5th grade

Opinion Writing About the Causes of the American Revolution

I’m a big believer in writing in all subjects.  When kids formally record their ideas on paper, it helps new concepts stick.  Being self contained gives me the freedom to integrate writing into everything!  We write in science, math, and even social studies. My 5th graders study American history and learn about the causes leading up to the American Revolution.  This makes for the perfect opinion essay prompt!  Students discuss in groups which event most upset the colonists and why.  We then share them in small groups or hold a class debate, depending on how much time we have.

Content Writing Opinion Essay Anchor Chart American Revolution

Here’s the prompt, some sentence starters to support your ELL students, and a definition of ‘opinion essay.’

You can see my Revolutionary Thinking Maps series at The Lesson Deli blog.  There’s a post and anchor chart on the events leading up to the American Revolution to help support this content-area writing assignment.

–The Pensive Sloth

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Teach History With Me–World War I and The Christmas Truce for Kids

Teach History With Me Blog Series from The Pensive Sloth for Teaching 5th and 6th Grade HistoryI never really liked history in school.  All I really remember is my 7th grade teacher giving us a packet of worksheets to fill in as we read a chapter in the book or my high school US history teacher holding classes in the bleachers so that he could practice with his baseball team on the field during the spring season.  I’m not kidding.  We filled in our worksheets from the bleachers, chasing after them (reluctantly) from time to time when the wind blew them away!  When I started teaching American history to my 5th graders, I wanted things to be different.  I wanted learning history to be fun…and hopefully memorable.

The week before Christmas is when I whip out one of my favorite history lessons–World War I and the Christmas Truce.

World War 1 and the Christmas Truce History Lesson 5th Grade

  • DAY 1–CAUSES OF THE WAR
    • We spend the first day learning about the events leading up to the war.  Of course there is the Archduke Ferdinand moment, but that was but one part.  There is so much more!  We discuss and act out the role of different countries as they seek to control lands in Africa (imperialism).  Every country wants to be wealthier, right?  Of course they do, and Africa had lots of natural resources!  We share our thoughts about why countries become allies and enemies and discuss why countries want to compete with each other to have the best weapons and strongest armies (militarism).  Then we discuss immigration and the different cultures that were coming to American soil during the early 20th century, each with their own beliefs and loyalties (nationalism), and how and why America decided to join the war.  By the end of the lesson students have a conceptual understanding of what led to the war.
  • DAY 2–TRENCH WARFARE
    • After reviewing what led to the war, it is time to dig in deep and discuss trench warfare!  We discuss the sacrifices the soldiers made and what life was like for them in the trenches.  What new weapons made the war so deadly and the chances of survival for those that fought–would they get trench foot?  Trench fever? Or killed or injured by the weapons of that time?  What was medical care like?  The YouTube video above does a great job of explaining trench warfare.  Please preview to make sure it is appropriate for your students.
Christmas in the Trenches 5th Grade Christmas and World War 1 History Lesson

Click the book cover to go the Amazon.com listing.

  • DAY 3–“CHRISTMAS IN THE TRENCHES” BOOK
    • Time to hear from a soldier!  I read the book “Christmas in the Trenches” by John McCutcheon. It’s a fabulous story!  A grandfather tells about Christmas night during the war, when enemy soldiers put down their weapons and ventured into no-man’s land to celebrate together.  The kids are always in awe at this idea.  If you order this book from Amazon.com it comes with a CD that includes the song “Silent Night” in German.  The kids LOVE it!

