Monday, November 11, 2013

It's November...where has this year gone?

I don't know about you, but this school year is flying by for me! Maybe it's because I'm so busy this year. I just switched concentrations in my grad program, and I'm actually excited about starting classes again next week. Flipping math is taking a lot of work, but it has definitely been worth it so far!

Here's a peek at my week:

We had Veterans Day off, so I spent it with my favorite veteran! Hubs and I got some stuff done around the house, and I, of course, squeezed in some grading. I'm feeling pretty lucky this fall...hubs is back home, and will be for the foreseeable future. Here's a pic from a pretty special day this spring!

Since we were out today, I'm doing some Veterans Day activities the rest of the week in reading. I'm using this bundle from the fabulous Erin at I'm Lovin Lit. I love that she included fiction, nonfiction, and poetry activities. I'll have to modify the fictional story because I feel like it hits a little too close to home for my military kids, but it will still work out fine.

We are starting geometry this week, and I'm excited about trying some new activities to make it a little more hands on. Wednesday, we will be doing a cut/glue activity with parallel, perpendicular, and intersecting lines. Then on Thursday, students will be building a polygon robot. Pictures coming at the end of the week!

Tuesday and Wednesday are both supposed to be in the low 40s and windy. Friday might rain. So it looks like Thursday might be our only chance to do a Walking Classroom walk unless we walk inside the school.

That's about it for me. Hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Peek at my Week! {+ a Pin it to Win it!)

I have a busy and fun week coming up, so I'm linking up with Mrs. Laffin for A Peek at my Week.

This weekend, my students watched a video (made by me) of a different method for long division problems. So many students have trouble even knowing where to start - because they don't know their multiplication facts. I'm trying teaching them the "Line Method" which is sometimes also called "Double Division." As embarrassing as it is to share one of my videos with you guys, I am super excited about this method. So here's a clip with one example from the video my students watched. I just started making math videos for my flipped classroom at the end of September, so keep that in mind, and don't judge too harshly!

We are working on Subject and Predicate this week, along with our mentor sentence from Jivey's unit. I whipped up this puzzle activity to go in our writer's notebooks. It would also work great as a craftivity if you colored the puzzle pieces and glued them on construction paper. Pin it to win it, comment, and I'll use to choose a winner on Wednesday. Click the picture to see it in my TPT store!

Murphy's Law at work...We got our Walking Classroom kits, my teammate is getting a set too, and overnight, the weather turns cold! It's ok, because we have a couple of lessons we need to teach before the first walk (rationale for walking while learning, rules for the walks, etc.), and we can't walk off campus until we get all our permission slips back anyway. If the all goes well, and it isn't too cool, we will have our first walk on Thursday! I can't wait!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Five for Saturday (10/19/2013)

I had all intentions of posting yesterday, but it just didn't happen. Little guy decided to wake up at 3am Friday morning, and didn't go back to sleep until 4:30. By that point, I was too awake to go back to sleep. It was a long day to say the least, and last night, it was all I could do to stay awake until his bedtime. Hubs and I were both asleep on the couch by 8:30.

Anyway, without further ado, here's my Saturday version of Doodlebugs' Five for Friday.

I popped in Wednesday to let you know that our Walking Classroom kit had arrived. Well, my teammate found out on Thursday that she's getting a set too! We are so excited about getting to start this adventure together, and it makes us both more comfortable walking off school property around the kids' neighborhood since there will be two adults instead of just one. My to-do list this weekend includes getting a pair of comfy shoes to keep at school for those days that I wear heels and we walk. We're going to introduce the program on Monday and hopefully start walking next week (as soon as her kit arrives)!

We got a new assistant principal this week. Having a new administrator in the building is always an uncertain time, but so far, so good! She's popped in a few times to get to know all of us and to see what's going on in our classes.
This was a short week for us, and I had something I really wanted to get done in Language Arts, so we skipped out on mentor sentences. Boy, was I unpopular for that decision! I had no idea after just one week, that my students would be so attached to them! Needless to say, we are back to doing a mentor sentence every week starting on Monday! I've never seen them so excited about ANYTHING in Language Arts before! If you're not already using them, Jivey's Mentor Sentence Units are AMAZING! (Eek! When I went to TPT to grab the link for you, I saw she has an American Revolution Mentor Sentence set too! These will be perfect when we get there in Social Studies in a month or so!)

In science, we worked on our scientific inquiry skills this week. After all the notes and discussions, we did a "guess the mystery item" activity. I passed out 5 boxes, each with a different item inside. Students had to "do" four different things with each box in order to try and determine what was inside. They lifted it to feel the weight, shook it and listened and felt how the item moved, smelled it, and more. They were so creative with how they tried to figure it out, and showed some really good critical thinking skills. I had them asking me all kinds of random questions, like "do you have a cat?" to try and figure out what kinds of items I might have had at home to put in the boxes. It was so much fun, and I HATE HATE HATE that I didn't take any pictures to share with  you!

