Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Student Created Scoot Questions

Hey everyone!  Today, my students were extra excited to play Scoot.  They may have even been a bit proud! Proud to play Scoot?  You betcha!  Today, the kids made all of the Scoot questions themselves!



I am huge Scoot fan.  It's such a great way to engage students on an independent level, within a whole group setting.  Looking for some great tips and tricks when it comes to play Scoot?  Wondering what Scoot is?  Then be sure to check out this post.


I'm always looking for ways to make our classroom experiences more engaging and meaningful.  This activity did just that!  The kids were excited to write their questions, knowing that their peers would be reading and solving them.

Lately, I've been squeezing in as much word problem practice as I can.  It's just a good skill to review often.  The other day I had one of those "a-ha" moments.  I thought, why not let the students write their own word problems? After all, they know how. We've practiced the skill quite a bit this year. So, I went for it!

I simply gave each student an large index card and had them write their problems.  Ok, we did talk about it first.  In our discussion, we determined that they would need to: 
1. Decide if their problem would be an addition or subtraction story.
2. Decide if they wanted to use one-digit or two-digit numbers.
3. Write at least two sentences to set up the problem.
4. End their word problem with a question.




I numbered the cards as shown below so that the students knew where to record their answers for each question when we played.


I made this generic recording page for the students to use when we played the game.



Click {here} to grab a copy of the recording page.

The great thing about this idea is that you can have your students make Scoot cards for any skill/topic you might be working on.  You know what that means, right?  I will likely be doing this again! 

The kids really had a great time reading each others problems and solving them. They took ownership of their learning in a whole new way, and it was great to see how excited they were to solve a bunch of word problems.  Word problems, people!  My teacher heart is beaming with happiness.

Toodles!

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Friday, February 13, 2015

The VIP Bucket, Math Crowns, and Love Bots: Five for Friday Fun

I have lots of random things to share with you today, so it's only fitting that I link up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday!


I'm hoping that my randomness leaves you with a tad bit of inspiration, as well as a smile.


Let's start with the smile!  First up, are these love bots.  I know I've shared them on the blog before, but look carefully at their hands.


Hehe.  It looks like one of my second graders decided these little robots needed to live up their name.  Normally, I would have a very teachery talk with the kids about not touching things on our bulletin board, but honestly, this was just too darn cute.  The love bots have been holding hands since Monday.



Recently, Amanda from Teaching Maddeness shared a great idea on her blog about her VIP table which was inspired by The Tattooed Teacher.  The table is reserved for students who give it their all each day.  The table is special because she sets out a variety of office supplies for the students to use, among other things.  I loved this idea!  When you're 8, there is nothing better than getting to use fun supplies while the rest of the class is stuck with their boring pencil box supplies!   

As soon as I read all about this great idea, I decided I needed to try it in my own classroom.  First of all, it's a fun and special way to recognize those students who work very hard each day to make good choices and always do their best.  Second, it totally goes with my Rock Star themed classroom!  But, there was one small huge problem.  I do not have a table in my classroom, and I do not have the space to bring a table into the room.  Then, inspiration struck!  If I can't give them a VIP a table, I can bring the table of them, so to speak.  Introducing the VIP bucket.

 
This bucket is stocked with items such as washi tape, post-it notes, stickers, Scentos markers (not shown because I added them after taking these pictures), regular markers, colored pencils, mechanical pencils, cute erasers, a fun little rock star sign, and more.  It has been a hit! The VIP's have been busy writing themselves notes with the smelly markers, putting stickers on their assignments, and proudly using the mechanical pencil on any and all assignments.


I only have one bucket, and that means that only one student gets the bucket each day.  In order to earn the bucket of supplies, a student has to make smart choices all.day.long. They also have to do their best, all.day.long.  Students find out who the new VIP is each day by walking into the classroom and noticing whose desk it was placed on.