Garth Brooks Thumbs Up Meme World War 1 and The Christmas Truce Lesson

  • DAY 4–“BELLEAU WOOD” SONG/POEM BY GARTH BROOKS
    • This is where students really have to make connections and pull it all together.  I give the kids a printed copy of the song “Belleau Wood” by Garth Brooks.  NOTE–The word ‘hell’ is used towards the end.  I edited this out, both in the paper copy I give students and the audio version I play.  Know your audience.  It is used very appropriately in my opinion, but I err on the side of caution with language in 5th grade.  Back to the lesson…The song presents one soldier’s account of the Christmas truce.  I always get chills when listening.  I play the song once and they follow along.  We stop and discuss the content of the song as it relates to WWI, then talk about the poetic elements–speaker, change in tone, word choice, etc.
World War 1 and the Christmas Truce History Lesson 5th Grade

I like to post words on a chart while we are learning new content.  This helps students use the language during discussions and writing. A few of the really new or challenging terms can be taught before the lesson, which is especially helpful for ELL students. I have found that in the upper grades, content or unit specific word charts work better for me than a word wall.  I leave them up all year, but when we move to a new unit in social studies, I place the new chart on top.  Some kids still revisit the old charts when looking for a word.

  • DAY 5–ASSESSMENT
    • I do give an integrated assessment over the whole thing–a few poetry questions on the song, a pencil and paper quiz and essay on the content, some activities with the new vocabulary and so on.  Gotta get a few grades and check for mastery!
World War 1 and the Christmas Truce History Lesson 5th Grade

Critical Thinking–Discuss what might cause countries to be allies or enemies. Students can also work in groups to learn about the countries on either side, their flags, and the current relations they have with the United States.

PS–I’m working on a packet of resources to go with this lesson.  It’s not quite finished.  Hopefully over the Christmas break I can fit it into my busy napping schedule!

For more Teach History with Me posts, check out these posts on The Civil War and MLK and the Civil Rights Movement

–The Pensive Sloth

Talk Like a Pirate Day Math Freebie with Tape/Strip Diagrams

I’m linking up with Krista of Teaching Momster for Math Madness Wednesday in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day…

Math Madness Wednesdays Link from The Teaching Momster

“If I hear one more pirate joke I’m going to make you ALL walk the plank!”  That’s right teachers, international Talk Like a Pirate Day is just around the corner.  Friday, September 19th to be exact.  I actually really like silly holidays, so here is a math freebie to celebrate!  Students answer the decimal addition problems to solve the riddle.  But, these aren’t any old decimal addition problems, matey.  These problems are set up using tape/strip diagrams to build those algebraic thinking skills!

Talk Like a Pirate Day Math Freebie from The Pensive Sloth

Students answer decimal addition questions (in tape/strip diagrams)  to solve the pirate riddle.  Designed for grades 4 to 6.

Click HERE to download this Talk Like a Pirate Day free math activity from The Pensive Sloth!

In my last post about tape/strip diagrams, I shared some ideas for using them in upper elementary math.  Here’s another idea.  Provide students with a tape diagram with a missing part.  Then, ask them to write what they would type into a calculator to find X.  It isn’t as simple as you might think!  Depending on the location of the unknown, X, students must form an equation that will get them to the right answer.  Give it a try…

Tape Diagram But What Do I Put In the Calculator Chart from The Pensive Sloth

Put a spin on your math lesson–Don’t ask your students to just SOLVE the problems, ask them to tell you what they would type into a calculator to get the correct answer! This is a challenge when students are working with unknowns in different locations. Try it. It makes them think!

Fair winds my fellow pirates!

–The Pensive Sloth

Shameless plug–If you need some tape/strip diagram worksheets or task cards, I’ve got some for adding and subtracting decimals to the tenths and hundredths place.

Teach Math With Me: Personal Financial Literacy and Taxes

School starts in about a month.  Resistance is futile!  I have a terrible time saying goodbye to napping and reading by the pool, but I always look forward to the start of the year.  Shopping for school supplies and meeting your kiddos at back to school night–Love it!  It is just around the corner…and so are those new personal financial literacy standards.  Now, if you are like me, the first thing that came to mind is, “How will I fit THAT in?”  Followed by, “And will that be on the STAAR test?”  One of the new standards has 5th graders defining 4 kinds of taxes (income, payroll, sales, and property) and that sounds like a great way to integrate some social studies!  So, here are a few ideas and a freebie!

