Wednesday, November 27, 2013

TpT Cyber Monday + Tuesday SALE!

TpT sales are the best! Only a few more days until the Cyber Monday + Tuesday SALE!

The past few sales I have been guilty of buying lots of clip art and graphics (it's all too cute!) and not as many teacher resources. I really need to remedy that during this sale. Most sellers have their stores on sale (myself included), and if you use the code: CYBER, you get an additional 10% off. This mega sale only happens a few times a year, so this is the time to go crazy!

Every sale there seems to be some cute banners popping up, but I'm impatient and excited about this one. So, I happened upon some cute (FREE!) holiday clip art from Cherry Workshop and put together one of my own. Not as cute as what lots of other, more experienced and talented, teacher sellers have put together, but it will do. You are welcome to use it on your own bloggy (please link back to moi, thanks!).

Go fill those shopping baskets!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Simple Machines and Rube Goldberg Inventions

I love science. I love teaching science. But sometimes it takes a lot of extra time and planning to make great science lessons. We are currently working on our Force and Motion unit and we just learned about simple machines. I introduced them with this shutterfold foldable.

Together we took notes on each of the simple machines and coming up with examples of each. Then, I showed them these Rube Goldberg inspired videos:

Honda's "The Cog" video - a Rube Goldberg invention made entirely of (CGI) car parts. 

"The Page Turner"

Ok Go's "This Too Shall Pass" music video. 

And just released this week...
"Girls" from GoldiBlox

I explained to the class about Rube Goldberg and his inventions and showed them his Pencil Sharpener. Warning: some of his inventions are not quite school appropriate (i.e. smoking/alcohol), so preview them before showing kiddos. 

We were inspired to design our own inventions. I encouraged them to use at least three simple machines in their inventions. Here just a few of the creative ideas from my class. 

I was out for two days last week at a district training and my kids finished these up with the (amazing) substitute. I was very impressed with their thoughtful and creative inventions, and they were all excited about them as well. I added the Simple Machines Shutterfold to my TpT store for anyone interested in adding these to their Interactive Science Notebooks.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013!

Well, it's officially November (and almost a month since I last posted - shame on me!), and that means National Novel Writing Month, lovingly termed NaNoWriMo, is HERE! I excitedly blogged about NaNoWriMo last year (herehere, and here), and just wanted to write a little blurb to kick it off this year. This years group of 5th graders is the most excited I've had. Their creativity is just blowing me away, and I'm quite envious of their amazing skills!

What is NaNoWriMo? 
Simply, it is a challenge to write a 50k novel in just 30 days.

Can kids join in?
They can, and SHOULD! The Young Writer's Program was created just for them. They get to decide on their own word-count goal and get their own goodies. Educators get order a free noveling kit for their class, complete with milestone poster and awesome pins!

What about teachers?
If you teach ELA a year shouldn't pass without your class participating in NaNoWriMo! You get bonus points if you participate and write a novel too!

If introduced and supported correctly, it is the most beneficial writing experience your students will ever have.

How do you know? 
This is my 4th year as both a participant and educator. I've had parents tell me that NaNoWriMo sparked something in their child; they were doubtful about their child reaching their goal, but were blown away by the achievements their child made by November 30. My 5th graders from last year are once again novelists this year and catch me in the halls with elated excitement and their teacher glowed with how positive and ready each one is.

What I've seen as a teacher is that students become confident writers. They aren't afraid of taking risks in their writing, they can write more, they can write better, and they no longer think that a 5 paragraph essay is long!

How do you NaNo in your classroom?
As soon as we return from our two-week fall intersession in mid-October we introduce NaNoWriMo and prepare. The Young Writer's Program offers a fantastic and free workbook for students of all grades to get ready! We meet our characters and villains and outline plots and practice increasing our word-count. And then the first few days of November we spend class time jotting like mad! The rest of the month students write daily at home, with some opportunities, like lunch time write-ins, to write at school. Finally, we celebrate a month of noveling with Cafe NaNoWriMo - students bring mugs and hot drinks and we share our wonderful writing.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Anchor Charts to Worksheet Tutorial

Alright, I am attempting my first tutorial here! This is how I use PPT to make an anchor chart into a worksheet. It isn't perfect, but it is quick and easy! If you prefer to use Word, the tools and steps are pretty much the same.

