Thursday, February 14, 2013

What we've been up to...

Here are just a few pictures of what we have been up to lately...

Groundhog fact and opinion sort (I know Groundhog Day is over but this would still be great fact and opinion practice and you can find it here).

I actually had another group that worked with the book Groundhog Gets a Say and made up their own facts and opinions (there was a picture but I have no idea why it isn't showing in this post, and to be quite honest, I am too tired to go to the other computer and load it back up). 

I have also been teaching my students how to play the new fluency games we got. I have Lisa's Bee Mine Fluency game. My kids LOVE this. She makes these for each month and right now her February one (the one pictured below) is on sale! You can grab it here

We have also been learning how to play Christina's Roll, Read, Repeat games. The kids LOVE those too. You can check those out here.

The reason I am teaching my kids how to play these games and we are spending so much time practicing them this week is because I plan to use Lisa's 10 minute fluency rotation idea starting next week. Read more about that here. It is really what I needed to see in order to help me figure out how to make this all work! I can't wait to start doing this with my kids next week. I will be sure to update how it goes. 

One more reminder to enter my giveaways going on here and here. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My kids can do magic... And another giveaway!

OK so maybe they aren't doing magic that is going to land them on TV or going to get them into any books. And what they are doing isn't even a magic trick. But what they ARE doing is Magic Squares.

What?! Never heard of them?! You are sure missing out! I was introduced to Heather's Magic Squares a couple months ago and recently was able to test out the Fraction Magic Squares. I knew that this would be a perfect math activity for my early finishers. I have a couple kids who are just really good at math and need something that is a little more challenging for them. This was the perfect fit!

These magic squares really make kids think. They have to be some of the best math puzzles I have ever seen. (There are language arts puzzles as well.) I really enjoyed watching my kids think through the process of putting the pieces together and figuring out why it wasn't working. 

Here are a couple pictures of magic squares in action in my classroom.

If you want to know more, I HIGHLY recommend you visit Heather's blog post here. She has typed up a great explanation. 

Want your chance to win a set of YOUR CHOICE of magic squares? Simply enter the rafflecopter below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you don't win, I promise you wouldn't be wasting your money to purchase a set or more of these! (And if you want to test them out before the contest ends, Heather has 12 FREE sets for you to try out!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Comparing, Contrasting, and Nonfiction OH MY

Comparing and contrasting--- it is a pretty simple skill for most kids. When it comes to comparing and contrasting on a Venn Diagram. But standardized tests make them take it further with answering multiple choice questions (even though this should be just as simple). I needed some fresh ideas for comparing and contrasting to do with my class. And so came my newest product (finally! something new!)- Comparing and Contrasting with Nonfiction Texts. There are 6 different original texts (written by yours truly) and each passages has 4 multiple choice questions to go with it. (I plan to add more passages at some point over the summer, but I needed these this week so I had to get them done.)

Here are my passages getting ready to be laminated. There are a lot of ways you can use these, and I have had other teachers tell me that they would use them for an entire week or two of lessons for their students. I chose to use them for one day and give each group of 3-4 students a different story. So I laminated them for durability. 

Yesterday we reviewed what comparing and contrasting was and made a quick Venn Diagram comparing and contrasting Groundhog Day and Valentine's Day (I forgot to get a picture of this). Then students split up and were given a passage. 

I pulled one group of students with me to give them a little more of a challenge. We have never created a Double Bubble map but I thought these students were ready for it. So I brought them back to the table, showed them an example, and we went to it together. This same group of students will create a Double Bubble tomorrow when they compare and contrast themselves with a partner (there are interview questions included in this unit for students to interview and then compare and contrast a partner). 

The other groups of students worked to create a Venn Diagram and then answered their multiple choice questions on the back.

If you are interested in looking at this, click the preview image below and it will take you to the listing on TpT. 

Don't forget to enter the fabulous giveaway here! And be on the lookout for another giveaway starting tomorrow!

Monday, February 11, 2013

My modeling debut...with a giveaway!

