How To Follow and Read Blogs You Love

Hopefully everyone knows that by Monday Google Reader will be no more! Those of us who follow many blogs have had to find alternatives. For myself, I've tried out three. Each one has an app, so I usually go through new posts on my iPad.


I'm going to miss Google next; I really prefer to see the actual blog, so just clicking through with my little "next" button was my favorite way to read.

I'm also going to miss my Google Friend Connect! See that 338? I'm hoping they will all continue to follow me; right now I've got both Bloglovin' and Feedly buttons on my blog.


I'm liking bloglovin', because I get a notice when someone follows my blog, AND I can see how many followers I have. I'm up to 204 followers, which is encouraging, but not my 338.

Back to how I'm going to read blogs. Here's the three I'm using:


I'm liking Feedly the best so far; it imported my blogs with the folders I used to organize them so I can pick and choose. Flipboard is interesting, because you can put so many different things into it, not just blog feeds.

The good thing is that we have choices; I can follow new blogs with bloglovin' and encourage people to follow me that way and I can choose a different way to read blogs.

What have you decided? Have you tried any other readers?


July Currently

Farley posted the July Currently early! Maybe I won't be number 150!

1. We are blessed in the Orlando area to have the best radio station ever! I usually listen in my car, but this summer I'm keeping a link on my desktop to stream. If you like contemporary christian music, check

2. I had 4 1/2 days over the last two weeks -- all very worthwhile, but I'm happy to have them done. July is mine! I have another 3 days the week before we go back to work in August and that's OK too, but I intend to savor the summer days in between.

3. I have had a big project in mind for a couple months, but I need to stop procrastinating and get working if it's going to back-to-school read.

4. Three weeks into summer vacation and I have yet to go the pool (community pool). Usually I'm in a lot with my grandkids, but their dad has been going with them. I'm determined to get wet on Sunday!

5. Huge to-do list for summer; again 3 weeks in and nothing is checked off yet from the "personal care" list.

6. When I started blogging last summer I expected I'd blog just as often after school started (insert chuckling by more experienced bloggers). This summer I'm writing a weekly plan and working hard to keep up with it; my goal is to have the same thing through the year.


Book Study: Building Mathematical Comprehension

Chapter 4: Increasing Comprehension By Asking Questions

Children come to school full of questions and curiosity, yet by the time they get to upper elementary, middle, and high school they display a major lack of curiosity. In chapter 4, Laney Sammons makes a strong case for making students' questions a driving force of instruction, leading to more engagement by students and more rigorous learning. "Queries that are not easily answered inspire interest and lead students to think more deeply." (p. 117)

Proficient readers interact with the text, asking questions throughout the reading process. Doesn't it make sense that proficient mathematicians will also question and develop critical thinking skills? I'm thinking that as I implement Common Core math standards this year in 3rd grade, building on (hopefully) the work  in lower grades of discussing, explaining, and justifying answers I must model asking questions for students. The danger is that it is all too easy to be the sole questioner; I want to lead students to use the questioning strategy themselves. I have a feeling there will be a lot of learning for me here!

There is an example of an anchor chart of "why mathematicians ask questions" in the chapter, and that has definitely been added to my list of charts. Some reasons:

clarification of meaning
increased engagement with mathematics
critical assessment of the validity of the mathematics
monitoring understanding
identification of information needed for understanding or problem solving
interest in and curiosity about he subject matter
extending understanding beyond the surface information
(p. 122- 124)

One suggestion is having small - group strategy sessions to introduce this strategy. I probably would not have thought of this, but it makes sense. Students may feel much more comfortable trying out questioning in the small group environment than in whole group. Another great aid would be an anchor chart with thinking stems, developed in a mini-lesson with students (p. 135). There is also a problem solving graphic organizer (p 141) that I plan to reproduce for students' math journals.

I'll leave you with this quote, found on p. 144:

Teachers of mathematics can explicitly teach their students to generate mathematical questions as a strategy to help them clarify and extend their mathematical understanding.
Laney Sammons

Check back next week for a discussion of visualizing.


Fiction Friday: June 28th


Katy Kelly

"Melonhead" is a spin - off from another series by Katy Kelly (the Lucy Rose stories) and I am looking forward to reading more about this character! Adam Melon, nicknamed Melonhead, is one of those guys who is always getting into scrapes. Early in the story climbing a tree ends up with an extraction using the Jaws of Life. That's pretty much the way Melonhead's life goes!

A science teacher at Adam's school has a cool new twist on the typical science fair. He challenges the students to come up with a "reinvention." His plaster of Paris experiment -- disaster (don't put it down the drain). One of the great things about this book is that while Melonhead doesn't see what the consequences of his actions might be, your students will see trouble coming!

Melonhead is laugh - out - loud funny. It will make an awesome read - aloud for grades 3 - 5. It's also a book that most boys will enjoy -- and if you are looking for stories that will hook in your boys I recommend it.

Here's the brochure to go with the book. Enjoy!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Throwback Thursday

This week I'm re-visiting a post from June 2012. This is my favorite text for introducing the concept of standard and non-standard measurement.

