Lessons

I use a balanced literacy approach in my 5th grade classroom which is a combination of targeted instructional lessons on standards, novel studies, current events, vocabulary, weekly spiraled close reading, and small group intensive instruction based on the students’ needs.
I utilize a combination of the NYS math modules and an interactive notebook for my mathematics instruction.  Additionally, the students complete spiral review math assignments multiple times a week to ensure cumulative retention of content.
I teach three sections of writing workshop in which we focus on creating mature and professional writing.  I believe that how one expresses themselves in writing can have a direct correlation to the impression that they make, leading to more opportunities. In addition to teaching grammar, we focus heavily on research writing.  By the end of the year, students are expected to be able to quote accurately, paraphrase properly, and determine which information is important when conducting research.  Some of the writing projects completed in class include biographies, descriptive writing essays, persuasive letters, and evidence-based opinion writing on prominent issues of debate in the country.
Imagine walking into your classroom and entering a new world.  Through classroom transformations, I am able to take my students on field trips without ever leaving my classroom.  The engagement level is at an all-time high during room transformations, and it is here that I see some of our best learning taking place.

THE BLIZZARD OF 2017
A blizzard in October?  It happened this year in Miss McNamara’s classroom!  Students received an urgent weather statement from the National Weather Service informing them of the severe storm that was headed right toward our classroom the next day.  Bundled up in their winter clothes, students entered the Intelligence Igloo to learn for the day.  We started the day by graphing coordinates to discover a snowy picture.  In math, students had a snowball fight in which they had to solve many problems using  addition and subtraction of decimals before playing minute-to-win-it games that required the students to convert fractions to decimals.  In ELA, we read about an exploration to Antarctica and practiced breaking down questions and finding related evidence from the text to answer the question appropriately. When it came time for the students to practice these skills in groups, we were hit by a large gust of wind causing us to lose power!  The students had to read and work by flashlight.  We finished the day with homemade snow globes and a yummy hot chocolate treat!
PUNCUTANO’S RISTORANTE ITALIANO
Welcome to Puncutano’s Ristorante Italiano!  Chef Katarina and Waitress Carmella served up some delicious commas and periods at the restaurant during writing class. We had three large parties, totaling over 60 guests who ate their way through three courses - punctuating delicious restaurant reviews, adding commas and periods to their informational texts about margherita pizza, and finally using their culinary creativity to create their own dishes. The guests flew back to the United States, but we are sure that they will be visiting us again in Italy sometime soon!
THE GLOW GAMES
Don’t forget to wear your neon clothes to the glow games!  This black light party was an educational and fun two days!  Students learned about the invention of glow in the dark sidewalks and discussed the potential benefits of such an innovation.  In ELA we completed paired passage constructed responses using a poem about the benefits of electricity and an informational article about the invention of electricity.  In math, the students played glow-in-the-dark Jenga while comparing fractions and decimals.  Students also played Spoons in which they had to match equivalent numbers in the form of decimals, divided circles, fractions and equations.  During writing, the students used glowing highlighters to determine the difference between paraphrasing, quoting and summarizing from a text.
POPCORN AWARDS
This mini room transformation welcomed the students into The Popcorn Awards, a festival where local authors come to share their descriptive writing.  After writing descriptive pieces on popcorn, students shared their work with the audience.  At the end of the performance, one student from each class was given the coveted Popcorn Award!
In 2016, the entire Alexander Central School District came together to attempt to break three world records as a result of the efforts of my AIS writing classes.  I introduced the project to the students in fall of 2015 when we learned about the history of the Guinness Book of World Records.  Students had to research three world records and fill out graphic organizers detailing the feat.  Then, they had to choose one record that they felt that our school could break.  The students had to write persuasive essays detailing how our school could be successful, what guidelines we would have to follow, and how we would fund the project.  The students presented their papers to the class and one student’s record idea was selected from each of the three writing classes.  Next, each class worked diligently on the chosen record to come up with a complete and thorough plan of how we could actually implement the record attempt.  When we felt confident with the plans, the students developed presentations that they gave to the elementary principal for approval.  After, they presented to the high school principal, and finally to the Board of Education.  When we obtained approval from all administrators, the classes began working to submit our proposal to the Guinness Book of World Records and start planning the day.  The students organized and MC’ed the event.  All students from the entire district participated to try to break the world records of The Most High Fives in One Minute, The Longest Pop ‘N Lock Arm Wave and the Most People Doing Sit Ups Simultaneously.  Although we did not break any of the world records, the event was a huge success and an incredible learning and leadership opportunities for these students.