## Friday, November 25, 2011

### 12 Activities of Christmas

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that those of you brave enough to fight the crowds had a great shopping day today.  To help kick off the Christmas season, here is the December version of my creative writing books.  I really enjoy reading my students' responses to the questions and prompts in the book.

I also wanted to let everyone know that there will be a site wide 10% off TpT sale on Monday the 28th, and the coupon code is CMS28!  I'll also have my entire on sale for an additional 10% off everything you buy.  I know I have my shopping cart ready to go!

## Tuesday, November 22, 2011

### 12 Activities of Christmas

I recently added what may be my new favorite product to my TpT store.  It's the 12 Activities of Christmas, and it is different from my usual items which are very specific to certain standards.  This product is geared more toward critical thinking and divergent thinking skills with a few really challenging activities.  I'm planning to use one activity each day in my class for a total of 12 days of Christmas activities. You can click on any of the pictures for a preview.

I love logic puzzles, so I had to include one in the packet, and students will have to help Mrs. Clause triple a cookie recipe in a different activity.  I was also thrilled to finally think of a way to practice longitude and latitude in a fun way where students can track Santa's route.

I also included a Christmas themed Sudoku that is on a 6 by 6 square to make it a little more manageable for 3-5 students.  There are also 2 graphing activities and an algebra activity where students have to find the weights of packages using balance scales.
The Number Christmas Tree is basically a number pyramid that is one of the most challenging activities in this product, but I think it will be great mental math practice for my students.  The Candy Cane Measurement is a fairly simple activity where students have to measure candy canes, but they won't start from zero on the ruler, which adds a bit of a challenge.  Another activity is Christmas themed word ladders, and since they are also pretty challenging , I've added a few hints to help students out.

The Christmas Tree Farm activity is also very challenging, but students usually love it.  In the Carol Synonyms, students have to find the titles of popular Christmas carols by using synonyms for the carols.  For example, Quiet Dark may be Silent Night.  The last activity is my favorite, in this students get to design Santa's workshop by using area and perimeter to build different rooms that may be in his workshop.

I also wanted to share a little free activity that you can download by clicking on the picture.  I'll be teaching fractions for the next few weeks, so it's a little Christmas fractions worksheet.

## Sunday, November 20, 2011

### What I'm Thankful For Linky Party

I don't think I've joined a linky party since school started back, but I couldn't skip this one.  I have so much to be thankful for, so I just couldn't resist What the Teacher Wants linky party.

1.  What are you thankful for in your classroom?

My grade level teammates.  I'm so grateful to work with a group of women who are genuinely nice people.  Teaching is a hard job, so it's nice to work with a group who is positive and encouraging, and I never have to worry about gossip and pettiness.  (I know that this is not technically in my classroom, but it's a huge influence on my classroom).  One of our best times together was when we drove through a "safari" outside of Atlanta.

2. What person are you most thankful for?  I'm going to have to pick two, because there is just no way to only pick one.  My husband and daughter give me more happiness that I ever imagined.

3. What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?
Wow, this is a hard one too, because there are so many wonderful blogs out there.

I love Denise's Sunny Days in Second Grade, and she's been a big help to me this year.

The Ladybug's Teacher Files is a great blog too, and Kristen's really nice.

My third blog is Learn Me Good, which didn't have a button, but it's worth checking out.  It's written by the author of Learn Me Good, and I always find something that makes me laugh over there.

4. What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?
The Outlander series.  I can't help it-it is just one of those books that takes me away-again and again.

5. What are you most thankful for?
I think this would be better answered in a book!  I'm thankful for my faith and the freedom to practice it.  Of course I'm thankful for my family and my friends.  I'm also certainly thankful for my health and the health of my family.  I could go on and on here, but I'll just say I am truly a blessed person.

## Saturday, November 19, 2011

### Work Stations Assessment

As many of you know, I've started implementing math work stations for the first time this year.  For the past several years, I've used the traditional math workshop model, so this is a change for me.  I only use work stations two days a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), because I need time for many of my longer math workshop tasks that are just not conducive for a work station activity.  I'm also not sure if my third graders would enjoy it as much if they did the work stations every day.  Right now, they're still huge treat for my students.

