Favorite Science Books

I have decided to participate in TBA's Science Week! Here are some of my favorite science books to read with my fifth graders.

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss - I love using this book to talk about environmentalism and conservation. The students love the funny names like "truffula trees" and "thneeds", and they really seem to get into the story. The Lorax Project has great games and activities that go with the book. Also, I think the movie is coming out sometime this year!

Spectacular Science: A Book of Poems by Lee Bennett Hopkins - I like to integrate reading with science every chance I get. This book is a great way to merge the two. I love to use this book when we do our poetry unit in the spring. Snowflakes, stars, and a dinosaur bone are only some of the fun topics of the poems in this book. It also has great illustrations.

These are just a few of my favs! What are some of your favorite science picture books? Click here to join the linky party!

Also, I just noticed that I have over 50 followers! I feel so honored. Thank you for reading my blog!

Science Units

Happy Saturday everyone! I just finished updating my science page on our fifth grade school website, and I thought I would share. These are the units that we cover in science, so hopefully some of you other upper elementary teachers out there have a similar curriculum.

Ecosystems Unit - In this unit, we study plants, animals, biomes, adaptations, and we build ecocolumns! Students also complete an at home biome project using a file folder. Here's a link if you'd like to look at a slide show of last year's projects. We will be finishing up this unit this week.

Human Body Unit - I'm thinking of having groups complete some type of Power Point or Prezi on the different body systems when we do this unit. We also have a lot of fun singing the "Bones Song"!

Microworlds Unit - We study cells and lenses during this unit. Students complete cell projects (we even had a rap last year!), and we make edible cells using jello and candy. Yum!

Chemistry Unit - We study states of matter, chemical changes, and acids and bases in this unit. I'm still looking for some great resources to use when teaching acids and bases. Any suggestions?

Variables Unit - This is an awesome opportunity for students to design and conduct experiments in the classroom. It is a challenging but fun unit.

Solar Energy Unit - We do this unit right before school gets out. It is nice to be able to go outside for many of the investigations!

I'd love to know what everyone else is planning on studying in science this year!

Words to Teach by

This quote says it all. Happy Monday everyone!
Source: etsy.com via Linda on Pinterest

Reading Choice Time

We're about to begin week 5 of school, but I'm still trying to refine my reading instruction. We are required to use the Scott Foresman Reading Street basal, but I know that I have to supplement this in order for my students to get what they need. I have been reading about Daily 5 for years now, but I have never been sure of how I could implement it in my fifth grade classroom.

I have decided this year to have Choice Time. This will be similar to Daily 5 in that students will read to self, read to someone, and do word work each week. Students will also respond to their independent reading and buddy reading in their reading journals each week. Word work will be students capturing unfamiliar words from their reading into their reading journals. They will write the definition of the word, write the word in a sentence with context clues, and draw a picture of what the word means to them. I think I will have students write their responses in the front of their notebooks, and do their word work starting on the last page in their notebooks.

I plan on helping students get started in the journals by modeling these next few weeks with read alouds. On September 19 we will start reading Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt as part of the the Global Read Aloud, and I think that will be a great way to practice journal writing since we will all be sharing the same text. I am also looking forward to collaborating with other classes on our class blog and on the Global Read Aloud wiki. What are you doing differently this year for reading instruction?

9/11: Ten Years Later

Well, it turns out this long weekend has turned into a really long weekend. Storms yesterday caused many of the schools in our district to lose power. So, here I sit on a Tuesday afternoon trying to be productive.

Sunday marks the 10th anniversary of 9/11. I have already been discussing this some with my students, because this anniversary is significant for them. 9/11 is an event that has marked their entire lives since it took place the year most of them were born. Here's what I'm planning to do.

I found this free Brain Pop video that does a great job of explaining the significance of 9/11 in kid-friendly terms. I also found this great list of 9/11 lessons and activities from Scholastic. I especially like the lesson that has each student write a poem, write a letter, or draw a picture on a "quilt" square. I plan on doing this and putting all the squares onto a poster to make a class quilt to go in our classroom or in the hallway.

I also hope to use this activity to create our first digital story of the year. I want to either use Photo Story 3 or Little Bird Tales to have students upload their pictures and record their poems and letters. I'm thinking something similar to our Titanic Poetry video from last year. Here are a few more resources I found that might be useful.

Interactive 9/11 Timeline

9/11 Memorial Lesson Plans

What is everyone else planning on doing to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11?

Creative Spelling Homework

I need to admit something. I do not believe in homework. I think that my job is to push students to learn to their potential during the school day. Homework in my class consists of taking home what you didn't finish in class that day. I should also tell you that I only teach reading, language arts, and science. In reading I expect my students to read every night, but I don't really consider that homework. The only subject I make an exception for is spelling.

In fifth grade, we have little to no time in our school day to devote toward spelling. This saddens me, because I consider spelling to be an important life skill. Spelling and handwriting were two of my favorite subjects in elementary school, but today, they are almost extinct. I remember getting points taken off for not having perfectly formed cursive letters. Now, the only standard I have for handwriting is "Can I read it?"

While handwriting is no longer taught at all, spelling has become more of a student-directed skill. My students get their spelling words on Monday, and it is up to them to learn them by Friday. On Thursday they turn in their homework assignment for the week. It is called Creative Spelling Homework. I like this assignment because it gives students some choice. I have been doing this with my students for years, but I was inspired to revamp it after seeing this post on The Organized Classroom Blog. Here's a freebie if you are interested. How does everyone else do spelling instruction in the upper grades?

Study Jams

I have found an amazing resource to use with my students this year. Study Jams is a site created by Scholastic that has videos, quizzes, and even songs that explain complex math and science concepts. Best of all, it is almost completely aligned with our fifth grade curriculum. Think Brain Pop without the subscription cost.

Students love these little video clips, and I love how well they explain concepts we're learning. Students also love the songs! We have been enjoying the Photosynthesis Song these past few weeks. It's hilarious to watch them roll their eyes and act like they're way too cool at first. After the second time we listened to it, students were singing along, some were dancing, and hopefully all were learning something. Singing goofy songs is a great way to bond with your students at the beginning of the year. What new sites are you enjoying using with your students this year?