Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bulletin Boards are Backed

I am loving the patriotic theme for my classroom.  I have my bulletin boards backed with some fun fabrics.  The big board along my back wall is my favorite, and I'm kind of wishing now that I'd done them all with that fabric.  Oh, well.  What's done is done and I've already spent a fortune on fabric!

Here's that fabulous back board and a close up of the fabric. 

This one is on the left of the white board.  It's a busy stripe with little stars between.  Didn't get a close up of that.  I'll do a post about the map later. 

This one is on the right of the white board:  

This one is obviously above my desk area and the next photo is a close up of the wavy stripes. 

I always feel like I'm more together when my boards are up, so that's usually the first thing I do.  

What is your classroom theme or do you have one?

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

New Attendance Board

Last week I got started working in my classroom.  I posted a few pictures throughout the week as I worked on it, so you can go to the last few posts to see how it's coming along.  Today I'm sharing my new attendance board.  I have always taken attendance and the lunch count in a system similar to this. We have several school lunch choices and of course the option of a home lunch.  Previously, I had a tall filing cabinet right by my door and I used the side of that as my magnetic surface.  For the student magnets, I laminated fun shaped sticky notes and wrote their names on them.  I loved that the shapes were already cut out and were relatively cheap.  They worked with the larger area on the side of the cabinet.  So, here's the solution for my new room and big kids:

Here's what I did: 
 I purchased supplies from my local Hobby Lobby except for the glue which I got on Amazon.  (links to items on Amazon are below if you don't have a local craft shop or prefer Amazon.  For the most part, the Amazon prices were better, for the bottle caps, way better.  I just wanted to do them right away, so I opted for local shop.)
I used the flattened bottle caps so I didn't have so much sticking out, and I liked that look better. 
The magnetic board is from IKEA, here's the link on the IKEA site: 

The glue I used is called Diamond Glaze.  It worked for both gluing the paper circles inside of the bottle cap and also gluing the magnets on the back.  (click the pic to see it on Amazon)

The E6000 glue would work well too: 

I punched enough paper circles from the star paper for 32 magnets.  Then put a dot of glue in the bottle cap and placed the paper inside.  Then I added the number stickers.  This pack is meant for making a calendar in scrapbooking, but worked perfectly for my purpose to have all the numbers I needed.  Or, use a permanent marker and write them on yourself. 
Once I let the glue on the paper set up a bit, I added the epoxy stickers over to finish the tops. 

To add the magnet, I put some glue on the back of the bottle cap and set the magnet on.  Then I went around the edge with a bead of glue like you would if you were calking.  

Speaking from experience...don't lay them too close together to dry. The magnets attract and you may end up with a jumbled blog of mess... just saying... ;)

To section the board, I used washi tape, which worked so much better than the electrical tape I have used in the past. I used my label maker for the section labels.  You could cutsify that part with a printed label in f a fun font.  To hang the board, I used 3M Command hooks at the top and then at the bottom I used the Command strips alone attached directly to the board to keep it from flipping up as the students move their magnets.  

Here are some more close up pictures of the finished 

I only labeled the first box in each row to give some benchmark for students to find and to replace their magnets.  I wasn't going to separate them into compartments, but my 9 year old said her teacher did it that way and that I had to do it that way to, so I did. ;)

Here are links to the supplies on Amazon, just click the pictures: 

How do you take attendance or lunch count in your classroom?

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Organizing for Reading Groups

Have I told you lately that I love IKEA?  Actually, I don't remember mentioning that on my blog.  Well, I do love IKEA.  I am blessed to have one about 45 minutes away and just a few miles from my parents.  So, I have the opportunity to stop by quite often.

I love the Trofast storage systems.  I have it at my home for my children's toys and I used it in my first grade classroom to organize my math manipulatives.  You can see it in a post I did here.  It's there to the left of the listening center pocket chart.

I didn't need that much storage for math manipulatives in 5th grade, but knew I had to have a Trofast in my classroom.  Well, while perusing IKEA, I stumbled upon this little beauty:

I thought how perfect it would be to organize the books and notebooks and such for my guided reading groups.  So, it came home with me and here it is in my classroom.  I purchased 7 tubs and a package of shelves, they come 2 in a package.  I'm so excited to label each tub and get the caddy full of supplies.  This is going to be so nice to help me keep things organized.

