Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A Halloween Sale and some Halloween Ideas on Bats

I hope all is great with you.  I have spent tons of time the last couple days researching ideas and adjusting my schedule. I would be curious to know if you prefer to have extended amounts of time on a subject fewer times a week or shorter periods of time every day.  I am trying to decide what is most beneficial.  I have decided I like the idea of a shorter amount of time for Math every day instead of longer amounts of time 3 days a week. I think this will work better for me since I have like 3 grade levels of math in one class. I would rather focus on different grade levels each day to meet in small groups. It will probably be a constant work in progress.

I did not want to miss out on all the Halloween TpT fun, so I am throwing a sale for 20% off at my TpT Store.

I saw this post yesterday from First Grade and Fabulous for ideas on discussing bats.  We watched the Magic School Bus episode on "Going Batty" today. 

Some of my kids had already been writing about bats from my Halloween writing prompts.  First Grade and Fabulous includes a link to some activities for Stellaluna.  You can watch Stellaluna on Storyline Online, which I think we are going to do.

We also are going to read There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat and discuss cause and effect. On Wednesday, we will read I Need My Monster.

For My 95 Halloween Writing Prompts, so far instead of cutting them out and putting them in a jar, I have been projecting the prompts each day. The kids get to choose a prompt for their journal writing. The prompts are divided into categories.  We have done persuasive writing, descriptive writing, and a fictional story.  We will do a couple more categories, and then the students will choose one journal entry to go back and finish and publish. We do journal writing for about 10-15 minutes and then share.

And in case you are also studying owls, here is a song on owl pellets a former teacher of mine shared:

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Helping your students begin with the end in mind

Have you ever wondered how to help your students begin with the end in mind?  Today, we read the second story in 7 Habits for Happy Kids.  In the story, Goob the bear decides on some goals he wants to achieve that will take some money.  He makes a list of his goals, so he can figure out how much money he needs to raise.  He meets up with Jumper the Rabbit, and they decide to start a lemonade stand.  They split $20, and Jumper quickly loses his $10.  Goob wisely spends his $10 and is able to achieve all of his goals.  We discussed ways we could plan ahead.  This week I handed my students a take-home project related to volcanoes since we had read Will it Blow? about Mt. St. Helens. We discussed how they could plan ahead to get their projects done by the due date.

We also started our book club books today.  Some of my students will be reading My Side of the Mountain and the other half will be reading Island of the Blue Dolphins.  Since we are discussing the Native Americans both of these stories really reinforce how people have to adapt to the climate and natural resources in order to survive.  These are important foundations for History. My students have calendars in their planners.  They met in their book club groups today and planned out with a calendar exactly how many chapters they would read each day.  They all had to agree to the amount and write it down on the calendars in their planner. They will have assignments they will complete while reading the book.

I have found this strategy to be much more effective than if I assign how much they have to read.  It gives them ownership.  When I assigned how much to read each day, some read too far ahead and some never finish the book.  Giving them ownership can help your reluctant readers finish a book.  You also could apply this same strategy with projects, science far, or even individual choice books.  Make your students plan ahead how to finish something by a due date.  How do you help your students begin with the end in mind?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sumdog Math Games and Read Write Think Online Interactive Graphic Organizers

The new technology resources we tried today:


I had seen lots of bloggers recommending Sumdog. I wanted to try it out.  I created an account awhile ago, but had not implemented it in my classroom yet.  My students love it!  They are begging to play at lunch and at recess.

With so many levels of Math, I like that I can differentiate this for my students.  After you add your students, class, and add a challenge.  Within the challenge, you can edit the skills by student.  I have some students working on 4th grade skills, some on 5th grade, and some on 6th grade.  They loved being able to earn coins, change their avatar, and play against each other.  They all want to be the top of the leader board.

Essay Organizer

I love Read Write Think.  Here is a link to all of their interactive graphic organizers.  There are 59 of them.  We tried two of them today.  Since we have computers, I am trying to find resources that they can use that help us achieve things we need to accomplish.  We are writing informative essays about the Olympic biographies we read.  We had tried organizing our 5 paragraph essays on paper with a graphic organizer I made. Some of my students understood it and some were not making much progress. I decided to try Read Write Think's Essay organizer.

