Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Amazing Animal Reports: Research is FUN!

Oh, friends! Please tell me you can relate to this. My head had just hit the pillow on Sunday night. I was counting my blessings, winding down, and trying to get my constant brain rattling to stop. And then it hits me, You must redo your animal project. Writing workshop is seriously my favorite thing to teach, and I've been getting such great feedback on my Autobiography pack that I need to get the rest of my units ready too. It just takes so much time to get them publish-ready and if there's one thing I never have enough of, it's time.

But there I was in bed and from out of nowhere, I realized I needed to revamp my animal unit to make it just as great as my autobiography one. Ugh! I wanted to pop right out of bed and do it then, but it was already after 3am and I *do* sleep sometimes. However, Monday was all mine and I'm proud to say I did it!
Turn your students into research experts with this Amazing Animal project that integrates reading, writing, science, and art.

It feels so good to have a fresh new look! ;) I love this unit so much because my third graders come in thinking they are pretty much animal experts {and some of them are!} but I push them to pick a new animal. For example, my shark lover is encouraged to pick something furry and expand his knowledge. 

Then we really zoom in on what we need to know to become an expert on our animals. We focus on eight key research points like appearance, habitat, and life cycle. Side note, here's a great way to differentiate for your students because you can assign them a different number of research points based on their abilities. 

To help keep students organized, we use a big piece of construction paper folded into eighths. Each box on our paper is carefully labeled by research point. As students are researching their animals in books, online, and through magazines they are also taking notes in each of the eight boxes. This is a great visual and helps students clearly see where more information is needed. 

Turn your students into research experts with this Amazing Animal project that integrates reading, writing, science, and art.After researching, we take our construction paper notes and turn them into separate pages of our report. I differentiate here too. Some students will write single paragraphs on each topic, while others develop multiple paragraphs for each point. I also provide a CLOZE format guide to get reluctant writers started. 

When students finish their rough draft, they meet with a writing buddy and work through a checklist. I love this part! It takes a lot of modeling and guidance to teach students how to provide meaningful feedback, but they can totally do it! Afterwards, students revise their drafts based on their buddy's feedback. This often means they need to do more research, which is totally authentic to the actual writing process for many nonfiction texts. 

Turn your students into research experts with this Amazing Animal project that integrates reading, writing, science, and art.We round out the research pages with poetry, a word search, venn diagrams, presentation notes. Students compare and contrast their animals in partners, and meet with small groups to do oral presentations about their animals. During these presentations, students take notes on each others' work on a grid. This is great for both listening and speaking standards!

Turn your students into research experts with this Amazing Animal project that integrates reading, writing, science, and art.
Finally, at the end of the project students are given a printable book template so they end up with a "professional" final copy. They are so proud of their work! Our unit typically coincides with our Grandparents' Day, so I work in having students share their projects then too. It's so incredible to see my third graders tackle such a big project because it's structured so well to pull them through it step by step.

I also like to mix art in as much as possible, so we work on animal mosaics too. I set up a side table with the supplies and students work on their mosaics as they finish steps in our research and are waiting for others to catch up with them. I ask the local pizza place for their cardboard circles and have parents donate various beans and pasta. Then I print black/white pictures from the internet and students use those as templates. Sometimes students choose not to use a template, and that's fine too. For less mess, you could swap this for a torn paper collage.
Turn your students into research experts with this Amazing Animal project that integrates reading, writing, science, and art.

How cute are those?! Seriously, the whole project is so much fun. So if you already own it, be sure to redownload it so you get the newest version. If you don't have it yet, here's your chance to win one! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Field Trip Freebie: Thank You Notes for Helpers

Field trips... love 'em or hate 'em, there usually isn't a way around them. In spite of all the paperwork and planning, I really do enjoy giving our students real world experiences through field trips. Sometimes a field trip will be the child's only chance to visit a museum, see a live performance, or become an explorer for the day. 

So even though field trips stress me out {picture a mother duckling counting her babies all day long}, I wouldn't give them up. Having great parent chaperones also helps. ;) As a way to thank them for making the trip with us, I have my students write thank you notes when we return to school. They write about something they learned/experienced on the trip and then I stack their notes into groups by chaperone. I attach these cute notes on top and add a little treat too. Easy peasy! We also write notes to any other special people who made our trip possible (admins, event organizers, bus drivers, etc.). 

I love little ways to express gratitude and teach students to be thankful. It's starting to feel like a lost art. If you want to use them with your class, you can click here to download my free thank you notes

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Let's Get Social: Top 10 Instagram Posts

Have you seen the fun Instagram linky party that Teachery Tidbits is hosting? I just *had* to link up! I am loving Instagram these days... it's social, it's quick, and it lets us get a sneak preview inside each other's lives. We're all showing off our top 10 posts. 

What I love so much about these is the variety-- shopping, home decor, teacher stuff, my furbabies, etc. We're able to connect over all kinds of things on Instagram instead of mostly just teachery stuff that we highlight on our Facebook pages and blogs. If you aren't already following me on Instagram, here's my link:

Ready or not, here we go!

Terrible lighting, but I need this in my life right?! #shoppingproblem #chevron #obsessed#teachersfollowteachers
{for the record, I ended up buying this chair for my office thanks to all of you convincing my husband via Instagram!} 

I want these so bad! Except I don't need them at all. #teacherproblems #walmart #neon #bts14#schoolsupplies #itsaproblem
{you don't even want to KNOW how many unused school supplies I have}

Love my wreath from my fabulous teacher friends! #msfultzscorner #teachersfollowteachers #loveit
{how fun is this?! It caused a debate because I didn't change my last name when we got married. They weren't sure if they should use my initial or his. ha!}

I have exclusive back to school wraps available right now! These limited edition #jamberry wraps can only be purchased through me since they are my original design. Did you know you could make your own wraps?? You can find the link to order on my Facebook pages and blog today. #msfultzscorner#plaidapplejams #nailart #nailwraps #notd #cutenails#backtoschool #teacherslovesummer
{Pretty sure these are still the cutest things ever--}

Another gem from our #obx trip. This one is going in the office. #wordart #inspiration #truestory
{and now my dream has pretty much come true}

Eek! The joys of coming home to this. If you liked my first shipment, wait until you see this! #erincondren#ilikebigboxesandicannotlie #teachersfollowteachers
{oh how I love Erin Condren}

Wall 1 of 2 finished, better late than never! #gettingthingsdone #msfultzscorner#letsgetmarriedagain
{This was a project from last winter break. Oh how I wish I had been that productive again this year}

I'm finally official! Jamberry is sending me to the Riviera Maya on our annual incentive trip. Woohoo! Thank you to all of my sweet customers for making this possible. #thankyou #becauseofjamberry#paidtoparty
{We're going to Mexico, y'all!! I've never been out of the country, so pumped!}

Doing some reorganizing today. Check out my little thirty-one models. #dogsofinstagram #dogmom#furbaby #chihuahua
{could these 2 be any cuter? They love helping their momma}

Did this girl bust out her Pop Pink Tieks today? Why yes, yes she did. Love them! These *may* replace Black Lace as my new faves. #tieks #poppink#worththewait #shoeaddict#jamberrycommissionsplurge #plaidapplejams thanks,@tieks
{Oh, Tieks. You are still my favorite.}

That's it! I'd love for you to head on over and link up with us. Let's connect on Instagram too!

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