Fiction Friday: What I've been reading in February

I made great progress this month toward my 200 book goal. As of today I have read 50 books since January 1st. Basically, I've stopped watching much TV -- it's amazing how much more time that leaves for reading a good book! Here are some of the books I finished:

Yes, it is as strange as it looks, and I absolutely enjoyed it! 

One of my boys is obsessed with Roald Dahl books, so I've been reading some of them to keep up with his conversation! 

I had not read historical fiction for awhile, but I became interested in this book by Laurie Halse Anderson when my 5th grade granddaughter told me about what her reading group was working on. She doesn't love reading, so when she said how much she was liking it I wanted to check it out. It is excellent, and now I plan to read more books by this author.

In another attempt to stretch my genre reading, I wanted a graphic novel. The only one I can remember ever reading is Maus (and sequel) so I decided to check this one out since it is another award winner. I'm going to have to find some more graphic novels, 'cause this was a fun read. Any suggestions?

This is a book written in the 1940s about a girl ridiculed by her classmates for wearing the same dress to school every day. I recently read this one aloud to my class, and it was a great opportunity for us to talk about bullying and the consequences to everyone involved. Have some tissues handy if you read this one!


Math Lit: Shark Swimathon

I knew I wanted this book just by the title! Third grade boys are particularly fascinated by sharks, so why not a math book about sharks?! And of course, I continue my obsession with Stuart J. Murphy math texts.

The story opens with a post - practice discussion by the Ocean City Sharks swim team about attending state swim camp. They want to go, but don't have the money. Fortunately, their coach has an idea -- enter the laps contest to win a trip for the whole swim team!

With a total of 75 laps needed, the team begins to swim (they have 4 days). Each day involves subtracting two-digit numbers to find out how many more laps they need.

I love that you can see what Coach Blue is thinking for each subtraction problem (regrouping). These sharks have a great spirit of teamwork, working together to reach their goal. And yes, they get to go to swim camp!


Using Our Brain: Mindsets in the Classroom Part 3

This time I'd like to share a couple books that I have used in our mindsets discussions. Both of these are great for starting a conversation about the differences between fixed and growth mindsets.

This is a story from Mia Hamm's childhood, when she did not want to play if she couldn't win! There is a great lesson here about sportsmanship, perseverance, and hard work.

The story of Wilma Rudolph is inspiring; she overcame polio which left her crippled to become the world's fastest woman. My students are always surprised at the treatment of women in the past, and of people of color. They loved hearing how Wilma overcame that as well as her "I Can" spirit.

Both of these books are fantastic additions to your classroom library whether you are talking about mindsets or not  -- highly recommended by both myself and my students.


Math Lit: One Grain of Rice

One Grain of Rice by Demi

From Amazon:  Exotic, beautiful, and instructive, this "mathematical folktale" by author-illustrator Demi emerged from her love of India. The narrative and the evocative illustrations combine to create a real sense of the culture and atmosphere of this romantic land.
It's the story of Rani, a clever girl who outsmarts a very selfish raja and saves her village. When offered a reward for a good deed, she asks only for one grain of rice, doubled each day for 30 days. Remember your math? That's lots of rice: enough to feed a village for a good long time--and to teach a greedy raja a lesson.

This is such a fun book to share with your students as part of a lesson about doubling. It goes well beyond the "doubles facts" that we work on in helping students to understand the scope of doubling. This is one of the books I like to pull out after state testing; students seem to really enjoy it and you can extend it by having them write their own story involving doubling of some item. I wrote a few months ago about the book Two of Everything (see it here), and I like to revisit that one before sharing this story.


Math Lit: The Best Vacation Ever

Our third grade math timeline includes data in every unit this year. I like to find something new each time so I recently picked up this book. The concept is "collecting data."

The Best Vacation Ever by Stuart J. Murphy is the story of a family who needs a vacation but can't decide where they should go. The girl in the story decides to collect information about what everyone would like to do. As she collects the data, she displays it on charts. Her questions include warm or cool, near or far, quiet or exciting, and whether to take the cat with them. After reviewing her charts she has enough information to come up with a perfect vacation for her family.

I'm planning to give my students a similar survey to gather information from their own family members and then have them work with the data in more than one way. Sounds like fun!


Monday Made It: February 2015

 I was seriously wondering if I had anything to share this month! This deep into the school year I seem to not be very creative in the classroom :(

This is the first quilt my granddaughter has made. Pretty good for a fifth grader! I've been helping her with it for the last few months.

We did a STEM lesson in the classroom that involved building boats; totally fun for all my engineers! It was also my formal eval -- lots of "innovating" marks for me!

My grandchildren and I made memories at SeaWorld! We wanted one final trip before our passes expired to see all the Christmas stuff.

Visit 4th Grade Frolics to see lots of creative ideas!


Using Our Brains - Mindsets at School Part 2

We began our mindset work in my classroom with learning about the brain. I gave my kids an outline of a head, asked them to draw a brain in the skull and then write things that they know about the brain. Here are a couple of examples of their work:

Afterwards, they shared some of what they wrote and I compiled a list on the board. We discussed them, and I guided them toward the concepts that we would be hearing about when we read this book:

This is a great book to teach kids about the brain! I picked it up a year or two ago from scholastic book clubs and had never used it until this year when it became a focus at school (it was one of those "Oh! I have that book!" moments). It starts with great information about the different parts of the brain, including the functions of each. We took a long time with this book, looking at small portions of it at a time. Usually we went in depth on a couple pages in each session.

I also gave each student a little folded paper notebook for work we do about the brain and mindsets. They have a brain map, and pages for writing. I like to have them reflect every week about what they have been doing to grow and stretch their brain.

Next time I'll share some stories I use to help with our discussions of how to change to a growth mindset. Also, you may be interested in my Pinterest board on the topic.


Math Lit: Just Enough Carrots

When this book arrived in my mailbox a couple weeks ago I sat right down to read it and it is just so cute! A little rabbit is grocery shopping with his mom, and is trying to convince her that they need more carrots. He sees other shoppers buying more, but mom has put just one little bunch in the cart.
The math concept for this one -- comparing amounts! Some shoppers have more, less, or the same amount as the rabbit family.

Instead of buying more carrots, Mom picks up peanuts (we don't need so many!) and worms (though he begs her not to). In the end, it turns out they are having company for lunch which explains why the peanuts and worms! The illustrations show fewer, same, and more very well throughout the shopping, and I think this story will be ideal for K and 1st, who will probably identify with the little rabbit. 


February Currently

Happy February! Time for Farley's monthly Currently link up.

1. I listen to the Daily Audio Bible podcast every morning. I've listened through the entire Bible for about four years now.

2. Every year one of our friends invites us to her Soup-er Bowl party, but we have never been able to go. Finally this year we are free!

3. I'm thinking Savory Cheese Soup. I love it, so hopefully others will too.

4. I love spring break! We have tickets to two different spring training baseball games, and I am so looking forward to going.

5. We are in the middle of fractions on the number line, and I'm trying to find a good variety of activities to help my kiddos understand what to do. We are making progress, but some of them haven't quite put it together. Found some good stuff last night on TPT that I think they will enjoy!

6. I have started 2015 with a renewed commitment to reading more books - my Goodreads goal is 100, though I'm really hoping for 200. I've had a good start with 14 books completed in January. Basically, I've nearly stopped watching TV.

Off to read some other Currentlys!
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