Wednesday, October 30, 2013

What's Workin' Wednesday- Math Journals

Word problems... They usually are the things that make me want to cry because my kids always think you always just ADD. No matter what the problem says- add. Then...when we learn multiplication, everything becomes multiplication problems. This year I tried to do something to help stop that from happening. And for the most part it is working (of course we are just starting division so they want to divide everything just because it is SO COOL to divide).

And what I am doing that is working is daily (or 3x a week) word problems in a mini math journal. Each day, at least 3x a week, students are given a word problem. They quickly glue the word problem into their mini journals and begin working independently. I give them anywhere from 4-6 minutes to solve the problem (and the bonus if there is one) on their own. Then they get 4 or 5 minutes to work with their groups discussing the methods they used to solve the problem and what methods worked and didn't work. At the end of that, we all come back together and discuss what information we know, what we need to find out, what operation to use, and then finally solve the problem (and label).
The problems that I have started created have (for the most part) a bonus question after the first question. The reason I did this is so that students can get practice working with 2 part problems, but having the problem broken down for them. My students LOVE taking out their math journals and working through the problems. And they get extra excited when they solve the "challenging" ones correctly. And I just LOVE seeing them work through the problems.
This process takes no more than 15 minutes a day and I think it is well worth the 15 minutes.
(And for those of you wondering, the mini journals are regular composition books that I took to Office Max and had cut in half. They charge by the cut and can do a few at a time. I saw on pinterest that Home Depot would do this for free...however when I took them there, the guy completely destroyed one and I refused to let him try again.)

If this is something you want to try, I have so far added the Addition and Subtraction set and Multiplication Set to my TpT store. I am working on Division now and mixed multiplication and division next. You can find them by clicking on the pictures below. And each one's preview file is a free sample question!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fallin For Fact Families Freebie

Before we started really getting into division, we worked on fact families in my class. I started by reviewing what fact families are (relating to addition and subtraction). Then I threw out the big bad word.... inverse. I want my students to know the word inverse and use it. And they know it. Tell them something is a BIG word and they won't forget it. Once students understand that division was the inverse of multiplication and figured out how fact families could help them divide, we did a fun activity. Forgive me for not taking pictures, but my AP walked in during this lesson and I just didn't want to bust out the camera mid lesson to start taking pictures.

Since I have no pictures, I will do my best to explain how we used this in my class.

Each  pair of students got an acorn top that had 2 factors on it. They had to first figure out what their product was.

Taped around the room I had the bottom pieces to the acorns which had the products on them. Once the pairs figured out their product, they had to find it and tape their top to the bottom.

Since the lesson was more about fact families than it was knowing actual multiplication facts, and I was limited on times, the next thing we did was scoot through the room traveling from acorn to acorn and recording the numbers on our recording sheets.

Once that was done, we did one example writing fact families together and then students worked in their groups/pairs to complete the page, writing fact families for each set of numbers.

It was a quick way for students to make the connection between multiplication and division and even my lowest student was successful. So much so that he didn't even want to stop when it was time for lunch. He asked if he could take it out to recess to finish!

Click on any of the pictures to snag your copy for free from my TpT store.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What's Working Wednesday- Organizing some...

I am back with a quick post to share something that is working to keep me sane. And this one is one that makes me exceptionally happy. See, if you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I am one of those people that LOVES to do lists. Not only do I love crossing things off them (and may be known to add things to the list that I just finished just so I can cross them off) but I NEED them. My memory has never been the best...then I got pregnant and enjoyed the "pregnancy brain" (that is NO joke friends... that is a for real thing). And now I just have mama brain. But it is ok because Payton is pretty darn smart so it is ok that she stole my brains.

So back to the point of this post...

My friend Tara (who is a Gators fan...we are FSU fans in this house... she is lucky she is so nice...) creates the CUTEST to do lists and calendars. Last winter we got to talking about how we needed some kind of organized to do list. And she got to making the cutest things ever. So far she has Oct-March in her TpT store. The best part... they are FREE!

