Friday Flashback!

Happy Saturday everybody! 
Today I'm linking up with Amanda from Teaching Maddeness for her Friday Flashback!

Teaching Maddeness

This has certainly been a zany week. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy (resulting in a massive power outage, a transformer fire, and trees down at our school) we had a surprise week off. While I was sad to be cold in the dark and missing precious teaching time, I will admit that the time off was much needed and there was frequent bouts of happy dancing :)

But Monday morning we were back and hit the ground running. So, without further adieu, here's a recap of this week's events:

1. Chomp into a Good Book
In Reading, we practiced summarizing a story using Story Elements. We've been working on honing our re-telling skills in class and this was a wonderful project to put their skills to the test. The students were divided into groups and given a basket of books to choose from. I used picture books for this assignment, because it was a short one-day lesson. The groups chose a book, read it together, and then worked to fill out a "Chomp Into a Good Book" graphic organizer. We did this activity in the library:

2. Cast Your Vote
We (like most classes around America this week!) spent a great deal of time on the election. Hurricane Sandy put a kink in my plans, so we squished a week and a half of lessons and activities into 3 days (my students were troopers)

This was a WONDERFUL activity to teach the electoral college and the voting counting process. The original idea is from One Hoosier Teacher's blog. 

We watched a video from the History channel on the electoral college, had a discussion about how the system worked, and then I gave the students each 3 states to represent (each one listed the number of electoral votes)  and they had to choose which one they preferred: Coke or Pepsi. 
Then we went to this website. It has setting where you can choose a map to be entirely neutral. Then, by clicking on the states you can choose whether you want it to be red or blue. I tell the students that in a typical election, red would represent Republican and blue Democrat, but for our election, we made red Coke and blue Pepsi.

After we discussed the qualifications for president and learned about the daily ins and outs of being president, we did a culminating writing project where the students imagined what it would be like to be Commander and Chief of the United States.
The students had to adress the following questions:
1. How did you campaign for president?
2. Who is your Vice President?
3. Where do you live? (White House, Washington D.C.)
4. What does your typical day in the White House look like?
5. What 3 laws/policies do you hope to get passed during your term?
6. What are 3 things you LOVE about being president?
7. What are 3 things you dislike about being president?

 *This would also be a great idea for President's Day in February.

3. Pillar of Cloud by Day, Fire by Night

It was my turn to speak in chapel this week and the theme was Thanksgiving. In lieu of going the traditional route, I chose a story from Numbers in the Old Testament (I'll admit it - I'm an OT dork!). Numbers 9:15-23 tells a story of the Israelites wandering in the desert. God's presence was in the camp, dwelling with the people. A tangible manifestation of His glory was the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, providing protection and direction day by day. But, of course, it wasn't long before the Israelites complained. They wanted a "road map" or a big-picture view of God's plan rather than trusting Him each step of the way, like a trusty GPS.

4. Class Compliments Party
And last, but certainly not least!
One of my behavior management systems is "Class Compliments" in which the students work together as a class to earn "stars" from me, from specials' teachers, or from other adults (other teachers commenting on my students walking silently in the hallway, showing role-model-worthy behavior, etc.). The kids LOVE earning stars...and they hate losing them. If the entire class is not demonstrating exemplary behavior, then a star falls from the board.

Once they earn 10 stars, they've earned a party! Each time they have 3 different options and vote on the way they wish to celebrate their success. 

We've had 2 parties so far:
1. An "In-Tents Reading Party" where the students bring books, blankets, and flashlights, and build tents to read in for the morning. A big hit - anything to get kids excited about reading :)

2. Movie & Popcorn Party: We watched Facing the Giants, a great movie about faith, family, and football. The students LOVED it!

 Here's a sample of the note I send home to the parents once we've earned 10 stars:

Whew - thanks for making it all the way to the end - that was a novel-of-a-post! Stay tuned for more fun and exciting learning activities as we journey through 5th grade...

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