Highlights: The 1st two weeks of 5th grade

I have had good intentions.  Intentions that included adding new blog posts every day of school.  And obviously those intentions did not end up resulting in new blog posts yet.  But here’s a new one.  And I’ll make it worth your while.  I promise. 🙂

So since it’s called “highlights”, I’m going to give you the big ideas of what we’ve been doing so far, and hopefully your 5th grader can fill in the details.  Hopefully.  There are at school every day, afterall.

Ok, so let’s get started:

Reading: Reader’s Workshop has officially begun in Rm. 201!  We have made reading posters to share our likes/dislikes as readers, taken a reading survey, read The Lotus Seed, Something to Remember Me By and Everybody Cooks Rice together, had our first check-out from the Robinson library, gone on a scavenger hunt in our classroom library, took our first SRI assessment on the computer, read Hansel and Gretel and discussed how to trail our thinking as we read and then–you guessed it–we read!  I love how excited this class is to dig into books!  Next week we’ll start to focus on strategies that good readers use to make sense of text.

Writing:  We have already begun so much work as 5th grade writers!  From day one, your writer was busy thinking about ideas for stories, putting thoughts on paper.  We have gotten our Writer’s Notebooks, and spent sometime making them our own.  We talked about how our WNBs should be a snapshot of who we are; we should be able to tell whose notebook it is without even checking the name, but just by looking at what’s on the cover.  This week we started Being a Writer, which is the program that will support our writing work this year.  So far we’ve read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (which we learned is pronounced CHESS-ka), as well as The Frog Prince Continued, then talked about how to retell familiar fairy tales in a new way.   As a community-building activity, we played a game called “2 Truths and a Lie”, then lifted a line from what we had written to expand our thinking.  We will dig in further to the Writing Life next week as we continue our journey as writers together.  I cannot say enough how excited I am about sharing my writing life with your kiddos!  I loved this quote from someone today as I was writing in my own notebook: “Wow.  You have a Writer’s Notebook?  I’ve never seen a teacher write in their  notebook during the school day before.”  I’m hoping that there’s already a connection forming there–we are growing as writers together this year!

Math: The mathematicians in Rm. 201 have already been very busy!  We started the year by playing a few math games (Dice Duel and Contig), as well as learning how to correctly roll dice in 5th grade. (Really.  Ask your kiddo to tell you all about how I hate the sound of dice on the tables! 🙂 )  We took a math survey, and then dug right into our first unit in 5th Grade Investigations: Finding Factors and Prime Numbers.  So far we’ve learned (or reviewed) vocabulary related to multiplication–factor, product, multiple, prime number, square number, composite number, array, dimensions–and started working on finding factors of a variety of numbers.  We worked number puzzles, and started an activity called Quick Images for ten-minute-math.  This subject has soo much to tell–be sure to have a conversation with your kiddo about all that’s been going on.  Feel free to use this to help them get started talking about what’s been going on.

Community:  An crucial part of the beginning of our year is beginning to grow our classroom community.  We do this by working together to create things, learn procedures and routines that will be used in our room and throughout Robinson, and learn more about each other so we can celebrate our differences and build on our similarities.  We’ll continue to revisit this idea all throughout the year, to keep our connections strong.

Read- Aloud: Read aloud (chapter book) is a integral part of our classroom.  While it is fun, it is also an important time when we think and talk about books.  The choices I make for books during Read Aloud are often Mark Twain award nominees, or have topics related to the curriculum in our class.  The first book this year is called The Boys Start the War, and is a big hit already!  Have your reader tell you about how we use the strategy of “say something” to share with our partners, and have them introduce you to BOT graphs.

I am sure that there’s probably something I’ve missed.  I’m amazed at how quickly time flies when we’re so busy and having so much fun!

Stay tuned for more updates on the fun and learning in Rm. 201.  Maybe next time there’ll be pictures. 🙂

What I did on my summer vacation–Part 4: Write

Like I said last time, I am a reader and a writer.

That being said, I spent many hours writing this summer.  I won’t leave a lengthy explanation of it here, because you’ll hear a ton more about it once we get into Writer’s Workshop this year.  But I feel like it is important to mention.  I posted a writing challenge earlier this month, and am excited to hear if you decided to take it. I believe that writing is something that everyone can do, and that you can get really good at if you just put in the work necessary to make that happen.

But what, you might ask, do I write?  You’re not an author, Mrs. Bearden, you’re a teacher.

