Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What's Your Math Problem!?! Book Study Chapter 8

I am linking up with
                                                     Jennifer Smith-Sloane from 4mulaFun
                                                     Meg Anderson  from Fourth Grade Studio
                                                    Jamie Riggs from MissMathDork
                                                    and Jennifer Findley from Teaching to Inspire 5th Grade

for this book study on What's Your Math Problem!?!

 If you missed my previous posts you can find them here:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7

Questions form The Field
In the final chapter, the author answers some commonly asked questions about problem solving.  The first question answered is one that I think would be asked by most teachers:

How do I find time to fit problem solving into an already full curriculum? This is a question that I myself have wondered.  With the Common Core, it seems like more and more is being asked of teachers.  But, with the problem solving component, it is actually asking teachers to do less.  By giving students one complex rich problem instead of multiple easy operational problems, we are killing two birds with one stone so to speak.  We are not only teaching the skill, but we are teaching problem solving.

Where Can I find Rich Problems:

The author suggested NCTM Illuminations as one possible resource.

Some other sources I have used include:

Math Landing


Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made It

Well, I haven't had much time to make anything (except for my classroom a mess - lol!).  I am moving into a new room that used to be the staff room, so there is a ton of junk and professional reading material that I've had to pack up before I could unpack my stuff.  I've been working on it for two days straight (yes I went in on Sunday) and I still don't feel like I've made a dent in it :(  I did manage to get my desk area together (really a table) but, that is about it.
I did need to take a short break from packing and unpacking, so I decided to work on these:
(still in progress)
(This one is complete)
I will be painting two more and will be using them for something special inspired by Pinterest.  When I finish I will show you the final project along with the pin that inspired it.  I can't wait to see the finished product!
I also worked on a game for my massive Place Value Unit- I hope to finish it up this weekend so it is ready for the beginning of school.  It is currently 220 pages!
And those are my Monday Made Its!  What did you make this week?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Reading Comprehension Cubes - Goodies from SmileMakers

When I was initially approached by SmileMakers to choose an item of my choice to review on my blog, my first thought was that I was going to get stickers for my sticker economy.  Because after all that is what SmileMakers is all about.  Boy was I wrong!  It took forever for me to pick something from their catalog because they have sooo much to choose from! Seriously, they have everything from classroom decorations, to arts and crafts supplies, to curriculum materials.

I finally narrowed it down to these reading comprehension cubes that have been on my Wish List forever!
I can't wait to use these this year with my kiddos!
The set comes with 6 cubes as you can see above and a set of directions with suggestions for using them.

According to the directions, there are 2 pre-reading cubes, 2 during reading cubes, and 2 after reading cubes.  Here are a few pics of the questions.  I love that some of the questions are right there while others require more in depth thinking which is perfect for differentiation.
I plan on using them in small groups, for partner reading, and even for whole group lessons and read alouds.

I am not only thrilled with my reading cubes, but also with the amazing customer service from SmileMakers.  Here are a few facts about Smile Makers:

  • SmileMakers has been helping teachers to create smiles for over 35 years.  You can count on us to make a difference in your classroom.
  • We have what you need!  We bring you products you won't find anywhere else.
  • Our product safety testing meets or exceeds Consumer Products Safety Standards.
  • We offer quick, easy, hassle-free ordering online and on the phone.
  • Same day shipping means most orders are received within 1-5 business days.
  • Everyday low prices on a wide selection of giveaways.  Plus get great sales offers when you sign up for emails.
  • Everything at SmileMakers is backed by our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.  If your order doesn't meet your expectations, just call us to exchange or return for a full refund.  We'll even pay the return freight.
  • SmileMakers is based in Spartanburg, South Carolina
  • SmileMakers is a business unit of Quill Corporation, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Staples, Inc.
SmileMakers also offers Teacher Perks which offers sales and discounts just for teachers.  As a member of Teacher Perks, you will receive free shipping on any order over $49 and flat rate shipping of $4.99 on orders less than that.  There are also special private sales for members only!

So, what are you waiting for? See what SmileMakers has to offer!

Have you ever purchased from SmileMakers?  What did you buy?

Do you have these reading comprehension cubes?  How have you used them?

Disclosure: I received the product from SmileMakers in order to facilitate the review.  No other compensation was received, and all opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Saturday Snapshots and a Giveaway!

