Sunday, January 27, 2013


We're finally beginning to thaw out around here- Hallelujah!!  Just in time, too.  I was going all sorts of crazy just sitting in my classroom, with my kiddos, 24/7... Okay, maybe not 24/7, but definitely 9/4 (9 hours a day... 4 days a week).  And my kids were prettty sick of me too.  So to spice it up around our classroom, we held a debate! 
To start off telling you about our debate, I need to share what I've learned about debates.  And not just what, but whoooo I've learned about them from... Lucy.  Yup, the fabulous Ms. Lucy Calkins.  A few months ago some teacher friends and I went to a Lucy Calkins conference in Denver.  That.  Was. FUN!  And not just "teacher" fun (well, maybe a lot of "teacher" fun).  But we had a great time.  We even got to the conference early and scoped out seats in the front row.  And in the middle.  {Nerd alert, nerd alert}  It was amazing.  But basically Lucy said we need to vamp up our teaching.  (YIKES)  She gave us help with how to do that and one of the things I walked away feeling like "Oh, I could totally try that in my classroom" was holding a debate.  She told us that we should constantly be debating in content areas and read alouds; collecting evidence for both positions, using professional language- "I take the position that...", and taking notes while others are speaking in order to remember how to fight the opposition.  If you haven't been to a Lucy conference- GO!  It was mega empowering. 

So we started out small this week, with hopes that we can build up to smaller debates, over things we're learning or things we're reading.  I had great intentions of printing out articles for our learners to read in their library time, but the printer wasn't working {story of my life} and so I didn't have anything for them to read. 
All lined up
Before library, I told the class we would be holding a debate over whether we should have 1 hour of P.E. a week, or 2 hours of P.E. a week.  I gave half the class 1 hour of P.E. and the other half 2 hours of P.E. and told them to make the most of their library time by thinking about their side, looking through books that may help them, and looking online on the library computers.  I'm pretty sure nobody did any of those suggested items, except for some who talked it over with their peers.  But when we got back to the classroom, we separated into our two sides and lined up their seats into two rows.  The student in the first seat got to share their position and then everyone moved down.  Each speaker got 30 seconds to share their viewpoint.  Every 5 people, we would caucus, regroup, and continue.  This way students would have the chance to hear the thinking of others in their group. 
 As they debated, it got pretty heated!  Students would learn from those who went before them, sometimes walking up and down the row as they talked (WOAH!) or using professional language (that I had charted up on the wall).  They sounded like little lawyers. :)  It definitely got better as they went.
Pushing themselves to say MORE!
All in all, this is definitely something I plan to incorporate into my classroom on a weekly, if not daily, basis!  I hope that by doing this, learners will get comfortable using evidence to support their claims, not only in their speech but in their writing and thinking.  It's such an important life skill and one I hope they can take with them when they leave our room.

Happy Sunday!  Let me know if anyone is also a fan of holding debates or tries this in their own classroom!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Looong Weekend

I loved waking up this morning without an alarm, going for a long walk, drinking coffee by the window, and scowering Pinterest for new ideas.  I am LOVING the long weekend and hope you are enjoying your weekend as well and feel refreshed for the week ahead :)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Still frozen

A birthday treat one of our students brought in! 
I LOVE birthdays :)
We are still stuck in below freezing weather.  It hasn't reached above 32 degrees since December 18th!  Eeeeek!  As I write I am curled up on my couch with a delicious coffee, a cold mixture of emergency, and am decked out in my most comfortable pajama pants!  It is ONE degree out there.  ONE!!  Holy cow, that's cold.  Now, I know it could be much worse.  And I know I shouldn't be complaining.  I do love me some puffy jackets, chunky scarves, and snuggling on the couch with a perfect {chilly} reason to not go anywhere.  But my spirits were lifted when I woke up and checked out our weekly forecast. 

 You see, like I mentioned in a previous post, one degree means our students are stuck indoors.  No outdoor recess.  No break for the teachers.  No sanity for anyone.  Whatsoever.    I really do love my class and am grateful that I am stuck indoors with these wonderful kids.  They make me smile each and every day.  But I still am hoping for a quick break from them.  I'm hoping that the freezing weather trend will reach its' end this upcoming week, as it looks like it may!  Woohoo 37 degrees!  Heat wave!
While we've been stuck indoors, I've been trying to make the most of our time in the classroom.  I feel truly blessed to be at my school.  I have a fabulous co-teacher this year.  Without her, I would be drowning.  Simple as that.  She started out as a student teacher and turned into a co-teacher/ in house substitute when needed.  PTL!  She kindly offered to lead this upcoming science unit.  It's all about the human body and body systems.  Soooo not my thing.  But {absolutely} her thing.  So on Thursday she had all the students get into small groups and trace their bodies onto butcher paper.  They LOVED it.  I always forget that 5th graders need to draw and color too.  We plan on having students fill their "bodies" in with the different systems as we're learning about them.  I am hoping I can learn a thing or two during the unit too ;) 
 Students trace and cut out their bodies to kick off our unit!
As we march our way towards March, we get closer and closer to the beautiful Colorado state testing, known as TCAP.  I made an effort to start doing small TCAP-y things at the beginning of the school year so that I wouldn't feel so concerned and nervous right now.  But, nonetheless, I'm still feeling that yucky, anxious, feeling that comes with this time of year.  I trust my students and know they are capable of doing amazing things on the test- it's just hard to think that one test on one day in March has such a large impact!! 