How Big Is A Foot?

I LOVE to use books in math class. One of my summer goals is to create a bunch of activities to go with favorite math books. First up is a wonderful book by Rolf Myller, How Big Is A Foot? One of the things I like about this book is that I always used it when I taught Kindergarten and still use it with my third graders! It is an awesome way to talk about standard vs. nonstandard measurment with any grade. In the book, the king wants a bed built for the queen so he measures her with his feet. However, when the little apprentice measures with his feet the bed turns out to be just a bit too small! Reading this book to my students always leads to great math talk.

To help with acting out this story I have created some "feet" for measuring students. I print out several sets and divide kids into groups to measure and record the dimensions needed to build a bed for a classmate. It quickly becomes obvious that not all the beds turn out the right size. 

You can get a copy of the Freebie by clicking here or by going to my TpT or TN store. Happy measuring!

Interactive Science Notebooks 3

I want to start by revisiting my list of pages from last week:

Page  1     Table of Contents
Page  2     Safety Rules
Page  3     Unit essential questions
Page  4     Vocabulary
Page  5     Banana brochure
Page  6     Vocabulary
Page  7     Pennies and Taco Sauce brochure
Page  8     Left blank
Page  9     Taco Sauce as a Cleaner brochure

I played around with a couple vocabulary ideas. My first thought was to do this:

I realized, however, that this would be too much at the beginning of the year. Instead, I divided the vocabulary between two organizers. That's why they are on two of the pages.

So, what else do I do with blank pages? Whatever is needed! Sometimes I want my students to draw sketches, sometimes answer a question . . . This year I plan to have them do a lot more writing, so I'll be planning some writing prompts (I'm thinking maybe a couple prompts per unit).

p 11     Science tools

After we explore the different science tools and practice using them, I give this little activity to students and ask them to identify the tools. If you would like a copy, please click the picture. The pdf file has two pages so it can also be printed as half pages if you choose.


Monday Made It: June 24th

Monday - the best day of the week 'cause it's time for Monday Made It with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics! The past week has been fairly productive for my as far as making classroom stuff, even though I spent two days working on proficiency scales with other teachers in my district.

1. Rekenreks!

The directions for these came from Math Coach's Corner (and if you aren't following her, do it NOW!). I made 24 of these babies, so I can use them in whole group or small groups. Click here to get a downloadable booklet about ways to use these.

2. Storage!

I love to re-purpose my recyclables to use in my classroom. This was a protein powder canister that I tossed into my recycling bin and then immediately pulled back out. I realized that it was perfect for storing the bulletin board borders that I took down at the end of the year. I wanted to save my animal prints to use again in the future, so I used some of my animal print duck tape from the old "Wild About Learning" theme to dress it up.

3. Desk Calendar Holder

This is my Pinterest - inspired calendar holder that I made last year (you can read that post here). I loved it! I brought home after school and put new duck tape on it to use for this year's calendar, and voila! I'm watching for some cute embellishments to go on the elastic.

4. CCSS 

After writing 3rd grade proficiency scales this week, I came home and worked on "I Can" statements  to go with the priority standards (in blue) and supporting standards (in yellow), did lots of printing and laminating, and they are ready to go up in my room.

Didn't get my home projects finished in time this week, but should have something done by next Monday!

Follow With Bloglovin'

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Just one more week and Google Reader will disappear from our lives! I have already imported all my feeds into Bloglovin' because I don't want to miss a single one of the bloggers that I follow. Have you done this yet? Right now I'm using both Bloglovin' and Feedly to read blogs, and I like both of them. 

I'm hoping to still keep track of how many followers I have, and to do that I'm asking you to click on the "Follow my blog with Bloglovin" on the sidebar or at the top of this post. I'm going to be doing the same at your blog if you have a button. 


Book Study: Making Mathematical Connections

Chapter 3
Making Mathematical Connections

I am learning so much from this book study. Since we are taking what we already know about what good readers do and applying it to mathematicians it makes the content so accessible -- so easy to make connections!

Our students come to us with all kinds of background knowledge and we must help them draw upon that knowledge and use it in making connections between new learning and that background knowledge. As they are able to move from teacher - prompted connections to student - initiated connections they become more involved and motivated as learners. 

In reading class we talk about text to self, text to text, and text to world connections. Making connections in math class can be organized in the same way, but now we have math to self, math to math, and math to world connections.

Math to Self

This is about connecting math with your own life experiences. An early example -- relating a number to our own age. Later we may connect with interest on car loans, or mpg of our car. Just like in reading, it all starts with teacher think - alouds.

Math to Math

I teach third graders, and I'm always asking them to make connections to the math they learned before they came to my classroom. An example that may jog their thinking is the use of manipulatives -- usually they have used them before.

Math to World

An idea that I took from this section was to use current events more. In the coming year I plan to have my students pay attention to weather, elections, sports, popularity of movies, as examples of math to world connections.

