The Real Deal: A visual journey



Student ready!! Switching rooms was harder work that I thought it was going to be. Everything is almost in place…two days before kiddos! Stay Tuned for documentation of a classroom full of life and learning!


Morning NoteThis year, I have breakfast duty from 7:55am-8:15am. Students are welcomed into the building at 7:55 and choose between heading down to their classrooms or heading to the cafeteria for breakfast. Since I am not in my room, my kiddos sit along the hallway across from my room. I have started providing a morning note on the door that leads our discussion for our morning meeting. Kiddos read my note (they realized very quickly that the first few questions I ask during our morning meeting are related to the note), think about the contents and then read independently until I arrive from the cafeteria. I have loved using these good morning notes to jump-start out discussions.

While creativity and choice is incredibly important in the classroom and in learning, so is organization. The first few days are important for students to learn routines and organization expectations. Together, we set up our science notebooks for every activity. We all make sure each activity is dated and has the same title. For this particular activity, students needed to make observations and predictions about 6 different samples. I modeled on the smart board what the organizational structure should look like for the first sample, and then students continued the pattern with the remaining 5 samples!10


In 6th grade, we investigated the concepts of measurement through area and perimeter. Students got to choose any tool they wanted to use to measure the area of their table top. The discussion that followed led us to understand why we have specific units of measurement that we use and why it is important to label our answer and communicate our tools of measurement!

Thanks to the collaboration with another 6th grade math/science teacher, we got to go outside and use Frisbee throws to model what the following scenarios looked like:

  • Accurate but not precise
  • Precise but not accurate
  • Not accurate or precise
  • Both accurate and precise


One of our science learning targets was to use scientific notation to expression very large (and very small) numbers. After our first few lessons/activities, students took a 4 question quiz. To my dismay (and most teacher’s worst nightmare) only 6 students mastered the learning. After allowing myself to be frustrated for what I like to think is a reasonable amount of time – I decided to use my resources. I used those 6 students as experts. They led a small group of their peers through their own re-teaching and small group practice before their classmates were re-assessed. Sometimes, all it takes if for students to learn from each other!

Spot the error.jpg

I am always looking for great ways to extend student thinking who are ready for another level of thinking with out just giving them more work to do. Over the summer, I found these “spot the error” cards at Lakeshore Learning and they have been one of my favorite purchases. The sets of cards are sold in packages of 60 problems for the grade level of your choice (right now listed at $30 a set– but I got my 5th grade set on sale during back to school sales). The cards are organized into groups based on topic/area of focus. Students can use dry erase markers to write directly on the cards! The first thing students have to do is analyze a problem/example at the top and “spot the error” and explain the mistake in their own words. Then, there are two problems at the bottom that allow students to demonstrate their understanding of the same topic. The answers of each part are on the back so students can check their work. I have been using these for early finishers, but would be great as a center/station also. (I did also consider making copies of the front to guarantee student integrity in problem solving)!


I won’t make you look through the 2 months of pictures I neglected — just some of my favorite moments/activities!

During one of our 5th grade math modules, students had to use place value to understand the value of decimal numbers up to the thousandths place. This was a much needed lesson (lessons — because it DEFINITELY took more than one day) as I learned when no one in my class could tell me what 2.6 was read as two and one sixth. We engaged in a variety of learning activities culminating in me giving teams of students a multi-digit decimal. Students go to choose their groups this time (I NEVER let them do this so they were so excited and motivated to do well) and I chose to create a decimal value based on what I thought would be an appropriate level of challenge for them to still be successful and show what they know. Students had to represent their given number in word form, in a visual form and some sort of expanded form proving they understood the place AND value of each digit of their number. This was an awesome opportunity to see where my students were in their depth of place value understanding and build on what they already had mastered!

Mineral Sample

The 6th graders spent November learning about the characteristics of minerals. They had to make observations on 15 different minerals in regards to the mineral’s color, streak, luster and hardness. The unit ended with an open note assessment in which students were given a random, unknown mineral from the set of 15 and they had to use their notes paired with streak and hardness tests to determine what the mineral sample was!


Whoever said we don’t need to know how to read or write in science class sure was mistaken! The 5th graders in my science class spent the week before break reading and watching videos about the “Secret Salt Mines” beneath Lake Erie thanks to Scholastic’s Science World magazine. Students had to write (in silence) what they believed the main idea of the article was — then got to share their main ideas with their team. After each team member shared, the next task was to create a lead for a summary AS A TEAM. From there, teams could decide if they wanted to write a summary together in a team of 4, or break up into pairs and write a summary. Connecting the vocabulary, skills and expectations from Language Arts class across the different content areas is critical in the development of students as readers and writers!