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! :)