Sunday, November 25, 2012

What's in your TpT cart?

I've been spending the morning browsing TpT and filling up my cart for the Cyber Monday + Tuesday sale. Here are a few things I'm really excited about purchasing! Since there are SO MANY great resources on TpT I'd love your suggestions!

Identifying Fractions Bingo by MissMathDork looks like a fun way for my students to practice and review fractions!

This Grammar Fail Literacy Center by Anna Colley looks like a lot of fun. Grammar can be one of those "boring" topics, but with her creative center I'm sure the kids will love being the grammar police!

 I have been eying Jennifer Runde's Interactive Math Journals since she published it. This year I started making all of our notebooks into interactive ones, and it only makes sense that I take the advice of a seasoned math journalist. I know this will be exponentially beneficial to my intervention students.

MrHughes Mini Dodecahedron Christmas Ornament looks like a fabulous cross curricular activity (although he forgot to include that it is math-geometry too!) that is perfect for the holidays. Way to maximize instructional time right before break!

 What's in your cart/wishlist? What have been some of your best purchases?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Calendar Math and Cyber Monday+Tuesday Sale

Over the summer I saw a few posts about upper grade teachers using calendar math. This was not the sit on the floor, use a pointer, and bundle up sticks kind of daily calendar that is typical in primary classrooms. I really liked the idea of not having to create numbers for the students to use, and I loved that using the numbers in the calendar would lead to students being able to see patterns in math.

This year not only marked my return to 5th grade, but it was also returning to teaching math after several years of being departmentalized in 6th grade. To top it off I would be teaching the intervention math group. I was excited and apprehensive, but my calendar math fits in perfectly!

In my intervention class I am blessed to have an hour of support from the resource teacher and a para educator. These wonderful ladies come in Tuesday-Thursday and we do an 18 minute rotation between our three groups. Because we were able to keep the class small our groups have only 6 students in each. The resource teacher works with her group on the Lindamood-Bell program "On Cloud Nine." It is a wonderful program to help students gain the number sense they struggle with through visualization.  In my group I work with the students on whatever concept we are covering. Sometimes I am introducing a new topic, providing extra practice, or we are playing a related math game. The para is the lucky Calendar Math guru! She sits with her group and sometimes they work through it together, or she lets them work on it on their own and supports them and checks their work as they go.

So what do I have in my calendar math? Well, it is a double-sided worksheet that has concepts that they should have learned in previous grades, such as:
* word form
* expanded form
* double digit multiplication
* long division
* convert fractions, decimals, and percents
* determine if numbers are prime or composite
* use a number line
* greater than, less than, or equal to
* mean, median, mode, and range
* perimeter
* area
* prime factorization 
* order of operations 
* base ten multiplication 
* estimation 
* operations with money

Students use the following numbers to complete the problems:

* month number
* day of the month
* year
* day in school
* days left in school

At first the students were not coming close to finishing even one side of the worksheet during the 18 minutes in that center. I was ok with this, I knew that as they practiced, they would get better at it. And I was right! By the end of first quarter I had many students excited that they were finally able to finish the page! To freshen things up I made a second page for second quarter. Some of the concepts  remained the same, and others that they knew well I switched out for new concepts. Now they are working their way back to being able to complete the entire thing in 18 minutes.

For the first part of the year the students each had a folder filled with blank Calendar Math pages and they would work on one each of the three math intervention days. I've come to realize that this is taking up a lot of paper (and our principal wants to cut down), so I think I am going to laminate them so they can be reused each day. It seems to be effective so far and the para often tells me how the students are becoming better and more confident each day. 

Interested in trying out my Calendar Math for Upper Grades with your upper grade students? You are in luck! Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a HUGE Cyber Monday + Tuesday sale. I'm discounting every item by 20% and if you use the code CMT12 you'll get an additional 10% off. That's a huge 28% discount! Monday the 26th and Tuesday the 27th will be a great day to buy from the many talented teachers who have created outstanding resources! Think of it as a little holiday treat for yourself and your kiddos!

If you have already purchased this item, THANK YOU! If you provided feedback on this item, another THANK YOU! You are now able to download the updated version of this item. Enjoy!

I hope everyone is having a lovely time with their family and friends this weekend. My husband and I had a nice early meal at my mother-in-law's and I'll be spending the rest of the weekend getting caught up on writing my novel! Only 9 more writing days left of NaNoWriMo 2012. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quick Check-in

The past week has been busy busy busy! My students have been working on their novels at home and so have I. I've currently written 28,268 words towards my 50,000 word goal. I'm a bit behind, but I'm sure the long weekend will give me some much needed time to catch up. NaNoWriMo is such a great exercise for all writers. I can tell when my students talking and share their novels that they are already growing immensely (and some their skill far exceeds my own). I'm excited as we head through the last week and a half of novel writing.

Between work, writing, birthday parties, and get-togethers I have hardly had a minute to myself. Then on Friday I woke up at 3 am barfing. I tried to go into work, but I knew it was a bad idea and our lovelt office staff quickly found a couple of subs to share my class for the day. On Saturday I had the pleasure of photographing the family of a teacher I work with. They were so perfect and the portraits were lovely! Yesterday my mom was in town and we celebrated my nephew's upcoming third birthday. My husband brought home the new Wii U system and is enticing me with the fun little games, but after about half an hour of fun tonight I had to return to my writing. There is so much school stuff I want to share, but time is just something I won't ever be able to catch up to. But, as you can tell, I've been busy busy busy! I hope I get to share some of it, soon.

