Sunday, December 9, 2012

Mini-society: STARVILLE!!

Our 3rd graders have been very busy gearing up for STARVILLE, which is the mini-society that happens only once a year! To prepare for this economics study, students learned about scarcity, production, goods/services, and currency. They had to complete "factory work" a few times a week to create goods that would be sold at a store. Students also filled applications online and had to explain why he/she would be good at that particular job. Finally, on Friday, the big day was here! The pictures explain a lot, but we had 20 stores at our STARVILLE, where students worked at two different places and were given the opportunity to shop as well-just in time for the Christmas !

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Fall Party Games!

Looking for some last-minute ideas to play at your fall party? Well, look no more!  Here are some ideas for fall party games to play:

1. Last Man Standing (four pictures placed around the room- examples: witch, frankenstein, skeleton, pumpkin)

Everyone starts standing near whatever picture they want. Teacher draws a card and let's say it's the Frankenstein....whomever is standing by frankenstein is out and goes to their seats.

The people who are left can stay where they are or move to one of the other pictures in the room...when everyone is settled in their new spots, pick another card (the Frankenstein card gets put back in)

The object of the game is to be the last man standing. You can move around as much as you want just don't get caught!!!!

2. Pin the face on the pumpkin

Use a real pumpkin and have sticky vinyl shapes ready to be pinned on the pumpkin. (Shapes include triangles for eyes, oval for nose, smiley mouth, mustache, etc..). Blindfold students and have them place one of the stickers on the pumpkin. This will make a funny pumpkin face when all stickers are used!

3. Witch Hat Toss

Use a pointy witch-like hat, stuff it with newspaper to hold the shape and place hat on the floor. Use a couple of pipecleaners (intertwined) and make a circle with them (make 2 or 3). Students toss the pipecleaners toward the hat and try to get a ringer!
Thanks to Kim  for these great ideas!

Traveling Across Time Zones!

In Social Studies yesterday, my students got to go on a little field trip...across time zones! Many of my students had never heard of time zones or had ever given them much thought, so this was a fun lesson to do. :) I started by showing my kiddos this map and discussing the color changes in it. I had them make observations and we discussed the times shown at the top of the map. Then I wrote on the board: TIME _ _ _ _ _ . It didn't take long for one student to guess what we were talking about (my other students immediately said, "Wow!! Good Job!!") We then talked about how the time zones exist because the sun moves over each part of the country at a different time of the day,and that's why each time zone is an hour different than the one next to it.

This made sense to my students, and after a little more discussion about the topic, we began the fun! We listed a few places that we would like to visit and marked them on the map (Disney World, Disney Land, NYC, etc..). We discussed what time it was now (in Kansas) and what time it would be if we traveled to a specific destination. It was fun for my students to "hop" across time zones. After several times of practicing this, I had my students start on the east coast and tell me what time it was in Oregon. They did great! I highly recommend this lesson!

Click here to visit the map shown on this page!

-12 -11 -10 -9 -8 -7 -6 -5 -4 -3 -2 -1 0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5 +6 +7 +8 +9 +10 +11 +12

M|Y X W V U Ter S R Q P O N Z A B C D E F G H I K L M|Y

USA Time Zone Map- 12 HOUR FORMAT
Time mode:24 hours or 12 hours (AM/PM)
See Time map for State of Indiana
Time map for Canada Time map for Mexico Time map for Caribbean / Central America

Monday, October 15, 2012

Monster Mania!

My students loved the mini-monster unit we did last week. We read monster poems in spooky voices, read a humorous story about a nasty little monster, and created some pretty awesome monsters for art projects. One of my kiddos' favorites for the week was Multiplication Monster! Students rolled a die to determine which numbers would be used for the monsters eyes, horns, arms, legs, etc... For example a student rolled a 3 (wrote it on the line) and then rolled a 5 (wrote that on the next line). Then he had to multiply 3 times 5 (or 3 groups of 5) by drawing an array. This is one of the first practices we have done with multiplication, and it was definitely a hit! Students of all levels were able to complete this activity and then once it was checked by me, students could draw a picture of their interesting-looking monster on the back!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

We're Having a ROCKing Good Time!

