Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Sunday Sale & Technology Overload!!

I had planned to post today about a new math problem solving activity my kiddos are I are doing daily, but I'm having too much fun with all the new technology that got put into my hands today!  

An IPAD mini!! Yay.  The best part is, I didn't have to pay for it ..well didn't have to pay for it directly (I get to pay for it in assessments, migrations, stress, and everything else that comes along with these types of things) But ya know what? I don't even care.  If I can't bag it, and I can't bargain it, I may as well find a way to better it.. and this IPAD mini is my way :)  Seriously y'all.. I've never owned any Apple product- OK maybe the ipod that my little sister handed down to me when she upgraded (sad I know) but this is a big deal. 

Not only did a get an IPAD mini, but I got my new windows phone! I desperately needed it! This is what my old phone looked like after an accidental fall out of my pocket right flat onto it's face...

I was getting pretty tired of staring at this cracked screen for the past few months so I was so excited when my new phone arrived.  It's going to take some getting used to because it's a windows phone, but it's pretty sweet!

So since I'm not here to blog about your math today, I figured I'd link up with Khrys from Keepin It Kool in Kinderland for her Superbowl Linky Party for TPT! Justin & I will have our store on sale for 20% off Saturday & Sunday, but remember you can only use that super awesome "SUPER" code on Sunday for a savings of 28%!!

Here are a few things you might be interested in...

Incorporate vocabulary building into your everyday plans with...

Make sure you're building on all 8 Common Core Math Practices with the following task cards (1 Set for K-2, the other for 3-8)

K-2 task cards include only questions for students to answer after they have solved a problem.

3-8 task cards include a set for analyzing students thinking before and after they solve a math problem!

And while you're at it, maybe you want to grab these Common Core Math Practice Posters.  These posters make it easy to keep yourself and your students accountable for covering all the practices during your math class!  They are put into kid friendly terms so they are easy for the kids to understand

Or maybe pick up this hot seller... Common Core Aligned Historic Fiction thinking menu.  Best to use with your upper grades students!

And last before I sign off, maybe try to incorporate more project-based learning in your room by starting with this U.S. Symbols unit that takes a project approach to learned about different U.S. Symbols.

Off to play with some technology before bed!  Be sure to check back early next week because I'll be having a big giveaway to celebrate over 100 followers! Yay!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Oh no, Subtracting with ungrouping!?!

Ah yes, Subtraction with ungrouping.  One of the 3 toughest topics to teach second graders (at least I think).  This goes along with counting money and telling time.  Why oh Why are these so hard, I don't know.. all I know is that I need to take some extra time and give a little extra love to these 3 Math babies..

My district uses Math Expressions for our Math program.  I.Dislike.It.Alot!  The lessons are jam packed, and I just don't get the sequence they have most of their units in.  So I usually just got through the unit, look at the strategies, and decide how to teach the concept in a way that will most benefit my students.  I couldn't believe it when MX went from counting quarters, to counting dollars, to subtracting from 100.  All in a matter of 3 lessons.  REALLY? Subtracting across double zeros to start? What are you people thinking? OK- I mean I kinda get it, subtracting money.. but it just seemed too adventurous to start out with for me.  So this is how we started...

1- Explanation: "Today we are going to begin something new in subtraction where we need to ungroup in order to find the answer.  This can be a very tough thing to understand but if you stick through it, I know you will be able to wrestle and beat this new way of problem solving!  One thing that is really important is that you UNDERSTAND HOW we solve problems like this and WHY.  When you go home at night to do your homework, if you're not sure how to do it, you can ask mom and dad for help- but if they are not doing it the way I am showing you and you don't understand what they are saying, I want you to come back to school with your homework unfinished, yes unfinished, and I will help you understand because the most important thing is that you understand and can explain what we are doing.  You need to know more than the steps to solving these problems and we can learn it together!"

I also sent this note home to parents to let them know: Feel free to save & use as you please (It's not really cute but it gets the point across)

2- Introduction: I gave each student a work mat that had a hundreds, tens and ones column.  Each table group got 1 box of unfix cubes.  First I asked them to make 2 tens.  Then 3 ones.  (How much do we have, value yadda yadda etc).  Then, I told them that I wanted them to subtract 7.  Some of them took 7 off of the 10, left the other 3 intact (in 10's column) and said they got the answer, others didn't know what to do, and a few others decided to break apart their 10.  Yay!  I asked those students to explain what they did and praised them for their wonderful thoughts- it's much more meaningful coming from them than me.  Then we did another problem together just like this, but went through step by step.  Here's a picture of one of my kiddos in action...

