More Place Value

I introduced one of my math groups to the fun of "I Have, Who Has" this week and was surprised that so many of them had never played this little game before. They caught on very quickly so next week I'm going to have them do this little place value one I put together a few months ago. In case you missed it, I thought I'd share it on Friday Freebies this week.

I may be just a bit obsessed with Place Value activities right now. It's one of the first concepts we cover in 3rd grade and each year I seem to have many students whose grasp of hundreds, tens and ones is shaky -- and I'm trying to toss them in the deep end with 6-digit numbers! After completing my Place Value at the Beach games (click the Freebies tab to grab that if you missed it) I decided to continue the theme with an "I Have Who Has" activity using the same numbers. And of course I'm sharing! Click the picture to get my newest game.

I have some other ideas percolating, so I'm sure I'll be revisiting this topic! How about you? Leave me a comment and let me know if your kids struggle with this too and how you address it.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Pencil Sharpeners Make Me Crazy

We have been in school for nine days, and the pencil sharpeners are getting on my nerves! My kids have little individual sharpeners and can't seem to grasp the idea that I don't want them sitting there sharpening pencils all through a lesson. I tell them every day to sharpen pencils before announcements since they move to my partner's room for language arts and reading right afterward.

Then we have the wonderful sound of the electric sharpener. And of course, complaints that "my pencil isn't getting sharp." What's a teacher to do?!

A couple weeks before school started, Troy at Classroom Friendly Supplies sent me one of these sharpeners that bloggers have been writing about to try out and review (mine is the blue one). I was looking forward to trying it out, so I took it to school when we went back for pre-planning. The first day back was mostly meetings, but I did get a few minutes in the classroom and grabbed some pencils to try out my new sharpener. I've got to admit it took me a few minutes to figure out how it worked -- of course I didn't bother to watch the video here first!

I was amazed at how sharp those pencils were! I love having a sharp point on my pencils; this sharpener makes me want to use pencils. This was so awesome, I figured that the 2nd day of work I'd sharpen like crazy and be all ready for the first day of school. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans :) Instead I fell off a chair and broke my arm. This leads me to the one problem with this pencil sharpener -- you can't operate it with a broken arm! We are wrapping up our second week of school now, and this week I have been teaching kids how to use it. They are loving it; like me they love those sharp points. Over the next few days hopefully everyone will learn how to use it without my constant supervision (I started out with my kids who are in the classroom for a little while after school).

I definitely recommend this sharpener, and I definitely do not recommend breaking your arm right before school starts!

My First Week & Freebies

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

I am really missing regular blogging! I have weeks of healing the broken arm ahead of me, but I'm going to try to at least get a post done each weekend until I can get back to my regular schedule. If you are new to my blog, this is a little like me:

Fortunately, not quite this bad :) ! While decorating my classroom during pre-planning I fell and broke my right arm. Believe me, this past week was a bit of a challenge! Students started back on Monday the 20th, so we made it through our first five days.

I have a group of great kids -- two groups, actually, as I team teach. My day starts with science for my partner's class, block, math, lunch. After lunch I have my own homeroom for math and then science. We have early dismissal on Wednesdays, so we don't switch classes until after block and I can get in Social Studies during that time. While I teach 3rd grade now, a few years ago I was teaching Kindergarten -- so glad I never had a broken arm then! My kids have been great about helping out with things that I can't do.

It was a great week of getting to know each other. We are finding that we have quite a few below level kiddos, but we were expecting that from what we heard last year from the 2nd grade team. Quite a few have already been retained in the primary grades and several were administratively placed into 3rd this year. My partner and I already sat down this week to talk through the students and identify those we are sure need to be put on a Progress Monitoring Plan. Interventions start on Monday afternoon and we have a number of kids involved. While we have those few students who we can tell have some challenging behavior issues, overall we think these kids are going to work really hard and make great progress this year. Isn't it funny how fond you can get of these little ones in just five days?

On the first day of school I shared a wonderful book with the kids. "The Girl Who Never Made A Mistake" was a fun way to let them know that it is OK to take risks in the classroom and that we can celebrate and learn from our mistakes.

I purchased the book for Kindle, hooked my iPad to the projector, and was able to show the pictures even with my arm in a sling! Hooray for technology :) This story was a great springboard to my homework policy, and each student received a homework pass to use when they make a mistake and don't have their math homework (they will get one each quarter).


