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Snow Day AGAIN! Five for Friday Linky!

I cannot for the life of me figure out why there is a giant space at the top of this post…GRRRR!

FIXED IT!

I am linking up with Doodle Bug’s today!  Click the pic at the bottom of the post or here to link up yourself!

no-school

5:30am (alarm sounds) – {hit snooze}

5:40am (alarm sounds) – {hit snooze and now holding phone so hitting snooze the next time will be easier}

5:50am (alarm sounds) – {hit snooze thinking about how I really need to get up now but I don’t}

6:04am (receive text from Kelli) – {reading her text about how she is dreading the drive to school}

6:05am (receive second text from Kelli) – {NO SCHOOL….what?!…no way…YES-more sleep…GRRRR-more make-up days…GRRRR-more being behind in everything…YES-more sleep…GRRR-I didn’t bring ANY work home last night…YES-I can work on report cards…YES-more sleep-GRRR-can’t sleep because my mind won’t SHUT UP…finally get out of bed…YES-coffee}

I am still in shock that we have another day of school off due to the weather.  

Snow Pretty

In honor of our snow day, I am going to try out my first give-away!  Winner gets their choice of one product from my TPT store!  If you follow me on Bloglovin’/TPT/Facebook, you already get an entry.

snow day

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I finished up Think Tinks – Volume Three last week!  Check them out for some creative and out-of-the box  thinking activities for your class!  You could use them for morning work, early finishers, gifted and talented, challenge activities, or put in your sub-tub!  Click here or the pics below to take a look!

Think TInks Volume Three

Think Tinks Volume Three

This past week, I was reflecting on my OLPA data (pre-MCA math test) and decided that my class is just not able to keep up with our Math Expression curriculum.  The majority of them NEED the basics.  So I am giving myself permission to give them what they need!  I am refocusing on getting my small groups back up and running along with all my Math Centers that focus on basic operations!  I am also going to create a few more based on some quick assessments I did this week!  Check back for more!  In the meantime, here are some current games we’re getting back to!

Differentiated Math Games

I really dislike when I have to prep things (cutting, laminating, more cutting, storing, etc.).  I really try to keep my Math Centers low-key for me!  I have my students keep all their game boards in their Smart Pal!Smart Pals

I have NOT been paid or recruited to endorse these…I just plain old love them and want to share them!  They are essentially a heavy-duty (but easy-to-use) plastic sheet protector.  You can insert ANY graphic organizer or worksheet and write with a dry-erase marker!  Super slick!  Click the pic above to link to EAI – which is where I buy them from!

Mascara

Lastly, a non-teaching thing.  I was over at Alison’s blog at Rockin’ and Lovin’ Learnin’ and she posted about this mascara.  I am ALWAYS trying to find a mascara that is good, so I thought this one looked interesting and I can’t wait to try it!  Check out her review of it – click the pic or here!

Thanks Doodle Bug’s for hosting – click the pic to join the party!

five-for-friday-linky

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Five For Friday Linky and FLASH FREEBIE!!

Another piecemeal week:

  1. Monday – no school for MLK
  2. Tuesday – no school for Staff Professional Development
  3. Wednesday – back to school
  4. Thursday – no school due to cold weather…AGAIN
  5. Friday – back to school
  6. Weekend

And another next week:

  1. Monday – gone at SIOP training OR school will be cancelled again because of this…

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 9.52.15 PM

2.  Tuesday – gone 1/2 the day for PLC
3.  Wednesday through Friday – back to school (hopefully!)

Let’s just cancel everything until Spring!  I’m linking up with Doodlebug’s for her Five for Friday Linky!  Click the picture (or here) to link up too!  Here we go!

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I would like to share Think Tinks!!!  I created Think Tinks to stretch my higher learners during our LEAP time.  I honestly don’t even know what that acronym stands for.  It is basically our daily intervention time (30 minutes).  Here’s how it works.  Students are assigned “learning groups”:

  • Some go to the computer lab and work on Study Island or Reading Eggs
  • Some go to another teacher for the program Making Connections
  • Some work with a Minnesota Reading Corps teacher
  • Some work in a guided reading group with me
  • The students who are not in one of the above groups are left in my room and are my “independent workers” – these kiddos are typically able to handle more challenging and independent activities during this time…and guess who gets to plan it?

I try to mix up the activities my independent workers do, but also keep some structure and routine at the same time.  Here is the schedule – my fab colleague, Kelli, coined some of the catchy names (visit her blog here):

Math Monday
Technology Tuesday
Word Wednesday
Think Thursday
Free Friday

I designed Think Tinks for Think Thursdays!  Here are 3 student examples of one of the Think Tink pages.

think-tink-title

think-tinks-student-example

think-tinks-student-example-2

think-tinks-student-example-3

think-tinks-TPT-storeHead over to my TPT store by clicking here (or the picture above) to snag this set for FREE (for a limited time)!    If you grab the freebies and use them in your class, I would love to see or hear about your students’ responses!  Leave me some feedback love about Think Tinks!