A few of you may have purchased my Calendar Math for Upper Grades from TpT. (Eeek! I just realized I had started a post on this and never finished it!) This is something I use almost everyday with my intervention math class. It's great because the numbers in the days do all the work for you, and it helps students see patterns in the skills they are practicing. Right now it is a small file. I offered it immediately on TpT because it is so valuable to me, and it's actually my best seller. I have already made more pages and will be adding detailed directions for those that already purchased it. I plan on getting this all updated over the long weekend. I'll even get that post up about it too! If you are curious now, go check it out! As soon as I update it those that have purchased previously will get notified of the new download. Just a heads up...the price will go up a bit, so if your interested, grab yours now!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Students as teachers

Today as we were starting math and my math students were coming in one sat on my chair and asked if he could be me today. He was joking, but when I said, "sure" I was serious. I've done this with students before and they usually have a blast getting to be the teacher, and it is often more meaningful for them and the class. This gentleman is so charismatic and not only did he do a phenomenal job, but he was a riot!

He was a fantastic teacher. He had appropriate wait time, he took his time calling on students, had words of encouragement, checked for understanding, took care of behavior problems. It was fun to watch him take over with little assistance from me, for about 20 minutes. I think he captured their attention far better than when I am in front of them!

Particularly wonderful things he said...

"Class, do you agree or disagree?" (Looking around at the students for a thumbs up or down, waiting until he had a response from everyone)

"Who can help _____ out?"

"I think I'm going to call on _____, you have been raising your hand patiently."

A student said to him, "I don't understand" and his response was, "tell me what you don't understand," and then they worked through the question.

"Class, let's all clap for _____, he/she did a great job on that problem." (Class claps)

I also got to be a student. I raised my hand, was called on, and purposely wrote the wrong answer on the whiteboard. The kids (and student teacher) loved that I was wrong and enjoyed correcting my mistakes.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

JA BizTown

I have been using a classroom economy system for about six years now. I had heard about JA BizTown and thought it was a fabulous idea, but it was pricey. If you have never heard of it, it is from the Junior Achievement organization. They have a well developed set of lesson plans that encompass economy, jobs, banking, etc. The culminating activity is for students to visit BizTown, a simulated town that is run by them for the day. A few years ago the 5th graders at our school went and my 6th grade colleague (who also used an economy system) were super jealous. Now that I have joined the 5th grade team we decided that this year we would go.

Last night my team and I left school immediately and headed across the Valley to the BizTown location for a tour and training. JA BizTown here in Arizona has two town simulation areas and I am SO EXCITED to go!

Each town is sectioned off into businesses and students all have a bank account and job for the day. As a business they have to decide on a business plan for the day, they take out a loan from the bank (which they have to pay off by the end of the day) and they even write advertising for their business. Students get two paychecks and breaks to eat and shop. There is a newspaper which puts out a paper that day that the students can purchase. There is a news station that creates advertisements and broadcasts on the town's TVs. Students send and receive mail. There are goodies for them to buy and each business only accepts one form of payment (cash, check, or debit). There is even a town mayor that has to give a speech during the town meeting.

Our classes are going in January and I CAN'T WAIT! We have about six weeks of lessons to complete before we go and I am ready to dive in!

Check out some of the photos I snapped.
BizTown 2 Farmer's Market

BizTown 2 Bank

BizTown 1 City Hall

BizTown 1 Travel Agency with plane

BizTown 1 Cox News Studio

BizTown 1 Law Office

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 7

Today is November 7th, that means it is the 7th day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! My students spent two and a half weeks of october preparing their goals and novel ideas and getting their creative juices going. For the past five school days they have started off their novels with vigor and zest! We have already accumulated thousands of words written. Some of us are ahead of schedule, some of us (myself included) a little bit behind, and some of us have given (and needed) dares to inspire. Our writing time has been sacred and the students don't want to stop when it is time for math. This morning I had duty on the playground before school and it was such a gorgeous morning. There was a hot air balloon heading for our playground and it landed briefly in the field across from us. The sky was super blue without a single cloud. I had no choice but to move us outside to write and enjoy the lovely day. Some of the students were extra inspired (some were a little itchy from the grass), but it was a great experience. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

It Rocks to be Drug Free!

The teachers at our school always have the most creative Red Ribbon posters. For a couple of years I did "Ms W's Class Leaves Drugs Alone" and had them write something they do instead of drugs on a leaf and then watercolor over it. Then we pasted the leaves on a big tree. Other teachers started doing this, so I went in search for other ideas. Last year we did "We fill our cup with . . . instead of drugs". The students cut out cups that looked like those popular clear tumblers and they wrote in all the things they like to do. It was cute and colorful. This year inspiration struck! I had seen something that had the word "rocks" in it and knew we had to do "It ROCKS to be Drug Free!" I brought in my Guitar Hero/Rock band guitar, mic, and drumsticks and took a photo of each student rocking out. 

Sorry I had to cover the kids faces, many of them had such awesome expressions. And, I don't want to brag or anything, but our class won out of 5th grade. We even got our poster hung in the best spot in the cafeteria, right over the door! 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaNoWriMo Kick Off

This Thursday was the first day of November, which meant the first day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is my third year participating as a writer and as an educator and it is my favorite part of the year. The kids were bursting to start writing and Day 1 was a frenzy. I passed out popcorn as my little authors busily filled the pages with the start to their novels. The room was nearly silent except for the frantic beat of the pencils flying across paper.  Unfortunately I took photos on my camera instead of my phone, and forgot the camera at school. A photo of one of my cats sitting on my novel will have to suffice.

I still have so many things that I have been wanting to share but just haven't had the time. This month will be even more tight as I need any extra time to reach 50,000 words in my novel by the end of the month. Eek!