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!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Peek at my Week and Saturday Snapshots

I'm linking up twice again today. I'm a day late for Saturday Snapshots (but these were taken Saturday, so it counts, right?) and barely making it for A Peek at My Week. My in-laws are in town, so I've been trying not to be on the computer too much. Easier said than done when  you're in grad school full time!

The week ahead is going to be great! We are starting our European Explorers unit, and my teammate found this amazing unit on TPT that *perfectly* matches our standards, and includes everything we could ever need! We're kicking it off tomorrow with a "Search for Gold" (coins) on the playground, if the weather stays nice. After that, we will be making Explorer Journals to keep up with all of the great things we'll be learning.

In Math, we're starting the multiplication chapter, which is usually pretty dull, but I've found some fun resources to incorporate. I'm "training" my kiddos on how to watch learning videos and complete their note-taking sheet for them so that we can *hopefully* start flipping our math class at the beginning of the next chapter. It's something new for me, too, so I'm a little nervous! If you're thinking about flipping, check out Katie Gimbar's YouTube videos.  They've been really helpful in getting started!

In last Sunday's Peek at My Week, I mentioned taking my little man to the zoo this weekend while his grandparents were here. The weather was amazing (75 and sunny!) and we had a great time! We only did half of it before nap time, so we'll definitely be planning another trip. I'll leave you with some pics of my little cutie pie enjoying the animals!

The first place we stopped...he was super excited about these gorgeous birds! I can't remember what they are now...Anyone?

Walkin with Mimi and Mama! I love this pic!
 The new kangaroo exhibit is amazing! You get to walk down a path right beside them, no fences or anything between you and the animals. Sometimes they even come up to you! You can pet them, too, but we didn't wait in the line. Maybe when Little Man is a little older!

 He loved this little bubble that we crawled into to get up close and personal with the meerkats! I was amazed at how close they came to the glass. You can't tell in the picture because of the tree, but there were at least 8-10 of them right around it!

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Budding Blog Linky

I'm linking up with Jess at I {heart} Recess for her Budding Blogger Linky. It's for blogs with less than 200 followers.
1. I've been blog stalking for a while now, and getting amazing classroom ideas from all of you! I started blogging this summer because I wanted a place to share what's going on in my classroom, and hopefully collaborate with my fellow bloggers.

2. My favorite subjects to teach are Science and Reading. Science because it's so easy to get the kids to really engage. I love seeing them get excited about what we're doing! I love teaching Reading purely for personal reasons. I love to read, so I want my kids to love it too.

3. I am a sixth year teacher, and my teaching style has been constantly evolving. I feel like in the last two years I am finally starting to settle into my own style. I try to come up with ways to engage all of my students (Reading Teach Like a Pirate is helping in that area!), and this year, I am focusing a lot on community building. I'm going to try flipping my math class, so I'm sure that will require some big changes to my teaching style!

4. Three interesting facts about me...I sang in my college choir every semester until student teaching. I used to love scrapbooking, but I never have time anymore. Now I use those skills for TPT products. I learned to water ski the summer before I turned 3. I was so small, my parents had to put tennis shoes inside the ski boots so they would fit!

5. Gladly! My TPT store can be found here :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Five for Friday & Freebie Friday in one!

I'm linking up twice in one post today, with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday, and with Teaching Blog Addict for Freebie Friday!

I'm starting with a teacher funny because we all need a laugh sometimes! We've been working on physical and chemical changes in Science, and as an activity to demonstrate chemical change, we made root beer floats. The kids had all seen the root beer in the room, so they knew something was up. When I finally told them what we were making, one of my little guys threw his hands up in the air, and shouted, church-lady style, "hallelujah!" It was the funniest thing I've had a kid do in a while! I wish I had video to share with you!

Speaking of our matter unit, I have been using Nicole Shelby's States of Matter Unit from TPT, and I cannot say enough about how great it has been.My kids absolutely loved all of the experiments that we have done. I added a few of my favorite past activities, but this unit really does cover it all! I wish I had pictures, but the camera I used died on me, and it's a Sony, so I can't just plug the card into the computer :(

After seeing Farley's interactive door on Monday made it, I couldn't wait to make one of my own. Thanks to Amazon 2 day shipping, I got mine all put together yesterday! I think it is so cute, and the kids love getting to write on it. I started with something just for fun and asked about their favorite TV show.
(How cute is it that they love Full House!)

