Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bright Idea - Nearly Painless Filing and Returning Student Work

My blog reader is full of amazing teacher blogs and my favorite entries have always been the Bright Ideas posts. So, I am super excited to finally link up with all these creative bloggers and their awesome ideas.

When I started teaching (11 years ago!) I didn't have a system for returning student work. Ok, I did have a system, but it wasn't the best system. I would hold on to graded work until I had a few ready to hand out and then divide them up and have the kids pass them out to each other. While this might be a quick way to accomplish this task it left me with some concerns: 1. I was wasting valuable instruction time, 2. students could see the grades of their classmates, and 3. who knows if mom/dad would ever see it!

A couple years after that I changed schools and grade levels. My new team members would staple all graded work to the weekly newsletter which then had to be signed by parents and returned the following week. This ensured that (most) parents were now seeing weekly assignments and grades. Genius! So the next year or two I remember Thursday nights, sitting on my living room floor with a pile or papers. Step one was to alphabetize them and step two was to lay them all out and begin to grab from each pile. Madness! This was the part of the week that I absolutely loathed.

Finally, I realized two important things needed to happen. First, that my students needed numbers to help me organize their work more quickly. They are assigned a number at the beginning of the year and write it next to their name on all assignments. Next, I invested in a cheap crate and some hanging folders. I labeled each one with the student numbers. Another plus is that I can use these over and over again because it doesn't have student names on it!

The front purple folder isn't numbered. All work that has been graded goes straight in there to be filed later by a helper or myself. Note: The "W" after the number was when I taught 6th grade and our students went to multiple teachers. Students in my homeroom put a "W" after their number while students from my teammates homeroom put a "D" after their number. This is a great way to file for those that platoon/departmentalize!

Here are some spelling tests awaiting filing. When it is time to file them it is easy to locate the student number on the paper and quickly place it in that numbered folder! I've never timed myself, but I think I can file each assignment in about a minute or two.

Other important papers (book orders, flyers, permission slips) often go in as well. Ahhh...nice and organized!

Fridays run so smoothly now! I grab all that papers out of each folder, staple them to the newsletter, and they are ready to go home! No more bringing them home on a Thursday night!

If you have enjoyed this bright idea consider following me on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram! For more bright ideas from other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

All I Want for Christmas is ... a TpT Gift Certificate! WINNER!

I had a lot of fun reading all of the comments and reviews during the giveaway. Like many, I too love me some clipart! Congrats to Melanie A. who is randomly chosen Rafflecopter winner; I know you will get some amazing goodies with your gift certificate! Thanks to everyone who entered!

Wishing you all a Happy Chirstmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

All I Want for Christmas is ... a TpT Gift Certificate!

I am so excited to be linking up with other teacher authors at Corkboard Connections for a fun little giveaway. Perfect for last minute gifts to teachers in your life (or maybe for a little gift to keep for yourself).

Teachers Pay Teachers gift cards are the perfect gift! I secretly wished that my students gave me those instead of Starbucks gift cards. Not that I don't enjoy going to Starbucks, but I REALLY enjoy shopping on TpT!

If you'd like to enter you can complete up to 4 entries through the Rafflecopter. You can visit the other teacher authors participating to try to win even more gift cards! The deadline to enter is when the clock strikes Christmas Eve (EST). Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: Comments are moderated, so if you hit "publish" then you have entered!

Loved the Lesson - Patty Paper Math

I'm so excited to link up with The Teacher Studio this week for her Love that Lesson Linky. I was hoping to post this earlier in the week, but we all know how crazy the week before winter break is! I had my formal observation last week and this was that lesson.

Recently my teammate introduced me to Patty Paper. I had to have her repeat that to ensure I had really heard "patty paper". I had no idea what she was talking about. Apparently you can purchase packs of wax paper squares to put between hamburger patties. These translucent exact squares are perfect for math, especially multiplying fractions. I purchased mine on Amazon for about $10 (there are a 1,000 sheets and we barely made a dent).

At first I hyped up Patty Paper and didn't tell the students what we were going to do with this cool "math tool". I gave them each some sheets, a Sharpie, and some fraction tracing sheets. They traced several different fractions on their Patty Paper pieces.

Once we were prepared for the introduction to multiplying fractions by fractions I presented them with some real-world problems which required multiplying fractions by fractions. Or, in terms the students could better understand: parts of a part.

Then I gave no further instruction. I wanted them to experience some frustration and put forth some problem solving ideas of their own. The groups had some great math talk but after a few minutes they needed some more guidance, so I placed the needed Patty Paper pieces under the document camera so that they overlapped.

I forgot to photograph the problem, but here they were to find one-half of two-thirds. 

This led to further math talk and students continued to have that important progressive struggle. This is a newer method of teaching for me, and I have to say, it is challenging to let go of that idea that we have to teach students how to do everything, rather than giving them the opportunities to figure out strategies and methods on their own. 

After some more struggle I suggested that the students try folding the Patty Paper on the fractional lines to represent the problem. 