We'll be doing a lesson on plot when we return from our fall break, so I created the basic anchor chart and left blanks where we are going to fill it in as a class. Then, I snapped a quick shot with my cell phone and emailed it to myself.

Drag the photo into PPT or use the "insert a picture" tool. I don't want my students to admire my pedicure so it is time to crop this baby!

You can use the "remove background" tool, which either does a fantastic job or a strange one, or just use the crop tool to get rid of whatever happens to be in the background that you don't want. Bye-bye toes!

Resize the photo so that it fills up most of the slide.

Since I didn't bother to get out my DSLR or even open the blinds this photo needed some brightening up. Your photo will probably be better quality than mine. Decide if you need to brighten it up or not.

There are two options that I have used to make my black and white worksheet. It depends on the photo quality, lighting, and sometimes the colors I used on the anchor chart. Here is the grayscale option. You can see that most of the chart is a gray color, and this will mean more ink when you copy it. To get more of a white try option 2.

I find that the "Black and White: 50%" tool usually gets a great contrast. Unfortunately, because I didn't consider lighting when I took the photo I got some nasty shadows on the side. If this happens I would either use option 1, or just crop the shadows off.

Now most of the shadows are gone and I am ready to print my worksheet! I hope my first tutorial was useful!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Reading Workshop - Turn Anchor Charts into Fillable Worksheets

I am currently smack dab in the middle of my fall break. Our district is on a modified year round schedule that I love! We finished up 1st quarter at the end of September and then get two glorious weeks off. This past week we helped my sister move into her new house (congrats sis!), I worked on some new resources (Calendar Math Semester 2 - on sale through tomorrow, and a new Lapbook/Interactive Notebook for the Age of Exploration!), played with my kitties and ratties, saw some friends, and rested my knee (it's still on the mend). Next week we are off on a mini-vacay to Disneyland and California Adventure. We're taking my MIL and she is so excited I think she was packed at least a week ago!

My to-do list is still longer than I will have time for but I desperately need to post some proper blog entries! Today I have a little tip for anchor charts, although I assume I'm not the only teacher that does this. This is my first year doing Reading Workshop and using anchor charts, but I wanted to make them more meaningful and useful to my students. Our first eight anchor charts we created together as a class, the students gave input, I wrote them out, and then I took photos of them and gave them a copy to keep in their notebooks to reference back to.

I promise they are easier to read in reality than on this photo. But I managed to fit all eight on one page. But, I still felt that there was something missing. I wanted the students to have their own mini-anchor charts to fill out as we did as a class. With a few easy steps I quickly turned our anchor charts into fillable worksheets. 

So, I decided to create most of the anchor chart and leave the "notes" part blank. I snapped a quick photo with my cell or point-and-shoot - nothing fancy- and then uploaded them to Word or PPT. Actually, I tried to use Picasa first, but I couldn't get a proper B&W contrast. Microsoft has a great photo filter that easily makes the photo B&W and printable. 

My before photo of the Theme Anchor Chart is sitting on my school computer, so just imagine that the inside of the heart was left blank. In the second photo you can see that my student wrote exactly what we wrote as a class inside the heart. This is hole punched and kept in their Reading Workshop Binders. 

My students were pretty impressed with this. Many couldn't figure out how on earth their worksheet looked exactly like the anchor chart in front of them. Minds were blown! 

Most of the anchor charts I have been using I've borrowed/adapted from Pinterest. Thank you to all those teachers who share their anchor charts for newbies like me. You can follow my anchor chart board to see some of the ideas I've gathered. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Calendar Math Semester 2 is finally here!