My students had a great time getting their hands dirty during our science stations last week! We've been busy learning about rocks, and these stations helped the young scientists in my class to further  investigate and observe rocks and how they can change. Here are the stations we completed:
1.) Making Dirt! Students used items from nature (pine cones, rocks, clumps of dirt, sticks, etc...) and broke it down to make dirt (hence the name of the station!) They LOVED this station!
2.) Shake, Rattle, and Roll! Cinnamon sticks, chalk, and sugar cubes (or bouillon cubes) were placed into baby food jars (separated out individually). Then one jar combined all three items. Students recorded their observations for each jar, and then they shook them up to discover what changes these items went through. This helped students to investigate how some rocks can easily break down (chalk, cubes) like soft rocks. The cinnamon sticks are much more difficult to break down and have material fall off of them (like harder rocks).
3.) Read a Rock Book Various types of books discussing erosion, soil, and rocks were available. Students then discussed new things that they learned about one of those subjects and added to our bulletin board.
4.) Comparing Rocks- Students brought in a rock from home and compared it with one of their friends' rocks. They recorded these observations on a Venn Diagram.
5.) Soil Station-Students also brought in a sample of soil from their homes and were able to investigate living and nonliving things from their samples. They took a few spoonfuls of soil and spread it out on a paper plate so they could sift through the dirt/soil. Many students found grass, rollie pollies, and one student even found a tiny tomato in his soil!
Shake, Rattle, and Roll!

Read a Rock Book
Comparing Rocks

Living or Nonliving- Soil Samples

As a reward, my students also got to be excavators using toothpicks and cookies! Their task was to dig out as many chocolate chips as they could in a certain amount of time. They absolutely loved doing this, and of course, they enjoyed eating it at the end as well!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rock On: Our New Science Unit!

My students are excited to begin our new science units about rocks. I have one student in particular who is extremely interested in rocks and has his own expansive collection. He is bringing in his samples for us to see as we dive into learning all about rocks. Each student will be bringing one of their own rocks (size pre-determined) to class so we can sort and classify the many different rocks we observe. We started by discussing things that we know about rocks and put them on sticky notes (attached to the potato-looking brown things on my bulletin board that are supposed to be rocks!). As we continue our study with rocks, we will add things that we learn/know to the "rock" on the right.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

We've Gone Buggy!

We just wrapped our first science unit up with an insect project. Students were given the task of catching 7-10 insects, placing a label near each insect, and making it look neat/organized. There were TONS of creative projects brought in, but I just wanted to share a couple here! I was amazed at some of the sizes of these insects and that students actually caught them! We had talked about how we have to label cicadas as cicadas (not locusts) because locusts do not reside in the United States. One of my students, however, came from a different country and was actually able to add a locust to his display since his family had actually caught one from the previous country they lived in. Pretty cool, eh?! I do realize that some students/families were not comfortable with the idea of catching insects, so there were alternate project ideas provided. Here are a few things that my students chose to do instead of catching bugs: a photo album filled with detailed drawings of many insects; an insect made out of candies (along with his own word search about insects); and a gameboard featuring insect facts/gamepieces.

3rd graders went on an "Insect Gallery Walk/Parade" by visiting each 3rd grade classroom and viewing their displays of insect projects/research papers/drawings. They loved getting to see all of the different ideas that other students had when it came to displaying their work.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bike Rodeo!!

Today all third graders in our district (six schools worth of 3rd graders!) were given these stylish helmets as a part of our bike safety program. We hopped on the bus with our helmets on and headed over to the school that was hosting this fun-filled event! When we arrived, students had their helmets checked by a team of trained professionals. Soon after that, we retrieved their bikes or scooters. These had been transported over on a school trailer beforehand. Then we had the chance to visit each of the seven stations. Pictured below is the introduction to one of the stations, where students learned the proper signals for stopping, turning left, and turning right. 3rd graders weaved in between cones, completed obstacle courses, met real police officers and firefighters from the area, as well as visiting various other bike safety stations.
We were all pretty worn out after this half-day event, but we had so much fun that students asked when we would be doing this again! (Sorry- this was a once-a-year event for third graders!)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Amazing Race Comes to Our Classroom!

