Non fiction Books for 5th Graders;

Have you searched forever and a day for a nonfiction book to use with your\ 5th graders but you somehow never find just the right thing? That’s me every time we start nonfiction. Last year, I made it my mission to find nonfiction books that hit each and every skill.

I knew that almost ALL fifth graders knew almost all different types of text features. I didn’t want to harp on that. I felt that the context was so much more important than just the features. Don’t get wrong-the features are important. However, by 5th grade the content/structure is even more important.

This nonfiction book has been amazing to use. We actually spend an entire week really diving into this book. We don’t just skim the surface but we compare and contrast like crazy!

This book also relates to some of this Social Studies [Social Science] standards too. 😜 This book is called George vs. George by Rosalyn Schanzer.

Here’s how I use this book.

Step 1- I take all of their knowledge about George Washington and list it. The kids have some prior knowledge about the King of England and will list some of this as well. I usually make a KWL chart with them.

Step 2-we read it. We don’t read the entire thing but we start by comparing their lifestyle which is the beginning of the book.

Step 3- then we compare how they both have ruled and any other pieces that may apply.

Step 4- we then take all of that information and will create a summary comparing the two leaders I start off with little pieces and then will build from there to compare.

This is just one of the many books I use in my classroom to teach nonfiction -text structure- compare and contrast. What books do you use to teach compare and contrast?

Guided Math Unit 2

A little bit ago, I blogged all about Guided Math Unit 1. Well- it’s time for unit 2 now! Unit 2 is all about that Division Life. It’s a hard life- but here we are.

When you start with the unit – you will see the lesson that goes with each day. The lesson names are listed below.Slide1.png

Each of the lessons comes with a lesson plan. It has the I can statements, standards, materials needed, and the whole group lessons. Under the whole group lessons, you will find small group lessons. All of the small group activities are provided for you. No longer do you have to search the small group activities anymore. What about a way for remediation or above level? Those lessons are provided for you. You can now work with your low group and build them up to on level.

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Each of the lessons within the unit has classwork to go with each of the lesson. Want to get mini-assessments without doing the actual tests? There is an exit ticket for each of the lessons. Each lesson also comes with homework that you can assign.

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This has really been a life saver for me. All you have to do is print and go! It really is a quick and simple unit for teachers. It recently received an upgrade and all of the worksheets, lesson plans, small groups, really everything is split up now! It makes it even more user friendly for you! Want to purchase unit 2? Click on any of the pictures and it will take you directly to my TeachersPayTeachers store.

Guided Math In 5th Grade

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Y’all- I can’t tell you how many times teachers have asked me if its okay for fifth grade to do Guided Math. The answer is YES!!!

When you think of Guided Math think of it is as a way to see your students each and every day. This is a great way to structure rotations through your classroom so you can see each and every one of your students. [Discloser- You will not see each of your students every day!]  If you need help with Guided Math – leave me a message and I will for sure answer it. However, I want to get to the unit.

When I started fifth grade, I was wigging out that there was no Guided Math for fifth grade. Everyone has stuff for k-2 but nothing for fifth. So what did I do? I created my own units. These units are made for entire year.

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It started these units with the standards in mind and I really unpacked them for you so you don’t have to. The only thing I did not include in the lesson plans was the scale. I wanted you to be able to use them as you see fit. Below is what a typical lesson plan looks like.

On top of the lesson plans, you will get two worksheets to use as class work. Two pages will also be homework.

Are you tired of giving one grade based off of one assessment? Yeah- me too. I also included exit tickets as well. There is one for each lesson and it keeps it super simple. Below is an example of the classwork, an exit slip, and homework.

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On top of that, you will be provided with all small group activities. No longer will you have to create anything extra. All your small group lessons are done for you- and all you have to do is print and go!

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Are you interested in these 4th and 5th grade Guided Math Units? Click here to go to my store!

If you have any questions, leave them below!!

Write me a letter…

A lot of people say that writing a letter is a lot art. It’s true. We don’t teach our kids to do it, therefore, this generation won’t do it. They will send text messages. However, text messages can only get us so far.

I recently became a [chromebook] one to one classroom and I was stumped about what to do. I really was like “COOL!!! Technology is awesome! Now what?” I didn’t know how to start incorporating this into my classroom.

I knew I wanted the kids to write letters to me about their book. Last year, I had them write it in their journal and I genuinely enjoyed it. This year, we are writing it in our reading response journal in our Google Classroom. It’s super simple and will take about 30 seconds to activate and get the kids writing. 😍 can you say #timesaver?