Hopefully I'll be able to handle a camera enough to get some pics of my classroom to share. Since I had just started decorating when my accident happened, it is somewhat unfinished -- blank bulletin boards, labels missing here and there, etc. You know how we like to have everything ready and organized? I've had to let that part go, and concentrate on what is really important! The fun part is that I'll be adding to my room all through the fall as I am able. The specialist says it takes 3 - 6 months to heal, so I decided to opt for the 3 months. That way I'll be feeling pretty good by the holidays!

I want to share a little back-to-school goodie with you - the parent contact log I created at the end of last year. This sits right by my phone on a mini clipboard to remind me to log in phone calls right away (am I the only one who forgets to do that?). Click on the picture to download it.

This week we will start our math work stations, so I created a recording sheet to help my students stay organized. I'm going to share the form with you as a Word doc because obviously you would need to make it fit your classroom. There are 4 pages so that I can use it to group my students. I hope it's helpful. You can download it here.


Teacher Week:Technology Tip Tuesday

I love to try out new tech in my classroom. Now that I have been back to school for two days, I think my roster is pretty well set. That means I can build me class and start using ScootPad with my kids! This is my favorite new find of the summer. Click on the logo below to read my post about it.


Must-haves Monday

What a fun linky --just have to join this one!

My must - haves:

1. My new Scotch laminator. I've had it just 2 weeks and don't know how I lived without it.

2. My newest fashion accessory -- my sling. I broke my arm while decorating my classroom last week.

3. My driver :) Because of my Workman's Comp, I have a transport company driving me back and forth to school (a 40 min. commute). Of course, I had this fantasy that it would be this guy, but it's not.

4. My wonderful parent volunteers who are going to come in this week to help me out with some tasks that require 2 hands!

Not my usual must - haves, but life throws us curves sometimes :)


From the one-armed blogger . . .

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Today is the first day of school for my students! I met quite a few of them at Friday's open house, and I hope they are looking forward to this adventure as much as I am. I teach 3rd grade math and science to two classes, so I have 36 3rd grade Smarties starting today. My partner and I both have full rosters, so we are hoping all our students show up -- I love having the class filled on the first day.

This is a very different beginning of the year for me. Last Tuesday, while hanging up decorations in my room, I fell and broke my right arm. Consequently I have never felt less prepared! So many things I planned have not been done yet. I am, of course, right-handed! I'll be figuring this all out as I go along, and I know it will all work out.

I had number of new products in the pipeline, which are on hold until I'm allowed to use my arm, so today I wanted to link you up with my most popular item. Many of us begin math with Place Value. My Place Value at the Beach packet has three concentration-style card sets aligned to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade CCSS. Just click the picture to download it.


Thursday Techday: Digital Cameras in the Classroom

Do you use digital cameras in your classroom? I am blessed to have five cameras, but even if you have only one personal camera you can do great things.

I believe strongly in putting cameras into the students hands whenever possible (obviously if you are using your personal camera you may not want to do that!). My district had a grant for a number of years that covered the cost of professional development that we could apply for to receive a classroom camera. Over the course of several years I received cameras and Adobe Photoshop software just by taking classes. There was a strong emphasis in the training to have students using the cameras and I took that seriously. When I started, I was teaching Kindergarten. I taught my students how to use the cameras just like I now teach my third graders and we created many great movies with them.

Having a document camera makes it so easy to demonstrate the features of the cameras. I walk students through, go over the rules, and then put them in teams to practice. My number one rule is that if you have a camera in your hands then you have the lanyard around your neck! Putting lanyards on all my cameras has kept lots of accidents from happening :) In fact, over the past seven years that I have been using cameras with kids I have never had one damaged.

Here's just a few ideas for using cameras:

  1. Use photos on classroom labels
  2. Make a class yearbook (I did DVDs for my kindergarten families)
  3. Photograph your science experiments
  4. Create classroom books 
  5. Use the video feature for short video clips like book talks
  6. Post photos of classroom projects on your class website (I never post pics of students)
  7. If you have a good photo editing program you can make lots of great projects. I always photograph my students against a green sheet so that I can use the green screen feature. During a unit on wild animals I once photoshopped all the kids into pictures with jungle animals and we wrote postcards to our families.
  8. Every year when we study geometric shapes and angles we take pictures around campus and make posters to illustrate them.
Kodak has lesson plans you can access here for more ideas.

How do you use digital cameras in your classroom? Please share in the comments.

What I Did Today

Working in my classroom this morning, fell off a chair, broke my right arm! What did you do today?

Needless to say, I may not be posting quite as much for the next few days.