Oh my gosh.  It made a world of difference for some.  The depth of clicking through the process seemed to help them a lot with the thought process.  Interactive made a huge difference for some of them. After they make the organizer, they can save it and even email it directly to the teacher.  So after they emailed it to me, I printed it out for them.

Story Cube

We read the first story from the 7 Habits for Happy Kids about being proactive.  Sammy the Squirrel has to learn how he can be proactive to take care of his own boredom.  We made the Story Cube for Sammy the Squirrel reviewing the character, setting, problem, resolution, theme, and favorite part of the story.

I made them answer in complete sentences.  They saved the story cubes and emailed them to me from the website.  I printed them out, and they made the cubes. One activity worked on story plot skills, understanding theme, web skills, writing in complete sentences, and the motor skills to actually cut, glue, and make the cube.

Overall, we had a great day!  How do you use Read Write Think?  Any other interactive graphic organizers you love?  Do you have any great suggestions for building online quizzes for short answer questions besides Google Docs?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Teachers also should begin with the end in mind

I sit and think about all the things written down in my to-do-list in my Erin Condren life planner.  The lists never end.  As we begin to settle into a routine, I find myself wanting to finally try to get a little ahead in my planning for once. 

We are going to begin discussing habit 2 of the 7 habits: Begin with the end in mind. I remembered tonight that I, too, need to begin with the end in mind.  It is a constant battle to not get so bogged in the details that we forget the goals.  Why did I become a teacher in the first place?  Why did I want to have a small class again?  Is this really about the content we learn and the activities we complete? 

Do I really remember what my teachers taught me?  No, I remember the teachers who took the time to show they cared.  So tonight I reminded myself to slow down and think more about how I can show my students that I care.  How can I spend more time listening and less time worried about grading and planning?  As routines settle and my students become more independent, my goal is to build in more conferencing.  I feel the one-on-one conversations with my students as readers, writers, and math students will also afford me more opportunities to get to know them as people. 

I feel the need on a regular basis to remind myself to show them I value their thoughts and feelings.  I am considering that a morning meeting routine may also be a good idea.  I'm not really sure what people discuss in classroom morning meetings.  Do you discuss goals for the day?  Do you discuss what has been going well and what could go better?  What about things you are thankful for?  In the month of November, I really want to keep a gratitude journal with my students.  I am thinking maybe we will start morning meetings next week.  Any suggestions?  How do you show your students that you care about who they are as people?  How do you begin with the end in mind?

Monday, October 22, 2012

I have been "boo-ed" and 95 Halloween Writing Prompts

I have been absent for a few days.  Yesterday, I drove four hours to go to the baby shower of one of my best friends.  It would have been a long day with a four drive home. However, I hit tons of traffic and my four drive turned into a six hour drive.  The only thing that made my drive decent was my audio book of Under the Jolly Roger, the third book in the Bloody Jack Series by L.A.  Meyer.  This series is fantastic!  I am loving it.  If you teach middle school or high school, you should read it.  If you are just looking for a fun read with a spunky, adventurous heroine, you should read it. Anyway, I left the house at 7:30am and got home at 11:30pm.  Today was a long day...

I have been "Booed" several times and for a couple different linky parties. 

First, I was "boo-ed" by SoS Supply for the linky party at Tori's Teacher Tips.

Here are the rules for the linky party:
1. Give a shout out to the blogger who booed you and link back to their site!
2. Share 3-5 October activities, books, products (yours or someone else), or freebie(s) that you love!
3. Share the Boo love with 5 bloggers- make sure you check this link to make sure you don't boo someone again:  http://toristeachertips.blogspot.com/2012/10/ive-been-booed-fun-october-linky.html
And don't forget to tell them that they have been BOOED!
4. Link up {here} so that others can find you and read about your October ideas! And while you are there... check out the other great blogs!

I was boo'd twice for Cynthia's linky party at 2nd Grade Pad. I was boo'd by Emily at I Love My Classroom and Katie at I want to Be a Super Teacher.

Here are the rules for this linky:
  • Choose a fellow blogger that has MORE followers, another that has about the SAME number of followers, and last, someone that has LESS followers.
  • Highlight their blogs with links to encourage others to check them out. Don't forget to let your fellow bloggers know that you shared about them. 
  • Lastly, leave them some love by offering them a goody from your store as their "treat."
First, l will tell you my plans for some Halloween activities in my classroom.  Then, I will boo some other people.