I LOVE the show the Amazing Race...I mean, seriously, who doesn't?! I was fortunate enough to have our school's math specialist come in to do this math lesson with my kiddos. Although none of my kids had ever seen the show, let alone heard of it, it was a HUGE success! Here's how it worked:
1.) We discussed what the word SUM means ("it means to ADD, ADD, ADD!) and what the word DIFFERENCE means ("suuuuub-tract!). Students were going to have to know these key
words in order to participate in the game.
2.) All around the room, there were signs (we had 18 total) that had various math problems on them. These ranged from 1 point questions to 3 point questions (based on difficulty).
3.) We did one example together, then students were paired with a partner. Each team got a recording sheet, and their own piece of scratch paper to show their work.
4.) When the time began, each pair of partner had to go together to grab any of the signs around the room. Once they agreed on a sign, they brought it back to their desks and worked the problem seperately before discussing/agreeing upon an answer to record on their answer sheet.
5.) Whenever both partners were done, each had to raise his/her hand. A teacher would then go and check their work and star it on the answer sheet to award points or tell them to re-check their work.
Examples of some of the problems used:
Find the difference for the numbers 1,245 and 589. (1 point)
Jack bought a Snickers bar for $1.29 and a drink for $0.89. How much money did he spend in all? (2 points, showing work)
Create a C- (compare/subtract) word problem. (3 points)
Sally had $20. She bought an item from the store that cost $3.56. When she got home, her mom paid her her weekly allowance of $5.00. How much money does she have now? (3 points)
It was so fun to see my students so excited about math!  This lesson is definitely a keeper!

Friday, September 14, 2012

We're Diving into Common Core Math!

Once a week, my third graders get to dabble with some common core lessons. Since our school will fully implement Common Core Standards for the 2013-2014 school year, we are adding in some of it now to get used to it. This week we worked with 3.OA.8. (Solve two-step word problems using the four operations.)

To introduce this concept, we first used manipulatives to solve a 2-step word problem, getting our kiddos used to the idea of solving a word problem that requires more than just adding/subtracting two numbers. The next day, we used only a hundreds chart to help us solve word problems. Surprisingly, I enjoyed using the hundreds chart much more than the manipulatives because my kiddos seemed much more focused and got the concept better.On the third day, I took a bag and filled it with papers, each with a different two-step word problem on it. My team and I had decided that working with strictly two-digit numbers would better fit the needs of our students and not overwhelm them with large numbers, so that's what we did. I selected a student to pull a word problem out of the bag and placed it under the document camera (they loved being able to do this!). Obviously we didn't get to all of these in one day, but it was nice to work through several problems together and discuss what my students were thinking and how we should "attack the problem."

Here are some examples of word problems we used:
A grocery store owner had 57 green apples and 32 red apples. On Monday he sold 28 apples. How many apples did the grocery store owner have left?

On Saturday Betty’s Bakery had 75 chocolate muffins for sale. 25 chocolate muffins were sold in the morning and 31 were sold in the afternoon. How many chocolate muffins were left?

Peter had 79 marbles. He gave 17 marbles to his brother and 14 to his best friend. How many marbles did Peter have left?

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After spending $26.00 on a shirt and $59.00 on a pair of shoes, Tom had $10.00 left in his wallet. How much money did Tom have to begin with?

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Suzy has 88 books to pack into boxes. On Monday she packed 35 books, and on Tuesday she packed 21 books. How many more boxes does Suzy need to pack into boxes?
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James wants to buy a soccer ball worth $25.00 and a skateboard that costs $47.00. If he only has $50.00, how much more money does James need?
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Maria and Nikki picked tomatoes in their vegetable garden. Maria picked 29 tomatoes and Nikki picked 48. If they used 15 tomatoes to make pasta sauce how many did they have left?

