Tween Tribune

I’m linking up for Technology Tailgate’s Techie Tuesday with a site that has become a staple in our Daily 5 routine.  Tween Tribune is a current event website for kids that allows them to comment on articles and read their peers’ opinions as well.  My fourth graders love it because the articles are of high-interest to them and they love having their voices heard.

Tween Tribune allows me to integrate writing, science, social studies, and 21st Century technology/communication skills into my reading block.  It also helps my students see the value of reading for enjoyment and interact with text in an authentic manner.  I’m hoping it will get them in the habit of keeping up with current events and voicing their opinions on important matters in our society.

If you don’t teach “tweens,” there is also a TT Junior version that’s appropriate for the younger grades.  This site is free, user friendly, and doesn’t take up much of my time.  All I have to do is approve my kids’ comments before they can be posted, which is a feature I really love about the site.

I highly recommend checking out Tween Tribune if you’re looking to change up your reading centers.  Click the image below to take you to an article about ball chairs.:)

Determining Importance in Reading and Math

My district’s reading focus strategy for the month of February is determining importance, which has always been a tough one for my kiddos.  Our reading specialists had some great ideas to offer, which I tweaked to fit my students’ needs. 

I started my guided reading last week with a mini lesson on “What’s in your Backpack?”  I asked my students to sort the items they packed in their backpacks that morning into two categories: “Very Important” and “Not So Important.”  Items that went in the “Very Important” column included their binders, laptops, lunches—things that they couldn’t have made it through the day without.  They were pretty good at determining which items were not absolutely crucial, such as markers, erasers, extra books, etc. for the “Not So Important” column.
I then explained that we were going to practice determining importance in our Raz Kids books in a similar manner.  While they read, they used the graphic organizer to record information that they deemed important to helping them understand the author’s main purpose.  I had to remind many of them to not just put down interesting facts because many of them were just details and were not crucial to understanding the topic.  You can grab the graphic organizer along with the backpack handout for free by clicking either image. 
This was a great segue into my math focus for the week—making sense of word problems.  I don’t know about yours, but many of my darlings take the first two numbers they see and either add or subtract them without really comprehending what the question is asking.  Many of my students are struggling readers so word problems are VERY difficult for them.

I made up a couple of very lengthy word problems with a lot of unnecessary information and had my kids sort the information based on its importance.  I was thrilled to see that the strategies we practiced in reading transferred over and really helped them determine what was/wasn’t important to solving the problem.  Here’s an example worksheet from one of my sweet kiddos with all of his work beautifully shown.:) 
You can download this two-page handout for free by clicking either image below. 
I’d love to know how YOU teach determining importance in reading or math or both.  Please share!:)

How to Scan QR Codes if You Don't Have an iThing

Feeling left out of the QR hoopla because you don’t have an iThing (or tablet, kindle, etc.)?  If you have a laptop or desktop with a camera then I have good news for you.  There’s a free app called QR journal that you can download for all your QR scanning needs.    

Ever since self-checking QR code task cards became a regular part of my math routine, I started using the laptops over the iPads because I can get more kids on them at one time.  Here’s one of my boys scanning his task card to check his answer.  Just make sure they click “scan” in the left hand corner and the answer will show up on the bottom, which you can see in the picture.  Then they click skip to go to a fresh screen and scan their next one.

If you haven’t tried QR codes yet in your classroom, I highly recommend it.  My kids are so much more motivated to do math problems and literally beg me to make more QR code sets on a daily basis.  They even chose a QR code party for our January PBIS celebration! 

If you are interested in getting started with QR codes using your iPad, iPod Touch, or tablet, here are a couple of apps I recommend:

Currently and Sale

I chose technical difficulties as my pet peeve because with 28 laptops and 5 iPads, there’s always something that needs a little TLC.  I’m not complaining about the amazing tech I have in my room by any means—I love it!  It just takes a lot of patience to train the kids (and myself!) to trouble-shoot on their own.. but we’re getting there.:)

Since this my first year teaching fourth grade (I used to teach first and fifth), I didn’t have a lot of center materials at the start of the year.  So I’ve been gradually making supplemental games and task cards that are aligned to our Envision math program and to the Common Core. 

My kids especially love Bump games and QR code task cards, which they can self-check on the iPads or their laptops by scanning the codes.  Here are a few of their favorites, which are also some of my best-sellers that will be on SALE tomorrow at 28% off!  (Most of my QR code products are available without the QR codes as well.)

I would love for you to leave a comment below about a product you love for fourth grade since I’m looking to have a little shopping spree of my own tomorrow!  Feel free to promote your own products!:)

Link up with Farley: