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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Math technology for the new school year!

I am starting to get into the mode of preparing content for school rather than just thinking about what my room will look like and organizational materials.  I know those are important, but they tend to require less thinking than writing lessons.  I am slowly trying to gear my brain up for lessons...

Anyway, I have come upon some fun math technology tools that I am hoping to use this year.  I have posted before about math websites.    Most of these are new ones that I have recently found.  I thought I would share with you!

You know I love SUMDOG, so I'll just give them another quick plug in case someone out there still hasn't been to their awesome site.  My kids love Sumdog!

McGrawHill has a great work site with math tools that you could use on your SMARTBoard or have students use on individual computers.  Parents might even like to be able to use them from home.

Everyday Math has a very similar work site, too.  Both have their tools setup by grade level.

This site from the UK has a puzzle each day.  Love it!

The MathFacts CAFE is free and gives you access to math worksheets, factsheets, and flash cards...

Finally, I liked this resource from Teacher LED will  help students visualize the process of multiplication.

I know there are so many great sites!  It is hard to pick which ones to share!  If you would like to share your own math technology sites, I would love to learn about them!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Another Monday Made-It!

I have to give it to Tara...I certainly would have had a hard time staying motivated all summer prepping my classroom if it wasn't for her Monday Made Its!  Thanks so much!

This week, I made some stools for my guided reading table.  These six little guys are going to give my crowded classroom a lot more seating options!  I am very excited about them!

Here they are!  I don't know why I decided to surround the pole in the dining room with them, but....

To make them was very simple, and pretty cheap, too.  I bought the paint tubs and lids at Lowe's.  4 of them had permanent labels on them while the other two had removable labels.  Because of the permanent labels, I decided to use the duck tape to help hide the imprints.  They helped a little...thankfully, the labels are only on one side of the bucket.

I removed the handles from the paint tubs, and I used the lids as my pattern for cutting the material.  (I used canvas. I alreday had the blue, and I picked up the bright plaid at JoAnn Fabrics.  They will both match my room wonderfully!)  I cut the material in circles with a 6 inch bigger diameter than the lid itself.  It doesn't matter if it is perfect....just leave about 3 inches around from the lid to the size of the circle you cut.

Finally, I stuffed the lid by stapling the canvas to it and filling it.  I decided to use a duck tape trim around the bottom edge of the seat cover.  It helped to conceal the staples, and I liked the finished look it gave to the stools.

What do you think?  As I said, I really like them.  My sons have already tried them and decided that they were sturdy and comfortable.  I can't wait to use them around the table, for partner work, and for just extra seating around our gathering spot.

Go check out all of the great ideas over at Tara's linky party!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Welcome to Success!

What do you do in your classroom to help all students feel successful?

For many years, I used to have a banner in my room that read WELCOME TO SUCCESS! (a la Harry K. Wong)  I really do believe that all of my students have something to offer our class.  I want them to feel comfortable with themselves, and I want them to feel like they are contributing and growing in our class.

It has been a couple of years since I hung that banner.  I may have to do it again this year.  I wqant them to know that I believe that they are special and talented.  I try to show them this in my language, by offering a variety of choice activities, and by pointing out my strengths and weaknesses.  They need to know that very few of us are full of only strengths.  We all have areas that are more difficult for us.  When we work in groups, we try to "play to our strengths."  We do it as adults, so I think they should learn to do it some as children, too.  That doesn't mean we avoid trying to strengthen our weaknesses...

What things do you do to help students feel talented and successful?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Made It!

This week, I worked to make a tool that I can use in the classroom to know where students are all of the time.

I had seen one of these on Pinterest, but I didn't want to make one that was quite so big.  I bought a pizza pan at the Dollar Tree, and used some cute scrapbook paper, a little Modge Podge, some buttons and magnet strip, and here we have it!

It is ready for 30 students. (But I am hoping to have a few less than that!)  The kids will start each day in the classroom section, and then we will move the kids who are absent at the beginning of the day, and as students continue to move in and out throughout the day they will move their magnets as necessary...

 This is what it would look like with 2 kids absent, a student in the bathroom and one at the nurse.  With so many kids in my room and so many in and out for various things, it will help me to keep track.  I like the pizza pan because it will not take up much space.  I placed little carets after each location to show students where to place their number.  (I know that makes it slightly more confusing, but I think they will get used to it quickly.)  The others I have seen are made on square cookie sheets, but I was just a little concerned for space.

I used the remaining paper to cover this cute little friends sign that I am going to place in my room.