A truck driver needed to deliver 60 sacks of flour. He delivered 25 sacks to a shop on Main Street and 18 sacks to a shop on First Avenue. How many more sacks does he still need to deliver?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

It's Going to be a Whopper of a Wednesday!

My kiddos have learned to LOVE Wednesdays! Every Wednesday, I write something to this effect on the board to greet my students (Welcome to another WHOPPER of a Wednesday in Mrs. Watkins' Class!). They get so excited about Wednesdays, mainly because they have the opportunity to earn Whoppers, but it is fun to see their faces when they walk in the door and realize it is Wednesday:) When the first Wednesday of the year occurred, I asked them if anyone could figure out what my favorite letter is and why. Hands shot up in the air, eager to share their thoughts. We finally talked about how I love chocolate and that my favorite letter was "W" because of my last name, so this combines two of my favorite things! Each time I say a word that starts with the letter "w" on Wednesdays, my kiddos catch it, bringing a smile to all of our faces (ex:"Please don't make me wait on you to follow directions .")

I hope you all have a Wonderful day!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Math and Reading Test Checklists

Our 3rd graders are learning test-taking strategies. To help reinforce these practices, my team created a rubric, or checklist, to be used each time a reading or math test is taken. We staple these to the top of each test to help students see what we expect. This also helps to serve as an effort-based score. Students show a higher level of effort when they complete each of these items. We have discussed the difference between simply placing a checkmark next to the item and actually completing each item!
Here's our checklist for reading: think you're done with your READING test? Let's see!
Did you...
 Read ALL of the questions?
Read the ENTIRE passage?
Answer every question?
Prove your answers?
Go back and check your work?
There is a box for yes/no next to each question. I have the PDF, but for some reason I am not able to upload it here. If you would like it let me know, and I'll e-mail it to you!
Here's the checklist for math: think you're done with your MATH test? Let's see!
Did you...
Read every problem?
Highlight important information?
Show your work (including MAPS on word problems)?
Answer each problem?
Go back and check your answers?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Popcorn Writing!!!

For writing last week, my students knew they were in a treat when they saw a bag of unpopped popcorn sitting on a nearby table in our classroom. Before I told them what we were going to do, my students made a boxes in their writing notebooks that were labeled "See, Hear, Smell, Feel, and Taste." We discussed how we were going to really pay close attention to words that fit under each sense as we popped a bag of popcorn in the microwave. We took a "mini field trip" down the hall to the nearest microwave and sat with our notebooks jotting descriptive words for each sense. My students were so intent on watching the popcorn bag rise as it heated in the microwave- we had so much fun doing this activity together!
Throughout the rest of the week, we took the words that we had used to describe a bag of popcorn popping and began a descriptive paragraph. My students did a great job of keeping the events in order ("As the bag of popcorn was placed in the microwave, I saw the bag start to rise..."). Later several students shared their writing with the rest of the class. This coming week we will be doing a final copy and placing it on popcorn-themed paper!
This idea came from a fellow colleague (visit her blog by clicking here! ) . I highly recommend this writing lesson. It was a huge success!

Monday, August 27, 2012

TOP SECRET! Mission Possible for Students!

3rd grade teachers at my school teamed up to create a video to introduce a top secret mission for students.  Warning: the video is super corny, but the kiddos LOVED it, which is what matters most anyway! We may never be internet sensations, but we may end up on Tosh.0's web redemption feature:) Who knows?! Check out our video HERE!

Each student received a manilla envelope with his/her name on it and two documents to review. We are doing an operation "Dare to Care" in 3rd grade, and this went right along with it. Students were to be undercover agents and do at least one nice thing for someone else without blowing their cover. Many of my students cleaned their rooms without being asked or smiled at random people on the street (we talked about how much more friendly we look when we smile!).

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Phew! Welcome Back to School!