I started this last week and it’s safe to say…I’m obsessed! I look forward to making more Google Classroom activities! Want to purchase the reading responses? Click the picture! ❤️

IGTV or YouTube?

Hi Guys… I have committed to a few months of IGTV. It is kind of amazing.

Setting this up has been hard but I absolutely love it. For right now… I am committing to 3 days a week.

I also am hoping to get a lot of friends to join our channel so we can talk teacher business just for all of you!

Why did I decide to work with IGTV instead of YouTube? Well- IGTV is more user friendly. My goal is to be able put all videos on YouTube but I record everything vertical and YouTube is kind of against that. However, I will try!!

Check out my InstagramTV by going right to my profile and clicking IGTV! You can also click the picture below and it will take you directly to my Instagram!

See you there!

Fairy Tales in Fifth Grade

A lot of people have asked me about Dive Into Reading and WHY I decided too create this awesome product. Well, I had a goal to expose my students to as many genres as I possibly could. This has been two years in the making and my scores show it. However, I don’t want this to be a scores post. I want this to be a post that tells you how to step out of your comfort zone and give your students what they need!

First of all, fairy tales is such a fantastic way to start the year. It not only is a great topic but it also allows the kids to remember great memories that they had with their parents or growing up. Albert Einstein said “If you want your child to be in intelligent, read them fairy tales.” This is one of the reasons why I decided to make the first units all about Fairy Tales.

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Fairy tales are a fantastic way to open a door to so many different books. One thing I learned about 5th graders is that they want to read fairy tales but may be embarrassed. Setting this up in the beginning of the year allows the kids to read some AMAZING fairy tale books like The Wishing Spell. Note: This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small commission if you choose to make a purchase through one of the links, which helps keeps my blog running effectively.”

When the students reread fairy tales- they are able to read fractured fairy tales that are more on their level. I am all for picture books and I am all for opening their eyes to new books and new genres. Other books that you may want to add to your classroom library during the “fairy tale” unit are listed in my Amazon Store!

Now I bet you are all wondering how do I incorporate more of this in my reading block? Well to start off  I know what I want to teach and then I search for the books. I focus on the skill that is going to be targeted and then I search. The search process takes HOURS. Lucky for you- you don’t have to search very hard for the books. You can just purchase them at the link and then use the Dive into Reading Units to guide your lessons.

In this Dive Into Reading Unit you will get so much help in your reading block. In the Unit 1 – Dive Into Reading you will get 20 days worth of reading lessons along with 20 days of read aloud questions. The lessons are already done for you and all you have to do is purchase the book that correlates with the lesson. The lessons are progressive and you will move through all the standards over the year.

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Not only do you get 20 lessons for a month but you also get 20 days worth of questions for the read aloud. You will be provided with questions to ask to the class, turn and talk questions, and even read aloud questions. The read aloud questions can be put onto Avery labels and printed for the kids. **helpful hint- tell the kids to put their finger in the air when you are passing it out to save some time for you!**  I also put in there a template that you can use to print on post it notes so you can have all of the questions at your finger tips. These questions go from lower to higher order questions.

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 The Dive Into Reading has saved my life. When I am stressed or worried or have an impromptu observation- you know what I do? I rely on my questions. I rely on Dive Into Reading lesson plans and questions. These lessons and questions have saved my life and my time more than you will ever know. I no longer stay late after school because all of the questions are done for me. I no longer worry what I am going to have to teach the next week because it is done for me! If you are looking for a way to reduce your stress and have effective reading lessons you can go to my TeachersPayTeachers Store.

Hugs & High-fives,
Ronnie

Guided Math Notes

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Have you been told you need to get your math lesson down to fifteen minutes because you have to see your lowest 25% every…single…day?

Don’t worry. Me too.

I was told that I need to get my math block into concise rotations which lead to my love of Guided Math (scroll down to read about that). I was also told I need to see my lowest 25% of my students. In case you don’t have it, it’s the lowest 25% of the ENTIRE grade and you have a certain amount of students that fall into that lowest 25%. You have to see every one of your reading and math lowest 25% every day. A normal classroom has about 8-10 of their students that they HAVE to see. This year… I have 16 out of my 24 kids that fall under the lowest 25%.

What in the world was I going to do? I was practically in tears when I found out. I had no idea how I was going to make sure I saw ALL of my kids every day in math and make sure they also took notes. Have you seen how SLOW they write? They are like sloths.

They are S…L…O…W…

Like I want to scream that they move so slow. So I finally figured out how they can take notes, practice with me PLUS practice on their own! That’s when my newest baby was born. I was freaking out that it would take them SOOO long to take notes so I ended up creating a template to guide the entire note taking process.

