Friday, January 31, 2014

Weekly Round-Up 1.31.14

T.G.I.F...right???!!!!  Whew, what a week. I just finished a 3 day week after coming off of our 4th and 5th snow/cold days at school, and let me tell you what a whirlwind!  Don't get me wrong it was a great short week with my kiddos, however I just feel like I crammed so much into it.  For starters, I did change my plans up a bit to not be to far off as the weeks go by, especially with math.  I'm trying sooooo sooo hard to keep up with my math!  With our new expressions materials I want to try to get as much done as I can so I can get a better idea of where my kids need to end up. I've been so pleased with how hard they have worked, and I thank all of you who have sent emails and made comments about how it's going for you.  You've been so positive!  Thank you. I thought I would do a little update on how things went this week, especially since plans can so quickly change (even if they are in pen)!!

Here's My Weekly Round-Up.....

This week in math we started our new unit on addition and subtraction.  We started things out slow, but I was happy with what we accomplished.  I think it was a great way for students to review what they already know about addition and subtraction and also to reinforce some strategies that they may have forgotten. I started with my intervention group by playing a game.  It's called 'Race to 100--- and they loved it!  Students work with partners.  They need 2 dice, and base ten blocks.  They take turns rolling the two dice, and then adding the numbers together to get a total.  They then take the total from the pile of base ten blocks.  As they go back and forth the object is to add to their total but also making sure that they trade in their pieces as they go.  When they get enough ones to make a ten they need to trade them in.  The goal is for them to get to 100.

We also spent a lot of time talking about numbers and what their value is through proof drawings.

I was surprised at first to be doing something like this with 3rd graders.  I thought for sure they would be past drawing numbers into pictures.  It was very eye opening to see how they could easily draw out the numbers using the number grid dots and also without, however they did struggle with explaining how to add to the number.  For example if I gave them 123 to draw, and then asked them to add 19, they could add the ten and 9 ones, but then didn't realize that they had enough ones to add another 10.  We really worked on that a lot.  We practiced drawing and erasing from each place to symbolize regrouping (which we will be doing more of next week.)

Lastly, we worked with the secret code cards to show numbers in expanded and standard form.  We built numbers, practiced explaining what the numbers stand for and also practiced saying the numbers properly. Again, they loved it.... and wanted to keep going!  I'm excited to see how this helps next week when we actually use all of these things to try to add.

Finally, I have slowly gotten my TpT store up and running.  I was reluctant to do one, however I've gotten so many great things from this site, that I thought if I could help someone else the way I have been helped then why not??!!!  I'm very new to this, and still a bit scared, but I think that I've got a start.  I'm so impressed with how many things that I've found along the way and by the creativity of all you fellow teachers.  I hope to one day be up to the same standard.  Here are just a few things that I started with. Be sure to check out my store.  I'm working frantically to get things up and running from my literacy centers and literature circles!

Vocabulary Boxes- I use this in my literature circles with students who will be working with new vocabulary words.  I love it because it can be used both independently and in small groups.  It helps students explore new words to find meaning instead of just looking it up in a dictionary.  I have other variations as well, and will share as I get them up and running on the store.

Fable Organizer- We just completed a unit on fables, myths and folktales.  One way to assess students for me is to use this organizer on fables. They are familiar with story elements, so that part of this is a review which is always good, but it also focuses on retelling as well as finding the moral of the fable.  I like this because it can be used with any story.  You can pick a variety of fables at a variety of levels to assess student comprehension or you could use one fable for all students as a common assessment.

Word Race Game- Lastly this is a game that I put into my word word center from time to time or use with reluctant students on their spelling/sight words.  I like how you can change it up easily by adding you own words to the bottom, and also have the same looking game no matter what kind of words students are working on.  It's a great way to differentiate.  Students love it and have so much fun seeing what word comes in first place.

Like I said, I'm just starting out.... any suggestions would be great! I'm very excited to star this new adventure and I thank you for stopping by to check out what I have to share.  Have a great weekend! I'll see you tomorrow for student motivation Saturday... can't wait!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Crafty & Yummy Things--- Tried It Tuesday

Happy Tuesday!  I'm sitting here at home for the second day in a row because this polar vortex has taken over.  Today was our 5th cold/snow day of the year.  Gosh, I don't even remember the last time we had 3 in a year.  I'm doing my best to sit back and try not to be anxious thinking of all the things that I need to do when I go back to school with my kiddos {easier said than done, right???!!!!} So in order to try to keep my mind off of what I should be doing, and not worrying about it, I have done some things at home to keep me busy.  So today I'm linking up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for a 'non-school' Tried it Tuesday.