How do you organize for your reading groups?

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Starting Classroom Setup

Well, school doesn't start for me until August 19 when teachers begin their contracts.  However, all the 5th and 6th grade new teachers will be coming to visit my room the last week of July, so my room needs to be ready ASAP!!  I'm freaking out just a little bit so I headed back last week to get started on things.  Here are some pictures of when I walked in.  Since I'm coming back after a year as an instructional coach, I'm starting from the beginning again.

Entrance (You can see the magnetic board I used for my attendance board there, post coming)
Now going clockwise around my room: 

I came prepared, lunch is on the table. ;)
There's my cute Bow and Pockets bag from Dilly Dabbles Designs.

I didn't get the sink area in the corner there to the right, then it's back to the main door. 

I love that the last teacher left nothing behind except for the items purchased by the school for that 5th grade classroom.  She also asked me if I wanted some of the items on the walls, so she left the alphabet up for me and the cubby numbers (although now I'm going to change the cubby numbers).

My principal is wonderful.  Knowing that I needed to get going on my room, he asked my equally wonderful custodian to clean it quickly, and he did.  My school is only two years old, beginning its third year this fall, so it's a really great and updated room.

Check back every few days to see how it comes along.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Making Inferences and Predictions in Math

It's time for chapter 6 in the book Building Mathematical Comprehension by Laney Sammons.  You might be familiar with her other book, Guided Math.  If you don't have these books, I would highly recommend them both.  Click on the covers below to order them or take a look at them.

If you missed the first five chapters, head over to this post at Primary Inspired or this one at Thinking of Teaching to start at the beginning.

****I know it's a bit of a long post, but I hope it's full of information you'll find helpful.  There's a giveaway at the end of the post, so be sure not to miss that!!*****

This section is all about using the skills of inference and prediction in math.  The two concepts that really struck a chord with me are:
1~"When mathematical concepts are taught by teachers and then problems are assigned, versus using problems as a way to teach concepts and build conceptual understanding, students have few opportunities to practice thinking inferentially about mathematics.  ...In classrooms where students are expected to assume a major role in their own learning, they are encouraged to go beyond the literal mathematical information they encounter." (pg.178)

The district I work for have been very supportive of the task oriented mathematics.  Giving students open-ended problems to work through is so very powerful as they learn through struggle, inference, and logic.  I think there are 2 big road blocks in using tasks.  First it takes some training to get students to work in groups and to have the stamina to work through the problem.  Second, finding tasks.  Here's a few resources:

From Meg Anderson ~
     Open Ended Math Challenges Grades 3-6 
     Hands On Common Core Fraction Unit
     Hands on Decimal Sequencing
     Intermediate Math Journal Prompts
     Place Value with Large Numbers Activities
From Teaching with a Mountain View ~
     Division Project or Math Center *Movie Marathon* (Long Division)
     Multi Digit Multiplication Project for the Common Core *Resort Report*
     Breaking Up the Bakery: A Fraction Project , Center , or Assessment 
From Primary Punch ~
     Math Movers: Back to School Edition
     Math Movers: First Week of School Edition
     See all the items in the Math Movers Series here

Check the linky at the end of this post (under the giveaway) for more links to products and other blog posts on this topic.

2 ~"Think-alouds allow students access to the thoughts of their teachers.  To truly meet the needs of students, you must access their thoughts as well.  One-on-one conferences provide a portal into student thinking. ...Focused conversations with individual students allow you to see each student's strengths and weaknesses.  These insights allow you to specifically identify the instructional needs of each student..."

My first grade team the last three years did this really well.  We gave students a 10 question paper pencil assessment at the end of each math unit, but also did a 5 question interview with each student.  It was amazing the information I learned about students as they performed tasks in front of me or explained their thinking and understanding about a concept.  This information really helped guide my teaching.  It was especially helpful for our Re-teach and Enrich groups.  After each assessment students were grouped based on their performance for either further teaching on the concept, review, or extension.  This all took place during a dedicated half hour 4 times a week.  During our regular math session, we continued to move on to the next topic.  The burning question you're asking yourself...How did you have the time?  To create the tasks we worked on them collaboratively and based them from our objectives.  To administer, once I had a little practice, I was able to do all the assessment interviews in two days while students did review/extension math centers.  I tried to schedule a parent helper or two to help with the centers so my focus could be on the interviews.  It was well worth the time to get the information for improved instruction.  Now, if you're not going to use the information to guide instruction, then it's totally not worth your time.