I absolutely love using calendar math as a part of my intervention math class. The activities are mostly a review of concepts that my kiddos should have mastered but still need tons of practice on. Plus it is easy and stress-free for the aid who runs this group. Last year I created a double sided page for each of the first two quarters and I had anticipated creating two more for the second semester. Well, my intervention kids were just not ready to move on, and each page lasted two quarters instead of one. Creating more Calendar Math pages was put on the back burner, but now that I am on fall break for a couple of weeks I put it at the top of my to-do list. After some scanner drama I have the semester 2 files up and ready!

The newest pages include some of the same important skills and pattern building as semester 1, and I've added some new concepts too. The students will practice:
• Word form
• Expanded form
• Double digit multiplication with model
• Long division with model
• Long division with decimals
• Convert fractions, decimals, and percents
• Multiplying decimals
• Use a number line
• Compare fractions
• Mean, median, mode, and range
• Ordering whole numbers
• Elapsed time
 Adding fractions with unlike denominators

I really appreciate all the great feedback I've received about teachers having success with this in their classrooms as well as areas to make it even better. I kind of promised this version awhile ago, so to thank those that have been waiting for this it is currently 50%! It'll only be on sale through Sunday, so get your's now!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Reddit Gifts for Teachers ROCKS!

Last year a teacher friend received a bunch of goodies for her classroom from an anonymous gift giver through Reddit's Gifts for Teachers. She reminded me about it this year right before the deadline. I didn't think I would be matched with a gifter as there were over 8,000 teachers applying and about 5,000 gift givers, but I was! A lovely gal from Texas sent my class 60 sticky note pads!

Each of my students has a pencil bag in their Reading Workshop binder that includes a pack of 3" x 3" sticky notes. My students use them daily during independent reading time and I knew that they were going to need more throughout the year, so I asked for this simple gift, but I wasn't expecting so many to arrive! When I brought out the giant stack and explained that an anonymous person gifted them to us they were so appreciative and also excited because now there are color options (I only purchased yellow for them).

Thank you to our awesome gift giver and to Reddit Gifts for Teachers for putting this together!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Confined to the sofa

In my last post I promised more classroom photos, but we've been so busy learning I've been forgetting to take photos, and then, I did something to my knee. It started feeling stiff on Monday, so I figured some yoga would help stretch things out. The next day it felt a bit worse so I went to work anyway, bought a brace after school and iced it. On Wednesday it was even worse so I knew that I needed to get off of it. I went to the chiropractor on Thursday and he said no work for a few days. So I've been confined to the sofa, either in pain or uncomfortable, and having a hard time sleeping. The chiropractor worked on it a bit more on Friday, but I'm still here on the sofa, kinda miserable.

Lesson plans took about 4 hours, but I had a fabulous sub on Thursday and Friday. Today I ventured out to a coffee shop to meet my pal Laura from Daisy's Book Bag to work on some TpT stuff and get some crutches from her. Thanks Laura for the company and crutches! 

While I have been confined to my little nest I've been working on a few new product and spiffying up some of the first things I posted on TpT. They are great products, but my covers weren't the most attractive. When I first started I was hesitant about purchasing clip art and graphics because I was new to the whole thing and wasn't sure what I was getting into. Now I'm kinda going crazy with the digital papers and cute graphics! 

First my new product! Last week I was copying my Biography of a Scientist mini-research project and one of the 3rd grade teachers was checking it out. She said she wanted one for explorers, and I thought, hey, we do explorers in 5th too! I should totally do this! So here is the Biography of an Explorer. Aren't the graphics sweet! 

It was makeover Saturday for a few of my other products! They are so shiny and new now!


Next week shall prove interesting. On Wednesday the entire 5th grade is off to JA BizTown and I am so glad that we finished all of the prep work before I had to be out. Hopefully I won't miss out on the simulation on Wednesday!

Monday, September 2, 2013

A bit of this and that and . . . a Flash Giveaway!

It's amusing to me that most teachers have either just barely started the 2013-2014 school year, or are starting tomorrow. My district on the other hand has been in school for six weeks already. Last week we had parent teacher conferences! Prepare for a jumbled post, but don't miss my flash giveaway somewhere in here, it's your reward for wading through!

