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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Surviving a Rainy Florida and

My family and I just returned from a rainy trip to Orlando.

This was a big trip for us because a family of 6 at Disney and Universal is a lot of money, and I don't like spending a lot of money!  More importantly, it was, most likely, our last trip there as a whole family because my oldest son is going to be a senior this year.  (Wow!)  We had only been one other time as a family, and my youngest son didn't remember it.  We were very excited about it all, and had been planning for months.  We couldn't wait to get there, and we were especially excited about the Harry Potter experience at Universal.  We decided to make it a short and productive trip, visiting both parks in 3 days.

Well, Tropical Storm Debby decided to visit with us!  Thankfully, she didn't wreak to much havoc, but we were unsure of what to expect day to day so it made things a little stressful, and very wet for the first three days!  Finally, on Wednesday, we were rainfree.  We had a great day at Epcot that day and a fun final evening reriding some of our favorites at the Magic Kingdom and watching the fireworks SPECTACULAR! 

While I have found Disney to be MagICaL during both of our trips, I have to say the Harry Potter experience was more than fabulous!  As a huge HP fan, I was really caught up in it all!  The castle, the effects, the rides, and the Hogsmeade part of the park were all that I could hope for.  I have so enjoyed these books with my sons, and I was so happy to share this experience with them, too!  So, even though we were wet often, and our shoes and socks stink to high heaven, we had a great trip!  (In fact, on our first day at the Magic Kingdom, we had almost no lines or waits because of the rain.  :)) 

And now for school stuff....

Before I left, I contacted other teachers in my building about  a site that my friend (who is moving to my building this year :)) showed me earlier in the summer.  It is an online planbook.

Click on image to go to website

We have a good number of teachers who plan to give it a try, and I can't wait to put it into action!  It appears to be a useful, easy tool for us to use.  I have played with it a little and watched the videos that support it, and I think it is going to be awesome.  It even has a feature to help me mark the standards that are being addressed.  :)  Have you heard of it or used it before?  Would love to know what you think.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Great Feature on Sumdog

So, if you have followed my blog, you know that I am a big fan of the FREE math website, Sumdog.  Sumdog is a great math game site that allows my students the opportunity to practice math skills in a game setting.  My students last year LOVED it!  (and so did I!)

The site allows for me to set up challenges, join competitions, and to differentiate what skills my students practice.  I am currently trying to decide if I am going to purchase the reporting option. 

Well. I recently visited the stie, and they have made some nice additions/changes to the site.  Today I am going to talk about the Lesson feature.  When I logged on, I found a tab at the top that said lesson.  I couldn't really tell what it was for, until I began playing the games myself.  (I love to play the games!)

When I completed a couple of games, I clicked on the lesson tab again, and this is what I saw...

The lesson was set up for a half hour, and during that time I had played two games.  What great information this will be when I have small groups or whole class time to work on Sumdog.  It will really help to hold the students accountable for what they are doing, and it will give me good feedback on whether students are understanding the skill that we are working on.

Underneath that view, was this image...

This individual information will be awesome, too, and it happens in real time!  What great formative assessment!  This will really help me to zoom in on those kiddos who are having a tough time with a certain skill!  I love it! 

Of course, tonight's practice was with only me playing games, when I begin in the fall, I'll be able to monitor any of my students who are practicing.  I'll also be able to monitor their work when I have given Sumdog practice as homework!

I think this is going to be an awesome feature for us!

Have you checked out Sumdog yet?  Were you aware of these new features?  I'd love to know what you think.  I know people use other free and subscription math websites, and I am curious to know how  you and your students compare them to Sumdog or other math sites. 

Hands down, in my classroom, Sumdog is always the winner of choice!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Happy Day and a freebie to celebrate!

I am in an especially happy mood today because I found out that a good friend will be working in my building next year!  I am so glad that we will have her and all of her awesome talent!

One way I have found to help struggling readers in my classroom is to have a joke each week.  I have it hung by the door so they can see it when they line up.  I have it set so that they lift the flap to see the punchline.  This is good practice reading, but it is also an important comprehension skill.  It makes the children think about WHY the joke is funny!  All of my students look forward to each week's new joke.

So, I put some new ones together tonight, and I wanted to share them with you!  Click on the image below to go to the document.  Each joke is set to print on one page, but then you can just cut them apart and display as you wish!

Lots of laughs!!

Monday, June 18, 2012

My First Monday Made-It!