On Wednesday, we had a parent meeting to explain the concept of our Flipped Classroom, and to tell parents how it's going to work in our classes. (We kind of already started flipping, but we wanted to save the parent meeting until we had figured a few things out!) It went really well, and overall, there was a lot of parent support. If you're flipping and want to see the PowerPoint we used or the letter we sent home to the families who didn't attend the meeting, I'm happy to share them! Just leave a comment, and make sure you're not a no-reply blogger.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

They're Here!!!

I was so excited when our school secretary called my room this afternoon to let me know UPS had delivered a box from The Walking Classroom for us! I

 had told my class yesterday that we were going to be getting a very special donation, but I didn't tell them what it was. I let them ask me yes/no questions when we had a little downtime, and it really got them interested and excited. So when we opened the boxes together today, they were thrilled! 

We talked a little about how nice it would be to get outside of the classroom for a bit and still be learning. They can't wait to take our first walk!

Sadly, it is going to be raining here for the next several days. I really want our first walk to be outside, so we will probably have to wait until next week to actually get started.

A big thank you goes to Lora from the walking classroom and to the Kenan CharitableTrust for their generous donation!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Congrats to TpT Flash Sale!

TPT reached 100,000 Facebook followers today, and to celebrate, they're throwing a sale! They are offering 10% off all weekend with promo code FB100K at checkout.

I'll be joining in the party by putting my entire store on sale for 10% off as well! You don't have to do anything to get my discount, but be sure you enter the promo code to get the extra 10% from TPT!

Click the picture to visit my store!

Time to go empty my wishlist!

Guess what my class is getting?!?

I am SO EXCITED, I almost posted twice in one day!! But with a little self control, I managed to wait until this morning. My class was selected for a grant from The Walking Classroom!!!

After reading about it on one of your blogs (I can't remember whose), I decided to apply for a donated set of WalkKits. Yesterday afternoon, I got an email from Laura, the founder, that our project had been funded! They will ship on Monday, and we should be able to start walking next week!

In case you aren't familiar with the program, here's the rundown: The idea is to get your class moving, walking a regular route around your school (inside or out), while they are listening to educational podcasts. Students reap health and educational benefits!

The Walking Classroom program consists of mp3 players for each student that come pre-loaded with educational content. The content is aligned with Common Core standards for 5th grade ELA, but also includes some Social Studies and Science topics. Each podcast also includes a short message about health and wellness.

They're pretty pricey ($3000 for a class set of 30 w/ a teacher's guide), but there's an option on the site to apply for a donated set. When you receive donated WalkKits, you are required to do a little work for them, but I think it's totally worth it! Your class has to write thank you letters to the benefactor (which they need to learn to do anyway), I have to submit photos and updates twice a month to their forum. No big deal if you ask me!

I can't wait for our set to arrive so we can get started walking! I'm linking up with Joanne's Spark Student Motivation Saturday, because I know they will be so motivated to get walking and to listen intently once we get these!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Five for Friday

So, I swore I wouldn't let it happen, but it has. I haven't posted in two weeks! Between grad school and school school, it has been super busy! I did want to take time to link up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday, though. I took the time I had off this week to get a little ahead in grad school, work on a couple of TPT products, and hang with my favorite little man. 
I am SO excited about my new Duck Dynasty themed math workshop board! I can't wait to get back to school and put it up! My class is crazy about the show, so I'm hoping this gets them excited about math too.

I made these 7 Habits posters specifically for upper elementary grades this past summer. The feedback has been great! Apparently I wasn't the only one who wanted some "not too babyish, not too grown" posters for my big kids! After a couple of buyers left feedback about having trouble reading them, I decided to change the backgrounds a little to make them easier to read. 

My teammate and I both ordered custom minis from Teaching in the Tongass, and boy, is she FAST! She sent my mini within a few hours of me sending her the pic. I will mostly be using her on the site where we post our flipped math videos, but I wanted to show her off here too! Isn't she adorable?! 

I am so frustrated with PowerPoint right now! My teammate and I made 3 flipped math videos last Friday during our work day. Then PowerPoint started going to a plain white screen with a big red x when I wrote on the screen with the Smart Board markers. It's kind of like the x that shows up in place of missing pictures, but it covers the entire screen. I'll see If I can get it to do it again and post a pic later. Anyone have a clue what's going on or how to fix it?

After 18 months of having an empty dining room, hubs and I are finally buying a dining table! (Long story boy showed up early, a week after we moved in, then hubs deployed, then there was all this furlough and gov't shutdown mess.) Anyway, furniture shopping is always a pain because we never agree. I've narrowed it down to the first 2, but he's still holding out for the 3rd one. (Don't you love the fall decor they have out!)

