Monday, June 24, 2013

Universal Bump Board

So here's my take...

I, like many of you, have a healthy addiction to reading my fellow teacher blogs and consistently buying awesome stuff from Teachers pay Teachers! One item that I read about, pinned several times, and of course bought this year were Bump Boards.

This is an awesome Bump Board I bought and used from Teachers Pay Teachers!

Most of you I am sure have heard of the game and have seen some cute boards made out there. However, I didn't like having to buy and prep different boards all the time. So...I created my own version, one that could be used for any concept and at anytime of the year. May I introduce my Universal Bump Board!

Click Here for a Copy!
Click Here for a Copy!

I must say it came in handy this past Spring when I used it for test prep, station work, partner time, etc. 

Now my caveat to other bump boards out there is that mine relies on a 20 sided die. If you are a teacher like me who loves to own your own math manipulatives, well then you probably have some lying around.

Lastly, I have to tell you all about a great 
new product that I found out about this year! 

It is a sturdy pocket folder with a clear envelope attached by Avery. I use it to store and organize my materials for station work. 

I love that it can hold manipulatives and that it easily stores inside a legal size file drawer! They are awesome!

If you have any creative universal game boards you would like to share, 
I would love to hear about them!

Happy Learning!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Word Study, Organization, & Walmart!

So here's my take...

Don't you just love when you are shopping and something you didn't intend to buy jumps out at you? Your teacher brain says, "Score! I can totally use that in my classroom". Well, I was shopping at Walmart today and I scored two things to use in my classroom! 

My 1st find were these super cute flyswatters! I love how they say SPLAT! on them. 
I immediately thought about using them for Word Study. I decided I could use them to spice up a speed sort game. 

 I created this recording sheet for the game... I am aptly calling it Splat!

Click Here for a Copy!

Partners will spread out each others words. When the words are set up then students will race each other to see who can swat their words and record them first.  If any words are illegible or misspelled then 2 seconds will be taken off. The quickest time is the winner and is crowned Bug Buster!

My 2nd awesome find at Walmart...

I have seen the "grading bag" idea floating around Pinterest/Blogs for awhile but I hadn't found the right bag for me until today!!!

I also found the open portable 
file holders at Walmart. 
I bought two... the first is for papers that need grading and the second is for papers that need to be filed.

Now all I have to do is start grading those papers that are inside!

What a great shopping trip! If you have any flyswatter activities...
I would love if you would share below!

Happy Learning!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Comfy Classroom Library Organization!

So here's my take...

Can you find what is comfy but organized in my library?

Look closely at the bottom of the bookshelves. 
The cute zebra pattern is really standard sized pillow cases!!!

Click here to go to the Target website

I bought these 3 tiered bookshelves from Target when they went on sale for $16.99. I love how easy (no tools) they are to put together and how sturdy they are! 

They have just enough space at the bottom to fit standard sized pillows!


Over the summer I saw this pin of how students used chairs as great reading nooks and thought, I have to do that

Unfortunately my pin does not go through to a blog or website so I don't have a particular person to thank and give credit to for this fantastic idea! 

If you happen to know, please let me know!

My class has loved the pillows and "chair nooks" this year! I am really proud of how well they share them...of course quietest students get first pick!

Students like to spread out all over the classroom to read and jot their thoughts!

I love using pillow cases instead of store bought pillows. 

They are easy to keep clean and so versatile. 

They easily can be brought home to wash and best of all...when I get tired of the zebra print (I don't foresee that happening anytime soon) I can easily find something else!!!

Well, as always, if you have a comfy library idea I do wish you would share! 

Happy Learning!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Before a Close Read...Use THIEVES!

So here's my take...

I have a great group of students this year. However, one of my challenges is that more than 75% of my classroom reads below grade level. Beginning this year I knew that I would need to incorporate more reading instruction in my content areas.

My research
up 2 great resources!