Ok so maybe I am not really modeling.. but I was used AS a model. And that counts for something right? You may have noticed that my winter blog design is gone and my Mickey design is back with a little update (and if you are new, then this is all new to you anyways but thanks for following along!). Did you notice that in my header and button there is a little ME?! My friend Farrah started creating clipart of people. I sent her a pic and she went for it. She ended up making quite a few of me, as you can see on her poster below. But I think my favorites are the Mickey, Bills, and the one with the pink and black dress.

How would you like the chance to win one of your very own... and not JUST one... but one PLUS 2 extra outfits (so a total of 3)! All you have to do is enter the rafflecopter below. And just to add to the fun, I will throw in a winner's choice item from my TpT store! AND Farrah is going to be giving away her BRAND NEW March centers.

Some people might be thinking... um what can I use that clipart for? The question is what CAN'T you use it for? You can use it on your blog, on your facebook, on your TpT store, signatures. I love having that little extra piece of me on the blog! And Farrah is super easy to work with (and I am not just saying that because she is my friend... I was quite the diva of a model). 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you just can't wait and really want to have one of your own, email her at the address listed in her poster to purchase one!

Good luck!

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Sorry for constantly having testing posts... I am having issues with my signature. But I will make up for it with not one but TWO giveaways coming in the next week! And they are some real good ones!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Mystery Present- Freebie included!

In October, my friend Lisa over at Fourth and Ten posted about the amazing Pumpkin Present idea that she found on Rachelle's blog. Basically- you take an empty and festive container and put a mystery prize in it. These prizes could be anything- homework passes, pencils, erasers, stickers, candy, etc. You look for the students who are working exceptionally well and place the bucket on their desk. The student who has the bucket can not touch or play with it. You randomly move the bucket around the class to different students' desks based on their behavior. Whoever has the bucket at the end of the day gets the prize that is in the bucket.

At the same time that Lisa shared the idea, she also shared some tickets to put IN the pumpkin present. I decided to download those tickets and give it a whirl. The kids loved it. Loved it so much in fact that when November came they wondered what I was going to do since we no longer should be using a Halloween bucket. But November and December both came and went before I knew it. And now, here we are at February and my kids are STILL wondering when I am going to bring back the mystery present. So what did I do? I went to my favorite place- the Target dollar spot and picked up this cute little container.

And then quickly whipped up some prize cards to put in there. Now I will admit, the students also get a piece of candy or an eraser or something tiny along with their coupon, just to add to the mystery. But you certainly don't have to do that. My students are going to be so excited when they see this little beauty sitting on my desk! (I used black tissue paper so they can't try to see what is in there.)

There are 8 different prize cards included. I tried to make them generic so that they can be used in any classroom. The only one that might be a little tricky is the "special seat" one... I have a green comfy chair they can sit in, but if you don't have a special seat, you can get a cheap seat cushion that a student could use for the day or let them use your teacher chair.

If you think this is something you want to try in your class, or if you want to use these tickets another way, feel free to grab them by clicking on the image below. It will take you to the download from my TpT store. I would love some feedback if you download them! Enjoy!

You can find lots more February Freebies over at Corkboard Connections! (Just click the image below to go right to Laura's amazing blog and post.)

This post and freebie was posted with permission by both Lisa and Rachelle. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

February- where did you come from?!

Umm hello Gina it is February... I have no idea how this happened. Don't get me wrong, I am glad it is February because I am so ready for spring and warm weather and break and summer... Ok maybe I am getting ahead of myself here. But the point is, I have no idea where January went! Not only is it February but that means it is time for one of my all time favorite linkups! Farley's monthly currently! If you don't link up with Farley you are really missing out on a fun one. And the over 300 people that have already entered only a week into the month should be proof of that! So...without further ado...

Listening- to some old episodes of Whole Brain Teaching TV. I have always been intrigued by WBT but I just haven't "gotten it". I decided last night I am never going to get it if I don't just go for it. So I am going to do it slowly. And I have an amazing friend who is WBT certified...or something (Farrah forgive me I can't remember what your actual role is). 

