Sunday, August 31, 2014

Our Second Week

One thing I really like about starting two weeks before Labor Day is that I just need to survive the first 10 days and then I can regroup and start planning for the long haul!! Those first days are absolutely jam-packed, so I just worry about a day at a time. This weekend I will try to do some serious planning for the next week, based on what I have begun to learn about my 35 amazing students.

I am really going to try to give a weekly recap about what we did, including the successes and failures, this year. I know that I appreciate getting a peek into the classrooms of the bloggers I follow and often find a great idea I can try out in my room.


I'll start with the end of the week! I've blogged before about how I celebrate birthdays in my classroom; you can read about it here. We usually do this on the last Friday of the month, so this week we celebrated three young men.

 

I picked up the chair covers at the Dollar Tree this summer; they were impressed! I bake the cake in a disposable pan, freeze, then make frosting. All I have to do is take it out the night before and remember to take it to school! It was fun to see how excited the students were that I take time for this.


  

We wrapped up the Great Banana Experiment, our first lesson on the scientific method. After leaving the bananas for 10 days, we found that the one in the refrigerator stayed the freshest. The others were quite mushy, and the kids thought they should be thrown away. I assured them that mushy bananas are still useful for baking. Both of my classes immediately decided I should take the bananas home, make something, and bring it back on Tuesday for them to try! 



They get to taste banana bread on Tuesday.

One of the things I am most enjoying about my class so far is that they are just loving to read!

  

 This is a typical scene. I have been expecting them to read before school and modeling it myself (I'm working on a Kate DiCamillo book). I am also modeling talking about my reading - what I like or don't like about my book. They have embraced it, and are also taking books to the cafeteria with them every day. Love it!

We have an 8 day rotation for our block this year, so by Wednesday we had finally made it to all our classes. This is designed to keep teachers from knowing where to go :) I made this chart, and the kids are already keeping an eye on it and letting me know if I don't move the clip -- thank goodness!



Just a few things from the week; now I need to get work on the upcoming week! For some of you this will be your first week -- I hope it's a great one!



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Math Lit: The 512 Ants of Sullivan Street


This week I am focusing on doubling with The 512 Ants of Sullivan Street by Carol Losi. This is part of the Hello Math Reader series and is an excellent text for second and third graders.


So many of my students come into third grade without an understanding of doubles facts and this book is a fun way to get them thinking about doubling. It is written in rhyme and many students will pick up on and join in on the repeated refrain. Those who see the doubling pattern will also begin to predict the next number in the story.

After reading the entire book I like to go back through and record the equations on the board, getting input from students:
1 + 1 = 2
2 + 2 = 4
4 + 4 = 8
8 + 8 = ?
As the numbers grow, I ask students to explain how they figured out the sum and record their ideas. This is one of those lessons that could easily extend over two days as we explore strategies for finding sums of the larger numbers, talk about our reasoning, and create an anchor chart together about doubling numbers. When we get to multiplication it's also a great book to revisit and apply that operation.

Have you used this book? What else do you do to help students develop number sense?




Sunday, August 24, 2014

First Week in the Books!

Yes, I survived that totally exhausting time -- the first week of school! What a busy week we had, and I must say it went really well. I'll try to share a few highlights of the week.

For the first time ever, all 18 of my students came on the first day. Not a single no-show! I spent the morning with my 18 darlings organizing their supplies and going over rules and routines. They were pretty thrilled with the Whole Brain Teaching 5 rules, and they loved "class -yes!" Of course the day was so packed I never took pictures; that seems to happen every year. In the afternoon I got to know my other class of students (we are departmentalized). With both groups I introduced myself using this fun activity from Math Coach's Corner:

We read this story and talked about making mistakes:


On Tuesday we began our first science inquiry. I loved how both groups got so into how to test the question of keeping bananas fresh! 


Our first unit in math includes place value, so I introduced the topic with a favorite book:


During the week we tried to "Save Fred," with minimal success but lots of fun. We also tried out the STEM challenge to make the tallest tower with plastic cups.


I feel like I have been blessed with a really fun group of kids this year; can't wait to see what our second week holds (other than testing!).

And to put the cherry on top, I just found out my Donors Choose project for tablets was just fully funded -- woo-hoo!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday Savings: Finding Free Apps


Mobile devices add so much to our classrooms, but how do you find good content to use? When I read a recommendation by another blogger I often go ahead and download the app and give it a try. Sometimes it's a keeper, sometimes not. Sometimes it's great for me personally but not something to use in my class.

One of my favorite ways to find out about free apps is with an app called appsgonefree, available in the iTunes store and for Android.

iPhone Screenshot 1

Each day this app will list free apps -- free for that day. I always take a moment to scroll through, and have added some great apps to my iPad and iPhone this way. The app is definitely worth checking out.

How do you find free apps?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One Day Sale!


