Tag Archive: 5th grade

Superhero Strategies

IMG_4473Every year I try to have a “theme” in my room and as you saw in my earlier post this year is Super Hero: Super Reader!

I decided to re-vamp my strategy bookmarks and anchors in my room.  I’m big into super heroes and I’m hoping the change will be something my students enjoy.

IMG_4477My students will get the book mark (on the left) to take back with them to the classroom or to put in their book bags/book boxes and then the photo on the right are the larger ones hanging on my wall as a reference.

As always, if you ever want copies of any of what I use please let me know.  I’m always willing to share.  Cheers to all of you kicking off your new school year.  Here’s to a SUPER 2014-2015 school year.

IMG_2292Yesterday marked the last day of school at Lowell.  I can’t believe my 5th year is in the books.  I still feel so new to the game, yet I feel like I’ve been teaching for a lifetime.  I love being a teacher and I love helping kids achieve greatness.  Back in April our kiddos took the Iowa Assessments and I got to be in Mrs. Ryan’s room to help with testing/supervision.  I promised the kids that if they met all 4 goals they could water balloon me at the end of the school year.  Mrs. Ryan said she would go in on that deal with me, too.  Well, yesterday we made good on our deal with the kids.  3 of Mrs. Ryan’s kis met all 4 goals and got to throw water balloons at us.  They soaked us!!

IMG_2288So this is my last post for the 2013-2014 school year.  I am taking the whole summer off to spend with my son and visit family in Alaska.  Thank you for reading my blog, posting wonderful comments, and being supportive.  I’ve learned SO much this year and look forward to my 6th year back at Lowell.  This year has been very difficult for me and I thank each of you who have provided support in some way.  You make me a better person and a better teacher.  I look forward to 2 months off with family to recharge and come back a better Ms. Acuff and ready for the challenges of 2014-2015.


IMG_9116Well hello there 2014 and all my fabulous readers!  It’s been over a month since I last posted and I apologize.  With my student teacher here I wasn’t very good about posting since she was doing most of the work with the kiddos.

4th and 5th graders had been reading new novels on the Kindles, but after doing their DRA reading tests before break almost all of them were on grade level so are being ready to exit Title 1 services (YAY!!)  Yesterday and today we worked on reading poetry to practice fluency as this is something all of them continue to need practice with.  I taught a mini lesson on fluency and then we put it right into practice.  We used the poems from Jeff Foxworthy’s book Dirt on My Shirt.

After we finished reading through the book of poetry we wrote silly poems and then shared them with each other.  My 5th graders created an acrostic poem along with me using “5th grade” as their title.  Enjoy below:

5-5 classmates ran across the room

T-to get the monkey with the spoon

H-having deep fried monkey meat in the afternoon

G-girls were grossed out by what they had to eat

R-realizing it all smelled like monkey feet

A-accepting that this wasn’t a treat

D-deciding to go sit back in their own seat

E-eventually accepting the inevitable defeat

IMG_91185th graders then wrote their own poems and I unfortunately didn’t save them/take photos of the finished poems and I let them take them home with them.

I only had two out of my four 4th graders here this week, but they had a lot of fun reading poems and each wanted to read all of the poems.  We brain stormed rhyming words to help them make their acrostic poem rhyme.

Here is Kendal’s completed poem titled 4th grade:

4-4 silly monkeys going in the street

G-getting out of the ridiculous heat.

R-running back to Dairy Queen to get a treat

A-away they go to get their seat

D-down the road they go to meet

E-eating their delicious Dairy Queen treats

Brian wasn’t completely finished with his poem titled Gorilla, but he had a great start:

G-gorillas are climbing in a tree

O-on the branch to drink their tea

R-realizing they had only 2 feet

The kids were able to take their poems home to finish or to help inspire them to create new poems.  I’m excited to see what they come back with.

5th grade Persuasive Writing

oreo poster5th grade is almost finished with their book Miss Daisy is Crazy and we’ve had fun looking for evidence in the work that we’ve done and present to the group.  Recently we read about how students wanted to buy the school from the principal.  They were going to have to convince the principal to let them buy the school so they could turn it into a game arcade.

I present the students with an OREO graphic organizer, which stands for opinion, reason, evidence, opinion.  Students had to decide whether they thought they should or shouldn’t be able to buy the school from the principal.

I first modeled to students how to fill out the graphic organizer and then helped student make their own graphic organizer with supporting details and evidence from the book.

