Saturday, November 29, 2014

Tech Talk- Xtra Math

Hi Strangers!  I've been absent for awhile. Life has been a whirlwind, but I'm super excited to be blogging today for a great new Blog Hop from "Great Minds Teach Alike!"  It's all about technology! Our school has gone 1:1 this year, and I'm really trying to incorporate so many aspects of technology into our daily schedule.  Sometimes I know that can be hard, however it has been a really great experience so far and I think that it's going great. You can read about some other technology happenings from my classroom this year here.  I'm excited to be doing this blog hop to share more resources and talk about what's working and what's not. I hope that I can help some of you along the way and also pick up some tips of my own!

Stop by Tasia's blog for some other great technology posts!!  

I first want to share, that I got the idea to use this site from a teammate at school. I have not been asked to write about this site, or review it by anyone. I like how it's has been a great addition to my classroom, and wanted to share it with others!

This site is a great addition resource to my morning work.  It's a free web-based math-fact fluency program for kids. The goal is to get students to recall their basic facts without having to use their fingers to count to free up more working memory in their brains!  There are a ton of explanation videos on site for you to get started, but I'll share some of the highlights for you.

- It allows for quick daily fact practice (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and mixed) for your students.  They only use the program for about 10 minutes a day.  It can also be used at home and there is a great parent component.

-It has simple activities for students to practice their facts each day, and helps regulate how long they are taking to answer each fact.  For example, it's goal for you student is to answer in 3 seconds, to show fluency.  If they do that, then when they answer they get a smile face.  If they answer in 10 seconds or less they get a green check mark and the fact is brought back around again. After 10 seconds the answer is shown to students and they must type it in to move forward.

- If you don't have a 1:1 computer situation in your room, the program also helps you set up a roster of students to go through like a list each day. One student will log into the site, and then when they are done they can see who is next on the list and let that student know that it's their turn to go on to the program.  There is also an iPad app.

-Progress reports are sent weekly to teachers (or parents) showing how each student has progressed through the past week.

-Students also see progress grids during their practice to see where they're at.

- It's easy for a teacher to set up a class (less than 5 minutes!!! YAY!!)

- There are no advertisements on the site to distract students.

My kids are really loving this daily fact practice! I also find it helpful for them to get their facts in multiple ways, so this is just one more thing that they can do to practice them.  If you're looking for something to add to your daily routine that won't take a lot of time, this program would be perfect for you!!  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Anything is Possible! Positive Thinking Thursday 11.13.14

Happy Thursday!  Man, the first part of this week... SLOW for me.  Then all of a sudden it's Thursday! I have a full day ahead with my first round of parent teacher conferences tonight.  When do you do your first round of conferences?  I'm excited to sit down and talk with families!  Since it's Thursday that can only mean one thing: I'm linking up with Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for Positive Thinking Thursday!  Be sure to stop by to start your day off on the right foot. 

I'm going to share a quote that just struck me as I'm going into the second quarter of school and feeling like I'm making more goals for myself and students than I can even remember...... But I know we can do it!


Anything truly is possible if you simply have the guts to go for it. I think that it can just remind us that we make things possible each day for the lives we touch!  I also am a HUGE JK Rowling fan too... so I just love that the quote comes from her. 

Have an awesome day! Happy almost Friday!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mentor Sentences- Tried It Tuesday!

Happy Tuesday all!  Hope you are all having a great week so far. I'm not looking forward to the colder weather that is headed our way, but other than that I can't complain!  Life is good!  I'm super excited to share some bits and pieces of something that I tried this year, and that I'm loving!  Hope you enjoy!! I'm linking up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for another Tried It Tuesday!

First of all, after blog stalking this past summer, I cam across the idea of mentor sentences.  After much reading and discussion back and forth (thanks Jessica) I finally bit the bullet and decided to try it.  If you're interested, I got my resources from Ideas by Jivey.  She does a great job putting mentor sentences into action and also shares so much to make it happen in your classroom. You can start small by just getting one or two or getting a whole bundle pack. I started with the first 10 weeks mentor sentences and then bought the rest of her bundle.  I know that you can make them work with any book you're reading, but for me, having it already prepped and done has been a life saver! It's great that you can do what works for you!  