I have been working on putting together some Halloween Writing Prompts similar to my 100 Back to School Writing Prompts and 100 Persuasive Writing Prompts.  There are 95 writing prompts and writing paper.

I am looking forward to using these this week and next.  It will be a lot of fun. I have included 95 prompts with lots of cute clipart (thanks to TpT) as well as writing paper.

Thanks to everyone's suggestions I also plan on reading several Halloween picture books.  The two I am most looking forward to using are:

I Need My Monster by Amada Noll

The Legend of Spookley the Square Pumpkin by Joe Troiano

I want to find some cute Halloween Math activities.  I know there are tons on TpT.  Any recommendations?  I really would like to find some cute math puzzles or project ideas related to multiplication, division, or decimals.

I would like to pass on the boo to the following 5 people.  (I am combining the two linkies to pass on the boo).

Bridget at Little Lovely Leaders. - She has a fabulous blog with tons of great resources, including amazing freebies for the 7 Habits for Happy Kids.

Little Lovely Leaders

Kristin at iTeach 1:1 - She has tons of great technology ideas!


Ari at The Science Penguin - Ari has my favorite resources for Science on TpT.

Tammy at Life, Love, Literacy - She has great ideas for all subjects and has been a really supportive follower.

Nikki at Sent from my iPad - More great technology ideas!

All of these ladies will get a copy of my Halloween Writing Prompts and one other item of their choice from my TpT store.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nonfiction suggestion on Volcanoes: Will it blow?

In my quest to create a literacy rich classroom, I am trying to incorporate more non-fiction this year.  My students have been reading biographies of Olympians because we are finishing up our unit on the Olympics.

In Science, this week and next we are talking about slow and rapid changes to the Earth.  I found this fabulous book at the library called Will it blow? by Elizabeth Rusch.

I am reading it aloud to my students this week.  They are loving it!  How often do you find nonfiction that has kids on the edge of their seat? It is a nonfiction story that teaches students about Mt. St. Helens and volcanoes.  The story is presented as a mystery where the readers have to become detectives to learn how to determine signs of a volcanic eruption. The voice in the story is so fun, and the pictures are very engaging.  It also includes science experiments in the book.  The introduction of the book discusses when Mt. St. Helens erupted in the 1980's and presents what all the volcano did when it erupted.  It presents the description of the eruption like a list of crimes.  Therefore, I had my students make Wanted posters for Mt. St. Helens, listing her crimes.  They loved this task.  They even made me read her list of crimes twice.  Tomorrow, I will share pictures of our Wanted posters.  I am thinking about creating activities for this book for my store or to share.  The vocabulary is also really great.  Would anyone be interested in activities for this book?

What are your favorite activities to discuss slow and rapid changes to the earth?

I have had a couple people "boo" me.  I will be back to share my plans for Halloween in my classroom.  Based on everyone's suggestions, I picked up several Halloween books I want to start reading next week.  I also am finishing up some Halloween writing prompts to use. I really want to find some great Halloween/Fall activities for Math. I have to figure out how to fit in as well spend some time on Election stuff.  Maybe some Halloween and Election activities both everyday?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting Started with The 7 Habits of Happy Kids

The last few days have been a little hectic. We are trying to get into a routine with the diabetic cat.  Giving insuline to the cat is really not that difficult or time-consuming.  It just has to be done exactly every 12 hours. So, I can't just leave early to stop at the store. I can't go to yoga at 6pm because we need to give the insuline at 6:30pm. I would go to yoga at 4:20, but I have several appointments this week and next at 4 and 4:30pm. Anyway, we are getting there.  I was so tired I went to bed at like 8pm and woke up in the middle of the night to work on some things. (I have not done this since graduate school.)