I may still have to recover the paper holder I made last week so that it all coordinates better.  :)

Go check out all of the other great creations at Tara's blog!

Friday, July 13, 2012

QR Codes, Book Choice, and a freebie

Last year, my students created QR codes to share their products with the class.  This year, I am hoping to continue this, but to also find other ways to use QR Codes into our classroom.

What is a QR code?  QR codes are the little boxes with black and white design that you sometimes find in advertisements or on products.  They can be read by a smartphone or other devices (like an Ipad) when you have a QR reader app.  (There are plenty of free QR reader apps.)

I have one outside my door of my classroom which directs parents to our class website.

My class's website

One of the ways I have decided to use them this year is to attach them to some of the books in my library so that kids can find out more about the book before they read the book.  The QR codes I created take the students to websites, book summaries, or a book trailer (FYI--some are from YouTube).

I am excited about trying this with my students this year, and I hope to continue to "grow" my number of codes.  I teach 3rd grade, and I tried to create codes for a wide range of books.  The one thing I haven't done yet is create any for non-fiction books.  I will have to work on that next!  :)

I use the site called QR Code Generator.  I find it very easy to use.  Just paste in the URL for the site that you want the device to go to.  For the document I am sharing today, I used my snipping tool to take a picture of the QR code and then I pasted it into a word document. 

If you would like to have a copy of the 17 codes I have created so far, you can either scan the QR code  or follow the link at the bottom of the post!  Leave me a comment to let me know if you have other ideas for how to use these codes or other QR codes in your room!

Enjoy...I think your students will!

QR code link to Google doc to Google Doc.

You still have time to join the Find your Voice Linky party for mentor texts to use when teaching voice.  C'mon...I know you can think of a picture book you use to cover this skill...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Story telling with

                                                              Refrigerator Babies on Storybird

Have you tried yet?  It is a fun online site for kids to use to write stories/books.  The site provides sets of illustrations, the student chooses pictures from a set and writes a story to accompany the pictures.

My students last year liked it, and I liked that it was an easy way for them to share their writing with me, their classmates, parents, or grandparents!

On this site, you create a class and enter your students names.  Students then use their username and password to access the site.

It was a great option for my students to use during their independent writing time.  It also allows for the teacher to create an assignment for the class.  I would recommend that you check it out as an option for the next school year!

Thinking of writing, you still have time to link up and share a mentor text to use when teaching students about voice. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Made It Monday!

Here I am linking up again with Tara's Made It Monday.

I am truly going to work on organization this school year.  It just is not something that has come very high on my priority list.  I am committed to improvement though!

This week, I made a desk organizer for papers.

I used a box about the size of a cereal box.  I cut the box so that one piece was bigger than the other.

Then, I used glue stick and packaging tape to reinforce the box and attach the scrapbook paper.

Here it is with some papers put in it.  I know it is nothing too fancy, but it will work for me in my classroom, and it was the right price!  :)

I think it has possibilities as maybe a student project for Mother's or Father's  Day gifts or a Christmas card holder?  It would be cute in Christmas paper!

FINALLY--Don't forget to link up with my Find your Voice Linky party!  Link up and share a good mentor text for teaching voice!  This is a to build our texts to use in the classroom when teaching voice!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Find your Voice! Linky party

Hey There!  I am having a Linky party to develop a group of mentor texts for teaching kids about voice in writing.  I hope you'll join me!

I am trying to work on my Writer's Workshop this summer.  I feel like I am on the verge of making it happen, but I have to say, I feel like it is the blind leading the blind when it comes to writing.  I think that it is because I don't remember being taught how to write until I was a senior in high school, and then, Mr. Meyer never stopped!  Before him, we were just told TO write, nobody conferenced with us or talked to us about writer's craft.  He helped me a lot, but I certainly can't teach my 3rd graders the same way he taught us!

So,  I am working on some mentor texts, and I thought I would start with VOICE.  I have two that I use, and I am sure you are familiar with them.

I LOVE The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka.

This book is the story of the 3 Little Pigs as told by the wolf.  It is very cute, and the wolf's voice is very strong. 

My kids love it, too, but it is one they are very familiar with.  I like to use it for CAFE lessons, too, like point of view and author's purpose.  So, while it works well for voice, I thinkit might be a little overused by 3rd grade.

I also love the story Hey, Little Ant by Phillip and Hannah Hoose.

This is a great story, too.  It is the story of a boy who is trying to decide if he is going to smoosh an ant, and the ant's argument of why he shouldn't be smooshed.  Very cute.  It is written in rhyme. 