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We have been plugging away at multiplication and this week we dove into division!  For this, we busted out the counters and they ROCKED it!  I was seriously impressed – not only could they represent the word problems with the counters, they could write the equation too!  Let’s hope it sticks!

beginning-division-with-counters

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Okay, this one is not teaching related.  One of my friends attended the Gopher Hockey game and spotted my twin!!  Here she is!!  We pretty much have the exact same hair…maybe someday I’ll run into her myself!

kates-doppleganger

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Here is how I display my daily objectives (sorry – the pic on the right was taken right after I erased for the day).  They are front and center next to my Smartboard.

Lately, I have been trying to include more academic language in the objective and then using parentheses to insert “everyday” language.  If you look at the pic on the left, the red words were inserted after we discussed the objectives.  The kids help decide what word goes there!  It’s been working well!

displaying-objectives-3

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A bit of personal and professional positive self-talk!

I-am-going-to-succeed

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Monday Math Linky – How to Differentiate with Math Games!

snow day

Enter to win 1 product from my TPT store (your choice)!  Ends Sunday, 2/21 at  11:59pm!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Monday!  I am linking up with Jess over at I Heart Recess for Mathematical Monday!  What are you doing in Math this week?  Click here or on the image to head over and link-up!

monday math linky

Before I share the most engaging game I have ever taught my students, let me show you the Math Center area of our room.  I attempt to differentiate everyday…it doesn’t always happen, but I try!

Math Centers Area

Every room in our building has a super loud and super huge vent (the white thing in the picture).  However, they are magnetic!  So, it isn’t a total waste of space!  I pushed my file cabinets up against it to make an even bigger magnetic area (and to hide the ugly things).  I also covered the back of the library shelf in purple paper and hooked up the red file folder wall pocket thingy with 3M hooks (I couldn’t live without these things!).  A few years ago, someone was giving away the two wooden benches!!  SCORE!!  As you can see, I am also in love with plastic drawers!  They are perfect for storing manipulatives, cards, and other math tools.

Put it all together and I have a lovely little Math area – complete with a Math vocabulary wall!  We use Math Expressions and I’ve created my own vocab cards for some of the units.  Click here to visit my TPT store and grab them for free – they are organized by unit in my store!  Here are some snapshots of the vocab cards – if you snag them, leave me some feedback love on TPT!  You may even want to grab my Vocabulary Graphic Organizer!

FREE Math Vocabulary Cards

Academic Vocabulary Graphic Organizer

Everything on the vent in my classroom is magnetic and easily moveable.  I put either magnetic tape or magnetic dots on the back of all my vocab cards.

Since this is Math post, here is an equation for you:

magnetics-happy

Let me tell you how this all works in a perfect world!  Every student has a magnetic name tag that I move around daily (eh…every other day-ish…).

Math Differentiation

Our Math time is split.  We have the first chunk from 11:45-12:40 and then we come back after lunch for a 20-minute chunk.  This is when we have “Math Centers”.  I usually move their names while they are at lunch.  When they come back, they know where to go.  They are assigned to one of four places.  Many are moved to a game.  I pre-teach all my games (often during Morning Meeting).  Most of the games focus on basic fact fluency or multi-digit addition or subtraction.

Math Differentiation Games

Students that don’t need fact practice and have their adding and subtracting down are assigned to a challenge packet.

Math Differentiation

I keep the challenge packets in that magnetic pocket (see the gold packets near the bottom?).  I put together challenge packets with whatever resources I can find.  I also created Think Tinks!  Theses could be used as a challenge activity – even though they aren’t technically math…they encourage flexible and out-of-the box thinking!

Think Tinks

Click the links below to view all 3 volumes of Think Tinks:

Think Tinks – Starter Pack (pages #1-#6)
Think Tinks – Volume Two (pages #7-12)
Think Tinks – Volume Three (pages #13-18)

Students that need extra support meet in a group with me.  I have spots for 2 groups, but I often only get to 1 in a day (especially in winter when it takes them a bajillion minutes to get their winter gear on and off).

Math Differentiation

Finally, if students need to finish class worksheets or if I want them to continue practice with a certain skill via a worksheet, there name goes under A, B, or C.  These letters coordinate with a slot in the red file folder pocket.  Students know that if their name is under “A”, then they need to complete the worksheet in pocket “A”.

Math Differentiation

What games to I play?  I find lots of games online or I create my own!  Bullseye is a class favorite!  Other favs are Something BigBig Difference, and Skyscraper!  I have a few of them in my TPT store – with more coming soon – follow my blog and TPT store for updates!  Click here to read about how I have students organize and store all their game boards!

