In the Trenches

Thoughts and Ideas from a Classroom Teacher

Dividing Fractions by Whole Numbers Matching Cards

Right now, my fifth graders are learning about dividing fractions. We are focusing on dividing unit fractions by whole numbers and whole numbers by unit fractions. My kids are picking it up quickly and are even able to easily draw and connect the models to the algorithms for dividing fractions. Today, I gave each student 3 small sheets of paper (about half the size of an index card). They had to come up with their own problem and write it on one card, write the solution on another card, and draw a corresponding model on the third card. The girls put theirs all in one basket. The boys put theirs in another basket. I let them switch baskets and put together the equations, solutions and models. What great practice for them! The picture below shows some of their work. You can click on the one shown for more examples. The best part right now is that I have a full set of 23 dividing fractions matching cards to use as intervention and enrichment, and I didn’t have to make them!


photo 3

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More Dr. Seuss

What else can we use for Dr. Seuss’s birthday week? How about access to some of the short animations created over the years to showcase his work. And some people say YouTube is only full of cat videos and crashing skateboarders!


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Wacky Wednesday and More – Dr. Seuss

As you might be planning for Dr. Seuss activities this week and beyond, here’s an idea for Wednesday… Wacky Wednesday! You can view the book as a scrolling option, as a slideshow or as a book. I can’t wait to share it with my kids on our projector screen for our book of the day. I’d love to hear their owns versions of a Wacky Wednesday!

View this document on Scribd


And what is even more awesome? They also have…

Oh! The Places You’ll Go

Green Eggs and Ham

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Cat in the Hat

Dr. Seuss Non-Fiction Reader

The Sleep Book





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Must See-Blossoming into Science

If you loved “Blossom” or if you love “Big Bang Theory,” this video is for you. If you want to pursue seemingly contradictory passions, this video is for you. If you work with kids who are trying to find themselves and their places in the world, this is for you. If you believe that we all have the potential to be exactly who we want to be, this is for you to share!


Letter to a Teacher

I came across this letter today, and I wanted to share it. I find it humbling and challenging, exciting and daunting. I think it best reflects all that we do as teachers, things that so many people don’t understand that we do.

Letter To A Teacher
Abraham Lincoln


He will have to learn, I know,
that all men are not just,
all men are not true.
But teach him also that
for every scoundrel there is a hero;
that for every selfish Politician,
there is a dedicated leader
Teach him for every enemy there is a friend,

Steer him away from envy,
if you can,
teach him the secret of
quiet laughter.

Let him learn early that
the bullies are the easiest to lick
Teach him, if you can,
the wonder of books
But also give him quiet time
to ponder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky,
bees in the sun,
and the flowers on a green hillside.

In the school teach him
it is far more honorable to fail
than to cheat
Teach him to have faith
in his own ideas,
even if everyone tells him
they are wrong
Teach him to be gentle
with gentle people,
and tough with the tough.

Try to give my son
the strength not to follow the crowd
when everyone is getting on the band wagon
Teach him to listen to all men
but teach him also to filter
all he hears on a screen of truth,
and take only the good
that comes through.

Teach him if you can,
how to laugh when he is sad
Teach him there is no shame in tears,
Teach him to scoff at cynics
and to beware of too much sweetness
Teach him to sell his brawn
and brain to the highest bidders
but never to put a price-tag
on his heart and soul.

Teach him to close his ears
to a howling mob
and to stand and fight
if he thinks he’s right.
Treat him gently,
but do not cuddle him,
because only the test
of fire makes fine steel.

Let him have the courage
to be impatient
let him have the patience to be brave.
Teach him always
to have sublime faith in himself,
because then he will have
sublime faith in mankind.

This is a big order,
but see what you can do
He is such a fine little fellow,
my son!


Excerpt from a letter, by Abraham Lincoln, to the headmaster at his son’s school

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New Facebook Template

I’ve done posts before about using Facebook templates for your students to create engaging and thought-provoking projects. Considering the focus in the Common Core State Standards on characterization, understanding point of view, and writing across genres, this really lends itself well to addressing these concepts. I just wanted to share this NEW Wonderful Free Facebook Template that I discovered this week!

Here are just a few ways that you could use Facebook templates in your teaching and learning…

– historical figures

fb template

– scientists

– biographies

– elements of the periodic table

– fictional characters

– states

– countries

– monuments

– national parks

– geometric figures

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Brain Breaks

My kids love these quick Brain Breaks! They are all under 5 minutes and perfect for when your students (or kids at home) have been sitting for way too long. Did you know that 5 full steps sends freshly oxygenated blood all the way through your body? Get that brain refreshed and the mind and body ready to learn more!



And check out these 20 great ideas from Minds in Bloom and these Energizers for the classroom!

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Mythology for Kids

We are getting ready to start an integrated English/Language Arts unit on mythology, folktales, and legends. Our fifth graders have had a lot of exposure to folktales and legends over the years, so we are going to focus more heavily on the mythology component. I’ll admit it. I loved studying mythology as a child, and I love that one of my twins is devouring the Last Olympians and Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordin. Heck, my little one’s current favorite movie is even Disney’s Hercules. I wanted to go ahead and start organizing information for our unit, so I thought I’d share some of the favorite things I found.



Cute idea generator for writing your own myth

StoryNory provides many of the Greek myths as read-alouds

Understanding mythology as the religion of the Ancient Greeks, and others

Quiz Your Noodle on mythology/Percy Jackson

Symbaloo of major Greek myths

Introduction to Greek Mythology greek myths

Literature for Children: Myths short video from DE Streaming

Clickable Painting of the 12 main gods as research

Brain Pop of Greek Gods



Greek Mythology Unit with readings and activities

Webquest type activity with questions, lessons and pacing – good for an extension project!

A few activity pages, including one of designing your own urn

Crosswords and Word Searches

Greek Masks and Coloring Pages of the Gods



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Dr. Seuss Day Is On the Way!

It’s hard to believe, but Dr. Seuss’ birthday is coming up in just two weeks. If you are not an elementary school teacher, you may not realize that this holiday rivals Christmas and Valentine’s Day for the craziest holiday of the year. It’s hard to be upset though, when this one is based around a love of reading. Today, I thought I’d share some of my favorite resources for teaching about Dr. Seuss and his books!

seuss pin

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Online Safety and Good Choices

Last night, we held student led conferences at our school. It was a huge success, and my students had a great time preparing and organizing their work to share with their guests. One of the things that my students shared with their families was our class blog. They also had to talk with their parents about what they had learned about online safety. My students have used many of the resources that I shared in an earlier post, but I also wanted to share this video. It’s one of my favorites, as I think it really locks into a point in a meaningful way!


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