Some students then came to the solution this way. They could see that the folded two-thirds were represented and then the folded half cut that two-thirds. The section of the Patty Paper that was overlapped by both pieces of the paper modeled the solution. One-half of two-thirds is two-sixths (or for those in my class who have mastered 

The result was some students feeling that boost of confidence and lightbulb going off, while others were still baffled and needed more practice. So, we continued to try representing different problems with our Patty Paper. After a couple days of using it, my students were masters at representing and solving multiplication of fractions using Patty Paper! 

If you are looking for a different and engaging way to work with fractions you just may want to check out Patty Paper. 

You can check out other excellent lessons with The Teacher Studio's Loved that Lesson Linky!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Holiday Freebies

Every year my favorite teacher authors and clip art artists give away great freebies. For the past few years I have wanted to join in on the gift giving and offer a holiday freebie of my own, but like most people life gets extra crazy once Thanksgiving hits. This year I have actually been getting a head start on some holiday goodies, and I created a fun little math activity just in time.

And......I'm super excited and honored to share that I have been included as one of the 50 teacher authors to have a page in the 2014 Winter Holiday Tips and Freebies: Grades 3-5 Edition e-book.

You have to go check it out, there are so many amazing holiday tips and resources that I'm sure you'll find many that will really make this time of year more fun and engaging for your students as well as help reduce some of the stress that comes with this time of year. Rachel Lynette of Minds in Bloom is a TpT ROCKSTAR and puts together this generous holiday gift. She is amazing!

My holiday tip and freebie link are on page 45! Go grab your FREE copy now! Or you can check out my holiday freebie first, but don't forget to download your holiday e-book.

As a kid I loved doing MadLibs. My friends and I would come up with the silliest stories, and I'm sure this is how I learned parts of speech. This was my inspiration for the Holiday Mad Math Stories. I thought this would be a fun way to make math problem solving more fun too! I created two stories which students fill-in-the-blanks to personalize, all while they practice adding and subtracting decimals. These two stories can be customized to any gift-giving holiday, so you can include students from a variety of backgrounds.

I hope the tips and freebies help make the holidays cheerier for you and your students!

Monday, December 1, 2014

2+1=TPTCYBER: What's On Your Wishlist?

I have been looking forward to this year's TpT Cyber Sale (Dec. 1 and 2 only!) because I recently made one of the best purchases...Jivey's Mentor Sentences. I'm not good at consistently teaching grammar because it can be a bit boring. We've already completed three weeks of sentences and I am hooked. So much so that I couldn't wait to get home and purchase the rest of the sets! Coincidentally, I am linking up with Miss Jivey herself! 

This gem has been on my wishlist (actually, it's been in my cart) for the past two weeks as I patiently waited for the sale. If you teach the upper grades and need an amazing way to squeeze in some grammar, then this is for you! I was worried that I wouldn't have access to all of the mentor texts, but guess far I've found them on YouTube! My kids love hearing other people read the books each week! If you are just starting out, you'll need to purchase the first set, but I highly advise you to also grab the rest of the sets during the sale!

I was a bit shocked to check out my TpT stats, as I hadn't checked them in awhile. I'm so amazed and thankful that other teachers have found my resources useful in their own classrooms. The top two wishlisted items...

Calendar Math! I use this with my math students so that they can practice previously taught skills and see patterns as the year progresses!

The American Revolution Lapbook/Interactive Notebook is my #1 wishlisted resource, it's also my bestseller. My students love completing lapbooks as it is engaging, personalized/differentiated, and shows their learning.

You can grab so many amazing items from TpT sellers today and tomorrow for up to 28% off. Don't forget to use the code TPTCYBER when you checkout! Happy shopping!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

AR Goal Setting

I know a lot of schools use the Accelerated Reader program, and I have been using it for years. But, I'm embarrassed to say that I have no idea how the points work. Our fourth grade team is really into it and when the kiddos come to 5th grade and tell me about all the AR points they've gotten I really don't have a clue what they are talking about.

So, how do I use AR without the goals you ask? Our wonderful librarian has a millionaires club and gives awards to students who read a half million words or more each year. I figured this would be a way more motivating and fun way to encourage my kids to read without worrying about points and levels. And it is! Even I participate!

Here I am with my millionaire trophy!

Every year, at the beginning of the year, I challenge my class to read more words than me by the end of the year. Usually 2 or 3 beat me, and this year I have several already way ahead. I've got some serious reading to do!

Now, I realize that the millionaires club is not for everyone, but I do expect my students to make AR goals each quarter. Typically, the minimum that my 5th graders choose is 80,000 words. Sound like a lot? Not really. This is about 2-3 grade level books. In an effort to help my students track their goals I created a simple and easy to use tracking sheet. They write their goal, find out each 10%, and color it in as they read and pass tests.

So far this is helping them stay on track and working towards their goal. The great thing about these forms is that they don't just have to be used with word-count goals. They can be used with the AR point system as well. I wanted to share them with my teacher friends and they are super cheap in my TpT store. There are forms for quarters, semesters, even trimesters, so they are easily adapted to how you use AR in your classroom.

I'd love to hear about how you use AR in your classroom! Be one of the first three to comment and leave your email address and I'll send you the AR Goal Sheets!