Thursday, March 26, 2015

Taking A Closer Look As We Read - Marking Up Our Texts

Note taking is often a difficult skill to teach students, particularly in the 3rd grade when they have never really been asked to do it before.  I have always found that my students struggle with finding the important parts of the text.  Often they will highlight an entire passage if they are given a highlighter to take notes.  Determined to give them a framework, I came up with this anchor chart to help them focus on certain key areas.

If you want to re-create the chart, I found the eyeglasses clip art here.
I printed out this article about vanishing frogs from ReadWorks.  We read the article together once through without marking it up.  The second time we read it, we took a "Closer Look".
We walked through each of the steps on the anchor chart with the students marking up their text as we went.  Here is another example of a students' work:
After we marked up our text, I asked them a few questions about the text including:
1. What species is disappearing?  The Harlequin Frog
2. What is the cause of the Harlequin Frog disappearing?  A skin fungus
3. What quote from the article helps you to know this? The quote from Cynthia Carey, "This fungus is killing amphibians all over the world".
4. What dangers do amphibians face?  Disease, habitat destruction, pollution, and weather changes
This strategy really seemed to help my students as they answered the questions that go along with the passage on the Read Works site.  They also are more confident having steps to help them close read.
How do you help your students with the tricky concept of taking notes as they read?


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Teacher's Pets Blog Hop and Giveaway!

A bunch of my bloggy friends have come together to tell you all about our teacher's pets.  Not the kid kind, but the real pet kind!  We are also having an amazing giveaway that you will not want to miss!  See the end of this post to see how you can win!

Just like we have many kids, we also have many pets!  We have 3 dogs, 2 cats, 2 lizards, a snake, and a guinea pig!  We also have pet frogs in our classroom. 

Ozzy is our oldest pet.  He is a white German Shepherd.  I had told my hubby I did not want anymore pets after our dog passed away.  Then one day, while at play group with Luke, I met Ozzy and instantly changed my mind.  The hostess of the playgroup owned the mom and dad of his litter and was hoping we might like one of the puppies.  Ozzy decided he was ours as he sat in my lap the entire time we were there.  His litter was made up of 6 boys - it was fate right?  Luckily hubby agreed and he came home with us a few weeks later.
The next pet to join us was our cat, Seuss.  The boys named her after Dr. Seuss. She is the ultimate lap cat and we adore her to pieces!
We then adopted a brother and sister Chihuahua mix-breed.  They are named Alex and Bear.  Alex actually adopted our second cat.  She and the boys found an abandoned kitten while out for a walk, and she decided he was her puppy.  She brought him home and we took care of him (well, mostly she took care of him) and nursed him until he was a healthy spunky cat-dog!  We named him Lucky, because the boys say he was Lucky that Alex found him.
The boys are the biggest pet lovers, so we also have a variety of small pets that belong to them.


A few years ago, my class convinced me that we needed a class pet.  We decided frogs would be the best option (since they don't bite, and most students wouldn't have allergies).  My students have LOVED them (although we have had to do a few secret switcharoos as frogs don't always live as long as cats or dogs or other animals).


Persuasive Writing and Research Lesson - Can We Get A Class Pet?
When my students convinced me to get our first class pet, I developed this unit which combines research and persuasive writing.  You could have your students complete it if you would like to get a class pet, or just as a persuasive unit.
This product includes the following:

• Common core standards addressed
• Student “I Can Statements”
• Grading rubric
• Lesson plans
• Vocabulary Cards
• Prewriting graphic organizers
• Letter writing graphic organizers
• Research graphic organizers
• Math activities (budget and graphing)

Report Final Pages include:

• Table of contents page
• Pet physical description page
• Pet’s Habitat page
• What they eat page
• How to care for the pet
• Interesting facts page
• Customizable pages
• Bibliography page
• Glossary page
• editing/writing checklist

Suggested book, internet, and grant resources are also included.
Be sure to enter our contest, and follow along to meet all of the other teacher's pets in our blog hop!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Rethinking Behavior - Freebie

I don't know about you or your class, but every year about this time my students start to get a little squirrely.  I don't know if it is Spring Fever, or the anticipation of summer coming so soon, but they just seem to forget all of the rules! 

I always have to become a little stricter, give many reminders, and pull some new tricks out of my hat to keep those darlings working hard (we have tests coming up soon!).

This year I have made some reflection sheets for my students to fill out when they receive more than one reminder from me about their behavior.

With conferences coming up soon, they really don't like filling these out knowing that their parents will see them.  You can see an example of a filled one out below (along with my interpretations for you!).

I have uploaded these as a freebie to my TpT store in case you have a case of the squirrels in your class too!

What tips and tricks do you have up your sleeve for dealing with spring fever behavior?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Movement In Math

You probably already know that when you incorporate movement into your lessons, your students are less bored and more engaged in learning.

But, Did you know that:

  1. Movement actually increases blood flow in the brain?
  2. Research shows that humans are able to recall better what we do actively? ( Jensen, 2005)
  3. Movement increases attention?
There are so many ways to incorporate movement into your favorite math lessons!  Here are a few of my favorites:

Math Stations

Math Stations can be actual activities or just problems placed around the room.  I often will put one or two problems at each table and have my students travel around in partners or small groups to solve them.