300 × 300


Don't forget about today's sale at Teachers Pay Teachers! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Math Lit: Missing Math


If you haven't discovered Loreen Leedy's books, hurry to the library and grab them up. I have been using them for a few years, but this book is one of my new ones.



This is a great book to spark discussion of how we use math in our everyday lives. In the story, all the numbers completely vanish one day, leaving "numberless problems!" Some things the residents can no longer do: play sports (can't keep score), no TV channels, can't address a letter, have a birthday . . .  and the list goes on and on. Of course, the detective DOES track down the number thief (who just wanted to make the longest number in the world!) and gets the numbers back.

I am using Missing Math this week, the first week with students, and have written a prompt for them to respond to in their interactive math notebooks. Knowing what a challenge it can be for some new third graders to copy a prompt, I have typed it up and they will glue it to the top of their page. You are welcome to have a copy of my page if it would be useful to you. Just click to download.

Happy Counting!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Open House -- Meeting My New Students

In my school district teachers have a week back at work before school starts. On Wednesday high schools have Open House, Thursday is middle schools, and Friday is elementary (I assume they realize that we need the whole week to get our pretty on!). So yesterday from 3:00 - 6:00 I was in my classroom greeting families. One of the most fun things is the previous students who drop in to say hello and tell me who their new teacher is; I love it!

I had 19 students on my homeroom roster yesterday, and my partner had 18. 17 of my homeroom students and families came; a very good turnout. We have many homeless families, usually living in motels, at our school and some lack transportation so I never have 100%.

All my students got one of these for stopping in:

Some of them brought school supplies to leave for Monday, and they went home with the specific supply list for myself and my partner (our school supply list includes only the items that everyone on our grade level wants). 

I invited parents to sign up for text alerts with Remind, gave them information about our September confeences, and gave them one of these magnets with my contact information:


My basic goal is to introduce myself to my student and their family and give them the basic information that their child will have two teachers this year -- myself for math and science, Mrs. A. for reading, writing, and social studies.

I was fortunate enough to have a couple moms volunteer to take home a few math books and tear out the first chapter for me. It's always great to have parents willing to help out.

One student speaks only Arabic, which can be challenging. Fortunately I have at least one other student who speaks the language so if I have really important info to communicate she will help out! I had a student a couple years ago in the same situation, and it was amazing how quickly he learned conversational English.

Now I'm busy reviewing plans for Monday, as I know many of you are. Here's to a great year!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Math Lit: Ten Times Better


Yesterday I reported back to work for a week of pre-planning, so it seems like a great time to re-start my math lit series. I decided to make it a Tuesday feature this year, changing it from the usual Thursday post last year. I'm excited to begin, because I picked up quite a few new books this summer and have a lot to share! Each week I will spotlight one book that I plan to use in math instruction and I hope to include a few activities along the way also.


This week I am sharing a book that I ordered this summer without ever seeing it, and I am so happy that I purchased it! Ten Times Better includes poems and text by Richard Michelson, with wonderful paintings by Leonard Baskin. A quote from the book jacket:

In dueling poetry, a motley crew of animals argues for the honor of the number each represents. Whether it's a crocodile arguing with an ant or a centipede with a three-toed sloth, each animal is sure that its number is the one to beat!

An understanding of the number 10 is critical for our young mathematicians, and this book is a fun way to explore multiples of 10. In their arguments animals are paired with another who has ten times more of something.

I want my students to find the pattern of the book on their own, so I have created a recording sheet for them to fill our as we read the book. You can click the picture to download a copy.


What are your favorite multiples of ten resources?

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Saturday Savings: Free Backup Space

Have you ever had the horrible experience of losing your teaching or blogging files? It's devastating as you can imagine, or for some of you as you know. After reading a couple blogs this summer of teachers to whom this happened I felt a sense of urgency to get my important files backed up. I'm still working on it, particularly trying to find good free sites to use in the cloud. I've found several and am slowly uploading files before deciding if I need to purchase additional storage space. If you haven't found great file storage services, here are a few to consider.

You can use box to securely back up files in the cloud. You will then be able to access your files from any computer or mobile device or share files with others. You will receive 10 GB of storage free and the starter plan gives you 100 GB for $5 / month.


I'm pretty sure everyone knows about google drive! With Drive you get 15 GB of storage space. If you are only using it to share your freebie products, think about using it for back up also!


Again, you can access from anywhere -- unless your district blocks it! This has been my favorite for a couple years but I'm expanding to some of these others now. You only get 2GB free, but you can earn more by inviting your friends to sign up. Mine is up to 5.75 GB now. If you are not signed up for Dropbox, please use this link: https://db.tt/kTJYX3mC and I can earn a bit more space :)



I just started using bitcasa and am loving having 20 GB of storage. This is where I've chosen to back up my blogging files -- I would hate to lose them!




I just found multcloud in the last couple of weeks. It's not a cloud storage site, but a site that manages all your sites! Here is what mine looks like:

With this one account you can access all your storage folders, which saves a lot of time. 

What would you add to this list?

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