**Also, this blog post is a post on my experience and success with mentor sentences. I have not been asked to write this or to promote this product in anyway.  I'm just really loving this great resource, and appreciate the hard work that went into it! My students are showing great success with it and I am pleased to share what we're doing!

Mentor Sentences:
1- Monday I read aloud a story to the students and then write a mentor sentence from the book on the board.  We do some guessing why I picked it and just read it a few times to get a feel for it.  I am also using the picture books to teach them. So Monday we spend a lot of time picking a theme for the book and adding it to our theme wall!

2- Tuesday: For morning work students put the sentence in their writing notebook, rewrite it on the lines and then start to label things that they notice.  Then at the beginning of our writing block each day we discuss and do things with the sentence.  We will label and notice the sentence and talk about special features (quotations, alliteration, contractions, etc.)

Here is the sentence for one of our books on the board.
I write it out and then we label it with everything that
they can come up with.  This one isn't all of the way done,
but I was impressed that they did a lot on their own!
It took us several tries to get to that point.  When they are
done labeling and noticing, I bring other things to their attention
that maybe they didn't think of.
3- Wednesday is our revision day.  We talk about changing up just a few small things in the sentence to still keep the general message.  We talk about how changing adjectives or verbs can simply add a new dimension to writing.  I also write my own on the board and then they have the chance to write their own revision too.  These are revisions from The Widow's Broom. Their revision is under the sentence that we label.  

4- Thursday: On Thursday we get to be our own sentence authors and imitate the style of our author from the week.  We take the basic structure of the sentence that we've worked with and totally mix it up and make it our own sentence that could be used in our own writing. I always do one first to show the students an example and then they write one last sentence in their notebook to go along with our weekly mentor sentence. We then hang up a few on a bulletin board each week and use them as sentence models.  Here is our display. 

Here are our sentences to go along with Enemy Pie.
This was one of the earlier ones we did. I am super
impressed with how they have grown.  I can't seem to find my
more updated picture tonight of more samples.. :(....
But you get the picture!!!

5. Friday: On Friday I give students the "Invitation to Edit" quiz that Jessica includes with all of her mentor sentence units.  It gives the students time to use all of the skills that were used on the sentence for that week and they also find some mistakes in the sentence that we used and correct them. It's like a mini quiz to end the sentence and to end the week. 

I'm also doing a book study with several colleagues at my school. It's called Everyday Editing. Mentor sentences come from the idea behind this book. I'm very excited to be using this book and Jessica's great resource to help my students with their writing! If you don't know where to start, but you want to learn more, I suggest this book!  I love how it also has a whole section dedicated to in class implementation and practice.  What a great way to actually try something out!! I love books that are designed for that. 

I'm so loving how great my students are doing with using mentor sentences! I also love how they are fitting into my daily teaching so nicely.  Have a wonderful rest of the week!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Question Writers Ask- Anchors Away Monday!

Happy Monday!  I'm getting in a quick post before I call it an early night tonight.  I made an anchor chart with my class about a week and a half ago and we've used it so much that I thought that it would be a great one to share with you all. 

As I've mentioned in the past, we've recently started using a new writing resource at our school from Portland Public Schools. You can check it out, here. It's common core aligned, and also written in a way that gives you everything, so it doesn't matter how comfortable you feel with teaching can work for you at any level of comfort. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to give this a try, and it's been very successful in my opinion.  I'm taking it slow, but I've really loved the connection between reading and writing that it's helped me make with my students. 

This anchor chart came from the above resource that I mentioned.  I really like how it's simple, and easy for the kids to understand. We've used it so much of the last several lessons when it comes to going back and revising our writing. That is such a hard concept for students to grasp, that my going through each question here, they are finding it a little bit easier.  I especially love how we got to include our weekly mentor sentences into the chart.  I'll hopefully get to blog about that tomorrow!  I'm excited to keep this chart up for the rest of the year, as I feel my writers will use it a lot!  Do you have any other ways to get kids thinking about the questions that they need to ask when they are writing? I'd love for you to share!!!