One strategy that I learned recently is to have your students occasionally change partners or groups during the activity.  For example, I might say, "Partner Ones stay at your table, and Partner Twos rotate to the next table." This has really helped to cut down on off-task behaviors. It also gives students an opportunity to coach or teach each other which helps increase their understanding as well.

Scoot games are great for this as well!

Quiz, Quiz, Trade

In Quiz, Quiz, Trade activities, students are each given a problem card.  They pair up with a partner and each quizzes the other using their cards.  If they get the problem correct, the partner congratulates them.  If they answer incorrectly, the partner coaches them with the correct answer.  The partners then trade cards and find new partners.

My students were using my Quiz, Quiz, Trade Multiplication Cards.

Multiplication Quiz, Quiz, Trade Review Game

Movements & Gestures for Vocabulary Terms

In a previous blog post, I mentioned using hand signals for geometric terms such as line, line segment, point, etc.  Hand signals are a great way to teach vocabulary terms of all types!

I found a video that uses similar hand signals to what we use here.

How do you incorporate movement in math?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Milestone Giveaway!

When I first started selling on Teachers Pay Teachers and blogging, I never could have imagined the support I would receive! I have learned so much along the way, and I know my teaching is so much better because of the blogging and TpT world! 
It has also been financially helpful towards supplementing my classroom spending habit.  I am so lucky to have an understanding hubby that gets why I have to spend so much to make sure that my students have the access to materials they need, but TpT has definitely helped take the burden off our personal budget.  I really thank all of you who read my blog and who have purchased items from my TpT store.  Every time my students are able to grab a book off of my bookshelf, I know they thank you too!
I have recently reached a milestone that is celebrated by Teachers Pay Teachers.
In honor, of this milestone I am having THREE Amazing giveaways thanks to the help from some of my TpT and blogging friends!  Each prize package has a $25 TpT gift card along with numerous product donations.  Enter below:

Giveaway #1 $25 TpT Gift Card & K-2 Resources


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #2 $25 TpT Gift Card & 3rd Grade & Up Resources
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway #3 $25 TpT Gift Card & Clip Art and Other Resources for Any Grade


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Our Morning Meeting

One of my favorite parts of our day is our Morning Meeting.  I have thought about letting it go from time to time (especially with the demands of testing season looming), but when I notice my students using elements of the meeting throughout the day (such as sharing compliments or concerns) I know just how crucial a piece it really is to our routine.

The goals of our Morning Meeting is to:

  • Set the tone for respectful learning
  • Establish a climate of trust
  • Motivate students to feel significant
  • Create empathy and encourage collaboration
  • Support social, emotional, and academic learning

  • At the beginning of the year, I lead the meeting an model the expectations, but I quickly hand over the task to a student.  I pick a new student each day to run the meeting (I just follow my class list alphabetically and then start over when we run through the list).  The components of our meeting are:

    1. The Rules.  I use Whole Brain Teaching in my classroom, so we go over each of the 5 rules using the hand signals.

    2. Our Mission Statement.  After the rules, we read our mission statement.  It is a modified version of our school mission statement, and it really focuses us on our goals for the day ahead.
    During the next portion of the meeting students raise their hands to participate in each section.  The person of the day chooses a student who is raising their hand and throws a soft ball to them.  The students are expected to only talk when they have the ball, and to actively listen to the speaker. I have the student of the day choose three students to speak during each portion.
    3. Compliments.  During this portion of the meeting, students compliment one another.  They might say things such as, " I would like to compliment so and so for being a good friend." or "I would like to compliment ____ for persevering during math yesterday." This year some of my students have taken to complimenting people outside of our classroom (i.e. family members, other staff members) and I have allowed it because they have been well thought out compliments.
    4. Concerns. Students share concerns they may have about our classroom, school, students, etc.  They have included things such as the water fountain not working to me not teaching Spanish (LOL!).
    5. I Am Proud of / I Am Working On. This is a time for students to share the things they are proud of and the things they are working on.  They might say that they are proud of reaching their AR goals, and they would like to work on mastering their math facts. It really keeps them accountable.  I have overheard students asking one another, "Do you want me to quiz you on your math facts since you are working on that?"
    6. I Am Feeling ___ because. This is an idea that I took from a Ms. Noonan video ( you can see one below).  We use it not only to share our feelings, but also to work on synonyms and vocabulary words.  I don't have many English Language Learners in my classroom this year, but even my  native English speakers could use some new vocabulary words.  We call them "Fancy Dancy words".
    7. Academic Content. I try to add Academic Content to each morning meeting.  Sometimes it is a round of skip counting, or some mental math.  Other times I might ask a comprehension question about our read aloud. 

    My morning meeting is really a hodge podge of ideas gleaned from a variety of places, but here are a few of my go to places when I do my planning for this portion of our day:

    I love this book from Responsive Classroom.

    80 Morning Meeting Ideas is another book from Responsive Classroom geared towards 3rd to 6th Grade.

    I have also incorporated ideas from this video from Ms. Noonan.  I *may* have watched every last one of her videos and stolen tidbits from each one, because let me just say she is AMAZING!

    I also have a Pinterest Board dedicated entirely to Morning Meeting Resources that I add to when I find additional resources and ideas.    Follow Kelly's board Morning Meetings on Pinterest.

    Do you have a Morning Meeting with your class?

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