I have officially been back to school for 2 whole weeks (that's right- 10 days....we started on a MONDAY!). Much like many of you, I feel like I have been running some imaginary race, where I never reach the finish line! Even though there is a ton going on, I am happy to be back to school:) My new class is very sweet, and we're getting a lot done! One of the projects that we completed was "Just the Facts about..." Each student had his/her picture taken with a maginifying glass held near his/her eye. The pictures were so cute! I loved seeing how they turned out! Then students wrote facts about him/herself scattered around the picture. To complete this project, students mounted their paper/pictures on brown construction paper and traced/cut aluminum foil to make it look like a clipboard. This didn't take very long, and all of the students will love seeing their pictures in the hallway when they get to school tomorrow!  Here's a close-up of two kiddos' work:

We have done so much these past two weeks, but I wanted to show you this project. We read the story Miss Rumphius, about a woman whose dream it was to make the world a better place. She did so by planting lupine flowers that people in her community could enjoy. My students and I discussed how we could make our school a better place, and then they made bookmarks to connect to the story. Students created the background how they wanted using colored chalk. Then they were able to use paint to create the stem of the flower. Finally, students used their thumbs to make the pink/purple lupine flowers. I had the bookmarks laminated, and now students can enjoy their very own bookmark every single day!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Whole-Class Journals...Yes, Please!

Yesterday, I created whole-class journals with a writing prompt. I love this idea because students can add to it on their own time and write with a purpose! Instead of just writing different responses in journals, which-don't get me wrong, I have my students do as well...these journals are left out for classmates to read through and add to. Here are the topics that I created:
-Your Future Job
- A Dream You Had
-Family Vacation
-Your Weekend

3rd graders at my school will also be focusing on random acts of kindess and having an overall caring attitude toward others. Another journal will be made for students to write about kind things that others have done for them. I just picked up that spiral today. I don't know about you, but it seems like I can't steer myself away from the school supply sections in ANY store! Then, of course, I feel like I HAVE to buy something...hence these 17 cent spiral notebooks from Wal-Mart :) ....and the big erasers, pencils, magnets, etc...There's just something about the new, isn't there?!

I would like to thank Stephanie over at Back in Fourth for giving me the Versative Blogger Award! Thank you so much!
Here are seven random facts about me:
1. I am going into my second year of teaching!
2. I got married when I was 21 years old (a young 21 at that!).
3. I visited New York City for the first time this summer (btw: loved it!)
4. I actually enjoy working outside, even in this Kansas heat!
5. While growing up I was the biggest K-State fan, all because of my dad! He took me to all kinds of events without my siblings because they claimed  KU as their team :) Looking back, I think I really just liked the one-on-one time with my dad!
6. My mom taught me how to make fused glass/dichroic glass pendants and necklaces.
7. I love the Olympics-summer, winter, doesn't matter! I am amazed at all of the talented athletes we have and enjoy watching them perform in events I wouldn't normally pay attention to! Watching the Olympics ALWAYS inspires me to start working out a little harder, you know, because I dream of being out there too ;) Not that that's ever going to happen, but hey, I always say to Dream Big...otherwise, what's the point of having dreams?!
I would like to nominate the following bloggers with this award and you must complete the following:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you
2. Include a link to their blog
3. Include the award image in your post
4. Give seven random facts about yourself
5. Nominate 7 other bloggers for the award
6. When nominating, include a link to their blog
7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated

Versatile Blog Nominations...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Class Cash Storage and The 10 Classroom Commandments

This year, my team and I are implementing a Class Cash behavior management system. At the beginning of each week, each student will be given $10. We wanted a system that works for us, the teachers, as much as it does for our kiddos. Knowing how hectic a day in the classroom can be/feel, we didn't want to have to be handing out class money every single day or multiple times a day. The $10 given to students is basically a credit for the week (having planners signed, homework turned in, etc..) Any time that a student misbehaves or does not do what is expected, they "hand over" a dollar. Instead of being handed money throughout the day or having it pile up on my desk, this is what I came up with. I used a shower caddy that was given to me by a teacher when I graduated high school. She said they came in super handy, and I've finally found the perfect use for it! I had $100 picture notepad and simply took one sheet and wrapped it around the shower caddy (then use packing tape to hold it in place). When a student owes me money, he/she will set their dollar bill(s) in the caddy, which is located near my desk and safely away from student traffic.