The following day I modeled writing a rough draft and how using my graphic organizer could guide me in my writing.  I then was able to conference with each student as he/she wrote during the rough draft stage.

IMG_8543I enjoyed listening to the reasoning each student had when we shared our stories at the very end.  Each student thought of different reasons they thought they should buy the school.

This week we will finish the book and next week start something different.  They are wanting to read real ghost stories, but I think it might just be too scary for Miss Acuff. 🙂  Check back in with us again soon!

IMG_8400We had another Donor’s Choose project fulfilled within the last month and our items are just not starting to finish arriving after being back ordered and then needing to be replaced.

IMG_8401Ms. Acuff’s class wants to thank…

  • Dr. Jim and Jody Mueller
  • Nicole Earle
  • The Yellow Chair Foundation

Thank you for donating money for us to have comfortable furniture to read in AND for donating money for us to have books to read in those comfortable places.

We’ve had to learn some very good skills on how to share and take turns since all of the items to use are hot commodities in my room, but we are extremely blessed and spoiled to have such a wonderfully cozy place to call ours and work to become better readers.

IMG_8402Students have been very eager to get reading since the furniture has come.  It’s much more fun to curl up with a book when you aren’t sitting in the hard, plastic, blue chairs we sit on when we first come to class.

One of my 1st graders got to open the box with the big red rocker and the box was nearly as big as he was. (Photo to left).  It was exciting to get to open up new things.  We’ve had several days which have felt like an early Christmas gift.

IMG_8404So again I want to thank everyone everyone who has donated to this project and to our other projects to help inspire literacy learning to be much more fun and comfortable.  So many opportunities have been opened up to us because of the gracious gifts we keep getting.

IMG_8391And as I close we need to say a little RIP to the yoga ball.  The yoga ball has faithfully served Ms. Acuff’s room for the last 5 years and yesterday it finally breathed its last breath.  The kids were very sad, so it’s a good thing the red rocker arrived today.  The rocker will be a nice new addition to our room in lieu of the yoga ball.

We do have a current project posted on Donors Choose for us to get some new writing supplies for small group instruction and also some new take home book bags so the kids can take books home to read and practice with their families.  Our current book bags are ripped and falling apart after over 5 years of use and being held together with duct tape.  If you want to help us with our newest project please visit our link: http://www.donorschoose.org/project/breathe-life-into-our-supplies/1099491/ (Enter code MALL20 to match up to $20 or INSPIRE to match up to $100–code INSPIRE only will work for our project until Friday, October 18th.  After that please use match code MALL20.)

IMG_82645th grade has been reading Miss Daisy is Crazy which is a part of the Weird School series.  In the book Miss Daisy pretends not to know how to do math, read, or write under the guise that “she hates school” and would rather be eating chocolates so IMG_8260she can “trick” the students into showing her math problems, reading stories, and writing words.  The children claim to hate school, but they all love showing her how much they know.  The students are convinced that if their principal finds out that their teacher doesn’t know anything, he’ll fire Miss Daisy and hire someone who actually makes them work.

IMG_82625th graders had to decide whether or not they thought Miss Daisy was pretending to not know anything or if she truly didn’t know how to do any of those things.  They had to pick their side and then re-read chapters 3 and 4 to locate a minimum of 2 pieces of evidence to support their claim.  I was able to go around to each student and help them locate their evidence on the Kindle and put it into a sentence.

IMG_8261After they had made their list with the page numbers to support their evidence it became time to put Miss Daisy on a trial by a jury of her peers.  Each student had to come up and read their supporting statement on whether Miss Daisy was innocent or guilty of IMG_8263pretending to not know anything to trick students into doing work.  They wanted me to read my statement first so I started out the trial by announcing I found her guilty.  One of the students wanted to be the judge so after each “verdict” he hit his fist on the desk and shouted, “GUILTY!”

One by one each student came up and read their statement.  Each student found her to be guilty and was able to support their claim with evidence from the book.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that each student took something different from the book.  After we had officially declared Miss Daisy guilty, each student had to prepare an “official statement” where they had to take their 2 pieces of evidence and put them into a small paragraph (photo at the very top) and hung them in the hallway.

Today was one of the most fun days I’ve had.  Students were very engaged and worked really hard.  We had a great discussion on the book and we are really digging deep.

