Friday, April 24, 2015

Stop, Swap and Roll (and a Giveaway!)

We are so excited to share this post! We are participating in the Stop, Swap & Roll Linky party hosted by Jungle Learners. Such an awesome idea that brings so many amazing resources to thousands of blog readers!

We were fortunate enough to team up with Kim at Quintessential Lessons. Kim is a 5th grade math focus teacher who loves to get students excited about math. She strives to create games and activities that students enjoy while teaching and reinforcing key concepts. She also loves hands-on activities and getting the students up and moving. She tells us that it makes her day when her students ask to do the activities again. So crazy funny because that is exactly the response we got from our kiddos when they finished Kim's fantabulous activities earlier this week!

Check out Kim's Blog, it is packed full of activities and ideas to get your kiddos excited about

Kim was kind enough to share her Fraction Bundle which includes three games your kiddos will LOVE!

Fractions is the biggest unit we teach in fourth grade and one of the most challenging for our kiddos. The way it works with our curriculum guide we spend the better part of November, December, and January on fractions. Mollie and I like to try and review fractions all spring to keep the skills fresh. Usually our announcement of some fraction practice brings on several moans and groans from our kiddos but that will not be the case again now that we have shared Kim's activities. 
The Fraction Bundle includes three games: Fraction Go-Fish, Fraction Hunt, and Fraction Shipwreck. 

Fraction Go-Fish puts a great twist on a classic game. 

Students will love practicing their knowledge of mixed numbers and improper fractions in groups of 2 or 3.

Students each start out with four cards and work to make pairs by matching an improper fraction with a mixed number. I loved that my kiddos had to look at their card and ask an opponent for the card they were searching. For example, if a kid had five-thirds in their hand, they would have to ask another player if they had one and two-thirds in order to make the pair. It gave them such great practice converting between improper fractions and mixed numbers.

Fraction Hunt was by far my kiddos' favorite game! The game has three types of cards. The first type is simply a fraction that is not in simplest form (these cards do not have bears on them so they are easy to separate). This is the card that you will hand out to each student participating in the activity (you an also have kids work in partnerships). The other two types of cards are simplified fractions, one in number form and one in picture form. These are the cards you will post all over the room.

First of all, it was a blast finding places all over the room to post the cards. It reminded me of hiding eggs for an Easter egg hunt! I placed the cards on walls high and low, furniture, windows, and even the ceiling. Kids loved having to actually "hunt" for the cards, especially knowing that they were looking for specific cards to match their own. I have a very active class this year so the planned movement was exactly what they needed. It amazed me how focused they were!

Fraction Shipwreck is another game that includes movement and gives students practice with identifying the simplified form of various fractions.

Four fraction posters are posted on four different walls. Kids gather in the center of the classroom and the teacher holds up a card with a fraction on it. Students have to go to the wall that shows the simplified version of the fraction. Kim mentioned that this is a great activity to do in the classroom OR the gym. We did it in our classroom and it worked great but I would love to do this in our gym when we have one of those pesky indoor recesses due to weather!

If a fraction is held up that does not have a simplified version on the wall, students have to "swab the deck" and pretend to mop the deck as a pirate might do.

Of course my kiddos loved yelling "Arghhh" in their best pirate voice as they "swabbed the deck". In addition to swabbing the deck, the stack of cards the teacher draws from to show the students includes 8 movements that the students have to act out. My favorite was the "Crow's Nest" where students curled their hands around their eyes to resemble binoculars. They were adorable!!

My kiddos loved participating in all three of these activities and I don't think I will ever hear a groan again when we practice our fraction knowledge as long as we are able to practice by completing one of these activities.

To celebrate our swap, Kim is giving away her Fraction Bundle to one lucky winner. If you are interested in sharing this amazing activities with your kiddos, enter the Rafflecopter below to win your very own bundle!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Only one winner?? No worries! Kim has ensured you are all winners this weekend by placing her entire store 20% off!!! Check out her store, Quinnessential Lessons to grab her Fractions Bundle or one of her other amazing resources 20% off!

Don't forget to check out all of the amazing resources that have been swapped by visiting Jungle Learners or clicking on the links below. 

Information Investigators: Step #1 – Essential Questions for Authentic Learning

The moment they hear the investigator music start to play in the background, the students rip open the mysterious black box that has caution tape wrapped tightly around the outside. Their hands plunge into the evidence box like archaeologists dive into a treasure chest full of gold. Each student has a proof pamphlet firmly held in their fingertips, almost too close to their goggle-covered eyes. Some read their job description aloud to their peers loud and clear, while others opt to read chorally and still others examine the introduction silently in their minds.

Hello, all! Mollie here! 

This short vignette is a typical scene from the first few minutes of an Information Investigators session. I’m writing today as a continuation of our Information Investigators blog post series that we recently started following our presentation at the Michigan Reading Association Conference. If you missed our first post of this series, click HERE to read up on what Information Investigators is all about! Basically, Amy and I have created a process and format called Information Investigators, where students are learning Science and Language Arts standards in small groups through an integrated, collaborative, and authentic project-based style.