Miss Nannini of the blog Young Teacher Love has amazing sets to help you in assessment.  She has the assessments ready for you and a system to have the students be accountable for their learning.  I've got all the 5th grade sets and am excited to implement them this fall as I move to 5th grade.  Many of her assessment items could be turned into a conference question.  You can see all her assessement products for grades 2-6 here.  And her accountability systems here.

Do you have information on this topic to share?  Leave a comment or link up below the giveaway.

 photo Signature_edited-3_zps050aaea1.png a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Advanced Tactics: From Teach Like a Pirate

I have loved reading the book, Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess. His energy and passion for teaching oozes from the pages and is contagious. If you haven't been following along with this blog book study, visit Rowdy in First or Third Grade Tid Bits to start at the beginning.

Don't have this great book yet? Click the picture to purchase on Amazon.

The section titled "Advanced Tactics" brings us three more hooks: The Mission Impossible Hook, The Reality TV Hook and the Techno Whiz Hook.

The Mission Impossible Hook focuses on getting students hooked by using mystery or setting up a mission for students to accomplish. Webquests could be formulated for this hook. Some other ideas might be using a game that will demonstrate the idea like using the game Settlers Of Catan to illustrate the ideas of needs v. wants and supply v. demand. My husband uses Monopoly to teach accounting. Students have to keep track of all transactions in a ledger and play strategically to win.

The Reality TV Hook is the idea of building activities on popular shows. Divide your class into tribes and give challenges to the teams for a Survivor based hook. This would be great for math task activities. Students work together in their tribes to be the first to come up with a solution. Use the Amazing Race premise to "visit" places you study in your geography/social studies standards. Dave suggests using the idea of Fear Factor to introduce students to various cultures through the foods of that culture. Shark Tank could be used for students to share their Science Fair projects to panels of their peers or guest judges like the janitor, lunch lady and secretary.  This could be used any time students are asked to develop new ideas or their own take on a concept.

The Techno Whiz Hook is focused on the idea of using technology to grab and engage your students. I love using technology in my classroom. Most children are pretty tech savvy regardless of the technology they have at home. Even my students with the lowest socio-economic situations have technology experience. Here are some tech sites and ideas you might want to try with your students:

  • ifaketext.com ~ create a fake text to capture your students interest and/or have them use the site and create a fake text conversation with a historical character or a book character.  Can you guess who this conversation is between?

  • skype.com ~ form a Skype relationship with another classroom within your state/country or within another country. Skype has an educational program you can check into.
  • Google Drive ~ have students use google drive to create and submit assignments, create a form to poll the class, school body or community on a topic, interact with each other and have a book talk or discussion. Sometimes it's not feasible to have everyone discuss something at one time, this way students can interact when they have the time through the day.
  • Blogger ~ create a free class website to communicate home. There are many other educational specific blog hosting sites as well. Check with your district technology team to see what your district will allow students to access at school. It's very inconvenient if students cannot access the blog at school.

There's so many ways to integrate technology into your classroom. Educate yourself on the possibilities and use your imagination to implement them.

I love Dave's ending remarks about "The Power of Live." Developing the talent to adjust your teaching in the midst of a lesson is key to keeping things lively and bringing students what they need. Seeing something live and in person is always a better experience than doing so through a picture or video. Of course, in the absence of the ability to have an experience in person a substitute can be made, but teaching live and in person is so much more powerful than doing so through technology. This thought from Dave led me to think also about how imperative it is for us to develop our plans with our students in mind and keep those plans open enough to adjust them mid-lesson as we need to. We collaborate and share lesson ideas, but the actual plan in how we carry out that lesson needs to be ours with our students in mind.

Have you done anything along the lines of these three hooks? Do you have a plan in mind to use these hooks? We'd love to learn from you too! Share your ideas or links to posts in the comments.  Who do you think the fake text conversation is between?

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Button Credits:
Paper- Christina Bainbridge http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Christina-Bainbridge
Frame- Krista Wallden http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Krista-Wallden
Font- Kimberly Geswein http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Kimberly-Geswein-Fonts
Clipart- 1 Everything Nice (etsy) http://www.etsy.com/shop/1EverythingNice


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