Sunday, April 28, 2013

Beach Bucket Bingo

Freebie Fridays

Just 28 days of school left! Several of those days are taken up with special events. One of them is an all day Marzano workshop for math teachers. Hopefully it's worthwhile, but you know how much extra work it is to prepare for a sub. I have always found Bingo games to be a great activity for those days -- the kids love them, and subs know how to use them!

I began with a title for this one, then put together a game. It will be a great way to review representations of fractions. I am planning to add to this set and upload it to my stores, but decided to share a mini - version with you for free. You can download it by clicking the picture.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Celebrating Earth Day

After completing state testing last week, we are looking forward to doing some special activities for Earth Day this week. I have been saving various activities from my blog stalking to use to make the morning special. I also edited my game board template so I can use it with game cards I already have to give an Earth Day flavor to them! You can click to get a copy for yourself.
In the morning, we will start with doing a little marble painting to make an Earth, then a little writing activity, and then put it all together with these:

This makes a fantastic bulletin board display! The idea for this project came from a blog post at Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations which you can see here.

Here are some other things I plan to use, linked to their source:


In the afternoon, we will host our partner class for an Earth Day video. I haven't told the kids what it is, but what else could it be?

I still love the old version, but this newer version is lots of fun also. I'm looking forward to seeing it again.

What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Fourth Grade Common Core Resources

For the next couple days you have the opportunity to get an amazing CCSS resource absolutely free. Available as a download, the 4th grade workbook has tons of activities for both ELA and math.
fourth grade common core standards workbook Free Giveaway   Fourth Grade Common Core Workbook Download
"But wait," you're thinking. "Don't you teach 3rd grade?"

Yes I do! And now that testing is over I have 6 weeks to teach lessons that will help my students be prepared for 4th grade. This resource can be a great help, since our new math books will be CC aligned.

Fourth Grade Common Core Resources contains over 850 pages of activities to help you implement the Core standards - WOW!

Click here to check out this great giveaway. Don't delay . . . it ends on April 21st.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

And Then There Was One . . .

One more day of state testing, that is! Monday and Tuesday we had our reading sessions. Third grade is the first year of the test, so my students were understandably a bit tense about it. Here in FL we have mandatory retention at third grade for students who score a level one. That's a lot of pressure to put on 8 and 9 year olds. I tried to reassure them that they are ready, and that we have worked on problems all year just like what they would fact on the test. Many of them did say when we finished the reading sessions that they thought it went well.

As the math teacher, you can be sure I was watching them closely today. The only thing I look at on their tests is the big session number at the top of the page, making sure they are in the right one. However, I could see that they were writing in the test books (hopefully doing the math!), checking to be sure they answered the questions, and seemingly focused during the 70 minute session. While I do have those students who are nowhere near third grade level I also have many that I know can score at grade level or above if they do their best.

I've tried to provide some fun experiences in the afternoon, since they work so hard in the morning. Today we did our tie-dye shirts! After showing them some possible ways to tie their shirts, they worked hard to get those rubber bands on. I brought them home and dyed them in my washer and here is what they look like now:

Tomorrow afternoon they will take off the rubber bands and see their designs -- it's the best part of the whole process! They get so excited over the "magic" of it all. I follow these amazing directions from Laura Candler, and highly recommend this if you want to do tie-dye with your class:

Tie Dye T-shirts Made Easy

We've also done a couple of fun craft projects this week, gotten in a little extra computer lab time, and watched a couple great science videos. What do you do during test week?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Free Gameboard

Now that we have made it to testing time (this week and next) I'm turning my attention to what we will do on test afternoons and for the rest of the year after the tests! I've been so busy, I haven't created any new products for a couple weeks, so wanted to get back in the groove.
I came up with an idea for a game that will help us review what we have already done in math as well as practice new things in our "get ready for fourth grade" lessons. In the process, I created this little gameboard that can be used for any game, so I'm sharing. I hope to finish up the packet over the next week and get it into my store.
You can use this gameboard with any set of game cards, not just math! To get a copy, just click on the picture.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Day Five: Reviewing is done, bring on the test!

I sent them off today at 3:25 with admonitions to get a good night's sleep, eat a healthy breakfast, and relax -- they are definitely prepared! As usual, they are nervous about this first time taking the test that looms over the whole year. But you know what? Most of them will do just fine. If it wasn't for that state law that says a level 1 score on the reading test is mandatory retention in grade 3 we wouldn't be particularly concerned!

