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!