This is how A Teacher’s Wonderland Guided Math Notes were created.

These notes were a life saver. I honestly would say that they took 20 – 30 minutes in the beginning of the year. That’s not including glue time. These notes don’t have ANY foldable parts, it’s literally cut and place. There’s nothing to it.

In the beginning it did take a long time. However, after about 3 weeks it all synced up and they got into the flow of the classroom. Of course, once we get past unit 7 it’s smooth sailing because it’s really not hard concepts.

What does each page entail?

It has any vocabulary words that need to be identified. It also has a teacher part (I do) and then there’s a part to do as a class (we do) and then the students do the last few parts with a partner. There is also a section where the students can evaluate themselves and see what level they are on. They also can have partners check their work and initial that they checked. I like this part because it holds the partner and themselves accountable.

Yes- it’s awesome but let me tell you some of my dirty secrets. Last year- by December when we took district diagnostics- my students were at 47% gains. That’s not fantastic. I did not take any math notes last year. I don’t remember what I ended up as gains last year, but I know it was was less than 80%. This year by the time that I got to my December diagnostics I was at 79% in gains. That’s a crazy increase. I feel that this year I am such a stronger teacher because I have the notebook to refer back to. Another secret? I have to refer back to the notes as well. Not every day BUT when we do spiral work I sometimes need to look back and refer back to it. It’s also great because when the students struggle, I can tell them- go back and check Unit so and so to remind yourself HOW to do it. It’s not that they don’t know the skill- it’s that they forgot the procedure.

I did finish the entire series for fifth grade! I am in the middle of 4th grade so 4th Graders bare with me.

If you are looking for the 5th Grade Guided Math Notes click here! I am telling you that you won’t regret it and you will see those test scores go up.

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Teacher stress is no joke…

Can I just say that teacher stress is no joke?

Oh my gosh! So my stress level as I get closer to our state testing is through the roof. I feel like I am now under so much stress. Let me explain before you just to think I’m crazy.

So as a teacher you have many different hats you wear, right? The hats are you wear are:

  • nurse
  • mom
  • Dr.
  • psychiatrist
  • teacher
  • mathematician
  • scientist
  • expert storyteller
  • field trip organizer
  • IEP Creator
  • IEP Enforcer
  • Lawsuit avoider
  • Rule abider
  • Standards modifier
  • behavior monitor
  • Award Winning positive role model
  • Setting the stage to engage creator
  • and so much more!

All while shuffling around 55 plates.

You have the most deadlines that could possibly ever come in your life. You need to have your RRR done by a certain day. You need to make sure they are graded and put in by a certain date or time. You need to make sure that you have your IEP meetings all scheduled and taken care of. All of your IEP‘s are being held up and applied. If you don’t follow that IEP to a T, guess what then you have a lawsuit on your hands.

On top of that did you also remember those 504‘s and those EP’s you have to do? Did you remember that you have to turn in paperwork prior to your IEP? Did you remember that you are required to respond to parent emails in 24 hours! And if you don’t you will hear about it… Trust me you’ll hear about it. Did you also remember to make sure that your students are happy? Because if you didn’t guess what, their parents are going to calling you and letting you know that they are not happy. Want me to add even more cream to the crop? You also have to make sure that all students are happy with everyone in the classroom because guess what, your parents will hear about it. You also have to make sure your students are learning… got to make those gains! You also have to make sure that you are keeping your kids engaged… #AreYouSerious #I’mcompetingwithvideogames.

Did you ever even think that you need to write that IEP today so it’s ready for tomorrow? Did you think that what your kids saw at home will be coming to your classroom? Because it will and it will come right back to you. On top of that they want to know everything that they possibly can about you. They want to know every single thing that you do while you are not at school. How many of you tell your kids that you live at school? Because I do.

Do you even think that the amount of stress that a teacher has is less than a normal job? Do we get summers off? Yes. Do we deserve every second of it? Absolutely. Do you teach 24 kids every day? Do you have to make sure they learn everything within a 4 and a half hour day over 180 days? Don’t forget that in between there we have to have recess while making sure there are no broken bones. Do you have to make sure every SINGLE thing you do is done properly because if you don’t your scores will suck. Also, your test score is based off of how well you taught last year. Forget the fact that you had kids melting down each and every day. Forget the fact that you lost hours upon hours in fire drills, code red, code blue, tornado drills, picture day, retake of pictures for picture day, class pictures, an author visit, and so much more. It doesn’t matter because honestly when it comes to the end of the year you MUST still have your kids perform on a state test and they must do well enough for you to receive a 1% raise. Also, I don’t want to be the one to tell you this but you will get paid like crap. You are one of the lowest paying jobs but you are expected to teacher America’s (or whatever country you are in) future.

