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 0 (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!

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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!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Matter Poster

We are just returning from a lovely two-week fall break. Teachers returned to work for a couple of days and students return tomorrow. It's great to have these two days to ease back into work and school. I had great intentions of blogging over break, but I was too busy being lazy. Actually, I was quite busy, but that's no excuse.

Before we finished the quarter we had been studying matter. We made bag bombs, elephant toothpaste, and tested mystery powders. As a culminating activity, and instead of a traditional pencil and paper test, I had the students create a Matter Poster. I just provided them with a basic set of directions and let them be creative. I had some interest when I posted this on Instagram and so I decided to make this a freebie! I LOVE freebies!

The class did a phenomenal job on their posters and they are still hanging in our room. They are all unique, yet still convey the learning that took place. I hope you find this useful with your own students. 


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

New Look!

It's here! After over two years of blogging and then waiting all summer-long on her design list I have finally had my blog made over by the wonderful Megan from A Bird in Hand Designs. All summer I stressed about what I wanted my blog to look like. I scoured Pinterest and Etsy and finally found some of the cutest graphics. Megan was super to work with and she did an amazing job. I've stared at my gorgeous new look all evening and am excited to share with all of you. There are still some tweaks I need to make, but I think it looks pretty sweet! This has been a bright spot in a crazy week! Thanks Megan!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Best Pencil Sharpener. EVER.

A few years ago I needed a new pencil sharpener, and luckily our district had electric ones in the warehouse for teachers. It was heavy duty and would light up to indicate that the pencil was sharp. Over years of use combined with the poor quality pencils the district was supplying it wasn't doing its job anymore. Pencils were eaten up, the lead breaking, so it was time to retire the old guy. I had been hearing a lot about the Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener so I knew I needed to try one out.

I never thought I'd be raving about a pencil sharpener, but this one is seriously worth getting excited about. It's kind of miraculous. It was so easy I taught my four-year-old nephew to use it. After a tutorial and modeling all my 5th graders wanted to sharpen their pencils. Like, all their pencils. Now my kids are excited to sharpen their pencils (not excessively, because the sharpener doesn't allow it) and I have had no problems with students losing pencils or needing a new one because there is a stub left from forcing it in the sharpener.

The Classroom Friendly Sharpener is a hand crank sharpener, but not like the old school ones that were loud and annoying from the old days (like when I was in elementary school in the 80s). It isn't silent, but it's pretty quiet. In about a dozen turns the pencil is sharp.

Like, REALLY sharp!

A perfect point. Every time.

The sharpener has a pencil grip that holds the pencil while it is being sharpened. Just squeeze to release. 

Once the pencil is sharpened the sharpener won't let the pencil continue to be eaten up!

Comes in a variety of lovely colors (I also have a green one which I lent to my neighbor teacher)
Easy to use
Fun to use
Perfectly sharp point - every time
Works on low quality pencils
Easy to take apart for maintenance
Good looking
Promises to amaze

Colored pencil led breaks easily inside
Grip leaves dents in the pencil

As you can see, this really is a special sharpener. My class loves it. I love it. Now go order one! Or Use code AY4G2 to get 5% off your order.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Made It - GUTS apron

Good evening friends! Just a quick post for my super fun Monday Made It link-up with Fourth Grade Frolics. I actually had several "made-its" but they failed to get properly photographed. I guess that just means I'm sure to have a post next Monday too!

The lovely (who we bought our Lunar Cycle t-shirts from) sent me of their GUTS aprons. I was so excited to start painting it, but it took me awhile to get it done because I was not sure what colors to do. I've seen some great ones, but I decided to go with more realistic/anatomical model colors. I LOVE it! I'll be wearing it for all our science labs, even if they aren't messy ones!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Second Chance Sale

I was so excited when TpT announced this week's boost sale because there was so much that I forgot to purchase during the back-to-school sale! Hopefully I won't miss anything this time. I'm linking up with some amazing bloggers to get some great ideas for those MUST HAVES!

First up, something I did purchase in the sale...Little Red's Genre Posters. These are freaking adorable and fit perfectly along my reading wall. I even made small grayscale copies for my kids to paste in their Read and Respond notebooks.

This is something I have been wanting for awhile. I'm not much of a Star Wars fan or anything, but I just get a huge kick out of these Marzano scale posters! They catch my attention and I know they'll catch the kiddos attention to!

I'm not very good at tooting my own horn, but I really liked using this Poet BINGO set with my 5th graders last year and plan on using it again this year. Hopefully I'll get to do it in April when it is actually poetry month! The students get to choose a variety of poems to read and complete some in depth activities with the poems they choose.

This second chance sale is this Wednesday, August 20. My entire store is discounted, 20% off. Get the extra 10% off with promo code "BOOST" at checkout. 

What did you buy in the last sale? What is in your cart for this one?

Monday, August 11, 2014

Monday Made It - Independent Reading Notebooks

I'm asking forgiveness in advance for two things. 1. I know most of my posts lately have been Monday Made Its. What can I say? I love this link up! 2. Please ignore any errors or nonsensical bits of this post. We had to take one of the rats to the emergency vet last night. Got to bed at 1 am, then up a few hours later, so I'm a bit beat.

Ok, so I am really excited to share this made-it because it was a long time coming. Last year was my first foray into Reading Workshop. Although I didn't really have any other upper grade teachers on campus to go to for help, I did enjoy it, and I am trying it again this year with some tweaks and adjustments. I have to give a big shout out to my friend Dana at Learning Required who helped me along the way and was always there to answer my questions.

So, last year my students had reading binders. I bought each student a black binder for about a buck and had them all prepared with dividers and a pencil bag. These were solely used for reading time. Man those binders were cheap! By the end of the year they all had one place to go...the trash. Besides the fact that they didn't last long, they were a pain to maintain. I would ask students to put handouts in, and half of them wouldn't make it. We'd have to take a special day just to organize the binders. Did I mention the word pain?

Yeah, so this year I decided to use the amazing binding machine to make my own Independent Reading Notebooks. These took me weeks, literally, to prepare. But once they were done it was so satisfying. And so far, the kiddos are taking great care of them and using them just as I taught them.

Let me give you a tour of some of the pages.

Our district has really emphasized Marzano's Learning Goals and Scales over the past few years. Each of the notebooks has several of these tracking forms for students to write the learning goals and indicate where they are at the beginning, middle, and end of each concept. Although I have the scale posted on both sides of my room, they have right there in the notebook too. And speaking of Marzano's scales, have you seen these adorable Star Wars ones from Daisy's Bookbag? Too stinking cute! I think I need them!

Back to the tour...
 Each student has a genre tracking form, as well as page describing the common genres (not pictured). The pages following this are their reading log where they track what they read each day (not pictured).

Students periodically write me a letter about their reading, how it is going, what is going well, and what they are struggling with. I've included some useful letter writing pages, as well as lined paper right in the notebook. No need for loose paper running away, I'll just collect the notebooks when I need to check their letters and write back to them.

I'm really big on students using sticky notes to "show" their thinking as they read. To hold them accountable they keep all their sticky notes in their notebook. I also have something else I'm working on to help keep them focused with their sticky note writing.

There you have it! My awesome Independent Reading Notebooks. If you are a Reading Workshop teacher I'm sure you've recognized that I've recycled a lot from Fountas and Pinnell as well as the amazing Beth Newingham. I love that teachers share their knowledge so that we can help all students be super readers!

And, as always, thanks to the lovely Tara of Fourth Grade Frolics for hosting my favorite link-up!

I hope my post was acceptable...time to crawl into bed about three hours earlier than normal!