I print the month calendar and 4 weekly pages. On the monthly calendar I keep track of everything I need to remember for my planning purposes. I write down the big reading and math skills our grade is working on and testing on. I also added our testing. This is great so that I don't have to pull out the pacing guides when I am trying to remember what skills we are doing in the next couple weeks.
Then I staple the 4 weekly pages under the calendar to make a little packet. The to do lists vary for the months but you can see what is included on October's. This one is blank for the most part because it is for next week and I haven't planned it all out yet.
If you need or just want some cute calendars and to do lists, hop over to her TpT store linked above and snag these awesome freebies. Thanks Tara for making to do lists that make me happy!

And because Tara is awesome and makes some super cute things... I want to share about her AMAZING deal going on at educents right now... This is a $20 value that is on sale for $6! Click the image below to check it out!

And now some reminders...

Marie over at The Hands on Teacher (who is just an all around awesome person) is having an awesome giveaway! Click the image below to stop by and enter each day of the giveaway. (I am donating for the day 2 winner!)

And of course, I have to remind you about the AMAZING grades 3-5 educents bundle. It ends in about 3 days so be sure to stop by and check it out asap! The image below will take you to the bundle!

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Truth Monday

I am linking up with Denise over at Sunny Days in Second Grade for her new series.

I am pretty ashamed about this truth, but in the spirit of sharing, here it goes. Someday I won't be so tired and will be one of those people that works out regularly... But I will probably NEVER be one of those people who loves to workout.

And just a quick reminder... if you haven't taken a look at the amazing educents deal, I highly recommend you do it asap... you have about five days left!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Blogging from the iPad Part 2

Remember an eternity ago when I posted about the amazing app I used to blog from my ipad? If not, here is the post. If so, remember I also said I would be back with more tips for blogging from your ipad? Well... I know it has been a long long time, but I am back to share another app that I use to blog directly from my ipad.
This is another FREE app called Aviary. (Or Photo Editor by Aviary...but on my iPad it just says aviary.) This is the app that I use to add the borders around my pictures, stickers to cover up my students' faces, crop, brighten, etc.
When you first open the app, it will show your last picture taken. You can scroll through all the pictures in your gallery until you come to the one you want to edit.
When you get to the picture, click "edit this photo"
Then you will get a bunch of options...
Now, I didn't open up each and every option and take screen shots because that would just become redundant. But I can tell you what I use the most... I use the frames all the time (now that I found it) to make the black borders around my pictures (I didn't do it on all of these since it is pictures of pictures of pictures and it would have made me dizzy... but you can see examples in my post about story elements). I also use the stickers to cover up my students' faces.
Here is an example of how that works... you click stickers, scroll through the options (I only use the free ones but there are others you can purchase) and choose the one you want. It will pop up in the picture and you drag it to the place you want it and the apprpriate size.
Hit apply when you are done and it locks in. If you have more than one face to cover up, just add the stickers as many times as you need before hitting apply. If you hit apply after you add one sticker, you have to go through the steps to find and add the sticker. I figured that out the long way.
The other thing I use is the draw feature. I use it to draw the arrows that you see in my picture (though as I am typing this I am now seeing there is an arrow sticker that I suppose I could be using...but I get to choose the colors if I draw my sloppy arrows myself).
As you can see there is a TON you can do with this app. The effects menu lets you change the color as you can see in the picture below.
If you blog from your ipad (or have always wanted to but couldn't figure it out) I highly recommend you grab this app.
(As mentioned the last time, I was not given anything in exchange for this post. I posted this on my own in order to share something that works with all my amazing readers.)

And don't forget about the AMAZING educents bundle!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Big News!!

Have your heard of educents? Surely if you read a lot of blogs you have... but you may be a little out of the loop or overwhelmed with school things and have missed the news. Educents is an amazing deal site for educators. And have we got a deal for you! Over 30 different resources are featured in this 3rd-5th grade curriculum bundle from some AMAZING people.

And I am extremely excited to be a part of the bundle with Educents!  I know you will love my Turkey Treats Writing and Craftivity. My kids LOVED this last year and I can't wait to pull it out again this year. Not only were my kids engaged, but their writing was pretty darn good too! I was rather proud. To see the post from last year, click on any of my classroom pictures in this post.