Often, my kids aren't familiar with this book when they come to me, but I have so many ways that I like to use it!  It is good because their are two voices, but it is also good as a persuasive mentor text, and for many CAFE lessons.

Do you have any mentor texts to share for teaching voice in writing?  Please, please, please link up with me and share!  I would love to find some new books to use for teaching voice, and this should give us plenty of time to find them before school starts!  Just grab my linky button at the top of this post.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Word Work Websites

One of my many summer goals is to strengthen my word work choices for my students.  I was pleased with the way my students worked their way through their Daily 5 Choices last year,but too many of them still view it as spelling practice.  I really want them to get the idea and fun of playing with words.  There is so much to be learned that way. With Words their Way, I have a number of sorts and other games, they can play with partners, but for many of my students, that is just busy-work.  They already understand the word and spelling patterns.

For my students, I am going to put together a list of word work web options.  They are typically assigned a word work goal for the week, so when they complete that task, they can move to a web activity if they wish.

Below are some sites that I think will be worth my students' while...

This Word Frog game is a little easy for some of my students, but it will be a good review for many.  They will like the animation and the game part of it.  Arademic Skill Builders has some other good word games, too.

This game is from Between the Lions and it is called Synonym Sam's lab.  Again, it is a little simple, but I like the exposure it will give my students to words.  It will be esp. good for those kiddos who are not really reading at grade level as well as my ESL students.

This Merriam-Webster site offers a much more difficult set of vocabulary for kids to use in finding synonyms/antonyms.  It will be great exposure to new words for some of my kds.

This balloon pop game practices 3rd grade prefixes and suffixes,  but the site does offer similar games at other levels.  This one looks like ones my kids will like, and I like the way it makes them think about the prefix on different base words.  It will be a great reinforcer!

I am going to probably let my kids do these Mad Libs with a friend.  That is what makes them fun!

Probably, a lot of kids have never played pinball, so this will be a novel idea for them!  This pinball game is similar to hangman.  As the kids send the ball over letters in the word, the letters are revealed at the bottom of the screen.

Not only does this Between the Lions game practice making/spelling words, it offers some higher level thinking for my kiddos by using jokes.  Jokes are often a difficult skill for student who are not familiar with our language and those who struggle with reading.  Fun little game:  Alphabet Soup!

This hangman site reviews the 300 most common words in our language.

This is just like the game Boggle.  I plan to have a boggle board on my wall this year, but I think this will be a fun alternative.  Besides, kids can practice at home!

This Letter Blocks game on ABCYa is a fun challenge for all.  It will add automatic differentiation for your kiddos.

This site offers something for all of my kiddos.  Good games like Hangman aqd Crosswords for my higher students, and syllable games and homophones for some of my students who find these skills difficult.

Do you have any good word websites to share?  I would love to have a great set of choices for my students!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Day in My Shoes

I am linking up with Ana from Ingles360 as part of  TBA's International Blog Hopping Day to share a day in my shoes....

Ruby Red Slippers

I am going with a Friday (on last year's schedule)

6:00:  Alarm goes off for the first time....:)  At some point I get up and shower.  I am lucky because my WONDERFUL husband is a morning guy, and he takes care of getting our 4 sons up, fed, and off to school.  (How about that?)

7:00: I grab some kind of breakfast (usually cereal or oatmeal) and if I need, fix a cup of Keurig.

7:15:  I'm off to school and arrive by 7:25.

7:25:  Final prep/get ready for kids

8:25:  Kids arrive in my room.  We do our morning activities to prep for the day. (lunch count, collect homework, announements, get laptops...)

8:40:  We begin our LITERACY BLOCK with a Daily 5 option.  Kids have a 20 minute block to read, blog, write, or work with words.  I conference with students or meet with small groups.

9:00:  Students share either reading or writing with the class.

9:10:  CAFE Skill lesson:  I typically introduce the skill and use a picture book or other short text to illustrate/practice skill.

9:30:  Partner Read/Practice:  Practice the CAFE skill with a partner using materials at their reading level.

9:45:  Class practices oral reading of this week's poem, quote, or song.  By Friday, our expression, fluency, rhythm and timing are pretty good.  :)

9:50:  Students conclude the LITERACY BLOCK with a Daily 5 option.  They again have a 20 minute block that they can use as above except they are not to do whatever they did in the first block.  We record our choices into our D5 Binder so that we can monitor how time was spent.  I continue to meet with students.