We tried this a few more times and they were really getting it! (I have no idea what I'll do when we get to subtracting from 100 or more, I don't have enough unifix cubes for that!!) Tomorrow, I'll introduce the paper & pencil strategy that involves the expanded method and hope that {most} of them will get it. This is my first time teaching this to 19 of my own little babies, so I'm hoping this strategy will prove to be an effective one that will lower both my stress & theirs when it comes to the difficulties of subtraction with ungrouping! (Why the heck can't we just say TRADE!?)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Economics Resources & some giveaways!!

Just found out a few hours ago that my county has a 3 hour delay tomorrow. 3 hours?! What is the point people?  Oh well.. my butt will be at school around normal time to get some de-cluttering done!  I guess this makes up for the 3 hours I lost on the early release we were supposed to have Feb 6, but is now taken away because of Friday's freezing rain early release. {Holy Cow, did that even make sense?}

Oh yeah, and I CANNOT believe I have reached 100 followers. Yippee!  I will be hosting a nice celebratory giveaway next week after the superbowl, so be sure to check back.  I love all my lovely followers.  It's like I have a little virtual family :)

Onto the reason of this post... S.S. If you're like me it's the "dreaded" S.S. time.  Yep, S.S. is not my strong point.  Growing up, I really disliked it.  I was never any good at it no matter how hard I studied or how hard I worked.  All those dates and people and laws and blah blah blah blah.   I don't even know why I was so terrible at it.  Starting in 9th grade I had GREAT teachers and I loved them so much.  My world history teacher was actually in the movie, Meatballs!! Peter Hume, he was the Stomach, remember that movie?  Yup, he was my teacher, and he was basically awesome. {R.I.P}.. Anyway, maybe it was my previous awful teachers that just contributed to my hatred of history.  I don't know.. all I know is, I'm not a big fan, and I'm not very good at it.

Lucky for me, second graders don't need to know dates or laws or a whole bunch of people.. I've been warming up to this idea of S.S. being fun!  Pretty much thanks to all you lovely bloggers.  The unit we are currently working on is Economics (yuck!)  I was really dreading this until I found a great unit on TPT by Amy over at Teacher Chick.  It's an Economics Carnival! How fun is that?  Oh and you get to eat donuts during one of your lessons.  Whaaat!? How could I ever say S.S. was not fun? Check out her blog here...

Well- I will tell you guys more about that once we actually get to it.  We just started so we're barely into it but I wanted to share a resource that I made for our unit that is a great assessment tool/study guide.  I wanted to get an idea of what they knew, if anything ..& have something for them to use to practice the vocab. So, one of the upper grades teachers that works with Justin has these great mats that she makes.  You can visit Tammy's Store Here if you are an upper grade teacher and want to check out her mats! I promise you, her products will not disappoint you.  I think I need to stop babbling.. 

Stealing her idea, I made a mat for our own studies!  It looks like this...

It has a second page of definitions for each word they need to know when it comes to economics!!  So basically this is what you can use these mats for.

1.) Pre-Asses: For some units and grades, this is not really necessary because they aren't going to know much at all.  But to preassess, you would give students the 3 column sheet and have them categorize the words into one of the 3 columns.. 1. I've never seen this word before 2. I've seen this word before but I don't know what it means or 3. I've seen this word and I know what it means.  Especially for units of study that are built on in grades before, this is a great way to see what they remember or what may not have been hit.  This is great copying practice too!

2.) Study Mat!  Finish your lesson early or want to leave a little extra time? Early Finishers?? Give students the word mat and have them cut out the definitions on the second mat.  Students just read the definition and match it to the correct word.  Instant easy study activity!

3.) Post-Assessment: You could give students the definition cards and ask them to tell the word or vice versa.  

There are so many things you could do with this mat!  I'm looking forward to using them in my room for many things that aren't just S.S.!!  If you want to give this a try in your classroom... click on the image below to head on over to my TPT store!  Maybe put it on your wish list for the big superbowl sale!  The mat also comes with essential questions that help you focus your instruction! 