Within this post, you will find tips on how to create an essential question. This is the starting step to get in order before putting together your Information Investigator pamphlet. In our opinion, we think of essential questions as vital questions that are intellectually challenging and spark conversation. Essential questions call for higher-level thinking, including, but not limited to, analyzing, inferring, evaluating, and predicting. These types of questions are difficult to create, but fear not because you can do it! When they are used appropriately, you will see the benefits through the growth in your students’ knowledge.

.:. Choose an important Science standard .:.

To begin, you first need a topic to base your essential question on. Choose a Science teaching standard from either your state standards or the proposed Next Generation standards that you would like to be the focus of your students’ investigation. This standard will be the main goal of your students’ entire work during this process. Sometimes we choose standards that we have not covered previously because we are doing the investigation as an introduction to the unit and other times we choose a standard that our students have already studied because it’s a continuation or review of their learning. It’s up to you to choose which point of the unit you want to use this format and which standard you want to cover!

 .:. Unpack the standard .:.

We use the term “unpack” a ton with our students. What we mean by this is to think about what is inside of the standard. How can you break it down? What does the standard require students to know in order to be successful at showing knowledge of the standard independently? Is there any background knowledge that the students must have in their schema? Answering these questions will help give you specific ideas for your essential question. This tip may take some time, but it’s extremely important and the time will be worth it!

 .:.Use specific types of questions .:.

Since essential questions must engage students in conversation and deep thought, they cannot be questions that have a “right there” answer, such as “What is a food chain?” This question has an answer that students can find in a text. There are some particular types of questions that we use to create our questions. They start with the following question stems: what if, should, why, how, and which one. Once you’ve chosen and unpacked your standard, match it with one of these sentence stems to form a question!

 .:. Make it interesting .:.

Information Investigators is supposed to be fun! Creating a real-world scenario that goes with your essential question is one way to achieve this key aspect of the process. For example, in one of the Information Investigators we’ve taught in the past on fossils, we have the students pretend that they work at the Grand Rapids Public Museum and are hired to create an exhibit for the museum. The students enjoy this challenge and it brings excitement to the process of learning.

It is your turn to try! You can now begin on your journey to teaching and facilitating your first Information Investigators by creating an essential question. We hope these tips give you a better understanding on how to create essential questions. Click the picture for our Freebie Information Investigator Starter Pack on TPT that will give you all the components you’ll need to create your very own Information Investigators.

Friday, April 3, 2015

You Oughta Know About...

We are so excited to be joining Jasmine McClain over at Buzzing with Mrs. McClain for another You Oughta Know Blog Hop. Be sure to check out her blog, it is ADORABLE!!!

Our You Oughta Know post is all about Information Investigators. Information Investigators is an exciting and engaging process that allows students to examine a variety of materials using higher-level thinking skills to answer essential questions based on science and social studies standards in a collaborative environment.

This process has been extremely successful in our classrooms because it makes the connection between reading strategies and skills found in the Common Core State Standards with reading informational texts including charts, graphs, photographs, etc. Students are provided with an engaging opportunity that encourages them to persevere with grit and enthusiasm.

We begin by presenting an essential question embedded in a real-world situation. Below is an example of an essential question and real-world situation.

Our kiddos love the idea of having a job! They take their job very seriously. You can see that this essential question requires the students to first determine what a behavioral and structural adaptation is and then what types of adaptations rabbits have.

Students, in groups of 4, are then given a box of "exhibits" which consists of photographs, informational texts, articles, as well as links to various websites, videos, and songs that all provide information surrounding the essential question.
This photo shows our Information Investigators box, which we bought at IKEA and covered with "caution" tape and an Information Investigators sign, and some of the materials we placed in the box for this Information Investigators.

Students view themselves as investigators who must sift through the information provided in order to identify valuable information and they record the information in a research pamphlet. The pamphlet can look any way you want. It might be a foldable, lapbook, or simply a small booklet. Below are some photos of the pamphlet sections we created for our kiddos.

One important part of Information Investigators is giving students an opportunity to reflect on their learning. 

This showcases the job description (essential question) as well as the Science and Reading goals. The second portion is where kids record their answer to the essential question independently. 

This part of the pamphlet changes depending on the reading standard. This is where the kiddos work with their group to record information they feel is important to answering the essential question. 

This is a portion of our pamphlet that we added over time. Students are able to extend and apply their new knowledge to another question as well as record some questions that have come up as they were researching.
Students discuss and draw conclusions with their group members and when they are ready, they answer the essential question independently. Throughout the process students are encouraged to use important informational reading strategies to assist in gathering information. The teacher's role is one of facilitator. At the beginning of Information Investigator, the teacher conducts a short mini-lesson that highlights one of the informational reading standards. Once students are working in groups, the teacher circulates and provides support through prompting, questioning, and cuing.

We try to plan an Information Investigators for each unit of study. Sometimes we begin the unit with the activity to give students prior knowledge on the topic. However, sometimes the concept is too challenging to start with and requires some direct instruction before beginning Information Investigators. Finally, there are units where we use Information Investigators as a review or final activity in a unit. It all depends on the concept that is covered.

If you are interested in creating your own Information Investigators, check out this freebie in our store that will walk you through step-by-step.

Be sure to follow us at Two Nuts Teachin' from the Same Tree so you will be notified when we add Information Investigator kits to our store.  This is the first in a series of blog posts about Information Investigators, so check back soon or follow our blog to be notified when a new post is up!