I have been enjoying watching everyone's ideas in Tara's Monday Made Its, so I decided to join in the fun this week.  Click on Tara's button to go to the rest of the projects.

I have been busy making things for the new year.  I just can't totally complete anything that I have yet because I won't receive my class list until the week before school.  :(

I know everyone else is sharing cute, craftsy things, and that is my goal for next week, but here's what I have for this week...

I have been working on my "supporting papers" for the classroom.  My school's mascot is the Bears, so that is kind of my theme...(I am not attaching a link to these, but if you would like to have them, just let me know...:))

These are inserts for the front of their Daily 5 BinderNotebook and their portfolio notebook.

These are my new CAFE title pages.  I plan to make some for my 6+1 Writing Menu, too...

These are the labels for their book baskets.

As I have said before,  I am going to try using a math notebook this year.  I made some wonderful little matching inserts using information that I got from Doris over at Third Grade Thinkers.  She had a great post with lots of journaling info and some freebies from her TpT store.

I still have to create some labels, and some other little things, but these were a great thing to get done and out of my hair!  :)  Not that they are really "out of my hair..."  I still have to personalize them, print them and laminate some of them.  :(

Sunday, June 17, 2012

More Math!

I guess I am in a math frame of mind lately, since that is what I have been posting about.  Well, I am working on my workshop plans for Unit 1, so I am finding some things in my files that I had kind of forgotten about.

Today, I am attaching a math scavenger hunt that I have the kids do in groups on one of the first days of the year.  It covers a variety of information, gives them a good review, and gives me a glimpse of things that need more practice.  Click on the magnifying glass below to get to the document.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Everyday Math, Math Notebook, and foldables

I have been working with my teammates to lay out our Everyday Math units for Math Workshop.  You may remember that I began math workshop last spring and used it for the last three units of the year.  I liked it, and my kids liked it, but it was a lot of work. 

I feel confident that I made it a lot of work because I really want to meet everyone's needs during workshop, so my differentiation is on overload.  However, I believe that once I find what I want to do for each unit, then a lot of the work will be done.  Certainly, I will need to tweak things and add things depending on my students each year, but I am excited to be challenged by them.

I have a number of students who are way above grade level with computation skills.  Their families encourage outside tutoring so that they can do math computation skills which are way above grade level.  One of my kiddos last year met at the freshman level on the MAP math testing!   However, I also have a number of students who lack number sense and math confidence.  These guys need my attention, too!

I have decided to implement a Math Notebook next year.  (While many others call it a Math Journal, I can't, because in EM, the Math Journal is the name of our workbook.)  I am making some guidelines and some foldables to put into the notebook.  I am trying to make some generic ones that can be used by the high and below math leveled kids, but I am also making some specific to each group.  Our workshop moves quickly, so if I have already prepared the foldable for the kids, I think that it will help things move more quickly.  All they should need to do is cut them out (if necessary), fold, and complete. 

I am not working to make them cute really, just to make them workable for us.  You can see a couple by clicking on the image below.  The first one is just Total/Part/Part and looks just like the book's version.  I just want the students to fold up the two parts to see that they are equal to the total.  It is amazing how many of them don't see that this is the purpose of this graphic organizer.  I have used the Thinking Blocks website which helps to help them to see it a little better, too.  The fact triangle/house foldable is just a way for them to practice their fact families and glue it into their notebook.  They are just my beginning of items for Unit 2.  I hope to continue to be inspired to make more.  :)

Do you have any ideas or experiences to share with me as I tackle this this summer?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Everyday Math Workshop Freebie

So..........I ended last year using math workshop in my classroom.  I liked it, and my kiddos liked it, but as with anything new, it took a lot of work!  I am working this summer on being proactive and preparing my activities/games now so that I am not trying to find them during the year.  A colleague shared the following site recently, and it has some great resources for all grade levels!

We have updated to the Everyday Math "aligned to the Common Core," but it is the same old book with Common Core standards marked into each lesson.  It will take me a while to decide what to wean out and what to stress so that my classroom gets deep enough into Common Core.  Everyday Math naturally does much of the deep thinking, but I want to be sure to go deep enough into the standards.

Anyway, Chapter 1 is a lot of review, so we move pretty quickly, but I want some activities to go with it.  The first one I made is here.  If you are familiar with Everyday Math, you will recognize the number puzzles based on the 100s grid.  Each puzzle has three parts:  An answer key, the puzzle, and the number choices to use with the puzzles.  I am going to laminate the puzzle into a file folder, and laminate the numbers. Students can work to complete the puzzle then check their answers.  I have tried to make some different levels of puzzles to use.