I usually think of myself as a crafty person, however I hate that I can never find the time to do the crafts that I want to do. I've seriously pinned a million and there they sit.  So I have decided to make a Valentine's Day banner for my house.  Today was a purge day of everything 'WINTER'!!!!  If it had a snowman on it or a snowflake on it, I put it away.  I was saying to winter I am SOOOOOO over you!  I don't have a lot of Valentine's day things to put up so this craft was perfect. 

I started by going to the craft store and buying some burlap.  I made a template out of a piece of cardboard so I could trace my shape to the burlap.  I just picked triangles to start, because I've never worked with burlap before and didn't know what to expect.  It wasn't that bad, however when cutting it did get all over the place.  So if you're going to do a project like this, make sure you're ready for the clean-up after.  Then I decided that I wanted to put a background on my banner.  I had a chevron stencil.  I did the background on all of the triangles first so they could dry.  I used a small sponge to dab the paint on.  

After I was done with the background I stenciled on the letters with red paint and a brush.  I used a brush so it had a slightly different look than the background paint texture.  When all of the pieces were dry I hot glued each triangle to a piece of ribbon. It's hard to see but it's white with red dots along the top and bottom.  I left just a tad of the burlap sticking out on top, but you could glue right up to the edge if you wanted to. 

There you have it! Instant Valentine's Day decoration.  I had most of the supplies at home so the only thing that I had to buy was the burlap for this project.  I only used about a yard of it, and it was on sale for 2.99 a yard.  I bought some extra to have around in case I decide to do another small project with it.  I think though it fits perfectly on the fireplace!

On to another great love of mine...trying new recipes.  I don't have a lot in the house, because we haven't ventured out much the last few days so the goal was to make something with what we did have.  I looked and looked and just didn't know what to do.  Each year our school has a soup-off challenge.  Where you can make a big crock-pot of soup bring it to school and compete with others for the title of best soup.  Not to toot my own horn but I won 3 years in a row! It's sooooo fun!!!!!  This year I didn't enter, however I did get some great recipes from it and ended up making one of them for our adventure in the cold!

Cheeseburger Soup:   It was delicious--that's all I can say.  Maybe not the best in terms of healthy eating, but it had veggies and milk, so that counts, right???? We followed the recipe almost exact, however we did not have potatoes so it didn't get any and it tasted just fine without them. I would be curious if we could use turkey sausage instead of ground beef so next time we're going to try that. We used Velveeta cheese instead of shredded cheese.  I cubed the cheese up and it melted nicely. Lastly I garnished with just a little bit of shredded cheese.  If we had chives that would have been a great topper too!

All of the veggies together.. YUM!

Adding everything together to melt the cheese!

Final Product!  
Thanks for stopping by today! I promise next week I'll have something school related to chat about.  I'm working on getting a TPT store open so that is both new & exciting!! 

Have a great rest of the day!

Monday, January 27, 2014


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I'm playing around bloglovin' today on my snow day! Just got the call that tomorrow we will have another day off.  I'm thinking of doing some crafty things later.  Any ideas?  I've got a million and one things pinned on pinterest that I might just have to try. I also feel like a crock pot meal is calling my name. Hopefully I'll have a lot to share!!

Have a great Monday everyone! I leave you with my favorite picture from a trip I took last January to Mexico.  Ahhhhhhh I'm dreaming I'm there!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Peek At My Week [1.27.14]

It's Sunday so that means time to pack the school bag and prepare for lunches and dinners for the upcoming week.  I certainly didn't get all that I wanted to accomplished at home this weekend, but we did get a lot done.  My husband and I finished registering for the baby (holy craziness, batman!!)  I had no clue there were so many things you could get for a baby!  Since that took up most of the time this weekend, I'll have to put some cleaning on the agenda for during the week. Since it is Sunday, that means that I'm linking up with Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for her weekly linky party called 'A Peek at my Week.'

Personally, this polar vortex seems to be putting a damper on this week's plans, I blame the fact that I accidentally did my plans for the next two weeks in pen instead of pencil for the possibility that I might be staying home at some point this week.

I understand it's for safety, but it just feels like we've missed so many days!  With the year being half done it's hard to imagine not having enough time to get everything done.  I'm especially worried because I will be going on maternity leave this spring.  I want to get everything in that I can!!! So here's what I will be up to this week...and here's to hoping that they are wrong about the weather and I will have 5 days of school to fit it all in!

