Sunday, September 30, 2012

Vocabulary Spelling City - How Do I Love Thee? Let Me Count The Ways!

With apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning let me tell you about Vocabulary Spelling City!  Why do I love this resource so much?  Take a look at the image  on the left.  This wonderful website offers engaging activities that help students master spelling and vocabulary.  My students love to practice their words by playing "Hang Mouse" on their computers at home, but they especially love to practice their spelling words with this activity on the Smart Board at school!  They also enjoy "Word -O-Rama" and "Letter Fall". While it's wonderful that my students can enjoy the online interaction I also like that I can print many different activities as handouts for student practice. 

During the week I generally assign a spelling practice activity each day for homework and these are all taken from Vocabulary Spelling City.  I have posted all my spelling lists on this site.  Students simply go online, select the list they are working with and select an activity to work on.  Students may complete crossword puzzles, unscramble words, practice alphabetization, or vocabulary. 

As a fifth grade teacher I want my students to practice cursive writing.  I know that soon they will develop their own distinctive styles of handwriting and I know that they will use keyboarding skills even more extensively as they grow older.  But, I feel that at this point it's important that they learn how to read and write cursive.  Then they can choose whether and when they wish to use it.  So, each week I always introduce the spelling words with a handwriting practice page from Vocabulary Spelling City.  Students can see the proper formation of letters and how they join.  They can trace each word before practicing it independently.  I think it makes a wonderful introduction to each week's lesson.  All I have to do is click on the list for the week and select  "handwriting worksheets".  This opens a dialogue box which lets me format the words to my specifications.  I choose cursive, but you may also select print or D'Nealian models, select the size, and whether or not you wish to display guide arrows to assist students.

Teaching spelling and vocabulary is so easy with this great resource!  I also love that students can take final or practice spelling and vocabulary tests right online.  Not only that but there are two tiers of use offered.  Many activities are free but there is a Premium Membership which allows automated student record keeping.  My students are thrilled when I tell them that for homework they need to go on the computer and practice their spelling.  I can later go to the Vocabulary Spelling City myself, log in and check out who has done the assignments and when they did them in addition to seeing their scores.

So, really, what's not to love about this site?

Sunday, September 02, 2012

First Day of School

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 was our first day of school.  The first day of school is probably the best day of the school year!  There is nothing more wonderful than a spanking clean school and classroom, students who are well rested and eager to start the new year, and staff who are ready and waiting!  Energy is high and everyone is ready for the next challenge.

Many of you are familiar with Wordle, a fascinating way to create word clouds from text.  To make this image I simply pasted the address of this blog into the Wordle form and pressed "submit".  This image, then, represents all that has been written on our blog.  I was thrilled to see that the word "students" is right in the center, and that it is the largest word in the image.  After all, the students are the most important - they are the center of our universe.

This year in addition to teaching math to both fifth grade classes, I will teach social studies and language arts to my "traveling group" and Mrs. Ladabouche will teach science to both fifth grade classes.  Soon, more information about Reader's Workshop and Writer's Workshop will be sent home and posted on the blog.

We have ordered a homework planner for each student.  As soon as the planners arrive students will place the planner inside the front of their three ring binder and the planner will remain there for the entire school year.  At the end of each day we stop and take some time for students to enter homework assignments, information about special activities that may come up, and reminders about other items of importance.  We would like you to get into the habit of checking your child's planner each evening.  Something new for fifth graders this year is the Reader's Notebook which will go home with students and return with the student each morning along with the novel or chapter book the student is reading at the time. 

Please note that you can now access homework assignments from this blog.  If a student is absent or forgets to write down an assignment simply check the calendar on the sidebar to your right.  Clicking on the calendar will bring up details about each assignment and when it's due.  In the fifth grade students should expect to have reading homework each evening and parents are asked to initial their child's reading log located in the students' Reader's Notebook and which will travel back and forth from school to home each day.  Students will have math homework each night spending some time in practicing the skills that we have learned in class.  Finally, students will have spelling words to study each week.

Students should get into the habit of remembering to bring their instruments each Wednesday and Friday.  Fifth grade instrumental music lessons take place on Wednesday afternoons and Fifth Grade Band practice is held on Friday at 12:30 pm each week.