We had spring pictures today, so our time was short. I decided to just make a game of doing a little bit of elapsed time review. One of the products in my TpT store was perfect for this.

I pulled out the problem cards from the game and used them under the document camera. They worked the problem in their journals (with lots of coaching to use an open number line) and had to justify their answer to the class. It made for a great little review. A highlight of the morning was one of my students having the solution to a problem in about 5 seconds. The other kids were blown away; not only were they slower, but this young man told them the answer and how he got it (mental math). They applauded! You see, he is from Saudi Arabia. He came a few months ago speaking one word of English: bathroom! He still speaks only a little English, but he has a good understanding of mathematical concepts.

ET Goes Home is one of my paid items, however the first three readers to leave a comment with email will receive a free copy!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Reviewing: Day Four

Oh my goodness, is it Friday yet?! Feeling totally exhausted; my partner and I agreed that we would have welcomed testing this week, 'cause preparing is killing us! The kids are off the wall; you can feel the tension as you walk the halls.

Today's focus was place value. It was quite interesting because that is chapter one -- a long time since we did some of these activities. Again, I had kids who really, really liked the teacher station activity. I definitely want to structure math time like this after we finish testing. I've already told them that we will do less whole group and more small group instruction and I think it's going to work well.

At computer station they were again working with Mega Math through our Think Central web site. You can see how visually engaging it is; they never tire of these activities.

At our work station, I pulled out one of my products. Place Value at the Beach is one of the first games I created and I believe it is still my most popular item. It's a freebie, so just click on the picture to snag it from my TpT store. It has three sets of game cards so that students can work with two, three, or four digit numbers.

And finally, at the teacher station we had some fun with a great little worksheet that I picked up from Mary at Pitner's Potpourri. It's a page from the product "Spinning Place Value" which you can read about here

Here's how I used it: each student got a copy of the worksheet and a die. I told them to write a 4-digit number in the circle using the die to generate their number. Then they had to read the number to me -- some of my ESOL students find this very difficult! After that they passed their paper to their left, giving everyone a new number. I asked them to write the expanded form of the number and observed to see if they remembered what that means (most of them did). After checking everyone's work (I'm working with 6 students at a time) they passed their papers again. This time I asked them to read their new number, reminded them that what they are saying is the word form, and they filled in that box (quite a challenge for some!). Along the way we talked about the kind of math problems we encounter where you need to understand these representations of the number. Since we just took our end-of-year formative math test last week, they easily recalled that this had been on the test.

After passing their papers again, I asked them to make a model of the last three digits of their number, using base 10 blocks. They turned the paper and drew lines to make a place value chart and recorded the number. We had lots of good math discussion about using place value strategies for computation problems. Will they remember any of this next Wednesday and Thursday? It would be nice to thing so, but who knows!?

Tomorrow we are going to practice some perimeter problems and hopefully play an elapsed time game together.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Reviewing: Day Three

This morning I drove to school thinking that my math review was on one topic, only to find that I actually had another topic in my lesson plans -- I hope I'm not the only one who does that kind of thing! I decided to stick with the plan, so today we focused on geometry.

I knew that my work station activity would be a huge hit today -- students love the geo boards! Rather than put out two or three different activities I prepared just this one, created by Mandy Neal of Cooperative Learning 365:
you can get this by clicking the picture

This activity has a set of task cards giving instructions for what the student should create on the geo board. They all had a great time with this review. Here's a picture I snapped to record some work. I can easily see that this student understands what "congruent" means.

For computer practice, we used our Think Central website -- it goes with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt textbooks. We are fortunate to have this, because it includes Mega Math games aligned with our lessons. I realized that I don't have any good geometry web sites -- if you have recommendations, please comment!


And at the teacher station -- we worked with Anglegs! Once again, lots of comments about "most fun ever!" (These guys crack me up). A couple years ago my principal bought us all sets of these at the urging of our math coach. They are a great geometry manipulative; we reviewed polygons and angles with them today, and I had to promise that we would use them again after the test. If you havent' seen these before, check them out -- even if you don't have a class set you can use them for small groups. They are great for instruction and also for work stations.