Differentiated Math Games

There is one game that is like no other!  Students will be screaming with excitement (literally) as they play.  Let me introduce you to…3-WAY!!!!!!!  This game is super engaging and practices a pretty high level skill – finding unknown factors (or addends).  It can be played addition-style or multiplication-style!  Here are the rules!  Click here to grab a FREE PDF of the rules or to project in your classroom to teach the game!  I plan to introduce this game (multiplication-style) this week!

3-way-game

I hope you enjoy this game!  Click the pic or here to download the directions for FREE!  What are your favorite Math games?

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How To Get Students to Share Weekly Newsletters With Families

We started back up on Thursday and Friday and spent the days reviewing expectations and getting back into the groove of school…and now we have another day off [doing the happy dance].  I’m way up here in Minnesota and Sunday night is supposed to be -22 with windchill into the -50s [teeth chattering].  As a result, Governor Dayton has called off school for the whole state!  So, to start of my post, as I sit comfortably knowing that tomorrow (Sunday) is really like my Saturday, I’m linking up with Farley at Oh’ Boy, Fourth Grade with January’s edition of “Currently”.

Currently Linky

Alrighty, on to our 2 days back this past week.  Both days were a mixture of reviewing expectations and some fun stuff!  Let’s start with the fun stuff first!  After being out for 3 days before Winter Break with Pneumonia, I came back to school a little discombobulated and unprepared.  My fabulous colleague, Kelli over at Tales of a Teacher, came to the rescue sharing many of her resources with me!  She created a Winter Break Buzz Book for her students.  It is a nifty little tri-fold brochure for students to complete telling all about their break!  It was THE perfect thing for morning work and for any down time over Thursday and Friday!  Click any of the pics below to visit her TPT store and get yours!

Winter Break Buzz Book

Winter Break Buzz Book Winter Break Buzz Book

On to the next activity!  Our school is an “RC” School (Responsive Classroom) and January is considered “Re-Month”.  Basically a time to review, remember, and remodel school expectations.

I wanted to review all the components of our Reader’s Workshop (mini-lesson, independent reading, how to use our library, how to choose “Just-Right” books, etc.).  Reviewing all of these things had the potential to be a very boring, mind-numbing, kids-staring-at-me-with-blank-faces-while-I-talk-on-and-on-and-on kind of lesson.  However, I made it a bit more exciting (and less work for me) by having the students work in groups and do all the work themselves…haha!

First, I took big pieces of 9×12 construction paper and wrote one area to review on each piece.  I ended up with seven pieces of paper each labeled with the following areas:

  • Read Aloud/Snack
  • Mini-Lesson
  • Independent Reading
  • Using the Library
  • Small Groups
  • Choosing “Just-Right” Books
  • Turn and Talks

Students worked in groups to review and remember everything they know about the expectations for each area.  After 2-3 minutes at one poster, the groups rotated to the next and added on.  Here they are!  Hard at work!

Reviewing Reader's Workshop Expectations Reviewing Reader's Workshop Expectations Reviewing Reader's Workshop Expectations Reviewing Reader's Workshop Expectations

After all groups had rotated to every poster, we had the posters below!  Each group used a different colored marker so they could see all the different groups’ contributions!  They really do know what is expected of them – they don’t need me yacking to remind them!

Reviewing Independent Reading Expectations Reviewing Mini Lesson Expectations Reviewing Partner Talk Expectations Reviewing Expectations for Using the Library Reviewing Expectations for Choosing Just Right Books Reviewing Small Group Expectations

Finally to wrap up this post, I was reflecting on how well I know my students.  I know them very well academically, but I want to know them more personally!  Then all of a sudden my mind wandered to my weekly newsletter.  I was thinking about how often students actually show it to their families.  Then my wandered again to my morning message and how I wanted it to be more interactive.

I hope I am not the only one who has a mind that goes fifty million different directions within minutes!  My mind is a busy place…but it somehow put all those thoughts together and came up with a brilliant idea!

I quick whipped up a one-page Word document that said “Our Favorite School Subjects” at the top.  Here’s what I did:

  1. Students were directed to write their favorite subject and their name in the Morning Message (there is the solution to making the morning message more interactive).
  2. I could quickly see some of my students’ favorite subjects (there is the solution to wanting to know my students more personally).
  3. Then I took the piece of paper with all their responses and copied it back-to-back with our newsletter!  My students were so excited to see their own written responses on the back!  I encouraged them to go home and show their families (there is the solution to increasing the amount of families that see the weekly newsletter).

Boom…three problems solved with one idea!  Plus, what a fun way for families to learn more about all the kids in our class!

Class Sharing Sheets

Of course I wanted to “fancy-it-up”…and because I often start these little things and then (unintentionally) abandon them, I wanted to create all my “topics” ahead of time so that I have no excuses for not continuing this!

Voilà – this is the result:

Class Sharing Sheets

I am going to try the “free for the first 48 hours” thing on Teachers Pay Teachers with all my new products!  Check them out for yourself and spread the word if you think others would like this idea!

Time for bed!

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