Saturday, January 30, 2016

Main Idea Activity

We had so much fun with main idea today!!!!  My students loved this lesson and it was so engaging and motivating.  First it got them up and moving which with the limited recess time we have is always a win win!

Here's what went down:  I prepped lunch bags by gluing magnifying glasses on them and numbering them 1 - 10.  Then I put the strips of paper in them that I created and my students went around the room and recorded on their recording sheets what the bag was mainly about.  It can be used if you are teaching 'categories' to younger ones ( as long as they can read ).  I love to have a chaotic bahaha just kidding - CALM classroom so I was sure to only let a couple of tables of kids go at a time.  Also it eliminated the problem not only of kids crowding, whining, etc.  I wanted to see for myself who was getting this and  ~~~ if it was done by groups a leader would clearly say the answer out loud and I would be sad!  This way I walked around and talked to my students about what they were thinking.  It was interesting and eye opening to see what they came up with.  I couldn't believe how many kids had trouble with the Disneyland one, and we live            { kinda } near it.

I spread the bags out around the room - click the picture below to grab my FREEBIE so your students can be main idea detectives too!

I hope your students love this and tell you it was the "best day ever" like they did to me. Enjoy!!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Making Informational Writing FUN

My students love reading non fiction text and during DEAR time I'm finding that more and more often I'm seeing kids reach for my non fiction box of books.  Some will read about snakes, others about ponies....but when it comes to Informational/ Expository writing well...that's another thing altogether.  I'm finding that often they seem a bit more reluctant.  They have become proficient at writing narratives and recounting events from their own lives.  So, I thought ~ How can I make this more engaging and fun and well cutesy?!?

Rather than having them write a report on lined paper and be done with it, I had them create a craftivity.  They researched the puffins on their chrome books { they love doing that } and filled in graphic organizers.  They were required to cite their sources - so they had to read 2 articles, one close read, research on the internet and cite these on the bottom of their papers.  They enjoyed using a white colored pencil to create their diagrams against the black construction paper too... { it's the little things }  This sweetie is creating her craftivity.  This process took an entire week during our writing block.

My students worked so hard and I am so proud of them.  They created amazing expository writing with wonderful topic sentences and conclusions.  They also LOVED creating the craft to go with it.  We learned and reinforced all the important non fiction text features as we was a WIN ~ WIN and even my most reluctant writers were successful!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

5 for Friday { Saturday Edition }

It has been such a great 2 weeks back with my students!!  I love linking up with Kacey for 5 for Friday ~ here's a peek into my week:

We tried out the math blocks that I blogged about on my previous post.  My students LOVED it and it's perfect for an indoor recess or math center.  Even better if you teach a combo and have to teach 2 math lessons, keep one group engaged while you're teaching one grade and then switch it.

I'm pretty sure there's not much more to making a teacher happy than seeing them read and ENJOY reading every spare minute.

Lots of fractions happening in my classroom lately!  My team partner and I worked together to create a fun game activity we called: Shake, Rattle and Roll!  One of my students said,"  This is so fun, it's the best day of school ever! " AHH <3

I found out this week that I'm going to be getting a student teacher~~~ I'm so excited!  This will be my first one in 21 years.  I job shared for several years and was busy raising my kids and now I feel like since my kids are older I have time.  We made her this fun snowflake sign to welcome her.  I'd love to hear any tips if you have any for me...

The 100th day is fast approaching for most of you:  I blogged over at the Primary Elementary Chalkboard today:  lots of new, fresh ideas to celebrate this special day with your kiddos!

Hope your week was as fabulous as mine!  We have the best jobs ever!
xo, Vicky

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Repurposing Kid Blocks

Teachers are famous for repurposing items right?!?!  I can remember as a kid my mom collecting film canisters for a Mother's Day project or egg crates for a caterpillar art project.  Our minds go crazy when we get an idea - you know what I'm talking about - don't pretend you don't.  :o)
But seriously I saw these bad boys at Target with my hubby and said, " Tell Santa I need those in my stocking."  He doesn't even ask anymore after 20 years of marriage.  He just makes a mental note and looky I got them.

So ~ as I said we find ways to use items to make a lesson or center fun and engaging.  So when I thought about the different ways these can be put together I started thinking about math.

My mind was fluttering with place value, multiplication, addition, coins and more.  Here is what I've come up with so far...

This is great because it can be used with the 4 puzzle blocks, all the way down to the 2 puzzle blocks.  Great for differentiation! 

Use them for tens and ones for your firsties or second graders, practice fractions or multiplication.  My third graders would LOVE building these block puzzles with their multiplication facts.  It would be a perfect rainy day project and I think it's an El Nino and engaging don't you think?!?

Why not create them for counting coins, expanded form or equations.  As you can see I used multiplication again since I teach third but you could use addition, subtraction and division easily.
I hope I got your mind thinking about all the fun ways these can be used for math.  Head out to Target or Walmart today, I was thinking of hitting up a gently used kids store as well.  I have more ideas I want to use and am running out of blocks.  Be creative with it and see how you can meet the needs of your students.  Good luck and let me know of some ideas I forgot in the comments.
Happy Teaching!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Setting Goals in the New Year

There's something about the close of one year and the beginning of a new one.  I love setting goals and celebrating mini milestones. So I thought I'd brainstorm a list that will keep us all on track...

