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Winter Mentor Text for Teaching Theme

My 5th graders love when I read a picture book to them as part of a reading lesson.  When the book has beautiful illustrations and involves dogs, even better! When I was a 3rd grade teacher, we learned a lot about the Artic, Alaska, and the Iditarod Sled Dog Race.  Using the book Togo, by Robert Blake to teach theme is a way for me to bring a little bit of Alaska into my 5th grade classroom.  

Classroom Rights and Responsibilities

A few summers ago, I was starting a new grade level (5th) in a new district and spent a lot of time on Pinterest looking for some fun ideas for my fresh start.  I decided to dig deeper into classroom rights and responsibilities and logical consequences.  I figured that 5th graders would value being part of the process of establishing our norms, and, honestly, I wanted their insight. I was new to 5th graders and how they worked!

The process of creating these rights and responsibilities has been one of my favorite discussions with my class over the last couple of years.  For students, thinking about what they want their rights to be is more powerful that just coming up with the standard class rules - be respectful, take turns, etc. Also, having this discussion at the beginning of the year gives me good insight about what the "personality" of my class is and what is important to them.

Mentor Text for Descriptive Writing

Nothing is more fun for me as a writing teacher than getting to use mentor texts with my students.  I wholeheartedly believe that authors can teach my students so much about the craft of writing.  I've got a shelf of books that I love to use as mentor texts, but one of my favorites is All the Places to Love, by Patricia MacLachlan.  It's a beautiful story of a boy describing each of his family member's favorite places on their farm.  The detail in both the pictures and text is fabulous!  

7 Tips for Teaching a Big Class

At the beginning of last school year, I was excited to be teaching a new grade at a new school in a new district.  I had made a big change, and it was just what I needed.  To add to all of the "new", I was starting the year with 30 students.  Thirty is definitely on the big size as it is, but we all know that new kids trickle in over the course of most school years...and last year was no different!

7 Tips for Teaching a Big Class

By the time the school year was over, I was sharing my classroom with 34 awesome 5th graders.  We all learned a lot, grew a lot, and had a pretty good time while doing it! It was definitely a learning process for me, and hopefully I can share some of what I learned to make your year better for you!

Iditarod in the Classroom!

Traditionally, February in the classroom means all things Valentine's Day.  But for me, it means my favorite part of the school year... Iditarod time!  This post will fill you in on how to incorporate the Iditarod into your classroom, and plan a unit your students will LOVE!

using Iditarod lessons in the classroom

Year after year, the Iditarod is my students' favorite unit, too.  Whenever I have students come back to visit me, one of the first things they'll ask is, "Do you guys still study the Iditarod?" You better believe it! I think the most appealing part of it is "following" mushers and the competition of the race. Everyone like a good race!