I am in Va and we don't follow the Common Core (yet!) but I have noticed that this standard (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.10) has caused confusion & concern for many of you. These two books explain and show you how to address this standard.

I highly recommend reading both these books! I especially found Sunday Cummins book, Close Reading of Informational Texts especially helpful in how to explicitly teach students to read complex informational texts.

In Ch. 5 of her book, Cummins takes you step by step through teaching students to strategically preview text prior to a close read. Using the mnemonic THIEVES helps students to activate their background knowledge and prepares
 them to make in-depth predictions.

Cummins recommends having groups work together to preview the text, which helps support readers at every level! I found that my students were more focused, confident, & ready to do a close read with the text because they had used THIEVES beforehand. 

Click Here for a Copy
Click Here for a Copy

THIEVES is a great way to set the purpose for reading!

While doing my research, I also came across an EXCELLENT video that modeled a close read. Not only did it model close reading but how to seamlessly incorporate & use Learning Targets (which I love too!). 


Lastly, I started a Pin Board to collect resources & more ideas 
on Close Reading & Text Complexity. 

Click Here to Visit the Pin Board

If you happen to have ideas or resources on the subject, I would love to hear from you!

Happy Learning!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Primary Sources & Anchor Charts

So here's my take...

This year I have been making great efforts to get my Va. Studies students to use their 
Historical Thinking Skills 
(Sourcing, Contextualizing, Close Reading, & Cross Checking). 

Below is our Historical Thinking Skills board that we refer to many times throughout the year when we take a look at a primary source.

I have really seen how the use of primary sources have helped my students learn how to think critically and to engage with the content in more meaningful ways.

Recently my class began its investigation into how Virginian ideas contributed to the formation of our new government. Students need to know about the ideas of James Madison, George Mason, Thomas Jefferson, & George Washington.

To understand these men's ideas students must investigate the Constitution 
& work with this primary source!

A picture book is always a great place to start. The text is arranged to break down the components of the constitution in easy to understand parts.

As we read the text we are pausing to use our historical thinking skills, have partner discussions, and then create an anchor chart of our learning. 

As you can see, the primary source document is right there for students to interact and get familiar with (I also have copies for students to get their hands on too...with a magnify glass!)

Click here for a Copy
Click here for a Copy
As we go along creating our anchor chart, students are recording the information in a graphic organizer that will go into their notebooks.

Here is another primary source image I love to use when investigating the Constitution. The painting by Howard Christy in 1940 can be found at

At the site you can scroll over the delegates and it displays their name. It is another excellent way for students to dive deeper into a primary source.

At the site there is a synopsis of the painting that you can use for great discussions.

I posed the question, 
Do you think all 55 delegates are represented? Explain your reasoning.

If you have any primary source documents you use for the Constitution, I would LOVE to hear from you!!!

Happy Learning!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Learning Targets

So here's my take...

I have been wanting to implement Learning Targets in my classroom for sometime now and this past week I finally got rolling with them! 

I was a little nervous about implementing them but the positive feedback from my principal helped to build my confidence!

I started my learning journey about Learning Targets by reading the book by Connie Moss. It made sense to me that if students knew what they were trying to understand in a lesson that then they would be more engaged and take more ownership in their own learning. From there I watched a FREE Webinar on the book provided by ASCD. It helped to hear the author describe how to use Learning Targets with your students.

Click here to go to the FREE Webinar from ASCD!

I want to give some credit to the teachers whose signs I used to make my board! I got the Superhero Target sign from Stephanie at Primary Possiblities blog as a FREEBIE! I got the Learning Target sign as a FREEBIE from Stephanie @ 3rdGradeThoughts.

Next, I wanted to have more tangible evidence of using Learning Targets with my students and how they were using them too. I was going to create an 
exit ticket type assessment but luckily I found something from The Creative Classroom on Teachers Pay Teachers! 

