Saturday, April 26, 2014

Morning Trivia {Spark Student Motivation}

Hi everyone! We all know how frequently students learn a concept just long enough for a test, and then forget it once the test is over. Well, I have an idea to help keep those concepts fresh, as well as teaching your students some random fun facts on a daily basis: Morning Trivia!

Here's how it works in my room:
  • Every morning, I write a new trivia question on the board. Sometimes it's a random question from my Morning Trivia pack, but a couple of times a week, I use a review question from a concept we've recently learned. (This is *perfect* for reviewing right before standardized testing!)
  • Students may work on morning trivia first thing in the morning or throughout the day if they need to do some research.
  • Students may use any resources available to them other than the internet. They can use books, encyclopedias, or even ask other adults in our building. (I "outlawed" Googling the answer because it was too quick and easy!)
  • Students write their answer on a slip of scrap paper and turn it in to our trivia box - which is just an empty baby wipes box covered in colored duct tape.
  • At the end of the day, I draw one answer. If it's correct, that student gets a ClassDojo point. (You can read about how I use Dojo here.) If not, I keep drawing until someone gets it right.
  • Usually, if no one is correct, I will tell them that the first person to tell me the correct answer the following day gets the point, and they may use internet sources at home.
I've been doing Morning Trivia in my room since sometime in January, and I keep meaning to write down all of my questions to create a product. Well...I finally got around to creating a Morning Trivia packet that includes 24 questions and answers for May/June as well as half page signs for each question and a printable answer sheet.  It is half price now through Sunday night, so grab yours now in my TPT store!

This is amazingly  motivating for my students! They just love seeking out the answer and wait with baited breath to see whose answer is drawn at the end of the day. Since this is so motivating, I'm linking up with Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Saturdays linky. Hop over to check out all of the motivating ideas, and to enter a fantastic giveaway!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Positive Thinking Friday

I know I'm a day behind, but I need positive thoughts far more today than I did yesterday. My district is losing several teaching positions this year, and I will find out either today or Monday (yes, that means I may have to wait over the entire weekend!) if I am losing my current position or not. Needless to say, it's going to be a long day, or days while I wait to find out. Trying to keep my thoughts positive and just focus on the kids today. Keeping this in mind all the time...

Thoughts and prayers are much appreciated this weekend!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tried it Tuesday - Exploring Area & Perimeter

This week, we are working on area and perimeter of rectangles and squares. I am trying something new, so I wanted to link up for Holly's Tried-it Tuesday!

This lesson kind of came to me last year in the middle of teaching area and perimeter, so I made one of those last minute changes to the lesson plan that we are all so familiar with. It went well, but I knew if I really planned with this idea in mind, it would be much better. So this year, when we got there, I made an actual lesson plan around the spur-of-the-moment idea I had last year. I am super excited about how well this lesson went, so I wanted to share it with you!

We always seem to struggle with the difference between area and perimeter and when to use units vs. square units for measuring. Since our floor is covered in handy-dandy 12x12 tiles, I used them to show life-sized examples of these concepts. I started by taping off 3 different sized rectangles and 2 squares on the floor, spaced apart so there's plenty of room for students to work in small groups. Before we started, we did a quick review of what area and perimeter were. I had at least a few students who already knew the definitions, but no one remembered how to find them. (Which was *perfect* because I wanted to start from scratch here!)

Students worked in groups of 3-4, rotating through the 5 shapes. First, I asked them to figure out the perimeter of their shape. Most of them did this pretty easily by counting the edges of the tiles around the shape. Then, I asked them to write an equation to show the perimeter. Most of them figured out immediately to add up the four sides. The only groups who had trouble were the two with squares, so I worked with them until they had it.

Then I asked them to find the area, which they again did by counting the tiles in the middle of the shape - exactly as I expected. Then, we worked together to figure out that they could multiply the length x width to get the area. There were a few skeptics in the room who wouldn't believe it always worked until they tried all of the shapes. I loved it!

I had a "Challenge" shape taped off too, but we ran out of time, so we will be working on it tomorrow. Hopefully, we will be able to figure out how to find the area of this shape on their own with the knowledge we have built today!

I whipped up a quick answer sheet for students to show their thinking as they traveled to the different shapes. You can grab a free copy by clicking the photo below!

That's it for today. How do you teach area and perimeter?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday

I love this new linky from Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings! In these uncertain days, we all need a little positivity in our lives! Here's my thought for today:
Sometimes I need to be reminded that we do what we do for the kids, and that it matters. Every. Single. Day. Mrs. Nicholson still inspires me to be the best teacher I can. I can only hope to be half as good as she was.

Pop over to Jennifer's linky to find some more inspiration for your Thursday!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Stitch Fix #3!