One of my dear friends gave this to me the other day, and I loved it so much! It's on a canvas, so it's super sturdy. It's hanging in the middle of my announcements board, so students see it when they first walk into the classroom. I just had to share:

-Thou shall respect thy teacher and classmates
-Thou shall treat everyone equally
-Thou shall raise thy hand to speak
-Thou shall listen carefully
-Thou shall be willing to learn and ask questions
-Thou shall be patient and wait they turn
-Thou shall be thankful for recess (all 15 mins of it!)
-Thou shall be pleasant and remember to smile
-Thou shall be honest and not cheat
-Thou shall be responsible and do thy homework

Tissue- Paper Flowers!

I have always loved the way that Japanese Lanterns look. I've contemplated the choice to buy them in various stores but could never really bring myself to justify spending the money on them. Then one of my good friends learned how to create these flowers made out of tissue paper that are the size of a Japanese Lantern! After having a QUICK lesson from her, I set out to create my own (seen here!). Want to know how to make your own? It's so easy, and I really mean that!

1. Decide what colors you would like to make your flowers. Note: You can do multi-colored! Polka-dots or patterns typically do not look as nice because it only has print on one side, thus affecting the overall appearance of the flower.

2. Buy some tissue paper (I got mine from Dollar General). You will need AT LEAST 10 sheets of tissue paper and AT MOST 12 sheets (makes it look more full).

3. Lay tissue paper one on top of the other.

4. Starting with one end, take all sheets (whatever number you used) and gently fold it over about an inch.

5. Fold again but this time go the other way. Continue until entire lenth of tissue paper is folded (should look like a closed up accordian).

6. Place a large paper clip in the middle of the closed up accordian-folded style tissue paper.

7. Tie fishing line to end of paper clip (to hang up later)

8. Take a pair of scissors and cut a round edge on each side of your tissue paper stack.

9. Holding tissue paper near the paperclip, gently start pulling each layer upward so that they seperate from one another. About mid-way through, start pulling the bottom side downward.

10. There you have it! Tissue paper flowers!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

All Aboard for Common Core!

I'm sure you're all gearing up for Common Core, much like my school in Kansas. I have a wonderful math website for you to check out! You can find ideas, lessons, and resources by grade level and domain (ex: Measurement and Data). Click here to view the website. For those of you that might not be familiar with the Math Common Core, here's a little way to help keep those darn domains, clusters, and standards straight.

Grade: 2
Content Area: Math

Domain: Measurement and Data  (think of this as the heading or topic)

Cluster: Work With Time and Money (sub-topic)

Standard: Solve word problems involving dollar bills, quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, using $ and cent sign appropriately  (think of this as all of the "files" for working with time and money)

I went through and created new folders for each topic. For example, I teach 3rd grade, so I typed a folder for every Operations and Algebraic Thinking topic (3.OA1, 3.OA2, etc...) and all other domains. That way, I can easily slip lessons that I create into those folders and they are nice and organized. Use or lose, but that's how I chose to organize it on my computer.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Start Your Day the Right Way!

 Mandisa -...
When I heard the Good Morning Song by Mandisa, I immediately fell in love with it!  It's such an upbeat, fun song that can't help but put you in a fantastic mood. So then I thought: I should play this for my students in the morning!! I first heard it on K-Love (nationwide Christian radio program), and they play it at random times throughout each day for listeners. If you've never heard the song, you should definitely take a listen (click on the link above)! Let me know what you think!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Oh Pinterest, What Would I Do Without You?!