Math-  We're starting our new unit in math this week.  It is on addition strategies.  It seems weird for me to be going from multiplication to addition because in years past we've done it the other way around.  This week's focus will be on making place value drawings to show numbers being added together and then rounding.  We will also be using secret code cards from the series to build numbers and talk about their place value. My goal is to use many different types of manipulatives to show all of the different ways to go about adding. The thing with kiddos in third grade is they think they understand addition because they've been taught how to add things for several years now, however they still really struggle with the concept of why and how.  We'll be spending a lot time doing that this week!  Wish me luck!  On a side note, we're using math expressions for the first time this year.  I was wondering if any of you have used this for longer than the few months that I have?  Any suggestions or comments on the series?? I would love to hear what you think.

Reading-  Our reading focus this week is going to be on the beginning of our poetry unit. I'm very excited to start this unit and begin some great discussion with students, especially on figurative language.  We'll begin this week with exploring different types of poems and also telling what we know about poetry. I like to bring out all of my poetry books and just let them explore!  I always like to share the website giggle poetry with students as well.  We then will use a district resource that is full of small poems to teach various poem structure with.  We'll learn things this week like refrain, stanza, free verse, italics, and bold words.  Once I discuss with students our first couple of days I then make more of a plan according to what they show interest in and also what they already know about poetry.  I'll share more next week in terms of lesson plans and resources.

Writing- We will continue with our writing groups and my teaming up with our amazingly wonderful ESL teacher.  Last week was our first week giving some struggling students the opportunity to get a double dose (some even a triple) of guided groups that incorporate both writing and reading.  This week something that I'm throwing in is a sticker story for some free writing.  I'm trying to bring out all of the stops, as this weather has us all feeling a little here's a little something that I put together to get their creative juices flowing.

I literally stick one or two random stickers on a page. I wait until fun or different/3D type stickers go on clearance and then stock up on them.  I don't bring these out often, but when I do I have a wide variety to choose from.  They must complete a picture around it and then write a story.  Our lines on this paper are a bit larger than usual, but we're just putting all of our cursive together, so the extra room helps out!

And just like that the call came in for a snow/cold day tomorrow.  Looks like this will all be put on hold.  At least I have it ready to go, right????   I'm off to go cuddle with my puppy love! She's got the right idea, and has cuddled right into my electric blanket!  Stay warm everyone who is being hit with this crazy winter weather!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Spark Student Motivation---- Homework

Happy Saturday!!!  I have to say that currently, it's FREEZING here, and I have not had much motivation today at all, but am super excited to be linking up to share some student motivation tidbits. The polar vortex is in full swing again, and I'm reluctant to head outside.  I am happy that I got some motivation to share this post and also read some great ideas from this linky party! I'm linking for the first time with Head Over Heels for Teaching to show what I'm doing to 'Spark Student Motivation' in my classroom.

I've hit the point in the school year where I feel like we all need some motivation.  I can for sure see it in my students, and with the countless days of indoor recess and lack of fresh air and exercise I need to do whatever I can to keep things running smoothly in the classroom.  Something that I have started to do is a Homework Club.  In the past, I've done a homework club where a student would have to stay with me at a free time, a recess or even after school if they weren't able to finish any work at home that needed to be done. Let me tell you that got to be quite the production and more work for myself.  So I decided to flip around what I did for homework club to put a positive spin on it.  So I created a different homework club.

Each week students start with their number in homework club.  It's a club that they want to be means that they have done their homework each night! If they are still in the club on Friday before they go home I let them have a sweet treat.  I have a basket of jolly ranchers, starburst and smarties.  They get one, and LOVE it.  It's amazing how one little piece of candy can get them so excited.  I don't usually pass out candy so it's a special treat for them. Also, if I forget to pass out the treat, they will most definitely remind me! If they can keep their paw/number in for the whole month then we celebrate with a lunch date.  That's another easy/fun/free way to keep students motivated.  They sure do love to have free time or special time with you. I think it's been helping to keep homework coming in, especially at this time of the year.  I still have some students that I need to spend additional time with that don't complete their work --- but this has helped so much!

How else do you get students to hand in their homework or keep up with their reading?  I would love to hear your ideas!