So far, the first month and a half of school have come and gone in a blink of an eye! I'm sure this is due to the fact that we are busy, busy, busy! In less than two weeks we are off to our JA BizTown simulation, so we have been engrossed in our lessons on financial literacy, learning how to write checks and balance a checkbook, and applying for jobs. I'm so excited and I know that my kids are going to love it!

I am absolutely loving Reading Workshop. I know I'm not doing everything "right", but already I know that my students are loving reading and really value their independent reading time. I'm still shaky about the grading portion of reading workshop, any tips?!?!

Parent teacher conferences good not have gone smoother. I love the families that I get to work with. Most of my conferences were just chatting with the kids and their parents, and my cheeks were hurting from the smiles and laughs that we shared. It's good when everyone (parents, kids, teachers) can discuss a child's progress as a team! Not to say that I don't have any issues, but those parents were nothing but understanding and supportive.

I've been so busy working with my lovely class that I haven't had much time to take photos. This is my goal for next week so I can have a proper post!

My TpT to-do list has also been neglected. But the day off has given me a little extra time so I was able to update one of my projects. I love the Biography Study of a Scientist project that I started a few years ago. It is a mini-research project that I have completed with both my 6th and 5th graders that allows them to find out, and share with the class, about scientists who made important discoveries that have impacted humankind. I had forgotten that I purchased Lita-Lita's lovely science clip-art set during a sale and was thrilled to have remembered it.

In this mini-research project students are each assigned a different scientist (I include a list of 35 suggestions with links) and complete a few tasks such as: drawing a picture, providing basic biographical information, and explaining the scientists major accomplishments. It's great to put all of the completed projects together into a class book - perfect to add to your non-fiction section of your class library!

If you have previously purchased this you can now re-download it with the added graphics as well as a score sheet for grading the projects. Would you like this project for free?! I'm going to have a flash giveaway! Just comment below and tell me who your favorite scientist is and why and be sure to include an email address. Get your entry in by the end of today, September 2, and I'll randomly choose 3 people to receive the Biography Study of a Scientist project! 

I hope everyone has been enjoying the three-day weekend! Mine has been interesting! On Saturday I met a teacher friend at Starbucks to chat and grade papers. These are words you don't want to hear while sitting in Starbucks: who owns the little blue car outside, because your going to need to take my insurance info. A very large Dodge Ram didn't quite make it into the parking spot next to my little blue Versa...

He certainly snagged it - but I was very chill about it and thankful that he was honest and did the right thing. He didn't even wait for me to put the claim in, he beat me to it!

Yesterday I was lucky to have a visit from my sister, nephew and niece. We did a bit of swimming and my sister captured this great photo! 

A couple of other shots from the past month...
My BFF invited me to her Bikram Yoga class. As you can tell from the photo, I survived, and it actually wasn't that bad! Next, a cute photo of my ratties! I bought them a ginormous cage a few weeks ago and they are loving their new mansion. And finally - cute gifts from my friend Laura (who is also the school librarian and I'm lucky to have her awesome son in my class this year). The chevron calendar is just right for my teacher binder and the "write" notebook is getting me excited about NaNoWriMo!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Orange You Glad to be in {1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th/6th} Grade!

I made this banner for my classroom and haven't been able to get a decent photo of it. Trust me, it looks great in person. This is a perfect end-to-summer and back-to-school welcome banner for your new class. As a bonus, it's 20% off (and another 10% off with code: BTS13) today only.

And, a bonus, bonus! I included citrusy nameplates to match!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Reading Workshop - the first four weeks

The past four weeks of school have gone by in the blink of an eye. I've had hardly a moment to even think about taking photos for a blog post. But, I did want to make a quick post about my first experiences with Reading Workshop. I'm using a variety of resources to help me get started from Fountas & Pinnell to Pinterest. The only other teacher I know using it is at another school, so I am lucky to have her as a resource, although I wish we were closer.