10:10:  We begin our  MATH WORKSHOP with our 1st rotation/activity.  Typically, students are divided into 2 or 3 groups working on materials at their level.

10:25:  We continue with out 2nd rotation of MATH WORKSHOP.

10:45:  ART  Because of our building's overcrowding, my class has to have art in the classroom.  This doesn't really bother them, but it makes my prep less than it could be.  No matter, it is a nice break.

11:25: Art is done, so we do our 3rd rotation of MATH WORKSHOP.

11:50:  We go to lunch.  Because it is Friday, I often go with friends to Subway (our only real out of school option)

12:40:  Students return and I read aloud to them.  :)

12:55:  This is our targeted instruction time.  Students go to one of the third grade rooms to work on interventions, maintenance, or extension.  I have the extension students.  Last year, we learned Greek/Roman mythology, made book trailers, read Shakespeare, did readers' theatres, discussed and learned about the Holocaust and WWII, and studied and thought about the issues of slavery and civil rights.

1:25:  Students return to the room and we have social studies.

2:00:  We fill in our assignment notebook and get our bags packed to take home for the night.  I post the assignment notebook page to our website.

2:05:  Science

2:35:  Writing Workshop:  This is where I present a mini-lesson on writing.  Hopefully, we have time for kids to practice, too.

2:55:  Students grab their backpacks and hustle downstairs to PE.  They are dismissed from PE.  I am done teaching for the day.

3:15  School day is done.  I typically work with teammates, have meetings, and do school work until 4:30 or 5.

5:00  I get somewhere to pick up one or more boys from activities.

5:20  I am home to put dinner together. (although since it is Friday, we often eat out.)  :)

6:30  Football game?  Basketball game?  If so, we go.  Otherwise, I get settled in on the couch or in my bedroom for a relaxing night of DVR'd shows, 48Hours Mystery, or Dateline.

10:00  It is Friday, so I am off to bed early.  I'm tired! 

What does your day look like?  Link up and let us know!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Time is Running Out!

If you haven't  entered the Kleinspiration HUGE giveaway, you had better get over there now!

It is a great blog, and it is truly amazing all that she is offering!  I hesitate to let you know about it, because I really want to win!!

Click on the image above to go to the giveaway post.

Hospitals and Monday Made-It (on Wednesday)

I had so much fun doing Tara's  Monday Made-It a couple of weeks ago, and I had really been looking forward to this week's.  I worked on my project over the weekend, and was all set to post on Monday morning.

Well....the best laid plans...My youngest son had to go to the hospital on Monday morning for a blood test.  I took him, and planned to come home and write my post.  But, when I returned, my 15 year old son, who had been sick all weekend, was looking worse than he had when he woke up.  Because we were supposed to leave on vacation at the end of the week, I decided I had better get him in to the doctor so we weren't dealing with that on vacation.  Well, he only got worse and worse as we went to the doctor's office, the doctor did a couple of tests and determined that he needed more tests and observation.  After getting him admitted to the hospital, and a 1 am CAT scan, we found out that he had a RUPTURED appendix! (We can't do anything easy at our house :)) So, 6 am on Tuesday morning, he underwent surgery.  He is now in the hospital til at least Friday to monitor.  We are so blessed that this didn't happen on our trip to Florida.  It means that we won't be able to take our vacation to Nashville at the end of the week, but he is recovering nicely, and we are thankful of that! 

So...that is the reason for my Wednesday Monday Made-It!  Please excuse me this week. 

I can't remember where I got this idea, so I apologize, but also thank you for it! Please feel free to let me know if you think it was you! I can't wait to make this happen!

This poster is all done except for lamination.  It will be a great way for us to show what we have learned each day or week.  I think right now I will have students be accountable for one post-it per week, but we'll see...

Here's how it works.  The poster itself has 30 numbered squares where students will place a post-it note which shares what they have learned during the week.

Isn't it genius?  I love it!  I made the title to coordinate with all of my other classroom paperwork for next year.  Then I used the cute little bear paw prints (My school is the Bears.) and put numbers onto each one.  We use numbers for our behavior management, so students will place a sticky note with something new they learned over their pawprint.

This will be a great tool for me to use to monitor their learning, and it will be good for them to take ownership of their learning.  As we clear sticky notes, we are going to have a location in our Daily 5 Binders where we can store them.  We will then be able to share them with parents during our springtime student-led conferences!

What do you think?  I hope you are as excited about it as I am!  (Even if I am a couple of days late.  :))