If you have a unit coming up that you would want one of these mats for, I would be happy to make one for you.  I would just need the words and definitions you want on the mat! :)

I'll be making more to go along with other units of study.  So if you like it, be sure to check back for more.

LASTLY- Onto some giveaways I was lucky enough to be able to participate in!

Olivia over at Liv2Teach is having a 1000 TPT Followers giveaway!  She's got a ton of different prize packs.

And there are also a ton of prize packs to win over at What I have Learned... You definitely don't want to miss out on an entry for one of those infamous Classroom Friendly quietest pencil sharpeners!! I know I need to get myself one of these!

Alright, y'all.. I hope you've stuck through all my rambling!  If you've made it here, I'll give my economics mat to the first 3 people to comment telling me their most favoritest thing about S.S.!! :) 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Friday Funnies- A Linky Party!

I  know there are a TON of linky parties out there, especially ones that happen on Fridays.  It something about the words "Friday" and "party" together- BUT... my kids just keep saying these funny things, and it would be a shame not to share.. and you can't really do Monday Funnies, Tuesday Funnies etc.. it just doesn't sound FUN, so that's why I  had to come to the decision to make it Fridays. So welcome, Friday Funnies!!

 Friday Funnies will be a weekly linky party to share all the funny things that your little ones said throughout the week.  So, if you're like me... dust off that journal- you know, the one you got to write down all those great moments, but haven't used..  and keep track of all those funny moments.  Who  knows, maybe one day we could compile them all into a book :)

Here are a few of my funnies from the week!

Other Teacher: Mark* asked me if I saw the hump in his hair and asked if I liked it.  He said his mom did it for him.  He is just too funny.
*10 minutes later at recess*
Student: Hey Ms. G!
Me: Hey Mark!  Heeeeeeeeyyy, you have a bump in your hair!
Student: No, It's not a BUMP, its a HUMP
Me: Oh, I'm sorry, you have a hump in your hair!  Did you do it?
Student: No uhm my mom did last night.  
Me: Oh, you asked her to? 
Student: Yeah! She did it when I was sleeping with her hairspray.
Me: Oh, you didn't do it this morning? I'm surprised it stayed like that through the night.  She must have some pretty strong hairspray.  Is it suave?
Student: Yea, I think.... It's got a green top.
Me: Well it looks pretty neat.  What made you want to put a hump in your hair?
Student: Well, Patricia Polacco has a hump in her hair!
Me: Ooh, I see.  How did you know that?
Student: Well I saw her pictures.
Me: Cool!  Hey, maybe you could be an author like her!
Student: No, I'm not an author, but Patricia Polacco is!
Me: Yea, but I bet you could be if you really wanted to.  
Student: Yea.  Do you want a hump in your hair?
Me: No, I don't think it would look as good as yours.  I think I'll stick to just looking at yours.
Student: Yea, not everyone looks good with a hump like me.  It's windy. Is the wind blowing my hump away?
Me: Well, a little bit but not much. It's still there.  That hairspray is holding on strong.
Student: Oh! Ok.  
Me: Why don't you go play?
Student: No, I don't want my hump to be blown away by the wind.  It's time to go inside now?  It's pretty cold.

(Side note: The entire time I am talking to this student, he he walking trying to look back at his shadow to see his "hump")

This precious little boy was so serious about his cool Patricia Polacco "hump" and he came sporting it again today..touching it every once in a while to make sure it was still there.  Oh how I wish this little bundle was in my class!

Ok- last Funny...

Student: Ms G (talking very slowly).. I feel draaaafty
Me: You feel drafty?  What do you mean you feel drafty?
Student: You know, like dizzy and light headed
Me: Ahh you mean DROWSY
Student: Oh Yea! That's it... (And skips off COMPLETELY FINE)

So there are some of my funnies from this week.. I hope you decide to link up and share some of your own! :)
 P.S. Since this is my first linky party, I am testing out using Text links- but will switch to pictures soon.. I promise!!

Crying from Laughing so hard

Why do I love Impractical Jokers?? This is why... You MUST watch until the end, it will get you laughing, trust me! And you  just might need a good laugh right now!