I'm linking up with Deb, over at Crafting Connections for her linky: Anchors Away Monday, where you can share anchor charts and ideas.  I'm super excited to be linking up with her for the first time! Be sure to stop by her blog to check out some other great anchor charts!!!

Have a great week!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Sunday Scoop: 11.9.14

Happy Sunday Friends! I'm linking up today with the Teaching Trio for the Sunday Scoop!!  Be sure to stop by and check it out. 

On a side note, I am making a personal goal to blog three times this week. I've been a little light on the posting lately, and it's not because of lack of ideas...just lack of time. I'm really hoping to share a lot of great things! Hope everyone has a great week!!

Oh Sunday... Three thing I have to do: 
1. Plan Meals- If we don't plan for the week on Friday we starve. Literally... or eat randomness out of the cupboard.  It's really sad. So I must plan meals and go grocery shopping today!
2. I have procrastinated a bit on finishing report cards. I'm super close to being done... just have to sit down and knock them out. 
3. Of course the typical Sunday routine... cleaning up for the week ahead.  Why does cleaning have to happen so often??

Here are my two things that I hope to do:
1. Organize- I have a big old bag of school stuff that I really must organize before this week starts. We have our first round of parent teacher conferences this week, and I really need to be ready!
2. Dinner.. We had nothing planned for dinner tonight. I'm not really sure why. We were going to be doing a lo of running around today, so I'm guessing we thought we'd do leftovers.  Does anyone have a quick something they recommend that I can whip together?

Finally my one thing:
1. Today I really just want to cuddle on the couch with a blanket and a Bloody Mary. Bring on football Sunday! :) Too bad it's already 4:30 and the TV has yet to be on, and my eyes have not seen a bloody. 

There's always next week??!!!  
Have a great one!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Currently Late to the Party--- November Already?

Oh Happy Monday!
Oh Happy November!
Last month I seriously was one of the top ten to post on Farley's Currently....
Today, I'll be one of the last....
Last I saw there were over 250! 
Interesting how that works our sometimes, isn't it??

Be sure to stop by Farley's blog and link up
if you haven't yet! 

Listening- NOTHING!  The baby has been down since 7:30 and the hubby since about 7:31... I'm just listing to a whole lot of nothing, and loving it!

Loving-  We 'fell back' this weekend in Wisconsin and I love the fact that I can now drive to work with a beautiful sunrise. It's hard to drive home while it's setting very quickly but Fall is one of my most favorite times of year.  I'm just loving the crisp weather and the falling leaves. 

Thinking- We got new report cards this year. I don't know about you guys but change is hard for me and I'm avoiding them like the plague!! Seriously..... I just can't get myself to log in and just get it done.  Motivation NEEDED!

Wanting- I feel like even though I've only been in school for 2 months, a mental health or vacation day would work a whole lot of wonders for me right now.  It's amazing how one day can do that for you!  I am anxious just thinking about the next 6 weeks or so and how much I have crammed into them.  Ahhh...breathe!

Needing- I know I said we fell back and got an extra hour earlier and I loved it... so because of that I just want a few more extra hours to feel caught up!  It felt so great being productive at home on Sunday!  I'd like to take that to the classroom. 

Reading- Honestly the only thing that I'm reading right now is my class read aloud: Justin Case.  I've written about it a few times before, but I'm absolutely in love with this book! 

Click for Amazon

Have a happy week all! :) 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kindness is Free: Positive Thinking Thursday

Happy 'almost' Thursday my friends!!!  My week started off super slow, but now I seriously can't believe that it's time to link up with my friend and co-worker Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for Positive Thinking Thursday! Check out her blog, and her super cute new button!!!  

This is one of my favorite linky parties.... it makes a huge difference in my day! Here's my positive thought for today.....