Just two more days in my continuing adventure. At this point, we all just want to get on with the test so we can get on with new learning! Do you get test fatigue?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Reviewing: Day Two

Today's focus was on multiplication. Once again I divided the class into three groups and had them rotate through three activities. The computer station was Timez Attack, which is a huge favorite. If you are not familiar with it, please check it out. It's free, and can also be downloaded at home. Students love it because it's like a video game. It is a site to use when students are working on fact fluency.
Timez Attack Logo

At the teacher station today I decided to review Distributive Property. My students struggle with this so much, so I return to it throughout the year. I used another great product from Math Coach's Corner (I just love that blog!).  Click the picture to read Donna's post and get the freebie.

I had the students work with a partner on this. I gave each team two playing cards and chose one of the partners to make an array for the multiplication fact. Since they understand that fairly well, I chose the weaker partner for this part. After successfully completing that side of the sheet, the other partner split the array and wrote the other equation. Most of them still need a lot of coaching on that, so it was a great teacher station activity.

For the work station I pulled out a huge favorite: multiplication bump! No matter how many times they play this my kids are crazy about it. My go-to source is Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade. She creates games for different seasons and somehow the kids seem to think it's a brand new game! Visit her blog and click on the "Freebies" tab to check out some of those games. Today we used Beach Bump.

I also used a brand new spring game from Dana at 3rd Grade Gridiron. I can't show you this one, because it was a freebie in her newsletter this month. If you haven't subscribed yet, go over and do that so you don't miss these great products.

Check back tomorrow for Day Three!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Reviewing for THE Test: Day One

My 3rd -sters are on the final countdown to the state test (it's FCAT here in Florida). We begin next Monday, the 15th, and test for four days. However, we are on FCAT schedule for a full two weeks, since our 5th graders are still testing the second week. As if that's not enough, we have to take SAT 10 on the Thursday of the second week -- reading in the AM and math in the PM! Is it any wonder that last year when I turned in my lesson plans for those two weeks I stated the learning goal as "testing our brains out!"?

This year I finished the 3rd grade math curriculum in March, right before spring break. With just a couple weeks in between break and testing I decided to take a low-key approach to review. We are using some old and new math station activities, heavy on games, and reviewing different skills each day. Let's be real -- there is nothing that we are going to do in these last five days that will make a huge difference with test scores :) At this point they know it or not, and I can predict the test scores pretty accurately!

Third grade is the first time to take this test, so I want to spend most of my time encouraging them with how far they have come, reviewing some test-taking tips that will help them, and calming the butterflies.

Today the focus was fractions. At my teacher station we used Cuisinaire rods -- I recently purchased this set from Amazon:

Students worked in pairs and we explored the relationships between the different colored rods, using ideas from Beyond Pizzas and Pies. Several of us are doing a book study right now, and I'm trying out various ideas. My kiddos were raving about the activity afterwards, saying how much fun they had. They exhibited some good thinking and problem solving skills.

While we were doing that, another group was working at the computers using a game called "Dirt Bike Comparing" on the Arcademic Skillbuilders site. My third group was playing fraction games at workstations, including this great scoot game from Donna at Math Coach's Corner.

I was able to rotate the kids through all three activities. My morning class was wonderful -- they did so well. The afternoon group, well . . . ! Actually, I had just one of the three groups that were off task and tomorrow they won't be grouped together :)

Tomorrow we review multiplication and division. I'll let you know how it goes!

Monday, April 1, 2013

April Currently

Linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade for the April Currently!

Listening: Today was a work day, and first day back from Spring Break. Shh...don't tell anyone, but during lunch I can tune in to the CW app on my iPad!

Loving: I had such a good day of organizing! My science materials were in seriously sad shape; I got them all sorted out. Also made some major changes to the classroom library that should be great for the rest of the year.

Thinking: I know the math materials need an overhaul too, but I just didn't get to it today.

Wanting: Doesn't everybody want just a little more spring break?

Needing: Once my work day was done, I actually accomplished this! It's always a big deal to go run an errand when I just want to get home. My quilt guild is going to make pillowcases for charity in April. If you're curious, check out: to read about the project.

Advice: I have finally gone back and filled out my pages of blog info; it's a huge help as I try to plan, write and schedule. I made some blog worksheets for myself and have just downloaded the blogging binder from Charity Preston when I renewed my Teaching Blog Traffic School membership.

The kids come back to school tomorrow and the state test countdown begins! For those of you still on Spring Break, enjoy -- it's gonna go by fast!

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