5th Grade Personal Financial Literacy from The Pensive Sloth--social studies, math, and reading

Anchor chart to help students learn what the Constitution says about taxes in the US and about 4 kinds of taxes (income, payroll, sales, property).  This addresses the NEW math TEKS 5.10A for personal financial literacy…and a little bit of social studies!

5th Grade Personal Financial Literacy from The Pensive Sloth--social studies, math, and reading

Math/Literacy/Social Studies station where students sort scenarios based on the tax being described–includes 16 scenarios to be sorted into 4 tax categories.

5th Grade Personal Financial Literacy from The Pensive Sloth--social studies, math, and reading

Vocabulary snip-it with terms for teaching personal financial literacy

5th Grade Personal Financial Literacy from The Pensive Sloth reading, math, social studies

Let your students be accountants and do taxes for two fictional characters based on their financial profiles! See below for a link to this page.

 

Enjoy those last few weeks of summer!  Oh, and here’s a link to the free “Be an Accountant” activity!

–The Pensive Sloth

***Activities in this post can be found in my TPT store.***

Shut Up and Take My Money Teacher Style: Circuit Scribe

Circuit Scribe Shut Up and Take My Money Teacher Style Blog Series About Classroom Gadgets from The Pensive Sloth

There is a hilarious site called Shut Up and Take My Money that peddles unusual gadgets and such.  Not all of which are suitable for work, so if you are reading this at school I suggest clicking on that link when you get home.  Well, here’s the first in a series of a teacher-style version of classroom must-haves!

Somehow I happened upon this YouTube video for a product called Circuit Scribe.

Then promptly checked out their Kickstarter page.  They raised almost $700,000 dollars!!!  But… the product won’t ship until August.  Boohoo!  You can pre-order here.  Basically, it allows you to draw circuits that work.  Imagine the many ways you could use this in your science classroom.  Talk about STEM!

You should know that I’m not patient, so I found something similar on Amazon that I can play with until I get my Circuit Scribe!  I ordered this $10 pen that contains nickel instead of silver and I can not wait to  give it a try.  I should probably go buy some watch batteries and LED lights.  I’ll come back and share the fun when it arrives.

–The Pensive Sloth

***NOTE–I was NOT paid and am not affiliated with any of the above groups.  I’m just a teacher-consumer interested in new tools to make learning fun for my students!***

UPDATE:  While this is a really cool product, I don’t see it being affordable enough for regular classroom use.  After playing with it myself for an evening (I was very impressed), I realized that this could get costly with a group of 5th graders and opted to go with a different circuit activity at school.  It required some major problem-solving on my part, with trial and error as I figured out how to fold the paper just right so the positive and negative sides of the batteries connected to my hand-drawn ‘wires.’  I could see middle and high-school students really thriving with this, but my little elementary guys would need to use a lot of ink for their trial/error sessions, and it’s a little pricey for my tastes because you’d have to replace the pens every year.  Perhaps if you wrote a grant? 

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

#lessondeli giveaway intermediate middle school 4th grade 5th grade 6th grade

Listen Up 4th, 5th, and 6th Grade Teachers–

It’s time to win some super classroom resources for teaching math, science, reading and social studies!  There’s a group of us, #lessondeli, and we’re all hosting giveaways at the same time.  Hop on through our Facebook pages for a chance to win each teacher’s bundle, and when you reach the end there’s a Rafflecopter with a chance to win a bundle of ALL resources combined!  Don’t forget to follow the #lessondeli on Pinterest and Facebook.  We’ve got more in store for back to school…

The fun starts tomorrow, June 3rd, and will run through June 6th.   Details will be announced in the morning at 6AM on my Facebook page so that you can get started hopping.  See you there and good luck!

–The Pensive Sloth

PS–My giveaway bundle includes 3 things, the Bill of Rights Unit, Insect Life Cycle Sort (for complete and incomplete metamorphosis), and Pre-Algebra Puzzle Task Cards.