I recently used these with my Math class. After our Math Huddle and mini-lesson I checked in with students by using these "I Can Exit Tickets". I was pretty please with how the students took to them and how they seemed to reflect on their Learning Target. I am still thinking of other ways to use them maybe a pre/post reflection of their learning!

I am an avid Pinner and have started a great board on Learning Targets. 
Check it out for more info! 
Click here to visit my Pin Board
My next steps are to make more visible the "Look Fors" students should be able to use during a lesson to see if they are on track for hitting a target in a given lesson!

If you have had success with using Learning Targets and have great tips on implementation, 
I would love for you to share!


Friday, February 8, 2013

100th Day of School...4th Grade Style!

So here's my take...

Our journey towards the 100th Day of School began way back on the very first day! On the first day I gave out a blank 100's chart for students to glue into their Math Notebooks. I explained that each day we would be coloring in one square. Of course someone had to shout out, "We did that last year!" I told them I know but I doubt they counted the days in fraction and decimal form. Oh yeah...dead silence!

Once we had our first square out of 100 colored in, I asked the class how many total squares there were? Of course they said 100. I wrote 100 on the board and drew a fraction bar above it. I then asked, how many squares did we color in? They responded with one and I wrote it in the numerator. 

I then said, "Welcome to the 1/100 day of school!". We then discuss how counting the days of school can look in fraction form and related it to decimal form. We even discussed that reading the fraction and decimal sounds exactly the same!

One of our classroom jobs is called the Decimal Counter. The person is responsible for coloring in the class 100's chart, writing the day in fraction form, and writing the day in decimal form. This past week was our school system's 100th Day. The class had been anticipating what we would do to celebrate and I let them know that it wouldn't be like any other 100th Day celebration they experienced in K-3!

Our 100th Day came on Feb.5th! Since we had finished our unit on division the students made an easy connection that the 100th Day equalled one whole! I announced, "Welcome to Celebrating the Whole!". The 100th Day kicked off our unit on Fractions!

We were sitting at our carpet area when I asked the class how many math students were present in our class today and they responded with 14. I said yes the number 
14 represents our whole class. I then asked how can you organize yourself so it would be easier to tell how many of you there are? Students responded that they could line up, so I had them do just that! 

I counted off each student and handed them a large index card with their number on it until I got to the 14th student. I asked the first student to tell me her number and she said one. I said yes you are one student out of a total of 14 students and with that I added a one in the numerator and then a fraction bar. I had the next student say her fraction and she finished writing it on the index card. Once we got to the 14th student I had her say her fraction, write it, and then say she equalled one whole! Sorry that the pic doesn't show up well...that is what you get with an iPhone!

We then had a lively discussion that about how 
fractions represents parts of wholes. We played around with what was the fraction of students that had blue and brown eyes, girls vs. boys, and their ages. I then went on to explain that the class was a human fraction line and that fractions "live" on the number line between whole numbers. I gave the ends a zero and a one.

The students then learned how to draw a fraction number line and label it. (If you haven't had your 100th day yet, make sure to pick up a copy!) Once they had completed their number lines, I asked how many students like donuts...can you guess the reply? Yup, all hands went up! I said well you are in luck, I brought in some donuts today for our celebration! Since we are celebrating the whole today, you may each have a whole donut hole! (I love to be corny but at the same time I snuck in Homophones!) Took some students awhile but then they caught on! We ended our lesson making sure we ate the whole holes!! (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

The Decimal counter was eager to know how to do their job now that the 100's chart was filled in. Some students asked if we would erase the board and start over and that is when I brought out another chart! We had a discussion as to how to write the fraction and the decimal now which lead to a mini-lesson on Mixed Numbers!!!

This was the first time I had approached the 100th Day in this manner. I must say it provided a great intro to Fractions and the kids seemed to pick up on constructing, labeling, and understanding fraction number lines much quicker!

If you have any unique ways to celebrate the 100th Day, 
I would love to hear about them!

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