Watch them Thursday nights on TruTV.  They don't disappoint!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Exploring the Pacific Ocean and some MLKjr :)

We went to the Pacific Ocean today! Yep, you read that right.. us east coasters, went to the Pacific Ocean!! Ok- maybe it's more like, the Pacific Ocean came to us.  A few years ago, National Geographic created this traveling map of the Pacific Ocean with loads of activities and fun stuff to do with kids of all ages! It is one of the world's largest maps.. seriously, how cool is that?

We JUST found out about this yesterday and since we didn't have much of a chance to look at all the amazing activities, we decided as a grade level to figure out some way to take advantage.  And we did! All 80 (YES, 80) second graders took a trip to the Pacific Ocean today.  We brought all 4 classes into the gym where the map was rolled out. We gave pairs of students cards of things like animals, mountains, trenches, etc to locate on the map.  The cards gave clues about where they were {Great maps skills practice!} THEN- we let them read in the ocean!  Oh-My-Gosh, it was SO adorable.  80 little 7 and 8 year olds spread around this ocean reading with their friends.  Check this out...

Is this not absolutely precious?  I so wish I could have been like "hanging" above them and taken a shot looking straight down.  It would have been the COOLEST.  But since I couldn't do that, the stage at an angle had to work.

It was really so much fun!  They especially loved it because they got to take their shoes off and they could read with friends from another class!  If it's possible for your school to get the Pacific Ocean to come to you, I definitely recommend it {Just click on the link above}.  I wish I had more time to prepare because we could have done things like locate/learn the Ring of Fire as well as many other activities.  Maybe the Pacific Ocean can come again next year!

When we had to leave, of course we had them "swim" out of the ocean and twist, turn, and shake to dry themselves off before heading to specials.  

Today, we also paid some respect to Martin Luther King Jr. after our 5 day weekend.  We were supposed to do this on Friday but ended up have a snow dusting day.  Snow days in NC are ridiculous (to me) but of course that's coming from a Northerner.  Then yesterday we had a Common Core teacher workday.  So yep, the kids had a super long weekend.  Possibly Probably another snow day this Friday.  Keep taking away from my Spring Intersession mother nature, keep on taking..

Where was I?  Oh yea, Friday, snow day, MLK lesson... ah ha, that's it.  I started off the lesson by asking them why we had Monday off.  Of course, they all knew because of MLK's birthday.  We grabbed our Schema folders out of our brain and talked about everything we know about MLK (He fought for blacks rights, he helped the woman who sat on the bus and wouldn't get up, he had a famous speech).  Then, I whipped out this book...

LOVE this book! I introduced it by telling them that we were going to read this book today about Martin's Big Words, and that these words were his dreams.  As we read through it, we had to stop and talk...duh, right?!  (How would you feel?  Do you think Martin was right?  Do you think what he did was a good thing? Was it fair that black people were treated differently than white people?) After we finished the book, they were pretty sad that he died so we took a minute to just sit silently and pay respect to him.  Then we began a discussion on what his "Big words" were and what they meant.  And let me tell you, 7 & 8 year olds know what they are talkin' about!  We had a GREAT discussion.  As a celebration for Martin, his words, his dreams, and what all of those words mean for us today, each student make a collage of his words.  I totally forgot to take pictures of theirs so I'll post them up this weekend, but here is the example I made for them...

I know it's kind of late for your plans, but if you like it.. maybe you can add it to your "next year plans" AKA pinterest board :)

And last- for a new smile moment/brain break that my kids LOVE!! I can hear them in my head right now, "Ms. Gravelle can we do the Sid Shuffle, pretty pleaaaaaaaaaaaaase!" And they get a kick out of the "prince" dancing with all the "regular" people.  Not kidding.

Check back soon for Spy Reports, How to promote problem solving with the Common Core Math Practices in your math class, indoor recess fun, and new S.S. Resources!  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday picture love

I just had had HAD to share these pictures with y'all! I just love the art that our art teacher does with the kiddos, it comes out amazing.  This is 2nd grade! Can you imagine the 5th grade sky scraper pieces?

I should've turned the flash off, but oh well :)

That last one was unfinished..but look how darn cute it is.  Can you imagine how awesome it will look once she gets to finish it?

Ok, that's all for today.  Be back tomorrow with hopefully some great pictures from our activities that I have planned after our 5 day that was supposed to be a 4 day weekend :) 

Off to the world of planning

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Clutter Free Plan!

