Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Sale and TpT Cyber Monday Sale 20% off and BOGO!

I have never been a big Black Friday shopper myself.  Although I would love the deals - I don't really like dealing with the crowds, and I would rather spend my precious days off with my family.  That being said, I DO love the fact that the sales have come to the internet world!  I can still get great deals while relaxing at home with the family!  Bonus!

I am also super excited about Monday's AMAZING sale at TpT - my wish list is over brimming and ready to be added to the shopping cart.  Unfortunately, Monday is a work day and can be hard to get to the computer.  So... I am having a sale in my store from now until Tuesday - 20% off everything.  If you wait until Monday you can get an additional 8% off from TpT (you have to use the code CYBER), but if you can't wait, you can still save.

And to sweeten the deal - if you buy before Monday you can get a free product as well - Buy one get one free on top of the 20% off!

To get the free Item:

1. email me at

2. Be sure to include your TpT user name and the item you purchased (between Nov 29 and Dec 1 at Midnight)

3. The item you would like for free (equal or lower cost than item you purchased)

4. I will email you the free item as soon as I can.

My Teachers Pay Teachers Store

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Time to Be Thankful!

It is so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life.  Sometimes it is nice to stop and think about all the amazing things in life to be thankful for.  That is why I am linking up with Reading and Writing Redhead for this gracious linky!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Five For Friday Nov 22 With A Freebie!

It's been a few weeks, but I am FINALLY joining up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!  I love peeking in on everyone else's week, and looking back at my own. PLUS - there is a FREEBIE in today's post as a Thanksgiving treat from me to you! So without further ado:

Writing on the desk.  
I don't know why, but for some reason my students are extremely motivated to solve math problems when I let them write on the table.

We use study island, and I noticed a few of my students were struggling with writing numbers in written form, so I pulled out my place value dice and let them work with partners to write on the table.

Art Work
My students love sharing their drawings with me to hang on the wall behind my desk.  Here is the newest piece - a Cornucopia!  Perfect for Thanksgiving!


We had snow this week and the kiddos have been so excited.  That and the full moon, made for an INTERESTING Monday and Tuesday!  But, by the end of the week behavior was improving.  
This one wanted me to take a picture of her hair with the snow in it.  

More Snow!

I found these "fake snow" science experiments at the Dollar Tree.

We made factor turkeys today.  Super easy and fun!

AND... as a thank you for scrolling down this far, I have uploaded the template as a freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Just click here. And,,, I know some of the examples look wrong, but they were due to mis-communication and gluing.  One of the kiddos covered part of her numbers when she glued and the other put both 5's on one feather since I told her she only needed one feather for the 5 - it looks like 55 instead of just 5.  My fault!

Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Graphing Update and Throwback Thursday - Talking Turkey With a Freebie!

We followed up our cranberry lesson yesterday by making bar graphs.  It was interesting to see the variety of understanding they had.  I didn't teach them how to make a bar graph today, I just asked them to use the data to draw a bar graph so I could see what they remembered from their past experiences. Here are their graphs.

Also, I can't do these projects with my kiddos this year since I rolled up with the same students, but I figured I could show last year's as a "Throwback Thursday" in case you are looking for some more ideas for Thanksgiving next week.

This week we were inspired by this book to write a persausive paper pleading with readers not to eat turkey for Thanksgiving.

We pretended we were the kids in the book, and are working on persausive essays asking people not to eat turkeys for Thanksgiving.

Our school uses Write From The Beginning, but I have found it challenging for my students to use the circle map and tree map to write an essay - it just wasn't scaffolded enough for them.  So, I created graphic organizers for this prompt - and so far it is working great!  I can really find the areas that they need help on, and it has helped focus the students as writers.

Here are a few samples of the graphic organizers from today - 

And the final product:

I have the packet on sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here or in my Teachers Notebook store here if you would like to try them with your students.

I also have a FREEBIE!

We Are Thankful Writing Prompt and Craftivity FREEBIE
We are Thankful Craftivity and Writing Prompt.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cranberry Taste Test - A Little Thanksgiving Graphing

Our school participates in a special grant from the USDA where we receive fruits and vegetables twice a week.  Today we got cranberries!
We also tried some cranberry juice and cranberry sauce to see the difference in taste.

The results were mixed ...


to not quite sure. :D

One of the students suggested we take a poll to see what everyone preferred.  She made a poster and the other students casted their votes.

We were able to discuss data.  For one, we noticed that we needed a category for people who didn't like any of the items.  We also realized this wasn't the best way to show the data.  It is hard to read, and needs to be more organized.  The students will finish that up tomorrow.  It was a fun holiday lesson!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fictional Narrative Writing - Do Over!

Our district has common assessments that our students take approximately every 6 weeks.  Normally they take them during computers, but because last week Monday was a holiday (our usual computer day) we had to take them the old fashioned pencil and paper way.  I figured it would be an easy thing to plug into my sub plans while I took the GRE.  Tests are often my go to for sub days - keeps the kiddos somewhat quiet for the sub.