Ok, let's talk academics for a second.  The other day, I still had some time left during my math block. Knowing that my students can always use a little review with two-digit addition and subtraction, I pulled out these task cards from my sweet friend Jaime at Bright Concepts 4 Teachers.  I simply showed the task cards one at a time via my classroom projector/Elmo and the students solved them on a blank piece of paper that we divided into fourths.  It was a quick and easy way to practice some important skills.



Please don't tell me that I'm the only one who gets the itch to reorganize this time of year?  It happens every single year, without fail.  My most recent reorganization project was making my writing prompts more user friendly.

Previously, I had them stuffed into these adorable little buckets. I had one bucket for each table group, which is why the buckets are numbered.  Sadly, they always fall over, and the students never put the cards back into the buckets properly (read: the cards were going every which way).


So, I decided to hole punch the corner of each card and put them on a ring. Then, I put all the ring sets into a bucket.  Now, the kids just grab a set of cards and choose a prompt.  The cards are always going the same direction, all of the table groups have access to all of the prompts, and nothing is being knocked over.  Yay!


The writing prompts shown are from the super creative Molly at Lucky to Be in First, and Lori Rosenberg from Teaching with Love and Laughter.


I recently set out some new "fast finisher" activities.  You have to change it up every once in a while, and, well, it was time.  Our class journals remain a favorite, but let's be honest, a little variety never hurt anyone.  These dice games from Stories by Storie are so great!  My students already keep a die in their desk (for our Roll-a-Story boards), so these games are so convenient for us, and the kids love them!  I simply printed them out and put them inside the dry erase pockets.   I plan to switch out the games every few weeks or so.


Can I cheat and share one more thing with you?  We celebrated our Valentine's Day on Thursday because Friday is a day of non-attendance (staff development day).  Party days are insane, as you know!  But, I did walk away from my day of chaos with two highs (we won't discuss the lows).  First, are these cute heart crowns that the kids made in math.  They wrote two-digit subtraction problems on individual hearts and glued them to a headband.  I did this  few years ago, and it's a fun alternative to the candy heart graphing.


The second success of the day were these strawberry floats!  They are so easy to make.  All you need is some vanilla ice cream, strawberry soda, and red licorice.  They were delicious, and the only silence I got all day was when the kids were eating them.


Well, that's it!  I hope you were able to take an idea or two away from this post!  Don't forget to head on over to Doodle Bugs!

Toodles!



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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Classroom Loves Linky

Love is in the air!  Today, I'm linking up with the super girls at Primary Powers to share a few of my favorite classroom loves.



First up, is something that I love.  I love these Ticonderoga pencils!  These pencils are kept separate from the students' day to day pencils because they are publishing pencils.  Publishing pencils, you ask?  Yes, publishing pencils.  These pencils are special.  We only use them when we publish our writing.

So, why do I love these publishing pencils? Well, they help my students to write neatly.  They really, really do! The pencils aren't magical, obviously, but they are pretty fun and fancy compared to their regular yellow pencil.  Knowing that these are special pencils motivates them to focus a bit more on their special writing.  And, when it comes to neat handwriting, I'll do whatever it takes to motivate them! Side note: The silver ones are my favorite.  They are so shiny, and the wood is black! 

Next up is something the students love.  Hands down, that would be these fun little finger flashlights that they use during silent reading.  Flashlight reading is their favorite!

The little rubber bands eventually break, so instead of wearing the the flashlight like a ring, they just hold the little light. They seriously don't care, they're just excited to be using a laser flashlight!  I found these on Amazon for super cheap.  Just search for "finger flashlights" on the website.

Finally, something that we all love are these class journals.  Class journals are a great way to encourage students to write.  I put mine out as a fast finisher activity.  So, when the students have a bit of free time, they grab a journal and read what others have written and then add a new entry to the journal. The kids love to share their stories with each other.  I love that they are writing, and enjoying it!  

Every once in a while, I will add an entry to the journals.  Oh, how they love to read what their teacher has to say! 

The journal covers are from my Shared Journal Covers pack. It includes ten different themes with two versions of each theme(one with pictures, one without), as well as an editable version. Click {here} to see this product on TPT.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Shared-Journal-Covers-289787
 
Don't forget to head on over to Primary Powers to visit the link up!  There are lots of fun "loves" being shared over there today. Toodles!