Data Collection and Analysis Freebie II

Last month I blogged about my plan to include data in my weekly math warmup schedule (see the post here). That post included a freebie for collecting data to use in different ways in students' math journals. Well, I've just completed another set of data pages. This time each page shows the data in charts, tables and graphs. Students practice displaying data in an alternate way and answering questions about the data shown. Once again I have made 10 pages, or enough for a quarter. This set is intended to complement the first set to give different options. I expect to use pages from this second set first with my third graders since they provide a bit more support for the beginning of the year.

This set is also available as a FREEBIE. If you use it in your classroom I'd love to hear your feedback and suggestions. I'm sure that once I use these with my own students I'll be developing a third set according to their needs. Click the picture for the download.


Monday Book Study: Chapter 1

Today is the start of a new book study hosted by Donna at Math Coach's Corner. There are eight chapters, so you have plenty of time to get the book. We are reading "What's Your [Math] Problem? by Linda Gojak.

Chapter One: The Five Ws and an H of Problem Solving

A few thoughts gleaned form chapter one:

1. WHAT is problem solving?
engaging in a task for which the solution method is not known in advance
a goal of learning mathematics and a major means of doing so

Chapter one includes a lot of discussion about the difference between routine and non-routine problems, problems that require procedural knowledge or develop conceptual knowledge.

2. WHY teach problem solving?
we use mathematical problem solving in our daily lives
it is problem solving that makes mathematics meaningful in our daily lives

3. WHO should solve problems?
everyone needs to be able to solve problems every day

There is a great chart recommending developmentally appropriate problem solving strategies.

4. WHEN should we solve problems?
problem solving should be a part of every mathematics class.

A chart suggesting times when problem solving could occur throughout the day is included.

5. HOW should we teach problem solving?

6. WHERE can you find good problems?

Some websites that have problem solving resources are included.

So, how to incorporate problem solving that goes beyond the typical procedural problems in the math series? I'm looking forward to learning from this book. My principal asked me to do math intervention at the end of the day with some of our third graders who are the "on the bubble" students -- with a bit of help we think they can be on grade level for the state test. I am sure that learning more about problem solving is going to help me plan meaningful activities for them.


Monday Made It and Manic Monday: August 13th

  Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

 Today is my first day back at school, with this week being all pre-planning leading up to our Meet the Teacher Open House on Friday afternoon. Of course, I still had a number of things I wanted to get made over the past week! Check them out, and get a Freebie at the end.

I printed these cute labels to go on bags of popcorn. I'll be giving them out at Open House on Friday.

The labels were from Fun in First. I don't have a picture of it, but in Dollar Tree I found the big plastic popcorn box, so they are already at school in the container!

When I was in my classroom this week with my granddaughter she told me I need a "welcome to the jungle" sign :) She thinks I've gone a little nuts with my zebra stripes! Anyway, I decided she was right. I stopped off at Dollar Tree and bough a pool noodle and two 4 ft. leafy strands.

I bent the noodle into a circle and secured it with a little clear packing tape.

Then I started wrapping it with my zebra duck tape. Of course, I ran out of tape and had to put it aside until I could get out and get another roll!

Then I wrapped it with my "jungle vines."

I printed a quick welcome sign, laminated it with my brand new Scotch laminator, and attached it with a couple dots of hot glue. Voila! Can't wait to hang it outside my door when I go back to work today!

 Last, but not least, I decided to make my own birthday cards. I've seen my class list, and 2 of my kids have already had birthdays this month with another one having her birthday on the first day of school. Here is what I came up with:

A Happy Birthday homework pass! If you'd like to download this, click the picture. Yours will say "From Your Teacher" rather than my name :)


Saturday Science: August 11

This week another fun experiment! The question I present to students:

Is it true that taco sauce will clean a dirty penny?

The internet says it will, and if it's on the internet it must be true :) After getting the kids' predictions, we will use the hypothesis that taco sauce will clean the penny. I'll model the experiment (this works nicely under the document camera). Here is a video of what happens:

 This is a great activity to teach students that the scientific model just keeps on going; after an experiment scientists will have more questions and the process starts again.

The question the students will investigate is:

What ingredient in the taco sauce cleans the pennies?

This time students will be recording the steps of the scientific method on p.11 of their interactive notebook and recording their observations on the form I made for them to glue onto p.10. I place my notebook under the document camera and model the written part. Here is what it looks like:

To download the Penny Experiment forms, please click on the picture.

By the time we finish this unit, which takes the first three weeks of school, the majority of my students will be ready to record information without the pre-made forms. Usually they will do that on the even numbered pages and we will place foldables and such on the odd numbered pages.

Fiction Friday: August 10th

Another opportunity to talk books with Amanda at The Teaching Thief. This week I want to share "President of the Whole Fifth Grade" by Sherri Winston.