You can click on this image to get the number puzzles.

Hope you can find a way to use this in your classroom.  Thanks!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Excited about words!

So, last year, my good friend was telling me about this great idea that she had seen on where you play pictures of sight words on a digital photo frame.  She teaches 1st grade, and that seemed appropriate for her classroom but not so much for mine.  Anyhow, I have been thinking about it for a year.  What a great idea.

Well, I had some grant money come my way this spring, so I decided to get myself a digital photo frame and make it work for my room.

One way that I expose kids to new vocabulary is through our classroom Word of the Week.  The kids are introduced to it and practice it in a number of ways throughout the week both in the classroom and in homework.  Most of my kids do pretty well with retaining the new words, but I do have some who struggle with remembering these words.  I am hoping that this will help with everyone having better retention of the words.

Here is an example of what one word and what it will look like. Somehow, I don't have the first screen which introduces the word: COLOSSAL.

I am going to place the frame in a place with a lot of student traffic so that the kids can see it easily.  The words will be words from previous weeks, and they will be in constant slideshow mode.  I haven't decided how many words to have going on at a time, but right now I am leaning towards a rotation of about 4 different words each week.

So, here is how I made it.  I used SMART Notebook 11 and made each page in that.  Each word starts with a page with just the word on it, a definition page, some sentence pages, an etymology page, a page of related words,  a page of synonyms, and a map for the word.  The word COLOSSAL is its own document, and each WOW will have its own SMART document.  Once I finished it, I exported it as an image/jpeg. I put all of this onto the flash drive, put it into the frame and voila!  I have my word slideshow. 

What do you think?  I think it is so cool, and I can't wait to continue to make more images for my WOWs.  I am hoping to complete them this summer before school so that I am not scrambling to do them during the school year.  Wish me luck!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Top 100 Tools 2012 | Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies

Want to have your say for the top 100 tools for learning in 2012?  Follow this link to enter your votes for your top 10, and then they will compile the list at the end of September. 

This list is a great resource for all educators, so give your 2 cents about those tools that you love!  The link will give more details plus it will allow you to vote, but more importantly, it will give you access to the 2011 list!  You'll be able to find some great tools to brush up on this summer and to integrate into your lessons next year!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Some of my Favorite Websites Linky Party

I couldn't help but join 3-6 Free Resources Linky Party on favorite websites.  I have so many that I could write about, but I decided to narrow it down to 3.  These are all ones that I have blogged about before, but they all merit a second mention.  If you would like to find more websites, please check out the rest of my blog posts tagged WEBSITES.  :)

1.  Kidblog:  Kidblog played a big part in strengthening our reading community last year.  It is easy to use for adults and children, is made for education, and is FREE!  Check it out!

2.  Sumdog:  I feel confident in saying that my students would recommend this as their favorite website of the year.  It allows them to practice math skills while playing games.  Data is available to the teacher for a fee, but if you log on as one of your students, you can see that student's individual data, too.  Again, it is FREE.

3.  Voki:  My kids love creating Vokis.  We used them as project options, embedded them into our blogs, and to introduce new subject matter.  Again, you can pay a fee for a class subscription, but I just had my students on my account.  Another FREE option.

Share your favorite websites by linking up to this party!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Things I couldn't live without...

I am joining in on this linky!  If you would like to join, head on over!

While it seems like an easy one, it is kind of hard to narrow things down...but here it goes.

1.  My SMARTBoard:  I love this thing and all that it has brought to my classroom and student engagement.  I also love the fun I have creating new things for it and teaching others all of its wonders!

2.  Books:  They totally make everything more fun!   I love that there are so many good children's books out there.  I love using them in the classroom.  I love how kids react to good ones.  I love finding the time to read as many as I can.

3.  Laughter:  An essential ingredient to a good classroom in my opinion, but also pretty important in everything.  It makes everything better and helps us to remember to not take ourselves too seriously.

4.  My pensieve:  I use this to keep all of my CAFE anecdotal reading conference notes.  I am working on making a digital version, but I still think I will have some important data for each kiddo in the pensieve. 

5.  My external hard drive:  What would I do without this?  EVERYTHING is on it, and I can take it with me so easily.  It also helps so that I don't go over my district limit.  :)

There are so many other things I could list.....I'm sure as I read other people's ideas that I'll say, "Oh yeah, that too!"  What things couldn't you live without?