Stay warm & have a great night-----

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

3rd Grade One Word Project

Happy Wednesday!  I'm so excited about this post!  We've been working so hard on this 'One Word' project and it's finally complete and ready to share.  To give you some background, my co-worker Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings shared this idea and project with our staff recently.  The One Word Project is based off of the book One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon.  Jennifer shared this idea with us along with how she was using it in her classroom.  Check out what she did here.  She also suggested that we do this as a school.  I was so excited when I heard about this and have been busy working in my classroom to do it with my kids.  I'm also pleased to say that several other teachers have done this too!

We stared our project with our MLK discussion on Monday.  Among other things, we read Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. By Doreen Rappaport.  We had a great discussion about using words and how they can make or break someone's day.  We discussed how Martin felt and made a list of the words that were hurtful to him and also a list of the words that he stood for.

I then shared the video that Jennifer made for her students so we could discuss our own words.  To start, I had a conversation with students on how I would pick my word.  See this previous post on my word. I figured that since students haven't done something like this before we should take steps and move slow to fully understand the process. After I shared I asked students what they thought their word could be.  We made a brainstorm on their desks as words and explanations came up.  They carefully picked the words that were placed on their desks and as I walked around you could see the excitement for them to share their own words.

After they had their words written out, they had to decide on just one to be their 'One Word' goal for the rest of the school year.  When they did, I wrote their words on their hands and we got together as a class to take a picture with our word.

Here's me with my word!  

They got to make their words into a colorful badge for our classroom door which is proudly displayed for everyone to see as they walk by. 

I did add their individual pictures to go along with the words that we put on the door.  The only thing that they have left to do is, write up their explanation so they can type them up to put in their 3rd grade memory books.  I was nervous at first to do this project, as I've never done something like this with 3rd graders.  I was so impressed with their seriousness behind the words, and it was really great to see how proud they were when they shared their words and explanations with our principal.  

Hope this inspires you to do a project like this with your class.  Please be sure to share how you plan to make it your own!  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Graphing Fun and Tried it Tuesday

Hi there.... I don't know about any of you, but today felt like it should have been Thursday to me.  I'm not sure if it was because we were back to -20 this morning or if it was the indoor recess, but it certainly was hard to get going today.  With that being said, my kiddos and I had a great day!  It started out slow for me, but great as well... I mean how can you not smile at this cutie?  She's not a very big fan of the cold, and with it being -20 this morning we had to go with a coat and booties.  If we wouldn't have done so, she would have gone on three legs and refused to move. Not that the clothes are much better, she runs away from us- at least it keeps her protected.

Meet Ellie... Our 'Puppy Kid'

So now to school-- today my kiddos were finishing up their math review on measurement.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, the unit covered so many things.  We were talking about weighing things in different units as well as comparing their measurements, measuring with a ruler to nearest 1/4 and 1/2 inch, measuring liquid volume, telling time, figuring out elapsed time and finally graphing with pictographs and bar graphs.  The kiddos were spent and their heads were spinning.  So this week we did an activity to spark some creativity.  As a class we came up with different questions to ask each other.  The only rule was that we couldn't ask the same question twice.  We wrote up our questions as a survey and then all answered them.  Students then took their own question from the survey and organized their data.  They had to organize it in a tally chart or in a function table.  From there they could choose how they wanted to share their data with the class.  They could make a pictograph or a bar graph.  I think that they turned out really good for the short amount of time that we spent going over graphs. They worked so hard, and I was impressed that they took so much ownership into this project. They really enjoyed it.

Finally I'm linking up this week for the first time with a blog that I'm new to for Tried it Tuesday! Check out the blog, it's called Fourth Grade Flipper.  I've spent a lot of time going through the links, and I'm so impressed with the new things people are trying at school and at home.  I'm hoping to be inspired to do the same!

I've used exit or entrance slips in the past in my classroom, but have not used them in awhile.  It was just something that I set aside, but always kept on my brain.  So I decided to make a 'parking lot' for exit/entrance slips and today was my first day for putting it to use.

I actually made this at the beginning of the school year, but just as other things come up it didn't get put into the routine right away so it wasn't used. I pulled it out today and students loved it, They compared it to a game show, which I thought was funny.  After our daily work this morning a review question on area and perimeter came up.  So before they headed off to specials I handed out a post-it to each student, and had them tell the different between both.  They could use either words or pictures or both.  :)  When they were done they put their post-it that matched their number and went to gym. Most of them did great, however there were a few that mixed up the vocabulary words.  So this afternoon during centers I pulled those few students to do a practice activity to practice with them.  I'm glad I brought this out and hope to use it again later this week.

Hope you had a wonderful day!  Thanks for stopping by!  :)