But did you ever stop to think why do we do this? This job is not a quick job like you can go and wake up in the morning to do it because I’d love to see somebody try.

We as teachers have an important job. We have to make sure that every day counts. That every moment counts. We make sure that when you walk in the classroom you feel loved. That you feel like you have a place in this world. Because you do… It’s in our classroom. Please do not assume that in our classroom that everything falls in place. We bought all of those decorations. We bought all those cute tables to encourage students either work at a small group table or work at a standing table. You need to spend your own money to make your classroom perfect. And let me add that stress right now about the Pinterest perfect classroom don’t do it, all right, it’s not worth it. It’s not even something you should consider because you know what’s the most important piece is that you love your kids.

And there are going to be days that you won’t like them…no no no… you won’t. You can’t because just like you don’t like your friends or siblings during certain moments of your life, you won’t like them but this moment. I don’t like your attitude that kind of moment is the one that you don’t want. It does not mean that you don’t love them. I made it a priority to tell me kids that I still love them even if they made a mistake. Those kids spent majority of the year with you and they are learning the learning from you. You owe it to them to teach them how to be proper human beings as well. They’re learning how to pick  up positive behaviors and negative behaviors from you.

Is there even more stress that I am not remembering? Yeaup.

But you have to remember that the most important piece of being a teacher is it’s kind of like a puzzle.

The puzzle piece that some days the pieces will fit… And some days you cannot figure out how to get the put back together again.

Your classroom is your safe haven. Some days that safe haven will be destroyed and you will feel insecure and it’s okay. Just get your bag and walk out. Don’t take your work home with you. Know that it will be there tomorrow. Some days you will cry. You will want to throw something…or three. That’s okay. It’s normal. You have one of the most stressful jobs in the entire world. You are taking the future of the world and training them how to be proper human beings. If that part alone isn’t stressful, I don’t know what is.

When your classroom gets tough, take a breath. You are not alone. You have an entire squad of teachers that have been in the exact same place as you. That have cried to their teacher neighbor, that have looked for jobs elsewhere, that have wanted to quit, that have cried to their principal, that have complained about their students, that have been upset about a parent interaction, that have gotten in a fight with a fellow teacher.

You are human.

You are allowed to be stressed. You just need to know how to handle it. I am not here today to sell you anything. I am here to tell you that you are not alone. You have one of the greatest jobs in the entire world and you, my dear, are not alone in this crazy stressful profession. You are loved. You are cherished. You are an educator.

Go change the world.

I (genuinely) would love to hear your thoughts on this so either leave a comment or email me at ateacherswonderland@gmail.com

For now,

hugs & high-five,

Ronnie

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How to group your students in Guided Math

Guys… how many times have you heard the word “differentiate” during college, a PD, your normal working day? I hear about it all of the time. Seriously…all of the time. My first two years- I smiled and nodded and had absolutely no idea what they were talking about.

Then I had a district person come in and she asked me what my weakness was…I of course said to differentiate and group students. She watched my lesson and came back and said to me that I did everything just the way that I was supposed to. That I had already differentiated and grouped my students correctly.

So how do I group my students?

I sort my kids by 4 groups. These groups are very easily fluctuated. They do not stay in this group forever and I make it well known that they could move groups very quickly. The 4 math groups that I have are high, high-medium, low-medium, and low. I know it’s riveting!! It is actually very helpful and is one of my favorite methods to use while grouping.

So at the beginning of the year I look at the previous school years score. I try to do a pretest at the beginning of the year so I can gage where they are before each unit. In 5th, our units are broken down like this:

Units 1-3- Multiplying and dividing whole numbers

Units 4-6- Decimals

Units 7-9- Fractions

Unit 10- Measurement

Unit 11- Geometry

Why did I tell you this? This is how I sort my kids. If my students tested low in the beginning of the year, I would place them in a specific group. So let’s start with my “class” and I say it is quotation mark because they are not my real kids.  There are ten math problems that fall under Units 1-3. If you are a standards based school, you will want to combine all of the standards that would fall under your first unit.

Let’s look at the 10 questions and break them up…

  • High- 8-10 questions answered correctly would fall in the high group. (Should be 80% or higher)
  • High-Medium- 5-7 questions answered correctly would fall in the high-medium group. (50%-79%)
  • Low-Medium- 3-4 questions answered correctly would fall in the low-medium group. (30%-49%)
  • Low- 1-2 questions answered correctly would fall in the low group. (1-29%)

Obviously you will alter your numbers based on the numbers that cover the specific skill/standard.