Loving- Payton is walking back and forth between me and Tim giving us kisses. Some days she is very stingy with the kisses but today, she was very giving. And who can resist her kisses?! Not me that's for sure!

Thinking- there are a lot of unknowns for next school year and I hate not knowing as much as I don't know. 

Wanting- Well...February 7 and I am ready for Spring Break. It could be because the weather has been getting nicer and we are going to Nashville for 2 nights. Or I am just ready for break... either way. Bring it on!

Needing- I always need more sleep. But last night was awful (which is why I am home blogging instead of working). Payton was up and crying every hour. For no reason. And only wanted me. Needless to say, I am tired. 

Pet peeves- I HATE when people use the wrong there, their, or they're. I also hate when people say It was bigger THEN I thought (or something similar when they use then and should be using than). Both of those drive me CAH-RAY-ZEE! 

Thanks Farley for hosing such a fun linky! If you want to link up, click the image below.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Computer management

I want to share a quick classroom management tip for everyone that has to do with computer rotations. I teach in a portable and only have 2 1 student computer and a lot of district mandated programs. I have been trying for the past 3 years to come up with a method that will help me manage who was supposed to be on the computer without involving too much thought, time, or interruption. I tried a chart where students put an X when they finished their session, I tried a schedule...neither of those things worked.

This summer I finally figured out what to do. I got a pocket chart from the Target dollar spot and made cards with numbers 1-25 on them. Each of my students is assigned a number at the beginning of this year and they use it for everything (but if you don't use numbers you could easily make cards with students' names on them). The cards are then placed in my pocket chart with the numbers showing (in random order). Students come in and if their number is next up, they log onto the computer, do one session, and flip their card over when they finish. It helps to see when everyone has had a chance to be on the computer for the week and I don't have to do anything to keep track. Even if we don't go in order (as you can see, we don't always), students still know to flip their card so we can take a quick glance and see if they have completed their session for the week.

You can see we went out of order this week. Whoever came in first just hopped on the computer.
Typically my students only get on this program in the morning so if someone's card is showing and they are late or not here, I move on to the next card. If students finish their work early and want to get on the computer they have to do one session first then they can get on an approved site. This chart helps me know who is able to have free time on the computers and who still needs their session for the week.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Please pardon our dust...

So what did YOU score?

Now that the big sale day is over (I didn't even watch the game I was so busy working and deciding what I wanted to buy), I want to share some AMAZING finds with you. I am linking up with the bloggers at Blog Hoppin' to share some good finds! I am also linking up with Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade for her Show and Tell Tuesday!

Here are some of my finds!

 If you read my morning work post here, then you will know that I use these weekly word wizards for morning work. It is a great quick review for my kids and something where even my struggling students can feel successful. I make my kids explain WHY their answer is what it is to make it a little harder for them and get them thinking more.
 This packet I am pretty excited about. Rounding is always SO hard for my kids. Through the use of Ashleigh's number of the day (which I bought a few weeks ago) we round numbers once a week and through the use of Ashleigh's math spiral reviews we do a little more. I haven't taught it yet but I feel that between those two things and this packet my kids might finally get it this year! (And conveniently this is the first year I have taught rounding with a hill so this cover just jumped right out at me...yep I am one of those people that judge a book by the cover. But even if this had a boring cover I know Jen wouldn't let me down with her products!)
I read a GREAT review on this and could not wait to buy it. I don't even have the book Thunder Cake yet but honestly, I don't even care! I will buy the book so that I can use this unit. My kids need all the help they can get and this looks amazing!
 We are halfway through our fractions unit. Which means the hard stuff is coming up- comparing, ordering, equivalent, and mixed numbers. This packet has GREAT lessons that can be done in small groups or whole group. I have already planned to use two of them this week alone!
 Anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely love anything Nicole makes. And these are no exception. We use these for morning work and I swear my kids are learning more grammar skills from these 3 sentences a day than from anything else I do. I am so proud of how much better they are doing at finding the mistakes!
 This one! I am dying to read this book just to use this. We started reading James and the Giant Peach earlier in the year but had to stop for a lot of reasons. I really was upset because I really thought the kids would love the book. I had started creating my own unit but then stopped. Now I have no need to create my own because I know Tracy has everything I could want or need in here.
 This was made by the same amazing teacher who made the Charlotte's Web unit that I am using right now. I mentioned to her that we read this one and Because of Winn Dixie and she got them made. I have been waiting to buy this one until it was closer to time to be reading it.
And this one... I have had my eye on this one since Lisa posted about it a long time ago. And inferencing still hasn't come back up in our curriculum but I didn't care. I wanted this one bad! And so now I have it. And if nothing else, I will use it for testing review just so my kids can have fun with it.
I bought Christina's entire set of these and absolutely love it! I bought it on the suggestion from a few friends to work on fluency with my kids. I can not wait to introduce this one to them.