Today I am linking up with Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera! for

My snapshots of memories this week:

We started the week with a fun visit to an indoor trampoline park.  It was just me, Cody, and Luke because Tyler gets a lot of extras with baseball, so we wanted to give them some special time.  They had a blast!

Here are Luke and Cody anxiously awaiting for them to announce our time to jump.

This is Cody after one of his million jumps into the foam pit.  I failed at it miserably tried it once - and let me tell you - it is much harder to get out of than it looks.

I also got to start moving my things from my old classroom to my new one.  Unfortunately it means this is what I get to go into on Monday morning :(

A giant mess!  But, I am excited to get my classroom set up, because once we report back officially they keep us so busy with PD we don't have time to step into our classrooms.

Another thing I am excited about is my new Arc notebook!

I got it all set up and ready to go for this upcoming school year!

Then, today I bought this which is going to help save my marriage:

Well, truthfully my marriage is fine, but do you ever have those petty arguments with your spouse that you just wish would end?  Well. my argument with hubby has been over our power cords for our iphones.  I have an iphone and an ipad and I have two cords.  I would like to have one cord for each so I can charge them at the same time.  The problem is that hubby broke his cord, so he constantly steals mine and then forgets it at work!  GRRR!  So I broke down and bought him a new one, and an extra one for me to keep in the classroom. 

Also, I am super excited to be helping my friend Meagan over at Oodles of Teaching Fun with her 150 follower giveaway!  I donated an item of your choice from my TpT store, and there are a ton of other great goodies you can win, so get over there and enter!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Freebies

Here are a few great Freebies I have found this week:

I love this clock freebie from Mrs. VanMeter of Primary Possibilities.  I had a similar set around my clock last year, but I can't remember where I got it from (if you know let me know and I will link up!)

 One thing that I really like about the freebie is that you can print it on colored paper or cardstock to save money on ink!

Another time oriented freebie I found this week was these adorable schedule cards from Cara at the First Grade Parade.
I used these in my classroom last year as well and I loved them! She has updated this version, so if you already downloaded them before, go back and check them out!
Last but not least - I love these monthly spelling menus from Christine Statzel.

I love that she has different activities for each month.  These would be great for Word Work, Spelling, or homework.
And speaking of Freebies? Did you know that I have a Facebook Page now with Fan Freebies?  You can follow here.
Have you found any great freebies this week?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Failing to Plan is Planning To Fail - Creating Your Long Term Plans for the School Year

failing to plan is planning to fail
You have probably heard this adage a time or two, but have you ever followed it?  This will be the second year in a row that I am switching grades (last year I switched from 7th grade math to 3rd grade and this year I am moving up to 4th), and I don't want to feel like I don't know where I'm going.  So, I used the curriculum map we have from our school district, and added the things that aren't there (science, social studies, grammar, and writing) to create a set of Long-Term plans for the year.  Even if I don't stick to it 100%, I feel better having a plan to cover everything I need to during the year.
It didn't print out 100% perfectly, but since I' m the one who is using it, I'm ok with that.  If any of you know how to fix it, I'm all ears :)
I have put the plans in the back of my lesson planning notebook for future reference as I start working on individual units.  The front of my lesson plan book is for my weekly plans and monthly calendars where I will list out everything including special events, assemblies, etc.
I will be sharing my complete book in a little bit - I bought the Staples Circa I had my eye on and am working on customizing it to fit for me. 
I have uploaded the Excel version of this document so that you can edit it and use it if you would like - setting it up took forever, so I thought I would save you some time. It is a freebie, and all you have to do to get it is to like my Facebook page here.  It is in the Facebook Fan Freebie tab.
Do you make long term plans?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What's Your Math Problem!?! Book Study Chapter 7

I am linking up with
                                                     Jennifer Smith-Sloane from 4mulaFun
                                                     Meg Anderson  from Fourth Grade Studio
                                                    Jamie Riggs from MissMathDork
                                                    and Jennifer Findley from Teaching to Inspire 5th Grade

for this book study on What's Your Math Problem!?!

 If you missed my previous posts you can find them here:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Assessing Problem Solving

As we all know, we need to use assessment to drive our instruction, but how do you assess problem solving?  The author suggests throwing away any preconceived notions of using assessment for grading purposes, but instead as a way to analyze the student's thinking.  How does the student organize their work?  What strategies did they use?

