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Monday, June 27, 2016

New Grade Level...New Blog Name!

I am so excited to announce that I am changing grade levels! After much consideration, I decided to take the leap! A new grade level also calls for a new blog name & updated design. I will now be at Upper Elementary Adventures as I will be teaching two grade levels and have experience in 5th! I LOVE upper elementary!

I just finished my third year teaching and all three had been in fifth grade. There is SO much that I LOVE about 5th grade but was ready for a change. I will definitely miss their sense of humor, independence, fun personalities and all of the fun activities 5th graders have the privilege of participating in.  The hardest part about the decision to move is leaving my fantastic team. But I am looking forward to challenging myself this year and growing as an educator and I will only be down the hall from them. :)

I am moving to a 3rd and 4th grade multiage classroom! I am so excited about this new opportunity to learn TWO new grade levels and work with TWO amazing teachers! At our school we have three 3/4 multiage classrooms and two 1/2 multiage classrooms. The benefit of this setup that I am looking forward to the most is building lasting relationships with my students as I will have them for 2 years! I am SO excited to build relationships with my students and their parents to make the learning environment so much more positive and inviting. This is by far my favorite part of teaching and I am so happy that it will be one of the most important aspects of my new grade level!

The other teachers have been so impressed with the leadership roles their 4th graders take on with the 3rd graders and how beneficial it is for all students! The older students LOVE teaching the 3rd graders and the 3rd graders get a different learning experience being able to constantly learn from their older peers!

The only subject that will be taught separately for the two grade levels is math. Their core math instruction is taught in either a 3rd grade or 4th grade math class. Each day there is short math block for math centers time. The students get to work on math concepts that they need individually. This is done with mixed grade levels and allows the students to get the extra practice they need on skills they are struggling with or get extension activities.

Responsive Classroom is a big part of the multiage classrooms and every Wednesday they have a whole group (all 3 classes) morning meeting so the students are able to build relationships with the other students and create an even bigger positive community!

Do you teach multiage? What grade levels?! Is there anything that you absolutely LOVE about the structure or with that would change?! Let me know and make sure to follow me through my adventures into a brand new grade level! :)

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hello Again Blog! It's been...awhile!

Well hello blogging world! I am back...we will see for how long. When I started this blog last summer, I thought it would be a fun way to reflect on my school year. Unfortunately, that didn't last long (actually didn't even last through the first week of school). Hopefully this year, since my masters will be finished, I will have more time to blog and TPT!

I am back to discuss a few new things I am implementing in my class next year that I am SO excited about! In my school's strategic plan, one of our tasks is to connect more with the community, state, country and even the world! This seems to be a hard one to do easily and requires a little more planning. Therefore, it has been on my list of things to plan for next school year and that has been exactly what I have been doing!

First, is my postcard exchange. I can't take credit for the idea, as teachers have been doing it for years. But, I was inspired after getting these maps (shown below) from the Target Dollar Spot so I decided to see if anyone was interested! The idea is that after school starts, my students will fill out a few postcards telling other schools information about our community and our school! We will send them out by a certain date (more than likely in October, but I haven't set the date yet) and all 50 states will receive 49 postcards from other schools! I think we even have a school from Australia signed up, which my students will be ecstatic about! I am planning on reading one each week and discussing the school, city and state in which we have received it from. Then we will color in the states as we go! I am excited for my students to learn all about other cultures and states!

I am still in need of 3 states:  Vermont, Rhode Island and Oregon! If you are a teacher from one of these states and would like to participate, sign up in the Google Doc here!

Maps from the Target Dollar Spot. The US map is paper to color in and
the World map is on whiteboard paper!

Second, is Mystery Skype!! Another idea, that I also cannot take credit for, but am really looking forward to this year! The idea behind Mystery Skype is to provide an engaging way for classrooms to introduce themselves to other classrooms through an interactive game! Students use map skills, critical thinking skills and communication skills to guess the mystery location of the other classroom using only yes or no questions. After 20 questions (or less depending on the age of your students) classes can give clues to the other class to help!

In the end, the classes can chat about their communities and share information that didn't get shared during the game. It is a fantastic way to build community within your own classroom because they all have to work together to brainstorm where in the world the other class is! It also allows your students to get to see other cultures and communities that they may never get to see.

We tried it once at the end of last school year...needless to say it didn't go the BEST. So I decided to research a little more to figure out the best way to organize the class during the Mystery Skype session. So I created a Mystery Skype pack to get me organized and to get you started! :) If you are interested, you an find it in my TPT store here or by clicking on the picture below! It is on sale for the next 24 hours!

In the pack you will find all things necessary to get your Mystery Skype going! There is a teacher pack that includes a planning checklist, permission form, Skype rules, job lists, possible questions list and much more!

Included is also a Mystery Skype journal for students to fill out after each Skype session during the reflection piece of the activity. Another way to reflect is through blogging. My students blog on Kidblog and they are SO engaged and love it!


Job Name Tags with job descriptions are included. There are 13 different jobs, some requiring 1 student and some requiring 2-4 students. 



Finally, possible question cards to use during the Skype sessions to help students brainstorm what questions to ask next! These help students to come up with questions as they are categorized for locating the country, the state and the city or town. 

For more information about mystery Skype, check out the official website here:  Skype Website

To schedule Mystery Skype sessions, you can search the hashtag #mysteryskype on any form of social media. You an also search on the internet for different groups! I would LOVE to Skype with all of you! I am hoping to do one each month this year, therefore I would like to do 9 or 10 Mystery Skypes this year with classes in different states OR countries!

You can reach me at loveandlearninginfifth@gmail.com or send me a message on my instagram page:  loveandlearninginfifth

Thanks for reading! :)

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