A year ago, I didn't even know Pinterest existed...then a few months into the school year, our technology specialist opened the door to the WONDERFUL WORLD OF PINTEREST! Oh. My. Goodness. I know you all are aware of how amazing Pinterest is, so I digress. I found a sign in/sign out magnetic board and decided to make my own. Wal-Mart has these small, rectangular magnetic boards for less than $4.00. It comes with magnets a the super-sticky pads if you want to mount it on the wall like I did. This allows me to know where all of my students are at all times. Their magnets will be on "Our Room, Bathroom, Nurse, or With Another Teacher." Instead of using students' pictures, I labeled magnets with each student's number. Lsat year, I had the numbered magnets up on my whiteboard and used them all of the time to group students, call on a student, etc... What the students never found out is that all of the girls magnets are small and the boys are the larger magnets. I did this because sometimes I draw magnets with my eyes closed or while I'm looking away, and I can choose whether the boy/girl combination that I want. ;) That way, my students never caught on and it always appeared to be random. I'm excited because now I still have the handy magnets up (not taking space on my board) but they have are multi-purpose now!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Name that Board!

I can't decide what to call this board! Bravo Board? Proud Wall? Brag Board? If you have any ideas, please share! I've started spending a little time in my classroom, and this is one of the projects that I completed this week. Instead of having a "Student of the Week" this year, our entire third grade team is creating an area where students can clip a picture/drawing/artwork up that goes with a monthly theme. For example, August will be "Summer." Students will bring in something that pertains to summer that can easily be clipped up on the board. I thought that ribbon would look cute to design "frames" for each student, so I headed on over to Hobby Lobby (gotta love that place!). It just so happened that they were having a sale on ribbon, which is just too much of a coincidence for me to pass up! ;) I stapled each side of the frame up (yes, one by one), but it went up fairly quickly. I finished the board off with some colorful clothespins that designate each students' frame (it has his or her number on the clothespin). I may add a title that drapes across to show what the theme is that month...for now, this is it though!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Wipe Out!" A Game for Place Value!

I came across this game in a NCTM magazine last week and decided to try it out with a student. It helps develop number sense and better understand expanded form/place value.

I took one calculator for us to share. I asked him to create a three-digit number and tell me what it is. He created the number 745 (which he said was an odd number). I told him that we wanted to "wipe out" the tens column so that it reads as a zero. I wanted to see what he did first without me prompting him, so he verbalized what he was doing with the calculator so I could do the same on mine. At first, he wanted to just subtract 4, but we saw that if we take 745-4 that equals 741. This did not wipe out the four in the tens column like we wanted to do. I reminded him of expanded form for numbers (700 + 40 + 5 = 745), which helped to guide him through his next steps. He subtracted 40 from 745, leaving us with a total of 705, thus successfully wiping out the tens column!

This game can be used for the whole class, with points awarded for students who "wipe out" a digit to read as a zero or disappear completely. Here's another example:

Student A: (enters the number 4,307) Wipe out four (passing calculator to classmate)

Student B: (Enters - 400 = . The display shows 3,907. Realizing something is wrong, she does not score a point. Then she enters the number 5,713) Wipe out 5 (passes calculator back)

Student A: (Enters - 5,000 =. The display shows 713, so a point is awarded.

The game continues back and forth until time is stopped by the teacher.

Choose 3 Ways is a Math Must-Have!

CHOOSE    3    WAYS!
Circle three ways you would like to show your thinking:
                         Draw a Picture                Skip Count              Repeated Addition                        Multiply                   Divide            Make a Table 

 (Word Problem goes here)

Recently, I attended a Math Workshop where I was introduced to the concept of "Choose 3 Ways!" We watched the following video that takes you into a classroom with the teacher who created "Choose 3 Ways." Watch video now! It was extremely helpful to see how she sets up an environment where students are expected to try out at least three different ways to solve a problem. I made a worksheet that is almost identical to hers based on the video (see below). The text box can be changed for various word problems, but I just loved how it got students to think about a math problem in several different ways! Our school computers are currently being worked on, but I will scan in a copy as soon as everything is back up and running at school!