I really try to keep the groups small however I only have four groups. This year I have 24 kids so sorting them means each group has 6… but sometimes I have more than 6 in a group.

How do I overcome that?

I look at the assessment as a whole. I look to see did they struggle as a whole on the assessment? Should they be in a higher group? A lower group?

Remember, you are a teacher. You know if a kid would be a low kid, a medium kid, or a high kid. Make the decision for your kids and listen if they are in too high of a group, move their group.

Are you looking for a way to learn more about implementing guided math? Click the freebie and receive the How to implement guided math in ten days freebie.

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Math rotations

math rotationsWhen I first heard about Guided Math, I looked at the computer screen and thought…what the frick do I do now? Where do I start? How do I create stations? Why do I need them? How do I put the learning in their hands? Then after searching Pinterest for hours…I stopped.

Seriously. I closed my computer screen. I didn’t think or do anything about Guided math for another six months.

Finally, one morning (around March time) I woke up and thought “hmm…I wonder what I could do to eliminate some behavior problems in my first grade class. I wonder if they could get these 6 year olds into groups or something…?”

The next day, I created a powerpoint that I used to show the students when to rotate. I had 3 rotations. Me. Computer. Independent Work.

Back then (4 years ago)- my math groups were based on a daily need to see me. I almost always saw my low kids. This helped me make sure that they were successful. If I was lucky I could get a second group in to see because they probably struggled somewhere around there too. Before I knew it, my math time was over. Math books were away and I always  thought “that was a successful math lesson.”

4 years later and I know better.

Did it work for me? At the time, ABSOLUTELY! The following year, I came back to work around October. Baby W was born so I took extra time off. That class was a disaster. It was awful and I needed a way to get them under control. I ended up starting a math rotation around December. This was better. Much better. I found activities for them to practice with me – or heck- they did their a few problems from their worksheet with me.

It worked. There were 4 rotations. 4.

  1. Word problems
  2. Mrs. Eyre
  3. Computer
  4. Independent work

Let me tell you- that was the order they were in. The kids were ALL over the place. Then one of the worst days of teaching career happened. This kid who I had been working so hard with to control himself and not react on impulses- had a meltdown. Oh- in the middle of an observation. Class had to be removed. Crisis teacher was called. Everything. I knew my score was going to be awful but I didn’t care. What I cared about was going home to my 8 month old baby and being with him. I realized I was just in routine and teaching for me…kind of sucked. I didn’t want to do it anymore.

Finally one of my best friends who switched schools that year listened to me one lunch and said “Ronnie…you need to move schools. I’m not really giving you a choice.” (Steph if you ever read this- know that I owe my teaching career to you.) I laughed it off but after that day came- I text her and said “I want out of my school.” I arranged an interview with her principal and was offered a job immediately. Then came the dreaded news- grade assignments.

I was assigned to fifth grade. FIFTH GRADE. I was teaching first. I had no idea what to do in any subject. So I did what any normal Type A teacher would do. I immersed myself deep into the content. I decided to go all in and create math centers for myself. I knew that this school didn’t really share a lot of materials amongst the grade levels so I had to fend for myself.

Fend I did.

I created a ton of things to do with the students when they came over to me. Some were match type games, or pre-made templates. I started to really realize that I didn’t want to spend my entire YEAR cutting out stuff for these units. Really- I didn’t so I toned it down and created things that would be useful in a classroom that may not have a ton of time.

I started to think “oh crap- what am I going to have the students do when they are not with me?” And then it hit me.

It was like a train and I kid you not- my husband still remembers the day. He said I jumped out of the chair, shrieked, and went running to grab a piece of paper to write down my thoughts.

My math rotations were born.

They start with me. My lowest kids see me first. Why? That way I can kind of extend out the math block so I can see them and they can work with me for a little longer. They will then move on to independent work, computer time, and last but not least their math project. All of the students see the same rotations just in different order.

Did this match my first year? Nope. Will it match next year? Nope.

Here are some other ideas you could do in lieu of computer or math projects:

  • Hands on games
  • Challenge a friend
  • Manipulatives
  • Fast Fact Practice
  • Puzzles
  • Any self checking work
  • Geoboard practice
  • Shape manipulation
  • Doodle Notes
  • Math wheels
  • Number Sense activities
  • Create a number chart
  • Task Cards
  • Build something using math (We built a zoo once)

I know this may seem very busy. It seems like a lot but once you get your students trained, you will never want to change it again. You will never want to go to whole group lesson. I couldn’t even imagine it any other way.

I can’t wait to tell you more about Guided Math.

Hugs & High-Fives,
Ronnie