Hey All!  I have been wanted to post but my computer is just driving me ca-razy {like Amy says about girls night out in Big Bang :)} Ok yes, I'm a Big Bang geek!  Ever since I had to update the z-scaler, my laptop is going ridiculously slow.  I have to close and reopen chrome just to change to a different website and it is just taking hours so I'm hoping to get the tech guys in on Tuesday to fix it for me.  Then hopefully I'll be back to normal!

On to the meaning of today's post: Clutter Free Classroom Challenge Week 2: Make a plan!

This weeks challenge is to come up with a plan for all that clutter! And.. here's my plan!

First of all: Why do I want to become clutter free? That's easy.  I hate clutter/disorganization in my classroom. I've noticed that my unorganized room this year has led to less organized kids.  So organized room=organized students.  Oh yea, and maybe if I'm clutter free, I won't be at school so late.  When I'm at school on a workday, I want to be able to concentrate on other classroom necessities like planning the best lessons for my kiddos.  not organizing that cabinet that looks like a tornado came through.  Most importantly, I want to utilize all my resources. I have so many great resources to use, but I just forget that I have them... until after the lessons.  Anybody else have this problem?  

On to the plan...

1- Purge ALL baskets that do not go with my blue/green color scheme.  I'm kind of crazy when it comes to things matching and I know I will never use them. Why keep them?

2- Go through all resources and organize into subjects.  Make a list of all resources based on topic so that I can easily see the resources I have for our current unit of study :)

3- Organize my library.  Put stickers on every book and every basket so that students can easily find what basket the book goes back in.  Organized library that is easy for the kiddos to keep clean=happy me.  Maybe get one of these...

Intelliscanner Picture coming soon.. this is my computer being ornery

4- Don't buy new things unless I ABSOLUTELY NEED it.  

5- Organize all math materials into labelled bins that can easily stay organized :)

I'm probably missing something, but this is a pretty good plan I think!  If you haven't joined yet, don't miss out!

Hope to be back to regular blogging soon!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Disaster Areas, all about books, moments to remember, and a freebie!

Yep! Lots to talk about today! See, my computer went NUTS over the weekend.  We have something called "Z Scaler" on the computers school gave us for protections and I have never had a problem with using it at home [and my personal computer died].  Of course, this weekend I went to look up some things to help me plan blog stalk, and it refused to let me get on the internet! Rawr! To make a long story short, it's working now and now it's time to catch up! :)

If you haven't already check out the Clutter Free Classroom challenge this year, Check it out by clicking on the picture below!  As a first year teacher, this is going to be perfect for me to get things all ready and organized for next year!  

I posted my not so bad pictures last week.. you can check them out {here}

Here are my more embarrassing, I'm in need of some organization pictures...

Well, there are my embarrassing pictures.  Hopefully by the end of the year, we will be able to see a transformation   Join the challenge too!

Getting tired? Hang in there, it'll be worth it... I hope!

All About Books

Last week, we started working on writing All About Books!  The kids are l.o.v.i.n.g it! So am I!  I especially love to see the ones who think out of the box and think of things that you wouldn't expect.  Or even to hear how much they know about something that you didn't even know they enjoyed!

These we're our lessons for the beginning of this unit (This one includes LOTS of planning!!)

Lesson 1: Writer's can think about something they know all about.  We brainstormed the things that we know a whole lot about.  Things that we could really talk about in a book.  We also talked about really making sure it's something you know all about and like!  For example: I really love giraffes, but I don't know a lot about them so I couldn't tell that much about them, but I do know a lot about my dog Kole, playing field hockey, and Teaching! so I could definitely write an All About book about any of those.

Lesson 2: Writer's plan their All About book by planning their chapters and thinking, "Do I know enough about this topic?"
For this lesson, we talked about what the main ideas that we wanted to include in our book were.  We decided as a class to write All About HES, our school!  We are going to make lots of copies to hand to all the families who will be going on Kindergarten tours! So we decided that we needed to include chapters about: Finding HES, School Mascot, Who can go to HES, Who are the principal and vice principal, The School Song, Why you should come to HES.  We knew lots more!! But decided that these were the most important things.  I think I'm actually missing one chapter too.  Then they went off on their own to see if they knew enough about the topic they chose.