This chapter is full of instructional ideas for teaching your students to make mathematical connections. One of my favorite things is using children's literature (if you've followed my blog for awhile you know I often post on this topic). Laney has an important caution here -- let read-alouds be enjoyable, not just a means to a mathematical end! I often read a book to my students on one day and then go back to it another to use it in math class.

See you next week for chapter 4!

Fiction Friday June 21st


Thomas and the Dragon Queen
Shutta Crum

This is hands - down the most charming book I've read this year! I could not put it down; I love the character of Thomas and wanted to find out how his story would end. Thomas comes from a humble home -- his father is a leathersmith, and he spends a lot of his time caring for his eight siblings. He is a wonderful storyteller and is much loved by his family. He is about 12 years old, but is very small for his age. He dreams of being a knight some day, but that seems like a very unlikely prospect.

Amazingly, he gets an opportunity to go to castle and become a squire for Sir Gerald. He is the object of some ridicule, as he is so small he can't even hold a full sized sword. He has a wonderful work ethic and tries hard to improve his skills.

The kingdom is at war, and most of the knights are away fighting. Because manpower is needed, when a knight falls there is an opportunity for his squire to take his place. Thomas goes to war with Sir Gerald, but fortunately his knight comes through the fighting safely.

When Thomas returns to the castle, he finds out that the princess has been kidnapped by a dragon! The elderly king has no one to send to rescue her, but he is impressed enough with Thomas's heart and bravery to make him a knight and send him on the quest. Little Thomas is not tall enough to ride a horse, but he sets off on Bartholemew, a donkey.

As he travels on his quest, Thomas ends up losing all the things that were supposed to help him. He also faces a horrible monster, but somehow ends up making it to the island where the dragon lives. He finds the princess, who was kidnapped to take care of the dragon queen's children! I don't want to give away everything, but the ending is very satisfying and I think my third graders are going to love this story.

Here is the brochure I made to go along with "Thomas and the Dragon Queen." Just click to download.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Throwback Thursday

Now that I have blogged for a whole year, I was thinking that I should go back and revisit some of my early posts. After all, I had about 10 followers for some of them, and now I have over 300! Then I found this linky at The First Grade Parade! This week I'm going to revisit a simple little freebie for helping keep track of parent contacts. I used it all year! Here is the post from a year ago:

Freebie: Contact Log (published 6/5/12)

We are down to the last few days of school, so I am trying to get everything organized in my classroom. As I took the whole year's worth of parent contacts and prepared them to turn in on my last day I got some chuckles out of how many of them go something like this: "How do I help my kid in math? I'm not very good at it!" Fortunately I have some good answers for that question and can reassure parents that it's going to be OK.

As I put all those contacts into a big envelope I was thinking that I must come up with an easier format. So ... a new format to use next year with a cute little clipboard to keep right by the phone! If you haven't come across these re-fashioned clipboards yet you will want to check them out at Classroom DIY. You can grab my Contact Log freebie right here.


Math and Literature: One Hundred Hungry Ants

Maybe because the story is told in rhyme? Whatever the reason, my students absolutely love this story when I read it to them. I've used it teaching K, 1, 2, and now 3rd grade. They don't even realize it's a math book until we begin to act out the story, using manipulatives. Years ago I used to give them individual raisin boxes (!) but they became a  little too pricey for my budget, plus being sticky (and younger students had a tendency to eat the ants!).

Now I use this little activity packet, which I'm sharing with you. If you are not familiar with this book may I recommend it to you -- it can be used to address a number of benchmarks. Just click the picture to get the packet.


Interactive Science Notebooks 2

Last week I shared the first experiment I do with my students. You can check it out here. Because the Great Banana Experiment takes several days I do another experiment in the meantime. The idea for it came from Steve Spangler, and my students absolutely loved it last year!


We begin with the question: "Will taco sauce clean dirty pennies?" Working in groups we put dirty pennies in soapy water and in taco sauce, leave them for 8 minutes, and clean them off. Students are amazed to find that the best cleaner is the taco sauce! What I like about this particular activity is that it is a great way to teach that scientists usually have more questions at the end of an experiment. In this case I guide students toward the question of what ingredient in the taco sauce cleans the penny. That leads us to a second activity on a following day.

(click to download this recording brochure)

For the next experiment we test to see if water, vinegar, salt, or tomato paste work best in cleaning the penny. From now on we will discuss new questions that come up in our experiments; time limitations prevent us from being able to test but I want students to be in the habit of looking at the end of one experiment being the beginning of another. 

(click to download)

So this is where we are in the Interactive Science Notebook:

Page  1     Table of Contents
Page  2     Safety Rules
Page  3     Unit essential questions
Page  4     Left blank for vocabulary
Page  5     Banana brochure
Page  6     Left blank for notes
Page  7     Pennies and Taco Sauce brochure
Page  8     Left blank
Page  9     Taco Sauce as a Cleaner brochure

We typically glue onto the odd numbered pages and write on the even numbered pages.

Do you have some go - to activities to get kids thinking like scientists?

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