This week in third grade land we have really been working on being a team, and helping each other out. My kids have been so quick to jump on each other for mistakes that they are making.... when in reality they probably did the same thing they are getting mad at their friend for an hour earlier.  I have found myself talking about kindness so so so so much this week.  Some things that have come out of my mouth are... "Let's help each other out" "Can we try to talk nicely to them" "Are you telling on them to get them into trouble or just to tell me?"  "Oh, your friend is trying to help you out right now so that you don't get into trouble"  "Oh third graders.... kindness is what matters" etc... etc... etc....and 

This quote has pretty much been my mantra.. Trying to instill to my little friends that being kind is all that matters when dealing with one another... and it''s so easy to give.. because it doesn't cost anything! Just a little something for us all to remember, as we near the time of report cards, conferences, holiday shopping..... anything that comes our way! Live in the moment and be kind. Those around us are all dealing with things and have life going on outside of the normal day to day routines! Be kind!

Be sure to stop by Jen's blog to get some positive energy, better up to share some positive energy! 

Have a happy day!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Kids blogging Away!

Happy Tuesday!
I'm excited to be here today to share something 
super fun that I've been working on 
with my kids for the past couple of weeks---

I'm linking up today for Tried It Tuesday

I have heard about this site a lot,
but never have taken the plunge to do it. 
After a super sweet comment on my blog from Jamie
We decided to team up and give this whole
virtual blogging thing a try... with our two classes!
One from California, and one from Wisconsin!! How fun!

A couple of things before I start:
1. KidBlog can be a completely private site.  So only people with a password can access it, which makes this teacher one happy camper! I'm always thinking safety when it comes to internet sites. 
2.  The site can seem like a lot at first, however it gives you complete access to each student and teacher account linked to your kid blog site. It's so great to keep track of what students are doing. I have set up notification so each time a comment or post is made,it comes to my email!
3. I tried this cold turkey without ever using this site, and have learned right along with my kids. Although stressful because I didn't have all of the answers.... such a great experience!

The main page of our blog consists of the 'blog roll' for each student.  As you can see across the top, I've named it for my class.  I guess, I could have used something more creative ;)  The tool bar in red allows you to see all of the blogs, which is what this picture above shows, go to your individual blog (one set up for each student) or make a new post.  Look at us with 2,464 views!  Our California friends I bet are checking to see that we have our work written up for them!

This is what each individual blog looks like.  Each student has their own page that can be viewed by anyone who has access to their site.  Jamie and I exchanged class codes (found in the dashboard section of the site) so on our blog rolls, both of our classes can be found.  We did find however, that it's easier if the students make new posts from their actual teacher's site.  Then go to the other site (which I will show you in a second) to read other blogs and make comments.  That way the main blog page doesn't get too full with new posts!  It can be a lot to manage. 

The posts that we started with were the current chapter book that we are reading, and an "All About Me" post to share some likes with their buddies.  I had them start with a book post so I could comment and ask them questions. That way the got used to checking their dashboard for new comments. 

This is what the teacher dashboard looks like.  The student one is very similar, however they don't have access to every post and comment made on the site. It's a great place to keep track.  The far left shows how many posts, drafts and comments that are made.  The middle shows the specific comments on the blogs, and the far left shows all of the most recent blog posts.  I've really been trying to teach the kids to check their dashboard for comments so they don't miss anything! 

When a student (or teacher) clicks on new post, this is what it looks like. I feel that it's very user friendly for kids too! They title their post, write it below with options for new fonts, colors, sizes, etc and then to the right they can save, preview and add tags.  I was so impressed with how quickly they understood about tagging.  

Above is another part of the dashboard.  In this case I clicked on "My Classes" and it took me to all of the collaborators of the blog.  In my case, since teaming up with Jamie, both of our classes show up.  This is one way that my students can get to her site.  The other is just clicking on a student name from the main page. Like I said, both of our classes are listed together for easy access!  I like how they can easily go back and forth between the two classes, and have access to what she's working on as well.  

Here is her site. As you can see you can also personalize it to be just right for you and your class!!!