Become a TECHY TEACHER:  If you haven't ventured into the world of technology as much as you'd like I challenge you to s-t-r-e-t-c-h yourself.  I attended a Google Summit last month and can't wait to add some apps I learned about into my classroom routine.  There are so many wonderful ways to differentiate your teaching and apps and technology is one way to get you there.

Have you tried out Donor's Choose yet?!?  If not this is one EASY way to set a goal and score BIG for your students!  Check out their website ~ it's easy to set up a profile and then write a short bit about you and your students, shop and WAIT.  OK don't just wait around, be proactive!  Put your link out there on fb and send via email to your loved ones.  I have had 4 projects funded in the last couple of years and it's been such a blessing and benefit to my students.

How has your classroom management been looking lately?  Why not change it up - Just hop on Pinterest and you will find a plethora of ideas that are creative and motivating for your students.  I often do this each month:
Hit up the Dollar Store and grab a chair cover to go with the season or holiday OR 

pick up these sticky seasonal guys and build them for the month.  I add pieces when the kids are engaged, we receive compliments, walk quietly in the hall, etc.  They love to see it finished at the end and I usually give them something as simple as an extra recess which they love and it costs me nothing.

Mindset seems to be a big thing right now.  I have spent some time this year in my class discussing mindset.  How's your mindset?  Do you have a growth mindset?  Are you the one at the staff meetings offering ideas and positive feedback?  Since I have been working on it with my students I have challenged myself to apply it in my own life as well.  You can read more about growth mindsets { here }

Organization~ for some of us this is a word you love and for others it's a word that is terrifying.  I'm organized - things have a place, my cabinets and storage bins are clearly labeled...however when I walk into other classrooms sometimes I think I'm not that organized.  But I will tell you that when a sub comes in things are clearly labeled and easy to find/figure out.  I recently had a surgery and had a long term sub...I was confident that she was able to get the supplies she needed from my cabinets and work efficiently because I'm ( fairly efficient ).  If you are not organized I challenge you.  What if you had an unexpected absence - surgery or unplanned life event.  Would you be confident or embarrassed to have a sub in your desk and cabinets...something to think about for sure.  This can be overwhelming so tackle one thing at a time.  I think purchasing bins for supplies is a good first step.  Mine looks something like this - although I'm not at school and borrowed a picture from the together group. When a parent helper comes in and needs staples she can find them easily.  I often receive comments on how helpful this is and I'm not interrupted during valuable teaching time.

I hope I was able to point out some ways that you can set goals for yourself in this new year.  I'd love to hear in the comments some of your goals for 2016.  Happy New Year!

Friday, December 4, 2015

12 Days of Christmas Giveaway

I'm so excited to be joining up with Zippy again this year for the 12 days of Christmas Giveaway.  Today is Day #4 and I'm thrilled to be taking part and offering $5 from my store.

I'm joining Joey and Math, Science and Social Studies Oh my! and of course our host: Zippy
Please enter below on the rafflecopter...this will also be on facebook all day today too!  Don't miss out to win: a $30 gift card to Amazon and credits to our stores! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 30, 2015

Elf on the Shelf Ideas for any grade

When I moved to 3rd grade last year from 1st ( by choice ) I had a few reservations.  Although I was more than ready for the big move up, there were a few things I knew I was going to miss.  Like the growth in reading, teaching phonics, 100th day of school, etc.  One of the things I was worried about was the Elf on the Shelf.  
Well ~ of course I couldn't have these new guys miss out on all the fun.  So...Snowflake visited us in third grade.  In the BIG KID WING!!!  How did she even find us?!?
Well I had to get creative since my kids were now { kinda BIG }, no little kid sissy elf ideas would work in Room 8 that's for sure!  So having teenagers I knew I would be well equipped!  My daughter played along and we changed her name in my phone to Snowflake the Elf of course.  She made sure to text me throughout the day on her breaks at high school.  Oh man can you imagine the chaos that ensued!  I would get the DING - DONG text loud enough of course for them to hear and I would put the phone under the doc camera to see what was going on.  It clearly read from Snowflake the Elf - so there were no questions! I even took a picture of her as the contact picture. ( see below )  Snowflake was texting us before her arrival letting us know she was on her way!
 Here is a picture from the first time she texted us:

Look at those faces, sheer delight and shock!  Oh did I have fun with this one!

Snowflake had to do more grown up things of course - she was cool right?  So instead of flying high on our decorations, she was texting a friend on her fake phone, or looking at the date on a calendar of her next concert.  She took a selfie one day and aced a spelling test another day.  
Here are a few more ideas:

Changing up the schedule is a good one, they got a kick out of that.  Wrap up small chocolate chip morsels with aluminum foil and create miniature 'kisses'.  When the kids were engaged, I witnessed a kind act or someone was helpful I would give them one of the elf's 'kisses.'  
Adding a learning target for the ELF is great!  Of course the day I did that the DO curriculum cops were coming around and the assistant superintendent literally laughed out loud.  It was so fun!
So the lesson learned today ~ have fun, be creative.  The students no matter what the age will look forward to this.  It brightens up their day, sends them into laughter and creates a memory that they will never forget.  After all ~ they will always remember how you made them feel right?!!?  Happy Elfing!