If you are new here or have forgotten, we did this activity last year and my kids loved it! They had SO MUCH FUN.... and the best part, they didn't even mind that they had a writing assignment! I loved it! Here are some pictures from last year (we haven't done it yet this year... contrary to the stores' decorations, it is NOT time for Turkeys).
The final writing assignment
Working with groups to determine the sequence of events 
The cutest turkey treat ever!
And my personal word walls for grades 3-5. I have always used personal word walls but I just cutsied them up this year. My kids LOVE having their own little books. Any time they need to know how to spell a word, they check their books first. If it is not there, they can ask me IF they have their book out and ready to write the word in the correct page. Most of my students know they need to have the book open to the correct page before asking, but I have some kids that aren't sure what the first letter is, so I work with them to help them identify the sounds... quick differentiated lesson there!
Sadly I don't have any pictures of my word walls being used because I always forget to take them and we have been on fall break! But after using them just a couple days my students were in the habit of taking it out any time they asked me a question.

There are over 30 other products in our bundle to get your kids learning!  Literacy, math, science, social studies, and so much more!   Hop along to see all the goodies you will get!  

But that's not all!   I am giving you a chance to Pin It to Win It (well you win any item from my store.)  Pin any image from my blog and enter below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The deal won't last long so head over now!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Flash Sale!

TpT has reached 100,000 likes on facebook. And to celebrate they are throwing a 10% off flash sale! Just enter the code FB100K at checkout until midnight Oct. 14, Hawaii time. And I decided to join in on the fun and throw my store on sale for 20% off. Using their code you can get up to 28% off! Go on and get your shop on!

And a huge thanks to Shuna at Pocket Full of Kinders for the super adorable image!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Story Elements

Last week we were working on story elements. Now of course we talk about these things with ALL of our stories that we read, but this week was spent really focusing only on Character, Setting, Problem, and Solution. So I started thinking about what things I could do that my kids would be engaged in, all doing something similar, have choice, AND differentiate. Yep, you read that right... I wanted to get that ALL into one lesson. And I think I successfully did. We started using this freebie I found on TpT from Jessica. We used the question cards that fit with our week and made an anchor chart about Tops and Bottoms (that was our story last week). 

We are also working on speaking and writing in complete sentences so while we were figuring out the story elements to Tops and Bottoms I made students respond in complete sentences and I wrote what they said. The next thing we did was split into groups. Each group was able to choose which story they wanted to work on next. Three of my four groups picked Prudy's Problem (I don't blame them...I LOVE that story). I had one group that all but one child wanted to do Prudy...that one boy wanted to do Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday. The rest of the boys in the group agreed to switch so that he didn't have to work alone (LOVE my kids and how they work together). What my students didn't know is that I had them in differentiated groups. There was one boy who wanted to join the other boys with Alexander. Reading level wise- he wasn't in that group, but he is close and I figured I should push him and I let him join. Students went to lunch and I got chart paper ready for each group. When they came back they were so excited to get started. 

Each group opened up their books to their stories and got to working. Now I am sure some people might be thinking, ok, you have them in leveled groups but they are all doing the same thing... how is that differentiated? Here is how I did it. My high group was not given ANY slack. I expected amazing sentences with proper capitalization and punctuation and a well written summary. My intervention group worked with me where I scaffolded instruction to work at their pace and level. Each student in my group got a chance to write and while they were answering and writing we were talking about how to give me answers in complete sentences, capital letters, punctuation, and spelling sounds. This group was VERY capable of giving me the correct answers, but the writing and sentences structure was our goal together.

Once everyone was finished, we hung up their posters and each group got a chance to share. I told them that every person in the group HAD to speak. Even my little ELL girl who is afraid to speak because she doesn't speak English had to say SOMETHING. I worked with her getting her to say "The title of our story is Prudy's Problem" and everyone was proud of her. (Have I mentioned how much I LOVE my class community?! They clap, cheer, etc for each other ALL THE TIME!)

With three groups out of four working on Prudy's Problem, we had a lot of similarities. We talked about WHY the answers were the same and how some things could be slightly different even though they were talking about the same story (ie more than one problem or interpretatin of the problem).

This was the first time they did any kind of group presentation and I realized a few things. 1. They LOVED it. 2. It meets speaking and listening standards of common core as well as our literature standards. 3. We need to work on using a teacher voice and facing the audience when we speak. Overall, I thought it was a good lesson and my kids were truly engaged for every single minute!

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