For now, because she's awesome, she has posed several questions to her students about various things, and my students have been allowed to comment.  We both read Stellaluna last week, and are both working on multiplication concepts. I plan to have my students read her post, follow up on her student comments and then make their own to answer her questions. I will assign them to find their buddy that we assigned them too, and also comment on their response! 

We're in the works to plan a November activity for the students. I also plan on giving this as a choice in my writing center as we become more comfortable. Students can blog a story or two during their writing time on here for me to read instead of always doing it on paper. 

Do you have any advice on using this site? 
I'd love to hear how you use it or if you have any suggestions!

Thanks for stopping by! 

Have a great week. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thankful Positive Thinking Thursday

Happy Thursday, Friends! 
I officially have not blogged in a week. 
I'm hoping to change that as the weekend approaches... 
however this Thursday, as I'm liking up for one of my favorites, 
Positive Thinking Thursday, I am thankful. 


I am thankful for so many wonderful things: 
my family, my friends, my job....
the list can go on and on.... 
and I'm also thankful for
 this blogging world that I entered 9 months ago. 
This morning I awoke to 100 followers. 
 Now, to some that may not be a lot, but to me, 
who didn't know where this journey would take her, 
it means the world.  
The ideas, inspiration and friends
 that I have made are priceless.  
So, as I wake up today, I am thankful for so much.  

What are you thankful for today???? 

Stop by Jennifer's blog, Mrs. Laffin's Laughings,
 for some positive energy today.  
Read some wonderful posts 
by my blogging buddies, 
or even better yet, 
link up yourself to share some positive energy as well. 

Happy Thursday, Friends!!!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"Hello You...." Positive Thinking Thursday 10-16-14

Happy Thursday! Welcome back for another Positive Thinking Thursday Post. The linky where you can stop by to get some positive energy to get through the week, or leave some for others. 


I feel like a broken record these days... but there are one or two things that have been happening each week at school lately to make me question my place in this teaching world.  Some things are super little that I just need to roll off, but one or two of them have been larger that I just can't shake. When I saw this quote I just knew that I had to share it.  I think that sometimes we get a little bugged down with other things going on, but we all just need to go for it and be AMAZING & AWESOME .... all of the time--- because let's face it, we are all amazing teachers! Every teacher I know and work with is awesome, and I think that they need to be told that a lot more. I think that I need to remember that I just need to keep moving forward and be both amazing and awesome all of the time!!

Enjoy the rest of your week and be sure to be amazing doing it! :)  Be sure to stop by Jennifer's blog Mrs. Laffin's Laughings to check out Positive Thinking Thursday.  It's a great way to start the day!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Scoop 10.12.14

Happy Sunday!
It's a beautiful, cool, Fall day here in Wisconsin. 
I hope to enjoy some football and baby time before 
I have to dive into my 'big kid' responsibilities!
So I'm linking up with Teaching Trio
for the first time for their Sunday Linky:

Stop by and check it out! :)

3 Things:
1. I have to clean the house. I've been half done with it for what feels like the whole week. It's just that every time I go to finish up with dusting and pull out the vacuum I feel the baby is sleeping!
2. I have some correcting to do. Ok I will admit... a lot of correcting to do. I've brought my teacher bag filled with papers back and forth between school and home all week. Yes, you guessed papers were corrected!
3. We teach skip counting songs to our third graders to help them memorize the multiplies of each number. I burned 50 CDs last weekend for me and the team. Mine have gone missing. I was supposed to hand them out on Friday. I was hoping that I would find them...but no such luck. Back to burning more today!

2 Things:
1. Have you ever tried a Jamberry Manicure?  Well, I haven't but recently bought some through a friends part. I've been nervous to try them...but today I really hope to give it a go. I just love having my nails done. I hope it works out!
2. I've been working on a multiplication product for my classroom and TpT for a couple of weeks now. It just is not seeming finished to me. I really want to start using it in my classroom though, so I really want to finish it today. 

1 Thing:
1. Organize! I love to start the week with our meals planned, my planner full and the little things put away. It makes me feel so ready to start the that I'm all for doing today!

I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday and a great week ahead!