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Monday, February 2, 2015

We are Ready for RAK Week!

This year, I thought it would be fun to have my students participate in RAK Week.  Over the past few weeks, we have worked on several different ways to spread kindness around our school.  I thought it was important that the students focus on promoting kindness and happiness within the school community. After all, this is their world outside of home, it should be a place they want to be.  Now, the burning question is, are the acts still random even though they were pre-planned? Hehe.



Next week (which is RAK week) is a four day week for us, so I planned for four random acts of kindness.  We are going to kick off our kindness campaign with these kindness posters.  This is the sample I shared with the students.


Then, I paired the students up to make their own.  Here's a sampling of their creations.


They colored the poster, glued it to black paper, and then used these fun, sparkly foam stars to add a bit of pizazz. We made 11 posters in all.  I'm going to hang these posters around the school and leave them up the whole week.  Hopefully they remind others to be kind and spread a little kindness around!


You can grab a set of these FREE posters {HERE}.

On Tuesday, we're going to share these bookmarks with another class.  These bookmarks are a freebie from Ashley Hughes. Aren't they adorable?


Before we made them, I explained to the students that part of our RAK mission was to act anonymously.  I explained that we shouldn't be seeking attention for our acts.  Instead, the purpose of what we are doing is to bring joy to others, not recognition to ourselves.


On Wednesday, we will send a bag of Oreos to another class.  I'm sure that will bring some smiles to some little faces!  Since we are acting anonymously, the students signed this card with smiley faces.


 
On Thursday, our last RAK day of the week, we will send these hand made cards to another class.  The students used crayons and watercolors to make a simple card.  They wrote the words you see below with white crayon and then painted over the words using watercolor paint.  On the inside, they wrote fun messages like: "Have a great day!" and "You are awesome!" and " Don't forget to smile!" and so on.



The nice thing about kindness is that it can be spread any time, not just during RAK Week.  And, it can be done on a grand scale, or on a small scale.  Hopefully, you can use an idea or two to spread some kindness around your building!


Toodles!


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Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hands-On Fun with Coin Caterpillars

Hey everyone!  My students recently made these really cute coin caterpillar books to practice their coin counting skills.  They loved this project.  A lot.  Hopefully, it's something you can use in your own classrooms, too!


As I mentioned, the kids loved this project, but so did I!  I loved that the students were able to direct their own learning by determining how many coins they wanted to include in each of their caterpillars.  Before we started, we spent some time talking about making sure they selected/counted coins they were comfortable with at this point.  


To make these cute, little books, all you need is some regular white paper, a paper cutter, and some staples.  I stacked seven pieces of white copy paper and then cut them into three sections (each booklet was approximately 3 2/3" x 8 1/2") .  I stapled each mini booklet along the side (of course, I now realize that the sample above does not show the staples because this student's book is backwards..oops).



On the day of the project, I shared a sample book with the kids so they understood the project and my expectations.  My expectations were simple:
  1. Create a cover.
  2. Grab some coins from the bowl and draw one caterpillar on each page (for a total of 6 caterpillars).
  3. Label each coin.
  4. Count up the value of the caterpillar and record the total amount in the form of a complete sentence.
  5. Color your caterpillars-the coins must be colored to match their real life counterpart, but the caterpillar head could be any color (I always save coloring tasks for the end).
Then, I placed a  bowl of plastic coins at each desk and let them have at it!

TIP: If you're students aren't ready for half dollars or dollar coins, then leave them out of the mix so that they don't become overwhelmed.


During our unit on money, I showed the students two ways to draw coins: with letter abbreviations for each coin and with the value of each coin written inside a circle.  Looks like this student combined the two ways. Hehe-no matter, she counted it up beautifully!



I hope you can use this easy, peasy idea in your own classroom.  It's sure to be a hit with your students.

You can find more fun, hands-on coin counting activities in this post!


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