So, on Tuesday we took some time to play a little review game, Jeopardy style!  I pulled together some review problems for Reading, Math, and Science, as well as some Random Knowledge type questions, just to keep them on their toes!  The questions were each assigned points- 100, 200, 300, 400, or 500.  And students were divided into 3 teams.  They had so much fun pushing each other to think deeply and correctly answer the questions.  I'm hoping to make a game Review game for all 5th grade teachers, so be on the lookout for that at my Teachers Pay Teachers store

Happy Saturday!  Here's to a long weekend :)

XO, Kelly Anne

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Multiplication Freebie!

Happy Saturday everyone! 

I hope you're enjoying your weekend and are actually using it to take a {much needed!} break from all the work you're doing.  It's as if our job never ever stops.  I swear... I'm in Barnes and Noble minding my own business, when BOOM, I see a book that would be perfect for Arianna.  Or I'm walking through Target and I see a cup that has Craig's name all over it.  Even when we try to stop- we can't! 

Well, I've been using this great multiplication game in my classroom for a while now and decided to make it into a little freebie for y'all, in hopes that it can help you out like it's been helping me out :)  It's so simple and easy for all students to play and helps learners build their multiplication fluency- such an important skill for 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders!  Check it out here

It's little games like this that help my math workshop run so smoothly.  And students love playing this!  I hope you enjoy the game and the rest of your weekend!
Xo, Kelly Anne

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


An icicle- that's what am I am as I write this post!  It has not gotten above 32 degrees for the past two weeks.  Mainly it's hovered around the 10 degree mark.  And you know what that means at my school?  Inside recess.  Oh.Man.  My class is already (only 2 days into school after our break) driving me B.O.N.K.E.R.S.  Bonkers, I'm tellin' ya! 

Today we finally had to get out of our classroom that seemed to be closing in on us (okay... maybe I'm getting a littttttle too dramatic, but seriously) and went on an Indoor Scavenger Hunt.  Okay, maybe I made it up in 30 seconds, and maybe I didn't take many any pictures.  But it was pretty fun!  I wrote down things for them to look for, like 2 red items, and what color shirt is our principal wearing?  And then sloooooooooooowly walked through the halls of our school with clipboards and pencils in hand, on the lookout for items.

Soo, maybe it wasn't super educational, and maybe it wasn't a ton of movement, but it was definitely better than sitting in our classroom any longer!  And they seemed to enjoy getting out.

I also encorporated a few of my math games from my Snowflakes {Keep Falling on My Head} Math Centers into our day!  That helped everyone have a little bit of fun.  Again, I wish I had taken pictures...  New Years Resolution= Take more pictures!!!  If you would like to check out my Snowflakes Math Centers... go here

Does anyone out there have some great ideas for entertaining these guys on insanely cold days?! I can use all the help I can get!

Happy Tuesday!
~Kelly Anne 

Happy New Year!

I cannot believe it is already 2013.  WOW!  I have to admit I have been a slacker and it has been WAAAY too long since I last wrote.  Like, I don't even know how I've been spending my time.  However, here is 2013 and I am looking forward to this new year!! 

Isn't crazy how much students grow and change over our short break?!  I swear they grow inches when they're away.  It's as if they save all their growth spurts from August to December and squeeze them into one break!!  I loved seeing my 5th graders this morning.  They all had on their new clothes and were actually excited about school for a whole five minutes!  We had a lot of fun catching up today but were extremely bored by the almighty and nececessary overview of expectations.  While I know going over the expectations is important- note, I heard from many students today, "you expect us to write how much??" or "how long do we have to read?"- but does it always have to be so darn boring.  Does anyone out there have a great way to beat the boredom and make expectations more fun and exciting?  If so, PLEASE help me!! 

I am super excited to announce a new product I've made recently.  In anticipation of February (the first time I've ever been early for anything!) I have a new unit of Math Centers!  You can check out the Centers here.  I'You can check out a preview, below!


Welcome back to school! How did your first day/week go?