Anyway, when I got back the next day, along with a 2 page note from the sub (they had a rough day, I'm not going to lie), was a stack of assessments with written responses that looked like this:

and this:

So, I had two choices, 
1.  I could cry about the sub note
2. I could re-teach them how to write a fictional narrative

I chose the second option.  Because this was completely impromptu and unplanned ignore my messy rushed handwriting!

We talked about the steps for writing when answering a written response.  
1. Read the prompt - What is it asking you?  (The prompt was - "Describe the day you woke up as a fish.") So, we decided this was asking us to write a fictional narrative.  

2. Brainstorm and organize your thoughts.
I asked the students, what do fictional stories have? Story elements!  We created quick graphic organizers listing the text elements: characters, setting, problem, solution, beginning, middle, end, feelings, action, dialogue.  We brainstormed what could go under each.  I sent the students back to work on their own brainstorm.

3. Write.  Once everyone was close to being finished with their brainstorming, I showed them how I might begin my own story.

They went back to work, and here are some of their revisions with some before and after as well.  I was so proud I *ALMOST* forgot about the sub note!


After page 1

                                            After page 2 WoW!

I also have a student who needs a bit more support and normally doesn't take the tests with the class, but I had her draw a picture to help her brainstorm.  Here is her writing sample:

Have you ever done a do-over?  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Assess Deeper With Multiple Choice Questions

 I recently got a new professional book that I am totally obsessed with!

The book, Beyond the Bubble, is about using multiple-choice tests to improve math instruction, but I have been taking it so much further, and I am glad that I have been.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase using one of my links, which helps to support the blog.  All opinions are my own and I only promote brands and products that I have used myself and truly love. 

  Recently I had my students read a passage about the Pony Express from Edhelper.  Then they answered multiple choice questions.  I sat down with each one and asked them to explain WHY they chose their answers.  The book focuses on the why of their answers.  I am so glad that I started doing this because of one particular student's work so far.  Normally, if a student answers questions correctly, I tend to move on thinking that the student "gets it".  But in the case with this student it couldn't have been farther from the truth.

I'm not sure if you can see the text clearly in the picture, if you can't click on it and it should make it bigger.  Anyway, the question she answered correctly was "How many years did the Pony Express run?"  Her answer was C. 18 months. The place in the passage that answers the question is circled in red and states that the Pony Express ran for a year and a half.  When I asked the student where she found the answer she pointed to the two years that were listed (circled in blue), 1840's and 1860.  She said because there were 18s in the years, she thought that meant 18 months.  She lucked into the correct answer without any understanding of what the question really was asking, or how to find it.  If I hadn't asked her directly, I never would have known.

How many times have you used formative assessment in your class only to find that the students who "got it" bomb the state tests?  I know for me it has happened way more often than I would like.  I feel like going deeper into the multiple choice is a great way to really see what they are thinking.  I have also started to give less questions, but asked them to explain in writing why they made their choice.  It has really helped me tease out their misconceptions.

Have you ever asked your students to explain their thinking when taking a multiple choice quiz?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Origami - Learning So Much More Than Paper Folding

Have you ever used origami in your classroom?  I have been amazed at the lessons my students have learned!  So much more than just paper folding!

This year, we have been blessed to have a mom of one of my students come in to teach origami.  If it were not for her, my class would not be learning origami because I am definitely not blessed with the talent of being able to intricately fold paper.

She and I have both joked about how we could "justify" the origami lessons - the students are learning about symmetry, angles, following directions, etc.  But, truthfully, the students and I have learned some important life lessons.

I have always been blessed to be "book smart".  School was easy to me and I have easily scored in the top 10% of just about every standardized test I have ever taken.  However, back in high school when I took the ASVAB, I scored at least two standard deviations below the lowest possible score on the spatial reasoning section ( well, not seriously, but I was definitely in the bottom ten percent).  Origami lessons are the time when I REALLY identify with my struggling learners! I have to have the directions repeated OVER and OVER again.  Often another student has to take my project to re-do the errant folds I have made.  They love being able to teach the teacher.

But, I am not the only one with this experience.  Most of my higher students have learned that they also struggle.  But... just like me they persevere!  They try it again and again until they get it.

My struggling learners have also learned what it feels like to be GOOD at something!  Many of these students are naturals at hands on learning.  Some of them don't even need to hear the directions, they just know how to do it!

The origami lessons have even inspired my students to become teachers!  A few of my boys have been reading the Origami Yoda series and taught us all how to make Origami Yodas!

And... even though I struggled and needed after school tutoring - I FINALLY made my own spinners!

 Updated: Since this post was originally written a few years ago, I obviously no longer have this parent coming into my classroom.  Luckily for me, and for you, I just found these amazing videos that teach kids how to make origami animals. You can find them at Art for Kids Hub. They also have lots of other great art projects as well! I can't wait to try them with my students this year!

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