After a little more than 9-weeks, I feel like I've gotten into the swing of things and have learned how to adjust little things to make the work stations even more efficient in my classroom.  However, I've started feeling a little concerned about my students' accountability during work station time.  The activities that we do are engaging, so I don't have a lot of behavior issues, but I just haven't felt 100% confident that my students have been giving their best effort, and I've been noticing some issues with students not staying on task.  I've also been a little concerned that my students weren't getting enough accomplished during their station time and that they weren't being careful about whether their work was correct or not. I meet with small groups during the majority of the time, so it's difficult to be everywhere I need to be. Last week I had an ah-ha moment, and I think I've found one of my missing pieces to successful work stations-a weekly work station rubric.
In my rubric, I'm assigning points for work habits and content for Tuesdays and Thursdays.
It's very simple, but I can already see a significant improvement in my students' work ethic and motivation to to their best work.  I also think rubrics are an incredible tool in relaying expectations to students. I've left my rubric in Word format, you can make changes to it since I'm sure everyone has different needs for their students.  (If it doesn't look right it's probably because of the font I used.)   I'm sure my rubric will continue to evolve as I encounter new concerns.

## Tuesday, November 15, 2011

### Math Practice

I'm not a fan of doing tons of worksheets, but there are some math skills where my students really need extra practice.  We've recently worked on the distributive property, which is really tricky for me.  The first year year I taught it, I had to go online and teach myself how to use the distributive property myself!  It really surprises me that my students love doing it, and think that it is so easy, but I'm not complaining:)
Here is a worksheet that I've used in my class for extra practice.  I've scaffold it, so that it starts of fairly easy and progressively gets more difficult.

We've also started division, and my students think it is the best thing ever.  It never ceases to amaze me to see how excited they are to learn something new and grown-up (my kiddos think they're doing high school work).  We did the M&M activity today from my multiplication and division unit, and I forgot to take pictures, but I did make a short little practice sheet.  I cringe when I see my non academic vocabulary on it, but I'll add it later.  Right now, we're just working on the basics.
I know that neither sheets are especially cute or exciting, but hopefully they'll get the job done.  I'll be uploading my new December Weekly Word Problems to TpT tonight.

## Sunday, November 13, 2011

### Weekly Word Problems

My students are really struggling with word problems this year.  They do great when it's only addition, only subtraction, or only multiplication, but it totally throws them for a loop when they have to choose the operation.  I've done lessons on this, I have posters with key words, and I've even had my students create their own posters using chart paper, but this is just going to have to be a skill we practice daily.  I'm in the process of creating monthly word problem practice sheets for each month, so that we can practice 3 word problems each day.  The daily problems will be written so that the context of the story problem is the same for all three problems which will allow students to really focus on the math key words.  My August and September sheets will only have addition and subtraction word problems, and the October and November sheets will have addition, subtraction, and multiplication word problems.  The December-May sheets will have addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division word problems.  I will have 4 weeks worth of word problems for each month.

You can grab your copy by clicking on the picture!  I know November is almost over, and but hopefully you can use it next year.  I'll be adding the other months to my TpT store as soon as they're ready.

## Thursday, November 10, 2011

### Thanksgiving Choice Board

It's so easy for me to get wrapped up in standards, curriculum maps, and data that I sometimes lose sight of the big picture.  In the midst of learning about the distributive property, branches of government, and properties of rocks and minerals it's hard to slow down and just enjoy my students.  I hadn't planned on doing much in the classroom for Thanksgiving this year, but I had to remind myself that I've got to give my students a break every now and then, so I'm excited to try one of new art projects I found on pinterest.  I also made a new Thanksgiving choice board that is in the same format as the Veteran's Day choice board.  I've included 3 writing, 3 language arts/reading, and 3 math activities, and I think that students will really enjoy it.  I'm excited to step back just a little and have a little extra fun with my class.

I've posted the choice board in my TpT store, so if you're interested click on the picture.

## Saturday, November 5, 2011

### Veteran's Day Choice Board

Each year around this same time I start feeling crunched for time, because I'm always behind the curriculum map, and little assemblies and programs start popping into our day on a regular basis.  I'm always happy for my students to have new and interesting experiences, but I do feel the pressure of not falling too far behind.  Despite this time crunch, I feel that it's important to set aside some time for teaching students about Veteran's Day and to allow them to complete a few Veteran's Day activities.  I recently created a Veteran's Day Choice Board that gives students choices in the activities they complete.   There are also student directions for each of the activities.  You can get your copy by clicking on any of the pictures.

## Thursday, November 3, 2011

### Types of Democracies

I'm wrapping up my Ancient Greece unit (pictures and ideas are coming soon) which is the perfect transition to our government unit, because we are learning about the differences between a direct democracy and a representative democracy.  This is one of those concepts that is really difficult for students, because it is so abstract and they don't have much prior knowledge in this area that they can connect the concept to.  I tried to make both democracies a little easier for students to understand by creating a simulation activity for my students.  In the first part of the simulation students voted on how to spend money for the school playground through a direct democracy, and in the second part students voted on a representative who would vote for them.  They really enjoyed the activity, and I think it helped clear up some of their confusion on this concept.  I think that students need to see it in action before they can begin to fully understand any abstract topic like this.  You can click on the picture below for your copy of the activity.