The last week or so have been pretty good at school.  We finally are establishing a routine, which is helping my students tremendously.  We have had a huge improvement in independence, maturity, and a lot less anxiety. This year has been interesting.  I have a small class of primarily gifted, multi-age students.  The year began with a lot of anxiety and emotions for my students.  Coming from teaching a mixed ability set of 5th graders, I just was unused to seeing such emotional displays from my students.  Most 10-12 year olds have matured a little more than younger students and tend to mainly just cry when they get seriously hurt or something is really wrong. I have taught primarily gifted students before, but they were sixth graders.  Sensitive, gifted 12 year olds have different behavior than gifted students at younger ages.  This year has helped me grow as a teacher.  My students are academically 4th and 5th graders, but emotionally many of them exhibit more like 2nd and 3rd graders.  I have taught 4th through 6th grade, so I am learning how best to help my students emotionally handle disappointment and frustration.

I decided to try out the book 7 Habits of Happy Kids after reading some posts by Little Lovely Leaders.

Little Lovely Leaders

She has some amazing free resources in her TpT store for the 7 Habits like posters and bookmarks. I printed them out and plan on using them.

I bought the book and can't wait to read it with my students.  We are going to read one story a week.  I also bought this planner for my students that incorporates the 7 Habits.  It is absolutely fabulous.  It walks kids through the habits in a fun way and incorporates them throughout the planner. It also includes story suggestions to read with your students. Our planner looks like this one, but incorporates the 7 Habits like this one.  Somehow, they have combined some of their planner lines.  I will share some pictures later. The vendor, School Specialty, has some teacher planners, too, I may consider later.

We have had some great discussions as a class so far on being proactive versus reactive.  It has been awesome!  The last couple days when one of my students says or acts inappropriately, I ask them "Are you being proactive or reactive?" It has been really awesome to see them pull it together and change their attitude pretty quickly.  Tomorrow (today), we are going to discuss "Putting First things First."

I also really want to incorporate the habits into our literature discussions.  I am planning on making some 7 Habits Reading Graphic Organizers and maybe some writing prompts. (Scrappin Doodles has some 7 Habits Clipart I may use.) Here are a couple graphic organizer freebies I made to get students thinking about being proactive versus reactive:

Here are some links I found online with lesson ideas:

Anyone have any requests or lesson ideas on how you use the 7 habits?  I really want to check out the book The Leader in Me, as well.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Giveaway winners and lots of other Giveaways

I would like to announce some of the winners from my giveaways.  Lauren won the Erin Condren Giftcard.

Manuela won prizes from 12 bloggers. 

Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaways for reaching 400 Followers.  The blogging world really is such a blessing.

Some other giveaways going on you should know about:

Krista at Stellar Students is having a Spooktacular Giveaway.  One of the prizes is an item of the winner's choice from my store.

Across the Hall in Second Grade is celebrating 200 Followers, and there are some fabulous prizes from well-known bloggers.

Fourth Grade Garden is having a Monster Mash giveaway.

The Hive is having a 200 Follower Giveaway.

Livebinders and Resources for Project Based Learning

I need to come back and announce more giveaway winners.  First, I wanted to share with you what I did today.  I needed to clean my house, blog, work on things for my TpT store, and plan/grade.  Instead, I watched some HGTV and researched project based learning.  I am teaching at a school that utilizes Macbooks for the students, and many of my students are gifted and multi-aged/multi-ability levels.  I really want to use more project based learning this year. Actually, I have always been intrigued by using more project based learning to teach Social Studies.  I never have really had the time to research it to figure out where to begin.  As I delve into creating more project based learning units for my classroom, I hope to be able to share some freebies on my blog and add units to my store. Do you use project based learning?  What are your favorite resources?  Two of the best web resources I found today are Edutopia and Buck Institute for Education. What units would you be interested in finding project based learning ideas for?

I decided to finally try and use Livebinders as a way to organize my research.  I am absolutely, positively in love with Livebinders.  I am an extremely analytical person who thinks in lists.  I have zillions of 3 ring binders and file folders.  Organization is my friend.  My computer documents are organized into subfolders to the nth degree.  (Side note: This is my complaint about the Macs.  When you save a document to the mac, you can save to desktop or documents.  I can't select subfolders.  After downloading, I have to drag/save to the right subfolder.  It feels like an extra step to me.  I digress. I like my PC laptop at home. I can save to subfolders.)  Livebinders is the perfect tool for teachers to bookmark web resources for planning.  It would also be a great way to store resources for research papers.

Below is my Livebinders binder on Project Based Learning.  I found tons of great resources on where to get started with PBL and examples of lessons/projects by subject and topic.