Lesson 3: Writer's plan their chapters to think about what they need to include in each chapter.
For this lesson, we took of our chapters, "Finding HES" and thought about what we would need to include in the chapter. We decided we would want to make sure we included: our city & state, the street that it is on, and that there is a school over on the next block so to be careful.  We also decided it would be a good idea to tell them about our Red, Blue, and White sign out front, and the banners on the building to help them know when they are in the right spot.

Lesson 4: Writer's use their plans to write their chapters.
Here's where we get into the fun!  We talked about how great writer's always have their plan next to them when they are writing so they can be sure they don't forget anything.  This was our lesson today. We planned another chapter first, "Our Mascot." Then we used our plan to get writing!  We talked about how now, our information is going to be organized and in complete detailed sentences.  Lots of modeling helps, of course! :)  Then, we talked about what we've noticed when we are reading non fiction.  It looks a lot different than fiction with diagrams, labels, photos, etc.  I told them that if they had an idea for a way they wanted a page to look that they could draw it out for me, and I could print a page like that.  You could just have them cut/paste paper in there to make it a little easier.  I'm just nuts.  Next year, I'll probably have them do the cut & paste thing.

I am SO happy with the way these books are coming out.  I think this is probably the best writing we've done so far this year! We've had a few bumps and tiny bruises with a few students, but for the most part, their writing it turning out really well!

Moments to Remember

It's only Tuesday and already two things have happened this week that have just put the biggest most ginormous smile on my face.

1- I have a few students who I was really debating getting those "Classic Starter Books" for.  You know, the ones like Heidi, and Treasure Island, Alice in Wonderland, etc etc.  I finally decided to buy just 2 of them, to see if they'd be interested.  Well, I gave one of my little boys "Pinocchio" and one of my girls, "The Adventures of Dr. Dolittle."  I noticed that my little boy had already read 50 pages in it today.  I asked him if he was enjoying it and with a big smile on his face he said, "Yeah! I was telling mom that I really don't like the books we have in the library, I really like the books you read and I wanted more books like that.  I like this book a lot!  I want more like this!" Oh.My.Gosh. I just love him!  He's the one who has reread EVERY book we've read aloud because he loves them so much!  I can't wait to get more of these books for him.  If anybody has any suggestions for books for him or my other ones, please send them my way!

2- When we were planning our "School Mascot" section in our All About book today we were talking about how dolphins describe us and what we can say that are the same about dolphins in the sea, and dolphins at HES.  One of my little darlings said, "Well... A momma dolphin always takes care of her baby dolphin, just like you take care of us!" Talk about {Melt.My.Heart}!!

And now, for the best part of all.. A Freebie!  If you've stuck with me this long, you definitely deserve it :).  Hope you got some ideas from it too!  Here are the organizers we used to plan our All About Book!  Just click on one of the pictures.  They'll take you to my TPT to download because my google drive is being slow!  Hope you enjoy it :)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Tell me Something Good!

Did anybody else start singing when they saw this linky party? "Something tells me I'm into something gooood!"  Hope I didn't break your windows.  My little sis is the singer in the family, not me! 

Anyway.. My computer went berserk at the end of the week and kept me from using the internet.  Today when I turned it on - Ta da! It worked.  Yay!  (It's still acting a little crazy- but I think we'll make it through the day!) HOWEVER, this is kinda bad because instead of planning for the week, I've been blog stalking.  Oh well!  I'm pretty sad I missed out on the "Magical Swap" Linky party so I'm going to link up with Jennifer over at Rowdy in First Grade for her "Tell me Something Good" party.  All you need to do is tell something good at school and at home.  Go ahead, what are you waiting for? Link up!

At School: I was out on Thursday for a workshop.  I made this whole smart board file for my sub to follow and had everything nicely put on my kidney table, sticky noted, and ready to go.  First thing in her notes said "Best organized classroom ever!"

At Home: We are starting to look for our very own house!  *Fingers Crossed* that everything works out!  We've found some that we are really in love with, so hoping that things go as smoothly as possible.

Hope y'all have a great week! :)

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Smile Moments

When do you and your little kiddos ever get a chance to just relax for 5 minutes without worrying about what standard the activity aligns with, if it's going to be on the test, or about it wasting time?  I'm sure there's a good number of teachers in 1 of 3 categories.


*Do brain breaks/recess count?


