Sunday, October 28, 2012

Future Stories

Even though I'll be out of the classroom for the next few weeks, I do have a few new things to share with you.  I wish I could claim all of these great ideas, but many of them are from my teaching partner at school.  I really loved one of her beginning of the year writing lessons where she had students write their "future story".   She started the year with this activity to help students think about their long term goals for the future, and then used the goals to motivate students to give their best effort and work hard toward achieving their goals.  Students used their goals to write about their future and illustrated their work with a self-portrait.  Students really enjoyed this activity, and I love how it forced them to think about the importance of hard work and education

Here is the first page of one student's future story.  Many of them were absolutely adorable!  I will warn you....your hallway will have a lot of adult traffic with different people coming to read students' future stories:)

It feels so strange to NOT be teaching during this time of year.  Even though it's crazy, I do love being with my students on Halloween.  However, up until last year I dreaded the day after Halloween, because all of my students were exhausted, cranky, and were on a steady diet of candy.  I finally decided that it would be much easier for all of us to just go with the flow and find a way to make the day fun for students while sneaking in a lot of learning.  I made an entire packet for the day after Halloween, and it was definitely a hit and made the day a success!  You can find the packet <here> if you're interested.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

New Arrival

You've probably noticed that my blogging has been a bit on the slow side these past couple of weeks.  I do have a REALLY good excuse for my absence.  On Monday, October 8th we welcomed William Cooper into the world.  He weighed 8 pounds 2 ounces and has a head full of hair.  So far, he has been a very laid back baby, which is strange to us, because my daughter was anything but laid back.

Riley loves being a big sister and "helps" with everything.  Just today I saw her "doctoring" him which made me a little nervous to say the least.
I survived my first week at home with my husband back at work, and it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be.  I'm trying to enjoy every moment, because I know how fast it goes.  I won't lie though...I can't wait to get a little more sleep at night and to find a daily routine.

Once I find my groove I hope to use my spare time (ha ha) to work on a few new products that I've been thinking about.  I've actually started working on something new that I've had several requests for, and I should have it ready any day.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fall Fun

I've had a lot of fun with my Halloween Common Core Math Centers, but I know that many schools have restrictions on Halloween themed activities, so I have also created fall themed math centers.  The activities are aligned to the third grade Common Core Standards for Number and Operations in Base Ten.  There are six total center activities that include:  1 place value, 2 rounding, 1 addition, 1 subtraction, and 2 multiplication of multiples of ten.  With each activity, you'll find:

a Cover Sheet

Student Directions

and Activity Cards

Since I began the year with these skills, this will make a great review for my students.  I'm not sure if they can get too much practice!

You can check out the whole packet by clicking here or on the picture below.

I also wanted to share one of my spelling sorts.  I have it organized so students are looking for vowel patterns for each long vowel sound.  You can download this freebie by clicking here or on the picture below.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Academic Vocabulary

It is such a joy to teach a group of students that LOVE to read.  This year I am thrilled to have a class full of boys and girls who absolutely love reading and don't read because they have to, but read for the pure joy of reading.  Just this morning I had a swarm of boys standing around me who couldn't talk fast enough about The 39 Clues books.  We had the best discussion on what we would do if we were in a similar situation.  It was one of those moments that makes all of the work throughout the year worthwhile.  I also have a group of girls who love The Babysitter Club books, which thrills me, because that was my absolute favorite series when I was their age.  I have to give credit to my school's amazing K-2 teachers who have built a solid reading foundation and instilled this enjoyment of reading in my students.

I feel like my next big hurdle is to expand that enjoyment and comprehension to nonfiction texts.  As a reader, I also prefer fiction books, but I realize that it is critical for my students to be able to read and comprehend nonfiction texts.  I love using my social studies and science curriculum to teach nonfiction reading strategies.  I have found that many of my students struggle with academic vocabulary, and I've spent a great deal of time researching ways to improve this area.

One of my students' and my favorite ways to practice academic vocabulary is through a game called Mile-a-Minute.  One of the best parts of the game is that there is very little preparation required.  All you need is a projector and vocabulary slides (I use PowerPoint) and you’re ready to go! 

In the example below, Earth Science is the category and the words listed below are terms I want my students to know.

This is an example of a social studies slide for Ancient Greece.
How to Play
This game is very similar to the game “Taboo”.  You will need to assign each student a partner (my students sit in groups of 4, so I just pair up students who sit beside each other).  Tell one partner to face the projector’s screen and one partner to face the opposite direction.  As soon as students are ready, display a vocabulary slide and tell students to begin.  The partner facing the screen should immediately tell their partner the category and try to get their partner to say all of the terms on the screen by providing clues such as definitions, synonyms, and antonyms.  They cannot spell, give rhyming words, or say any of the words on the list, and of course NO PEEKING.  You can either give students a time limit to try to complete as many words as possible, or you can play until someone says all the words on the list.

After each round, discuss the terms and what clues could have been used for each of the terms.  You can keep playing by having the partners switch spots and repeating the steps with a different slide.

I love this game, because it requires every student in the class to participate at the same time, and I love that students get instant feedback on their vocabulary knowledge.  It is fast-paced and exciting for students and is an amazing review at the same time, and is a great game for when you have a couple extra minutes before or after a transition.

I like to introduce this game by using very simple words that don’t present much of a challenge to students to allow them to understand how to play the game.  Then I introduce the academic vocabulary into the game.  You can download some of the social studies and science slides I use with my students, so hopefully they'll give you some ideas of categories and terms that you can use with your students.  Just click on the picture below for your copy!  I'm sorry, but I can only share as a PDF file and won't be able to link the Power Point, but I feel that's it's important to closely follow the terms of use of all my favorite clipart sites!