understand better." "Going back and taking notes helps you to comprehend it more." "Your pencil is like digging a hole, except in your brain." WOW...they totally got it!  They loved this so much that they asked if I could turn these into bookmarks.  You BET!  is all I could say.  I got them bookmarks that day.  And we continue to dig...

Rounding Numbers... Who knew it was so hard!!!???

When we started rounding numbers, we began with 2 digit numbers.  "NO PROBLEM" was the comment I heard from all of my 4th graders.  We moved on to 3 digit.  I got the same response.  I was so proud... Maybe this year will be easier!!!  WRONG!!!  We struggled.  I would model, have the kids work in groups, work them out, share on the projector, share on the board, share, share, share....  And on independent assignments, even my best rounders would bomb it!  So I found a neat little sheet on  I printed it out and shared it with my students.  FINALLY, we caught on to this whole rounding idea.

In the words of Olivia Smith:  "5 or more, raise the score!  4 or less, let it rest!"

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Welcome to Mrs. Dana's Class, Lenny!

We got a surprise this morning....  A classroom pet.  Robert & Jake Hutchison brought their pet guinea pig for us to "enjoy" in our classroom.  We have named him Lenny.  As long as I don't have to touch the little rat, I don't mind. ;)

Lightin' Up for Lil

Family members and close friends of my sister-in-law, Chrysti Turner, got a group together and ran the Afterglow 5K as part of the White River Water Carnival on September 22nd. We had pink and orange glow-in-the-dark shirts that said "Lightin' up for Lil" on the front.  It was rough.  It was tough.  There was a lot of sweat.  But we all did it!  I finished 688 out of almost 1100 people.  Yes, I know that really stinks... but for my first time to run...and to be as "thick" as I am...I was pretty proud!

Paislee & Grannie before the race.

There weren't any pics after the race.  We were too sweaty, stinky, & tired to worry about pictures!

Parts of Plants

Yes, we have read in our Science books about plant parts.  We have looked at diagrams on iPads, in science readers, and on Brainpop videos.  But when I asked them questions, they really weren't sure.  So, what did I do?  I gave them more work!!!  BUT, I tried to make it more meaningful.  And they worked in groups, each student had a certain job to do.  Can they tell me now what a pistil does or what job the roots do?  I hope so...  But at least now we can SEE it in their own diagrams!

Miah Boss and Halle Musick (With Olivia Smith in background) showing their diagram.

Thought Bubble...

Jett and Briley wanted to model the thought bubble.  It made them look like cartoons.  :)  After looking at this closely...  Are Jett's thoughts about Briley?  NO....just boys being silly!  We really liked the thought bubble lesson.  And I liked making them wear it while they talked!  (Insert witch's laugh here!)

We think as we  read.  After practicing (and giggling!) we realized that even when we don't know it, we are thinking as we read.  REPEATEDLY!  Dalton Hooker was our first victim.  As he read, he told us his thoughts about what he was reading.  The 

Thursday's Quote of the Day....

From Dalton Hooker:

"One night, my mom wanted me to practice my spelling words.  I was in the shower.  While I was in there, she just came in and sat down on the toilet and started making me spell words while I was taking a shower!!!!"

Well, I love how parents are involved with making sure their children are a success.  Angie Hooker, you truly go above and beyond!!!  ;)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Using Our Schema in Reading

photo.JPG How is thinking like a spider web?  We really put our thinking caps on and compared the two.  Students did such a great job coming up with how memories/thoughts/events "stick" in our brains.  I used this to introduce schema to the class and how we use schema on a daily basis.  It involves EVERYTHING we do!

We then made a circle of connections:  the outside was Text-to-world, Text-to-text, Text-to-self, and at the center I made a heart.  I let them talk to partners to figure out what the heart meant.  Austin Bailey, Gage Brugoto, and Caden Melton decided that it meant that at the center of it all is a love of reading.  YES!!!


Book Projects from 9/27/13

Again, I had AWESOME book projects this week!  Their thinking about how to make others want to read their books is really getting them excited about sharing!

photo.JPGJonathan Townsley:  Lawn Boy.  I love how he used the white legos to make the sidewalks!

photo.JPGDezirae Carter: I Survived Pearl Harbor

Briley Finster: Sasquatch  In case you can't tell in the picture, Briley gave this book 5 prints (instead of stars!!).

photo.JPGJett Kirk: Captain Underpants.  He did a great job adding details on Problem/Solution.  Great Job!

photo.JPG  photo.JPGDalton Hooker: Honus & Me  I love the details he used:  The staples glued together to make bleachers, the "grass" on the field" and the picture of the real baseball card!

photo.JPGChaney Allen: Middle School: Get Me Outta Here!! She made sure to find the Spanish alphabet and even hung a pic of Dora the Explorer on the wall!

photo.JPGJake Hutchison: Middle School: How I Survived Broccoli, Bullies, and Snake Hill.  I love how "Revenge" is bloody!!!

photo.JPGEmily Tracy: I Survived 9/11 This was a great example of the twin towers, FDNY, and she even had a plane!

photo.JPGHalle Musick: The Loser List

photo.JPGEthan Schulz: I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg.  I couldn't get this one to rotate so you will have to turn your necks!  I love the cannons made out of Expo Markers!

photo.JPGJacob Jones: Tracker

photo.JPGMiah Boss: Junie B. Jones

photo.JPG Caden Melton: The Jacket

photo.JPG Mason Green: The Hunger Games

Reading Mini-Lessons-Thinking about our Thinking!!

We have been doing lots of lessons on metacognition:  Thinking about our thinking.  This is a Venn Diagram that I found that helps students understand that when we think as we read, and we think about what we are thinking, and then use it towards understanding the book, THIS IS REAL READING!  Most of my ideas for these lessons came from the book Comprehension Connections.  I love how this book takes things and builds concrete examples for students! @Tanny McGregor.

photo.JPGI had students take what they knew about metacognition and asked them to come up with a number sentence.  This is what they came up with!  Text + Thinking = Real Reading!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Quote of the day....

I have some really funny students....

While sitting at the carpet with students yesterday during the read aloud, Austin Bailey randomly tells me about Jett's hair.  He said it "Smells like Mixed Wild Berries". So, we have all began taking sniffs of Jett's hair.  And he's right!  It smells good, Jett!

Book Projects 2013

WOW!!  That's about all I can say about book projects from students this year!  I have had such wonderful ideas and creative summaries of books.
This was Ethan Ball's diorama over The Hunger Games. He even included a "tracker-jacker's" nest-an important detail from the book!