4th & 5th: Focus Group Jobs

IMG_82024th and 5th are well on their way using the Kindles.  Last week I shared with you how I was doing Comprehension Focus Groups with my older kiddos.  I found I was doing almost all of the heavy lifting academically.   I was doing all the prompting IMG_8203and all the locating of tricky words and even making thoughtful connections.  Fabulous.  Great job, Miss Acuff…right?  Sure, I am able to do all these things, but it’s now my job to make sure I’m teaching the older kids how to do this for themselves and how to share their learning with the others in the group so they all grow independently and collaboratively.  This hasn’t been easy by any means.  This has taken some practice and we are still choppy.

I found some Literature Discussion Group job cards online and I thought they were really neat.  I thought they could be a guide for our groups.  Instead of me single-handedly trying to facilitate ALL of the group roles, I let the students pick their own job, focus on that one job, and then share it with the group.  We discussed what would be a good time frame to keep the jobs and we decided that we would keep 1 job for a week before switching.  This doesn’t mean that they can’t keep being a role they really like, but the goal is to eventually get them to being masters of every job.  After I prompt with a few opening question and give them a purpose for reading for the day’s session, the kids are free to choose a spot in the room to read their selected chapters and complete their job.  Students take notes while they are reading so they can answer all aspects of their job.

I was surprised that there were no “fighting” over jobs.  Each kid wanted something different.  And while I thought I would be “stuck” with being the discussion leader or perhaps having to force someone into that role, in both groups that was the first job picked.  I still have notes in my lesson plans of good vocabulary words, setting, connections, and discussion prompts, but it’s inspiring to see what the kids have IMG_8200selected as being important.  They are fully taking on their learning while having me there to facilitate and guide the learning in the right direction.  I was shocked when one of the discussion questions was, “Why are they having to talk about a book when we are trying to read about the book they have to talk about?”  The question stopped all of us in our tracks and we really had to think about what had happened in the story, process what we had read and what she was asking, and then discuss.  It wasn’t a yes/no question, but one that took deep comprehension of what was happening in the story.

So the kids have been super enthusiastic to be reading on the Kindles.  I have to practically pry the Kindles out of their hands so we can have our discussions, which I LOVE!!!!  I have never had to practically beg students to STOP reading.  Wow, right?

IMG_8199Both groups picked a book as a group that they were interested and then I made the final decision after finding a book that was on their instructional reading level.

4th grade all wanted to read Franny K. Stein books and I found Franny K. Stein, Fantastic Voyage,was on their level and one none of them had read before.  They made my job super simple.

5th grade took over an hour for me to find a book.  They all had such different interests and I tried to find one that was their reading level and the whole group’s interest level.  After searching and searching I found one they all liked….only to discover that it isn’t released on Kindle until January!!!  So it was back to the drawing board and looking over their book interest survey.  The next highest rated book series was the Weird School series.  5th grade ended up with Miss Daisy is Crazy.

This is an exciting time for 4th and 5th grade.  Check back in with us soon to see how all of us are doing with our new Comprehension Focus Group jobs!

IMG_8145Doesn’t that picture at the top just say it all?  These faces shout joy and excitement!  One of my goals has always been to make reading more fun and to stir up some passion for reading.  I think these Kindles are going to make it a lot easier to stir up passion for reading.

IMG_8148I have to give a very big thank you to Jim and Jody Mueller who fully funded 5 Kindles for my classroom. 

My 4th and 5th graders (and hopefully 3rd grade by the end of the year) will be using these most of the time for our group book.  This was a huge blessing and an extremely generous donation for my students.

I gave each student a box and then on the count of 3 they all got to open the boxes up together.  Some had never seen or touched a Kindle before.  I gave them about 5 minutes just to explore on the Kindle and get the feel for an eReader.

Comments like, “I’ve never seen anything so cool before,” “I can’t wait to start reading,” and “Is this really happening?” were IMG_8146happening the entire group session.  It was a very cool moment to be a part of.  Some of my kids were so excited to start reading that they did.  And so I just let them read for about 15 minutes before we needed to end the session.

This is an extremely exciting time for all the kids in Ms. Acuff’s class.  I am so appreciative and I look forward to posting more pictures of us working with the Kindles and to seeing great progress with the kids.  I have never IMG_8149seen such enthusiasm and it’s really exciting to be a part of.

So again, thank you Jim and Jody Mueller for the extremely wonderful gift of Kindles and for lighting a passion for reading in each of my kids.  You have made a huge difference in the lives of several young people.