This past Wednesday was a long day. It started with my little man waking up at about 3am, and me not being able to fall back asleep. Then, I spilled my huge cup of iced tea everywhere. There's more, but let's just say that it didn't really get any better from there. was the perfect day to come home to this on my doorstep:

In case you aren't familiar with Stitch Fix, it's a personal shopping service that sends you 5 items every month (or less often if you want). There is a $20 styling fee for each Fix that they send, but if you buy anything from your box, it becomes a credit, so essentially, it's free! Also, if you purchase all five items, you get 25% off - a feature I've been taking advantage of lately! You can read more details about Stitch Fix in the post I wrote about my first Fix.

Here's what was in my Fix #3:
Jordanne A-Line Skirt - This is a great basic black skirt for work, and the fabric feels really nice. Perfect length for teaching, and amazingly enough, I don't currently own a solid black skirt. Verdict: Keep!

Jaclynn 3/4 Sleeve Button-up Cardigan - I love the raspberry color of this cardigan, and at $38, it was a great price for a staple piece. Verdict: Keep!

Travers Short Sleeved Striped Knit Shirt - At first,  I wasn't particularly excited about this one, but I really do like it with the cardigan. Plus, it was only $28. Verdict: Keep!

Somerville Tribal Print Short Sleeve Top - I love that this is so loose and flowy. Perfect for spring weather! Although I'm not always a fan of tribal print styles, this one feels a little more geometric to me, and I do like it. Orange isn't my favorite color either, but it works on this shirt. (I like that Stitch Fix is making me branch out a little!) Verdict: Keep!

Emi Marled Knit Short-Sleeved Top - This one was just okay. I think it will look much better with dark pants instead of white, and maybe a black cardigan or jacket. It just kind of looks washed out here. Since I'm keeping everything else, it's actually $8 cheaper to keep this one and get the 25% off. Verdict: Meh.

I realized when I started writing this post that I never shared my second Fix with you, so here's a quick recap:
Going clockwise...
Kensi Skinny Jeans - LOVE! They feel amazing on, and are a nice navy color, rather than a dark denim color. One of my favorites so far!
Sheer Geometric Print 3/4 Sleeve Top - LOVE the green and blue print! Nice and breezy for spring!
Colorblock Top - Not a huge fan of the cream being at the top, but I love everything else about it.
Navy & Orange Geometric Print Tank - this was another "It's cheaper to keep it all, so...ok" item for me. I don't like the way it looks at the top at all, but under a sweater, it's actually really cute. I'll never wear it alone though!
Corrina Striped Dolman Top - LOVE! Super comfy!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post; I have paid for my fix on my own and have not been given any type of compensation for this review. I do however receive a small referral credit if you follow my link, so if you want to try it, just click one of my links to head on over to Stitch Fix and get started!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Five for Friday - 4/11/14

It's been longer than I intended, but I'm back, and I'm linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching to share five things from the past week.

My little guy turned two on Saturday! It's hard to believe time is flying by so fast. (This explains my absence around here...I was one busy mama working on birthday party decorations and my first homemade birthday cake...Last year, my mom came up to help, but this year, she couldn't make it, so I was on my own.)


Monday, we started Probability Stations. We haven't quite finished yet because our week has been broken up a little, but my kiddos are loving them! There are six stations in all, dice, playing cards, spinners, number tiles, colored cubes, and (everyone's favorite) trash can toss. My students are getting some much needed practice with thinking critically about probability! If you're interested, you can grab a copy of the stations (complete with printable manipulatives) in my TPT store.



Meanwhile, we are working on a March Madness themed research project. Students are researching the teams who played and calculating data, probability, and player statistics. Each pair will be making a Prezi presentation to present their work next week. I can't wait to see what they come up with! They have been so excited to get to use our new laptops this week with all of the projects we have going!

In Social Studies, we watched a few sections of a great mini-series from The History Channel. If you're teaching the Revolutionary War, this DVD is perfect. The majority of my students were really engaged. It definitely helped them visualize the areas we've been talking about and the lifestyle that the Colonists had. I bought the entire mini-series on DVD for $10 on Amazon. So far, it's been completely appropriate for fifth graders, but I'm watching them all before I show them in class, just in case!

I am SOOO glad to be able to say that I am OFF of Grad School for the next 6 weeks! I have been taking an accelerated master's program for a solid year now, with no breaks. This teacher and mama badly needs some time to slow down and focus on things I enjoy instead of always working on grad school! I'm hoping to blog more, work on some TPT ideas, and of course, spend some quality time with the little man!

Well, that's it for me! Pop over to Doodlebugs to see what everyone else has been up to this week!