We started our Interactive Reading Noteboks last week, and everyone is loving it - teachers and students! We're using lots of resources from Erin at I'm Lovin' Lit and Nicole Shelby, and they are all so great! I spent last weekend organizing all of the awesome TPT products I've printed out by skill and standard. Fortunately, these wonderful ladies did most of the work for me, so I just had to combine the products. I feel so organized now!

And finally, telling time usually isn't a big deal by fifth grade, but this year, I have several inclusion students. Since some of them have telling time on an analog clock as one of their goals, I made some clock labels to match my classroom theme. I'm sharing them with you as a not-so-flash freebie. They'll be free all weekend! Click the picture below to be taken to my TPT store to download them!

Hope everyone else's week has been as great as mine! We have family in town tonight and are off to the zoo with them tomorrow!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Peek at My Week

I'm linking up with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for the first time for her "A Peek at My Week" linky!

We've been back at school for a whole month now, and this week, I am wrapping up my first real "week" of Daily 5/Reading Groups. (I do a 6 day rotation instead of just using the Monday-Friday week.) All of our practice clearly paid off, because my kiddos did a fantastic job of rotating through all of their activities without interrupting my groups! Check out a few of my kiddos doing Read to Someone...I love that they still segregate themselves into boy or girl pairs! That won't last long!


I had trouble finding activities appropriate for 5th graders for Word Work, so I made my own. There are only 7 activities right now, but I will be adding moe throughout the year as we add more activities to our Vocabulary Journals. I am in LOVE with the way they turned out using the cute backgrounds, buntings, and frames from Erin at I'm Lovin Lit!

You can grab a copy in my TPT store for only $2 OR you can Pin it to Win it! Just paste the URL of your pin into a comment, and I will use random.org to choose a winner on Wednesday morning! Be sure you aren't a "no-reply blogger" so I will be able to email the file to you!

Outside of school, my LifeGroup from my church is starting a Bible study on James on Tuesday that I am really looking forward to. Then, on Friday, my in-laws are coming for a long weekend visit. If the forecast stays like it is, the plan is to take little man on his first trip to the zoo on Saturday!

I hope all of you have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tried It Tuesday: The "Turn It In Binder" + a FREEBIE

I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper again to share what I am trying this year for collecting student work...

For the last several years, I've used the "different drawer for each subject" method of collecting student work. While it did a great job of keeping my classroom organized, there were some definite drawbacks. Mostly, it's REALLY easy to skip out on grading until the drawer is too full to hold anything else! I know the phrase, "just stack it on top of the papers from a few days ago" has come out of my mouth more often than I'd like to admit!

I'm trying something different this year, and I LOVE it so far! I'm having my students turn all their work in to different pockets in a "Turn It In" binder. (Disclaimer - I got the idea either from Pinterest or from someone's blog, but now I can't seem to find it to give credit. If I stole this idea from you, let me know so I can give you credit! And thank you, thank you, thank you for making my life easier!)
All you need is a binder, a package of plastic divider pockets, and a bunch of copes of your class list. I put the pockets into the binder, and made a cute cover page with instructions for those who forget. When it's time to turn in an assignment, I tape a class list on an empty divider and write the assignment on it. Students place their work in the pocket and highlight their name on the list.

Reasons I love it:
1. It's easy to look and see who hasn't turned something in yet.
2. I mark absent students (or students who are at speech, etc.) right on the list so it's easy to see why I may not have work for everyone.
3. When there's just a pocket to turn in the paper, students HAVE to put it in neatly, and most of them put it right side up!
4. When I'm ready to take papers home to grade, I just grab the binder and throw it in my bag.
5. There are only 8 page protectors, so I can't let papers pile up too much!

If you like the binder cover I made, you can grab it FREE in my TPT Store! Just click on the picture!

Monday, September 2, 2013