So, what have we accomplished in four weeks?
* We built up stamina and we are now reading for 30-40 minutes!
* I have a student who is below a 3rd grade reading level but insists on reading above grade level material. I was able to hook him with with the Fabelhaven audiobook and he is now reading the entire time and is comprehending what he is reading.
* The first week I made some brief observations while the students were reading.
* It took me nearly two weeks but I interviewed each student about their reading. I loved these first conferences and getting to chat with my students.
* I was debating whether or not to complete a BRI assessment or just use the data from their AIMS tests. I decided more data and getting a chance to actually hear their fluency was the best way to go, so I started those last week.
* I'm hoping to get those assessments finished this week and begin small group/guided reading.
* We've completed a variety of mini-lessons with anchor charts and are already becoming better readers!
* We've reflected on our growth and areas for improvement.
* We've read A LOT!

What do I think of Reading Workshop so far?
I absolutely LOVE it! I wish I had learned about this sooner! I'm excited about the growth my students are going to make this year!

On Friday my students wrote me a quick letter about Reading Workshop and I had to share a few of my favorite. It really gives you an idea of how much the students are getting out of it already!

I wrote back to every single student and, although exhausting, I know the students will be appreciative and it will continue to support their growth in reading.

There were a couple of people asking me about the reading interviews that I completed with each student. The point of this is to actually connect with the students as a sort of first or pre-conference and show interest in each of them as a reader. This is not to be handed out for the students to fill out, but for the teacher to actually interview everyone. My Reading Workshop binder is filling up with data, observations, and their interview notes. The interview questions I adapted from Day-to-Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop: Making Informed Instructional Decisions in Grades 3-6 by Sibberson and Szymusiak. You can get the copy I whipped up, for free, from my Facebook Fan Freebie page! 

Since I am still feeling my way around Reading Workshop I'd love more ideas/resources/links. Send them my way please!

And, I've already purchased some goodies from the HUGE Back-to-School TpT sale. Don't forget it is today and tomorrow only. All items in my store are 20%, plus use the code BTS13 for an extra 10% off!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

2013 Back-to-School Sale!

Every time I think about the TpT BTS Sale this August 18 - 19 (for some of you it's already started!) I get a bit giggly. It's hilarious to me to think that we have been back in school for a whole four weeks and many of you teachers have just started or still have some of your sweet vacation left. Regardless, a TpT sale is a big deal! Sunday and Monday you get 20% off my TpT store, and many other stores, plus you get an additional 10% off by using code BTS13.

(Thank you Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah for this gorgeous banner!)

Some bloggers put together this excellent link up to share some wish list items.

I was honestly surprised to see how many people have wish listed some of my items. I'm both flattered an humbled. What wasn't surprising was the top wish listed items, they also happen to be my top sellers. 
My #1 wish listed item is The American Revolution Lapbook/Interactive Notebook. I absolutely love putting together foldables with my students and I started getting into lapbooks a couple of years ago. Last year this was my big project and I hope to put together a few more this year. Perhaps on explorers, the 13 colonies, westward expansion, and maybe even the civil war. 
The second most wish listed item is Calendar Math for Upper Grades. When I moved down to 5th grade last year I left a somewhat departmentalized 6th grade and I hadn't taught math in years. I knew that I wanted some kind of spiral review for my students and I know that calendar math in the lower grades really helps students see patterns in math, so I developed this for my intervention class. My kiddos work on this with one of our intervention aids and she does a fabulous job. 
This product has 4 different sheets of math intended to be two back-to-back worksheets and was intended to be used for the first semester. Because my intervention kiddos needed even more practice with these skills they weren't ready for a new sheet and this took them through the whole year. I do intend on making a second semester though I'd love some feedback and ideas for what to include!

Although I made a set of Common Core posters last year I absolutely fell in love with Jason's Online Classroom's poster set. These include "I can..." statements but the selling point is the example! Wow, what a great thing to include for both students AND teachers! 

What's on your wish list???