Gojak suggests having the students involved in the assessment process by teaching them to ask the following questions:
  • Am I making progress with the strategy I am using or should I try a different one?
  • Does my work make sense? (I always have my students ask themselves, Does my answer make sense?)
  • Can I explain my work and justify it to someone else? (This really ties into the Common Core)
The book also contains rubrics which can be used by both teachers and students.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday Snapshots

I am linking up with Saturday Snapshots from Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera!

This past week was extremely busy for us!  We had my high school reunion on Saturday and Sunday, we went to the Homerun Derby (Minor league) on Monday, hubby's birthday was Tuesday, then hubby and Tyler went to the All Stars game on Wednesday.  Yesterday I went into school to start working on my new room! Glad for the weekend to relax a little!

A group photo from the reunion - I am almost smack dab in the middle.
A smaller group shot - I am the one in black.
After the reunion on Saturday night, we had a family get together Sunday afternoon.  Hubby and Luke fell asleep together on the beach, and I was able to snap this adorable shot.
While my husband and Tyler were at the baseball game, the youngest two boys recruited the dog and I to sleep on the trampoline with them.  It was not the most restful sleep I have ever had, but it was nice spending time with them.
Since I am rolling up with my class to 4th grade, I had to switch classrooms.  Here is a shot of what it looked like when I walked in.  One thing I really love is that there are bookshelves all the way across that wall. I had virtually no storage space in my old room, so I am excited about it!
I'm trying to decide what to do about these bulletin boards - I currently have black fabric on the boards in my old room, but I am switching to a Snoopy theme, and I am almost thinking the bright yellow might look good with some black chevron type borders - sort of Charlie Brown?  What do you think?
Speaking of gearing up for the classroom, you might want to enter Farley's awesome $100 gift card giveaway!
Last but not least, here is a photo of my proudest moment this week.
The reason why I am proud of it is because I have been really consistent about working out each morning for an hour for the past two weeks.  Yesterday, when I woke up I felt a little blah and I did not want to work out at all! But... I had read this article about the Seinfeld strategy the day before and it really resonated with me.  The article talked about how Seinfeld would write a joke EVERY single day.  His goal was to not break the chain of doing it every day. I had also read another article (that I can't find the link to) about consistency and that it was better to keep part of the habit than to not do it at all.  In my case, it would be better to hop on the treadmill for 20 minutes than not to do it at all.  So, I decided I was just going to workout for 20 minutes - you can do anything for just 20 minutes right?  Well, I ended up staying on for the whole hour!  Now, I didn't go as far as I usually do, but... I stayed consistent!  Woo hoo!
I am really trying to develop better habits right now, and this is one of them.  I read another article that talked about creating habits by doing small rituals rather than the big goal.  So instead of saying, I want to lose weight, you would say I am the type of person who never misses a workout.  If you never miss a workout, you will eventually lose weight, but it is easier to control never missing a workout than losing weight.
As I was on the treadmill, I started thinking about how this applied to school habits too.  A few habits I would like to develop this school year are:
  • I am the type of teacher who makes copies a week in advance so that I don't have any last minute morning panics.
  • I am the type of teacher who makes a plan for her prep period (instead of chit chatting with other teachers) so that I can spend more time with my boys in the afternoon.
Do you have any habits you are working on?

Friday, July 19, 2013

Flip-Flop Product Swap

I was lucky enough to be able to swap products with Teresa at Confessions of a Teaching Junkie!  When she asked me which item from her Teachers Pay Teachers store I wanted to try, I knew it would have to be her Ramona Quimby, Age 8 Literature Study
Ramona was one of my favorite book characters when I was in third and fourth grade, and I can't wait to incorporate more literature studies with my fourth graders next year. 
The packet contains tons of activities that are ready to use - simply print out and give to your students.  Included in the packet are comprehension skills, grammar skills, and vocabulary.
The questions fit well with the Common Core Standards and would be appropriate for either 3rd or 4th grade.  I can't wait to use it in a small group this upcoming year!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What's Your Math Problem!?! Book Study Chapter 6

I am linking up with
                                                     Jennifer Smith-Sloane from 4mulaFun
                                                     Meg Anderson  from Fourth Grade Studio
                                                    Jamie Riggs from MissMathDork
                                                    and Jennifer Findley from Teaching to Inspire 5th Grade

for this book study on What's Your Math Problem!?!

 If you missed my previous posts you can find them here:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Chapter 6 - Advanced Thinking Strategies

This chapter focuses on four new thinking strategies:

Solve a Simpler Problem - This is one of my favorite strategies that I have used in my classroom for years.  I tell my students to plug in smaller numbers to see if they can figure out how to solve a problem.  The author also addresses a second form of this strategy by beginning with a simpler case of the problem.  The example they give is:

Find the sum of the first 50 odd numbers.