I hope you find it useful. I look forward to using these resources to get started with PBL.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

An eventful 24 hours and winners in my giveaways

So in the last 24 hours, I caught a stomach bug and found out the cat who drives me crazy is diabetic.  Life is never dull.  On the plus side:

Despite the stomach bug, I got a lot of rest today (which I definitely needed).
The cat needed to lose weight anyway, so I guess this got results.

I am off to get some more rest and pray that the lull in the stomach bug is not deceiving.  Hopefully, this is just one of those awful 24 hour things.

Don't forget about my giveaways. You have one more day to win an Erin Condren gift card and three more days to win prizes from 12 bloggers.

The winner of the first part of my giveaway who won prizes from 10 bloggers is:

The winner of the Cheesecake and Starbucks giftcards is:  Lori Rosenberg. Now she can have her hamburger and Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reviews of Common Core Math TpT Resources from Grades 2 through 6

The last two days have been the first good Monday and Tuesday we have had.  Usually, the week gets better by Wednesday.  It is amazing what a difference routine and the teacher feeling organized can make on how the day flows.  The first year at a new school is always a little rough in the beginning, but we are getting it figured out a day at a time and a week at a time.

Just a quick post today to share some Math resources I have found.  I am huge fan of Teachers Pay Teachers, and I have spent a ton of money already supporting teachers like myself and finding fabulous resources for my students.  I teach grades 4 and 5, but I have one student doing 6th grade Math and several others who were struggling with 4th grade Math.  So, essentially I have purchased Common Core Math Resources from grades 2 to Middle School. I am reviewing them for you below, and please don't add the dollar value of all this up.  I would rather not know what I have spent just on Math this year.

Some of my absolute favorite resources for Common Core from TpT are as follows:

Grades 2-3:

Jamie Rector's Quick Math Assessments for Grades 2-3: 
Honestly, these are one of my favorite Math resources I have purchased on TpT.  They are really well done.  She has put together lots of practice pages for the standards, and they are done in a visually appealing way.  They can be used as independent practice, a teaching tool, homework, or as an assessment.  There are lots of other great products for Common Core, but they are used mainly as assessments and not as versatile as this product.  I wish she would make grades 4 and 5, or I might have to make something similar for grades 4 and 5 myself because I love these!
Kimberly Santana's Grade 2 Common Core Assessment Pack
These also are great practice and put together very well and can be used multiple ways. I love the way she labeled the standards on each page, so you know what they tie to.

Katie Jones' 3rd Grade Math Assessments:
I like that these are concise.  I actually want to use these as reviews or warmups for my 4th graders.

Grade 4-5:

Ashleigh's Grade 4 Math Assessments:
These also are concise assessments that really are well thought out.  They are versatile and could be used the same way as teaching tools, independent practice, warm-ups, homework, or assessments.

Ginger's Common Core Math Vocabulary Cards for Grades 4 & 5:
These are super cute and fabulous resource!  I looked at a lot of the math vocabulary packs, and this is the only one wanted to spend the money on.  They are visually appealing and really well done.

Runde's Interactive Math Journal:
I haven't used this as much as I would like yet, but it is amazing!  There is a reason it has been the number one seller.  Absolutely, this is one of the best investments you could make.

Miss Nannini's Math Assessments for Grades 4 & 5:
These are very well done.  They are definitely more formal assessments and really make the students demonstate a thorough understanding of the standards.

Jennifer Findley's Grade 5 Math Assessments:
I like that these are still actual assessments, but a little shorter (about 6 questions).  These would make great little check-in quizzes.

Middle School Math:

I bought Lindsey Perro's Middle School Workstations and Beyond the Worksheet: Middle School Math Activities.  Her stuff for middle school math is inspiring.  It is so well executed and presented in a fun way.  It makes math practice a lot more fun and interesting. 

Tomorrow I am going to share some non-TpT Math Resources I have found. If you have specific questions about any of the products above, I can try and answer. I hope your math workshop is more sorted out than mine.  I am working on a week at a time.

 Don't forget to check out all my giveaways going on.  They are finishing up this week.  Enter for Starbucks and Cheesecake, an Erin Condren giftcard, prizes from 10 bloggers, and prizes from 12 bloggers.

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