Choose 3 Ways!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Giving My Classroom Library Some Much-Needed Organization

I took quite a bit of time out recently to re-organize my classroom library. After the kiddos left in May, I was left with a bit of a mess book-wise. To tackle this project, I sprawled all of my books out on the floor and got to work placing each book in its' appropriate bin. After all books were finally put back in their bins, I pulled out some Sharpies and labeled every single book with a code. As you can see from the picture, this bin of Chapter Books has been labeled with a red triangle. That way, when a student takes a book from this bin and goes to return it, he or she can easily spot where it goes. Other codes that I used include: squares, happy faces, *, circles, etc... I am hoping that this will be a much better system than just having the bins labeled "Chapter Books, 3rd Grade Chapter Books, Animal Nonfiction, Nonfiction, Animal Character Fiction, Fiction, Series, etc..."

Another tweak to my system will be to have students use their designated clothespin (with class number on it) in the library. The system is simple:
1. Find a book you like
2. Place your clothespin on the tub you borrowed the book from
 3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 as needed.

Hopefully these tips will help you with your own classroom library. I'm looking forward to having a much more organized library this year! Bring on the book-borrowers! :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

My Newest Cricut Creation :)

I am amazed at how much my mind-shift has changed since July hit. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire month of June, without much thought to the coming school year. Wow! How that all changed last week! My to-do lists are growing by the day, and now I'm thinking constantly about my classroom! I put my Cricut machine to work today, making some posters and these super-fun nametags for my students' desks. I snagged a deal at Dollar Tree with the the nametags, and I already had the paper, so these nametags only cost $1.00! I can't wait to get them laminated and placed on the desks! It doesn't take too much to get me excited ;)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Catch the Reading Fever This Summer!

Hoping to get your kiddo reading more this summer? Try some of these summer reading tips on for size! Your child may not even realize he or she is practicing to become a better reader!

1.) Mail Man Alert! Have your child distribute the mail to its' intended recipient. When junk mail comes around, give it to your child. Have them circle any words that they know from the junk mail and read it to you! Then you can help your child learn the words that they didn't know. This helps to build a stronger vocabular and accuracy!

2.) In the grocery store? This is a great time to read! Have your child read the aisles to you and assist you in where you might find a specific item. Children can read nutrition labels, boxes...anything! All you have to do is encourage them to "help" you on your shopping trip!

3.) Stay up late! Allow your child to stay up later on a summer evening to read (no, not to play games...)!

4.) Have a hammock? Let your child pick a special book and lay in the hammock to get some R & R (Relaxing and Reading) !

5.) If you have a Nook, Kindle, or iPad, help your child to choose a book online!

If you have more tips you'd like to share, feel free to comment below! Happy summer everyone!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Price Chopper Party for Pages!

This year my students worked toward a goal of reading 30,000 pages. Thanks to Price Chopper's reading incentive program, Party for Pages, we had a tremendously fun time yesterday! My students were amazed at how much we were awarded for reaching our goal: ice cream bars, fruit snacks, bottled water, Danimals Smoothies, paper towels, and a movie! What could be better than that?! When my students popped their #3 balloon for our countdown to summer, it read: Wow! Only three days until summer! You will get enjoy ICE CREAM in the morning!!! As you can imagine, my students went wild!! They were so excited! It was a great party! We finished up our day by packing up our room and cleaning out our desks. That left me more exhausted than I thought I would be! Phew!

Our number four balloon encouraged us to write a letter to a future third grader. We did an example together and discussed how we should welcome each student in the opening sentence. My students are sealing them in a decorated envelope so when my new students arrive in August, they will be greeted with a nice surprise. My class enjoyed giving advice and friendly suggestions in their letters. It was a perfect way to transition to "Move-Up Day," where all classes visit a teacher/classroom in the next grade level and learn a little bit about what to expect.

The number five balloon's message was to enjoy lunch together, while we watched a short video. My students LOVE eating lunch together! That makes me really happy ;)