Head over to Doodle Bugs to link up or to see what everyone else has been up to this week!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Tried It Tuesday: Flipping Math Class!

Hi everyone! I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried It Tuesday to talk about something I am really excited about trying: Flipping my classroom for math!

For those who don't know, here's "flipping the classroom" in a nutshell:
  • The idea is to maximize our use of students' face-to-face time with the teacher in class.
  • Typical classes (especially in Math) start with direct instruction from the teacher, then we take a little time to practice together and students do much of the individual practice for homework.
  • Flipping the classroom is the idea of switching up the order of events. Students watch a video to introduce the new topic/skill for homework the night before the lesson.
  • Then they come into class with notes and questions.
  • The teacher can then spend almost the entire class time working with small groups on the skill, because there's no need to repeat the "lecture" or direct instruction portion of the lesson.
Last year, one of my teammates took a class on "flipping" and loved it. I was skeptical. Fast forward to this fall... When we got our new schedules, we found that we really only have 45-50 minutes a day for math, tops. Last year, we had 75, so this meant we needed to radically change the way we were teaching if we wanted to be effective.

My other teammate and I started doing some research, and she started taking the same class. (I'm in grad school already, so I'm skipping out on the formal class for now!) The one thing we both learned through our classes and research is that it is most effective when you video yourself giving the direct instruction, instead of using videos from your curriculum, Khan Academy, Study Jams, etc. I could do a whole blog post on reasons for this, but that can come later on, if there's interest!

The idea of videoing lessons scared me. It seemed time consuming, and I thought I would have to learn new technology. Then I found Katie Gimbar's YouTube videos. She makes it look so easy! Her videos are relatively low-tech, with minimal editing, but they are so effective!

Last week, my teammate and I videoed three math lessons, and created a website for our students to watch them on at home. It took us less than 30 minutes per video, including creating the PowerPoint that we use to show notes while we teach and videoing the entire lesson.

We have now watched two videos in class, and practiced taking notes together. Tonight, my students have their first video homework, so I am both excited and nervous to see how it went when they come in tomorrow!

After the video on Friday, TWO of my students told me that they like my videos much better than the ones we were using before (from our math curriculum). I was surprised because mine lack all of the animation and "fun stuff" that theirs include. I asked them why, and both answers were basically that it's easier to understand, because they're used to the way I teach! Talk about making this teacher's day!

If you're flipping your class, or are interested, I would love to have a teacher buddy to share ideas with!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Plot Elements Craftivity

I love finding ways to get my students to be creative with concepts that can be somewhat less than exciting to teach, so I was very happy to find Deb at Crafting Connections and all of her awesome craftivities! I've already used her Types of Sentences T-Shirt craftivity, and we are finishing her Parts of Speech craftivity this week! I'm excited to be teaming up with Deb for her Classroom Tested, Teacher & Student Approved series to share about her Plot Elements Craftivity!
We started our first "real" reading lessons with Story Vocabulary, including plot, conflict, setting, protagonist, and antagonist. To me, discussing the elements of plot seemed like the natural next-step.

We started our week with a couple of mini-lessons and small group lessons defining each element of the plot in our interactive reading notebooks and practicing finding the plot elements in familiar stories.

I used Deb's Plot Element Craftivity as a culminating activity and for assessment. I loved using it as an assessment for two reasons: 1-My kids weren't stressed out  because it doesn't "feel" like a test, and 2-Deb included an amazing story with a clear plot, so it was easy to distingush all of the parts.

I started by having students write the plot elements in order on a piece of notebook paper. (Deb includes a great worksheet for this, with differentiated options, but my school has seriously cracked down on copies this year, so I just had them write it.) I then walked around and made note of which students had them all correct without help (for grading purposes).
Then, I passed out copies of the story that they could write on and read it out loud. (Added bonus, they loved the story!) I then had each student write down each part of the plot on their notebook paper.

I allowed them to use their reading notebooks for this part, and I was beyond excited to see this little guy comparing his answers to the notes we had taken!
And then I saw several more of my students doing the same thing. Score 1 for Interactive Notebooks!
They were all excited to get to the "fun part" after they had summarized the parts of the plot! Coloring, cutting, and gluing is one of their favorite activities! (On a side note, does anyone have any advice for getting them to speed up the coloring and cutting? This class takes forever on that part, no matter what activity we are doing. I hate feeling like I'm rushing their creativity, but sometimes we just have to move on!) Here are some shots of their work in progress:

I totally forgot to take pictures of their final products, so I will grab some at school today and update!

Deb is going to give away a copy of this craftivity to one of my followers, so stop by her blog and enter!