So what did you buy? Click the image at the top of this post to get to the link up!

Third Grade Common Core Workbook

Is your school district implementing common core yet? We are slowly transitioning into it and will be fully implementing next year. I have spent a lot of time looking up resources that I will be able to use for next year and saw many people post about this AMAZING workbook. But at the time it was only available through 2nd grade. Well...good news third grade teachers. The Third Grade Common Core Workbook is here for us!!

This workbook has practice and activities for every math and language arts standard. This is NOT your typical workbook. It is much more engaging! There are over 800 pages of activities, posters, and practice pages. Being that there is a lot to know for us teachers, I also love how this workbook has all the standards in it and each activity is marked with the standard it addresses. This will really help with standards based grading (for those of us that do that).

It makes me feel just a little more comfortable implementing common core knowing that there is a book full of resources all combined into one place!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Gettin' 'em thinkin'

Some of my readers and friends may know that our school has been working on becoming an IB authorized school. While I have my own opinions about the process, that isn't what this post is about.

We finally started the unit that I feel most comfortable with. It is the one we have done twice already and worked really hard on it. I still don't fully "get" it but I am getting better. Somewhat. And this unit so far is going great.

Our central idea is "Natural resources support life". A lot of our lessons are supposed to be inquiry based and while I haven't had much training on this (and the stuff I have had has differing opinions on how to do inquiry), I have tried to do my own things to get my kids more engaged in their learning.

We started with talking about the central idea. I told them what it was and wrote it on the board. I had each group discuss what they thought it might mean and then we created a bubble map with ideas.

I especially liked the idea in the top left corner "how nature can affect your feelings"... this girl that came up with it took the idea of nature and thought about how some people go outside to relax, look at nature, draw, and relax. I absolutely LOVE how she thought outside the box for that one. I am hoping to get time for them to go outside and just relax and either draw or write a poem as we relax in nature. But that requires the weather to warm up.

After that, students then worked with their groups again to come up with some questions they had. My two favorites here were "What will happen if natural resources end?" (which is awesome that they came up with that because that is a big idea for this unit) and then how does pollen affect you? I love how that group took ONE part of natural resources and how it related to their own lives (allergies) and wondered more about WHY it happens. Love love love how they are starting to think about deeper things. In the beginning they would ask things like "what are natural resources?" "Why do we need them?" They are getting so much stronger in their questioning skills (and making me look up more and more information!)

The final thing that we did was review natural resources (we learned about them a while ago in another unit) and discuss what we use them for. Each student then got a pyramid (that I had presetup to save stress and time) with the title natural resources. They chose to focus on plants and animals as their resources (we decided this as a class) and wrote those in the next boxes. Then on their own they had to come up with ideas of how we use those natural resources.

And I hung some of them around our IB board (you can see that I started to hang them before taking the first picture at the top, but there are more than 2 up there).

Overall I thought it was a great introduction to our new unit and they are really interested in learning more because they took the lead. I may not fully "get" IB and for all I know, I am doing it wrong. But I had a good time with this lesson and am proud of my kids.

Stay tuned for more lessons from this unit because we are having lots of fun with it!

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