I write mainly for myself right now.  I love the quote “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I’d go mad.”  So I write about anything.  And everything.  I write about what I’m thinking, what has happened to me, what I want to do, what I have done.  I write about my kids, my family, my friends, my hubby, myself.  I write stories, poems and lists.  I ask questions and try to find answers.  I ask questions that don’t have answers.  Sometimes I write things in my notebook that I know I will come back to later, maybe to work on again and create into a longer piece.  Many times I write things that I know I will never come back to, but that are important at the time.

But the most important thing?  I write.  I love it and I hope that you will see that as we work together this year.  And if you don’t love it like me, I hope that you’ll at least give it a chance.  If you already do, then I hope you’re inspired to continue your writing journey and that you are challenged in a new and refreshing way.

Now it’s your turn: What have you written this summer?  Do you have a Writer’s Notebook already?  Did you write a letter to someone?  Did you make a list of something?  Tell us about your writing from this summer by commenting on this post.  Can’t wait to hear what you’ve been up to!


What I did on my summer vacation–Part 3: Read

I am a reader and a writer.  So here’s a peek into some of the reading I did this summer.  Some titles were obviously ones we might read together in class, and some were obviously for me!

1. Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LeFleur   (Mark Twain Award nominee 2011-2012)

2. The Boys Start the War by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

3. The Secret of Zoom by Lynne Jonell (Mark Twain Nominee 2011-2012)

4. Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta  (Mark Twain Nominee 2011-2012)

5. Practical Punctuation by Dan Feigelson

6. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath

7. What to Expect The First Year by Heidi Murkoff, Arlene Eisenberg, and Sandee Hathaway, B.S.N.

8. Other people’s blogs–I’ve found several really interesting ones that I like.  Most were related to sewing or decorating, but I also have started following many from other teachers who use blogs in their classrooms.  I hope to make our blog useful like the ones I’ve discovered.  I also have several friends who post pictures and stories about their families on their blogs and I like those, too.

Now it’s your turn:  What did you read this summer?  Even if it wasn’t a book, I know you read something!  Share some of your favorites here in the comments section. 🙂

What I did on my summer vacation–Part 2: Crafts

I like to think I am generally a very creative person.  Over the years, the way I’ve used my creativity has changed, but right now it seems to be focused on sewing.  I think it started right after Allie was born, when I made a big stash of baby wipes for us to use at home:

And then I recovered the rocking chair in her room using two receiving blankets:

This summer I got really adventurous, and decided to try things that didn’t just require sewing straight lines.

So I recovered Allie’s car seat:


Made a couple of new bags for Allie’s things:


I tried my hand at dresses for the first time the other day after I found a pattern for making a baby outfit from a shirt I already had.  It was great and so fast, but TWICE I made the top too small for her head to go through.  Talk about being bummed!  So that one has no picture because she can’t wear it….

Right now I’m working on curtains for a friend of mine, and I plan on making some more things for around my house.  It’s really a great feeling to hold something in your hand when you’re done and know that all your hard work and creativity made it happen!

Now it’s your turn: What is a hobby that you spent time on this summer?  Do you draw?  Do you build things? Do you dance?  Add your comments and tell us about it.  I’m excited to hear what you’re into!

What I did on my summer vacation–Part 1: Took a vacation!

So you may already know (and if you don’t, believe me you’ll hear WAY more about it!) that my family are HUGE Disney fans.  Well, really Disney World fans, I guess.  We don’t wear Disney or decorate our house with Winnie the Pooh or anything, but we love spending time at the Happiest Place on Earth.  I mean really, Riley is only 4 and has already been there FIVE TIMES!  So, as usual, we set out on a lovely Saturday morning for the really long drive to Florida.  Oh wait, did I say morning?  Does it count as morning if it’s 1 o’clock?  If so, then it was a lovely morning.  Or a lovely night.  Take your pick.

I cannot possibly tell you all about the whole trip in this blog post–we spent four days on the road, two nights at the beach in Clearwater, and 10 days at Disney World altogether–but I can give you the highlights:

1.  We found out that Allie is not yet a seasoned traveler.  Since she was only 6 months old at the time, she had never been on a vacation.  She is definitely a girl who appreciates her schedule, so when that was upset for almost two weeks, she was not a happy camper.  So she really didn’t sleep well the whole time we were gone and was crankier than usual.  Some day she’ll learn. 🙂

2. Somewhere around Macon, Georgia, when it was like 150 degrees outside, the air conditioning on our car went out.  And it wasn’t just freon (the stuff they put in there that makes it make cold air), the whole thing imploded on itself and will cost at least $3000 to fix.  Needless to say, we haven’t repaired it yet.