Do you ever look at a book in your "to be read" pile and think, "Oh, that one isn't going to be very good?" For some reason that was my idea about this book. In fact, I left it until the very end as I was reading through this year's award winners. I honestly thought that I was going to find the main character, Brianna, annoying (yeah, there's a reason I don't teach fifth grade)!

When I finally started the book I fell in love both with Brianna and the story and just sat and read right through the entire book in one sitting. (Insert your best "don't judge a book . . .")

Brianna bakes cupcakes. That simple statement doesn't really explain her; Brianna creates cupcakes. Think cooking show kind of creating cupcakes. In fact, Brianna's hero is celebrity chef Miss Delicious. Miss Delicious graduated from Brianna's school and in a speech there she credited her success to being the president of the fifth grade. Brianna plans to have a cupcake-baking empire in the future, so she decides that becoming the president of the fifth grade is the key to her dream!

Brianna and her friends plan all summer for her campaign for the presidency only to have a new student, Jasmine, declare her candidacy also. Suddenly what seemed like a slam-dunk becomes a hard fought contest. This book would be a perfect fall read-aloud leading up to the presidential election! It becomes a story of how far someone might go to win. Will a person stoop to underhanded tricks to get votes?

There is a lot of American history in the book, and there are recipes! I enjoy those books with recipes, like Diane Mott Davidson's series, so this was lots of fun. In fact, I decided that if I read this book to my kids I will have to make and bring in one of the recipes from the book for us to sample.

I also created one of my read-aloud booklets, once I found out how good the book is :) You can get it here.

Join the Party!


Thursday Techday: August 9

Today is what we call our pre - Pre-planning day, so I'm at school for professional development all day. Our principal uses this as an opportunity to get us in for some training, with a stipend, before our regularly scheduled work days. I'll be in two workshops -- one on Picture Perfect science and the other on Thinking Maps. Hopefully some good stuff to share in a later post.

For my techie post this week, something just a bit different. I've mentioned using Discovery Education streaming a couple times recently. I know that not everyone is in a district that subscribes to Discovery so I hope you will be patient with me as I write to those of you who do have access. So many of my friends who use Discovery Education for the wonderful videos, the assignment builder tools, the assessment tools, etc. are less familiar with the Discovery Star Educator opportunity. If you are one of them, I want to persuade you to check it out!

It all starts with the DEN - the Discovery Educator Network. From Discovery: the Discovery Educator Network (DEN) is a global community of educators passionate about teaching with digital media, sharing resources, collaborating, and networking. With over 100,000 members providing professional development to over 600,000 educators worldwide, the DEN connects teachers both on-line and in-person. Discovery Educators have exclusive access to a wide range of resources, professional development activities, networking opportunities, exclusive Discovery Educator events and more!

When you log into Discovery you can access the DEN and all its resources. However, there is so much more available when you become a Discovery Star Educator. Here is a comparison:

  Discovery Educator STAR Discovery Educator
Read DEN blogs
Comment on DEN blogs
Personal blog hosted by Discovery Education  
Participate in DEN forums
Search and download from DEN Educator Resource Library
Upload materials to DEN Educator Resource Library  
Attend virtual events (EdTechConnect, Virtual Conferences)
Welcome Kit from the Discovery Educator Network  
Access to training kits to use during PD sessions and workshops  
Weekly communication highlighting events and promotions for STARs  
Exclusive promotions and contests (e.g., Teacher Appreciation Week, Spring Training)  
Access to Discovery Communications events (e.g., Planet Earth premier, lunch with the Mythbusters)  
Opportunity to attend local, regional and state-level DEN events (e.g., Days of Discovery, PETE&C prec-conference)  
Opportunity to attend national DEN events (e.g., National Institute)  
Eligible to become a DEN Leadership Council member  

Let me tell you a little bit about what I've experienced as a STAR Educator.

1. A cool welcome kit back when I started.
2. Workshop materials that I have used to educate colleagues about using Discovery.
3. Special gifts during Teacher Appreciation Week (exclusive access to Discovery features, free accounts with other sites, etc)
4. Invitation -only events. My first was a Day of Discovery event at an Orlando resort. I received a Planet Earth DVD set for attending! Another was at Sea World, where I experienced the behind the scenes tour, plus a great day of techie professional education. Special meetings at FETC, a huge tech conference held in Orlando each year (the last couple featured Jeff Corwin and Phillippe Cousteau). Recently I had an evening at the Orlando Science Museum with a couple of great workshops.

If you are using Discovery Education, please take a few minutes to click on the DEN and complete the application to become a STAR Educator -- you won't regret it!

 Join the Party!


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