Well today, I'm going to introduce you to a new type of fun that you can have in your classroom.  A way to get kids laughing and just having a good time without worrying about the assignment that have to complete.  It's ok to have a little down time every once in a while!  I got this idea from another teacher I work with and if we ever go a week without this, my loves ask and ask and ask.  This fun is called: Smile moments! :D

So what is a smile moment?  Once a week, I choose a funny picture, video, joke, or anything else I can find that will give the class a good laugh.  During morning meeting, usually on Thursdays or Fridays, we have anywhere from 1-5 minutes to just relax and have our "Smile Moment"  The kiddos LOVE this day.  It's the second favorite, behind their share day of course!  Here are some of their favorite videos:

This is by far their absolute favorite.  They are often asking me if we can just watching this AGAIN for our smile moment.  Then they have it stuck in their head the entire day!  It's catchy, I don't blame them! :)

I just love love love this little one. Oh.My.Gosh adorable!  

They LOVED this especially towards the beginning of the year when this song was first huge!

The baby that freaks at the sound of mom blowing her nose just cracks me up!

I wasn't sure how they'd take this one.  But then I remembered they are 7.  Even if they didn't really "get" it per-say, they still thought it was pretty hilarious.

There's a TON more out there.  Sometimes I even throw in a funny video of my dog.  Like when he thought he could swim in the snow.  Or when he was scared of the scare crow hanging in my hallway for Halloween.  Sometimes the kids just want to tell a joke.  I'm pretty much open to anything appropriate!

How do you incorporate relaxing fun into your classroom?

Oh and before I go, here's a video for you!

You tell 'em Girlfrand!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A room full of clutter... PART 1

Are you ready for this? Can you handle it? Clutter-Free Classroom Challenge: Week 1- Pictures!

Here we go!

Here's my library- it looks pretty good, but if you get a little closer, you'd see that my Non-fiction section needs a SERIOUS makeover!

Oh look, organization!  Math/Word Work is all stored here. I'm pretty proud of this, but it could always use improvement.

I have so many bins that I'm not using right now!  I really should just purge them.  They were sitting on top of the kids lockers but they kept annoying me because it just looked so cluttered, so I put them in my little microwave cart.  The crate on top is a bunch of books that need to get brought to the book store.. I just haven't had the chance to get there so it is CLUTTERING my room! uggghhh

OK, so this isn't so bad.  But look in the corner there.  Yep, the bottom left, see under the sink?  This is where the clutter monster hides all of his things!

Oh yea, and this is on the inside of that cabinet in the picture above. Terrible!

Ahh! Books that need to get put into my library.  No time! :( They get thrown here.  Ugh, it makes me sad just looking at this.  All those poor books not getting read by those eager kids.  TRAGEDY! Oh and that crate looks pretty organized...right?  Everything I need to file in their folders is in front- disorganized.  I'm good at hiding clutter sometimes!!

 I need a better way to organize our Science experiment materials.  Oh and that's our friend, Zippy over there.  He could use a new spot too!

Oh Lawd.  This is the indoor recess & math materials cabinet.  It WAS all organized.  The recess equipment I blame the kids on (bad I know).  Math? Noone to blame there but me.. I'm usually SO good at keeping things organized!

Pathetic. This is where our construction paper is that the kids can use. I have my own stash in my cabinet that is untouchable by kids.  OK- I blame this one on them too {Shame Shame Shame on me}

I tried to organize!  Our  Brain Busters/Task Cards.  They were hung beautifully on the cabinet.  Each ring of task cards had their own little hook.  But they all fell off because my room is super duper hot, then super freezing.  But mostly, it's just super hot. So this is what happened to them. Crammed into a little bin.

And this is only part of it.. I dropped my phone at this point & then my camera decided to be a boob.  Hoping tomorrow I'll be able to take the rest.  There is one area I'm super proud of!  Oh and another that I'm even a bit embarrassed to show.  But I will!  For the sake of the Clutter-Free Classroom project!

Now let's get to de-cluttering!

Oh BTW, have you thought about joining this project?? Check out Clutter-Free Classroom!

See my other disaster pictures {here}!!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Phew I made it!