3. We stayed for two nights in Clearwater Beach, at a place that we found out (after we were all checked in) was a party hotel for young people.  So there was a dance party outside our window from about noon til 2 in the morning.  A very loud dance party.  It’s funny how kids can sleep through all that, though.  Oh yeah, and we had to move rooms because the first one was overtaken by a swarm of gnats.

Hanging out at the pool.  Can you see Allie under that silly hat?  She did NOT like to be outside for very long.

4. While we were in Disney World we stayed at one of our favorite hotels and spent oodles and oodles of time in all the parks.  As you get to know me better you’ll hear all about how much I (we) love Epcot and walking around the World Showcase and eating in the amazing restaurants there.  Did I mention we like to eat?  Some of my very favorite restaurants are in WDW.  We had an AMAZING time.

The view out our balcony window.  That’s a big lagoon with a beach and the pool is to the right.

This is the fancy-dancy stroller where Riley and Allie spent alot of time.    Our awesome friends let us borrow it and it worked out so great.   People thought it looked a little like bunk beds.

This is the first time that we had to buy a ticket for Riley (at Disney you’re free if you’re under 3).  He was very excited to get to put his ticket into the machine and walk through the turnstile by himself.  🙂

5.  I lost my wallet.  Not once, but twice.  But here’s how magical Disney is: I got it back both times and everything was still in it.  I’m not sure that would have even been possible at home, much less in a place as huge and crowded as the Magic Kingdom.  But it happened.  I was really relieved about that.  Both times. 🙂

Don’t be fooled by that cute, smiling face.  That baby and that red wallet pouch added much stress and excitement to our trip!

6. We got a phone call one morning from my father-in-law telling us that we needed to call him as soon as possible.  He told us all about how one of the upstairs toilets had overflowed and run down into the basement ceiling.  Then it broke open and spilled gallons and gallons of water all over the floor and ruined a section of the ceiling down there.   Luckily they found it and stopped the water problem and cleaned up the mess before we got home.  But there’s still a hole in my basement ceiling.

7. Riley turned 4 on our last day there and he had a super great birthday!  He picked his birthday breakfast and originally had planned to have ice cream.  I was pretty excited about joining him in this, but at the last minute he changed his mind and instead had donuts, goldfish (?) and chocolate milk (this is a big treat because he doesn’t normally get to drink it).  That night we stayed in a hotel with a big pirate ship in the pool, which he totally loved.

After all the fun and excitement that happened while we were in Florida, the trip home seemed boring and pretty normal.  We stayed the night in Atlanta and then drove home the next day, happy to be in our own beds again.
Now it’s your turn:  Did you take a vacation this summer?  Or maybe you had a “stay-cation” and just did fun stuff around town with your family or friends.  Tell us about it.  Add comments to this post and share the highlights!

Coming up next

Over the next few days I have plans for several new posts related to “What I did on my summer vacation” (this one will hopefully come in several parts), as well as some fun interactive ones for you to think about this last week before you come back to school.  Don’t worry, it won’t be like homework!  Stay tuned…:)


Remember the pictures from yesterday?  Take a look at just what an hour or two’s worth of work can do:

This picture didn’t turn out too good, but it’s the view to the right from the door.  My desk, the carpet, a table or two and the ActivBoard.

Still some stuff on the windows, but can you see a classroom starting to take shape?  I am really excited about the way this part of the room worked out.  The blue shelf will be cubbies for some of you.  The empty shelves on the left will be the library.

Just inside the door: table, yellow cubbies, a desk and a round table.  All the stuff on the counter will move and that will be the art center.  See the green wall to the left?  It looks like this:

I’m pretty excited about it.  I mean yes, eventually it will have stuff covering that all up, but I love how it speaks to our construction theme.  You will start to see more of that CAUTION tape creeping up around the room soon.

I worked some more today, but forgot to take pictures.  I’ll do that when I go in again tomorrow.

Hope you got your letter today (or yesterday!).  Watch your mailbox for a note from me, too!  🙂


Ever wondered?

Have you ever wondered what your classroom looks like at the end of summer before your teacher gets there and puts it all back together?  Did you even know that it looks different during the summer?  Well, here’s a few sneak peeks of what our room looked like today when I got there.  It’s the first day I’ve been to school to start working on it, and I thought you’d want to see it before I got too far:

View to the right of the door

Just inside the door

How ’bout all that stuff piled on the windowsill? 🙂

Another great pile of stuff on the counter

So now start imagining how those big, messy piles of tables and chairs and books and supplies will become your classroom.  Stay tuned–I’ll post an update soon.