The author suggests first finding the sum of the first 2 odd numbers, and then moving on to the sum of the first 3 odd numbers and so on.  You would keep track and see if a pattern appears.

Account for All Possibilities- In real world situations and problems, we often find that there may be more than one possible solution.  The key part of this strategy is systematically accounting for all possibilities. 

Work Backwards -In this type of a strategy, the student starts with the answer and works their way backwards.  This might be a strategy to teach using multiple choice questions.  If you worked backwards, would that particular answer work?

Change Your Point of View- This is one of the more complicated strategies to use, because it involves stepping away from the problem and trying to solve it a different way.  I think in the classroom it might be helpful to teach students how to use this strategy by seeing examples of how other students solved a problem differently.  You could ask, could anyone else use so and so's strategy in another way?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

To Do (Before The First Day of School) Linky

Sometimes I think I have a bit of adult ADHD - I have a million ideas swirling in my head, then I start on one project and another idea pops in my head.  But... I also love crossing things off to do lists, so, I decided to link up with Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies to keep on track and accountable.  I also find things on other people's list that I forgot which helps a ton!

Classroom D├ęcor:
1. Pack up and move rooms (I am looping to 4th grade with my class)
2. Clean and rearrange furniture in new room
3. Finish New Daily 5 Signs and I-Charts to match new theme
4. Print out and laminate New Daily 5 Signs and I-Charts
5.  Print out and laminate Whole Brain Teaching Signs
6. Create, print out and laminate Scoreboard with new theme
7. Decorate

Lesson Planning/Paperwork:
1. Type up new procedures to teach
2. Labels for Interactive Notebooks
3. Re-do Intro Letter, behavior letter, and Star Homework form
4. Copy morning work for first month
5. Print out library labels
6. Library basket
7. First week lesson plans
8. Finish unit plans for math and ELA
9. Finish unit plans for science and social studies
10. Get Large Paper bags for student supplies
11. Make copies of student supply lists (2 per student - 1 to send home, 1 to keep track)
12. Print, copy, and prep student planners
13. Create, print out, and laminate learning scales for 4th grade
14. Sharpen pencils

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Freebies for Teachers

Teachers Pay Teachers has a ton of great freebies - more and more are added each day.  Here are just a few that I've run into lately:

Independent Reading Logs from Mallory over at A Teacher's Highlight Reel. She is a newer blogger and seller at TpT - but I think we can expect some great things from her if these freebies are any indication!
Since I am moving up to 4th grade next year, I have been on the hunt for 4th grade specific items, and these task cards are perfect.
I am also loving these adorable Writing Process Posters.
Speaking of freebies - the clip art above comes from MyCuteGraphics which has tons of free clip art for those clip art addicts (like me) out there.
Have you found any great freebies recently?
Also.. I am linking up with Christina at Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge for:
In this linky, we find awesome feedback given from a buyer of one of our TpT products that we found really meaningful or that made us smile. 
Can We Get A Class Pet? A Lesson in Persuasive Writing and
My awesome feedback that I found was on My Can We Get a Class Pet Unit.
Here is what she had to say:
As part of the linky, she gets a free item of her choice from my store!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

What's Your Math Problem!?! Book Study Chapter 5

I am linking up with
                                                     Jennifer Smith-Sloane from 4mulaFun
                                                     Meg Anderson  from Fourth Grade Studio
                                                    Jamie Riggs from MissMathDork
                                                    and Jennifer Findley from Teaching to Inspire 5th Grade

for this book study on What's Your Math Problem!?!

 If you missed my previous posts you can find them here:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4

Chapter 5 - Visualizing Strategies

This chapter focus on the following four visualizing strategies:
  • Make a Model
  • Draw a Picture or Diagram
  • Act it out
  • Make or Use a Graph
I think these strategies are pretty self-explanatory, so I'm not going to go too in depth with the descriptions of each. 

I definitely use the first two strategies in class all of the time.  If my kiddos are not understanding, I will pull out blocks or other manipulatives to give them a model.  I also tell them to draw out problems, especially multiplication and division problems.  The two strategies that I don't use very often are acting it out or making or using a graph. 

Have you used these two strategies in your class?  Any advice on implementing them in mine?
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