Yay! Made it through the first day back!  The first day back is always usually the easiest.  Kiddos are well rested, ready to get back to learning, and on their best behavior.  Well, {most} of them are!  Ah yes, I did have 2 little ones who pushed my buttons a bit today.  They just can't sit still or stop talking!  Bless their hearts, they are just so full of energy & always want to share, share, share.  As crazy as they drive me sometimes, no matter how much I want to rip out my hair, I wouldn't want my room any other way.  We never have a dull day and I usually have a good story to tell!

My laugh today... When we sat on the carpet this morning I noticed that the carpet was like super close to my chair.  I felt like the kiddos were right on top of me.  So I just happened to be like "Whoa, y'all are REALLY close you're kind of in my bubble a little bit" to which one of my little lovelies replied, "We're like your little minions!" MINIONS? You are 7 how do you even know what that word means!  I couldn't help but give a little chuckle.  Later- my fiancee politely reminded me that minions are the little guys in Despicable Me. Duh!

Onward...Monday's are super long days for us.  No break from 7:35-12:20 Yuck!  So today we did lots of reviewing rules, routines, & expectations; reading our favorite books, writing about our holiday and vacation, and practicing keeping our room clean (I hate, hate, hate when it gets messy- which may surprise you when you see my "Clutter-Free Classroom Week 1 challenge pictures).  One thing that we did today in Math was start our graphing unit.  I'm like 2 weeks behind 2 of the other teachers and about 2 days ahead of the other, so I'm squeezing this unit into 1 week.  The kiddos basically get it already so no need to spend too much time.  So this is how we started our unit.  I SO wish I took pictures during this because it was just great, but totally forgot to whip out my camera.  Sorry guys :(

I posed them this question: 

This weekend, I went to the store and bought a fun size pack of M&Ms.  Now I want to compare the colors in one pack to see how many there are of each.  How can I figure out which color has the most and which has the least?  

Then, I gave them each a fun size pack of M&Ms and asked them to solve it.  Of course about 3/4 of them put them into piles but the other 1/4 put them into rows.  Then comes my coaching, "Oh WOW, Marissa is putting them into rows.  I can see without even counting that in her pack there were 2 more reds than greens.  Joshua put his into piles. I can still figure out that his pack had 1 less brown than yellow, but it took me a little longer because I had to count." BAM- everyone starts putting their M&Ms in rows.  I LOVE to pose these problems to them because they start to question their thinking and try to understand others *Common Core Math Practices!*  Last, we transferred our info to a graph with a title & labels.  And don't forget to eat the M&M's.  They had a blast! Of course I was "the best" because I brought them candy for math. WINNING! Tomorrow we will practice the language of comparison & solving word problems using graphs.

While we're on the topic of math, here are some Common Core Math Practice Task Cards.  {This Set} is for K-3.  Use these task cards to help your kids use the 8 mathematical practices to solve their math problems.  Great to use for math journals & quick assessments!  {This Set} is for Grades 3-8.  It comes with task cards to use for each practice before the students solve the problem & after.

Hope you had a great first day back if you started back today, and if you were unfortunate enough to go back last week, hope you had a great first Monday back!  Check back soon for my collection of  my crazy Clutter-Free Full room!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Don't miss these awesome giveaways!

Quick blog post today to let you know of a few major awesome giveaways going on.  Seriously, don't miss them!!

First- Sugar & Spice is celebrating her 1 year blogging anniversary!  She is giving away her ENTIRE store.  Yes you read that right. her whole TPT store!  You don't want to miss out on this one, she's got a ton of great stuff!

Next- Renee over at Fantastic First Grade Froggies is hosting a "Thank You" giveaway.  She's got 5 different prize packs full of great stuff!  My Common Core Math practice task cards are in one of them!

And while you're at it, don't miss out on Sam's 200 follower giveaway over at Mrs. Kelly's Klass.  She's got 3 different prize packs great for primary grades including my "Word a Day- Incorporating Vocabulary Building into Everyday Plans"

I'm sure there are a ton of other giveaways going on right now, but these are the ones I've found.  Don't miss out!  

Also... If you're looking for a way to get more organized this year, think about joining The Clutter Free Classroom Project 2013! Focusing on just 1 task a week is an easy and doable way to get your classroom more organized and make your life less stressful!

I am off to get myself ready to head back to school tomorrow for 10 crazy weeks after 3 totally relaxing ones.  I could use a little extra time, I'm just enjoying it too much!  Oh well- Happy Sunday!