If you are looking for a great series of books to read with your class or your own children, check out the mystery series by Carole Marsh. These books, published by Gallopade Interational, are sure to be a hit with your kids. I’ve taught the books with 4th and 5th graders, and my own 3rd grade boys love them. They books are in the 4/5 grade level and range from 2-3 AR points. You can check out her website HERE.
If you teach the continents or countries around the world, check out her 80 Mysteries Around the World series.
The Real Kids, Real Places series is my favorite because it visits places here in the USA that don’t always get literary attention, at least not at the elementary level. In 4th grade in North Carolina, we focus on our state. I can use The
Mystery of Biltmore House, The Mystery of Blackbeard the Pirate, The Mystery at Kill Devil Hills, The Mystery of the Graveyard of the Atlantic, The Mystery at the Lost Colony, The Mystery in the Smoky Mountains, and more. The best part is that these are places that I can take my students on field trips or my own children for a family get-away.
On Carole Marsh’s website, you can also find free guides to help teach the novels in her series. You can also find literary guides across the internet.
Whether you are struggling to teach your social studies curriculum through literature or looking for books for reluctant readers or just want a fun, educational read, check out Carole Marsh’s mysteries! But don’t take my word for it, even my eight-year-old boys David and Tyler love them and have blown through 6 since Christmas!
If you are a looking for an excellent clearinghouse of ready-to-use technology tools in your classroom, look no further than Classtools.net. Here are some of my favorite tools in the ClassTools toolbox.
The Random Name Picker: My students call this the fruit machine. You can input any list of terms, and the Fruit Machine button will convert them into a slot machine style picker. I have used it with everything from multiplication facts to partner pickers with student names to vocabulary terms for a review session. The kids don’t argue with the groups is generates or the terms they get because they see it as completely fair!
Fakebook: There are several versions of Fakebook out there now, but hopefully this one won’t be blocked in your school. It doesn’t access ones that others have created so you don’t have to worry about dubious content. Students can save their work and come back to it later and don’t have to register. They just need to decide on a password. My students are getting ready to start on creating Fakebook pages for the 50 states, but shhh! don’t tell them yet.
Timer: There are lots of free countdown timers on the internet that are great for use with your projector/whiteboard so students can see just how much time they have for an activity. If you are like me, it’s just as helpful for keeping me on track! The ClassTools timer is no exception. It’s easy to access and easy to use!
There are oodles more resources at ClassTools that you will love. I apologize in advance for taking up several hours of your time in the coming days as you explore. Share your favorites!
Today at DEN SciCon 2012, Lance Rougeaux did a great webinar reminding teachers of ways to engage students. One section focused on the inferencing activity, Guess the Wordle. Jen Wagner has created many of these activities and they are available at her site http://projectsbyjen.com/GTW/. If you are just getting started with it, check out her examples. I started a collection of these a few years ago and love using them with my students. Many kids struggle with the ability to put clues together and draw conclusions based on what they say. Guess the Wordle is an excellent way to bring in this activity when you have a minute or two in transitions, or as a part of a direct curricular connection. Using a screen capture option, like SMART Notebook capture, makes it easy to keep a bunch of Wordles together for just such an occasion. Here are a few of my favorite ones to use with my students…
Guess the section of the newspaper:
Guess the historical event:
Guess the fairy tale:
Guess the Wordle activities are awesome! By the way, they are great for student work, too. But that’s another day!
This week, my students are learning to convert fractions to decimals (and back again). They are also learning to compare and order fractions and decimals. I always teach this concept using a number line. Most elementary classrooms post a number line in some shape or form, so it is not something unfamiliar to them. The longer I teach though, the more counter-productive, I find the standard number line. Today, I rant…
1. Why are number lines labeled left to right? Digits on a number line are not words. They don’t need to be read that way. Think about a decimal point. It’s on the right side of a whole number. That means that the digits to the right represent a value less than a whole. Why does a number line show the opposite?
2. When you read standard numbers, the farther you go to the left, the larger the number (ones, tens, hundreds, etc.). Number lines don’t reflect this.
3. It’s a number line, not a number line segment. Please add the arrows to both ends. Numbers extend infinitely in each direction. Hence, the concept of infinity.
4. Number lines are actually just snapshots of a larger line. They do not start (or stop) at zero. Zero doesn’t even have to be on the snapshot that you are using.
My number line looks more like this one. Am I crazy?
Anytime I can integrate math and literature, I jump on the chance. Grandfather Tang’s Story is a story that I have always loved and have used across grade levels. There are many ways to use this tangram tale, but this year I brought the tale to my fifth grade students and took it to more advanced math.
We started out by making our own tangram set from a blank sheet of cardstock paper. Every student made their own set. Here’s how we did it.
More discussion questions:
1. Which triangles are congruent? Which are similar?
2. Are all triangles congruent? Are all triangles similar? Are all right triangles similar? How do you know?
3. Is there another shape or shapes that are always similar?
4. Is there any shape that would always be congruent?
5. Can you put it back into a square? I was surprised how many students struggled with this, rather than working backwards. Then again, it was great insight into how my students think.
As you read the book with your students, have them recreate the animals of the story using their own tangrams. You’ll be surprised how many students struggle this activity. It will probably be your students who are not traditionally good with math. My best math student had the worst time with this. We are now doing additional activities to enhance spatial reasoning in class. His tablemates also loved being able to help him in a math activity. His frustration was also healthy too!
Check out this link to MATHWIRE for additional resources.
If you are a classroom teacher and teach spelling and have students who like to play (oops, I mean learn) on the computer and like free stuff, Spelling City is for you. Did I mention that you should like free stuff?
Spelling City is a high quality spelling and vocabulary review site that can be customized by you (here’s my page). Students can access it from home or school. It works great on an interactive whiteboard. It can be used individually, with partners, or in small groups. The review games address word definitions, proper usage, and spelling. The test is a great way to allow students individual practice, or even to make up a spelling test if the student is absent on test day.
You can add your own spelling lists like I have, but there are already many pre-made searchable lists. Whether you are using dolch words or a specific reading/phonics program, there is a good chance that you can find your lists already available to you and your students. There is a premium (translation: paid) version of Spelling City. I haven’t used it because I haven’t felt the need. The free part is awesome! I have to admit that I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I’d like in the Teacher Resource section, but it is chock-full of ideas and links. I can’t wait to dive into that even more.
If you are already a Spelling City user, what keeps you coming back? If you use another online spelling review site, what are you using?